Jeff sat in the waiting room holding Charlie while he slept on his lab. Jeff longed to be in the delivery room with Lisa. Longed to see his child being born. He felt his leg start to bounce as his thoughts raced. Charlie stirred in his arms whimpering as he woke up. “Daddy?” he cried in a small voice that tore at Jeff’s heart.
“No baby daddy’s not here,” Jeff held him while he blinked processing what Jeff told him. He expected Charlie to cry, to scream like he had done so many time before but he didn’t. He simply stuck his thumb in his mouth while large tears rolled down his cheeks. Jeff didn’t know what was worse, the screams or the silent acceptance. A pair of loafers filled his field of vision as he stared at the floor. He looked up into the stern unfriendly eyes of Kody Quinn Senior, Captain of Detectives.
“I was in the area,” Captain Quinn said in his gruff voice “I could watch Charlie for you if you’d like to go in to see Lisa.”
The offer sounded legit if Jeff hadn’t seen the malice behind his eyes the night Zayne died he might have taken the captain up on his offer. “No Charlie doesn’t take to strangers well,” Jeff said careful to keep his voice neutral.
“Charlie and I are old friends,” the captain said holding his arms out to take Charlie from Jeff’s arms.
“No no no,”Charlie screamed batting at the hands reaching for him. Jeff wrapped his arms around the frantic little boy. Kissing the top of his head whispering “it’s ok nobody’s going to hurt you.” Looking up at his captain “maybe next time. He’s a bit clingy since losing his dad.”
“Daddy. I want daddy,” Charlie cried eyeing the man standing in front of them.
Dropping his hands to his side Captain Quinn stepped back “if you ever need someone to watch him let me know. My wife would love to babysit.”
Jeff felt his lips thin forming a mirthless smile as he nodded “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Hey dad,” a young voice called “I’ve been looking every where for you.” Kody Quinn Junior approached the group losing his smile upon recognizing Jeff. Looking away and back again mumbling “I’m sorry about your partner. Tough break.”
Jeff felt his insides clinch. He wanted to wipe the smirk from Captain Kody’s face when his son brought up Zayne’s death. If it weren’t for this messed up boy Zayne wouldn’t be dead. Charlie would be safe and not slowly forgetting his father. If it was the last thing Jeff did he was going to get justice for his partner and the other victims of this monster. “Thanks” he mumbled in acknowledgment of the insincere condolences. “Were you in an accident?”
Kody Jr shook his head staring at his hands “no I….” he looked up sharply into the disappointed face of his father “I mean yes I…” visibly shaking he dropped the cloth he had wrapped around his hand. Before he could retrieve it a nurse approached and ushered them away to see a doctor.Following them with his eyes Jeff made sure they were out of sight before going to retrieve the bloody cloth. Careful not to touch more than the edge Jeff emptied one of Charlies baggies of colored pencils to store the rag in. “Now we’ll see what you’ve been up to” he mumbled.
A week later Jeff was on a flight to Dragon Valley to see Aunt Evelyn. She had promised him to run DNA on the bloody cloth he had. The cloth rag was a visible match to an outfit the first victim had been wearing when he had disappeared. How had the Quinns come into possession of that piece of cloth?
Staring out the window Jeff wished he didn’t have to do so much clandestine investigating. He knew the captain was watching him and having him tailed. He hoped the days he had spent in Riverview with Lisa’s parents after Patrick was born had convinced the captain that he wasn’t up to anything. He hoped he wasn’t tailed to the airport. His father-in-law had assured him he would help in any way he could and support him with the full force of the Riverview Police Department. He had approved of Jeff’s plan to have the DNA ran by an outside source unconnected to any police department.
Stifling a yawn Jeff regretted that the case was taking away from the joy he should be experience at becoming a father. He could see the fear in Lisa’s eyes as he told her goodbye. The tug on his hand telling him she wanted him to stay. As much as he wanted to stay he couldn’t. Not with the knowledge that a killer was out there destroying lives and families creating widows and fatherless children.
