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 (22 page)

Diane
managed
to
turn
her
car
half
around
and
started to pursue. She pressed the brake instead. He
was going too fast, and she had no business becoming
involved
in
a
high-speed
chase.
She
sat
in
her
car
crossways in the middle of the road, breathing hard.

‘‘Diane,
are you still there? The police are on their
way. Diane.’’
She
found
the
phone
on
the
floor
half
under
the
passenger’s seat. ‘‘Frank. I’m here. He’s gone.’’
‘‘Diane, are you all right? I’m almost to your apart
ment. Are you all right?’’
‘‘Yes. I’m fine. I’m going to have to get some new
windows for my car, though.’’
At that moment an unmarked police car came over
the rise, lights flashing, but no siren, and stopped op
posite
her
in
the
road.
Two
policemen
jumped
out,
drew their guns and pointed them at her car.
‘‘Get out of the car. Put your hands on your head.’’
‘‘Frank, the
police are
here. Apparently,
they are
going to shoot me. I have to go.’’
Diane
dropped
the
phone
on
the
seat,
unbuckled
her seat belt and got out of the car with her hands on
her head. She recognized the two policemen, and tried
to recall their names as they walked slowly toward her.
‘‘You’re
Dr.
Fallon,’’
said
one
of
the
policemen.
Both of them lowered their guns. Diane dropped her
hands to her sides.
‘‘Yes, I am. I was attacked in my car. The man left,
driving west in a light-colored Crown Vic. I couldn’t
get his tag number. You probably just passed him.’’
Frank’s car came to a screeching halt at the curb.
‘‘That’s
Frank
Duncan.
He’s
an
Atlanta
detective
and
a
friend,’’
she
told
them.
‘‘He’s
the
one
who
called you.’’
She was the one shaking inside, and she felt that
they were the ones who needed calming.
Frank
walked
up
and
showed
his
badge.
‘‘You
okay?’’ he asked, pulling her into a hug.
‘‘Scared witless, but other than that . . .’’ She leaned
against
him.
‘‘I
need
to
move
my
car
out
of
the
street.’’
‘‘Sure,’’
said
one
of
the
policemen.
‘‘Go
ahead.
We’ll call an APB on the Crown Vic.’’
‘‘I’ll move your car,’’ said Frank. ‘‘You get out of
the street.’’
As
Diane
watched
Frank
get
in
her
car,
she
saw
that both tires on the driver’s side were flat. Sometime
during his frenzied attack, the perp had managed to
slash her tires. Her car looked totaled, the windshield
was
caved
in,
the
driver’s
side
window
was
nearly
gone.
The
front
headlights
had
been
smashed.
The
dents in the body were too numerous to count. The
attack seemed so quick to have done all that damage.
Frank parked her battered Taurus against the curb
just as Chief Garnett drove up in his car. He jumped
out
and
hurried
over
to
Diane
and
the
policemen,
scowling. Diane noticed her landlady and some of her
neighbors gathered in front of the apartment building.
The
apartment
house
stood
mainly
by
itself
on
the
small street. Good thing. She’d have hated having the
whole neighborhood out looking at her.
‘‘You
were
supposed
to
be
watching
the
house,’’
Garnett said to the policemen.
Diane
understood
now
why
the
two
policemen
looked
nervous.
They
hadn’t
been
where
they
were
supposed to be.
‘‘We got a call . . .’’ began one of the policemen.
‘‘You got a call? We’ll discuss this down at the sta
tion. In the meantime, I want you parked out here all
night. Is that understood?’’
‘‘Yes, sir.’’
He turned to Diane. ‘‘Are you injured?’’
‘‘No, I’m fine. I’d like just to go up to my apartment
and get some sleep.’’
‘‘Of
course.
Do
you
think
it
was
the
guy
who’s
been calling?’’
‘‘I don’t know for sure. But I got a sense that the
caller was frustrated with the way our conversations
have been going.’’
‘‘Did you give his description to the officers?’’
Diane
nodded.
‘‘I
described
his
vehicle.
He
was
dressed in dark clothes and had a stocking over his
head, distorting his features. He had dark hair, about
six feet tall, well built.’’
‘‘You call it in?’’ Garnett snapped at his officers.
Both of the policemen nodded.
‘‘I tried to get his tag number. I couldn’t see it.’’
‘‘We’ll find him.’’
Diane turned and took a step toward her apartment.
‘‘Oh, I met Kacie Beck as she was leaving the police
station and gave her a lift home. I noticed that she
had an engagement ring with what looked to me like
a
pretty
large
diamond.
