Stargazer

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Chapter 8: The odd arm and the even odder note

The odd arm was an annoyance eating at him. The police had destroyed the site now anyway. It was annoying because it represented the culmination of a series of minor avoidable mistakes and if he had not noticed it now and the police hadn’t discovered his site, he could have been observing for contact or signs, not knowing the site was imperfect.

David noticed it when he was bagging the rest of the body for disposal. It was clearly belonging to the smaller of the three boys and not the idiot who interfered when he was dealing with the youngest boy on his bike..He thought back on the day.

He had been meticulous in checking the timing of the boy’s routine. His mother was dead and his aunt cared for him now. She presumably fed him before he left the house after returning from school. The boy would cycle the half mile or so to the skate park, passing by the rear of a row of abandoned houses in a small back alley. The van blocked most of the alley when parked making it inevitable that the boy would stop and see him. It had all gone to plan mostly. He had recognized David immediately from summer camp. Within minutes he had convinced him to try and retrieve a small screwdriver stuck between the rear wheel arch and a custom built tool cabinet in the van. He had dealt with the boy as usual and packed him into the steel seven foot storage box lying the length of the van. The problem arose when he got out of the back of the van. He had taken the front light off the bike for safekeeping and was planning on dumping the rest of the bike on the way back to Lima when he saw the complication.

He had chosen the spot because the houses abutting the alley were all unoccupied and a tall wall bordered the other side of the alley. But then out of the rear of one the abandoned houses, a black male had emerged. He was most likely high and most likely a junkie, and most likely had seen nothing. But most likely wasn’t good enough. He approached David and asked for money. He had been most certainly high. David told him his wallet was in the back of the van. It was easy from there. The entire episode had unsettled him a little. He hated when things didn’t go exactly as planned. And that’s why he forgot to take the bike. He should have been sure there was no one in those houses. He hadn’t been thorough enough about that, that had made him forget the bike, and then he had been forced to store two bodies instead of one en route to Trenton. That was a risk because he couldn’t easily conceal two in the van. If he’d been stopped for a brake light or anything, he would had to deal with that complication.

And then you were no longer remotely in control. You were riding Lady Luck at that point. The final mistake was preparing the bodies together. He hadn’t planned for storing two simultaneously in one locker in terms of space within each of the three storage steel lockers in the barn and had to mix them together to close the padlocked cover. Clearly when he retrieved the boy later, he had made the error. He always avoided using the barn lights at night if preparing site work, instead using a headlamp, and this was the price. On the bright side,the police would be scratching their heads about this, trying to make some stupid psychological rationale as to why he placed it there. Good luck with that, he chuckled to himself.

In any event, that was then and this is now. He popped on his protective goggles and began power hosing the steel refrigerator units. Each one he had custom made himself, complete with a drainage hole connected to the main septic tank of the property. He then moved onto the large steel table and tools, the powerful hose creating a fine mist of bleach, water and blood in the barn basement. The mist reached the low ceiling and swirled around the covered luminescent strip lights creating a perverse disco effect through the creation of multiple mini rainbows. Next he sprayed the narrow long barn basement window running the length of the room and abutting the ceiling. Finally he sprayed the tiled floor and steel door before backing out and up the exterior stairs leading out of the back of the barn.

Jobs to be done now he thought: he needed to fit more steel storage in the shed to increase storage capacity. He’d wait for some drying to occur before putting away the table and tools back into the storage units along with the pile of old books and magazines and general knick knacks he kept upstairs in the barn during summer; fix the eaves of the barn roof on the west side and finally, he’d have to black out the window of the basement. Isolating the basement light switch from the main barn switch was possibly beyond his expertise, he might need to get someone in to do that, and he wouldn’t be making the error of working in the dark again. Because next summer, he’d be definitely doubling up in the storage units.

.......

Lewis wanted to arrive early to the conference room on the third floor to check the message machine. He had been tossing and turning all night going over the case in his own mind. One thing that he kept returning to was the fact that their killer was hauling bodies in and out of vans, driving across the state with them and dragging them or carrying them to remote areas and burying them in shallow graves. That surely at some stage must have been noticed by someone. Even if he was careful about how he snatched the kids initially, and no one saw this, the sheer scale of what he had done in Tar Hollow took time. Someone must have seen him at some stage.

The red light was indeed blinking on the message machine. Two messages had been left. One was by an elderly woman detailing some gang of teens harassing her nephew in Trenton, one was a wrong number where whoever phoned was ordering food and realized their mistake. They were at pains to point out it was an honest mistake. Great start thought Lewis. Everyone arrived soon after, even McEvoy, looking exhausted as per usual. In fact, that seemed to be his baseline look now, somewhere between heroin chic and perpetually coming off a night shift. They got straight into it.

