Authors: John C. Dalglish
Tags: #Christian Books & Bibles, #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery & Suspense, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Cozy, #Religion & Spirituality, #Christian Fiction
“I’ll get it started.”
As Vanessa walked off, Jason turned to the officer.
“Where’s the store manager?”
turned to see a young man wearing the classic blue Best Buy shirt.
“Can you ask him to come over?”
The officer went to get the store manager while Jason stood back and looked over the entire scene. Something caught his eye.
The manager walked up and extended his hand.
“Bill Davis, I’m the manager.”
Despite the effort to appear professional, Jason could tell the young man was shaken. The detective could hardly blame him, so he shook his hand and took a more casual tone.
, Bill. Listen, I noticed there’s a camera over the back door. Does it work?”
The manager glanced back at the camera.
“Yeah, it’s on a twelve-hour constant loop.”
“Can you get me a copy of the tape?”
“Sure, but it’ll take a day or two. Corporate has to say okay.”
“Can I see the footage from the last couple hours?”
“Absolutely. I’ll take you inside.”
“Great, let’s go.”
The young man led Jason through the back door and down a side hallway, past the employee break room, to a gray steel door. The NO ADMITTANCE sign was the only indication of something important inside.
Bill pulled out a key ring and let the two of them into the room. It was a
cramped space and the multiple video monitors put off a lot of heat. Jason immediately began to sweat.
Sitting down at the small desk, Bill played with the keyboard until he got the shot he wanted.
“This is the back door cam; I’ve cued it at roughly two hours ago.”
“Good. Roll through it until I tell you to stop.”
The picture began to fast forward, people walking too fast and gesturing in odd ways, until it came to the time when Ryan Peters and his fiancé drove up in their car.
“Okay, normal speed.”
The picture slowed to real time as Jason watched a blue Nissan Sentra, with a female driver, pull up by the back door. Ryan Peters leaned over, kissed her, and stepped out of the car.
The car had just started to pull away
as Peters reached for the rear entrance doorknob. Without warning, a blur sliced in from the side, and Peters jerked forward against the door. He slid to the ground, an arrow protruding from his back.
The manager sucked in his breath. Jason put his hand on the young man’s shoulder.
“Can you get me a copy of Ryan’s work schedule for the last few weeks?”
I’ll be right back.”
While Jason waited, he ran the tape back and forth repeatedly
, but was still not able to see the shooter. The detective saw the look on Peter’s face, it was clearly a silent attack. No sound, no warning.
Back outside, Jason found Vanessa standing some forty-five yards away in a patch of long grass. To her immediate right, a trampled section of grass next to a tree.
“Looks like the shooting location. We found a trail leading back to the road
north of here. It’s worn enough to suggest the shooter had been here several times.”
“Nope. Nothing left behind that we’ve been able to find. What have you got?”
Jason flashed the video tape at her.
“Security camera caught the moment of impact, but the lens wasn’t wide enough to get out this far. No ID on the shooter. Also, got the victim’s work schedule. It’s very regular, Tuesday through Saturday, eleven to five.”
“Means our shooter wouldn’t have any trouble picking the time.”
“Exactly. Now we need to find out why Ryan Peters was targeted and what his connection to Vicky Connor is.”
Jason turned to the officer he’d talked to when they first arrived.
“Next of kin been notified?”
“The fiancé called the victim’s family. Apparently, the victim’s father is a detective in Dallas.”
“Really? You get a name?”
The officer looked at his notes.
“Detective Chuck Peters.”
Jason looked at Vanessa, who was writing the name down.
“Ring a bell with you, Vanessa?”
She shook her head.
“Afraid not, but it’s a place to start in connecting the crimes.” He wiped his forehead. “If we’re done here, let’s get out of this sun.”
“We’re done here!”
The next morning
, Jason beat Vanessa to the station for a change. Actually, he pulled in the parking lot just ahead of her. They got out of their cars and walked up together.
“Beat you in! What’s the matter, baby let you sleep in?”
Vanessa rolled her eyes.
“I wish. The opposite
, he kept me up most of the night.”
Awww. Did ya get a double dose of coffee?”
She held up her mug.
“Triple espresso from Starbucks.”
“Oh, you should be good to go then.”
They walked into the building, heading toward the elevators, and Jason pushed the down button. Vanessa gave him a puzzled look.
