Authors: John C. Dalglish
Tags: #Christian Books & Bibles, #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery & Suspense, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Cozy, #Religion & Spirituality, #Christian Fiction
The sun was beginning to peek through breaking clouds as Jason pulled up in his Pontiac Gran
Prix to get his partner’s house. He watched the front curtain swing closed, the front door open, and his partner coming out.
Vanessa and Jason had worked together as beat cops.
She’d made detective before him, something she liked to point out occasionally just for fun, even though he made rank just six months later.
smart, with a knack for details, and determined. When Jason became a detective, it was an easy decision for Lieutenant Patton to put them together. They’ve been a team ever since.
The passenger door opened and she got in. Her face bore the look of someone
about to endure something very unpleasant. He knew they’d both have a hard time not picturing themselves in Dave’s place, and it would be a struggle not to let the case get personal, but you could lose your perspective if you let emotions take over.
He forced a half-smile.
. Have you heard anything more about Vicky?”
Jason shook his head.
“No. I talked to the lieutenant on my way over her and he said she’s still in surgery.”
They drove in silence for the next several minutes until they
pulled on to Dave Connor’s street. Jason looked at Vanessa as he parked the car.
She hesitated as she reached for the car door handle, but she didn’t look at Jason.
“Strictly by the book, we don’t want any mistakes. We owe it to Dave to be at our best.”
After a few seconds, she nodded her head, pulled the handle, and got out.
Jason sat in the car looking at the organized chaos around him. Yellow crime scene tape ran from one corner of the house out to the mailbox, across the driveway and back again to the house. The sun was now bright
, and it was quickly becoming a steamy day.
milled around at the edge of the yellow tape, many dressed in nice clothes, which Jason assumed was because they’d just returned from church to find a crime scene in their neighborhood.
Inside the yellow tape, there was
a bit more order to the chaos. Crime scene techs from the Forensic Crime Lab were busy photographing, collecting, and preserving anything that might be evidence. Dr. Jocelyn Carter, ‘Doc Josie’ as everyone called her, had dispatched the team here. Jason knew she’d sent the best she had.
posted at the edge of the tape making sure no one crossed the line, and several were taking notes as they asked people questions. The gathering of neighbors made the canvassing for witnesses both easier and harder. Easier, because you could collect a lot of information in a short time, but more difficult because you couldn’t be sure if you’d missed someone.
Jason got out and walked toward Lieutenant Patton, who
was standing by the front door. Vanessa was next to the Connors’ car, crouched down and examining the blood pool. John Patton turned as Jason walked up and they almost collided.
didn’t see you. Is Vanessa with you?”
“Over by the car
. Any news on Vicky?”
“Nothing new. Come on, I want to go over what we’ve got with both of you.”
The lieutenant walked toward Vanessa and she stood as he approached. Jason was right behind. Patton gave her a wry, half-smile.
“Sorry to get you two out here
, but you’re my best.”
Vanessa waved it off.
“Don’t think twice, Lieutenant. What do we know?”
Patton told them what
he’d got from Dave Connor before the sergeant had left in the ambulance. Jason took notes while Vanessa interjected the occasional question. There wasn’t much to go on.
Vanessa looked down at the blood again.
“Rain washed away some potential evidence. Where’s the arrow?”
“They decided to leave it in
Vicky for the ride to the hospital and remove it there. The EMT said sometimes the item that caused the injury can also be stemming the blood flow.”
Jason looked toward the house.
“Does Dave have an answering machine?”
The lieutenant nodded.
“Yes, but nothing on it indicated a threat. Dave said he couldn’t think of anyone who might be angry at either of them.”
Vanessa was scanning the area across the street.
“Do we know where the shooter was standing?”
This time the lieutenant shook his head.
“We haven’t found the likely firing spot, but in truth, we’re not sure what the range of these arrows really is,” He waved his arm in a semi-circle. “We don’t know whether to search an area extending out fifty yards, a hundred yards, or even further.”
Jason closed his notebook.
“That’s something we’re going to have to find out, but right now, I want to go see Dave at the hospital.”
Jason and Vanessa headed for the car, ducking under the yellow tape that screamed the words CRIME SCENE-DO NOT CROSS. When they got in, they both sat for a minute and looked at the Connors’ car, still parked in the driveway. Jason tried to picture himself coming out the front door of
his Terrill Hills home to find Sandy splayed out next to his car.
