The Mentor

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Chapter 9

It was mid-afternoon by the time Luke located a Judge who was available to issue a search warrant for 404 Ocean Street to search behind the basement walls.

Luke also asked the Judge to sign a second search warrant for service on the Boerum Hill branch of the JP Morgan Chase Bank, to obtain account holder details of the debit card used to purchase the hardware supplies.

Once the warrants were signed Luke intended to wait until after school had finished before he attended at the Ocean street address, knowing Megan’s work hours coincided with school hours.

In the meantime Luke contacted the Chase Bank branch in Boerum Hill to inform them he would be attending this afternoon with a search warrant.

Following his phone call he provided the Branch Manager with a copy of the warrant ad a list of the records he required, so it would be waiting for Luke when he arrived.

It was approaching late afternoon. Luke resorted to checking his watch every 2 or 3 minutes waiting for the bank to call. Megan would soon be arriving home from work and he hoped to conduct the search of the basement before Kirk arrived home.

When Luke’s desk phone finally rang he snapped up the receiver before it completed its second ring. The Branch Manager from the Chase Bank informed him the banking records were ready for collection.

Luke decided to head to Ocean Street via the Chase Bank. He arranged to meet his search team of four CSI’s and two uniform officers in the street about 100 yards west of number 404 once he had finished with the bank. He specifically requested one of the uniform officers be a female, in case Megan Dupree required consoling.

Once he had executed the warrant on the Branch Manager and received the requested records, Luke attended at the scheduled rendezvous location in Ocean Street. The lack of parking spaces meant the unmarked police vehicles double parked in the one-way street.

Luke instructed his team of officers to initially wait in their cars while he firstly spoke to Megan. He would call them in when he was ready to conduct the search.

Luke chose this course of action as a courtesy to Megan. It would be distressing for her to open the door and be confronted by six police officers glaring back at her. He wanted to ease her into the search warrant carefully.

Megan was jovial when she opened the door to Luke. ‘Detective…twice in the one day…This is becoming a habit,’ she smiled. ‘Come in…what can I do for you this time?’

Luke entered without answering. ’Can I get you a coffee or something else…? She gestured towards the rear kitchen. ‘You were lucky you caught me, I am just in from work.’

Luke shook his head. ‘No thank you…I’m fine. I just wanted to ask you some questions about the night you came home from Manhattan.’

‘Sure,’ Megan said.

‘You mentioned that when you came home you went upstairs and looked in on Emily…’

‘That’s right.’

’Can I ask…How did you know Emily was in her bed at that time?′

Megan frowned at Luke. ‘I don’t understand Detective…’ she shook her head. ‘I…saw her in her bed,’ she said.

‘OK… But…did you actually see Emily in the bed…? What I mean is…Was what you saw a body shape under the covers, or did you actually see Emily in bed…you know, her head, or an arm protruding from the covers?’

Megan thought for a moment. ‘I stood at the door to Em’s room and looked in…’ Megan began. ‘I saw her in the bed…’ she said. ‘But no…’ she shook her head. ‘Come to think of it, I didn’t see any part of her body…just the shape of her body under the covers.’

Luke nodded his understanding. ‘OK. You mentioned that Kirk told you not to wake her and he closed the door back over,’ he said.

Megan nodded. ‘That’s right. He said she had been waiting up for me to come home…’ she said. ‘And if I woke her she would be too excited to go back to sleep…I hadn’t been home all weekend you see, and we miss each other when I go on these work trips.’

Luke nodded. ‘I understand. Can you tell me… did Kirk spend a lot of time on his own with Emily?’

‘Oh yes, he was great with her, especially on weekends. He took her to the parks and things, on walks… he played with her a lot. He loved her…and she loved him,’ Megan said.

‘Were you always with them when they played or visited parks?’

‘Sometimes…but not always.’ Her expression firmed.

‘Who bathed Emily in the evenings?’ Luke asked.

