The Seduction - Art Bourgeau (10 page)

BOOK: The Seduction - Art Bourgeau
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Her thoughts must have shown in her face, because the
first thing Sloan said when he arrived was, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I was just thinking about the girl . .
. Terri DiFranco, wasn't it?"

"Come on, let's walk," he said, taking her
arm. Then as an afterthought, "You don't mind, do you? I mean
with the drizzle and all."

"I don't mind. You're the one with the flu."

Outside he stopped long enough to turn up the collar
of his single-breasted London Fog, but Laura noted he was still
hatless, rather unusual for a man with so little hair.

Sloan didn't seem in a hurry to talk about the
murder. Instead, as they strolled among the rows of park benches
still at least half-filled with people, he said, "It takes more
than a little rain to drive them out of this park. You know, if you
come here anytime, day or night, unless there's two feet of snow,
you'll nearly always find people here. I've never been able to figure
out what makes this park different from the others in Center City."
When Laura didn't reply he chattered on, "Once, too damn many
years ago, I met a girl at closing time at Doc Watson's and convinced
her to go to one of the Greek places around the corner for breakfast.
Afterward we came down here, you know, to be alone, and at four in
the morning there wasn't a single empty bench in the whole park."

Laura kept staring out toward Independence Hall, the
tower hazy in the mist and drizzle.

"Anyway . . . getting to what you're waiting to
hear, we've pretty well wrapped up the first stage of the work on the

He hesitated for a moment, then said, "The
parents just left before I called you. The ID's positive. It's Terri

"My God, the shape her body's in. How could you
put them through that?"

"We didn't. We first took the clothes around and
her mother recognized them. Then we got the name of the family
dentist from her, borrowed the kid's records and ID'd from them. But
when we went back to the parents—she'd called the husband and he'd
come home from work by then—they insisted on seeing the body. I
tried to talk them out of it. It was no-go. They insisted."

How did they take it?" Stupid question, she
realized, as soon as it was out of her mouth.

"Bad. So if you can do your story without seeing
them, at least for a couple of days . . ."

"What were they like?"

"What were they like—parents, what else?"
A touch of anger was in his voice, and she realized with some force
that she wasn't alone in the way that day had affected her, that even
someone in Sloan's business needed to compartmentalize, to get at
arm's length from something like this or he couldn't function,

He began again. "She—Terri—was the oldest,
with a younger brother. Her parents are South Philly born and bred.
They live on Second and Morris. The father's a longshoreman, the
mother works as a checkout clerk a couple of days a week at the
Pathmark on Oregon Avenue. They're in their thirties, I'd say,
Catholics who no doubt go to mass every Sunday at Sacred Heart. The
mother is pretty: very Italian-looking but still trim with dark hair
cut short. The father's got dark hair, too, except it's like mine,
about all gone."

He paused, then: "You don't have any kids, do

"No, I'm not married." What had made him
ask that?

"Me neither . . . I guess to really understand
this, what they're going through, you have to be a parent."

They walked for a few minutes in silence. The drizzle
now turned to light rain, but the park benches, as Sloan had said,
remained at least half full. The only ones going for shelter seemed
to be the tourists.

Finally Laura broke the silence. "What did you
tell them happened to her?"

"The truth, that the autopsy showed she died
from strangulation, and that she'd been raped."

"Considering the condition of her body . . . I
mean, how could you tell for sure about the rape?"

"There were still traces of sperm."

Sperm, such an antiseptic word, Laura thought. It
conveyed nothing of the violence that was done to her.

"Also, for whatever it's worth, mostly to the
parents, I guess, she was a virgin."

"That's so damn sad, whether you're a parent or
not. Maybe you have to be a woman to understand . . . What about

"Only the victim's."

"So you still have no leads to the killer—"

"I didn't say that." Defensively.

"Well, what do you have?"

Sloan pulled his coat tighter around him. He'd
already told her more than he probably should have, but she seemed a
straight lady; he liked her . . . oh, he didn't have any illusions
about anything happening between them (or did he?) . . . and
sometimes it helped to have somebody besides the folks at the shop to
bounce things off of. He didn't have anybody like that, no wife, no
kids, so the hell with it, he was only human . . .

"Okay, Laura, it goes like this, and I have your
word you won't print anything unless I give you the go-ahead. What we
have here is sort of the normal procedure in reverse. I mean, in a
case like this the two things that help get a conviction are sperm
and pubic hair. I said 'get a conviction,' not catch the suspect.
Once we have a suspect in custody sperm and pubic hair can yield
important pieces of evidence. In this case we have some evidence from
them but no damn suspect. But hey, you take what you get and hope to
match it up with the guy when we nail him."

"So what have you got?"

"Well, first of all we checked the sperm for
V.D. and found none. Our boy is clean—"

"How nice for him."

"Yeah . . . well, you asked for what we had and
I'm trying to tell you. I can always spare you the boring details—"

"I'm sorry, Sloan, please . . ."

"Yes, well, the next thing we did was check for
blood type. The ABH factors in the blood determine blood type——A,
B, O, AB, positive or negative. Mine's A positive." He felt sort
of foolish telling her that. Was that the best he could do to make a

"Mine's O." She even smiled. Things were
really heating up.