He arrived in Dragon Valley a little early and hand time to wait and consider his next move. He was startled when someone called his name looking up he recognized the older man, his dad’s best friend “Uncle Shon” he cried jumping to his feet. “I thought Aunt Evelyn was going to meet me.”
“She was Jeff until she got caught up and the lab.” Shon gave his nephew a fierce hug “it’s good to see you and congratulations on your son.”
“Thanks I just wish I had time to really enjoy being a father” Jeff confided in the older man “I wish could have stayed and took it all in.”
“I know how you feel the job sometimes gets in the way.” Shon turned and led him towards the exit and to his parked car “how certain are you that your captain is involved in the murders?”
“I’m absolutely positive,” Jeff told him. As his Uncle drove he explained every detail of how his captain had changed dates and times in the official police files, tampered with evidence and the certainty that he was Zayne’s killer. “I believe he’s almost certainly covering for someone…”
“His son?” Shon asked.
“I think so,” Jeff sighed as he watched the landscape slide by his window “something doesn’t feel right though.” He stopped finding it difficult to put into his words his misgivings.
Shon turned too look at him shocked to find how much his nephew shared certain mannerisms with his father, Robert and for a moment a mix of feelings washed over him. He still missed Robert and their friendship. It made him even more determined to help the boy with his quest. “What’s giving you the most concern and the most doubt?”
Casting his mind back to the hospital waiting room Jeff pictured Captain Kody and his son. The anxiety the captain was displaying, the underlying hostility and the guilt. The son didn’t seem to register any concern at all, brought up Zayne without prompting and without any visible signs of guilt. “Unless Kody Jr is a sociopath devoid of all normal feelings he didn’t act like someone trying to cover up something. Dropping the bloody rag which I’m almost certain is from the clothes the first victim was wearing when he disappeared was either an act of defiance or stupidity.”
“If criminals weren’t stupid at some point in their crimes we’d never catch them” Shon pointed out.
Shrugging “maybe but it doesn’t ring true. It felt more like carelessness. The way you would treat something that has no meaning or importance not how a serial killer would treat something they had taken from a victim. Kody Jr didn’t treat the object as a trophy but more like an inconsequential object that he grabbed in the spur of the moment and didn’t even register that he had dropped it.” Jeff turned to gaze out the window startled by the thoughts that were flooding his mind as he contemplated that one act in the waiting room.
Glancing towards his nephew Shon saw the startled expression upon Jeff’s face “if the rag is that significant to the first victim…why did it mean nothing to the Kody’s?”
“I don’t know…it doesn’t make sense. The rag may not have meant anything to Kody Jr but I saw the Captain recognize the rag his son was using. He was furious and trying to keep from reacting. I’m sure the moment he realized his son dropped it he went out to retrieve it…when he didn’t find it he will conclude I have it.” He fell silent as more ideas came to him “if Kody Jr isn’t the killer why did the Captain attack and kill Zayne?” he asked in the silence of the car.
“There’s a third person” Shon said pulling into his driveway and parking “did you bring the files?”
Nodding “it’s either a third person or all the subsequent murders were done to cover up the one that mattered. All the evidence seems to be purposely pointing towards the kid.”
“It’s possible” Shon said moving to get out of the car “or the kid committed the first murder and the father is muddying the water by committing the other murders. Either way it’s going to be difficult to find the actual killer if there’s more involved.”
Following is Uncle into the house Jeff said “we need to start with what we know and work from there.” He tried to sound more confidant then he felt as Shon led him into his office. Giving his Uncle the file to load into his computer he continued “we know the times of death and locations where each victim was found. We know Kody Junior’s class schedule and times he visited his dad at work. I have a copy of his attendance records for each of his classes.
