Thirty minutes later, he pushes through the front doors of the police precinct. Though early, the building is alive with activity as phones ring and cops bustle in and out. The main room is crowded with desks stacked with folders. At his, Lombardo sits tapping the face of his watch.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” he says.
Furor checks his watch. “I’m three minutes late?”
“You’re lead homicide, you should be here thirty minutes early. Masterson and Royce have been here since seven. And what’s with your suit, it’s got more wrinkles than an elephant’s scrotum. Is that the same one you were wearing yesterday? Good lord, did you even bother to shower this morning?”
“It was a rough night,” Furor says, turning as he coughs into a balled fist.
“You think you’re the only one? You remember the perp theft and robbery picked up prowling the neighborhood minutes after the killing? We put him in the vault, kept the heat on him all afternoon and well into the night.”
“Come on, let’s discuss it with the rest of the team.”
A sharp whistle cuts the air.
Lombardo nods, calls for the team to meet in Conference Room C.
Conference Room C comes equipped with fresh coffee, muffins, and an interactive Smartboard with touchscreen technology allowing you to interface with the whiteboard in the same way you would a touchpad.
Five men take up positions around the table.
Lombardo sweeps the room with his eyes. “All right,” he says. “You were all at the crime scene last night, so you’re aware of the victim’s unique staging. What you might not know is that we’ve seen this handiwork before. Five years ago, this city was rocked by a series of unsolved serial killings, all women, thirteen in total over a period of about eight months. While news of the murders was provided to the press, details regarding the staging were known only to the homicide investigative unit handling the case at the time, which included both Furor and myself.
McCloud raises his hand to ask a question.
“Before you ask,” Lombardo says, “the answer is no. Not a single piece of forensic evidence was ever found at any of the crime scenes, not a fingerprint, not a hair follicle, nothing. Whoever this guy was, he was tidy. It’s as if he went in there sporting a level-4 hazmat suit. Even the cables he used to string up the victims turned out to be untraceable, although, forensics is running a new set of tests on the ones from last night.”
“What about an intersection between the victims?” Slade asks.
“The FBI brought in a team of profilers to study the victims. The only problem was, none of the women looked, dressed, or styled alike. They seemed to come from a wide-range of socio-economic backgrounds, and even lived and worked in different parts of the city. Now, we did pick up something interesting while running a check of the victims’ medical histories, but we were never able to make anything of it.”
“What was that?” Masterson asks.
“Furor,” Lombardo defers, “care to step in?”
“You’re doing just fine,” Furor says.
Lombardo’s face grows tight. “Very well,” he says. “It just so happens, three of the first eight victims were undergoing treatment for multiple sclerosis from the same doctor. At first, we thought, perhaps, the doctor, or even the hospital, was the link, but a background check of the other victims showed that only two other women had ever even visited that hospital before. This pretty much eliminated both the doctor and the hospital in our minds. But, Furor, in following up on the multiple sclerosis angle, found that while six of the women had been treated for symptoms possibly related to MS, not all of them had. So, the theory was abandoned as coincidence.”
McCloud’s hand rises again.
“You want take another run at the victims?” Lombardo says. “Be my guest.”
McCloud nods, lowers his hand.
“The one thing all the victims did have in common was the staging of their deaths. Each was strung up like our victim last night. Now, I spoke with the medical examiner this morning. They tell me the pathology is the same as well. The victims were strangled before their throats were slit, carotid to carotid. It’s worth noting, the cuts were deeper on the right side than the left, suggesting, as before, the killer is most likely left-handed. From the precision with which the post-mortem wounds were made, curved and going upward, the going theory continues to be that the killer has had some experience removing body parts, someone like a veterinarian or a doctor, a trauma surgeon, perhaps. Which brings us to Cordell Anthony the perp picked up yesterday by theft and robbery and seen casing the neighborhood in the days prior to the murder.”
“Is he a trauma surgeon?” Furor asks.
