Stargazer

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Chapter 6: Going Public

Thursday morning had arrived sooner than Lewis wanted. Marcella has briefed him on Trenton. The idea of going to Cincinnati to interview some grandmother’s ex neighbors son seemed a little weak and not priority. However there was no doubt in his mind now that the three dead men from ’92- 93 were linked.

The scene photographs were what sealed it, particularly the Columbus one. All three men had been killed somewhere and then carried to and placed on the ground in the same specific way, face up with arms spread out. The Columbus one was even odder since the killer had to clear garbage out of the way to spread the victim’s arms. The connection to the dismembered boys in Tar Hollow was not a certainty at all. The Missing Persons so called “RESOLVED” files and Lorenzo’s story around it would have to be managed. He thought he might have an idea about that. Either way, Spietz would have to go public with Tar Hollow and given the details of that, the media would make sure the case went state-wide quickly and possibly even national. That would force Spietz’s hand and mean the FBI getting involved. This could be a long month, hell, it could be a long winter. He didn’t particularly need the overtime but he was going to get it anyway.
He got to the station early to try and gather the various files off McEvoy’s desk and be prepared for battle. McEvoy didn’t seem to have even opened any of them, they lay untouched and neatly piled to one side. Marcella hadn’t mentioned his behavior on the Trenton trip one way or the other. He wasn’t inclined yet to start giving the impression he had serious doubts about McEvoy’s ability to do the job, but he couldn’t carry him forever. Marcella had caught a stabbing in a domestic last night and was going to be late in. She had promised to play dumb in front of Spietz if asked about this whole thing until it became public, but he wanted her help if Spietz decided to allocate more detectives to it. She was smart and she was thorough.

By 8:30 am Spietz was in his office and motioned him to come in. He offered Lewis one of his cigarettes and got straight into it. He thought it odd the boss didn’t even ask about where McEvoy was but figured if Spietz wasn’t prepared to wait, that in and of itself wasn’t a good sign from McEvoy’s point of view. He laid out what he had. He started with Erbinger’s mini report on the autopsy and the notes, detailed the three cold case homicides and their links to one another which led him nicely into the so called “RESOLVED” cases of the other three missing boys.

“So you’re saying there never was a NCIC record of these three boys? How did Spellman manage the families then? What did he say? What do they know?”

Spietz was already seeing the potential PR disaster in this.

“Lorenzo claims Spellman dealt with the families, only asked him not to make trouble or ask questions. The two of them came from Franklinton. He must have stonewalled them, told them there were no leads. They must have just stopped asking”. He knew is sounded fishy.

Spietz absorbed this information, and seemed to begrudgingly accept it. “And what do they know now?” Spietz was still looking for PR loose ends.

“Me and McEvoy have met one of the Franklinton mothers. I don’t think she knew what day it was, didn’t give much of a shit.”

“Fine. They don’t need to know anything about what’s written at the end of those files. Those boys are still officially missing if anyone asks though. I’ve no fucking clue what I’m supposed to say to the FBI when they come down but we’ll deal with that when we have to. I’m calling Lorenzo today and it’s not going to be pleasant. I need a name or some idea who got him his juicy transfer before I go upstairs with dogshit on my shoe into the wrong office”. Spietz was staring out his window. He was presumably seeing storm clouds on the horizon.

He saw the boss’s dilemma. He’d have to debrief the brass upstairs on all of this, and one of them already must know about it. This could potentially ruin any chance Spietz had of promotion if he handled it poorly. He guessed Spietz would be knocking on various doors and making phone calls all morning, trying to figure out who would have had enough influence to suppress an investigation. Spietz needed to privately figure out who it was and let him or her know this was coming out, potentially to the media but definitely to the FBI and to the top brass.

