Read Sand City Murders Online

Authors: MK Alexander

Sand City Murders (7 page)

BOOK: Sand City Murders
7.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“An inordinate number of people have gone missing from these areas. Some of the reports go back to the nineteen seventies.”

“Are you saying it’s a generational thing? A generational serial killer?”

“I do not wish to speculate, but I do wonder if your town has such a history.”

“Hmm…” Chief Arantez considered. “You’d have to go back a lot of years to find a missing persons case around these parts.”

“It may be the killer has crossed to your side of the ocean,” Fynn said.

“The coastal killer?”

The inspector glared at me again. Clearly, I was not getting off on the right foot with this guy.

The chief turned to Durbin. “Dick, what do we have so far on our end?”

Detective Durbin squirmed in his seat. “Not a whole lot yet. We ran the prints on both our victims. Nothing in the system. No missing persons either. We’re running DNA, and dental records, but I’m not holding out high hopes.” He paused. “Forensics finished their preliminary report on our second victim, Jane Doe number two. No trace evidence. The only weird thing was her clothes. They couldn’t track the manufacturer. One of the tech boys theorizes she was wearing her mom’s or her grandma’s jogging suit.” Durbin took a breath and looked at me for some unknown reason. “We did trace the key found on yesterday’s victim. Belongs to a muscle car, circa nineteen seventy-four, a Pontiac Le Mans or a T-37. Kind of a tough car to hide in this town. We should spot it soon enough.”

“This is the first important clue we have,” Inspector Fynn said with some excitement. “Other than the clothes they wore, all the other victims had no personal effects, not even jewelry. There is the idea that the killer is deliberately trying to thwart efforts at identification.”

“What about shoes?” I asked.

The inspector looked at me as if I were an insect or something, but also gave me a friendly smile. “No shoes. Every victim was barefoot.”

I glanced at Durbin and grinned. Wasn’t such a bad headline after all.

“How about fingerprints, DNA on your side of the pond, Inspector Fynn?” Chief Arantez asked.

“As I’ve said, none of the victims have been identified. And none of them correspond to any missing persons.” Fynn turned to face Durbin. “What about your coroner’s report?”

“Cause of death undetermined. Time of death: approximately four a.m.”

“Wait, what time?” I asked.

“Somewhere between three thirty and four.”

I pulled out my old tide chart. “Hmm.”

“What?” Durbin asked.

I tossed the pamphlet down onto the chief’s desk. “Low tide.”


“So, the footprints… they couldn’t have just been washed away.”

Inspector Fynn took some interest in our conversation. “I’m not sure I follow this.”

I turned to him. “We found footprints that just stopped, like the tide washed them clean, only the water didn’t come up that high until much later.”

“May I see these footprints? You have photographs?”

I turned to Durbin. He gave me a noncommittal shrug. I had made copies of the crime scene photos, probably not my best idea. I glanced over to the chief expecting an angry reaction but got none. I reached into my satchel and took out the printouts. Inspector Fynn looked them over carefully.

“Ah, these are Italian shoes…”

“How can you tell?”

“The curve here, and the heel… Who else could design such a beautiful shoe?” Fynn paused to study the photo in detail. “And these circular marks?”

“A cane maybe,” Durbin said. “Found at both scenes.”

“Well, if it is a cane, the perpetrator didn’t rely on it to stand. It’s too shallow. He didn’t lean on it with any amount of force or weight….” Inspector Fynn speculated out loud and it was hard to disagree with that conclusion. “I would very much like to visit the latest crime scene.”

“Not much left of it, I’m afraid. Pretty much rained all night,” Durbin said.

“And what are these white structures scattered along the sand?” the inspector asked, pointing to the photo again.

“Lifeguard chairs.”

“How tall are they?”

“Hmm, I dunno, maybe six, seven feet off the ground.”

“Interesting… I would like to see the bodies, if possible… and especially any personal effects.”

Detective Durbin nodded. “We don’t have an official coroner’s office. They’re over at Willard’s, the local funeral parlor. I can take you over later if you’d like.”

“Well gentlemen, if there’s nothing else?” Arantez said in his official voice, trying to wrap things up.

“Another request, if I may,” Fynn asked. “I would like to study your missing persons reports.”

“Sure, it’s all on the computer. Detective Durbin can help you.”