“Going down? Have you forgotten where your desk is?”
“You mean they didn’t move you to the basement, as well?”
“If they have, they didn’t tell me.”
“Actually, when I left last night, Doc Davis said he would have the autopsy report on Ryan Peters done this morning.”
The doors opened with a ‘ding
,’ and they stepped on. Jason pushed the basement button.
hoping Doc Josie would have something on the arrows, as well.”
The doors opened
back up and this time they turned left, pushing through the glass door that led to the medical examiner’s office.
Jason had met Doctor Leonard Davis during his first year on patrol.
After going to the morgue to meet with a detective, Jason had been introduced to the doc. The years hadn’t changed Doc at all.
Jason remembered thinking the doctor was near retirement when he first met him.
Doc Davis still looked sixty-five, with just a ring of gray hair around his head, and extremely pale skin from too many days in the windowless morgue. He weighed on the heavy side of two-hundred-fifty pounds, and when he walked, his gait was best described as ‘lumbering.’ He might be the smartest man Jason knew.
Doc Davis was just coming out of one of the huge freezers as they
entered the lab.
, Doc. How’s it going this fine day?”
“Is it day time? I
hadn’t noticed down here! Hi, Vanessa.”
Jason knew Doc had requested a window for some light
, but it wasn’t going to happen. They can’t have someone peeking through the curtains during an autopsy. On top of that, glare wasn’t good for testing, and glass wasn’t very good at keeping smells in.
“What’s the matter, Doc? Not enough sunshine in your life?”
Doc Davis just scowled at Jason before turning toward Vanessa.
“Detective Layne, your partner’s visitation permit is hereby revoked! Please come alone next time.”
“Okay, Doc. I’ll try to ditch him before I come down.”
They all shared a laugh as Doc moved into his small office
to retrieve a file off his desk. He talked as he returned.
“Your victim died from mass
ive internal hemorrhaging, due to the severing of the aorta. He never had a chance. Very messy, he would have bled out in just minutes. If there are good ways to die, this is not one of them.”
Jason took the file Doc handed him and flipped through it.
“Did he have any other injuries?”
“Just a contusion from falling against something, probably the ground.”
“Actually, he was thrown pretty hard against a door when the arrow hit him.”
“Really? Well, that makes sense. How do you know that?”
“We’ve got video of the attack. Pretty brutal stuff.”
The doctor shook his head.
“I imagine so.”
Vanessa had been taking notes
, and closed her pad as Jason gave the file back to the medical examiner. She looked at Doc Davis and Jason could tell something was tickling her brain.
“Doc, you’ve been around a long time…”
“You callin’ me old, Detective? I’m gonna revoke your permit, too!”
“Of course not, Doc. Let’s say…you’re experienced. Anyway, does the name Chuck Peters mean anything to you?”
Leonard Davis scrunched his face as he thought about it.
“Related to our victim?”
“Yeah, he’s the father. He works as a detective in Dallas.”
“He’s a detective? That does ring a bell actually. Seems we had a detective named Peters here in San Antonio. I don’t know, maybe seven or eight years ago. I’m not sure exactly.”
Jason and Vanessa looked at each other. They knew such a connection between Peters and Dave would be a solid link for the two attacks. Both detectives headed for the door at the same time.
“Thanks, Doc,” they chimed, and pushed through the door.
In front of the elevator, Jason turned to his partner.
“I’m going in to see what forensics has. Want to join me?”
Vanessa pushed the elevator button.
“No. I’m going to run a records check, see if I can find our ‘Detective Peters,’ and connect him to Connor.”
“Okay. See you upstairs.”
Jason left her standing by the elevator and pushed the doors to the forensics lab open. He found Doc Josie sitting at one of the stainless workstations, her eyes in a microscope. He walked up behind her.
, Doc!” He said a little too loud.
Dr. Jocelyn Carter nearly fell off her stool.
“JASON! Don’t do that!”
He shrugged his shoulders
, showing his best innocent face.
“What? Say hi?”
She ignored his plea and got up. Jason followed obediently back to her office where she presented him with another arrow in an evidence bag. As far as Jason could tell it was identical. The broadhead seemed to be the same as well.
“They the same?”
“Exactly. They have something else in common.”
“Very good, Detective. We found it the same way, and again, no prints.”