“Sir, I’ve got one idea that might help this entire situation. Lorenzo is convinced Spellman was hiding someone inside the department but outside too. Frederick Timmonds could be it. If I can speak to him, get him talking, he might tell us who is involved upstairs and he might even give us a lead on what happened these three kids”. He was protecting Lorenzo a bit here. Timmonds name had come in conversation more than once back in Lima. Lorenzo was convinced Spellman was involved in some way with him.

He knew this was a long shot but worth taking. Frederick Timmonds was the owner of the Columbus Star, now serving 12 years for his part in a pedophile ring bust. He had been imprisoned following his trial in November of ’96. Timmonds was a rich man of means and connections and also a pedophile. He had been caught after being named by his associate pedophile friends as the host of pool parties at his expansive residence just outside Columbus. Searches at the residence had revealed a large stash of child pornography including polaroids of young black boys taken at these parties. And he knew Timmonds had to be interviewed anyway now given that the FBI would insist on it once they heard about the three supposedly still missing boys and were trying to link it to Tar Holland State Forest Park. They would be looking to interview all known pedophiles incarcerated or not in the area and with good reason too. Whether there was a sexual element to their killer or not, he was preying on the same demographic as Timmonds used to.

And it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility that Timmonds had the killer as an invitee to his home. None of the pedophile ring could be the killer since they were in jail by the time the Tar Holland boys first disappeared, but they might cough up some leads. Spietz had his back turned to him, looking out the window at the concrete landscape outside matching the color of the drab grey sky. He was stroking his earlobe, Lewis knew this was Spietz mentally putting his finishing touches to a plan of action. Just at this point, McEvoy knocked on the door and came in. Spietz turned around and stared at him.

McEvoy actually looked more refreshed than usual, he had shaved and showered. He was wearing pants and a sports jacket which both looked new.

“Welcome Detective. Thank you for gracing us with your presence. Detective Lewis here has being filling me in on it all. I assume you are up to speed also?” Spietz’s question was pretty loaded.

McEvoy nodded and apologized for being late.

“So here’s what we are going to do. Forensics to be confirmed through Erbinger. Assuming the matches are certain we go public tomorrow afternoon. In the mean time I’ll be putting a call into Quantico today. No doubt we’ll have one of the BSU Special Agents here by the weekend. You and McEvoy will be spending tomorrow morning informing next of kin on those Tar Hollow bodies. Don’t go fucking near the next of kin of anyone else as of now. If anyone asks for details, give them the bare minimum. Today Lewis, you’ll have to go down stairs and sort through the evidence from the Timmonds trial. I think you know what to look for.”

Spietz looked at him for some sort of confirmation. He nodded. He’d be looking through those polaroids for shots of any of the three supposedly still missing but “RESOLVED”.

Spietz continued.

“You talk to Timmonds today even if nothing shows up downstairs. If he gives you something, if he gives you anything, you come to me and me only with it. And you ring me as soon as you can with it. I don’t have to spell out how sensitive this is. I’ll also be spending all day trying to sort out Spellman and Lorenzo’s mess. McEvoy, you’ll spend your day familiarizing yourself with the finer detail of all the available forensics and detail on all the cases including those three cold cases from ’92. I want to know if they found squirrel shit on those kids, I want to know if they found even one cigarette butt at any scene and I want to know what brand it was and how much was smoked. And I want to know what was on those notes and what it means. We meet again tomorrow at 11am here. Lewis, I’m ok’ing a third on this. I suggest Marcella or Rodriguez, your choice. Whoever you choose, they pass on their opens to Wilkins and Reckov. And gentlemen, clear your calendar. This could be a long winter.”


Lewis wasn’t keen on skimming through a pedophiles personal collection of polaroids but he knew Spietz was right. If it so happened that one of the missing kids from ’94-95 pictures were in any of the polaroids, that could be very useful to know prior to talking to Timmonds. He looked at his watch - it was 9am currently and it would take him another ten minutes of searching just to locate Timmonds whereabouts in the Ohio State Correctional database and make the requisite phone calls to arrange an interview. And he wanted to corner Marcella and get her on board as the third assigned detective before he left to see Timmonds.

