Whisper softly or you're dead

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Chapter 3

Friends, responsibility and risks.

Defoe woke up with a start. It was always the same when he started a new case. The face of the victims penetrated his subconscious each night until he caught the U.N.S.U.B. He had learnt to block the most vicious portraits from his mind but still woke up suddenly during the early hours thinking of a new lead or how the girl’s bodies might lead him to the killer.

This latest killer was more careful and brighter than many of the ones he had dealt with in the past, no finger prints, nor physical clues left behind. He was playing with the police, pretending he was an opportunist rather than a planner. The slashing and the gouging and writing on the wall indicated a violent temperamental person out of control but the careful slitting of the throats and the dismemberment and replacing of the body parts seemed to be the mark of a man who had a theme and project planned to the end and didn’t lose his temper easily.

Defoe’s instincts led him to believe he was quiet and unemotional and intelligent, thinking his every move through. Probably with a high IQ; a high achiever but felt something was lacking in his life. His ego still needed boosting. The killing of these girls met some need, deeply embedded in his psyche.

He went to the forensic scientist to find out if her evidence confirmed his early thoughts on the matter. ‘‘Any clues Doc?’’ asked Defoe.

‘‘The U.N.S.U.B. who cut these women up had some medical experience. A layman would not have cut them up so carefully or perfectly.’’

‘‘He’s a doctor?’’

‘’Or medical student. Anyone who has been to medical school.

A careful personality as well by the style of cutting. The slashes were just a decoy to put you off. This guy didn’t waste his skills. He clearly takes pride in his work.’’

‘‘Were the hands removed after death or before?’’

‘‘After. This guy didn‘t make the women suffer as much as other murderers.’’

‘‘He wanted something from them then?’’

‘‘Yes, the death was a means to an end.’’

‘‘He is a collector?’’

‘‘Possibly.’’ Like him, she was not willing to admit much until she was sure, but he thought she was ninety percent certain he fitted that category of criminals who had a project to complete once they had sourced their parts. Ruthless and determined like any professional collector they would carry on until their goal was achieved.

‘‘I’ve put the evidence we’ve collected so far through the FBI system and I’m waiting to see if there are any similarities with other victims. Most of the cases that I remember matching these go back donkey years.’’

‘‘Perhaps he hid the bodies.’’

‘‘Yes, that is a possibility. Keep me posted and thanks.’’

Cradley had entered and listened to their conversation. ‘‘Doctor Defoe what do you think? What sort of murderer do we have here? Opportunistic or planner? The frenzied attack and amount of blood could mean we have a one off if we are lucky?’’

‘‘Unlikely. I think this guy is clever. He is trying to fox us. The attack was violent but look at the girl’s arms. The hands have been cut off, after her death I think, thank God. They were not placed back like the other bits. This guy could be a collector of body parts.’’

Cradley went white. Even after all these years in homicide he could still feel sick to the stomach when he heard what these twisted minds could think up.

‘‘What about the mother? Why was she picked?’’

‘’At the moment; no reason why she was chosen, and her body parts left attached to the torso. I think she was ancillary to the daughter’‘s murder, just unlucky to be there. Her death was used to divert us from the real reason he was hunting her daughter.’’

‘‘Let’s get back to the precinct and put these facts through the computer.’’ Defoe left reluctantly, his mind still on the young woman who had so carefully reinforced his inferences without prejudicing the evidence. He had utmost respect for this woman who had no axe to grind and remained impartial to the end of the sometimes politically and socially sensitive cases. She had not caved in when politicians and newspapers put pressure on her to blame the most obvious candidates for the murders; waiting and weighing up the evidence until she was sure she had nabbed the right perpetrator.

She wasn’t bad to look at either. Intelligence and humour tied in a pretty parcel. A petite blonde with her hair scraped back and put under a net; she made no effort to make herself look attractive, but her beauty shone through despite her efforts to defeminise herself on duty. Some of the police officers had said when she was out of her scrubs she was red hot, but she rebuffed any advances made to her by them.

She was strictly a separate her love life from work girl. He knew she had a lively sense of humour because some young cops had complained when she had played some tricks on them when they treated her as if she was a blond bimbo. They had treated her with deference and respect since.

A pair of dark green eyes had eyed him up this time and smiled. For once she hadn’t treated him as if he had the bubonic plague. She was beginning to trust him. He never hit on work colleagues whatever their capacity. He had enough complications working with the various agencies of the government without facing the animosity of a girlfriend after a break-up.

Kate Masters watched him leave. Tall with a muscular footballer’s shoulders, Darrell Defoe was a prime specimen of masculinity. Unlike the police officers, he stayed quietly in the background and only spoke when he was spoken to or when his input was needed to solve a problem. He was quiet and only showed his emotion when he pushed his dirty blond hair back from his narrowed eyes; eyes that changed from steel grey to sapphire blue when he was stimulated or angered.

