The Mentor

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Chapter 13

Word certainly spreads fast in New York. By the time Luke and his prisoner had arrived at the front door of the District Offices, a large media throng had gathered in the street outside the offices.

Luke paused before opening the front door to scan the mass of TV cameras and photographers, the numbers of which were usually reserved for arriving rock stars, and Hollywood A-List movie celebrities.

He turned to his Lieutenant and the Mayor following behind. Luke’s questioning eyes sought instruction on whether to proceed, given Baker’s celebrity. The Mayor nodded to Luke. He waved the back of his hand at them as a clear indication to proceed.

‘No special treatment….’ The Mayor reiterated. ‘This man has disgraced himself, the office of The New York City Council and my office…’ he said. ‘Let him deal with it.’

Luke liked what he heard. He smiled at the Mayor’s attitude and obvious contempt towards Baker. Baker’s apprehensive eyes momentarily met Luke’s before Luke opened the front door of the offices and dragged the reluctant Baker out on to the front steps.

After exiting the building Luke paused on the top steps, as if to show off his trophy to the gathered media, which by now were collectively surging forward. Journalist jostled and fought for front position, shouting overlapping garbled questions.

Like a pair of offensive linesmen, the uniform officers assisting Luke in the arrest moved in front of Luke and Baker. Their large frames blocked reporters and cleared a path for Luke to the waiting police vehicle parked on the street below the stairs.

Once the handcuffed Baker was seated inside the marked police vehicle the reporters engulfed the car, circling it like rampaging soldier ants swarming a helpless fallen prey. Baker could only sit with his head bowed as they attacked.

From the office, Baker was driven to his home address in Park Slope where a search warrant was executed to locate the clothes he wore in the video footage.

After the search warrant they returned to the 84th for interview.

After Baker’s lawyer, Wendall Rice had finished talking with Baker in the interrogation room, Rice asked to meet Luke to discuss the case against his client.

Luke had dealt with this lawyer previously in other matters and he did not like him.

On first impressions, the lawyer, who was well-dressed in a dark bespoke suit, was articulate and charismatic, but to those who knew him best, he was also arrogant and egotistical.

Rice was an old-school lawyer who had been in the game for a long time, as his advanced years would corroborate. He had developed an ’us and them’ complex towards the cops, a feeling Luke returned in kind.

At Rice’s request, Luke met him outside interrogation room.

‘My client tells me you have video footage that you’re alleging is of my client…’ Rice began.

Luke played his cards close to his chest. ‘Your client would be correct.’

‘He tells me the person in the video is wearing a baseball cap and the man’s face is hidden…is this correct?’

Luke smiled. ‘No,’

‘It’s not correct…? What part…the baseball cap, or the face being hidden…?’

‘You know Councilor…’ Luke began, ‘I find it very interesting that your client has divulged to you what the suspect in the video was wearing… in particular a baseball cap and the fact he told you the cap hid the man’s face…’ Luke said. He paused for dramatic effect. ‘Your client has not viewed the footage, Councilor…and we certainly did not discuss it with how could he possibly know this…?'

The Lawyer’s eyes dropped like lead to the floor as he processed what had just happened.

To use a boxing parlance, Luke had the Lawyer reeling on wobbly knees as he went in for the finishing blow.

‘The face of the man in the video…your client…’ Luke emphasized, ‘is clearly depicted and identifiable…and yes… he was wearing a baseball cap.’

‘I see...’ Rice said rubbing a contemplative hand over his chin.

‘Not that we need them, but we also seized from his home address earlier today, the same clothes he was wearing in the video .’

‘Unless they are exclusive clothes made only for my client, I don’t see how that will help your case Detective. I will wager there are hundreds of people in the greater New York area who own the same clothes,’ Rice smugly said.

‘Maybe you’re right Mr. Rice…but we have your client filmed on video wearing these clothes, which we located in his bedroom during a warrant search. We’re testing them anyway for DNA and transfer evidence.’

The Lawyer would no doubt realize that Luke didn’t need the clothes to convict Baker, if the footage was as reliable as claimed.

