Such was his focus on what the answering machine playback might contain, after leaving the Booths’ home on his way back to the office, Luke had driven through the perilous Lincoln Tunnel and was out the other side in Manhattan before he realized.
Back at the 84th Luke parked his vehicle and hurried to his Lieutenant’s office. He was confident the playback would contain vital clues to the identity of Linda’s murderer, so he decided to involve his boss on the initial review.
After a courtesy knock Luke entered the Lieutenant’s office. ‘Do you have a minute Boss...? I have something here you will find very interesting in relation to the Linda Fulton murder.’
The Lieutenant beckoned towards Luke to enter.
Luke briefed the Lieutenant on the new evidence and how Luke came across it. His boss was particularly interested to listen to what the answering machine contained.
Luke plugged the machine into a spare power outlet in the office and navigated his way to the library of stored messages. After selecting stored message number three Luke pressed the PLAY button and sat back in the chair opposite his boss. His excitement to hear what was on the recording was verging on palpable.
Following a brief pause the computer generated voice commenced its introduction.
“Message received Saturday October 24th at 7.45pm.”
Luke sat with his eyes lowered while he concentrated on the recording playback.
The voice of Linda Fulton began talking in the recorded message.
“Hi Shirl it’s Linda…again…are you there…? Pick up please if you are there…I’m sorry to bother you but it’s Calvin…he’s gotten worse. I don’t know what to do…Oh, OK…you’re not there…
After a brief pause of nothing but white noise, the voice of an aggressive male could be heard in the recording background, a short distance away from the telephone receiver.
"Who ya talking to…? I SAID who ya talking to…? It’s him isn’t it…? " the male voice said.
The female voice continued with a discernible tremor in her voice. She was clearly intimidated by the male voice, who Luke assumed belonged to Linda’s husband, Calvin.
"There isn’t anyone there Cal…There isn’t…here…listen for yourself."
The aggressive male voice continued. “I don’t need to listen to anything…”
An audible slap sound was heard followed by what sounded like the telephone hand set bouncing on the floor.
'I think that was the telephone knocked from Linda’s hand,’ Luke said. Husken nodded once.
The male voice continued, but this time a little further away.
“I leave for ten minutes to get our dinner and you couldn’t wait could you…you couldn’t wait to call your lover. You’re nothing but a filthy whore.
The female could be heard sobbing. Her pleading tone continued. “Calvin please…there is nobody else…what do I have to do to prove it to you…?”
‘What’s his name…? Who are you fucking behind my back…?’ the aggressive male voice asked.
‘Arrgh…’ the female grunted. ‘Calvin…you’re, uggh.’ She grunted again. ‘Calvin please… you’re hurting me…. You have to—’
Linda’s words were cut short by a deafening crack sound. A heavy thud followed, consistent with the sound of her limp body falling to the ground.
Luke’s eyes flicked to the small machine. His ears strained to hear any sounds, but there was nothing. He lifted his eyes to his boss.
‘Do you think he just knocked her out…?’ Luke asked.
The Lieutenant shrugged. He shook his head while he continued listening. ‘Probably…’
Both men listened to what was now extended silence in the playback. A soft moaning was audible in the distance. It sounded as though Linda was groaning in pain.
After a brief break, a male voice spoke. Maybe he had left the room and had just returned. “I should’ve done this years ago…” the male announced.
The female spoke again. Her voice sounded weak and her speech was labored. “Calvin please…why are you doing this..?”
After a few seconds of relative silence their attention was suddenly grabbed by Linda desperately screaming out in protest, “CALVIN NO...” The blood curdling scream that followed was silenced by a sickening, heavy thud.
Luke’s eyes slammed shut. His face distorted at the sound. He had seen first-hand what happened to Linda. He opened his eyes to his boss. ‘That dog just hit his wife over the head with that rock,’ Luke announced. He slowly shook his head at what he heard.
“Shut the fuck up…whore…” the male voice bellowed from the machine playback.
The sound of Calvin grunting was closely followed by a further sickening heavy thud. The female voice remained silent.
