Around thirty-six days earlier…
Thursday morning was like any other weekday morning for John and Sandy Bishop. John’s restful sleep was routinely disturbed at 6am by the resonating sounds of his alarm clock radio. After taking a couple of minutes to rouse himself awake, he slid out of bed and headed for the shower.
Shortly afterwards his weary wife Sandy slid out of bed, slipped on her robe and while John was in the shower, she headed downstairs to put on the coffee and lovingly prepared his cooked breakfast.
Although she did not work in a regular 9-5 job she always rose with him each morning to ensure he received sufficient sustenance in the mornings before he headed off to work.
John and Sandy lived in the affluent Brooklyn suburb of Park Slope in their 142 year old luxurious multi-million dollar Brownstone townhouse at 141 Hanover Street.
They had been married for over twenty-two years and ironically, are one of three families in their street that remain childless, after being unable to naturally conceive. It remained an unfortunate circumstance that had placed a great deal of pressure on their marriage over the years.
At forty-six Sandy was a kept woman. She was a stay-at-home wife whose main responsibilities were the home duties. She was a short, slim woman with long blonde hair and a dynamite spirit to go with her positive outlook on life. Despite all their challenges she still loved her husband very much.
John was two years older and ran his highly successful technology consulting company, Techno-Vis servicing clients from all over the east coast. He wore a tightly cropped full beard with short closely shaved brown hair and frameless glasses. He was a short man with a solid build, most of which he carried around his waistline; the inevitable curse attributable to working in a sedentary occupation.
Each morning after breakfast John navigated the peak hour traffic in his midnight blue series-7 BMW as he drove the short distance of four or so miles to his office located in New York City’s technology hub in the Brooklyn neighborhood affectionately known as DUMBO.
The unflattering name was an acronym created by residents to represent its location - Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
John’s work commitments were often incredibly demanding, but it was something that both he and his wife accepted as a necessary evil to running their own business.
He was regularly required to work back late to complete a data program he was writing, or finalize an upcoming presentation.
It was not unusual for him to arrive home as late as 10pm on any given week night.
Sandy however was the consummate understanding and supporting wife. Her only requirement was that he called to let her know he would be home late—so she didn’t worry.
In fact, over the past six weeks John had worked back late almost every night of the week, and on occasions, he even had to head into the office on the weekends.
This Thursday night was no exception to recent weeks. Sandy received a call from John late in the afternoon to tell her he would be working on a difficult project and as a consequence, he would unfortunately be late home – once again.
Sandy offered to bring his dinner down to the office. But when John declined the generous offer, she told him that she would prepare his dinner and leave it in the microwave for him to warm up whenever he got in. ‘Just don’t fill up on junk beforehand,’ were her last words to him before the phone call ended.
Sandy was watching television when the doorbell rang distracting her from her Thursday night reality TV fix.
Who could that be? She glanced at the over sized clock that commanded a dominating presence on their family room wall.
When she opened the front door her welcoming, but curious smile quickly evaporated. Her heart sunk when she was confronted by two solemn faced police officers staring back at her. Typical of any person faced with this scenario she immediately thought the worse.
‘Is something wrong...?’ she immediately asked.
The officers exchanged a brief glance before the older man spoke first. ‘Does a John Bishop reside here Ma’am?’
‘Yes he does…What seems to be the problem?’
‘How do you know him, Ma’am?’
‘He’s my husband.’ Her eyes flicked between the two cops. ‘What’s wrong? What has happened…?’ she asked with rising concern. ‘Where is he…? Is he alright? Has something happened…?’ Her chest tightened. Panic started to take hold of her. She fired off several questions without giving the opportunity for a response.
‘Do you know where your husband is tonight, Mrs. Bishop?’
‘Yes of course. He is at work in his office in DUMBO. He called me this afternoon to let me know he would be working back late. Why, what’s going on?’ Her panicked eyes continued to flick between the two cops while seeking answers.
‘What time were you expecting him home this evening?’
