Case of the Lost Drone Ch. 01

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This story is part of an ongoing series. The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman’s biography.

Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.

Part 1 – Prologue: The (Political) Party Never Stops

(Author’s note: this story overlaps the timeframe of the last chapter of ‘Teresa’s Christmas Finale’.)

“This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Fox Two News!” shouted the lovely redheaded reporterette on Friday, January 5th, at 7:00am, from in front of the State Office Building. “The State Legislature is back in session, and it’s already a raucous caucus!”

“The biggest news, so far,” said Bettina, “is that State Senator Maxine Watts filed Articles of Impeachment against Governor Val Jared, citing the Governor’s use of the SBI to investigate his political enemies, and to suppress the voices of women who made allegations of sexual impropriety against him. Several weeks ago, Donna Rodman and Hillary Braselton made claims against the Governor, but those were retracted after the SBI’s SIS unit opened an investigation of the two women.”

“Also, the Governor’s Tax Reform bill has been called ‘D.O.A.’ by Senator Katherine Woodburn and her caucus, which calls themselves ‘The Wall of Granite’ because they say they will stand up and oppose any measure the Governor wants. The tax reform measure does not have much support elsewhere, either.

“And the Budget battles are off to a very rocky start, with the House Ways and Means Committee being shut down in an acrimonious dispute between Republican Chairman Wilson Hammonds and Conservative Republicans. Hammonds said he’d rather work with Democrats than the ‘obstructionist Grassroots RINOs’.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Totally misleading.” I muttered as we drank coffee in MCD, along with many other Detectives and Officers.

“What’s that, the comments on the SIS investigation?” Cindy Ross asked.

“Hell, yeah.” I muttered, rather quietly. “First, the Governor didn’t ask me to investigate, I did that on my own. Second, the women tried to retract their defamation, but we didn’t let them, and they had to plea bargain their way out of more serious charges. They committed crimes… and not a word on that from Bettina.”

“Bee in your bonnet?” asked Cindy. “You know this is normal for the deeply corrupt Press.”

“Yes, yes I do.” I said. “And yes, it’s ‘bee in the bonnet’ day here at HQ.” I did not tell Cindy that Takaki Misaki had come to visit me earlier that morning, and had given me Teresa’s death poem to read.

“All right, Captain Ross.” I said. “See if you can keep that rowdy Captain of Operations under control. She re-qualified yesterday, and now thinks she can start training for the Police Boxing Matches again.”

“Or practice beating up rowdy Police Commanders.” replied Teresa, who I knew was right behind me. “And with one hand tied behind my back… so to speak.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

At 10:30am I got a call from my lawyer, Mike G. Todd. “Just a heads-up for you Commander.” he said. “The State Senate Select Ethics Committee is sniffing around you. They tried to get your personal data, and I stopped that cold. Now they’re saying they want to subpoena you to testify about that investigation of those women.”

“So what do we do?” I asked.

“What basically happens,” said Mike, “is that I will negotiate parameters under which you would testify, if you testify at all. Questions limited to the specific subject, stuff like that. Making sure they don’t step on a current investigation, and such stuff. Then we work on a date and time, and your prepared statement and other documents you might want to submit.”

“Sheesh.” I said. “While you’re at it, figure out how I can start a legal defense fund to pay you.”

“All kidding aside, “said Mike, “I’m working on that too. They’re doing this to financially drain you as well as waste your time, if I don’t miss my guess.”

“Yes, but it’s the Governor they’re truly after.” I said. “Okay, Mike, thanks for letting me know. Keep in touch about this.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

That afternoon I got a call from Chief Griswold, asking to meet me at the Cop Bar after work. At 6:30pm I got there, and Griswold was at the ‘Command’ table. I went over.

“Too damn cold to come to my house and sit and fish.” said the Chief, who was known to fish in weather worse than this.

“Well, the beer is good.” I said. “Before you ask, Captain Croyle is doing fine, and Carole’s hearing checked out fine, thank God. So what else is on your mind?”

The old Chief lowered his voice and said kartal escort “After Bettina’s report this morning, I called Val Jared. First good talk he and I have had in a while. He says the Press and Maxine Watts are really ginning up this SIS thing with those women, and they are really gunning for his impeachment.”

“I wonder what this will do to the general agreement Jared had with the Legislators.” I said.

“Val didn’t give me all the details.” said Griswold, “but he’s talking in terms of reviving the lawsuits over hiring Illegals instead of Black Citizens if anyone tries to help Watts with her shit. He thinks she’s just blowing smoke and can be ignored.”

The Chief paused and then said “I don’t. I don’t think she can be ignored. I think this is a real and dangerous situation… and as much for you as for the Governor.”