Her eyebrows plunged into her face forming a distinct “V” above the bridge of her nose. ‘I did…we both did. Look, what’s going on Detective…?’ Megan asked. ‘What are you saying to me?’

‘Maybe you should take a seat.’

’I’m fine standing. What’s going on...?

‘are you aware if there has been any plumbing problems in your house ...any pipes bursting recently?’

‘No. not that I’m aware of... Why are you asking these sort of questions?’

‘I noticed fresh paint on the basement wall this morning when we were down there – the dark blue colored wall,’ Luke began. ‘I recall that you mentioned there had not been any renovations in the basement for years, even though the wall had clearly been recently painted.’

’Yes, but that was based on as far as I knew, but that didn’t mean that some renovations hadn’t happened without my knowledge,’ Megan said.

The time had come for Luke to play his trump card. ‘When I noticed that the basement wall had been repainted, I conducted some inquiries to see if any building supplies had been purchased while you were in Manhattan…’ Luke removed the printout from Harrisons Hardware and Building Supplies from his folder. He handed it to Megan.

Megan accepted the document and commenced to read. ‘You will see that a number of items, including a 10 x 4 feet sheet of drywall and tools and accessories were purchased on the Saturday you were in Manhattan.’

Megan continued to read the printout. Luke removed the delivery docket and showed it to Megan. She accepted it from Luke. ’You will see on that delivery docket from Harrisons Hardware and Building Supplies that they delivered a 10 x 4 feet sheet of drywall to this address on the morning of Saturday the 3rd. Do you recognize the signature on the bottom of that docket?’

Megan nodded slowly. ‘Yes…it’s Kirk’s signature.’ Her confused eyes lifted to meet Luke’s. ‘Why was all this purchased…?’ she asked.

Luke didn’t answer her question. He opened his file and slid out a copy of the transaction statement from their joint account, which he obtained under warrant.

He indicated to Megan the $220 transaction at Harrisons Hardware and Building Supplies on Saturday the 3rd of this month verified the purchase was paid for from their account. And given she was in Manhattan at the time, it verified the purchase was made by Kirk. Megan stared at the banking record in silence.

Luke motioned towards the street. ‘I have a team of specialists waiting in the street at the moment…’ he said, Luke removed the search warrant from his file. ‘I want to look behind the wall in the basement.’ He handed the copy search warrant to Megan.

Megan accepted the warrant and passed a cursory glance over it. ‘What for…What are you looking for behind my wall, Detective…?’

Luke’s experience in reading people told him deep down, she already knew the answer to that question. ‘At this stage we don’t know what is behind there… that is why we’re looking,’ he said. ‘All we do is drill some small pilot holes in the wall and pass a camera on a cord through. If nothing is there I will personally fill up the holes myself…’ Luke said.

While Megan’s eyes fell to the search warrant Luke moved out onto the front landing where he waved in the waiting team.

Megan accompanied the police search team down into the basement where she stood off to the side with her arms crossed. A female officer stood by her side.

Luke asked Phil Duff to show Megan the camera and explain to her how it works – as a courtesy. Phil removed the camera from its hard case. It was a yellow device with a shape that resembled a tradesman’s drill. There was a control panel with a small screen located on the top, facing the device operator.

Attached to the front was a flexible cable about three feet long that had a small camera with LED lights attached to the end.

Once the cable and camera was inserted into the wall it was manipulated by the control panel.

Megan appeared to be watching the impromptu demonstration, but she didn’t appear to care.

Phil informed Megan that they would drill a small inspection hole in the wall and pass the camera through to see what is on the other side.

Megan stood with her arms across her body, like she was embracing herself. Her expression was blank as she watched the Crime Scene Investigator drill hole after hole in her basement wall, thread the camera through and after finding nothing, move on to the next space of wall.

After about thirty minutes without success, Luke started to question if there was anything behind the wall. He started to consider that maybe there had been a burst pipe.