‘I would like to see the video evidence if you wouldn’t mind, Detective...before I advise my client further,’ Rice requested.

‘I’m sure you would Mr. Rice…’ Luke said. ‘But you can wait until discovery. All I will tell you is... your client is facially identifiable in the video footage. The footage is date and time stamped, in color and is in very clear resolution.’

‘Very well…’ Rice began. ‘We will more than likely be challenging the admissibility of this video footage and the identity of the male depicted in the footage.’

Luke smirked at the arrogance of Rice. ‘That’s your prerogative Mr. Rice…but if I were you, I would wait until you view the footage before you decide on the type of defense you intend to lead…The words conclusive and incriminating come to mind,’ Luke said.

Following Luke’s discussions with Wendall Rice, Baker was interviewed in relation to the charges alleged against him. On the advice of his lawyer Baker elected to take the ‘fifth’ on all questions put to him.

The ‘no comment’ responses from Baker were not an issue to Luke. He didn’t need Baker to make any comment at all. He had the video footage. If a picture paints a thousand words, then this video painted War and Peace.

In fact, the no comment responses expedited the entire interview process, which worked in Luke’s favor. It meant he would finish up in time to be able to join his colleagues at Barnaby’s for their regular Friday night post-work drinks.

At the completion of the fast-tracked interview Baker was fronted before an out-of-session bail justice due to the time being too late in the day to find a Judge who was still in court.

Baker’s lawyer argued that his client was an elected member of the New York City Council and should be granted bail until next Monday, given the implied trust associated with his position.

The Bail Justice listened to Mr. Rice’s proposals however he ruled that the serious nature of the charges against Baker – First Degree Murder, warranted him being remanded in custody until the next court sitting on the following Monday. A judge would then rule on any bail application lodged by Baker.

With the offender from case number two squarely locked away, for the weekend at least, Luke was finished for the day and looked forward to unwinding with his work colleagues at Barnaby’s. Most of them had finished work and were already there.

During the short walk to the bar, Luke considered the possibility that maybe the old man would be there this time, a prospect that caused Luke’s pace to quicken. It would be great to be able to buy the old man a beer and tell him how two of his ‘educated’ predictions had turned out to be incredibly precise.

Luke wasted no time arriving at Barnaby’s Bar. After receiving his customary smiling welcome from Benny, Luke placed what was his first order of many – Jack straight up. He leaned on the bar watching his beverage of choice being poured while exchanging sociable small talk with Benny.

It was well known in the area that the cops from the 84th regularly frequented this establishment, and as barman and owner, Benny encouraged their patronage and always made them welcome.

When he did charge them for their drinks, their tabs were usually heavily discounted. It was smart business and it kept them coming back. After all, the likelihood of trouble in a bar regularly patronized by cops was heavily mitigated.

During their casual chat Luke asked if Benny had seen the old man with the hat, coat and skull walking stick in there tonight, or any time recently.

Benny propped a foot on a ledge under the bar, leaning his elbow on his raised knee. He paused for a moment of considered contemplation before responding. 'No...I don't remember seeing anyone like that in here recently.'

When Benny was called away to serve another customer at the opposite end of the bar, Luke took the opportunity to move through to his colleagues down in the cave.

After solving two major crimes, it was a comforting way for Luke to wind down, not only after a long Friday, but also after a long week.

Monday morning in the 84th was like any other day for Luke. As always, he arrived for work around 7.40am with a large coffee from his favorite café on Gold Street. His next priority was to read the daily newspaper to catch up on the weekend news while he savored his first of many coffees of the day.

Slowly but surely the Detective Bull Pen came to life as one-by-one Luke greeted his Monday morning, weary-eyed colleagues as they arrived for work. Each one carried their obligatory morning coffee from their favorite café.

With his head buried into his newspaper Luke sensed somebody standing close by watching him. He lifted eyes to the body standing in front of him. It was his stern-faced Lieutenant.

Luke checked his watch: 7.55am. He still had five minutes before his official start time. He sat back in his chair. ‘Looking very serious there Boss for a Monday morning…’ Luke said. He grinned at the Lieutenant.

