The blood oozed from every jagged wound on her body, and there were so many of them, she could barely take a breath, it was so shallow and painful. Her cell phone was just out of reach. She could almost touch it with the tip of her finger, but not quite. Oh yes, she could just feel the outline of the cold metal, but her fingers were so slippery with her own blood, the phone slipped out of reach again. She was simply too weak to struggle any longer. She could actually feel her life ebbing away; a gurgle resounding in her chest. The pain was subsiding now, a welcome feeling actually. Her peripheral vision was beginning to narrow and blackness started creeping in. Only a pinpoint of light remained and then it was gone as well. The pain was becoming a distant memory from a different life, and now nothingness and silence reigned.
He was still feeling exhilarated after visiting Megan last night. The canvas came out beautifully. Actually, both came out well. Megan’s porcelain skin was the perfect backdrop against the crimson blood and even her wallpaper on the back wall went well with the overall outcome. It was a wonderful climax to all the hard work he had put in…the planning and research. He was afraid after enjoying the appetizer so much, that the entree would be disappointing, but he was wrong. It was all he had hoped it would be. She looked so much like ‘her’, it was uncanny. He felt the usual weight lift off his shoulders and was going to relish the day. The thought of finding the next canvas made him almost giddy. But that could wait a little while. He wanted to revel in this delight for a time before he went back to work. He knew he couldn’t wait too long, but he deserved a break and decided he would go to that diner on the corner to keep an eye on Megan’s place. You could just make out the house from a certain booth in the front, and he always sat there if it was empty. He joked with the waitress that it was his booth, and she didn’t seem to have a problem with it belonging to him, seeing as he tipped her quite well. He settled in to treat himself and have a piece of cherry pie and maybe even be decadent enough to order it a la mode. His usual waitress came over sporting a big smile to go with her colored black hair. It was garish, along with her too long, red tipped fingernails, but he didn’t care. She never complained, no matter how long he sat there just sipping cocoa and eating his pie, so who was he to dictate her whorish get up. She shouldn’t complain after receiving a $10 tip for cocoa and pie. You could see her squinty little eyes light up when he always said, “Beautiful, keep the tip.” He didn’t know how long he sat there before his audience started showing up at Megan’s house. Oh how he wished he could be there to see their faces when they first spied his work. But he knew he couldn’t be anywhere close. The peasants never understood his talent, and they would try to stop him. One by one, more and more cars with flashing lights, an ambulance, then the plain clothes detectives. Oh what a show it must be. He could barely sit still. As much as he wanted to stay to watch every bit, he had to get home. He had an early morning, and he needed some rest. After his work last night, he hadn’t been able to sleep at all. The adrenaline was pumping too strong to let him come down. He was starting to feel tired now and knew tonight he would sleep like the dead.
There were so many lights blinking, it looked like some sort of bizarre circus. Crime tape surrounded the small house as Nick Ryan and Mike Evans, detectives for the Los Angeles Police Department drove up and parked just outside the periphery, ducking under the tape and showing their badges for the beat cops, although the two detectives were no strangers. Emergency services had received a call from Megan Sinclair’s co-workers earlier in the day when she didn’t show up for work and didn’t answer her phone. They seemed to think that was highly unusual for the young woman. Uniformed police officers came to the Sinclair house and broke down the door when they peered through a space in the curtains and saw what looked like a body lying on the living room floor.
Besides detectives, the coroner and crime scene unit had been called to the scene. When Nick and Mike entered the modest house, the old familiar coppery smell of blood assaulted their senses, and the horror of the scene made them flinch for just a second, even after all these years. It was a bloody mess. There was a coroner’s tarp lying over the body, but there was so much blood, no tarp was big enough to cover it all. A lot of it had soaked into the carpet but there was still quite a bit in pools, too much to soak in. There was arterial spray on the back wall of the small living room and when Nick removed the tarp, he was taken aback at the crude way in which the body was posed.
“Hey Mike, looks like we got a real sick psycho on our hands.”
Mike shook his head and looked away disgusted. “You know, you just never get used to this kind of thing.”