If
it
was
real
and
of
good
quality, my geologist said it could be worth upwards of
ten thousand dollars. It might be worth checking out.’’
Garnett whistled. ‘‘Where would Chris Edwards get
that kind of money?’’
‘‘It could be synthetic, but it looked real and she
thinks it’s real.’’
‘‘Like you said. It’s worth checking out. Go ahead
and get some sleep. We’ll talk in the morning.’’
Diane nodded. Chief Garnett was being awfully so
licitous, especially for someone who only last year was
among those who would like to have run her out of
town. She glanced up to her apartment building at the
knot of neighbors looking in her direction. How was
she going to explain this to her landlady?
Frank
returned
with
Diane’s
purse
in
hand
and
guided her up the sidewalk to her building.
‘‘What’s going on?’’ This was from one of Diane’s
newest
neighbors,
a
young
couple
from
the
ground
floor.
‘‘What’s all that noise? How are we to sleep with
all that noise?’’ Mrs. Odell and her husband, who lived
across
the
hall
from
Diane,
stood
with
their
arms
crossed and their chins in the air.
‘‘Hate those car alarms. There ought to be a law
against them. They go off for no reason at all.’’ Mr.
Odell added, with a sharp nod of his head.
‘‘What happened?’’ asked the landlady. ‘‘Why are
the police here?’’
‘‘As I was parking my car, someone came up and
beat my car with a bat,’’ said Diane, trying to sound
calm. ‘‘They ran off.’’
‘‘Why
would
anyone
do
such
a
thing?’’
said
the
landlady.
‘‘I
tell
you,
it’s
those
hoodlums
you
read
about.
They’re
everywhere.
I
keep
telling
my
nephew that...’’
Diane nodded and made her way up the stairs to
her apartment on the second floor. The last thing she
wanted to do was get her landlady started on one of
her stream-of-consciousness conversations. The Odells
came up the stairs behind her.
‘‘You
know,
you
should
move
somewhere
else,’’
said Mrs. Odell. ‘‘This was a quiet apartment building
until you moved here.’’
Diane opened her door. ‘‘Good night, Mrs. Odell.
I’m sorry you had your sleep interrupted.’’
Once Diane’s apartment door closed behind them,
Frank asked, ‘‘Those are the people you were telling
me about? The ones who had seven children die, and
whose only joy in life is going to funerals?’’
‘‘That’s them. Mrs. Odell was the one who broke
into
my
apartment
looking
for
a
cat,
and
I
almost
clobbered her with my cornbread pan.’’
‘‘Maybe you should move.’’
Diane
laughed.
‘‘You’re
probably
right.’’
She
col
lapsed on the couch. ‘‘I’m so glad to be home. It was
a rough day at the office.’’
Frank sat down and pulled her against him, cuddling
her
in
his
arms.
‘‘I
don’t
think
I’ve
ever
been
so
frightened—listening
over
the
phone,
not
knowing
what was going on.’’
‘‘How did you call the police?’’
‘‘I used my car phone. So you think that was the
man who’s been calling?’’
‘‘I don’t know. I’m afraid it might be.’’
‘‘Why is he fixated on you?’’
‘‘He may be fixated on all of us who had anything
to do with the Cobber’s Wood victims, or . . .’’ Diane
rubbed her eyes with her finger. ‘‘I don’t know. I don’t
know what the hell is going on.’’
‘‘What’s Garnett doing about these calls?’’
‘‘They were supposed to have someone outside my
building, but they apparently slipped up.’’
‘‘You mean, there were supposed to be policemen
posted in front of your house? Dammit, where were
they?’’
‘‘I don’t know.’’ What Diane wanted to do was for
get
about
the
whole
thing
for
just
a
few
hours.
‘‘Where’s Star tonight?’’
‘‘At
a
concert
with
a
friend.
She’s
spending
the
night with her after the concert.’’
‘‘On a school night?’’
‘‘It’s summer.’’
‘‘Of
course
it
is.
God,
I’m
losing
track
of
time.
You’re
letting
her
go
to
a
concert?
Aren’t
you
nervous?’’
‘‘Nervous doesn’t quite describe it. All I can think
of is all those drugs floating around and how vulnera
ble she is.’’
Diane’s back was against Frank’s chest and his face
was close to her ear. His breath was warm and smelled
like cinnamon.
‘‘Her friend’s a good kid and I know her parents. I
let Star go to a concert last month. She checked in
with me when she arrived and was home on time, so
I’m letting her go again. I don’t know. In another year,
she’ll be old enough to strike out on her own. I’m just
trying to give her some experience being responsible,
but I feel completely out of my depth.’’