He saw McEvoy arrive back with the remaining files to be memorised. McEvoy hated that kind of detail in cases. He was more about hunches. Spietz knew this and was punishing him. Spietz wanted them on top of anything in terms of detail in advance of the Feds getting involved. It gave the impression of a thorough professional approach from their unit at the outset, although he wasn’t sure McEvoy would be able to pull that off in front of the Feds. He sat down and had his third cigarette of the day. The Feds could well arrive to a total shit show.

A few minutes later he had located Timmonds to Lebanon Correctional Institution, about an hour and half away with traffic down Route 42. He couldn’t put it off any longer and descended two floors to the basement where the evidence storage depot was held. Here they held approximately eight to ten years worth of case evidence in numbered lots with a basic filing and cross check system. Unlike in the movies, no one could get in to and thus access any case material just by signing an admission slip and searching themselves. You had to go through big ole Georgie Atkins, have the case file numbers and he’d go get what you were specifically looking for.

Given the sheer size of the place and number of individual evidence pieces, that could take Georgie a bit of time. He was morbidly obese and contrary to stereotypes, not a jolly old fat man. Legend had it he apparently earned this delightful job in the basement following a Columbus PD Christmas party where he got into a drunken fight with Spietz’s predecessor nine years ago. Lewis looking at him now wondered just how much booze it would take to get this man drunk. He handed the case file number over to Georgie.

“I just need the polaroids George, if there is one or two particular ones , I’ll sign them out.”

Georgie looked at the number.

“Timmonds case huh. Rather you than me. Gimme a couple of minutes.”
Georgie returned with a small box of polaroids inside a plastic bag.

“You know the deal Tom” Georgie said as he handed the bag over.

Any evidence inspection like this required he look through it at a purpose built side table and chair combo in full view of Georgie. He sat down and opened the box. Most of the shots were poorly lit and showed boys, almost all black, in various states of undress. A few were contextually different in that they appeared to be pictures you might see from a vacation, boys around a pool in swimming trunks in small groups of two or three. These had been taken outdoors and beside a swimming pool.

It was in one of these that he saw the Pinces kid. Jesus fucking Christ . Fourteen years old and where was he now? And beside Pince in one shot, apparently casually talking amongst themselves, was DiAndre Miller. They must have known one another.He appeared later too in an individual shot taken in a darkened room. He was naked except for what appeared to be a necklace with a Volkswagen symbol as its main ornament. Lewis felt sick to his stomach. He signed the box of shots out and Georgie bagged them and handed them over.

“It’s a disease you know” George said as he handed him the polaroids. “And I got the cure”.

He looked on as jolly ole Georgie made a neck slashing action with his pudgy hand from his left to right ear.

.........

McEvoy sat at his desk and started to transcribe. It was a trick he had learned himself at highschool when he was struggling to regain control, when his life seemed to make him a bystander as it descended into chaos. He would focus on the words on the page in an effort to prevent his mind drifting to the basement, to the acne scars, the faint smell of whiskey on his uncle’s breath, to the shame of his own erection. To anyone looking on, he was working furiously, focused on the task. In highschool the technique in trying to help him suppress memories, had ironically helped him with memorizing for exams. He would create reams and reams of notes, enough to fill boxes under his bed and boxes in his closet. And so here he sat at his desk now, pen in hand, A4 note pad at the ready, a days struggle lying ahead.

........

Marcella was back in the office by the time Lewis returned up from the basement. He hoped asking her to be involved in this investigation would be like pushing an open door, but he couldn’t be sure. She was that rarest of rare breeds of murder cops- she had a life outside her job. Getting involved would mean longer hours and overtime, and potentially a lot of travel around the state, time away from home. But Spietz had recommended her for a reason. She had the right mix of intuition, diligence and professionalism that would be required in spades for the weeks ahead.