The police officers had chided and teased him, calling him a wuss but at the last Christmas party he had drunken them into the ground, leaving them reeling as he walked tall and straight to the cab that had waited for him. A boy from a poor Irish immigrant family he had entered Harvard on a football scholarship and majored in psychology. He had spent years in the Marines leaving as a major and then working in the FBI studying for his PHD.

He now profiled part-time for the FBI and police authorities. He was a professor at the local university and at the age of thirty-nine he was becoming accepted as one of the foremost profilers in the area. He was called in to this precinct in this town when some people from the large influx of tourists from the city disturbed the peace by carrying out a few violent murders each season.

She respected him because he never hit on the females he worked with and had treated her like a professional from the first day he had worked with her. He had turned some of the more ribald jokes of his police colleagues into harmless jibes making her feel comfortable with them. She also knew he admired her.

His eyes had traced her figure from the bottom of her baseball cap to her trainers when she walked to the car with him, but she held back and had never encouraged him to do more than talk about professional topics with her. At times, she nearly broke her rule of only dating outside of work. She wondered if he might be the one worth breaking her rule for.

He seemed to share her sense of humour and had bent over the same journal articles that had intrigued her. Recently, he had sat at her dining table occasionally when she was alone and had made conversation with her. Despite exchanging pleasantries, she had never encouraged him, and he had always left smiling. He never held a grudge against her like most of the other officers she had rebuffed.

The only other attractive unattached man in the local force was Chase but there was something missing there. She was attracted to him but there was a coldness there on his part. No vibes came from him when she spoke with him. It was as if she left him cold. He barely went out with his police mates and never with girls.

She worried for him. His mates said there was something in his background that he kept to himself. Only Cradley knew about it and Chase was a closed book, an automaton at times. Since this Mary Jane had died he had retreated further into himself.

That evening she for once went to the local bar after work, meeting some of the guys and girls from the precinct there. It was a birthday celebration and she had to socialise occasionally with the officers and admin to make herself part of the team. The men called her the ice princess and the frozen virgin because she would not date them. She was quite fine with that. They did not know her sexual history and she had no intention of disclosing it to them. Chase was there looking lonely and she sat with him sharing a bottle of his favourite beer.

Defoe had been persuaded to join the team. He noted she sat with Chase and felt his own guts churn. The officer looked particularly glum and Kate put her hand on his arm, comforting him, he thought. Defoe felt distinctly uncomfortable watching their behaviour. Whether it was merely friendship or something warmer he could not tell but he deeply envied the trust Chase inspired in her. She had behaved as if he had some social disease she could catch when he first joined the precinct. She had built up a wall of coldness toward him, regarding him haughtily through her glasses as if daring him to talk with her.

Chase whispered something to her and she giggled. She had drunk more than she usually did, and he was encouraging her. Defoe wondered if he should intervene. He did not know what the officer’s intentions were. Was she a friend he would make sure arrived home safely or a target he wanted to bed? The gentleman in Defoe wanted to protect her. He would watch Chase carefully and intervene if he thought he was going to take advantage of her.

Kate had joked Chase out of his black humour and felt happier leaving him. She had seen Defoe watching them when he thought she was not looking. He looked grim when she had comforted her friend, her hand on his arm. She wondered why he disliked her touching Chase. Chase was not a lover, just a friend and Defoe knew her policy of not dating cops. Perhaps it was the profiler in him, always looking for the worst in people, wanting to know what made them tick. Chase inspired mistrust in some people. He was a loner who would not confide his troubles in his colleagues and sometimes they thought the wrong things about him.

Chase went to the wash room and Defoe came over. He just did not trust him after he had failed to caution Britt. He wondered if he was a secret admirer of men who abused women. Some men did; the sort of men who rarely stood up to their wives in arguments but would like to have chastised them. Twisted sad men! Defoe had met men who physically chastised women in the older Irish community his granddad had mixed in. He despised men like that. If a man had to win an argument with a woman by using his fists he was not a man in Defoe’s book.

‘‘Hi,’’ he said. ‘‘May I sit down?’’

‘‘Sure,’’ she said making room. ‘‘Chase will be back soon. Do you want a drink? I’ll get this round.’’

‘‘No, I’ll get them. The same for you and what does Chase have?’’ Oh God, is he a chauvinist who doesn’t think women should buy a round?

‘‘I owe Chase a round from the last birthday bash,’’ he reassured her. He wondered how to breach the topic of her safety. Would she let him order her a cab home? He believed in the rights of women to walk home on their own in safety, but practice and theory didn’t always march together. There were too many perps out there who would take advantage of a girl’s naivety and accost her if she was on her own. It had happened to one of his feminist friends who had spent two months in hospital recovering from a broken jaw and arms and legs. He had helped nail the bastard who had hurt her but still felt guilty because he had not insisted on walking her back from the bar to her home.