Diane wove her fingers into his and relaxed a bit,
nestling further against him. ‘‘She seems to be doing
well.’’
‘‘Most of the time. We have some pretty big dis
agreements.
Cindy
helps.
She’s
good
with
Star.
She
lets
Star
stay
with
her
and
her
husband
when
I’m
away. It’s good for Kevin. It’s like having a big sister.’’
He moved his arms from around her and stood up,
pulling her with him. ‘‘Let me fix you something. Have
you eaten?’’
‘‘At the museum. I bought Mike dinner tonight.’’
Frank raised his eyebrows. ‘‘Mike. That’s...’’
‘‘The geologist.’’
‘‘You bought him dinner?’’
‘‘He gave me some information about diamonds.’’
‘‘He doesn’t get a salary for that?’’
‘‘This was after hours.’’
‘‘Okay, this just gets better. This is the guy who’s
got a thing for you?’’
‘‘Yes.’’
‘‘So you admit it now?’’
‘‘He admitted it.’’
‘‘I see.’’
‘‘It’s not serious. I believe it’s just the challenge. I
told him that I was not only seeing someone else, I
was his boss and old enough to be his mother, though
I didn’t put it quite like that.’’
‘‘Only if you had him when you were twelve. That’s
not that big an age difference.’’
‘‘It is to
me. I thought you were going
to fix me
something. I could use a cool glass of wine when I get
out
of
the
shower.
There’s
some
white
zinfandel
in
the refrigerator.’’
Frank put his arms around her. ‘‘You doing okay?’’
‘‘I’m still shaking...and praying that this was just
a random act of violence. Frank, I don’t know how to
handle that guy. It’s like he wants to talk to me, but
he won’t say anything. And now this. Garnett said he
hired a profiler.’’
‘‘Do you know who?’’
Diane shook her head. ‘‘Some consultant who used
to work for the FBI. I hope he’s good. We need some
one to make some sense out of all this. I sure can’t.’’

Chapter
29

Her
car looked worse in the light of day than it had
that evening under the streetlight. She shook her head
as the tow truck drove off with it.

‘‘I
don’t think I’ll be able to have that fixed,’’ she
said to Frank.
‘‘It’s all cosmetic, really,’’ he told her.
‘‘Cosmetic. It looks totaled.’’
Before Diane left for work, she took coffee and hot
egg
and
bacon
sandwiches
out
to
the
policemen
on
her stakeout. They were surprised and grateful.
‘‘Will you be relieved soon?’’ she asked.
‘‘In an hour,’’ they assured her.
Frank drove her to the museum. She bought a paper
on the way in and leafed through the pages, dreading
what she would find. Another thing she’d have to deal
with
now—bad
publicity
for
the
museum,
with
her
name attached.
‘‘I don’t see anything,’’ she said.
But there it was in the police blotter—one line.
CAR
REPORTED VANDALIZED ON EAST ELM STREET
.
‘‘I don’t believe it. Hardly a mention. With any luck,
that’ll be the end of it.’’
She was already letting go of the image of the phone
calls, E-mails and letters about the attack—and the
Itold-you-so
’s from her board members.
‘‘Dinner?’’
asked
Frank,
stopping
in
front
of
the
museum.
Diane got out and leaned into the passenger’s side
of his car. ‘‘Yes. Let’s go some place quiet.’’
‘‘How about my place? Star will be there, but she’d
enjoy seeing you.’’
‘‘I’d like to see her too.’’
‘‘You going to be all right today? That was quite
an ordeal last night.’’
‘‘I’ll be fine. Thanks for the rescue.’’
‘‘I didn’t do anything.’’
‘‘Yes, you did.’’
Diane
went
straight
to
the
crime
lab.
Jin,
David
and Neva were already there. David peeked his head
around the corner from where his rearing chambers
were located.
‘‘Aren’t you due to give birth soon?’’ asked Diane.
‘‘Yep, got lots of babies here now. We’re coming
along nicely. I’ll be able to give you a good time of
death soon.’’
Jin came out from his work space when he heard
Diane’s voice.
‘‘I have an ID on the orange carpet fiber.’’
‘‘More good news,’’ said Diane. ‘‘What is it?’’
‘‘It’s
an
inexpensive
make
and,
unfortunately,
it’s
plentiful. Made by a company in Dalton, Georgia.’’
‘‘I can’t imagine that there is an expensive version
of orange carpet,’’ said Neva.
‘‘I’ll have you know that I have orange carpet, and
it looks quite nice,’’ said David.