The scene pictures taken at Tar Holland and each of the scenes at Trenton, Columbus and Lima were spread out over the table like some grim collage for an art project. The adults had all been clearly positioned but the Tar Hollow scene was harder to interpret because the bodies had been put in shallow graves with two of them partially disturbed, most likely by wild life. The limbs were placed beneath the torso to act like a plinth and the torso itself had been eviscerated with most organs removed except heart and lungs. What remained of the heads of two had been found yards away in no discernible pattern, but one head, that of Jayden Jackson, lay where the killer had placed it. It was face up, with eyes open, placed where it would naturally lie above the torso. Lewis remembered now that Erbinger had mentioned that one boy’s eyes had been sown open.

“He put a stitch in those eyelids according to our coroner” he pointed out. “Other two, he couldn’t be sure”. Johnson was staring intently at the Tar Holland shots.

“Now why would he do that?” Ware asked quietly thinking aloud.

“Sometimes a killer will put the body face down, indicating shame or disgust at what he has done, or to try and perpetrate an idea in their own mind that that the victim isn’t really human” he added. “Face up can be accidental, sowing eyes open is definitely not. He wants the boy to see, to bear witness to something or someone.”

Marcella was puzzled. “Why not sow the men’s eyes open then?”

“They could have been his first attempt at whatever it is he is trying to do. He may be fine tuning his techniques. Speaking of which, where are we at with historical and current Missing Persons and cold cases?”. Ware asked the room in general.

McEvoy was sitting at one of the computer terminals checking NCIC data going back to ’78 and more recents. He looked up. “Not a lot in recents. I have a few white women still missing, a 55 year old Shawnee cold case from ’97. I have got one possible male, 42 year old reported missing late July. Long rap sheet, drug addict, apparently reported missing by friends, living out in Franklinton and last seen there. It will take me more time with historical”.

Johnson called Ware over. Lewis felt obliged to follow like an observer to the process. He wasn’t big on this kind of stuff, he was happier in an interview room. “Look at the ground in general around the bodies” she asked. “See how there seems to be patchs of slightly darker earth in a number of areas with the brush almost arranged around them as opposed to on them?”.

“Oh yeah” Marcella exclaimed. Lewis couldn’t see jack shit, it was like one of those magic eye pictures he never seemed to get either. Ware wasn’t convinced immediately but then appeared to notice it as well.

“What are you implying?” Lewis asked.

“It looks like someone did a bit of Sunday gardening, maybe planted something there. Any thing from the scene notes?”. Lewis knew there wasn’t, he’d written them. “Nope, I can guarantee it” he replied.

“Well it’s definitely there. Or something is there.... I sense a field trip coming on Ed.” Johnson was adamant.

“I’m going to ask the obvious question here in case you two assume we know this” Marcella piped up.

She was looking at the two Special Agents. “Why cut them up, why dismember them?”.

Ware answered first. “It’s not always clear. Sometimes it’s a purely practical thing for disposal. Sometimes it’s ritualistic which I think is most likely here. The clue is sometimes in how they do it. For instance if someone goes to the trouble of disarticulating the body, separating at the joints, or for instance they draw or do something else to the cadaver, it can mean it’s ritualistic. If they just saw off limbs indiscriminately, then they may be doing it for more practical reasons. Our guy has elements of both. He is sowing the eyes open, yet the dismemberment is pretty basic sawing. That reminds me. Didn’t you guys mention a spare arm or something?”.

Lewis was keen to contribute. “Well yes and no. It wasn’t spare, it appears he put the wrong arm in with one of the boys. The smallest one, Jayden Jackson had two right arms. One was his, one was clearly an adult black males.”

Johnson walked over to the files and took out Erbinger’s forensics report. The arm was indeed an African American males, and had the same level of decomposition as the other parts. DNA didn’t have a match with a criminal profile. There was enough intact skin to identify needle marks on the forearm and a small tattoo on the back of the hand which appeared to be homemade or at least not professionally done. It could be a crude marjiuana leaf or some sort of plant. Johnson looked a little confused.

“Now that’s really odd. Why would he put that there? He goes to all this trouble with the heads and the eyes and triangular patterns, and then does this. He doesn’t strike me as a guy who accidentally puts on odd socks in the morning” said Johnson. She really was perplexed.

“Maybe he’s just trying to fuck with us” offered Lewis, grinning. They all chuckled a little at that. He made a mental note to ask about the tattoo though, when they eventually got around to chasing some of McEvoy’s leads.