He didn’t think this was a case that would end quickly. If all the cases were linked, and given the relative paucity of evidence left at the scene, and given the killings were done over at least six to seven years, that meant their target had no desire to be caught. He wasn’t likely to eventually seek infamy like some serial killers through a trail of clues and taunts for the chasing cops.
McEvoy was at his desk, scribbling notes intently from the files, and didn’t even acknowledge Marcella when she wandered over to Lewis.

“Well, how’d it go? Spietz go bananas?” she asked.

“Not at all. Or at least not yet. He’s going public tomorrow afternoon with it. He wants a third detective on this , Marcella. My choice.” He looked at her with what he thought might resemble puppy dog eyes.

“Why are you doing that with your face Tom? You look like you’re about to fart. Is that an ultimatum- join us or I will fart?”

She laughed and he couldn’t help but laugh too. McEvoy never even looked up, he was still writing like a maniac.

“I’m gonna fart anyway but yeah, I need you on this” he replied.

She didn’t hesitate .“My pleasure. I’m already half in anyway. Who’s catching my ongoings?” Lewis told her to handover to Wilkins and Reckov.

They were going on a road trip to Lebanon Correctional Institution in the afternoon; he’d brief her on the way. His desk phone rang- it was Erbinger: the DNA forensics on all three had come in. Jayden Jackson, Deshawn Washington and Aaron Smith had gone missing this summer, and met a grisly end in Tar Hollow State Forest.

………

Lebanon Correctional Institution was a typical scar on the local landscape. A red brick build with white railings, white gates and white building trim, the watchtowers gave distant passers an easy hint what the building’s purpose was. When you got within 500 yards, the razor wire and guards sealed the deal.

The weather the entire way down was a dull unrelenting mist washing the landscape grey. That and the amount of idiots using their high beam headlights heading northeast against them on Route 42 had given Lewis a blinding headache. He got out of the car and popped two ibuprofen in his mouth. He had no water or even cold coffee to wash them down, so why not a cigarette?

They walked slowly to the visitor reception.

“What’s your preferred approach here Tom?” Marcella inquired. She knew his strongest asset as a murder cop of seventeen years was his ability to manage interviews. When a suspect was being interviewed by him, they were never aware of the little traps he subtly sometimes set. They would take a path they thought they had consciously taken, but instead had been pushed into. They would eventually realize when that path led to a dead end and turn around to see him standing over them. He would then lean in, look eye to eye with the suspect, pen and paper in hand, ask them to sign it, reassuring them they had done the right thing.

“He’ll know we’re just two regular joe detectives the minute we flash our badges. He’s here because he’s curious and he has an ego. He knows we can’t offer him jack shit with his sentence. If he doesn’t mention something about the Columbus Police PD, let me drop some false nickname about the district Commissioner. If he’s still uninterested, I don’t think he has much to offer. If he questions it or starts with another remark about Columbus PD, we try to establish people we know in common. I don’t bring up Spellman until the right moment. I bring up Tar Hollow bodies, tell him we don’t know yet how old they are but that they must be at least five or six years in in the ground maybe. Maybe less even. We link in with the polaroids then. Let’s see then how he reacts and follow his lead”

He knew the polaroids were their only prop and only bit of leverage.

“And if he brings up Spellman himself? Marcella asked.

“ We gotta jump in I guess. I need you to be my doubter here and there. Say he doesn’t know anything or we are wasting our time here. Stuff like that. I’ll lead.”
Their escort was a slight prison officer with a face that told them he had been here a long time, a face that had spent all of his working life keeping watch over Ohio State’s worst offenders. And this place didn’t do happy endings like Shawshank. Working here could be a life sentence too.