“Ah, but no, not recent reports. I would like to see the old records. Missing persons from long ago, thirty years or more.”

“That’s an odd request.”

“Indulge me, please.”

“Well, we’ll have to get you over to Fairhaven, the county seat. That’s were the archives would be.”

“Perhaps Mr Jardel could drive me?”

I thought so loud, I was afraid I had actually said it. Durbin and Arantez readily agreed to the idea. I was suddenly appointed Chief Inspector Fynn’s goodwill ambassador and chauffeur.



chapter 6

sixteen south


“Ah, this is very familiar to me. I almost feel like I’m home.”

Inspector Fynn was talking about my car, a 2002 Saab. She was getting a little long around the tooth for sure, and a bit cantankerous. But when she was running right, she could really haul ass, and was built like a tank, solid and safe. I felt good about driving probably one of the last true hatchbacks on the road. I felt bad about driving a car from a company that was now defunct. Especially when it came to repairs. A couple of months ago, I pulled into Matt’s Motors for my yearly inspection and had a rear brake light out. Just replace the bulb, right? No such luck. There was a short somewhere, or something, and it cost me four hundred and fifty dollars to fix.

“Do people still drive Saabs in Europe?” I asked idly.

“But of course… well, perhaps less nowadays. Especially in Sweden. Volvos mostly, I should think.”

“What do the police drive?”

“Opels and Volkswagons, I’d say. No Saabs.”

“Do you carry a gun?” I’m not sure why I asked that, just making conversation, I guess.

“A Walther? No, not usually. I rarely have the occasion to shoot anyone.”

“So... what’s it like being a chief inspector living in the Netherlands?”

“Quite pleasant.”

“That’s Holland, right?”

“Amsterdam is part of it, yes.”

“That makes you Dutch?”

“I suppose it does. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.”

“How so?”

“The entire nation is called the Netherlands, yet it is divided into regions; and culture to a lesser extent. Holland is one of those regions.”

“I’m not sure I’m following.”

“The Netherlands is a kingdom... there are Catholics to the south and Protestants to the north… ha, and nowadays so many immigrants…” his voice trailed off.

“Not Belgium?”

“No, not Belgium,” he said and then fell into silence for a time. “How long is this drive to Fairhaven?”

“Depends on traffic, forty-five minutes, an hour. I’ve made it in less. It all depends on sixteen.”


“Route sixteen— it’s the only road out of town.” I turned off at the rotary in Oldham onto a merge ramp and accelerated along a two-lane highway. “Sixteen,” I observed aloud. It’s a straight narrow road with a double orange line up the middle. The whole thing is a no passing zone and last year they put up plastic barriers, fall-away sticks to prevent you from taking any unnecessary risks, or drifting over into the oncoming lane accidentally. Though mostly straight, it did curve around the landscape in places, and undulated up and down for a good thirty miles. If you got stuck behind a slow truck or a tourist going under the limit, it was frustrating to say the least. All I can say is it’s lucky for them I don’t drive around with a shotgun in my car. The posted limit is fifty. I got my old Saab up to seventy-five and started to cruise.

Sometime later, I decelerated back down to sixty or so.

“Why are we slowing?” Fynn asked.

“Speed trap, or there could be... State cops. There are only four places they can hide and well, of course I know them all.” I glanced quickly to my left as we approached a small dirt road hidden in the dunes. “Nope. Not today.” I brought the old gal back up to seventy-five.

“I probably owe you an apology, Inspector Fynn.”

“An apology? For what reason?”

“At the meeting, all that stuff I said… the questions I asked.”

“Not at all. You were just doing your job.”

“That’s true, but sometimes I think in headlines— it’s a bad habit.” I glanced over at the inspector. “As for the questions, yeah well, another bad habit.”

“Think nothing of it, please. Questions are always important. Unfortunately I am far more accustomed to asking, rather than answering.”

We drove in silence for a while.

“Tell me Mr Jardel, you have a very good memory, yes?”

“I guess I do. It’s a blessing and a curse.”

“How so?”

“I’m sure there are a lot of things I’d rather forget.”

Inspector Fynn paused for a moment, as if recalling something he’d rather disremember. “I suppose you are correct on this. But you remember everything?”

“That’s kind of an odd question.”

“I am sorry. Perhaps you need to focus your attention on driving?”