______

The morning rolled into the afternoon. Lewis called off Spietz’s offer to have someone man the help hotline. It wasn’t exactly ringing off the hook just yet. McEvoy was again writing on A4 and periodically disappeared down to filing to cross check historicals against their own paper records. Marcella had compiled a list of last known contacts and relatives to be re-interviewed which was depressingly short, and also the list of known pedophiles in Ohio State, incarcerated or not. That list was depressingly long. They decided to check Timmonds call log from Lebanon Correctional Institution since he and Marcella had interviewed him.

The main big ticket item left for now was the note. Lewis had heard nothing back from his contact in the Math Department in Ohio State. He had left it with a secretary to the professorial unit marked private and confidential. He was beginning to regret not marking it urgent. It was Saturday and he was pretty sure there was no on call Math nerd at Ohio State, ready to deal with an emergency quadratic equation gone bad. He approached Ware.

“Do you have a name even for this Prof?” Ware asked. “Can we drag him in. I’m ok with door stepping him.”

Lewis made a few calls and had a number and address moments later. The number was a home one and ringing out. Ware wasn’t buying into waiting until Monday. He asked Marcella to give a hand tracking their Professor down.

————-

The address was in Hilliard, a popular address with Ohio State University employees that could afford the rents. Marcella parked their sedan opposite the apartment block and they approached the main block door. He couldn’t help but notice the manicured small garden entrance, the underground secure parking, Barrista Coffee House on the corner, and the complete and utter lack of any loose trash on the street. No one ever told him Maths payed this well in highschool. They rang the buzzer to apartment 9 twice without reply. This could turn out to be a total waste of time.

“Fancy a coffee?” Marcella asked. “We’ve got nothing else to do back at base right now except watch Moulder and Scully there pour over what we’ve seen already a thousand times”

She obviously still hadn’t fully warmed up to the visitors from Quantico. They headed up the block to Barristo Coffee House. Inside was surprisingly busy, with a mixture of college students and a more gentrified older crowd as well. He went up to order. The menu over the 3 large coffee machines offered many exotic choices but he stuck with two americanos. He knew at least that they were the closest to two black coffees. They managed to find seats and a small table in the small but almost empty smoking section. Looks like smoking is losing its appeal to students thought Lewis. He lit a cigarette just as Marcella returned from the condiments area with milk and sugar.

“Really?” she said disapprovingly. “You want to be that guy?”.

“What guy? It’s the smoking section.” he retorted.

“You are the only one here smoking” Marcella threw back at him. He looked around. Sure enough, their four only other companions in the smoking section weren’t smoking. He caught a look from one of them.

“Fuck it. Just so you know, I’m not breaking any laws here” he relented as he stubbed out the cigarette. Marcella poked his hand with her hot coffee spoon. “Jesus, I put it out ok” he reacted irritably. Lewis had actually needed the nicotine hit.

“Stand down there Marleboro Man” she replied softly. “Look over there, at 9 o’clock”.

Lewis grinned. “Now would that be my 9 o’ clock or yours?”.

Marcella looked at with a deadpan expression. “By the restroom door, Sherlock” she replied.

He looked over. A man in his 50’s was leafing through some A4 papers whilst sipping his coffee. He was wearing a green corduroy sports jacket with patches on the elbows. His pants were also corduroy but with a thicker type of pattern and beige. At his feet was one of those bags they hand out at conferences that announce to the world that the owner had attended long enough to at least get the bag. On it was written “Hong Kong 15th International Annual Maths Olympiad”. Our luck could be in thought Lewis.

“Use your womanly charms there, Marcie” he suggested.

She walked over and discretely flashed her badge. The man looked a little unsettled. A further brief exchange occurred before he got up, gathered his things and they walked over to Lewis.

“We’re going to class” exclaimed Marcella smiling. Professor Adams looked less enthused.

A quick car ride and ten minute stroll later, they all arrived at the profs office. It was remarkably non-descript and was one of six different offices facing one another in a small hallway.

“Your envelope might have been delivered to my inbox but otherwise it’s in the secretarial pool office, and I don’t carry keys for that” declared the professor as he unlocked the door.

“Oh don’t worry Professor, I’m sure Security could help us out there” Marcella retorted. They hadn’t gone to all this trouble on their Saturday either to disappear empty handed.

“You know, tongues will start wagging in the faculty lounge if anyone has seen me being escorted to my office by two detectives” the professor added a little sharply.

“Well now, there’s no smoke without fire Professor. Why would anyone think such heinous thoughts about you here in the first place? Anything you’d like to tell us maybe?” Lewis replied.

Adams looked back disdainfully. “I hope you brought your cuffs for the arrest” he replied. He walked to his desk and picked up a small envelope on his in tray. “Hey presto” he exclaimed.

He opened the envelope and took out his glasses from the inner pocket of his jacket. His face went from mildly disinterested to mildly interested to mildly puzzled in the space of 30 seconds. He sat down at his desk, leaving the two detectives standing expectantly. “What makes you think this is a mathematical equation Detectives?” the professor asked.