While the search continued Kirk returned home. He stood at the top of the basement stairs, silhouetted by the light from the foyer behind him. Kirk descended the stairs and moved towards a distressed Megan.

Being of average height—about 5 feet 9 and around 150 pounds, Kirk was a lean built man with a pale complexion.

‘What the hell is going on here, Megs?’ Kirk asked as he scanned the activity in his basement.

Megan ran and embraced Kirk, meeting him as he stepped from the stairs. ‘They think something might be behind the wall.’

‘Like what…?’ Kirk snapped, flicking a glare at Luke.

Luke showed Kirk the list of items that Kirk purchased from Harrisons Hardware and Building Supplies on the 3rd of this month. Kirk snatched the list from Luke’s hand and briefly examined it.

‘So…what about it…?’ He held the list out to Luke. ‘Is that what this is about…?’ he gestured to the CSI’s at the wall. ‘Unbelievable…’ Kirk jabbed an aggressive a finger at the wall. ‘I bought that stuff because a pipe burst under the house and I had to replace it…I had to cut the wall to get in to where it was located.’

Kirk took hold of Megan’s hands. ‘I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to worry about it,’ Kirk said with convincing compassion. ‘I fixed the problem, but I had to repair the wall afterwards,’ he said.

Megan’s eyes narrowed as her convinced glare shifted to Luke. Her expression was as clear as if she had uttered the words - Are you satisfied now?

Luke did not buy Kirk’s little theatrical display. ‘Can you show me what part of the wall you replaced?’ Luke asked.

‘What…?’ Kirk asked, a little too quick for Luke’s liking. Kirk rubbed a nervous hand through his hair.

Years of interviewing guilty offenders, often for violent and horrific crimes had taught Luke how to read a guilty suspect’s tells; their body language.

One of the most popular responses by a guilty person to a tricky question was an immediate response of “What?”, or “can you repeat the question?” It’s a ploy often used to buy some time while they think of a suitable response. And that was exactly what Kirk just did. Rubbing his hands through his hair indicated a nervous reaction.

Luke re-asked his question. This seemed to infuriate Kirk. He ranted about not putting up with this shit as he removed his mobile phone and made a call.

To Luke this reaction was a way for Kirk to avoid identifying the part of the wall he repaired. Attack is often the best form of defense by the guilty.

After a while it was evident Kirk was talking to his lawyer.

‘Are they able to damage my wall like this…?’ Kirk asked. ‘I don’t know, I haven’t seen it,’ Kirk said. He arrogantly clicked his fingers at Luke and held his hand out. ‘The search warrant…’ Kirk said beckoning with his hand. Luke handed Kirk his copy of the search warrant. Kirk read it out to the person on the phone.

‘They can’t do that to my wall, can they…?’ Kirk asked. His expression tightened. ‘Yeah, but how can they just–’ Kirk cut himself off. He nodded as he listened. ‘Well who’s gonna repair the wall when they’ve finished?’ he asked. ‘Right…OK…I understand…’ Kirk ended the call and returned his cell to his pocket.

Kirk waved the back of his hand at Luke. ‘Call me when you’ve finished,’ he said then moved towards the stairs.

‘Before you go…’ Luke began. ‘You still have to show me which part of the wall you replaced.’

Kirk stopped with his back to Luke before slowly pivoting around to face him. His eyes flicked to the wall. ‘I can’t remember…’ He flicked a hand at the wall. ‘It was over there somewhere…’ he said.

It was apparent to Luke that if Kirk had repaired a burst pipe, as he claimed, then he would know where he repaired the wall. If there was nothing sinister in his actions, he would indicate the relevant area of repair.

Luke addressed the CSI’s. ‘Keep going guys,’ he instructed. As Kirk ascend the stairs Luke motioned with his head to a male officer to follow Kirk upstairs. ‘Stay with him until you hear from me,’ Luke instructed the officer.

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