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Authors: Jeff Carson

Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller, #Suspense, #Serial Killer, #Crime, #Police Procedural

Cold Lake (7 page)

BOOK: Cold Lake
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“And did the medicine help?”

“Yes. Yes, it did. I never caught him hearing voices again. Never saw him looking at things, and I didn’t find anything else, you know, dead.”

“Do you know who his doctor was? The name? Where?” Wolf’s father asked.

“I know he went to Grand Junction. The first time. For a psychiatrist. But he didn’t tell me who when I asked. And that’s what was strange. The paranoia seemed to
be there … it was better, he was better, he acted so nice and normal after that, but the paranoia was still there. And it was like that, the way he evaded the question of exactly
the doctor was in Grand Junction. Little things that really didn’t matter to me. But he wouldn’t tell.”

Katherine Grey picked up her coffee cup and tilted it all the way back. It was empty.

Wolf’s father cleared his throat. “I’m sure Sergeant Burton will be back soon with more coffee.”

Burton came in on cue and set another cup down. He picked up the empty cup and left the room.

“Look at these two work,” Rachette whispered. “It’s like a … a—”

“A good time to still be quiet,” Patterson said.

“…the night in question. We were talking about the room.”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry. The room. Like I said, the medicine worked, but it was patchy. I mean, it worked most of the time, but he would still have psychotic episodes. And they seemed to get worse and worse with time. One of these episodes happened a couple years ago after my daughter went out with the car. She wasn’t sixteen years old yet, and she was just taking a joy ride, you know? Like teens do. Especially extremely lonely teens like her.

“Anyway, Parker and I went into town in his truck, and as soon as we left she took my truck and drove it around the lake to the marina. She knew a girl who worked at the marina, and wanted to go see her.

“Parker had to turn around because he forgot his wallet, and we ended up going back home and we caught her. Saw she was gone and so was my truck. So Parker flipped out. We sat there and waited until she got back.

“The whole thing triggered this long episode in him. We had an extra bedroom in the house, so he fixed the mattress up with Kimber’s sheets, put rebar over the window outside, painted it to match her room, and put a lock on it. Then he put her inside it and”—she twisted her wrist—“locked her away for the entire night and the next day.”

Katherine Grey looked down at her hands and a tear rolled down her cheek. “That day the fear came back for me. And ever since that day, I’ve been trying to work up the courage to carry out a plan to escape with Kimber. But I’ve just been too scared. Despite all the psychotic crazy symptoms that make my husband weak, Parker is still one of the smartest, most resourceful men I’ve ever known. I always knew he would catch us if we left him. And he’s told me before, if we leave … he’d come find us, and ‘do just like the squirrel’ is what he said once.”

Wolf’s father coughed lightly. “Excuse me.”

All of a sudden Wolf’s father’s face was right in front of the camera, as if he was checking the record light was on, and then as quickly as it was there it was gone.

The unexpected sighting of his father in real life, his eyebrows furrowing, his light brown eyes squinting, his mouth twisting, sent a shock through Wolf’s body. He ignored Patterson and Rachette glancing his way and steadied his breath.

“Sorry about that. The night of the Fourth of July, into the morning of the fifth, your husband locked your daughter in
the room
he’d built for her.”


“And that night. What was he saying?”

“He was yelling at her, telling her she was a whore, and she needed to learn how to respect her father, and all sorts of other stuff.”

“Did he ever mention Nick Pollard specifically?”

“No. He didn’t. But he was saying that Kimber was a whore, going out with boys in town. But no, he never did mention his name.”

A pause. “So now we get to the question of what brought you here now.” Wolf’s father shuffled a paper. “It’s now the sixth of July. Where is your husband, Parker Grey?”

“He’s gone.”

“Gone where?”

“I don’t know. He took his truck and left.”

“And why are you here now?”

“Because as soon as I saw he was gone, I didn’t want to wait around for him to come back. Now was our chance. Because when you guys came to the door yesterday, I knew that my husband had killed that boy. I saw the clothes. And he knew I knew.”


Chapter 11

“Do you still have the clothing he was wearing the other night?”

Katherine shook her head. “He took it. He took the bag.”

“We’d like to come up and check the house for that blood. There may be a spot he left, touched it with his hand and left a mark on the wall.”

Katherine nodded. “Of course.”

The video suddenly went black, the steady hiss of the audio blaring out of Patterson’s speakers going silent.

“Whoa, whoa,” Rachette said.

“What’s going on?” Wolf asked.