‘‘You had a bad day?’’ he asked.

‘‘Yes,’’ she said, wondering why he asked. ‘‘Two little kids mutilated and murdered.’’ He knew the thing the cops and forensics scientists hated most was handling the case of murdered kids.

‘‘Chase had to process the bodies for me. We joined the guys here today to finish our day on something good.’’

‘‘He seems very self-absorbed these days,’’ opined Defoe. ‘‘Is there something on his mind?’’

‘‘Ask him yourself!’’ she retorted. ‘‘He can look after his own business.’’

A private person herself, she hated anyone poking their nose into her business and knew Chase felt the same. Defoe backed off immediately, facing the emotional barrier she had raised.

‘‘Is he going to take you home?’’ asked Defoe, unable to restrain himself. This woman brought out his protective instincts. He wanted her to see him as her white knight, there to rescue her if she was in danger. Instead, he felt her hackles rise again.

‘‘I’m quite capable of calling a cab Dr Defoe.’’

‘‘Whoa. I just think you shouldn’t trust male colleagues no matter how close you are to them.’’

‘‘I think I know Detective Chase sufficiently well to assess if he presents a danger to me.’’

‘‘So thought other women about their male friends and they are now hurt or dead. It doesn’t harm to take extra care especially if you have drunk a little alcohol and are not always able to make the best judgements.’’ She gave him a look that would freeze a man stoking in hell.

‘‘I repeat. I know how safe Chase is and I can use my cell to ring a cab.’’

‘‘Chase has been behaving strangely since we discovered the Mary Jane case. Just be careful and ring me if you feel uneasy. My number is in your cell.’’ Chase came over. ‘‘Dr Defoe,’’ he said coldly.

‘‘Detective,’’ just as frigidly. Jesus. They were like two rams facing each other, each warning the other off.

‘‘I wondered if Kate needed a cab to take her home. I just rang one for one of the other girls,’’ explained Defoe.

‘‘I can look after Kate,’’ He clearly resented Defoe stepping on to his territory. Defoe, getting no support from Kate backed off.

‘‘I’ll see you both tomorrow at the case conference. Make sure you get her home safely,’’ he warned, ignoring Kate’s indignant face and Chase’s glare. He didn’t care. He would face Kate’s ire tomorrow. Her safety was upmost in his mind at that moment and if he trod on her toes, that was too bad.

Kate was bemused. He had never openly shown any romantic interest in her before, nor ever asked about her safety, knowing full well she walked to the dark car park on her own some nights. Chase had seemed to bring out the worst in him, a protective and proprietorial streak she would never have believed existed. She was reassessing his character.

She knew he was no pushover. No man could operate in the Marines in the danger zones without some grit. She had also found out he had been awarded medals for bravery although he never boasted about them. She had seen him stand steadfast under interrogation by attorneys for the defence, holding his ground, no matter what the lawyers threw at him. He was stubborn as a mule and persistent which was why he was such a good profiler. It also made him an irritating arrogant know it all at times who thought he knew better than her what was good for her.

Chase might be difficult, but he was gentle to his female colleagues. His attitudes toward women and sex were almost medieval but he respected them. In her opinion he would never hurt a woman and Defoe was barking up the wrong tree. The good doctor would have to stand back and lay off her. She was nearly thirty-years-old, capable of looking after herself. She didn’t need a man, all muscle and macho ego butting in.

She got in her cab. Chase made sure the cab driver was bona fide and she arrived home safely. Defoe’s eyes were watching them all the time in the bar and he had waited outside until she had got in the cab alone, returning Chase’s stare glare for glare. He was clearly not easily chased away, standing his ground. He had made an enemy that night. The officer was not an easy man to cross and took grudges easily. He didn’t want to antagonise Chase, but he still felt uneasy about him. He ought to read his file and reassure himself Chase was harmless to women.

She arrived home safely, interested in the turn the night had taken. The drink was wearing off and calmer, she could think the evening over rationally. She speculated how she would feel if Defoe began to show a romantic interest in her. He was a hottie but how he would treat his women? He had revealed a different side of his character to her tonight; a manipulative, dominant but caring demonstrative side.

She thought it might be interesting to explore that more sensitive side of him but all the talk about him suggested he wanted no permanent involvement with a woman. One-night stands seemed to satisfy his sexual urges and his social life revolved around a small circle of friends he had made during his FBI career and life in the Marines. He was a man who did not make friends easily but kept his friends for ever when he made one, a difficult man to know or understand.

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