She tossed two photos onto the desk, which could have been identical copies
of the first arrow, except the name was different. ‘Detective Chuck Peters’ was clearly illuminated on the shaft. Jason rubbed his chin.
“Somebody is trying to tell us something. They want us to connect the names
, and thereby deliver a message.”
The doctor nodded her head.
“It would appear so, and apparently, they don’t think you can catch them even if you figure out what the message is.”
“I tend agree with you. Find anything else?”
Doc Josie moved around her desk and sat down. Opening her laptop, she pulled up an email.
“I got a response from Wal-Mart corporate on the store where the arrow was sent. It was part of a shipment delivered to the store in Alamo Heights. The shipment was delivered four months ago
, meaning it could have been sold any time after that. The broadhead was part of a shipment six months ago, and the same holds true.”
“Did the broadhead go to the same store?”
She looked again at the email.
“No, the broadhead was sent to a store in North San Antonio, the one near Hollywood Park.”
Jason turned to go.
“Can you request the same info on the second arrow? My guess is they’re Wal-Mart purchases
“Sure, no problem. Where’s Vanessa?”
“Upstairs. We might have a connection between the two shootings.”
“Doc Davis thinks Chuck Peters may have worked at SAPD sometime in the past. Vanessa is checking it out. Can you forward me the email from Wally World?”
When the elevator doors opened on the third floor, Jason didn’t immediately see his partner. As he walked to his desk, he saw the door to Lieutenant Patton’s office was closed. He went to sit down just as the door cracked open and Vanessa stuck her head out.
“Oh good, you’re back. Come in here, Jason.”
Jason entered the office. John Patton sat behind his desk, and Vanessa was in the chair by the door. There was a third person Jason didn’t recognize.
“Detective Strong, this is Detective Chuck Peters from Dallas. We were partners before he left for ‘Big D
shook the man’s hand.
“I’m very sorry, sir. I wish we could’ve met under better circumstances.”
“I appreciate that. Your boss omitted the part where he left me on the street to take this desk job.”
Peters managed a smile despite appearing drawn and tired. Jason guessed the detective was much younger than the
lieutenant, but right now, it was hard to tell.
n average build, with blond hair and brown eyes, it was easy to see the resemblance to Ryan Peters.
“Lieutenant Patton is subject to convenient amnesia. I think it’s his age.”
The lieutenant smiled.
“Chuck was hoping you guys had a lead on his son’s killer.”
Vanessa opened her pad.
“Actually, we had planned on contacting you.”
“We heard you may have worked here at SAPD. Obviously, there isn’t any need for confirmation now, but could you tell me when you left?”
“Sure. I left a little over eight years
ago. Why is that important?”
“Well, our first victim…”
Peters’ head swiveled from Vanessa to Patton, and back again.
“First victim? Ryan i
sn’t the only one?”
Patton looked uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry, Chuck. I hadn’t had a chance to fill you in on all the details.”
“Our first victim was the wife of an SAPD officer
,” Vanessa continued. “We’re trying to find a connection.”
“Who was the officer?”
Chuck Peters was quiet for a moment.
“I remember him. Seemed like a good guy, I’m sorry.”
Jason moved from the door
, and took a seat next to the Dallas detective.
“Do you remember working a
ny particular case or arrest, unusual in anyway, with Dave Connor while you were here?”
Jason watched as the grieving father tried to go back in time. Finally, he shook his head.
“I only knew him in passing. I’m sorry.”
Jason and Vanessa both got up to leave.
“If you think of anything, let us know?”
Chuck Peters nodded.
“I will. Detectives?”
Jason and Vanessa both stopped.
“I lost my wife several years ago
; Ryan was all I had left. I hope you find the S.O.B.”
Scissors, held by practiced hands, slowly trimmed the headline free from the newspaper. A clipping that solidified his nickname.
THE HUNTER STRIKES AGAIN
A smiling Ryan Peters looked back from a photo under the headline. The scissors carved it out as well, and the Hunter mounted both on the kill board. Taking the black marker, an X across Ryan Peters’ work address indicated the successful completion of another hunt.
The Hunter was growing more and more confident with each kill. Years of practice with the bow was making the shooting easy. The
only part that presented any issue was getting in and out without being detected.
The Hunter moved a finger down to the next number in the predetermined order. A red
dot had a name listed next to it.
Again, the Hunter moved over to the rack of arrows, taking down the one
bearing the next target’s name.