“No, that’s not it. I guess I’m not used to questions either. The reporter in me. I’m more comfortable listening.”

“I see. And this is a skill you have?”


“We share this particular talent then.”

“I’m sorry, what? What did you say?” I glanced over at Fynn to see his face, to see if he knew whether I was kidding or not. I wondered how he might react. This would tell me something about the man.

He smiled slightly then burst out laughing. It was a robust sort of laugh, infectious. “How little you’ve changed,” he commented.

“What?” I asked again, this time I wasn’t joking. I was confused but he completely ignored my question.

“I gain much more information from listening than talking, eh? There are many people I think who are incapable of
listening. For them a conversation is all about talking; they listen only for the chance to speak again.” The inspector persisted, “But your memory?”

“I don’t have a good head for dates or names… but yeah, I remember a lot of weird stuff sometimes.”

“And do you consider yourself a curious person?”

“Curious? Everyone is curious. It’s part of being human.”

“Some are more curious than others.”




“Cold case or active files?” someone asked us.

At the Fairhaven Police Station, the chief inspector and I began what seemed to be a futile task. “No, those reports have been moved years ago. They’re not here anymore,” a rather hostile lieutenant informed us. He never even bothered to get up and greet us. Just sat at his desk converting actual paperwork into computer files. His jacket was slung on the back of a chair. His shirtsleeves were already rolled up and his tie undone. I asked him if the files had been computerized, but he didn’t care to fathom a guess.

“I’d try the County Records building. Might be there.”

They weren’t. Someone from county records told us to try the Courthouse. They in turn directed us to the Court Annex, the basement records room. It was a fairly long walk. That’s when I first noticed Inspector Fynn’s peculiar gait. It was almost as if he wanted to be doubly sure where his foot might land before he stepped. I also began to appreciate his persistence and unflappable patience.

We met with Wilma Peterson, a clerk too long at her job. She wore her hair tied back in a bun, mostly all of it, except for a few strands that refused to comply and fell across her face. And she was a bit overweight, unnecessarily packed into an officer’s uniform. Ms Peterson stared at us dubiously through the rim of her glasses which rested precariously on her nose, though they were firmly attached to her neck with a rhinestone chain. I slipped our note through the oneway feeder. Her demeanor changed a little after she read the paperwork Durbin had prepared.

“Well, that’s going back a few years,” she commented. The heavy security door buzzed loudly. “C’mon through,” she said graciously enough. “Only one real rule here: nothing leaves the library. You can copy anything you’d like, any way you like— pen and paper, photographs, whatever. And there’s a copy machine I’ll let you use.” She glanced to the corner of the office and then led us down a narrow corridor. “Let’s see, missing persons, nineteen seventies. Hmm, those files could be anywhere, maybe in a box, or maybe on micro-fish.” She gave us a pained smile.

I was pretty sure she meant microfiche.

“The computer records don’t really start till the mid-eighties.” She paused to laugh. “Of course though, why else would you be down here?”

Wilma led us into a dark, rather dank room filled with shelves, and on them stacks of boxes, all exactly the same.

“There’s the viewer, if you need it… and if you find what you’re looking for, call me back and I can make a copy.”

“Mademoiselle Peterson, you have been a great help already and I extend my deepest gratitude,” the chief inspector said rather grandly, but effectively it seemed. Wilma broke into a huge smile and pushed away her errant strands of hair without thinking.

“We would need the files of missing persons both locally, in your parish, and perhaps throughout the entire state.”

“Well, Inspector Fynn, that shouldn’t be a problem at all.” Wilma walked over to a set of shelves then slowed, pausing to read the dates. “We don’t have national records of course— not sure anyone does from such a long time ago. But these are the county records. The records for the whole state are probably on micro-fish.”

“Thank you again, we will begin our search here.” Chief Inspector Fynn glanced at me as if to say help the poor woman with the box. I did just that, jumped on the stepladder and hauled down a heavy container.

BOOK: Sand City Murders
7.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Howling Moon by C. T. Adams, Cathy Clamp
Jason Priestley by Jason Priestley
The Holly Joliday by Megan McDonald
Crying Wolf by Peter Abrahams
Ripples by DL Fowler
The Dower House Mystery by Patricia Wentworth
Beyond Doubt by Karice Bolton