‘He didn’t give me a time…Look, you are making me nervous…Please tell me what has happened…’
The officers again exchanged a brief glance. ‘Um, was your husband driving his blue BMW this evening…I mean as far as you are aware, he didn’t loan the vehicle to anyone else?’
‘Not as far as I am aware…that is his car… he always drove it.’
The older officer nodded. ‘Ma’am…earlier tonight police were called to a shooting in DUMBO near the Fenway projects….’
Sandy’s hand shot up to her mouth.
The cop continued. ‘When they arrived they found a deceased male person sitting in a blue BMW sedan. The vehicle in which the body was found was registered to your husband, John Bishop. Now, unfortunately the person did not have any ID on him – no wallet, no phone, nothing that would identify him.’
Sandy stood in stunned silence staring blankly forward, as though she was not listening.
‘Does your husband usually carry a mobile phone and a wallet?’
Sandy continued to stare blankly forward without responding.
‘Ma’am…?’ the officer said.
Sandy’s blank eyes moved slowly to the officer asking the question. ‘Yes… ah yes…he… ah...he always carried both on him at all times. His phone was a part of him,’ she said.
‘Can you recall what clothes your husband wore when he left for work this morning?’
Sandy cupped forehead. Tears started to roll down her cheeks. Her breathing labored as she tried to think back to the last time she saw her husband.
‘Um…’ she said between breaths. ‘I think he was wearing a pale pink business shirt, black trousers and a striped pink and grey tie…’ She shifted her gaze to the inquiring cop. She was now in full panic. Her eyes pleaded with the cop to tell her that their victim was wearing something different. ‘My husband has a full faced beard…’ She dragged her fingers down her jaw and chin, ‘and short cropped hair…’ she said with pleading eyes seeking confirmation that it wasn't him.
The two officers once again exchanged a brief glance before the older cop spoke. ‘Ma’am unfortunately, I am terribly sorry to say that the description you have provided us, and the fact the male is in a vehicle registered to your husband, suggests that your husband may have been the victim of a robbery this evening and was shot and killed during the process.’
‘No,’ Sandy wailed. Her legs gave way and she collapsed to her knees. Her hands cupped her face.
The police officers gently assisted Sandy back to her feet and escorted her into her house. Once she was seated on the sofa, the younger officer located a box of tissues nearby and handed them to her.
‘Is there anyone we can call for you…?’ The older cop asked.
With a tissue tightly bunched in her hand Sandy dabbed her eyes as she shook her head.
‘Do you know why your husband would have been in the Fenway Projects tonight Mrs. Bishop?’ the older cop asked.
She lifted her bloodshot eyes to the cop. The tears seeping through her mascara had forged dark streaky tracks down her cheeks. ‘He drives through that area every day to and from his office. There is nothing unusual about that,’ she sobbed.
‘Of course ma’am…I was just wondering...’ The cop added. ‘Are you sure there is no-one we can call for you…someone that can come over and be with you?’
Sandy’s hands covered her sobbing eyes. Without answering she simply shook her head in response. Suddenly her eyes lifted from her hands. ‘Are you sure it was my husband…? I want to see him...’ She insisted.
The two officers exchanged a brief glance. ’We are almost certain ma’am that the male in the vehicle is your husband…Having said that, the body will need to be formally identified, but I would highly recommend that a close friend, or family member does that for you…’ the cop suggested.
Sandy aggressively shook her head. ‘No…’ she said. ‘I want to see him…’
The same cop continued. ’Ma’am…I completely understand what you are going through, but I have to advise you against that…’ He paused. His eyes flicked to his colleague who returned his gaze. ‘Well…it’s just that…your husband was, well…he has an extensive head injury…’ he said. Sandy sat unmoved. ‘It is not something that you should really see ma’am – believe me.’
As the words left the cop’s mouth Sandy stared blankly forward. She cupped her face in her hands and the sobbing continued. ‘I understand…’ she sobbed.
’Ma’am is there anything we can do for you…?’
