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 (5 page)

to
keep
them
from
becoming
through
the
loops

tangled.’’
‘‘I
didn’t
realize
Raymond.
ropes
were
so
involved,’’
said

‘‘There’s
a lot you can learn about the perp from
them. This one is going to be more complicated,’’ said
Diane as she examined the ropes. ‘‘This guy knew his
knots.’’ She grinned up at Lynn and Raymond. ‘‘I love
it when they know how to tie knots."

Chapter
6
‘‘You
really
like
analyzing
knots,
don’t
you?’’
said
Lynn, her eyes widened in a puzzled stare.

Diane
saw that reaction a lot—a knot is just a knot
to most people. ‘‘Yeah, I do. They’ve saved my life
more than once.’’

‘‘How’s
that?’’ asked Raymond.
‘‘I’m a caver. We rely on ropes and knots.’’
‘‘Really?’’
said
Lynn.
‘‘Have
you
explored
many

caves?’’
‘‘Quite a few. Not many in Georgia, even though I
grew up here. But one of my employees at the mu
seum is introducing me to some of the Georgia caves.’’
‘‘I’ve always wanted to see the one in Mexico with
all the crystals,’’ Lynn said.
‘‘The one
on the
Discovery Channel,
right?’’ said
Raymond.
‘‘It
didn’t
look
real,
all
those
white
crystals.’’
‘‘The cave is called Lechuguilla,’’ said Diane. ‘‘The
formation
you’re
talking
about
is
the
Crystal
Ballroom.’’
‘‘Yeah, that’s it.’’
‘‘Those are gypsum crystals. They’re even more im
pressive in person.’’
‘‘You’ve been there?’’ asked Lynn.
‘‘Yes, I have. A couple of microbiologist friends in
vited
me
to
go
on
an
expedition
with
them.
It’s
a
protected cave. I was lucky to get the chance.’’
‘‘It appears to be very beautiful,’’ said Lynn.
‘‘Stunning.’’
Diane
looked
down
at
the
decayed
husk that used to house a young woman. ‘‘The line of
work I’m in, it’s very rejuvenating to be able to look
at something so breathtakingly beautiful.’’
‘‘What
about
this
knot?’’
asked
Raymond.
‘‘Is
it
something special?’’
‘‘It’s a handcuff knot.’’
‘‘Handcuff
knot?
I
don’t
like
the
sound
of
that,’’
he said.
‘‘It’s good as a handcuff and for hobbling horses.
Our
perp added
a little
twist. He
took the
working
line
and wrapped
it
around the
vic’s hands,
tucking
the end through the loops. I guess he didn’t want her
wiggling her fingers.’’
‘‘Easier to cut them off,’’ said Raymond. ‘‘Did he
do that while they were alive?’’
‘‘I
don’t
know,’’
said
Lynn.
‘‘I’m
not
sure
I’ll
be
able to tell.’’
‘‘I think I can secure the outer loops without cutting
them, but I’ll have to cut the loops on the handcuffs,’’
said Diane.
She took a blue cord and secured all the loops to
gether
and
tagged
each
one.
She
treated
each
loop
around
the
wrist
in
the
same
way
she
handled
the
noose around the neck—tying them off before cutting
the loop free.
‘‘It’s like cutting an umbilical cord,’’ said Lynn.
As
Diane
slid
the
rope
free,
a
cool
breeze
eased
through the autopsy room.
‘‘I don’t believe it,’’ said Lynn. ‘‘They got someone
to fix whatever was wrong.’’
‘‘Just needed a little motivation,’’ said Raymond.
‘‘Oh, it feels good,’’ said Lynn. She took in a deep
breath, as if the cool air made everything smell better.
‘‘Let’s get this done. What do you say, Raymond?’’
She turned to Diane. ‘‘I hope you don’t mind me
running you off to the other room. I like to have as
few people as possible in the room when I’m working
on a body this decomposed.’’
‘‘Believe me, I don’t mind. I’ll take these ropes back
to the lab and start my team working on them, and
then I’ll come back. Do you intend to do the other
two victims today?’’
‘‘I’d like to try. Raymond and I will collect the in
sect samples.’’
As Diane was going out the door, Lynn started the
Y incision.

RiverTrail
Museum of Natural History was housed
in a beautiful gothic three-story granite structure that
began its life as a museum in the late 1800s. The build
ing was converted into a private medical clinic in the
1940s, and was now converted back to a museum. It
had large rooms with Romanesque moldings, polished
granite floors and rare wall-sized murals of dinosaurs
painted
at
a
time
when
everyone
thought
the
huge
animals dragged their tails behind them.

