When Claire leaned forward to open her file, the male struck her in the throat –karate style, using the knife edge of his hand, in a backhand strike. Claire fell back onto the sofa stunned and gasping for air.
The male quickly climbed on top of her, straddling her body as she lay back on the sofa. With his knees pinning Claire’s arms the man grabbed the now helpless Claire around her already restricted throat and squeezed.
The video camera captured the entire assault. The confronting footage was sickening to watch. The sound of Claire’s futile attempts to gasp for air as she fought for her life, while her much stronger attacker mercilessly crushed her esophagus, was distressing to watch. It took around two minutes for Claire’s constricted gasping to fall silent. Her wide eyed, vacant stare was indication enough, she was dead.
The male, Evan Baker, climbed off Claire and walked out of camera shot and returned a short time later with a damp cloth and commenced to wipe down Claire’s throat and upper body.
Baker callously pushed Claire off the sofa with his foot. Her limp body hit the floor with a sickening thud, where it remained until she was discovered the next morning.
The Councilor picked up all the evidence and wiped down the coffee table. Baker walked out of camera view. The sound of a door closing was audible in the background a short time later.
Luke collapsed back in his chair, shocked at witnessing the callous murder of Claire O’Connor. ‘Fuck me,’ he blurted out loud.
As a Detective, it was distressing enough arriving at a murder scene where he had to see these dead victims after the fact, but to sit and watch a murder happening, to watch the offender squeeze the life out of Claire was confronting and disturbing.
After closing everything down Luke popped the SD card out from his computer, grabbed the purse and DVR and made his way to his Lieutenant’s office.
The significance of this footage and what he just viewed was enormous. The obvious sensitivities associated with his investigation would now be an issue that had to be managed.
Luke spent the next thirty minutes updating the Lieutenant on everything, from the hidden video recorder in the purse, to the video footage capturing the murder of Claire O’Connor by NYC City Councilor, Evan Baker.
It was evident to anyone watching the gut wrenching video that the corrupt Baker, an elected New York City public official, murdered Claire to prevent her disclosing the seedy, depraved other side of his life.
‘How the hell did you know to look for a video camera in her purse?’ the Lieutenant asked Luke.
Luke shrugged modestly. ‘I remember someone told me once... most investigative journalists have microphones or cameras hidden somewhere on them when in the field…so I took a hunch and…I suppose I was lucky…it paid off.’
‘Brilliant Detective work…absolutely brilliant,’ the Lieutenant said shaking an impressed head. He gestured towards Luke's colleagues in the Detective Bull Pen. 'I don’t think there is anyone out there…who would have been able to do what you have done in solving this case…exposing this merciless killer, and the way that you worked it out…’ he said still shaking his head. ‘I’ll say it again, absolutely brilliant Detective,’ he said. ‘We have this New York City Councilor on toast because of your impressive investigative acumen. Not even the highest paid Lawyers will be able to get him off this.’
When his telephone to the NYC Mayor’s office call went to voice mail, the Lieutenant left a message for the Mayor to call him back urgently.
After hanging up the phone the Lieutenant pointed to the purse and DVR. ‘Get this recorded into evidence immediately,’ he instructed Luke. ‘And have the computer boys make a copy of that SD card for viewing later on. I’m gonna have to show the Mayor this footage before we act.’
Back at his desk Luke sorted through the day’s mail that had arrived earlier, when it hit him. The old man he met in Barnaby’s that night had correctly suggested where he would locate the incriminating evidence that would expose the killer in two of his cases. He was two from two.
How did he do that while sitting in a bar late at night? Luke had no choice but to concede that maybe the old guy was as good as he told Luke he was.
The first envelope Luke ripped into was from the Coroner’s office. It was the autopsy report for Emily Dupree that Luke had been waiting on. Luke unfolded the report and commenced to read.
There were no surprises there. The cause of death was strangulation. The report identified the victim had petechial hemorrhaging in both eyes, which usually developed as blood vessels burst from exerted pressure.
The victim’s neck displayed clear evidence of Ecchymosis, a discoloration due to extravasation of blood from ruptured blood vessels into subcutaneous tissue from having forceful pressure applied to the neck. The victim’s Thyroid and Cricoid Cartilages of the Larynx were crushed and her Hyoid bone was fractured.
