Read Dead Guilty Online

Authors: Beverly Connor

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Horror, #Suspense, #Mystery & Detective, #Women Sleuths, #Mystery, #Police Procedural, #Detective, #Fiction - Mystery, #Mystery & Detective - General, #Mystery & Detective - Police Procedural, #Fallon, #Women forensic anthropologists, #Georgia, #Diane (Fictitious character)

Dead Guilty (10 page)

have the identifying power that nuclear DNA has. It’s
too
heterogeneous
and
doesn’t
have
the
poly
morphisms.’’
‘‘I
can
see
how
that
would
be
a
handicap,’’
said
Garnett.
Diane smiled. This was the first time she’d witnessed
that Garnett had a sense of humor. ‘‘Polymorphism is
the occurrence of several phenotypes linked with its
alternative form....’’
‘‘Well,
that
certainly
clears
it
up,’’
said
Garnett.
There was laughter around the table. ‘‘But what I’m
hearing
you
say
is
just
what
the
sheriff
started
out
saying. You can’t get DNA from shed hair.’’
Jin leaned forward as if he was having a hard time
waiting for Diane to get it out.
‘‘Not presently,’’ she said. ‘‘However, a crime lab in
California
is
developing
a
procedure
for
in
situ
amplification.’’
Jin
couldn’t
wait.
‘‘You
fix
the
cells
on
special
coated slides and the PCR is done on the slide itself,
using special equipment. You see, no need to extract
the DNA. That’s where you lose some of it.’’
‘‘The in situ method has been done on tissue sam
ples for other applications,’’ said Diane. ‘‘It’s experi
mental.
They’re
still
working
on
the
protocol
for
forensic use.’’
Garnett’s phone rang. He plucked it from his belt
and looked at a message on the screen and put it back
in his pocket. He gave Diane a long stare. ‘‘I assume
it’s not
cheap.’’ Garnett glanced
over at
the sheriff,
an apparent DNA analysis-phile, and saw that his in
terest was piqued.
‘‘No,’’ said Diane. ‘‘It probably won’t be cheap, even
if we can get it done. As I said, it’s experimental.’’
Garnett seemed to look inward a moment, then his
gaze rested on Jin’s tee-shirt. Jin had numerous foren
sic
sloganed
tee-shirts—for
M.E.s,
criminalists—all
with varying degrees of humor, gore, and double en
tendre. Today he had worn one that caught Garnett’s
eye—
M.E.S ARE ON THE CUTTING EDGE
. Diane could see
him make up his mind.
‘‘Why don’t we give it a try? We can carry the bulk
of the cost for your county, Sheriff.’’
‘‘I’d like to do that, I sure would,’’ said the sheriff.
Garnett rose. ‘‘I just got a message saying they found
Steven Mayberry’s truck on a back road. It’s empty. No
sign of foul play, but you’ll have to look at it.’’
Diane nodded and turned to Neva. ‘‘I want you to
process it, Neva.’’
Neva stared back at Diane and started to speak, but
Garnett spoke first.
‘‘This is real important.’’
Diane held his gaze, but she could see in her periph
eral vision that his words had stung Neva.
‘‘Yes,’’ Diane said. ‘‘I know it is.’’

Chapter
13

Diane
watched
Chief
Garnett
pause
before
he
left,
looking as if he wanted to say more about her choos
ing
Neva
for
this
assignment.
She
guessed
he
was
stuck.
Garnett was
the
one who
had
given Neva
to
Diane’s crime scene unit. He could not very well say
now
that
he
doubted
Neva’s
abilities.
She
was
wet
behind the ears and had a little trouble with rotting
bodies,
but
Diane
had
examined
her
qualifications.
Neva’s
file
showed
a
good
training
record
in
evi
dence analysis.

Neva
collected her equipment and rushed to catch
up
with
Garnett,
casting
a
glance
back
that
looked
like a combination of determination and fear. Jin went
whistling into his office to call crime scene researchers
in California. The sheriff lifted his lanky frame from
his chair, looking suddenly abandoned.

‘‘Let
David tell you more about his insects,’’ said
Diane. ‘‘I want you to understand how we fix the time
of death. We can’t go solely by rate of decomposition.
Insects can’t eat what they can’t get to. If they aren’t
eating,
decomposition
is
slowed.
Wind
and
dry
weather can stop decomposition altogether and start
a mummification process. The Cobber’s Wood bodies
showed a combination of light insect infestation and
slight mummification. Our best clue may be the life
cycle of the fly larva—telling us how long they have
infested the body.’’

He
was silent a moment, holding his hat in one hand
and studying the floor as they walked to the maggot
room, as David liked to call the small cubicle.