“Are there any other kinds” asked Marcella sarcastically. She was getting a little irritated by the academic’s pissy attitude.

“Oh yes of course Detective, there are many more. Economic equations, physics equations, chemistry equations but to name a few” he replied haughtily.

Lewis snapped.

“Do you have kids Professor?” he asked.

The professor shook his head.

“Well I know a few mothers who had. Three to be exact. They had them right up until this Fall. You want to know what happened those kids Professor?”. The question didn’t require an answer but Lewis was going to give him one anyway.

“They were beaten to death, chopped up and buried. But before they were buried, who ever did it put that equation in their mouths.” He took a quick breath in before continuing.”

“Now I’m real sorry to ruin your afternoon coffee. And I’m real sorry we dragged you all the way down here. But you can either help us identify what that equation means or you can point us in the direction of someone who can. Either way, the clock is ticking on your weekend, my weekend, and possibly the next kid this guy kills”.

The professor looked at the equation again before replying.

“Look, I’m not familiar with this. It’s not mathematical in conclusion. The variables are a little odd. It looks Physics based. Can you leave me with this, and I’ll make it my sole priority for the weekend. I’ll make the calls and get back to you as soon as I have an answer. How can I reach you?”. Lewis suggested he drop into the department to the task force directly. They left him to it.

A trickle of calls started to come into the information line. When Lewis and Marcella arrived back, Ware and Johnson were waiting expectantly. A heavy breather had called and rambled on about a fusion of hydrocarbons and the “iron of blood”; the call had been traced to an address in Cincinnati. Given the bizarre nature of the call and the fact that the notes with an equation were only known to the police, they were taking this very seriously. Lewis related what had happened with the math professor. Johnson was suddenly looking a little concerned.

“When you explained the need to get answers quickly, did you remind him that there was a need to be discreet with any colleagues, with anyone in fact?”.

Lewis’s sheepish expression was all the answer she needed.

“If whatever this equation means is leaked to the media, then we can’t use it. They give him some sort of moniker like “the Chemistry Killer” and he then has the choice of keeping that door open or shutting it for good”. Special Agent Johnson was annoyed and not very good at hiding it.

Even a week with them knowing what it meant and their killer not sure if they had worked it out could prove invaluable. Lewis felt like a rookie traffic cop all of a sudden.

“We’ll ask Cincinnati PD to pick up this caller anyway now, what’s done is done” Ware offered as conciliation. He clearly wanted to draw a line under it. He wanted to speak to the room.

“We’ve looked at the files and we’ve a rough outline so far of what we might be dealing with. Before I start, it’s important to remember this is just one of many possibilities in terms of profiles, and this could change as things evolve”.

McEvoy looked up from his spot at the end of the long table. It was littered with files and A4 pads as well as discarded disposable coffee cups.

Ware walked to the head of the conference table and began.

“Firstly, and this might seem obvious, but needs saying, the killer has a psychopathic element to his psychological make up. To be clear, this does not mean he is necessarily a complete mad man. The positioning of the bodies, in particular, the heads, is careful and clearly meaningful to him. He is trying to achieve something here, but his psychopathy may only extend to this. In all other respects, he may be a well adjusted member of society. His choice of victim seems to have evolved or is continuing to. We are not convinced there is a sexual element to this in the sense you or I would understand. In fact if he were a pedophile, it’s far more likely we would have seen it in on the boys. But he may well derive a lot of excitement in what he does, a thrill, a feeling of power. The wounds on the bodies suggest an element of frenzy also. All of the victims have sustained wounds above and beyond what was required to kill. It’s most likely he is also African American, but it’s also a distinct possibility he is not, with a racist drive behind all this, based on the ethnicity of his victims. Whoever he is, he does not view his victims as anything other than a means to an end, a perverse message of sorts. What message he is trying to send is clearly a priority for us to find out.”

Marcella interrupted Ware at this point. “You keep saying he. How do we know it’s not a woman or more than one person?”

“The bizarre nature of whatever message he is trying to send is the most likely reason he works alone. The chances he’d meet someone with the same idea is tiny. It’s possible I suppose that he has help. But forensics has only one set of boot prints around the Tar Hollow scene, and they are a size 12. That’s one hell of a big woman. In addition, he’s carrying the bodies over some distance in many cases, and one of the victims was estimated to have weighed in excess of 200 pounds.”

Marcella nodded. “Makes sense”.

“The amount of work involved in abducting three kids in short succession, killing them, preparing them and then partially burying them means this guy most likely has plenty of spare time or his work is flexible. It also means he has a place of his own, a big place. This means he probably financially independent a d a homeowner, not a renter. As I’ve said already, our man is meticulous in his planning. Ask yourselves how many witnesses we have to three child abductions. Zero. Not one. We have a set of boot prints and no one else’s DNA. It tells us he’s careful and it tells he has no desire to be caught.”