Diane
had a sense of peace as director of the mu
seum. It was a place of scholarship, learning and fun—
and she ruled. Thanks to the late founder, there were
no bureaucrats between her and what she wanted to
do for the museum. It was idyllic, a dream career. She
couldn’t imagine going back into forensics—working
with
death
and
evil
in
places
where
evil
won
often
and
was
rarely
punished.
But
she’d
found,
oddly
enough, after
helping Frank
Duncan find
justice for
his murdered friends, that she enjoyed the hunt, the
puzzle. Good thing too, for it kept the wolves from
the ornate wood doors of the museum.

It
was 10:00
A
.
M
. when Diane carried the evidence
from Lynn Webber’s autopsy lab to her crime lab on
the third floor of the museum.

‘‘Start
on the clothes,’’ she told Jin. ‘‘Wait on the
rope.
I’ll
bring
more
clothing
and
insect
specimens
later.’’

‘‘Sure
thing.’’ Jin took the boxes and attached crime
lab tracking labels to them. He and Diane signed the
labels, and he locked the boxes away. ‘‘This is a big
case. People are talking about it.’’

‘‘We’re
going
to
be
watched
closely
on
this
one.
Both the mayor of Rosewood and the chief of detec
tives are going to be riding us pretty hard.’’

‘‘We’ll
be
brilliant.
I’ll
start
on
the
clothes
right
away. We can have some results for the sheriff by the
end of the day.’’

Only
a couple of technicians were in the lab, filling
out papers. David’s insect-rearing chambers sat in en
vironmentally controlled containers in the entomology
work space.

