Stargazer

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Chapter 14 Wrapping things up



The next three weeks in Columbus PD limped by as December dawned. The weather cooled significantly as did the enthusiasm from on high to continue funding unlimited overtime and the task force. The media moved on to the next big story and the killings stopped. Lewis watched proceedings against McEvoy with more interest than he knew he should have. A week late, McEvoy’s bail hearing saw him get out on $12,000 up front and the usual conditions. The case was accelerated through the system under pressure from Columbus PD’s new deputy Commissioner, Spietz. It looked like he and the DA, were both responding to a media narrative that the police department would protect their own. Or Spietz had an axe to grind when it came to McEvoy. Either way, McEvoy was going to be put through the criminal justice system at lightening speed, and the newspapers would get a story, just not the one they expected.

McEvoy’s case was heard a mere week and half after he had been granted bail. He wasn’t fighting it. He received a 36 month prison sentence and a $5000 fine, with the judge remarking that the sentence could not be lenient just because the perpetrator was a police officer, and also because the victim was left blind in one eye. Lewis reckoned he’d serve probably at least 18 months before any parole hearing.

Ware had stayed on with the task force for one more week before returning home, Johnson had stayed on another two weeks before being recalled to Quantico. Her parting words to him were “See you next summer” - clearly she was under no illusion the killings had stopped for good. He didn’t want to agree with her, he wanted to forget the last few months. But he had to acknowledge that the guy who had started all this, their Stargazer, always went to ground every winter it seemed.

But the perp randomly shooting people with a .38, who knew? The killings had stopped as abruptly as they started. Maybe their man had wandered into the wrong neighborhood and been shot himself, maybe he had moved out of state, maybe he had gotten sick. Only time would tell. All the files went down the unsolved route, a purgatory of indefinite duration until they made it to Cold Case status. The units clearance rate dipped into the low 50’s percentage points, and the brass’s response as ever was a personnel change.

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It was a pleasant 75 degrees and overcast in Tampa, perfect weather for a morning run. David exited his apartment and pressed the stopwatch on his wrist watch. He headed east on his usual route before veering north on North Meridian Avenue to the Channel District. Traffic was still very light at 7:15 am here, one of the reasons he chose the route. Up ahead at the next junction he noted the pedestrian light sequence would be most likely in his favor by the time he reached it. He took an undeniable pleasure in getting any of his predictions right, even such minor events as traffic light timings. The lights changed a little quicker than he anticipated and he increased his pace so as not to have to stop. He hit the junction at a decent pace, feeling his oxygen debt rising with his increased effort.

He never saw it coming. The red Peterbilt 352/H cab wasn’t pulling a load but was doing a steady 45 miles an hour. The driver had just delivered his load not an hour ago, having spent all night and the previous day on the road. The subsequent investigation into the accident found the driver had a number of Hours of Service violations for driving beyond the 11 hour limit. Such details for David were all academic as he flew through the air, landing ten yards into the center of the junction. He would have been killed by oncoming traffic if it had been only a little later in the morning and traffic heavier. The lights went out for David instantaneously, the only question that remained was whether they’d ever come back on.

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