The heavy thud sound continued a further three times in close succession. The eerie sound resonated deeply with Luke as he sat in stunned silence.
The fourth and final thud was delayed slightly, but when it came, it was accompanied by a distinct squelching sound. Luke’s eyes forced shut and his head dropped. He knew he had just heard the blow that split open Linda Fulton’s skull.
The confronting audio was chilling to listen to having been to the crime scene and witnessed the injuries to Linda Fulton. Her own beloved husband was caving her head in with that large garden rock.
A further two more blows followed before everything went silent. There was no mistaking Calvin’s intent. Luke checked his watch. The playback had been going for just under eight minutes.
The silence in the recording was suddenly broken by a distressed male voice. It was Calvin. The one-sided conversation suggested Calvin was talking on a telephone. His distraught voice was convincing, yet eerie to hear. It leapt out from the recorded message and grabbed hold of the listener’s attention.
"Help me please... Someone has attacked my wife. He ran out the door when I came home. She’s on the floor…please help me!"
"Yes, Oh my god there’s blood everywhere."
"I don’t think so… I just got home oh my god…oh my god."
Luke’s expression was filled with disgust, even contempt as looked to his boss. He slowly shook his head. ‘This bastard’s just killed his wife then called it in to 9-1-1…do you believe that…?’ Luke asked, albeit rhetorically.
Calvin’s one-sided comments, answers to the 9-1-1 operator’s questions, were heard to continue across the playback.
"280 Jolimont Street, Brooklyn Heights."
"I’ll try…….She’s not breathing…! I can’t feel anything…! there’s no pulse…! Oh god help me please! Linda…! Oh no Linda...!"
Luke slowly shook his disgusted head at the pathetic display of crocodile tears.
"I don’t know…I wrestled with him and he ran out the front door."
"No it all happened so fast. He had a full face ski mask. Oh my god there is blood everywhere…"
After a brief silence it became evident the 9-1-1 call had ended. Both men tuned their ears to the prolonged silence. Their questioning gazes met when the period of lengthy silence was broken by what sounded like a violent struggle taking place.
A cacophony of sounds emanated from the answering machine playback; the crashing of plates, chairs hitting the floor, as well as other unrecognizable items being smashed.
‘Is he fighting with someone...?’ the frowning Lieutenant asked.
Luke slowly shook his head. He’d seen the damage to the kitchen. Now it made sense. ‘No…no, that’s just the perp trying to make the kitchen look as though there was a struggle between his wife and the fictitious attacker who fled,’ Luke said.
‘I can’t believe it…’ Luke continued. ‘I would never have picked it was the husband...’ Luke said. ‘He killed his own wife and all because of some paranoid jealousy episode.’
‘You need to get this into evidence,’ the Lieutenant said. ‘Then go pick him up?’
Luke lifted his chin to the machine. ‘This is the first time I’ve heard this,’ he said. Luke rubbed his hand across his mouth. ‘I only just picked this up from Linda and Calvin’s friends in Jersey this afternoon…’
The Lieutenant watched Luke as he unplugged the answering machine and wrapped the electric cord around the device. Once Luke had finished the Lieutenant said, ‘Tell me…How did you know the murder would be captured on that machine…?’ the Lieutenant asked.
Luke paused before answering. ‘I didn’t know it was there...’ Luke said. ‘I was just following a hunch based on the telephone records,’ Luke said.
‘These hunches of yours are certainly paying off, aren’t they...?’ the Lieutenant said. ‘What’s that…three savage murders all solved from these “hunches” of yours?’ he asked rhetorically. ‘Whatever you’re doing my boy…’ The Lieutenant placed a reassuring hand on Luke’s shoulder. ‘Just keep it up.’
‘I tell you though, Boss…I don’t know about you, but I can’t get that sound out of my head…’ he said. ‘You know, that hollow sound and the squelch from her head being crushed by that rock…sends a chill down my spine.’
‘Maybe you’ll feel better when you go pick the cold hearted bastard up and bring him in,’ the Lieutenant said.
