Detective Andrew Hackle walked towards the big glass window on the front wall of the room. They were currently in Hotel Caralie, the best, five-stars hotel in Michigan. Over three hundred miles from his home. He absolutely hated leaving his home town, yet, he was called here by the local Chief to solve a crime. A crime that was already too similar to the previous three in the last month.
He took a glance towards the dead body of a young, white, blonde woman. Katie, twenty-three-year-old from New York. She came to Michigan to visit her little sister, Tamara, who was living with their father.
The dead girl was shot in the middle of her head. The remains of her brain were sprawled on the right wall. It wouldn’t be any extraordinary murder. Drew had witnessed such deaths many times in his twenty-five-year career as the detective in Cleveland. It wouldn’t be any different if it wasn’t for one, small fact.
All of the victims were found with a small, black piece from the chess game. The pawn was standing always in the same position. Right on the hole, where the bullet went through. The strangest fact was that the three previous victims had black pawns on their wounds, while Katie was different. On her wound was standing a black rook.
Andrew wondered, what it could mean. Why Katie was different than the three latest victims. So far, the profile of victims wasn’t very different. Female between her twenties-thirties, pretty, slim. Yet, even though all women were beautiful, none of them were raped, nor Drew couldn’t figure out what was the motive of the killer.
It frustrated him. He disliked to not know the answer. Especially when the evidence of the crime was lying before his deep, green eyes. He turned his back to the team, who was secure the traces of the crime, and grabbed the files from his black bag. He took them out and opened to read about each woman.
Andrea Casteroni, age twenty-eight. She came to the USA in 1998, just when she was eleven. She immigrated with her family from Greece. She worked as a librarian in Hershey.
Susan Terrance, age thirty-two. She was living her whole life in New York. She worked as a vet in her own tiny health center.
Emily Woods, age twenty-five. Lately, she was living in Massachusetts. She worked as a primary school teacher.
And finally, Katie Summers, age twenty-three from New York. A student of NYU. She was a dancer in the dance school, is owned by her friend Pierre Saintclaire.
None of them was married, none of them had kids. So besides the fact of their gender and close age, nothing was connecting them. Not even their state of money. While Susan and Katie were suited well, Emily and Andrea weren’t earning more than one thousand eight hundred dollars per month.
Drew’s thoughts were interrupted by the loud sound of his cell phone. “Highway to Hell” filled the room, forcing everyone to look at the detective. He offered them a small smile and took the phone out of his black leather jacket. He looked at the screen and spotted the id of his worker.
“Yes, Meg?” He spoke to the phone in a light tone.
“Hey, boss. Busy?” the middle-aged woman asked. He was working with Margaret “Meg” Karlowicz, an immigrant from Poland, for about twenty years now. He was still a local policeman when the two of them met. She taught him all about being a detective, she was his mentor. And now, even though he was her employer, he still called to her for advice.
“I’m at the crime scene.” She hummed to his response. “Is this something important? If not, call to Jefferson. He’s the boss there now until I’m back.”
“Actually, I have some more news for you, about your crimes.” Suddenly he was very interested in her words. “I dug some more and found something interesting. Maybe it’s nothing, or maybe it’s something.”
“What is it, Meg?” He urged her to explain her thoughts.
“I went through all lives of these women. Apparently, there is one thing that connects them.” She was explaining with a calm voice. “All of them were participants of the Annual State Chess Marathon in the years from 2001 to 2004. They were teenagers then, but still, they participated.”
“So this why he uses the Chess pieces,” Drew concluded out loud. “Do you have the lists of participants? One of them must be the killer. Was there anyone who participated in all of these marathons?”
“I have three people.” She started to list them. “Daniel Stellar. Age fifty-two. Died a month ago, a heart attack. Samantha Stone, age forty-seven, living in Bologna right now. Married to Alonso Estrocci. And finally Steven Clash, age thirty-six, from Nashville. He never won the marathons. As farthest as he got is the second place, in 2004 when Katie was participating. Other times the women were pushing him off to the fourth place. He’s single, with no job. He was in prison for two years. He robbed the local pawn shop. His father was an alcoholic and mother died very young. He was thrown out of the high school because of the robbers he was causing in his last year.”
“That’s him.” Hackle stated firmly. “Give me his address.”
“That’s the problem. His latest address is from three years ago. But I checked it. There’s someone else that lives in there now.” Meg informed him. Through the phone, he could hear that she’s been hitting computer’s keys. “He has no medical record from 2013, no bills are coming to him. It’s like he disappeared. But I’ll give you a contact to his half-brother, Thomas Anderson. He’s a lawyer in Washington.”
“All right. And send me the latest picture of this Steve.” With those words, he hung up and waited for a text from her. A minute later his phone ringed, indicating that a new message came. He opened it and scrolled the address, straight to the picture.
The man on the image was young. His platinum blonde hair was a little past his shoulder. His blue eyes were darker. He wore a grey hoodie and a red t-shirt with “I’m a badass” written across it. He was plain, he didn’t look like a murderer at all. Yet, the evidence showed otherwise.
“Hackle!” Lieutenant Smith called him to the dead body. He was holding some small, black paper in his gloved hand. “Here. My people found this in the pocket of her jeans.”
Detective grabbed it and unfolded the paper. There were just two words printed on it, with an image of lying white pawn.
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