Husken held Luke’s gaze. His expression remained unchanged. ‘I received a call this morning from Department of Corrections…’ the Lieutenant began. ‘Seems they sent your man Evan Baker to Rikers Island over the weekend,’ he said.

Luke shrugged. ‘No sympathy here.’ Luke closed the newspaper. ‘He’s a criminal…a violent criminal…it’s where he belongs.’ Luke folded the paper in half and dropped it to the side of his desk. ‘Maybe he should start getting used to it coz it will probably be his home for a long time,’ Luke said. He sipped on his coffee.

‘Maybe not…’ The Lieutenant cryptically replied.

Luke’s questioning eyebrows arched. ‘What are you saying...?’

‘Reports are Baker received some of his own treatment on Saturday night.’

Luke sat forward in his chair. His interest piqued further.

The Lieutenant continued. ‘The Warden from Rikers said Baker had been sexually assaulted by a number of prisoners – I think he was alluding to a gang rape,’ the Lieutenant said. ‘When they found him he was in a pretty bad way. I think the word he used was “brutalized”...Quite a few cons apparently took turns on him.’

Luke stared into his coffee cup while he swirled the contents around. ‘Karma’s a bitch…?’ Luke said, lifting his eyes to his boss. ‘The bastard was an abuser of young boys…stuff him I say.’

‘Stuff him indeed...’ the Lieutenant added. ‘They checked him out of the infirmary on Sunday afternoon...’ Luke sat back in his chair. He shrugged and locked his fingers behind his head.

The Lieutenant continued. ‘They found him dead in his cell early this morning,’ the Lieutenant said.

Luke’s eyebrows shot up. He met the Lieutenant’s gaze. The Lieutenant nodded his confirmation. ‘Apparently he tore his blanket into long strips, twisted them into a rope and used it to hang himself from his cell bars….’ The Lieutenant said. ‘Just tied it around his neck and sat back…stone cold when they found him.’

Luke was surprised, maybe even a little shocked, but definitely not saddened. ‘Oh well…’ Luke said. He lifted his coffee and took a sip. ‘One less maggot the taxpayer has to provide for,’ he added.

The Lieutenant nodded slightly. ‘Anyway…’ the Lieutenant moved towards his office. ‘Just thought you would like to know...coz he was due in court this morning…’ he said over his shoulder.

‘Thanks Boss…’ Luke said with a smile. ‘Who said Monday is the worst day of the week…? I think mine just got a whole lot better,’ he said to whoever cared to listen.

Luke removed the AT&T envelope from his Linda Fulton file. His thoughts drifted to how the universe seems to have a way of working itself out. He firmly believed in what goes around-- comes around. These evil people always got theirs in the end. He chuckled to himself at his unintentional pun.

The telephone records from Calvin and Linda Fulton he received from AT&T were next to meet his scrutiny. Given the old man’s track record, Luke had no hesitation in following his advice in relation to these remaining outstanding matters.

Based on the notes Luke took during his meeting with the old man, his impromptu mentor suggested Linda was probably talking on the telephone when she was brutally attacked with the garden rock.

The old man suggested Luke check the landline telephone records to see who Linda was talking to. It was a hunch, and most probably a long one, but Luke was prepared to give it a shot.

With rising expectations Luke unfolded Linda Fulton’s telephone records and placed them on his desk. He dragged his hand across them to flatten them out. He checked his notes for the date required.

Luke scanned through the records looking for any calls made from, or received at the Fulton’s landline number prior to 7.53pm on Saturday the 24th—the time Calvin made the frantic 9-1-1 call from his cell phone.

He flicked through the telephone records until he reached the last page. Moving his pencil down the last page he located a fifteen minute outgoing call made at 7.45pm on the 24th. There were no other calls made on that date. In fact, there were no other calls made from this number for a further five days.

Luke’s eyes lifted in contemplation. ‘7.45pm…?’ His questioning brow furrowed. He checked his notes taken at the scene. He was confused.