‘No…no, thank you gentlemen,’ she said. ‘I appreciate that this is very difficult for you. I really do. You have been wonderful,’ she said. ‘I will be fine. I will call my friend who lives a couple of streets away…she will help me.’
‘Would you like us to wait until she arrives?’ the cop asked.
Sandy raised the hand holding the now soaked, bunched up tissue. ‘No, I will be fine thank you.’
‘Ma’am…’ the older cop said as they stood in preparation to leave. ‘We are terribly sorry for your loss.’
Sandy nodded once. ‘Thank you,’ she said.
The police moved to let themselves out while Sandy remained seated on her sofa, sobbing.
When Sandy Bishop kissed her husband goodbye this morning as he left for work, she never realized that it would be the last time she would see him alive.
Detective Luke Fox arrived at the crime scene in DUMBO having been alerted by the first response police unit. The area had already been cordoned off with crime scene tape. Trapped inside was a lone parked vehicle, a blue BMW sedan. From where he stood Luke noticed that the driver’s side window was smashed.
The area where the vehicle was parked was in Le Sands Drive, immediately adjacent to Stacey Park, a small space of treed parkland in DUMBO. The park was located only streets away from the Fenway residential housing projects where ten fourteen-story buildings densely occupied the landscape upon which they stood.
The Fenway projects was renowned for its high crime rate and violence, with many tenants and visitors paying little respect to the acceptable conventions of society.
Disgusting used condoms and syringes littered the grounds. Drug-dealers overtly plied their trade in full view of passing public with little concern for consequences, while the sound of gun shots ringing out was so common, it was often met with complacency.
The Projects were a blatant caste distinction between the haves and have-nots living within streets of each other with glaring disparities. The median annual income in neighboring DUMBO was over $150,000, while in direct contrast, the annual income in Fenway was just under $21,000. Sadly, as is often the case, high crime and drug use seemed to be synonymous with high density living in these lower socio-economic, high-rise residential dwellings.
Luke surveyed the darkened street as he approached the parked vehicle, wondering why the vic was parked out here. Half way to the vehicle he was met by the uniform officer who called him down.
‘What do we have, Lou?’ Luke asked without breaking stride.
The officer turned and walked with Luke, catching up and keeping in step. 'Looks like a robbery and murder of a male who was seated in his car when he was attacked. He has a fatal gunshot wound to the head. The victim’s wallet, phone and watch were taken –even his shoes are gone.
Luke listened, absorbing the information as he strolled towards the stricken vehicle.
When he arrived at the driver’s door Luke peered inside. The victim lay slumped sideways across the passenger seat. The passenger side window had become opaque from the blood and brain matter that had coated the inside of the window and door.
‘Any weapon recovered?’ Luke asked.
‘No, but we have guys searching bins and drains in the area,’ the cop said.
‘What do we know about the vic…?’ Luke asked.
The officer consulted his notes. ‘The vehicle is registered to a John Bishop…Lives about three to four miles away in Park Slope at…141 Hanover Street. We don’t know if this is him though coz there’s no ID. We sent a black and white around to his address to try and confirm his whereabouts and if he was driving his car this evening.’
Luke nodded. ‘Good,’ he said. Luke turned and scanned the immediate vicinity. ‘Who called it in?’
The officer returned to his notes. ‘Ah, a Mrs. Cartwright from over there at 88 Le Sands Drive.’ The cop motioned to his left. ‘Says she heard a gunshot just after 8.30pm…She says while that is nothing new in this area she still decided to call it in.’
‘Did she see anything – a vehicle, suspect running away, anything?’ Luke asked.
The cop shook his head. ‘Nuthin. She says she heard the gun shot and later saw the unknown vehicle parked near the park so she just rang 9-1-1.’
‘So, no known witnesses as of yet…?’ Luke said.
‘OK…Keep looking,’ Luke said. His focus lifted over the roof of the vehicle, up towards the upper floors of the projects towering in the background over the nearby houses. His immediate thought was that their perp would no doubt be somewhere in those projects.