The interview room was suitably poorly lit with three metal chairs bolted to the floor and a desk also bolted to the floor and the only window being a large reinforced one as part of the door. Their escort and the prisoner’s escort were the two guards left outside the door. He was annoyed the prisoner was sitting waiting for them. He liked to see the reaction of their faces as they entered, by standing in the corner and approaching them from behind and to the side. His headache made a fleeting return. The ibuprofen he had dry swallowed had given him nasty heartburn. Time to perform.
Lewis let Marcella do the introductions and as she sat down. He then emptied the contents of a small briefcase onto the metal table, placing each item slowly and deliberately. Center piece was a small tape recorder, to the immediate right was a file, and to the left and set further away was the small box of polaroids with the cover on. Frederick Timmonds was a nondescript fat man in his fifties. His balding white hair was matched by a white moustache and wispy beard. His small deep set eyes made them harder to read. In prison clothes, his overall appearance didn’t give any hint of his accumulated fortune thorough a mini media conglomerate outside prison.

“No coffee officer, you disappoint me” Timmonds directed it at him. There was a reason he didn’t use the correct term of Detective as per Marcella’s introductions, he thought. Not going to take that bait.

“We’re just here to ask a few questions Mr Timmonds if you’re ok with that. When you think you have something useful for us to hear, tell me and I’ll press that red button”

He offered this in an almost conspiratorial tone.

“We don’t have to let Commissioner Felstoke know everything. He’s too busy sipping cocktails on Singles Cruises anyway right? he added.

Timmonds smiled as Lewis sat down and took out his cigarettes.

“I haven’t heard that at all about Commissioner Felstoke, Officer Lewis. Are you implying he’s homosexual? He’s a family man as much as I know him” Timmonds replied.

“How does a guy like you know Police Commissioners” sneered Marcella. Play to his ego Marcella. Well played he thought.

“I know a lot of people Officer” Timmonds hesitated. “Officer Gregory?” he said, appearing to guess.

“That right, Mr Timmonds, Officer Marcella Gregory” she replied in a dead pan manner. Her title was Detective Marcella Gregory. This was the right reply he thought. Now everyone knew in the room Timmonds could dispense with the bait and small digs. It wasn’t going to work on them.

“You know a lot of the brass Mr Timmonds ?” he asked. “You know Simowitz and Kearney too?”.

He was dropping some Columbus PD heavyweight names now. Simowitz was Chief Commissioner and Kearney was the other Deputy alongside Felstoke.

“I know them all. I’ve met Simowitz at some events. I know Kearney very well, I play golf with him”.

Marcella jumped in. “Played golf with him you mean Mr Timmonds. I doubt you get out much even in here” She was of course referring to the fact that Timmonds was in isolation here for his own protection. The general prison population would likely just kill him if he was left mix on the main floor.

“What’s this all about anyway Officers?. I’m sure you didn’t travel all this way to discuss who drinks what alcoholic beverage where and when.” Timmonds was beginning to get impatient. He decided it was time to get down to business.

“Three dead black boys, Frederick. Found them out there in Tar Hollow Forest. All cut up. They’d been there awhile now. Since maybe ’93, maybe ’94 or ’95. Badly decomposed. You know anything about that?”
Timmonds looked genuinely angry.

“Look Detective, I’ve consistently denied to the police that I have ever had anything more than friendships with any boys. And now I’m some sort of monster? You’re barking up the wrong tree here.” He also looked a little rattled.

“I think we both know you are lying now, Frederick. We even brought some mementos of yours today.” He got up, took the box from the left hand side of the table and went around to the back of Timmonds. He began placing polaroids of boys over the left and right shoulder of Timmonds.

“These all your friends Frederick?. What about these boys?”. He kept placing more and more pictures, up to 20 different shots. Lewis took the shot of the Pinces boy and Miller boy talking by the pool, and the one of the Miller boy naked but for his Volkswagen necklace, and one random boy and held them directly in front of Timmonds face.

“Most importantly of all these, what about these three boys?”. He was looking for a reaction. Frederick Timmonds was proving harder to read than he’d expected. He gave him the polaroids.

“Look if those boys went missing and wound up dead, I don’t know anything about it.” Timmonds insisted.