It was a horrible thought and he sensed Vanessa was seeing the same thing. He started the car; it was time to get moving.
San Antonio General, or SAG as the locals call
ed it, was in the southern part of the city. It’s a sprawling campus, with the main hospital only three stories high. A large wing of offices ran away from the main building toward the east, and another giant wing extended west from the main building. It had labs, MRI machines, X-ray facilities, and more. Beige was the predominate color, only broken by the green of landscaping.
Jason pulled into
a parking lot, which sprawled across the entire front of the hospital, found a spot, and parked. They got out of the car to find the day had turned from the gloomy rain this morning to a hot and humid afternoon, Texas style.
The air conditioning of the hospital was welcome relief as the two detectives made their way inside and up to the third floor.
Surgery took up the entire floor. The waiting room had white walls standing in stark contrast to an emerald carpet. Hanging in one corner, a TV tuned to the Weather Channel played without sound. A bank of windows ran the length of the opposite wall.
Dave Connor sat beneath the TV
, two officers standing and talking to him. They appeared to Jason to be friends of the sergeant from the station, but Jason didn’t recognize them.
Sergeant Connor i
s normally an imposing figure, tall with broad shoulders and jet-black hair; he could pass for ten years younger than his age of thirty-eight.
That was not the case today; Dave looked small and tired.
Their eyes met as Jason crossed the room, and Jason saw fear in the big man’s eyes. He couldn’t blame him.
“Dave, I’m so sorry. How’s Vicky?”
The Sergeant stood to meet him and forced a small smile, remembering how he always answered the same question at the station.
“Oh, you know. Mean as ever.”
Jason returned the smile with one of his own, acknowledging their long running joke.
Dave nodded at Vanessa
, and she took a chair next to him as he sat back down. Jason asked the two officers to excuse them for a few minutes, and Vanessa took out her pad.
“Is she still in surgery?”
“Yeah, the doc came out just before they began. He gave me the basics of what he was going to do. He said she was fifty-fifty at best.”
“What about her parents? Don’t they live here in town?”
“They do. I called them, and they’re on the way. I told them there was an accident. How do you tell them on the phone their daughter has been shot with an arrow?”
“I know this is hard,
but I need to ask some questions.”
“I know, Jason. I didn’t see much
, but I’ll tell you what I can.”
Jason asked Dave to start from th
e time he and Vicky woke up in the morning, and recount everything he could think of right up until he found Vicky lying on the driveway.
Tears welled up in his friend’s eyes as Dave did his best to recall his and Vicky’s morning together. It was all Jason could do to
keep from losing it himself. He glanced over to see Vanessa was in the same boat.
Dave finished, looking even more drained than before. He sat staring at the windows without seeing past the glass. Vanessa closed her notebook and got up without saying anything.
Jason put his hand on his friend’s shoulder and looked him in the eyes.
“I’m gonna do everything I can to find the animal responsible. Hang in there. Vicky’s tough, she won’t give up without a fight.”
As Jason stood, Vicky’s parents arrived
in the waiting room. They swarmed over David, and Jason stepped aside, taking the opportunity to go look for Vanessa.
He found her in the hallway, leaning against the wall next to th
e water fountain, her eyes red. One of the things Jason liked most about his partner was that she never let being a cop get in the way of being human. It was the same reason he worried about her.
“Yeah, I’ll make it.” She started down the hallway toward the elevator. “Let’s go find the S.O.B. that did this!”
Monday morning, Jason arrived at the station early; as usual, Vanessa was there first. He parked and walked through the warm early morning sun to the entrance of the station.
The Criminal Justice building
was located on Santa Rosa Boulevard and was a fairly unremarkable structure. A chain link fence ran around the entire compound and, if not for black and white patrol cars, it could easily have passed for a utility office.
The day was warming quickly and the rain from yesterday was already a distant memory.
As he walked through the doors, his eyes immediately went to the sergeant’s desk, as much out of habit as because of what happened yesterday. Dave would not be there for a while, and Jason knew he would miss his friend, especially the good-natured jousting they directed at their wives.
Dave had colluded with Jason occasionally when the detective needed.
It wasn’t long ago he had Dave stall Lieutenant Sarah Banks while Jason ignored a message from her. In fact, the sergeant had delivered the message, but told the lieutenant he hadn’t.