‘‘The
inside of this building is not the same thing
as
outdoors,’’
said
the
sheriff,
looking
at
David’s
maggots.

‘‘My
rearing chamber is similar to the climate at the
crime scene,’’ said David.
As David explained about insect succession and life
cycles, Diane could see that the sheriff hadn’t relaxed
the rigid pose of his shoulders.
‘‘I guess time will tell,’’ he said. ‘‘I have to tell you,
the sooner we get to the bottom of this, the better. I
know
our
boy
Garnett
is’’—he
gestured
toward
the
door where Garnett left—‘‘just real excited about hav
ing a high-profile case for you guys to work on. But
it’s
been
a
pain
in
the
butt
for
me.’’
He
shook
his
head.
‘‘Fortunately,
Lynn
Webber
released
informa
tion identifying the victims as white. The last thing I
needed was rumors of
a lynching flying around and
having people stirring up trouble.’’
‘‘I imagine it was the description of the bodies that
bothered Reverend Jefferson,’’ said Diane. ‘‘He’s old
enough
to
remember
his
parents
and
grandparents
telling
about
spectacle
lynching.
Those
images
must
have
been
raised
in
his
mind
when
he
heard
about
the condition of the bodies.’’
‘‘Spectacle lynching?’’ asked Jin, returning from his
office with his thumb up, indicating his success with
the
call
to
California.
‘‘Sounds
like
an
oxymoron.
Weren’t illegal hangings done in secret?’’
‘‘Lynchings
were
not
only
hangings,’’
said
Diane.
‘‘Any death by a mob is called a lynching. Spectacle
lynchings were just that—they were spectacles. They
would be announced on the radio and in the newspa
per
and
lasted
all
day.
The
mob
often
tortured
the
victim, castrating him, cutting off his fingers and toes,
burning him with hot pokers, dragging him behind a
car or wagon—then they would hang him.’’
The description of spectacle lynchings was not news
to David. He was familiar with all manner of human
rights
violations,
but
the
sheriff’s
and
Jin’s
jaws
dropped.
‘‘Sometimes the mob would get themselves in such
a frenzy,’’ added David, ‘‘they would take out after
any black they saw on the street, or they might break
into the homes of black people and drag them away.’’
‘‘No one tried to put a stop to it?’’ asked Jin.
David
nodded.
‘‘Many
tried.
In
several
instances,
white employers tried to protect their black employ
ees, but it was at their own peril.’’
David
paused,
leaned
against
the
table,
crossed
his
arms, and gave them a soft smile. ‘‘One lynching pro
duced an oft-repeated movie line. A man named Dick
Hinson told about a mob that gathered outside his livery
stable, where his father had hidden several blacks. When
the
mob
leader
told
Hinson
they
were
coming
in,
through him if necessary, Hinson took out his gun. The
leader laughed and told him that he couldn’t shoot all
of them. Hinson said sure enough he couldn’t—just the
first man who came through the door.’’
‘‘And?’’ asked Jin.
‘‘No one wanted to be shot. No one came through
the door.’’
‘‘How
long
has
it
been
since
this
kind
of
thing
happened?’’
‘‘The 1920s and ’30s were the height of it. The spec
tacle aspect began to die out in the midforties.’’
The sheriff shook his head back and forth. ‘‘I guess
I’ll go see Elwood and try to reassure him.’’ He sighed
and stared at the maggots. ‘‘I don’t want to rush any
thing, Dr. Fallon, but when do you think you might
have me something on the skeletons?’’
‘‘I’m starting on them today. They’re a priority. I’ll
work as quickly as I can.’’
‘‘Interesting stuff about the rope. It’ll be more inter
esting if it actually leads us to the killer. I’d appreciate
a call when you find out anything I can use.’’ He put
on his hat and headed for the exit.
Diane watched him go past the lab receptionist and
into
the
special
elevator
they
had
installed
for
the
crime lab.
‘‘I don’t think we convinced him about the time of
death,’’ said David.
‘‘Maybe,’’ Diane said.
‘‘He’s got it bad for Dr. Webber,’’ said Jin.
‘‘Apparently.
What
arrangements
did
you
make
about the DNA, Jin?’’
‘‘The California folks are going to send their proto
col to the GBI lab sometime today. I’ll take the shed
hair over tomorrow. Good thing I wore this shirt, huh,
boss?’’
Jin
grinned,
showing
white,
even-edged
oc
cluded teeth.
‘‘Yes, it is. Much better than the one that says
CRIM
INALISTS DO IT EVERYWHERE
. I’ll be in the osteo lab.’’
The first thing noticeable about her bone lab was
the number of tables—eight
large shiny tables lined
up in two rows of four, spaced with plenty of room
around each. Diane liked space to work. One of the
most frustrating things about working in the field was
cramped space in inaccessible locations. Here she had
room
to spread
out. She