“I don’t know.” Patterson clicked the play button again. The video started from the beginning. She clicked the scrubber on the bottom and pulled it to the right and released it. It snapped back to the beginning.

“What the hell?” Rachette stood up.

Patterson ejected the CD and looked at the bottom of it. “Ah crap.”

The CD on bottom was cracked like a dried up lakebed, chunks of the reflective surface completely missing.

“Frickin’ CD’s.” Rachette snorted.

Wolf stood up and stretched. “Can you fix it? Somehow salvage the data?”

Patterson looked up. “I doubt it. I wouldn’t know how to do that. I’ll check into it.” Her phone vibrated on her desk and she picked it up. “It’s Lorber,” she said, hitting the answer button.

“Okay,” she looked up at Wolf and then her watch, “okay. Okay.”

Wolf looked at his own wrist and saw it was just after three in the afternoon.

Patterson tapped the screen on her phone and looked up.

“What?” Rachette asked.

“Lorber still hasn’t identified any of the other seven bodies yet. Wants us to come in to see what he has and pick up the files.”

Wolf nodded.

“I … uh,” Patterson shifted uncomfortably and looked again at her watch. “I would go, of course if you need me to go I’ll go, but I kind of had plans tonight.”

“She’s meeting Scott’s parents.” Rachette walked around to the front of her desk and sat on the edge. “Oh man. Good luck with that.”

Wolf raised an eyebrow. “Is that right?”

Patterson’s facial color was answer enough.

“Yep,” Rachette answered for her, “gettin’ serious.” He picked up a pen from Patterson’s desk, twirled it, and it clattered out of his hand and underneath her keyboard.

“All right,” Wolf said. “Rachette, you and I go to Lorber.”

“Let’s do it,” Rachette said.

“And let’s take separate vehicles,” Wolf said.

“What? Oh I get it, you’re going on a date, too? Big Saturday night with Sarah?” Rachette studied his fingernails.

“Aww, poor guy,” Patterson sang, fishing out the pen and putting it in a drawer. “You’re gonna get a girlfriend some day. One of these days one of these waitresses is gonna crack under your misty gaze.”

Rachette turned and stared at her. He leaned forward and his face shook with exertion.

“What are you doing? Are you trying to fart?” Patterson stood up and walked to Wilson’s desk.

Rachette relaxed. “Maybe. Maybe not.”

Wolf rolled his eyes and headed past Rachette with held breath. “See you there. Have a good night with Scott’s parents. And not that my love life is either of your business, but no, I’m not going on a date. I’m going to head up to the lake after to talk to Kimber Grey. Her mother’s gone, her father’s gone, and now her interview is gone. We need to talk to her.”

Rachette frowned. “I figured we’d tag team it like Burton and your dad. What am I gonna do?”

“You’re going to come back here with Lorber’s files and start looking through the missing persons databases.”

Rachette smacked his lips and nodded. “Ah. That should be pleasant. Seven decayed heads, fifty states worth of mis-pers, twenty-two years’ worth of them.”

“So you’re not going on a date,” Patterson said to Wolf, “but you admit there
a love life.” She appraised Wolf with a nod. “I suspected so. You and Sarah are so obvious. That’s what happens when you’re in love.”

Wolf turned and walked away.

“Wait a minute,” Rachette said quickly.

He stopped reluctantly and turned.

“You know, I need to tell you guys. I dated this girl once.”

Patterson scrunched her face. “What? Kimber Grey?”


“Really,” Wolf said.

“Really,” Rachette said.

There was a silence.

“What? I’m serious. I did.”

“Okay.” Wolf nodded. “So … did you discuss the case with her?”

“Well, we didn’t really ever talk. I mean, I guess we didn’t really date. Per se.”

“Oh.” Patterson pointed an index finger. “Okay. I get it.”

Rachette stared at her. “If I may continue? Anyway. I kind of, you know, made out with her one night. And she’s crazy.” He picked up another pen from Patterson’s desk.

“Sorry, how is that different from any other girl, according to you, that you ever dated?” Patterson asked.

Rachette looked to Wolf for back up and received none. “I’m just saying. I thought she was acting crazy back then, and now that I know her father was crazy, well, her behavior is now explained.”

“And what behavior was that?” Wolf asked.

“She was all over me one night. Groping me, kissing my neck at the bar. I was pretty excited, you know? Older woman?” He bounced his eyebrows. “She said let’s go outside, so we went out to the car, and then she just shut down. Completely stopped kissing me, got out of the car, and wouldn’t talk to me. Just walked right back into the bar as if I was a ghost.” He held up a finger to hold off Patterson and Wolf. “And then, three days later I saw her, and she pretended she didn’t even know me. And then, shut up Patterson, and then, a few days later, she came up to me on the street and started talking to me, like we were long lost friends again.” Rachette shrugged and shook his head.