Ware paused and left what he’d said sink in.

“So how do we catch him” Lewis asked.

Out of the blue McEvoy piped up. “Patterns. He creates patterns for us to find. Triangles. Some pattern, any pattern. He chooses his victims and they all have something in common to him, but they are all different to us.”

Ware continued. “Exactly, we need to figure out not only what is driving his psychopathy, but how he feeds it. What makes him choose these particular boys. Is it opportunistic or is it always pre-planned. Some of these questions might become clearer with time”.

“You mean it might become clearer when he kills again” McEvoy interjected. It was less a question and more a statement.

Ware looked at him. “If you are asking will he kill again, I’ll say yes, nothing in this makes gives me the feeling he’s finished”.

“What about the three kids from ’94 “. Marcella asked.

Ware’s eyes darted to Johnson and then to Lewis before he looked back to Marcella. “Right now they are officially still missing. Tomorrow myself and Detective Lewis and you are heading back to Lebanon to interview Frederick Timmonds. Some new information has come to light. Everyone else is heading to Tar Hollow .”

Lewis was intrigued. What had the Feds unearthed? Who had the Feds unearthed?. Tomorrow would be a long and interesting day.

.......

Watching the scenery fly by in Ware’s Dodge Intrepid rental on the way to Lebanon Correctional Institution, Lewis had his doubts that this was anything other than a wild goose chase. After all, the profile constructed by the Feds yesterday was hardly a good fit for Kearney.

“So you mentioned new information coming to light last night. Anything juicy?” he asked.

“Well, Marcella’s call monitoring suggestion paid off. Timmonds made a call on Saturday morning and it was traced back to Kearney’s residence.”

Ware hesitated.

“Look, this is going to all come out in the wash anyway, and I’m telling you this in the strictest confidence until it does, but this isn’t the first time Kearney has popped up on the Agency’s radar. He’s been on our books for 2 or so years now. His name was given to us anonymously by Vice in Cincinnati in connection with child prostitution and trafficking. Whoever gave us him obviously felt it was too big for them to handle. I’m pretty sure he’s not our man, but Timmonds represents our first good possible high end witness against him. And this whole situation might allow us to drive a wedge between the two of them”.

Marcella sat up and stuck her head between the front seats.

“2 years? Holy shit, my kids have been to Departmental garden parties at this guy’s house last summer. What’s taking so long?”

Ware looked in the rear view mirror.

“We can’t just tap his phones without just cause or call in and cuff him. All we got from our anonymous informant was his name and one picture. It took us six months just to figure out who the child was, at which point he was in care and practically catatonic. But the child had connections to Kearney via a charity We had him tailed for another 2 months and dig around the charity but he must have been tipped off or figured it out. It was a dead end after a year and we heard the guys on our end working the case were ordered to back off pending a federal judge review. We aren’t dealing with some low level street pimp here. These people are clever, know the system and will have your balls for breakfast unless you’ve practically caught them in the act. We had very little.”

Lewis go the feeling this was a wild goose chase after all, or at least, this wasn’t about their killer.

“So we’re going down here just so you can try and get Timmonds to give you Kearney? This has nothing to do with our case?”

He made plain his frustration.

“Gimme a break. Did you really believe Kearney was our man when Timmonds hinted him to you? Did you really believe a convicted pedophile was going to willingly hand you a serial killer on a plate just because? Without some sort of plea bargain first, some sort of sweetener? He was just messing with you and he’s just warning Kearney now. If he has a chance of getting something out of this, it’s giving us Kearney as one of his pool party buddies, not because he knows Kearney kills kids. Because that implicates him in any killings as well. Timmonds is no dope.”

Ware was in no mood for arguments.

“If we can take Kearney down and in doing so, get some honesty in the room with no ulterior motives, and then ask either Timmonds or Kearney can they think of anyone who might fit our profile, that’s a good days work to me”.

An awkward silence descended the car. Marcella broke it.

“So let me get this right, you think two pedophiles once safely locked behind bars in solitary will be all sweetness and light, just itching to help you find our boy? What’s your leverage here? What can you give to Timmonds that will make him help you. You’re asking him to give up his only contact in the outside world that might yield some power”.

Another awkward silence descended. Ware knew she had a point.

Lewis broke the silence.