had countertops
lining the
walls. She had cabinet space to spare; she had sinks.
It was a good room.
The
cabinets
held
sliding
and
spreading
her
measuring
calipers,
bone
instruments—
board,
stature
charts, reference books, pencils, forms. On the counter
space she had a series of microscopes. A metal frame
work
for
mounting
cameras
hung
from
the
ceiling
above the tables. Standing mutely in the corner were
Fred and Ethel, the male and female lab skeletons.
Her workroom had the essentials of a well-stocked
anthropology lab. Much of her analysis with bones was
manual
labor—concentrated
scrutiny,
measuring
and
recording observations. It was a room she could work
in even if the electricity went off, as often happened
during the frequent springtime and summer thunder
storms.
Despite her fondness for lowtech, Diane had some
dazzling equipment in the vault, the secure, environ
mentally
controlled
room
where
she
stored
skeletal
remains. In it she also kept her computer and forensic
software, and the 3-D facial reconstruction equipment
consisting of a laser scanner for scanning skulls and
another dedicated computer with software for recon
structing a face from a skull.
She
hadn’t
invited
the
sheriff
and
Garnett
to
see
the vault. Technically, it was part of the museum, and
she didn’t want Garnett to think he had free reign in
this lab.
Blue
Doe’s
skeleton
was
resting
in
a
transparent
plastic storage box on the table closest to the vault.
The rope Diane had removed from Blue Doe at the
autopsy sat in a separate box beside the remains. An
other box containing the corresponding rope from the
trees sat on top of it. A set. Bones and rope. Victim
and weapon. Red and Green Doe were on separate
tables, paired with their ropes.
Diane started with Blue by laying out her bones in
anatomical position on the shiny metal table. This ini
tial process Diane found relaxing. It was a chance to
get an overview of the skeleton—how much was there,
its basic condition, anything outstanding.
She rested the skull on a metal donut ring at the
head
of the
table. She
took the
broken hyoid
bone
pieces from a small separate sack and lay them just
below
the
skull.
The
hyoid
is
the
only
bone
in
the
body that isn’t connected to another bone. In the body
it anchors the muscles that are used in speech. It also
supports the tongue and, like this one, is nearly always
broken during strangulation.
She set the vertebrae in position—atlas, which holds
the world, axis which rotates that world, and the spinal
column
(cervical,
thoracic,
lumbar,
sacrum,
coccyx)
vertebra by vertebra. Followed by ribs, shoulders, pel
vis, long bones, fingers and toes.
Blue had strong white bones. The internal frame
work of her body was quite beautiful now that it was
cleansed of rotting flesh.
Diane
began
her
detailed
examination
with
the
pelvis—the main bones needed to reliably sex the indi
vidual.
Lynn
Webber
had
already
judged
that
Blue
Doe was female, and Diane confirmed that the pelvis
was indeed that of a female.
Blue
had
slim
hips,
almost
androgynous—hardly
wider than those of a male her age. Diane ran a thumb
along the fine line representing the epiphyseal union
of the iliac crest with the flared innominate bone. Fu
sion
occurs
anywhere
from
fifteen
to
twenty-three
years of age. The iliac crest was not completely fused.
She turned the pelvis in her hand and examined it
for marks or distinguishing characteristics. There were
none. No weapon marks, no sign of injury or disease.
Nor was there sign Blue had ever been pregnant or
given birth, though stress on the pelvis from pregnancy
doesn’t always show. The rugged ridged look of the
pubic
symphysis
conveyed
an
age
of
eighteen
or
nineteen—consistent
with
the
epiphyseal
fusion.
So
very young.
Diane
measured
the
bone
at
all
of
its
landmarks
and
recorded
the
information.
So
far
she’d
found
nothing that would help her identify the remains, but
she hadn’t really expected to in the pelvis.
After the pelvis, she went to the skull, picking it up
gently. The mandible was detached now that the mus
cle and ligaments were gone. She picked it up, held it
in place and looked into the bone face. Blue had no
cavities, a slight overbite, smooth high forehead, slight
cheekbones, a pointed chin—and a nose job.
The nasal spine, the spike below the nasal opening
that
acts
as
the
nose’s
strut,
had
been
modified.
A
portion of the bridge of the nose had been removed.
Blue had undergone extensive rhinoplasty.
A
satisfied
feeling
tended
down
to
her
identifying Blue Doe.
gripped
Diane’s
brain
and
ex
stomach—one
step
forward
in

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