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3S Round Robin

Chapter 5

by Goldie Jones

 

 

Diana headed over to the coroner's office, dreading what she would find.  Mohr told her this case was different, and that the parents were upset by what the first examiner found.  When she finally reached her destination, she was visibly upset. She hated this part of her job.  She had never really felt comfortable looking at corpses, but she couldn't show her distaste, out of respect to the grieving families who had lost loved ones to some crazed killer.  

 

She entered the brownstone building.  It was old and badly in need of renovation.  The lab was even worse, and the odor of formaldehyde made her ill.  The lab was on the second floor at the end of the hall.  There was no elevator, so Diana climbed the steps, each one drawing her closer to the scene she knew would make her want to flee.  But in spite of those feelings, her curiosity won out.  She finally reached the top of the steps and headed down the hall.  The door to the lab was slightly ajar, and she heard voices as she approached.  The dreaded odor filled her nostrils before she even entered the lab.  

 

Two men in scrubs heard her approach and turned away from the examination tables.  Diana introduced herself. “I'm Officer Bennett, assigned to this case.  I was informed there was something the parents were disturbed about at the first examinations of these young victims, so I'm here to investigate and review your findings.”  

 

“I'm Dr. Jennings,” the taller of the two men told her.  “This is my assistant, Dr. Ellison.  In the initial autopsies, an important fact was brought to our attention for confirmation.”  

 

Diana came closer.  There were two tables adjacent to one another.  The bodies were covered with a sheet, and only the faces of the two girls were visible.  They were pale and wore the mask of death, as indeed the life had been drawn out of them.  The doctors pulled back the sheets, exposing the slashed throats of the young victims.  Diana could feel the bile rising in her throat, but she took a deep breath and knew there was no turning back.  In a shaky voice she asked, “What was it you found?  

 

“Take a look,” Dr. Jennings directed, pointing, “It's right here next to the younger girl's ear.  A four millimeter puncture wound made by an unidentified instrument.  We haven't yet determined whether or not it contributed to her death.”

 

Diana gasped.  “And her sister, does she have the same mark?”  

 

“Yes. She has a similar wound, but it's on the back of her neck,” Dr. Jennings turned the other unfortunate victim's head and lifted her hair.  “But again, we can't say for sure whether the knife wounds or the puncture wounds killed them.”

 

“When will you know for sure?” Diana asked.  

 

“We'll have to run some tests, do some additional work ups.  It may take several days,” Dr. Jennings told her.  The assistant nodded affirmatively.  

 

“It's a fortunate thing the other doctor found these puncture wounds,” Diana observed.  “I'm glad you were able to confirm it.”  

 

“They're easy to miss unless you're looking for them. The girls' hair could have hidden them, and we principally look at the more obvious wounds, which in this case were at their throats.  Is there anything else we can help you with?”  

 

“Not at this time,” Diana told the doctor, “but here's my card.  Please give me a call as soon as you find out more about those small puncture wounds.”  

 

 

Diana was more than glad to get out of that examination room.  She found out about the wounds the first doctor overlooked, however, she still didn't know their source or what connection they had to the girls' demise. She could not say anything definite to Mohr.  She hurried down the steps, out the door, and filled her lungs with fresh air; then she hailed a taxi and went back to her loft.  

 

Later that afternoon she phoned Mohr with the information she had, which wasn't very much.  “There were puncture wounds near the ear of one girl, and on the neck of the other, but the doctors aren't sure whether those or the knife wounds caused their deaths and won't know until they do more testing. Meanwhile, I'm aware that the parents are getting impatient.”

 

“Puncture wounds?” Mohr asked.  “You mean like bullet holes?”  

 

“No, they were much smaller than that, and barely noticeable unless you looked close. The first doctor could have easily missed them.”  

 

“This gets crazier by the minute,” Mohr barked.  “Well, keep on the case and let me know as soon as you find out.”  

 

“I won't rest until I do,” Diana assured him, although what she actually meant was to find the killer and get Vincent off the hook.    