Lombardo turns. “Well, it’s nice of you to finally join us. As a matter of fact, he’s a former army doctor. He joined the service back in November 2001, just weeks after 9/11 and saw his first deployment to Afghanistan three years later in 2004. He’d been serving tours off and on for the past thirteen years until being dishonorably discharged four months ago after it was discovered he’d developed an unhealthy addiction to oxycodone.”
“That squares with the killer being a trained medical professional,” McCloud states.
“There’s just one problem,” Lombardo counters, activating the smartboard to pull up a picture of the suspect’s mugshot. The photo features a man standing against a height chart. “Cordell Anthony is five-foot-six, one hundred and sixty pounds, and black.”
“Why is that a problem?” Slade asks.
“Because it conflicts with a certain witness statement we took last night.” Here, he throws a swift glance in Furor’s direction.
“Witness statement?” Masterson says. “I was under the impression there was nothing useful in any of the statements we took yesterday.”
“Yeah, well, it turns out the man in the apartment at the front of the hall offered a unique description of the killer.”
“Unique how?” Masterson asks.
“The man is blind,” Lombardo says, pausing to allow the effect of that statement to settle in. “And, according to him, the killer is a five-foot-ten-inch, two hundred and twenty pound, Caucasian.”
“A blind man told you all that?” Royce says.
“There’s reason to doubt his credibility, but that won’t stop Anthony’s lawyer from using it to his advantage, which is why we need more than just circumstantial evidence.”
“With no forensics, no witnesses—excuse me, no eye witnesses—and nothing to tie this or any of the other victim’s together, where would you suggest we start?” Slade asks.
“We start with the victim, Katherine Paige,” Lombardo says. Then, shifting his attention to Masterson and Royce, he says. “Yesterday, I asked the two of you to dig into her background. What have you come up with so far?”
Masterson lifts his notepad. “Katherine Paige, also known as Katherine Taylor, Katherine Wright, Katherine Garcia, Katherine King, Katherine Carr, and most recently Katherine—”
“What are these, aliases?” Lombardo asks.
“Marriages,” Masterson says.
“Six. Mostly men with money.”
“So, she has a type,” Slade says.
“I take that to mean she made out well in these divorces,” Lombardo says, scratching his chin with a broad thumbnail.
“One of those husbands, she’s still married to,” Masterson says.
“Tell me it’s the last one.”
Masterson nods. “Wayne Knox. He lives in midtown. Runs a meat shop of some kind. In speaking with the victim’s mother, we learned they’ve been separated for the better part of six months. Without wanting to point the finger, the mother seemed to think there was a possibility her soon-to-be ex-son-in-law could have been involved in her daughter’s murder. Her exact words to me were,” he looks down to read off his notepad, “That son-of-a-bitch killed her, he fucking did it, he killed her.”
“Have you spoken to the husband yet?”
“Not yet,” Masterson tells him.
“All right,” Lombardo huffs. “Here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to divide this investigation into thirds. Masterson, Royce, I want the two of you focused on tying Katherine Paige to Cordell Anthony or vice versa. That includes financials, phone records, social media, Catholic confessions. If they had even so much as said hello to each other in a bar, I want you to find out about it.”
“On it,” Masterson says.
Shifting his attention to Slade and McCloud, Lombardo says, “As for the two of you, I want you to abandon the Cordell Anthony angle altogether. Instead, I want you guys to go through the records of recently released convicts whose arrests and convictions came within, say, three or four months of the last victim’s murder five years ago. They say there are only three reasons why serial killers stop killing, the killer either dies, runs out of steam, or is incarcerated on unrelated charges. If it’s the case that our killer has been in prison these past five years, it should be a cinch to lock in on him.
“Meanwhile, Furor and I are going to pay a visit to the victim’s meat shop owning husband. Ready,” Lombardo says, smacking Furor’s feet off the table.
Furor stands up.
“Anything else?” Lombardo says, addressing the room.
No one says anything.
“Very well, every man to his post.”
Chairs screech across the tile floor as the men rise from the table, grabbing their coats and notepads as they head for the door.