‘‘David
and the others in the field?’’ she asked.
‘‘You
know
how
he
likes
to
take
a
final
walk
through.
He’s
got
Neva
with
him.
You’ve
got
her
very nervous.’’
‘‘I have?’’
‘‘She said you’re the one who got Detective Janice
Warrick demoted last year.’’
‘‘Not me. Janice botched a case and contaminated
a crime scene. She’s responsible for her own career
situation.’’
‘‘I guess Neva only knows what she’s heard in the
police department.’’
‘‘How’s she doing?’’
‘‘She’s scared all the time.’’
‘‘Of me?’’
‘‘You,
but
mostly
the
chief
of
detectives.
Afraid
she’s going to screw up. She didn’t want this job. He
assigned her to it.’’ Jin shrugged, clearly not under
standing why anyone wouldn’t want a plum job like
this one. ‘‘David’s got her out now. Showing her how
to look for things. David’s a good guy.’’
‘‘Yes, he is.’’ Diane didn’t like hearing that about
Neva. This was the kind of case they couldn’t mess
up. ‘‘I’m going to check in with the museum, then I’m
going back to the autopsy.’’
Jin nodded. ‘‘Want me to have David call you?’’
‘‘No. I’ll talk with him later.’’
‘‘When you analyze the rope, I want to watch. I’ve
never done that.’’
‘‘You know anything about knots?’’
‘‘I was a Boy Scout.’’
‘‘Can you tie knots?’’
‘‘Sure... some.’’
‘‘Go
to
the
museum
library
and
get
a
book
on
knots. Study the types.’’
Diane
left
and
went
down
to
the
first
floor.
The
museum
had
been
open
for
an
hour
and
was
filled
with summer school students on a field trip. Loud ex
cited chatter swept out of the dinosaur room as she
passed it on the way to her office.
When she reached the main foyer, it was not the
mixture of excitement from children and admonitions
from
teachers
that
caught
her
attention.
It
was
the
wooden anthropoid coffin lying on its back on a large
metal cart next to the information desk.
Diane walked over to the large mummy case in the
shape of a human figure and looked over at Jennifer
on duty in the information station.
‘‘They brought it in about an hour ago.’’
‘‘They?’’
‘‘Some
guys.
Kendel—uh,
Ms.
Williams
was
with
them.’’
At that moment a line of students with two adults
at each end came into the museum.
‘‘We’re from the Rosewood Summer Library Pro
gram,’’ one of the adults announced to Jennifer and
then turned and cautioned the children—five girls and
three boys—to stay together. They weren’t listening.
Their attention had immediately focused on the coffin.
‘‘Is there a real mummy inside there?’’ asked a lit
tle girl.
That’s what I’d like to know,
thought Diane.
Jennifer, dressed in black slacks and a museum teeshirt, stepped from the booth and greeted them. She
nodded her head vigorously.
‘‘Yes, there is. It just arrived, and it will be going
up to our conservation lab. We’re all very excited. We
believe
it’s from
the
twelfth dynasty
in Egypt.
That
was about four thousand years ago.’’
Jennifer was more forthcoming to the children than
to Diane. That seemed to be one of her characteristics.
She
was
good
with
children,
somewhat
absent
with
adults.
‘‘Can we see him?’’ asked a blond curly-haired boy
of about eight.
The docent arrived before Jennifer had to answer,
taking
charge
of
the
group
in
a
way
that
was
both
firm and kind. The herd of children, pulling the adults
behind them, skipped and bounced out of sight on the
first leg of their tour.
Diane turned back to Jennifer. ‘‘What’s this?’’ she
began, just as Kendel Williams came through the dou
ble doors leading from the administrative offices.
Kendel had fine brown hair turned under in a 1940s
style, cut to a length just above the padded shoulders
of her gray tailored suit. She had brown eyes, straight
posture,
and
a
soft
voice.
Ladylike
was
how
Andie
had described her to Diane when Kendel had come
to interview for the position of assistant director.
In
looks
and
manner
Kendel was
the
opposite
of
Diane—soft where Diane was hard. One of the things
she had liked about Kendel was that her looks were
deceptive.
Like
all
the
applicants,
she
had
several
years’ of experience in upper museum administration.
What Diane had discovered in the interview and from
the people she called for references was that Kendal
was tough when it came to championing her museum
and
acquiring
holdings.
What’s
more,
Kendel
knew
museum culture.
That was a strength Diane didn’t have. She under
stood the museum’s structure and administration, but
she was also an outsider among those career museum
people
who
had
come
up
through
the
ranks.
Diane
had been plucked from the technical field of forensic
anthropology
and
hired
as
director.
She
knew
that
some people inside the museum culture resented that.
The relationships among museums were a mixture
of intense competition and helpful collaboration. Kendel was familiar with most of the major museums and
how they worked and who she could work with. Diane
liked
her.
She’d
never
asked
Kendel
how
she
felt
about snakes.
‘‘Dr.
Fallon,’’
she
said
breathlessly,
‘‘I’m
so
sorry
about yesterday morning. I don’t usually go off like
that.’’
‘‘It’s all right. I understand that you didn’t expect
to
find
a
snake
coiled
up
in
your
desk
drawer
the
second day on the job.’’
The
elusive
museum
snake
had
made
a
rare
appearance—unfortunately,
in
Kendel’s
desk
drawer—
giving Diane another opportunity to rue the day she
had told the herpetologists they could create a terrar
ium for live snakes.
‘‘Only
nonpoisonous
snakes,’’
she
had
told
them.
‘‘And make sure the terrarium is escape proof.’’
At least they were able to keep one of her condi
tions. It was a harmless black snake that escaped. The
only
ones
who
ever
ran
across
it
were
people
who
wouldn’t think of trying to catch it. The herpetologist
and his assistants hadn’t even caught a glimpse of it.
Kendel was quickly followed by Andie Layne, Di
ane’s assistant; Jonas Briggs, staff archaeologist; and
Korey Jordan, head conservator. They gathered with
Diane around the mummy case.
Diane looked at Andie. ‘‘I seem to remember saying
something
about
not
wanting
to
see
any
orders
for
mummies come across my desk.’’
Andie’s
Orphan
Annie
curly
brown-red
hair
bounced as she laughed. ‘‘And you won’t. This is a
donation.’’
‘‘Nice,’’
said
Korey.
He
placed
a
gloved
hand
on
the
case.
‘‘This
is
in
good
condition.
Can’t
wait
to
see inside it.’’ His white teeth were bright against his
brown skin.
‘‘It’s
from
a
James
Lionel-Kirk,’’
said
Kendel.
‘‘Lionel-Kirk inherited it from his father in New York
around twenty years ago. His father had inherited it
from his grandfather in England, who inherited it from
his father, we think. We’re working provenance now.’’
‘‘Is there anything in it?’’
Jonas Briggs answered. Retired from Bartram Uni
versity in Rosewood, and now the museum’s only ar
chaeologist, he had been the first to express a desire
for an exhibit on Egyptology. At the moment, he was
beaming. ‘‘There is indeed. There is a mummy inside.’’
‘‘A mummy.’’
All
nodded
their
heads
vigorously.
‘‘We
can’t
be
sure it’s the mummy that belongs with the case,’’ Kendel warned. ‘‘At the time this was acquired, mummies
were a popular tourist item and the Egyptian sellers
did some mixing and matching of mummy cases and
mummies.’’
‘‘He’s
apparently
unwrapped,’’
said
Jonas.
‘‘We
think he—or she—was the centerpiece of a Victorian
mummy unwrapping party. They were all the rage at
one time.’’
‘‘You’re kidding.’’
‘‘Not
at
all,’’
said
Kendel.
‘‘The
guests
would
sit
around and watch the host unwrap a mummy. We’re
lucky this one survived. Most from unwrapping parties
were burnt as firewood.’’
‘‘We were just about to take it up to the conserva
tion lab and have a look,’’ said Korey.
Diane motioned toward the elevator. ‘‘By all means.
Let’s have a look at our mummy.’’

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