“And we know who killed Zayne,” Shon added nodding “We’ll give Evelyn the rag to analyze. While she’s working on that you and I are going to map out everything we know and look for similarities and inconsistencies. Hopefully we’ll be able to either eliminate suspects or build a strong enough case against them.
Several hours later Shon and Jeff stared at what they had come up with. They had another possible suspect to add to the father and son duo. “Let’s talk this out” Shon suggested.
“Are you sure you have the time?” Jeff asked him concerned he was taking him away from his own cases.
“Positive,” Shon smiled “I took a leave of absence from work so I have the time to help you.” He didn’t add that he was doing it to honor his promise to Robert to help protect his kids if anything ever happened to him. He hadn’t been much help due to circumstances involving his own kids but he had been instrumental in guiding Jeff into the police force and now he could make good on his promise.
Nodding Jeff began reciting what they knew about the victims.
1. George Hawkins
Body discovered behind grocery store
Had two year old daughter
Taking classes at college
Knew Kody Jr
Mike Wilson discovered body while taking the garbage out
Captain Quinn responded to the call and later handed the case to Zayne and Jeff
2. Henry Smith
Body discovered behind library
Had two year old son
Kody Jr was seen at the library studying a few hours before the body was found
3. Randy Combs
Body found in dumpster behind Waylon’s Bar
Had two year old son – mother has custody
Full time student with several classes in common with Kody Jr
Mike Wilson discovered body while taking shortcut through alley (more likely meeting his supplier)
4. Dennis Early
Body found behind bleachers after a soccer game
Had two year old son
Played on same soccer team as Kody Jr
Mike Wilson had been seen arguing with Dennis the night he disappeared
5. Robert LaPlante
Body found in junkyard
Father of two youngest was a two year old daughter
The Quinn family mechanic (Kody Jr had just picked up his car after an oil change the day Robert disappeared)
6. James Eaton
Body found by waiter taking a smoke break behind restaurant
Had two year old son living with estranged wife
Quinn family had dined at restaurant the night body was found and also the night James disappeared. (Restaurant is a favorite dining spot for the family)
Mike Wilson was the waiter to discover the body (new employee after having quit previous job at the grocery store)
7. Ezekiel Goodman
Body discovered at planetarium
Had two year old daughter
Kody Jr was seen at Planetarium with a girl (Denise said it was a date on the night body was discovered)
Mike Wilson was see there talking to known drug dealer
Drug dealer was Ezekiel’s brother Noah
8. Jake Hardy
Body found in dumpster behind Student Union building on University Campus
Had two year old son (Jake’s parents have custody)
Was a fraternity brother of Kody Jr
9. Sam Reynolds
Body discovered in trunk of parked cab
Had two year old twins
Sam was a taxi driver
Last fair on the night he disappeared was Kody Jr to the police station
10. Zeke Matthews
Body discovered in hospital parking lot
Had two year old son with Leukemia in hospital
Disappeared from hospital after visiting son
Surveillance cameras showed he spoke with Kody Jr in waiting room wh was there visiting his dad who had been injured in the line of duty
11. Professor Arthur Kingston
Body found in alley behind his home
Father of five youngest was a two year old daughter
Disappeared from family home
Sixteen year old son stated Kody Jr had come to their home demanding an explanation for some bad marks he received on an exam. Son stated Kody was angry and unreasonable
12. Theo Newman
Body discovered in alley two blocks from police station
Had two year old daughter
Just released on parole after serving time for stealing
Arresting officer was Kody Sr after trying to pick his pocket
Rubbing his chin Shon said “we need to interview Mike Wilson. His name comes up way to often on this list.” Jeff nodded making notes. Frowning Shon looked at the white boards “do we know who the daycare providers are?”
Shaking his head Jeff asked “why? Do you think that’s significant?”
“It could be. I find it odd that each of the victims including Zayne had a two year child. Who was the daycare provider? Was it the same for each or were they all different?”
“If they were all the same we could have a fourth probable suspect” Jeff mused following his Uncle’s line of thought.