“If you did, I’d be worried about you partner.”
The coroner rounded the corner from the kitchen, nodding his head to the two detectives, “Nick, I have a couple of interesting findings I want to show you and Mike, then we’ll get her out of here and on the table.”
Dr. Hastings pulled the tarp completely back again and showed Nick and Mike a huge gaping hole in the victim’s upper thigh, but the unusual aspect of the wound was the fact that the femoral artery was sutured.
“Son of a bitch.” Nick couldn’t believe his eyes. “The bastard sewed her up? Why the hell?”
“The only idea I’ve come up with is that the killer sutured the artery so she wouldn’t bleed out so fast…and that’s not the most horrible discovery. Look down here. He sutured her vagina too. And the stiches are done very well. He may have done this before, but I haven’t seen this MO. I definitely would have remembered it.”
“Yeah, I know I would have. You know Doc, every day I think I’ve seen it all, and then, I haven’t. God, she can’t be more than twenty-five or so. Are you finished up here?”
“Yes, I’ll see you two downtown.”
The assistants placed the body onto the gurney and the doctor followed it out. Unfortunately, no lights or sirens were needed since this journey would end at the morgue, not the hospital. He was thinking to himself that was certainly not the night this young woman had planned for herself and thought of his own daughter and shuddered.
Nick and Mike looked around a while longer and then left the crime scene unit to their work. They would be there a very long time.
While Mike was canvassing the Sinclair neighborhood, Nick was heading to the morgue to find out what Dr. Hastings had found out. He banged his way through the swinging doors as the doctor was finishing the Y cut.
“Got anything Doc?”
“Well, nothing you probably don’t already know but here’s the run down. COD is exsanguination from a stab wound. Looks like a non-serrated single edged knife to the carotid/jugular complex; the carotid artery and the jugular vein. He did a number on her, Nick. He cut her almost to her spine. I think he took his time though because the blood was in different phases of clotting. There were so many stab wounds, some superficial. Then, about that leg wound that he sutured? He must have stabbed her deep into her leg, nicked the femoral, then stitched her back up.
“Wow. Never heard of that before.”
“Well that’s a new one on me too, Nick.”
At the scene, it looked like a portion of the arterial spray on the wall behind her body was made by the femoral artery. Oh and Nick, remember how he sutured the vagina?”
Nick shook his head. “A little hard to forget.”
“Well, he placed something inside before he sewed her up.” He showed Nick an evidence bag with a purple rock inside.
“What exactly am I looking at, Doc?”
“Just a plastic decorative rock as far as I can tell. Something you might find in a plant, maybe in a rock garden or something like that. I guess it could even be off a piece of jewelry, but it looks a little rough, not really polished enough. I’m sending it to trace to see if they can find anything else about it, but that’s all I can come up with just by looking at it. Wouldn’t it be nice if it came wrapped up real nice with fingerprints or DNA other than the vic’s on it?”
“Yeah and I’m gonna win the lottery today, and I didn’t even buy a ticket.”
“Nick, you’ve been doing this too long…you’re too much of a pessimist.”
“Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed just for you, Doc. If that’s all, I’ll go back and do some background on her. As long as we’re hoping for miracles, maybe she pissed off Mickey Mouse, and he had her knocked off and is ready to turn himself in. I’m not sure Mickey could get a fair trial in this town though.” He was in deep thought about the neatly done stitches and a woman losing her life so young. This was not this killer’s first kill. What had they or some other police department missed that caused this young woman to lose her life? He started for the door shouting, “Keep in touch.”
Nick strolled out of the morgue and over to the precinct to see if he could shake up anything that could have gotten this woman killed. After a couple of hours digging into everything he could find on Megan Sinclair, he concluded at this early juncture that this kid was squeaky clean and probably the victim of a very sick mind and simply had the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This MO needed to be sent to the feds for a profile. There were too many oddities and signatures to be ignored, and he had a bad feeling that this wasn’t the last he was going to see of this bastard, especially since he was pretty sure this wasn’t his first murder.