“Fuck honesty. What if we tell him we have Kearney. We have him on a Cincinnati related ring and we know he’s involved in Tar Hollow. We tell him two of the victims were in the polaroids I already showed him. We tell him we can’t link Kearney solidly to the victims without him at least going on the record as stating Kearney was at the pool parties. We give him our profile in a watered down version as some ID’d accomplice and see if he can corroborate. Our leverage is telling him Kearney is no use to him anymore, only federal help can keep him from being put out in the open floor in Lebanon. That’s where you come in.” Lewis stared at Ware. “Before we go in, you’ll need Quantico to fax something official looking with lots of Federal Private & Confidential all over it. I’ll ask Timmonds prison escort to take a more scenic route through the main blocks to the interview just to warm him up.”.

“The problem is he’ll have counsel this time. And he knows we lied about the three boys in terms of timing and Lorenzo’s supposed testimony too. He must have seen the news lately. He might just say nothing, clam up” Marcella replied.

Ware sighed deeply. “That’s a risk we might just have to take. All I ask is you press record after our pitch. And this is your baby. In and out of that room. This is not the way the Bureau does business.” Lewis managed a smile. Maybe this trip might not be a total bust.

It took fifteen minutes for Ware to get some official looking documents with the requisite large font Federal Bureau of Prisons print. He managed to get some blank transfer and jurisdictional change documents which might fool Timmonds but not his counsel with him. Lewis took one of the letter heads, cut it off the top and glued it to a large white envelope. This time round the prison guards followed his instructions and made sure they were already positioned in the interview room before Timmonds, who had been walked through the main cell block. The wolf whistling and cat calls from the other prisoners was still going as Timmonds was escorted in. Their own prison guard escort informed them that unfortunately Mr Timmonds counsel had been given the wrong time for the interview. They would be twenty minutes late. Lewis smiled at that. Unfortunate my ass he thought. We need to get to work quick.

Frederick Timmonds looked a little shaken as he sat down. Lewis had laid out the tape recorder in the center of the table and the large white envelope beside it, placed at right angles to Timmonds in such a way as he could read it’s Federal Bureau of Prisons letterhead with a little difficulty. “Mr Timmonds, this is Special Agent Ware from the FBI, I’m sure you recall us from our recent visit. We...”

“Where’s my lawyer?” Timmonds interrupted.

“She has been delayed but she should be here in about 30 minutes or so. We can let you back to your cell and come and get you again if you’d prefer” Marcella piped up from the corner of the room where she was standing. Timmonds looked hesitantly at the door. The catcalls and shouting he had experienced had still not died down and one or two were still audible even through the thick door.

“Alright alright, let’s just get on with this.” Timmonds replied. “I’ve been watching the news. Those boys have nothing to do with me. I was in here when they disappeared. You’re wasting your time.”

Lewis knew he had a limited time window. The lawyer might be delayed but he or she would turn up sooner rather than later.

“I think we both know this isn’t about you anymore. You mentioned you played golf with Deputy Commissioner Kearney last time we spoke. Is that all you did with him?” he asked.

“That’s about it, we visited one another’s homes as well. Just regular socializing.” Timmonds smiled weakly.

“At 10:48 yesterday, Saturday morning, you made a call to Deputy Kearney’s home residence. Let’s stop wasting one another’s time here Mr Timmonds” interjected Ware.

“Mr Timmonds, let’s be absolutely clear here. We have Kearney. The Bureau have been watching him in Cincinnati for some time now. This is no longer about child trafficking and child sex abuse. This isn’t even about you and Kearney. This is about Kearney and murder.”

Ware stared at him holding his gaze. Timmonds balding head seemed to glisten from sweat a little despite the cold in the room.

“One of those boys in Tar Hollow was found in polaroids in Cincinnati. And we know Kearney suppressed the investigation of three missing boys in 1994-1995. And two of those missing boys were in polaroids taken at your residence” Ware added.

Lewis was impressed. If you’re going to lie, lie big he guessed.

Marcella walked slowly around from her position in the corner of the room to a few yards behind Timmonds and to his left. The shouts of kiddie fucker were still going. “It’s pretty wild out there in the yard isn’t it Frederick?” she added menacingly.

Lewis decided it was time to make his pitch.

“Look Frederick, Kearney is looking at 15-20 in a best case scenario for him. You’ve got what, 9-10 years left, maybe less with good behavior? That’s a long time without a friend outside. Right now you’re in solitary, but you know how it works. The State prison service is overwhelmed. They have to make risk calculations about who goes where. No one can guarantee you solitary forever.”

Ware jumped in.

“Nobody but the Federal Government maybe.” He rotated the envelope purposefully and slowly to let Timmonds read it.

“What do you want from me?” Timmonds replied. He was looking increasingly nervous. “We want the truth. We want details on Kearney’s visits to your pool parties, we want corroboration on him suppressing those investigations in ’94-95 and we want help with ID’ing someone we believe he associates with who’s involved in disappearing those boys.”.

The room went deathly silent. The faint shouting from the main prison block could still be heard. Timmonds shifted in his seat and looked at the envelope. His lower lip was trembling.