“But we never said any of these boys are missing,” He was trying to trip him up.

“Why would you think any of these boys are missing, Mr Timmonds. Unless you knew already they were missing. And how would you know something like that?”

Lewis spat out the questions quickly.

“I’m in the newspaper industry, missing boys would be news” Timmonds retorted. “And why the fuck would you be showing me these and talking about dead kids anyway?”

“You were in the newspaper industry , Frederick. Were in it” Marcella chimed in.

An awkward silence descended in the cramped room.

He was leaning over Timmonds now, closely scrutinizing his reaction, trying to see those deep set eyes, staring at him. If he was going to give them anything at all, if he knew anything at all, his reaction would betray him now. Timmonds couldn’t hold the gaze and looked to the floor and nervously shuffled in the cold hard seat.

He was now convinced Timmonds knew something at least about the so called “RESOLVED” cases. What it was and how it helped their entire investigation needed answering.

“What about Ronald Spellman, you know Ronald Spellman, Frederick?” He asked.

Marcella interjected again. “There is no way he’d give up anyone. This a waste of time. We have Lorenzo on tape talking about this creep and Spellman, let’s just make it on that. He’s a nobody. There is no third killer.”

Timmonds recoiled a little but retained his composure.

“You boys and girls want to ask a few questions and now you are trying to make me implicate myself in a crime. Now you know and I know a lawyer needs to be present for this and I’m not participating anymore in talking on this or anything for that matter. You can go drink some cocktails with Commissioner Felstoke if you want. We’re done here”

Timmonds folded his arms and looked at them both.

Lewis knew they had run out of road, and done so without getting a whole lot of anything at this point. He began gathering the photos and placing them back in his box. By the time he was placing his tape recorder in the briefcase, Marcella was already at the door motioning to the guards outside.

He turned to leave when Timmonds, still seated, spoke again. “Detective Lewis. You look like a drinking man. What’s your favorite whiskey?”

“I used to prefer bourbon” he replied.

“You should try some Irish whiskeys Detective. They’ll warm your heart”. Timmonds offered this with the slightest of smiles on his face.

.........


They walked back to the car in silence. Marcella offered to drive back, and he was happy to hand over the keys. His headache had returned with a vengeance and the mist had turned into proper rain.

“That could have gone better. He was holding back something. I know it. I can feel it.” He lit a cigarette standing outside the car.

Marcella looked quizzically at him. “You didn’t think he’d just offer a straight up statement and drag someone powerful into this on tape. Someone who could actually influence his sentence, put him back in the general prison population. He’ll be making contact with whoever it is over the next few days and warning them. He gave you enough to stir a little and that’s all”.

He looked over the roof of the steel grey sedan at her in exasperation. “What’d he give us? Nothing”.

She smiled and shook her head. “Tom, you didn’t get it?” She sounded surprised.

“Get what?” he replied.

“Irish whiskeys. Kearney. It’s obvious. Too obvious maybe.”
........


His hand began to really hurt by the late evening. Everyone except the cleaners had left the office. He had almost transcribed the entirety of the controversial three cases from Missing Persons from ’94-95. There were some obvious connections to Tar Hollow in that the demographics were eerily similar. Two boys in both groups were average or lower than average students, one from each group was a honors roll type all American achiever. There didn’t seem to be an age in particular that was being targeted other than they had to be teens. And he was pretty sure one of the Tar Holland boys was prepubescent according to the coroner.

His head was a maelstrom now, facts and images flying around, he was losing his ability to focus. He dreaded this realization because he knew his mind would wander. He needed to distract himself, he needed some control. McEvoy grabbed his new sports jacket and left. By the time he got home, he felt like he was on autopilot. The hand that put the key in lock seemed to belong to someone else, and he was merely watching it happen. He tried turning on the TV and just sitting on the couch, but now it felt as if he was in the uppermost corner of the room just looking at himself. He tried closing his eyes but that was the worst of all, a cacophony of the rest of senses seemed turn on as he turned his sight off. Smells of whiskey, the sound of feet shuffling down the basement steps, the hair on his neck tingling, his erection growing.