Wolf turned around and walked to the vehicle pool garage door.

“You sure you don’t need my help?” Patterson asked.

Rachette jogged up behind Wolf and past him out the door.

“No. Go ahead. I’ll see what Kimber says tonight, and we’ll reconvene tomorrow. Good luck with the parents.”


Chapter 12

Wolf and Rachette walked into the examination room, where seven heads were laid out on two gurneys, lit hard with the bright lights above. All with different colored wisps of hair of varying thickness, all slight variations on the shade of pale bluish white death, all misshapen by varying degrees. Near them was eight more gurneys parked in two lines of four, each with a body laid out on its back, each body on top in a differing state of deformity and corrosion, each stirring equal amounts revulsion within Wolf.

“God damn,” Rachette said, “Lorber, you’re crazy to have this job. Sick. And crazy.”

Lorber loped into the room behind them and past Rachette. “Deputy Rachette. Patterson couldn’t make it?”

“Meeting the parents,” Rachette said, oblivious to Lorber’s disapproving glance.

Lorber pushed his glasses up his beak nose and narrowed his eyes. “Aha. Well, always nice to see you.”

Rachette gave him a suspicious look.

“As you can see, gentlemen, seven heads, seven decapitated bodies. One complete corpse. I’ve got each head numbered and each body, in order of how I think they match. I’m reasonably sure I’ve pieced them all together correctly now.”

“Patterson said you ID’d Nick Pollard and no one else,” Wolf said.

“Correct. Nick Pollard is numbered one. The rest are going to take some time.”

“What have you found out?” Wolf asked.

Lorber set down his clipboard and took off his glasses. He walked to the heads and swept his arm wide, as if he was Vanna White and the heads were the letters flashing up.

“You can see the waxy look of all the faces. That’s saponification, as Patterson mentioned earlier. It’s preserved the flesh, but completely screwed up time of death. It’s basically impossible for me to accurately guess. So I won’t guess. Even Nick Pollard’s body. It’s impossible to tell if he died at the same time he disappeared.”

“Can’t you assume Nick Pollard died that night and use it as a sort of baseline?” Rachette asked. “And then go off of that?”

Lorber looked at him with surprise. “Astute question. But no. There are simply too many variables to account for. Some of the bodies had torn plastic, with others it was completely intact. The difference of materials the victims were wearing, natural versus synthetic, would have changed the rate of decay and saponification.” He walked in between the two rows of four gurneys. “Each of the bodies had stab wounds on the torsos. Five of them, as you can see here, were slit from just above the genitals to the ribs. The different exposure of the intestines to varying degrees would have changed the rate of decomp, and the extreme cold at those depths, in that lake, slow the rate of autolysis and putrefaction.”

“All right. So you have no time of death.” Wolf said. “What else? Fingerprints?”

“No usable fingerprints. Completely decayed.”

“Wallets? What about the clothing? Labels tell you anything? Receipts?”

Lorber made two fists and opened his hands. “Nothing. Not a thing. No wallets. Receipts. No tell-tale signs of anything. I was just in the process of looking up the design models of the shoes of each of the victims. I’ve taken DNA samples. The process will take my assistants a while, at least a week, and then we’ll check them with CODIS.”

Wolf walked to the heads. Each head was frozen in an unnatural expression, looking waxy and flattened to one side or the other, slightly elongated or puffed. 

“These seem like clean cuts,” Wolf said pointing to the necks. “Right?”

Lorber nodded. “I agree. Looks to be a long sword of some kind that did the deed, or a machete. Most of them look like a one-blow severing of the head.” He stepped toward one of the heads in the center. “This one, however, you can see it was chopped a few times. That’s how I matched it with the body.”

Wolf blinked and looked back at the bodies. “All male?”

Lorber nodded.

The bodies were nude and each was more or less clearly male. Wolf, however, had learned long ago to confirm the obvious with a statement with Lorber rather than assume. Lorber, having a highly analytical, scientific mind, often neglected to mention some of his more developed theories, assuming other people saw them as he did.

“From radiocarbon dating of the tooth enamel, I’ve determined seven of them being anywhere from late teens to early twenties, though this one here, number eight, doesn’t fit the mold. He’s older. Looks to be forty, plus or minus three years. Obviously his head is still attached.”