Jason got on the elevator and rode it t
o the third floor. Homicide took up the entire third floor of the building, and when the elevator doors slid open, he could see his partner sitting at her desk. His was pushed up against hers, so they faced each other while they worked. Upon seeing him, she immediately began to drum her fingers impatiently. Jason smiled at the teasing.
“I’m here, I’m here. I don’t have a baby to wake me up at ridiculous hours.”
“That’s true. I believe Sandy wants to remedy that, am I right?”
, but we’ll discuss that another day!”
Vanessa got up as Jason sat down.
“Come on, Doc Josie has something for us.”
Jason got back to his feet.
“Okaaay. Did she say what?”
They got on the elevator for the ride to the basement where the forensic labs are located.
Dr. Jocelyn Carter shared the basement with the medical examiner, Dr. Leonard Davis
, and the Records Department. As they rode down, Jason looked at his partner.
“Any word on Vicky?”
“She made it through surgery, and they’ve got her in ICU. Lieutenant Patton was already here when I showed up this morning.” She stared at the ceiling. “He said the arrow punctured a lung, nicked her spleen, and caused massive internal bleeding. They put her in an induced coma to help her heal.”
Jason shook his head for what felt li
ke the hundredth time in last twenty-four hours.
They arrived at the basement and the elevator doors opened. To the left of them as they stepped out, was the domain of the Medical Examiner, ‘Doc Davis.’ His office consisted of an autopsy room, two large freezers for bodies, and a small, glass-walled cubicle where he did his paperwork.
Straight ahead, down a long hallway,
was Records, and the famous Marie Turley. She had an innate ability to remember small details about cases that went back years. Jason had found her invaluable in previous cases.
To the right of them
were the forensic labs. The detectives turned right and pushed through the large, glass door bearing the seal of the Forensic Science Department.
People in white coats, some wearing masks, were busy at a long
, stainless-steel table. Multiple workstations, each with a microscope, magnifying mirror, and test-tube holders, ran the length of the table. The brightly lit room gave off a sterile aura, which no doubt was the case.
The other side of the
room was also occupied by a long, stainless table but the equipment was more complex. Dual-view macro-scopes, fuming bins, and electron analysis equipment were strategically placed throughout the lab. Straight ahead was the office of Dr. Jocelyn Carter. They found her going over some paperwork at her desk.
was the head of the Forensic Science Department. Short with curly, brown hair and black, wire-framed glasses around blue eyes, she looked like the classic college professor. Some might describe her as ‘frumpy,’ but her clothes had nothing to do with her mind—she was brilliant.
She looked up as they came into her office.
“Jason, Vanessa! How nice to see you. I guess you guys want a look at that arrow?”
Jason plopped himself down in one of the chairs
facing the desk as Vanessa leaned against the doorframe.
“Yeah. Did you
get anything from it?”
“Not much. Have you heard how Vicky is doing?”
“Not since Vanessa talked to the lieutenant about an hour ago. She made it through surgery, that’s a start, and now they have her in ICU.”
Doc Josie sighed as she got up from her chair.
“I can’t imagine what Dave Connor is going through.”
She picked up an evidence bag off the cabinet behind her desk and handed it to Jason.
“Here’s the arrow.”
“Find anything on it?”
“Yes. No prints, but something. If there were fingerprints, they were wiped off by the medical personnel. There was blood, but my guess is it belongs to the victim… I mean Vicky.” She looked embarrassed. “We have samples being tested to be sure.”
“What was the ‘something’ on the arrow?”
Doc Josie gave a mischievous look to the two detectives.
“Not yet. Here take a look at this.”
She reached back and got another evidence bag. Gingerly, she handed it to Jason.
Inside was a nasty set of razor blades, fitted in an ‘X’ pattern. Though misshapen from the impact
when the arrowhead hit Vicky, it was clear to see how much damage they could do.
“Did you learn anything about the make and model of either of these?”
“Sure. The arrow is an Easton HEXX. The company is headquartered in Salt Lake City. They ship to every Wal-Mart in the country, so narrowing down a buyer will be very difficult. The lot number gives Easton the date of manufacture, and which Wal-Mart distribution center received it, but that’s it. I have Wal-Mart’s corporate office doing research on a store number.”
She took the bag back from Jason.
“The broadhead is a Muzzy MX. It’s mass manufactured and distributed in a similar fashion as the arrow. The company is in Beasley, Georgia, and I’ve asked Wal-Mart corporate to trace it as well.”