 

She hung up the phone, feeling drained.  In the past she had always been able to solve a case with the evidence at hand.  In this situation, the evidence was there, but what part did it play?  Also, there had been previous murders of young women and girls by this killer.   If this wasn't a serial killing, then what was?  So they don't all look alike, but they are all females, and they are young.  Whoever this creep is, he hates women, particularly young ones.  Serial killers target that segment of society that they feel has done them wrong or rejected them.  So they take their bad experiences out on innocent people who represent what they perceive as someone who has done them wrong.  In their twisted minds, that's their form of revenge.  Diana had studied this as part of her police training, and most historical serial killers all fit the same mold.

 

First, she figured she'd have to find out what caused the puncture wounds and whether they meant anything regarding this particular case.  She knew she'd have to go back to the coroner's office and take close-up pictures of those mysterious holes, and berated herself for not having brought her camera initially.  Sometimes a picture can provide a clue, and evidently, whoever did this to the girls had used some kind of instrument or weapon in addition to the knife.  

 

Then another thought struck this detective, hell-bent on solving the crime and putting the perpetrator in the hands of law enforcement where he belonged, but unfortunately, the other victims' bodies were no longer available to determine if they, too, bore the elusive puncture wounds.  “But if he strikes again.…” Diana said aloud.  Then her voice trailed off.  “No, it can't happen again.  That's why I'm on this case, so that it doesn't happen again.”  For the first time in her career Diana wished she had chosen a different occupation.  And she was angry, not only because the criminal was still at large, but because Vincent was still a suspect.  The thought was preposterous, but he had been seen and described as a tall man wearing a hooded cape, which in view of the nature of the crimes was enough to make him look suspicious.  Thank goodness for the tunnels, where he could hide and be protected.  But meanwhile, the real suspect was probably planning his next onslaught on some poor, unsuspecting victim.  

 

***

 

Father was surprised to find Vincent up so early the following morning.  Normally, he slept a bit later and joined his father for breakfast.  “I was just going to get something to eat, Vincent.  I see you're up and dressed rather early.”  

 

“I hope you don't mind if I don't join you today, Father.  I have some studying I want to do.”  Vincent closed the large book in front of him, and opened another, perusing the contents.  

 

“May I ask what you're studying, Vincent?”

 

“Just some books one of the helpers got me at the library.”

 

Father was puzzled at Vincent's reticence in not going into further detail.  “May I see the books?”  

 

Vincent sighed. “Yes. Feel free, Father,” he said as he indicated a large pile of what appeared to be encyclopedias.  

 

Father glanced at them briefly.  “I see you're studying criminal psychology.  May I ask why?”  

 

Vincent was a little disturbed at Father's insistence.  “If you really want to know, I'm trying to find something about the person who killed these innocent women, something that can help Diana solve the case she's taken.”  

 

“You mean how his mind works?” Father asked.  

 

“Yes.  It's important to me, since I am sort of a suspect in those terrible crimes myself.

 

“Vincent, everyone knows you're innocent. You could never do such a thing, even with your propensity for viciousness when you have just cause.”  

 

Vincent looked up from the book.  “Father, you surely don't think.....”  

 

“I apologize, Vincent.  I should never have made such a statement.”  

 

Vincent laid the book aside.  “Father, there's something I have to tell you.  I admit to having had those episodes in the past, where my feral instincts have come forth.  And sometimes I didn't remember them afterwards.  But I assure you, there has to be sufficient provocation for me to exhibit any kind of anger or revenge; and in this case, believe me, I would never harm those young women.  What reason could I possibly have?  I don't know them.  I've never even seen them.”  

 

Father was contrite.  “I'm sorry, Vincent.  I spoke without first engaging my mind.  I shouldn't have brought up a subject that is undoubtedly painful to you.”  

 

Vincent came over to Father and put has arm around the patriarch's shoulder.  “It's all right, Father.  I understand.  My past record for occasionally going off the deep end is nobody's secret.  What do you say we go and have some of William's hotcakes and a cup of strong brewed tea?”  

 

“I'd say that's an excellent idea,” Father agreed.

 

 And there was no further conversation between them about Vincent's anger issues or the unsolved killings in Central Park.  
 

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