Luke nodded. ‘It’ll take every ounce of my being not to split his head open with a rock…’ Luke said before departing the office.
During his stroll back to his desk, Luke’s thoughts went back to his encounter in the bar that night with the old man. Luke was now in awe of this old man who had now helped him solve three out of three violent murders where he had little, to no evidence to implicate a killer.
The old man told him the husband did it. He told Luke the clues to the killer would be found in the telephone records, and they were. Unbelievable…incredible. Luke couldn’t get his head around it.
It was late in the afternoon and Lieutenant Husken was working back later than usual. His attention was drawn to Luke passing his open doorway on his way to the Bullpen.
Husken called out to the passing Detective. ‘Fox!...Got a minute?’
After a brief pause Luke stuck his head through the open doorway to Husken’s office. ‘Yeah Boss..?’
Husken beckoned towards Luke. ‘Come in.’ He pointed to the chair opposite his. ‘Take a seat.’
Luke complied and slid into the chair as instructed.
Husken leaned onto his elbows. 'Where we at with the case we listened to this afternoon…? Did you bring in the perp? What happened...? I haven’t heard anything...’
Luke shook a dejected head. ‘No, I’m just back now, as a matter of fact.’
‘OK...so…where is he…?’ Where’s the offender for this one...? Wasn’t he home when you called...?’
Luke held Husken's gaze while a couple of beats passed. ‘Oh, he was home,’ Luke said with a single nod of his head. ‘But he’s a nut case, Boss. I swore out the arrest warrant and took a team with me to arrest him. When we arrived the front door was slightly ajar. Bit of a worry at that point,’ Luke said. 'So we drew our weapons and slowly made our way inside. I could hear a male voice to my left so I signaled to the team to move in that direction.
'We slowly made our way through the house following the sound of the voice…’ Luke paused and raised his eyebrows. ‘We found the husband in the kitchen… He was stark naked trying to scrub the dried blood stains from the kitchen floor, you know that stain that remains once the blood is cleaned up...?’ Husken nodded. ‘Well he was scrubbing and ranting, “Got to get this cleaned up before Linda gets home. Got to get this cleaned up before Linda gets home.” He just kept saying it over and over again. He was oblivious to our presence; four armed cops standing looking at him, and he didn’t even notice.’
‘What did you do…get him certified...?’
Luke nodded. ‘I called the psychiatric hospital and they sent down a doctor, a psychiatrist, who took one look at him and suggested he be admitted into psychiatric care. The doc committed him straight away.’
'Are you sure he wasn’t faking it for your benefit…?' Husken asked. ‘The front door was open…maybe he was expecting you. Maybe he deliberately left it open so you could walk in a find him acting like that.’
Luke shook his head. ‘Nah, he’s gone boss. He couldn’t act like that and be sane – no-one could. Sadly, he’ll never have to answer to this one,’ Luke said in a dejected tone. ‘You can guarantee he’ll be deemed unfit to stand trial.’
‘Either way he is off the street,’ Husken reassured. ‘We’ll get an order through the courts for him to be committed to the psychiatric ward and held there indefinitely. He won’t come out again,’ Husken said.
‘It’s a hollow victory isn’t it…?’ Luke said. ‘Leaves a hollow feeling… you now, like dancing with ya sister on prom night. Sure we got him…but not only do we miss the satisfaction of seeing him convicted for his crime and sentenced, he’s too loopy to even know he’s been caught.’
‘Probably doesn’t even know he did what he did to his poor wife,’ the Lieutenant added.
Luke’s mouth inverted. He nodded at the realization of given what he had just witnessed, that could very well be the case.
From the Lieutenant’s office Luke returned to his desk in the Bullpen. It was late in the afternoon and he couldn’t be bothered doing any more work for the day.
He caught the eye of one of his colleagues across the room who was simulating a drinking action back to Luke.
‘Barnaby’s…?’ The colleague suggested.
‘Hell yeah...I am there,’ Luke said.
Before long the vacuum effect from a suggestion of drinks at Barnaby’s had cleaned out the Bullpen, dragging along eight thirsty off-duty Detectives.