His thoughts raced as he reached for the bourbon bottle on the coffee table. There was a struggle of emotions bubbling to the surface, a race which fury was winning. He had to get out. McEvoy jumped up and walked to the bedroom closet. He needed to get out. He reached for the box with his .38 in it. He didn’t know why, but he wanted it in his hands. He needed to complete, this was the message his mind kept throwing at him. You need to complete. You must complete. You will complete. You have to complete. They would be out there. They would see him. He would see them. He would please them. It must be released.

He grabbed his keys. He knew what he had to do, what must be done. What he wanted.


.........

It was 1:30 am. Marco was tired and he was wet. It had poured rain all evening and it was a black night outside. He had been waiting thirty minutes now at the 7-11, and his customer hadn’t showed. He had school in the morning and this year was lying ahead of him like an impossible quest academically. His side business selling weed to fellow students would have to scale back if he was to get the required scores to push for a Masters after his finals.

Fuck this he thought, I’m out. He turned left and west on Tremont road off North Star Avenue. The rain was beginning to become an unrelenting downpour. The streets were deserted, with only the occasional passing car. He was passing by the elementary school when he noticed a dark colored truck, maybe a Cherokee pulling out onto the road behind him and slowly ambling up behind him. Not the cops he thought, and not a drive by in this part of town, and anyway, he could make out only a driver in the car. The truck pulled up alongside him and the electric passenger window rolled down.

“Hey man, I need to get back on Route 40, you know how from here?” the driver yelled out.

Holy shit, a fucking tourist at this time in this weather lost thought Marco. He stopped and approached the passenger window to lean in. The last thing he saw was the muzzle flash.

........

Friday mornings meeting with Spietz was predictable. Lewis should have known telling him about Timmonds cryptic clue relating to Deputy Commissioner Kearney was as useful to Spietz as tits on a bull. It was vague enough to mean nothing and yet delivered in a context and a time that indicated it could be meaningful. Timmonds had dangled something either to deflect from who he was really protecting or just messing with them. Marcella suggested getting a log of calls made by Timmonds within the next few days to see who he would try and warn, but that timeline was no use to Spietz. He had hoped to get a handle on this before going public with Tar Hollow , but that hope was gone.

McEvoy looked drawn and tired but was oddly chirpy and contributed a few insights into what he felt were priorities in finding their killer. His main concern was trying to find a common link or links to all the missing and killed, adult or child. By making the assumption that the cases were all linked, this increased the chances they might find that link he reasoned.

Lewis had popped in to Ohio State Department of Mathematics this morning and dropped a copy of the equation found on the notes in for an informal analysis. He was awaiting a call back. He wrapped up the progress report on Tar Hollow with the forensics on the scene and bodies as well as the three separate adult scenes.

What became obvious to all in the room after these details or more precisely, lack of details were revealed, was that whoever was responsible for these murders was very careful to not leave anything behind on the corpse around the scenes. What was also apparent is that they could or could not be connected to each other as two groups of three murders. But each group of three murders were clearly to themselves. They had either two serial killers or one.

Marcella listed all contacted next of kin, and relevant friends or family already interviewed , as well as anyone connected to scene discoveries, and finally a list of potential new interviewees such as known contacts not yet talked to. That left Lewis to go over yesterday’s events with Timmonds. When Kearney’s name was mentioned, Spietz sat back on his chair and rubbed his earlobe, looking out the window.

Deputy Commissioner Kearney was decorated police officer of thirty years duration of Irish American background and described as a vicious political animal by his friends. He was a big man with big ambitions and they extended beyond the police force according to many. He had also become wealthy through his wife’s successful salon business and they lived just outside Columbus on a sizable ranch as well as owning multiple properties in the city itself. Spietz seemed resigned. He stood as if to make an announcement.