Diane
and
Neva
looked
at
him
with
raised
eye
brows.
‘‘In case you’re wondering, it’s the expensive vari
ety. I had Jin take a sample from it to document that
we haven’t contaminated anything.’’
‘‘It is a nice carpet,’’ said Jin. ‘‘Thick, low pile, soft.
It’s more of a burnt orange color. Our guy’s carpet is
bright orange, almost the color of a safety vest.’’
Diane and Neva laughed at the two of them talking
about carpet.
‘‘Neva
has
something
to
show
you,’’
said
David,
pointing to the conference table.
They all gathered around the table and looked into
portraits of Blue, Red and Green Doe, first rendered
by the computer, then as drawings enhanced by Neva.
She had drawn a full face and profile of each victim.
She
had
done
as
Diane
asked,
turning
a
computer
graphic into realistic portraits of a Caucasian female
and male and an Asian female. They looked like peo
ple. They looked like someone their mothers would
recognize.
‘‘These are great,’’ said Diane. ‘‘I mean it. This is
really good.’’
‘‘I made the two whites look too much alike. I tend
to
do
that
when I’m
drawing
faces
freehand—make
them
all
look
alike.
I
must
subconsciously
still
be
doing that.’’
‘‘The computer renditions of them look a little bit
alike around the eyes and brow,’’ said David.
‘‘What I didn’t tell you,’’ Diane said to Neva, ‘‘be
cause I didn’t want to influence you, is that Blue’’—she
put a finger on the corner of Blue’s drawing—‘‘had a
nose job.’’
Diane pointed to the profile of Green Doe with his
large nose.
‘‘If he had a nose job, it would have to be the same
kind that Blue Doe had in order to reduce the size,
and they would look very much alike. We’ll have to
see
the
DNA
report,
but
I
suspect
they
may
be
related—perhaps cousins, or sister and brother.’’
Neva looked at her, wide-eyed. ‘‘Then I did do it
right.’’
‘‘Way
to
go,
Rembrandt,’’
said
Jin,
bumping
into
her, shoving her slightly. ‘‘I told you they’re good.’’
‘‘Go to the archives department in the museum and
make
several
copies.
Use
the
color
copier.
Even
though
these aren’t
color, the
color copier
will give
you a better image,’’ said Diane. ‘‘Then run a set to
Garnett and Braden. Leave a couple of sets of copies
here, and store the originals.’’
Neva nodded and gathered up her drawings.
‘‘Before
you
do
that,
I
need
to
tell
all
of
you
something.’’
Diane
described
the
attack
on
her
the
previous
evening—the shadow furiously wielding the bat. The
three of them listened with varying degrees of open
mouths.
‘‘Last night?’’ said David. ‘‘After you left here?’’
‘‘Yes.
Have
any
of
you
noticed
anyone
following
you—anything out of the ordinary?’’
The
three
of
them
shook
their
heads.
‘‘Nothing,’’
said David. ‘‘And I’m paranoid.’’
‘‘No,’’ said Neva. ‘‘I would have noticed.’’
‘‘Me too,’’ said Jin.
‘‘I want all of you to be extra watchful. I’m going
to hire security to watch your homes until we solve
this.
Jin,
I
want
you
to
process
my
car.
It’s
in
the
police
impound.
I
doubt
you’ll
find
anything
useful,
but you never know. Maybe the bat left some kind of
distinctive
paint
or
something.
He
slashed
my
tires.
See if you can find a tool pattern that we could match
to a knife.’’
‘‘Sure, Boss,’’ said Jin.
‘‘I didn’t see anything in the paper,’’ said David.
‘‘The police blotter had a one-liner,’’ said Diane.
‘‘The vandalism on Elm Street?’’ said David.
‘‘That’s it. I consider it lucky. The last thing I want
is for this to be connected to the museum. I’m sur
prised the media didn’t pick up on the story.’’
‘‘That’s
because
Chief
Garnett
ordered
that
any
calls concerning you, the lab or the museum be han
dled off radio and on telephones so police scanners
can’t pick them up,’’ said Neva.
Diane looked at her for a moment, puzzled, then it
dawned on her. Garnett was as protective of the mu
seum as she because he wanted to protect the crime
lab. He knew that if push came to shove, she’d cut
the lab loose from the museum and find some way to
deal with the tax problem.
‘‘I see. I hope this doesn’t come back to bite us in
the ass,’’ she said. She sent Neva to the copying ser
vices, Jin to the police station, and she went to her
crime lab office and settled down with a file on each
of
the
murders,
determined
to
find
something
that
would help.