The AT&T records indicate a fifteen minute telephone call was made from Linda’s home at 7.45pm, ending at 8pm. The 9-1-1 call was received at 7.53pm—which was during the time of the call recorded by AT&T.

That would suggest Linda Fulton was still on the telephone for another seven minutes after the 9-1-1 call was made. That doesn’t make sense. Something didn’t fit. It couldn’t be as it appeared. These telephone records were confusing the issue, rather than helping.

Luke needed to follow up with who owned this phone number appearing on the records, called by Linda at 7.45pm.

He circled the last number called by Linda Fulton, then flicked back through the previous pages, circling numbers as he went.

By the time Luke had checked the eight pages of phone records, he had circled the same number that Linda called on the 24th a further twenty-three times. Luke lifted his head while he processed what this meant, if anything.

Could Linda Fulton have been having an affair? Could her killer have been a jilted lover...Or maybe even a jealous husband who discovered their little secret? But who rings their secret lover from their own home landline where the numbers are recorded on their telephone records…?

Logically, the telephone number had to belong to a family member, or a close friend.

‘What ya working on Foxy…?’ Luke’s colleague, Ben West asked.

Luke’s head lifted to the voice. ‘Oh, hey Westy...’

The interrupting Detective lifted the crime scene photo wallet from the desk and began to peruse the gruesome images.

‘That’s the Linda Fulton murder from over in Brooklyn Heights...’ Luke began. ‘Husband came home from buying Chinese takeout to disturb the offender who had just caved his wife’s head in.’

While the impromptu visit broke his train of thoughts, Luke didn’t mind the interruption. One thing he learned very early on in his career is that when investigating serious crimes, it often helped to discuss difficult cases with colleagues to brainstorm the facts.

Sometimes a fresh set of eyes may pick something up that was missed. With Ben being a fifteen year Homicide veteran, anything he had to offer was certainly worth considering.

Ben’s face screwed up at the graphic images of the victim. ‘Certainly did a number on this poor woman’s head…’ Ben said. ‘I take it this rock was the weapon…?’ He turned one of the images to face Luke.

Luke nodded.

Ben closed the photo wallet with a shake of his head. ‘Do you have anyone for it...?’ Ben asked. ‘Judging by the extent of damage to her head…the perp held a great deal of hatred towards this vic…a clear case of overkill…’ he said.

Luke nodded. ’Yeah…it does…but I don’t have anyone yet. I looked at the husband, but so far he is clear. He’s the one who found her and called it in.

‘Boyfriend, or lover maybe…?’ Ben suggested.

Luke gestured towards the telephone records on his desk. ‘I’m looking at that now actually,’ he began. ’I’ve got this number here that keeps appearing throughout these telephone records… it was called from the vic’s home number shortly before the murder, and it was also called a further twenty-three times in the thirteen days preceding the murder...’

Luke intentionally opted not to mention the apparent anomaly in the times at this stage, at least until he found out more about this number Linda called.

‘Do you mind if I have a look…?’ Luke handed Ben the telephone records. ‘This one circled, yeah..?’ Ben asked rhetorically. ‘That’s a Jersey number,’ Ben said.

‘How do you know that…?’

‘My in-laws live in New Jersey…Cliffside Park. In fact…’ he said glancing at the number again, ‘their phone number is only a few digits different to this one, so whoever owns this phone number...must live in Cliffside Park, and most probably, close to my in-laws.’

‘Looks like I’m heading to New Jersey then,’ Luke said as he accepted the telephone records back from Ben. ‘Who needs to contact the TELCOS when we’ve got you, Westy...’ Luke said to the departing Detective.

‘Good luck with that,’ Ben offered. ‘Sounds like you’ve got something there…’ he said over his shoulder as he returned to his own desk nearby.

The results of Luke’s reverse telephone number search provided him with a name and address of the person in Jersey who owned this mystery phone number. He scribbled the details down in his note book –

“L. Booth. 426 Waterview Ave Clifford Park NJ.”

What he didn’t know at this time was if the “L” was the initial of a Mr. Booth or a Mrs. Booth, but he would soon find out.

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