Wolf looked at number eight. The face was bearded, the mouth gaping open, revealing a swelled, black tongue and brown teeth. On the forehead was a gaping exit wound. The one eye-socket was devoid of an eyeball, but there were no cut marks.

Lorber walked near. “Number eight, shot in the back of the head from point blank range. If you look in his mouth, our number eight has some pretty extensive dental work. I’m checking with Dr. Unruh, and the offices in Ashland. I’m doing the same with the other heads. The seven heads are all missing their eyes, as you can see.” Lorber walked away and shoved a gloved finger inside a skull as nonchalantly as if testing the finger size of a bowling ball. “Clearly these are ritualistic killings. Perhaps the killer believed the eyes were the window to the soul, and wanted to … I don’t know, I’m not a profiler.” Lorber twisted his finger in the socket and removed it with a faint sucking sound.

“Easy doc,” Rachette said.

“Ritualistic, or the opposite,” Wolf said. “They’re gutted like fish, or rodents. Chop off the head, slit the underside to remove the insides.”

Lorber pulled the corners of his mouth down and looked at the bodies as if for the first time. “I guess. Only the insides are all there, shifted and spilling, but still there.” He shook his head. “The eyes. The barbarism of cutting off the heads.”

“Yeah.” Rachette swallowed. “Pretty damn sick.”

Wolf bent over a head and looked into a slice mark through an eyelid. “In the early nineties there was a guy in Texas who removed his victims’ eyes. Kept them for souvenirs.”

“These eyeballs are still there. Mangled, shriveled up inside the sockets.”

“I think it’s safe to say that whatever the reason was, it was messed up.” Rachette was looking pale, talking rapidly. “Where’s the files, doc?”

Lorber nodded at the countertop. “Over there.”

Rachette walked to the counter and opened the thick file folder. “So basically you’re saying you have nothing. And it’s up to me to find out who these guys are?”

Wolf ignored their banter and walked to a numbered row of bricks on a metal table. “These are what the killer used to weigh down the bodies?”

Lorber nodded. “Burnt clay brick, made by a Denver company called Tracer Building Supplies.”

Wolf frowned. “How did you figure that out?”

“Says on the side of three of them.”

Wolf leaned down and saw the logo pressed into the side of one of them.

“I’m out.”

Wolf turned just in time to see Rachette disappear through the door.

Lorber smiled and shook his head. “Patterson couldn’t make it, huh?”

“Keep me posted on anything else you find,” Wolf said.

“You got it.” Lorber pulled his gloves off and walked Wolf to the door.

Wolf shook his long, sweaty hand and left.

Rachette was outside, standing with his head tilted to the clouded sky, welcoming the mist that beaded on his skin.

“You okay?” Wolf asked.

“Ah,” he said, sucking in a breath through his nose.

“That good, huh?”

“Sorry. Something just came over me. It was all those heads. I can see why they used to put heads on stakes back in history, to scare the crap out of people, make them subservient or whatever. That shit is not right. I’m not gonna sleep tonight. I know it.”

Wolf tilted his back, too, feeling the cool mist on his cheeks. It was disturbing. And that it happened so close to home made his hair stand on end.

He was snapped out of his thoughts by the vibration of his phone. He pulled it out and answered.


“Sir, I talked to Wilson, he agrees, there’s nothing we can do about the CD. It had to have been that damn storage room. Twenty-two years of temperature and humidity fluctuations inside there must have done it.”

“Okay, thanks.” Wolf said with a sigh.

“You sure it’s okay for me to go out to dinner tonight? I can cancel.”

Wolf shook his head. “No. Have fun.” He hung up.

“What’s up?” Rachette asked.

“Patterson says the rest of the Katherine Grey and Kimber Grey interview is damaged beyond repair.”

Rachette nodded in resignation.

“Get back to the station and get after those files.” He started walking.

“Will do.” Rachette’s tone was skeptical.

“I know it’s going to take a while, but it’s all we have to go on. Do what you can until the end of your shift and then hand them off to Wilson tonight. Tell him it’s top priority. And then both of you get back on it tomorrow.”

Rachette nodded. “So your dad thought it was Parker Grey who did this?”

Wolf nodded. “Looked that way to him.”

Rachette looked at him. “None of those were female in there.”

Wolf shook his head.

“But Katherine disappeared, too. The day after the interview we just watched?” Rachette asked.

Wolf nodded.

“Why? Did she leave to go find Parker?” He frowned. “Or was she killed, too?”

“All good questions.” The rain started slapping the ground in large drops and they parted and began running. “I’ll let you know how it goes.”


BOOK: Cold Lake
7.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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