Diane was in the middle of the Cobber’s Wood file
when Neva came in with the copies of the drawings.
‘‘You’re right. The color copies are really good. I
can’t tell them from the originals.’’ Neva lingered in
front
of
the
desk
after
she
gave
Diane
two
sets
of
copies.
‘‘Is there something else?’’
‘‘Weren’t you scared last night?’’
Diane
motioned
for
her
to
sit
down,
and
Neva
pulled up a chair.
‘‘Yes. Terrified.’’
‘‘Down at the department, they say you don’t have
any fear.’’
Diane couldn’t contain a laugh. ‘‘What?’’
First Mike and now Neva. What kind of impression
was she giving people?
‘‘That what happened to you in South America took
all your fear away. Some say you have very little emo
tion about anything.’’
‘‘Where in the world did that come from?’’
‘‘The mayor’s office.’’
‘‘The mayor’s office?’’
Diane
remembered
now.
Her
encounter
with
the
mayor when he tried to threaten her politically. She
laughed again.
‘‘I’m not afraid of the mayor, but a maniac wielding
a bat in the darkness made my heart race.’’
‘‘But you dealt with it.’’
‘‘Yes.’’
‘‘How?’’
‘‘Practice, apparently.’’ Diane shrugged. ‘‘Fear’s just
an emotion. You deal with it.’’
‘‘I did pretty well in my police training. I do pretty
well confronting suspects. It’s authority figures I can’t
handle. Garnett terrifies me.’’
‘‘I know.’’
‘‘I know you know, and I appreciate your helping
me out with him.’’
‘‘You can help yourself out by dealing with him in
a straightforward way.’’
‘‘How?’’
‘‘Just pretend you aren’t afraid of him. What can
he do to you anyway?’’
‘‘He can fire me, for one thing.’’
‘‘So. Is that the worst?’’
‘‘Well, yes.’’
‘‘You could walk out of here today and find another
job. Perhaps a better one.’’
Neva shook her head as though she didn’t believe
her. ‘‘It isn’t that easy—to pretend you aren’t afraid.’’
‘‘Yes, it is. You haven’t tried it. It’s harder to think
about than it is to do. It starts by building confidence
in yourself.’’
Neva smiled. ‘‘Some of the guys at the station say
you’re arrogant.’’
‘‘Perhaps
they’re
right,
or
perhaps
I’m
just
pre
tending.’’
‘‘I don’t see how you do it.’’
‘‘Do what?’’
‘‘I mean, you have two really big jobs—two major
careers going at once.’’
‘‘I
couldn’t
if
that
was
the
American
Museum
of
Natural History out there,’’ Diane said as she gestured
in the direction west of her office, toward the museum,
‘‘and
if
this
was
a
New
York
City
crime
lab.
But
RiverTrail
is
a
small
museum—large
building,
but
small as holdings go. And Rosewood doesn’t have a
high crime rate. As it is, I’m pretty much at the limit
of what I can do.’’
‘‘Still
.
.
.’’
Neva
was
interrupted
by
a
knock
on
Diane’s office door.
Chief
Garnett entered
the
room
with a
man
who
looked
like
a
college
professor.
He
wore
a
brown
tweed sports coat and slacks, had a respectable head
of
brown
hair
and
a
short
well-trimmed
beard
to
match. He was slightly built and moved with an air
of confidence.
‘‘This is Ross Kingsley,’’ Chief Garnett said. ‘‘He’s
going to be doing some profiling for us.’’
‘‘I’d like to interview you, if you don’t mind.’’ He
held out a hand to Diane, and she shook it.
‘‘Certainly. Before we start, Chief, Neva has finished
her drawings of the Cobber’s Wood victims.’’
She
handed
a
set
to
him
and
watched
as
he
and
Kingsley studied them.
‘‘This looks good,’’ Garnett said, casting an approv
ing glance at Neva.
‘‘They are,’’ agreed Diane. ‘‘The sheriff ought to be
able to find someone who knew them.’’
Neva stood and eased herself out the door, clearly
not picking this day to confront her fear of Garnett.
‘‘We found what we think was the Crown Vic. Sto
len, of course. That Asian guy—Jin—I’ve asked him
to process it too.’’
‘‘I figured it was stolen,’’ said Diane. ‘‘Maybe Jin
will be able to find something.’’
‘‘I’ll leave you two here,’’ said Garnett. ‘‘I’ll be in
the lab if you need me.’’
Diane motioned for Kingsley to sit down. She felt
oddly
uneasy
about
being
interviewed
by
him.
So
much for the myth of her fearlessness.

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