“You’re the best, Doc.”
She smiled, acknowledging the compliment.
“Now for the ‘something’ on the arrow
. This is where it gets weird. When we were using ultra-violet to look for prints, we found writing on the arrow. It fluoresced under the light and I photographed it for you.”
Doc Josie opened the side drawer on her desk and f
lipped open a file folder. Two eight-by-ten photos landed on the desk in front of Jason. Vanessa moved forward to look over her partner’s shoulder. The magnified photos showed a clear handwritten message. Jason read it aloud.
“Officer David Connor.”
Vanessa looked at Doc Josie.
“Weird doesn’t begin to describe it.
First, Dave is a sergeant. Secondly, if they meant to hit Dave, they’re a terrible shot. Surely, they didn’t confuse Vicky for Dave?”
Jason shook his head.
“Not likely. I know it was raining, but Dave is much larger than his wife.”
Jason looked at the forensic department head.
“Can we keep these?”
“Thanks. Let us know if you find anything else?”
“You’ll be the first
They headed back to the elevator.
Lieutenant Patton had left for the hospital by the time the two detectives returned to the third floor. Jason knew they needed more information on arrows, broadheads, and their firing range.
“You want to grab some lunch before we pay a visit to a bow shop?”
Vanessa was at her desk, typing into her computer.
“Sure. You got a particular shop in mind?”
“No. I was thinking of asking around the precinct, see if anyone is a bow hunter.”
“Sounds good. I’m going to do a search for similar crimes. I don’t remember hearing about an arrow being used before as a murder weapon, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.”
Jason turned to go.
“Makes sense. I don’t remember anything like it either, but you never know. I’ll be back after I get an address for a bow shop.”
Jason took the elevator down to the second floor. The Major Crimes Bureau was there
, and he spotted Nina Jefferson at her desk.
Detective Nina Jefferson
was short and stocky, with brown eyes, dark skin, and curly, black hair. She carried herself with the air of an experienced officer, despite not looking much older than twenty-five, and she’d worked as his partner while Vanessa was on maternity leave.
She smiled as he walked up.
“Jason, nice to see you. What brings you down here?”
, Nina. How’s life with Banks?”
Nina rolled her eyes. After her stint with Jason, Nina had signed on with Lieutenant Sarah Banks and her major crimes
unit. The lieutenant had a reputation for being a difficult boss.
“She can be hard to take at times
, but she’s a good cop. Overall, I like working for her.”
I’m glad to hear it. Listen, didn’t you mention to me your son likes to bow hunt?”
Jason sat down at her desk.
“You heard about Dave Connor’s wife?”
“Yes, awful thing.”
“Well, she was shot with an arrow.”
, and that’s why I was wondering if your son had a preferred shop where we could get some reliable info.”
“Actually, I’ve gone with him several times. It’s called Gassman’s Archery.”
Jason took out a pad and made a note of the name.
“Do you know the address?”
“It’s on McCullough in the north part of the city, just off the loop.”
“Great. Thanks, Nina.”
Jason got up and headed for the elevator. Nina called after him.
“If you see Dave, tell him I’m praying for him.”
Jason pushed the elevator button and turned back to face her.
“I will. I know he’ll appreciate it.”
Jason and Vanessa grabbed a quick lunch at Burger King before going to the ar
chery shop. Gassman’s Archery was in a warehouse facing a large shopping mall.
wasn’t much to look at from outside, but the inside was brightly lit, and busy with a lot of customers moving around the multiple glass cases. Various animals hung mounted on the walls, some with arrows resting on their horns. In the back was a range for shooting, separated from the main store by a glass wall.
Jason spotted a man standing behind the counter who
didn’t seem to be busy. He walked over as Vanessa did a walk around the entire store. The man’s nametag said ‘RICK.’ Jason showed him his badge.
“Hi, my name is Detective Strong and I was hoping you could answer a few questions for me?”
Rick immediately looked concerned.
“Did I do something?”
“No…No, it’s not personally tied to you, but about archery. Have you worked here long?”
Rick was clearly relieved
, and began to smile.
“Yeah, I’ve been with Gassman’s for nine years. How can I help?”
Jason leaned on the glass counter and studied the array of broadheads beneath him.
“What I need is information about distance and accuracy. What would be a normal range for a good bow hunter to
get a kill shot?”