“Look, first of all I ....”.

“Hold your horses there Mr Timmonds” Ware interrupted him. He identified himself and all others in the room, time and day and pressed record on the tape recorder.

Timmonds restarted. “I had nothing to do with those kids disappearing. I don’t know anything about that. It wasn’t Kearney’s idea, it was Spellman’s.”

Lewis groaned inwardly. He’d always had a bad feeling about him.

“Spellman got nervous when the boys were reported missing to him. He thought the whole thing would put too much attention on him. He convinced Kearney to use his influence to make sure no awkward questions would be asked if anyone else looked at the files and to get rid of Lorenzo to Lima.”

Ware went looking for detail.

“Who recruited the boys. How many times did Kearney attend these pool parties. Who did he attend with. Did he have sex with the boys at these parties?”.

Timmonds sighed softly and put his head in hands, elbows on knees, looking to the floor. “

“Kearney was a regular but he never came with anyone. You’ve got to understand that we didn’t use all the boys, only the old ones. Spellman knew where to look for them and get them. We’d give him 500 bucks and he’d recruit them. He knew the older ones working the street. He’d get them to bring the younger boys along. They’d be promised a day at a pool, pizza, all that stuff. They were just there for skin shots, nothing else”.

Jesus Christ thought Lewis, somehow that makes it better?

Ware continued. “Where did Kearney have sex with the boys?”.

“In one of the bedrooms. We’d take pictures in the basement and then go upstairs” Timmonds replied.

Marcella looked like she might have shot him there and then if she had her service revolver with her. Ware looked to Lewis and nodded with a slight smile on his face. Lewis took this as a sign he had what he needed.

“What about other people. Do you remember anyone Kearney or Spellman knew outside or inside your circle who you thought was a little odd? Particularly anyone black, tall well built. Anyone who maybe even just hung around?”

Timmonds looked up. “Not big. I mean, the only black guy in all this I know was Rhodes. He couldn’t be more than 5’9 and he’s pretty skinny”.

Lewis knew who he was referring to. Rhodes was arrested in the same sweep as Timmonds. He wasn’t physically fit and his lawyer argued at trial he had a borderline IQ that would render him mentally deficient. Rhodes wasn’t their man.

“What about someone with a science background maybe, any race. Physically big” asked Ware.

Timmonds looked genuinely nonplussed. “I mean, Kearney was the biggest guy I can recall in our group. He did a bit of bird watching and astronomy. That’s all I know”. Timmonds looked around at everyone hoping to please.

Lewis spotted Timmonds lawyer through the small window in the door. “Well, thank you for your time Frederick. We’ll do everything we can to help you” Ware replied as he pressed stop on the tape recorder.

Timmonds lawyer entered the room looking a little flustered. “Apologies for being late” she opened with.

“We’re done here actually councilor, sorry to waste your time” Lewis replied as he took the envelope and recorder from the desk; they left without further engagement.

Outside they sat in the car. Ware looked pleased. “The juice was worth the squeeze” he announced grinning. “Except we aren’t any closer to our target though, are we?” replied Lewis. “He didn’t honestly have any knowledge of a fit for our profile I thought”.

Marcella was in agreement. “Does that mean we can write off interviewing all Timmonds pedophile friends” she added. “Because that made me sick to my stomach”.

Ware turned around to her. “I’m afraid not. He might not know anyone fitting our profile, but that’s not the same as anyone he knows not knowing. If you don’t want to be involved in those interviews, that’s fine. But they have to be done.”

She sat back, looking out the window. “No, I can do the interviews all right. Just make sure I’m unarmed when I go in”.

......

McEvoy had felt his mental anguish somehow receding as he engaged more with the case. His needs sexually receded somewhat in that his mind didn’t drift to those thoughts as often. But when they came, he was unable to control them and unable to climax when he masturbated, leaving him exhausted and afraid to sleep. Instead he tried a new mind trick. He would focus on minor details with the case or just the case overall in general. During the day he would translate those thoughts to his A4 pads, all the while trying to distract himself.

It was as if he was at war with his own thoughts. Sometimes there would be a lull in the fighting, sometimes he felt he could be overrun. And that had happened already once. It left him permanently exhausted whilst all the while angry, this war had no truce in sight. Moments in the day that anyone else would relish such as just relaxing, watching a TV show for instance, were lost to him. Any time he had to perform a menial task, anytime his mind could drift and not be tasked with his own mind tricks, those times were a conduit to those thoughts. Driving was one of these. He had needed to use 2 air freshners in the car to conceal the acrid smell of the discharged gun he had used. As he drove with Special Agent Samantha Johnson to Tar Hollow State Forest Park, he wrestled with his thoughts, the act of driving not distraction enough. She probably thought he was being a little rude, or maybe not. Maybe she too was wrestling with demons. Who fucking cares anyway. As they pulled up to the main entrance, he was able to focus more to the present.