"That's the most common," Sloan said. "Now
it gets a little more complicated. In about eighty percent of the
population these ABH factors are water soluble. That means they turn
up in every other body fluid as well as in blood. So we can get blood
type from sperm, urine, saliva, even tears. People with watersoluble
ABH are the 'secretors.' In the other twenty percent the ABH factors
aren't water soluble and can only be found in actual blood, which is
the only fluid that yields up the blood type. People in that twenty
percent are 'non-secretors.' The lab tested the sperm found in Terri
for ABH factors and first found out whether our boy was a secretor or
a non-secretor, whether he was in the eighty or the twenty percent."

"And . . . ?"

"Off the record, your absolute word on it?"

"Come on, Sloan, I already gave you that. But if
you need it again, absolutely off the record until you give the

"He's a secretor."

Laura thrust her hands deeper into her trenchcoat

"So he's one of your eighty percent. That's a
lot of territory. I guess you'd have preferred he be a non—secretor."

"At first when I got the results I reacted that
way. But it's a mixed deal. Sure, if he'd been one of the twenty
percent it would have theoretically narrowed the field by plenty. But
we would also have had to stop the testing right there. We'd have
needed his blood to get the blood type. The semen wouldn't have told
us anything. As it was, we could test for the type and get it. So
we've got two pieces of important information—he's a secretor and
we know his blood type from the semen. Any suspect we bring in, the
first thing we do is give him a saliva test, easier than the sperm
and just as good. We're testing similar liquids. He's got to match up
with the finding from the sperm in Terri. If he does, it's a
strong—not conclusive, but strong—piece of evidence against him.
Probably more important, if he doesn't match up, he's scientifically
eliminated and in the clear. It can help to know who isn't guilty,

"I feel like I just had a session in the crime
lab. Please, there I go again, sounding smart-ass. It's helpful, very
helpful to me. But what's the killer's blood type? You didn't say."

"That I won't tell you."

They were crossing Chestnut Street, where horse-drawn
carriages were pulled up, and continued on toward Independence Hall.

"You mentioned pubic hair. What can you tell
from that?" Laura asked.

"Theoretically a lot. Aside from hair color,
sometimes you can tell sex and race from it, but it's not always
reliable." He was warming up. "Take for instance the
jeffrey MacDonald case—you remember, the Green Beret captain
convicted of killing his family. The prosecution identified a strand
of hair taken from MacDonald's sweatshirt as belonging to him. Later
it was proved that it wasn't from him at all but from their pony.

"Sure doesn't sound too reliable, but the way
you mentioned it earlier I get the feeling you were putting some
importance on it."

"Well, there's an interesting angle to it here."

"Tell me."

"Still off the record . . . we didn't find any.
Not one damn pubic hair."

"And that's unusual?"

"Very. It's almost impossible to have sex
without leaving a few around. And a rape creates even more action,
almost sure to dislodge at least a few hairs."

"Maybe the killer shaves himself."

Sloan stopped, took out a handkerchief and wiped his

"Maybe this walk wasn't such a good idea after
all. I'm starting to feel a little worse. Mind if we head back toward
Race Street?"

"Sure, fine." Obviously he'd given her as
much as he felt he could. Don't push too hard, she told herself. As
they turned and began to retrace their steps, Laura said, "What
about the crime scene, and that awful stuff he used . . . the chain
around her neck, and the handcuffs?"

"A sticky area."


"Look, Laura, I can't stop you from writing
about the handcuffs and the punk necklaces, but if you do, you bring
up images, perverted and weirdly romantic images that in a town this
size would almost certainly provoke copycat attacks, something none
of us needs.

"I understand that's a possibility, but maybe
you better spell it out."

"Simple. I'd like you to use real discretion in
your article. Except for the two kids who found the body you're the
only person outside of the cops who was at the scene, saw these
things. It's okay to say she was bound and strangled, but please
don't turn it into a fashion show. It could wreck an important part
of our case as well as put others at risk."

"From copycats."


"Okay, no handcuffs or necklaces. But have you
been able to turn up anything on them?"

"We're checking shops around town to see if
anyone remembers anybody buying them but we aren't holding our breath
. . . they're common enough items. The parents didn't recognize the
necklace, and of course they didn't know anything about the cuffs.
We're assuming the killer had them with him. He probably gave the
necklace to her as a present. That way he got it around her neck in

"That sounds like you've decided she knew him,"
said Laura.

"Well, when we went over the place we didn't
find the killer's fingerprints, which didn't surprise us, but we
found hers all over the place—the walls, the doors, everywhere—so
we had her parents look at the radio. It belonged to Terri."

This was a three-sixty turnabout.

"Wait a minute, I'm not following you . . ."

"I'm saying it looks like the place was Terri's
idea, along with the lovenest and the candles. Not the killer's. And
that may explain why the body turned up this time."

"This time? Then you do think it's connected to
the other disappearances, not just a case of a boyfriend, uncle or
neighbor," she said, quoting from an earlier lecture from Will

"Right now we're looking for a dark-haired man
with a beard who wears tinted glasses and answers to the name of
Peter. As you know, he was reportedly Terri's boyfriend. He was also
reportedly the boyfriend of at least two of the other missing girls.
Of course, the beard and the glasses could be a disguise. He could be
a blond, or he could be clean shaven. We don't know yet. But we are
going on what we have until we know different."

"It is a serial killer," said Laura,
remembering he'd said this Peter had posed as a boyfriend to several
other girls.

"It would seem so. And he doesn't follow the
usual pattern. He's not spontaneous. He calculates. First he dates
the girls for a while, then—"

"Is this on or off the record?"

BOOK: The Seduction - Art Bourgeau
5.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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