Luke lifted his eyes from the graphic report. His mind’s eye filled with the young girl’s lifeless body lying wrapped in plastic on the basement floor. He took a brief moment to compose himself before he continued to read, but he couldn’t read much more. It was too distressing. The report went into detail at how there was evidence of forceful sexual penetration of this eight year old girl, and the resultant physical trauma and damage caused to Emily’s innocent young body.
He dropped the report onto his desk. He couldn’t read any more. He didn’t want to read anymore. He didn’t want the visual image in his mind of what the poor girl must’ve endured before she was killed.
Luke sat motionless for several beats, while he tried to compose himself. The realization hit home that as good as he was as an investigator, he would never have caught Kirk Wallace for Emily’s rape and murder if it wasn’t for the advice from the old man in the bar that night.
Without his chance encounter in the bar, Wallace would still be free to walk the streets and Megan Dupree would be none the wiser that she was living with the enemy-- the man who raped and killed her daughter. Luke wasn’t sure how to feel about that; reassured or lucky.
The next awaiting envelope confirmed what was already known. It was the forensic report with the DNA and fingerprint results. Kirk Wallace had already made a full confession, so it was unlikely this evidence would be required to prove his guilt. It wouldn’t be the first time however that a full signed confession was challenged by the defense by time the court case arrived.
The evidence against Kirk Wallace was compelling. The fluid samples and hair follicles found on, and inside Emily returned a 98.9% probability match to Kirk Wallace. The fingerprints lifted from the plastic sheets wrapped around her little body were also a complete match to Kirk Wallace.
The case into the disappearance of Emily Dupree was now closed. Luke knew he should be relieved and satisfied, but he wasn’t. Cases that involved young children were always incredibly bitter-sweet, and so difficult to accept and forget.
The positive was that a sick and callous individual was off the streets, never to harm another young child again. But the resonating negative that completely dominated any feeling of satisfaction as an investigator, was that a sweet and innocent young child, with her whole life ahead of her had been taken, all because she trusted an evil and depraved man whom she loved as her father figure.
Luke’s true emotions went out for poor young Emily and her Mom, Megan. When Wallace took Megan’s little girl from her, and in the manner he did, he not only slowly drained the life out of Emily as his large hands constricted around her small neck, he also sucked the life from Megan. She now had the unenviable struggle of trying to live her life without her beloved beautiful daughter, while trying to accept that it was her relationship with Wallace that exposed her daughter to this monster. Make no mistake about it, there are two victims to the heartless actions of Kirk Wallace.
The remaining two envelopes in his mail delivery was a letter from AT&T and the other was from T-Mobile. He was hopeful the AT&T for Linda Fulton’s landline and the T-Mobile records for John Bishop’s cell phone would provide vital clues to what happened to each victim.
Before he could tear open the first of the phone records he heard his name called across the office.
‘Fox!’ The Lieutenant yelled from his office door.
Luke turned in response and noticed the Lieutenant hanging out from his office doorway. The Lieutenant beckoned Luke to his office. ‘Bring that bag and video footage,’ he said then disappeared back inside his office. Luke immediately complied.
When Luke arrived at the Lieutenant's office he was surprised to see the New York City Mayor seated in the office.
‘Close the door,’ The Lieutenant flicked a hand towards the door.
The Mayor stood and greeted Luke as he entered. He was a short man with features that always reminded Luke of Hollywood actor, Al Pacino.
‘So this is the Detective you were telling me about, huh…?’ The Mayor said with a smile. He extended both his hands and greeted Luke with a firm two-handed hand shake.
Once the greetings and formalities were out of the way Luke ran through everything with the Mayor in relation to how he located the hidden camera and the indisputable footage recorded onto the SD card.
Luke played the footage for the Mayor. The Mayor sat in silence watching the twenty-five minute footage that culminated in one of his City Councilors strangling the newspaper Journalist to death.
At the completion of viewing the disturbing video footage the Mayor remained silent for a short period. He had to be concerned how such a tragic murder, violently committed by a New York City elected Councilor, would reflect on his office. His political wheels had to be turning silently in his mind.
‘This has to handled with transparency and as expediently as possible, to remove any possible suggestions my office was trying to cover up such a heinous act by one of the City’s office holders,’ The Mayor said.
‘I understand, Sir,’ the Lieutenant said.