They stepped out of his Ford Explorer. The October sun was still warm even though it was low in the sky. Fall had accelerated and now the full range of blood red oranges and browns were on display as a gentle breeze blew fallen leaves across the car park. He noticed her looking at the CCTV cameras overlooking the car park.

“Wiped every month on the first Monday of the month. We checked.” McEvoy remarked.

Johnson made her way to the main reception office. “I’m just getting a site map” she said as she left him by the car. Tar Hollow State Park comprised over 16,000 acres of land with a criss-crossing network of roads. They could get within about a mile of the site where the bodies were found using a mixture of purpose built roads and wide forest trails. Their killer had chosen an area which was deep in and right at the North East edge of the park, very much off the beaten track. It had been pure luck if that’s what you could call it, that a local orienteering group on a competition had stumbled across the scene. They reached the spot on the map that looked the furthest a car could bring them and which the police had used to access the site. The forest seemed particularly dense with broken ground and dense underbrush at this section of the trail. Even at midday, the natural light was struggling to seep through the tall tree canopy, leaving the forest floor below in a semi permanent twilight. A rich earthy smell permeated the air from layers of rotting underbrush. Johnson had spread the map out on the bonnet of the Explorer and was pouring over it.

“Something doesn’t quite add up” she mumbled. “To get to the scene, he would have to cross this wooded section which is about a half mile, climb this elevation and then descent to here.” She pointed her finger at an area which was more open and thinly lined with trees. She looked at the forest beside them.

“He might be big but he’s not super human and he’s not stupid. Walking through that with a 200 pound body would have been hellish.” She looked at the map again. The edge of the park was in fact nearer to the scene than they were, at a more northerly aspect. And a small local access road skated around it to quite near to that point. “If we can get off the highway around here somewhere on to that access point, I’d bet my life on that being where he accessed the park”.

McEvoy looked at the map. “But wouldn’t that be private property he crossed. It’s almost certainly bounded by fencing on the property owners side. And he’d have to drive up and through a farm to get there?”.

“Maybe, maybe not. It’s worth checking. The guy at reception might have some idea of who owns it. Let’s just head back and see.” Johnson replied.

Local knowledge went a long way in this business thought McEvoy. The guy at reception had indeed known who owned it. He knew the family, the family’s business, the family’s other property’s and the owners favorite breakfast cereal. But most importantly, he knew how to get them to the owners front door. It was owned by a first generation Italian immigrant who had become wealthy through his own restaurant business in Columbus, Cincinnati and Huntington. It was not a working farm, and instead a ranch, replete with stables, tennis courts and a heated indoor pool. The adjoining 60 acres was in part leased to local farmers and in part, lying fallow. They were informed that the owner was most likely not there, but there would be likely be stable boys or some staff present anyway who might be able to help them.

Within thirty minutes they were driving up a manicured ranch entrance with horses staring at them from a distance on either side. The stable yard had a small old VW Beetle parked in it, with its owner, a stable hand McEvoy presumed, cleaning out one of the stables. He was part Shawnee ethnically and anxious to help. He was also enormously big and reminded McEvoy of the giant who broke out from the psychiatric hospital in One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest. The local police had already interviewed locally and gotten nothing, and Ware had discussed the possibility of looking at suspects locally related to the property here; McEvoy didn’t buy it- their guy would never shit on his own doorstep, he was too careful for that. Of course they have to ultimately interview again everyone if no better leads came up.

The stable boy or more appropriately , stable giant, had looked at their map and quickly showed them a access road off Route 327 beside a church called 268A which then led to an even smaller road locally called North Ridge Road. That terminated at a locked service entrance to the Park. That was still at least two miles front the scene, but he was certain a boundary trail that could take a vehicle ran south along the border of the park on the owners side which would bring them much closer to their scene, maybe 1/4 of a mile. It wasn’t on any map but he was sure it was there. He also added that the entire length of the owners property was bounded here by a 6 foot green net type cheap PVC fence, there only to mark a boundary as opposed to being designed to keep anyone or anything out. This was looking increasingly promising thought McEvoy.

Following the directions given, McEvoy found the trail that turned left off the 268A and followed a fence that traced the property and appeared to divide it from the park. It was relatively straight and for the time of year, the surface was easily passable. They must have gone nearly two miles when Johnson saw it out the passenger window. A neat hole had been cut in the fence which led into the park. The tree line of the park was no more than 100 yards from the fence. “Bingo” exclaimed Johnson. “I’m calling this in as a part of the crime scene. We need forensics”. Their day out was over for now.

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