“This will come out one way or the other now. It can’t be stopped. The Feds are arriving in the evening, and they will be like a dog with a bone on this. If we don’t monitor Timmonds calls now, and they find out we spoke to him and didn’t do it, that makes me look like the asshole. If we do monitor Timmonds calls, and it shows up nothing, we can say we thought of it but it was a bust. If Timmonds does call him or anyone else, we let the FBI take the lead and the rewards if it leads to something. When they come, we help them on this, full disclosure.”
Lewis absorbed this for a minute. Spietz was going all out and would let the FBI lead. The last forty eight hours had brought no clarity to him on who was involved in this mess at the top. The press conference was set for 3pm; it had been a slow week news wise. Hurricane Mitch had made landfall in Honduras, there had been a drug related shooting on Tremont Road last night and Mei Linn, Cincinnati Zoo’s resident panda was about to give birth. The unseasonably wet weather was due to relent with the Halloween weekend forecast as cloudy but dry. The media would lap this up, the show was about to start in earnest.

..........



He pulled up outside Josie’s Diner just off Main Street on Trenton in his work truck. The truck decal read “Rawluc Ohio State Pool Maintenance: Private And Commercial” with his home contact number and office one in town. There was a large bright blue water drop decal framing either side of the writing. He employed three other guys and a secretary out of his Trenton base office. David was the technical guy for pumps and so forth, the other three were the heavy lifters and cleaners. His secretary, Arlene, was the fifty eight year old town busy body and gossip artist but harmless enough.

Josie’s Diner was a favorite haunt of his, he loved their apple pie and cream with a strong coffee. The rain had cleared overnight to leave the occasional snatch of autumnal sunlight through the grey sky. He had been mulling over his project whilst he fixed Lima Parks splash pool pump. Contact or even acknowledgment of his and others existence was the aim. To that end he had made three attempts so far but they took time to set up.

The first was really only a clumsy attempt that he now acknowledged was wasteful but it was the start. He had doubts about the sites ability to broadcast as they aged. Like a battery, they could only fade over time. The question was whether to try a brighter light so to speak, which would burn intensely, travel and dissipate further into space. That required a bigger project next summer, one that needed more planning and conceivably starting in Spring. It might mean buying another large freezer before he started, to halt any wear and tear before everything was set. And he needed to check his maps again. The site would need to be slightly bigger with the usual nearby elevated area for viewing. Now sitting in Josie’s, he made his decision. He would up his game. Success meant taking risks always in life, go big or go home. He smiled to himself.

“Whatcha smiling at there David?” Josie, the owner and head chef asked.

“Thinking how goddamn good this pie is again Josie. It’s like cheese or you even- it gets better with age” he replied.

They both laughed, same exchanges now for nearly six years. Josie’s attention was suddenly drawn to the small tv suspended on a bracket on the wall over the door to the restrooms. WBNS-TV news was on and a news conference was under way outside Columbus Police Department.

“Turn that up there Fred” Josie instructed one of the servers.

The substance of the conference appeared over, the reporter was now giving a summary to the camera.

“So to recap Sue for everyone back in studio, Police today are looking for information from anyone living near or commuting beside the Tar Hollow State Forest Park who may have seen suspicious activity in the area. This is in relation to the gruesome findings of the bodies of three young boys missing since this summer, all brutally beaten to death. It appears the bodies were concealed in shallow graves and partially unearthed possibly by wildlife, and discovered by a local orienteering group last weekend. Back to you in the studio Sue”.

The news feature moved on to weather.

“Well I’ll be damned, that is just horrible. Who would do that to kids. What kind of a sick man could do that” Josie announced to anyone that was paying attention.

David crushed the plastic sugar dispenser in his hand. He was barely able to conceal his rage. This was a major setback.

“The world is a dangerous place full of dangerous men. Let’s hope they find him before he does is again “ David replied quietly, sipping his coffee.

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