The Mayor made it clear to the police officers in the room that this Councilor had all but lost his right to the presumption of innocence. Nothing this man could offer in his defense could change what this video footage recorded.
The Mayor instructed that Councilor Baker was to be treated like any other criminal. He didn’t deserve any respect that would normally be afforded to a person of his office, or any special treatment during his subsequent arrest and interview.
'Were you able to recover any of the evidence the reporter had in relation to the child pornography and pedophilia allegations she raised in the video?’ The Mayor asked.
'There was nothing in the hotel room that incriminated the Councilor in that way,' Luke said. 'Everything the journalist showed Baker was all taken by him when he left the room. I expect everything will certainly be destroyed by now.’
The Mayor nodded his understanding.
‘Will any of these pedophilia and child pornography allegations be pursued by your office?’ The Mayor asked the Lieutenant.
The Lieutenant shook his head. ‘Not unless we locate evidence to suggest Mr. Baker’s involvement in these other matters,’ he said.
The Mayor raised his hand to the Lieutenant. ‘I understand...But please…’ he began. ‘This individual…’ he flicked a finger towards the video footage he had just watched, ‘has lost the right to be referred to as “Mr” as far as I am concerned. That is a title of respect.’
Luke and the Lieutenant exchange a brief, but approving glance.
A short time after the meeting with the Mayor, Luke organized Baker’s arrest warrant and the team that would accompany him to the 46th District Council offices in Stuart Street Downtown Brooklyn to arrest Councilor Baker. The Mayor and Lieutenant Husken would also attend the arrest.
Councillor Evan Baker had gone about his life as though nothing had happened since he callously took the life of Claire O’ Connor. As far as he was aware, he had got away with the perfect murder. Nobody knew he was in the hotel room that day, and all the incriminating documents were now destroyed.
Baker stood in the general office area of his District office talking to a female employee discussing a document when three uniformed police, a suit wearing Detective and the Mayor entered the District office.
The six or so staff seated at their desks in the open plan office all stopped working. Their collective heads lifted to monitor the City Mayor and the police who strolled through their office. It obviously meant something big was happening.
Baker’s eyes lifted to the approaching party of men. He moved away from the female, towards the visitors. With the exception of Luke all other men stopped in the middle of the office, while Luke continued to approach Baker.
‘Mr. Mayor…’ Baker said with a confused tone in his voice. ‘To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit this afternoon...?’ he asked.
The Mayor did not respond. Instead Luke continued to approach Baker.
Baker’s concerned yet questioning eyes flicked to Luke as he neared.
‘Evan Baker…You are under arrest for the murder of Claire O’Connor.’ Luke took hold of Baker’s wrist and forced it behind the man’s back. As he did the same with Baker’s other hand Luke read Baker his rights.
Baker was stunned, but he did not resist as Luke applied the handcuffs. The astonished staff in the office watched on.
‘You are making a mistake…’ Baker said. ‘I don’t know anyone named Claire O’Connor…?’ he protested. His pleading eyes moved to the Mayor. ‘Mr. Mayor…Please. They’re making a huge mistake.’
The Mayor remained unmoved. He simply held his firm glare at Baker.
Luke took hold of Baker’s right bicep and escorted him towards the street and the awaiting police vehicle.
As they walked Luke moved his head closer to Baker’s and calmly said, ‘Claire O’Connor is the Journalist you killed in room 1014 of the Marriott Hotel…’ He felt Baker’s arm momentarily fall limp in his grasp.
‘I was never in the Marriott Hotel…This is absurd…’ Baker protested. ‘You have the wrong man.’ Baker was clearly confident the police could not prove he was actually in that room.
The Mayor became fed up with Baker’s pathetic charade. ‘Enough…’ the Mayor waved his hand across in front of himself. ‘The police have you on film, Evan… It’s over.’
Baker returned a stunned, deer in the head lights gaze.
Luke again leaned in close to Baker’s ear and quietly said, ’the poor girl you strangled to death had a video camera hidden in her purse…recorded the entire incident, and everything else she spoke to you about...Silver Tongue...you sick fuck.’
Baker’s surprised head snapped towards Luke. His previous confident expression was now gone. His widened eyes now showed fear.
Luke nodded slowly at Baker. ‘Everything…’ he reassured.
Baker’s humiliated head rolled forward. His mannerisms had conceded as he was marched through the office.