“I agree.” I said. “I’m already getting word that the State Senate Ethics Committee wants to subpoena me to testify. What are you hearing?”

Griswold gave a wan smile under his mustaches. “I heard that too, and more. The problem is, I know you started that investigation without being told. But if they can gin up enough belief that Jared did use the SBI to investigate political enemies, then he could be finished. That’s one of the things they got Nixon on in the Watergate scandal… using Government assets to investigate and suppress his political enemies. Of course, they ignored Bill Clinton using the IRS against the women who went public about him raping them.”

“But all that is beside the point.” continued Griswold. “Lt. Governor Graham Collins, the Democrats, and the Press are not interested in the facts nor the truth. They want to make Jared look so bad that he will be forced to resign, and they want to attack your credibility, as well.”

“Despite the fact that my investigation did find criminal wrongdoing on the part of those women.” I said, shaking my head in disbelief.

“Again, Crowbar… the Media does not give a shit about the truth!” admonished the old Chief. “The Media has one goal… to destroy Val Jared in order to give a big middle finger to the people that dared vote for him against the Media’s wishes.”

“I know, I know.” I said. “So… what does the Governor… or you… want me to do about this?”

“Just keep your head on a swivel.” said Griswold. “And keep doing what you’re doing… kicking ass and forgetting about the names…”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Saturday, January 6th. I went to the Luigi’s near the River. I was escorted upstairs to a small private room. Two men rose to greet me as I arrived: State Senators Moe Molinari and Jimmy ‘Coffin’ Cerone.

“Commander,” said Molinari, shaking my and vigorously, “Senator Cerone and I want you to know just how happy we were to see your young daughter survive that incredibly evil attempt on her life. To do that to a young child is completely out of bounds. Horrible.”

“Thank you, Senator.” I said. “But she’s all right, thank God… and thank Captain Croyle.”

“Yes, and how is your Police Captain that rescued your daughter?” asked Cerone. “Incredibly brave action on her part.”

“She’s recovering very well, thank you.” I said. I was invited to sit down at the lunch table with these two once-criminal-bosses, now State Legislators. I did not say out loud that they’d ‘downgraded’ by becoming politicians.

As we ate the delicious lasagna lunch, Molinari said “The reason we asked you to have lunch with us, Commander, is because the agreement we had in place with Val Jared is about to unravel. Senator Maxine Watts did not get the memo.”

“I’d say she got it but ignored it.” I said. “Maybe she thinks she can flout it because she’s the de facto leader of the militant Blacks in the State. But she’s a nutjob, isn’t she?”

“We underestimated her, too.” said Cerone. “She is a whack job, but she managed to get some Legislators and some Press on her side, and she’s getting some financial backing for her activist groups from somewhere. She’s going to push hard for Jared’s impeachment, no matter what we or her Party leadership tell her.”

“Lieutenant Governor Graham Collins.” I said. “He’s the power behind the nutjob Watts. He must be promising her something in exchange for helping him become Governor.”

“You’re right about that, to a degree.” said Molinari. “But to our issue today: Commander, I need to know, and be honest with me: did you do that investigation of those women with or without the Governor’s instructions or prior knowledge?”

“I gave the order to begin that investigation myself, and before I informed the Governor of that action.” I said with alacrity. “He did not know before I told him, only afterwards.”

“Good.” said Cerone. “Stick to that story like superglue. It maybe the the Governor’s only hope.”

“I will.” I said. “Let me ask you a question in return, and please be honest with me: would you rather have Jared or Collins as Governor?”

“The devil or the deep blue sea.” said Cerone. “That’s a hard one.” kartal eskort bayanlar Molinari agreed.

“My thesis on that,” I said, “is that if Collins, who is as corrupt as Jack Lewis, if not worse, were not next in line to the Governor’s Mansion, Jared might actually consider stepping down. But not right now… not right now. And I’m looking for any link between Collins and those women that made those false allegations against Jared.”

Molinari and Cerone absorbed the information. Dessert was brought out.

Part 2 – The Crime Scene

7:30am, Monday, January 8th. I arrived in a farm field at the very southwestern part of the County. Police vehicles were on County Farm Road 2 just south of the crime scene, which had a big tarp tent over it in the early morning light. The growth around the State Line River to the west was visible in the distance.

I saw a blue Ford Explorer, freshly washed and clean, near the tarp. Walking along the path marked by little pink pennants on thin wires stuck in the dirt, I came up to the Crime Scene people and the Medical Examiner.

“Whaddya got, Warner?” I asked Detective Joanne Warner, who I observed had been placed in charge of this investigation.

“Two persons, sir.” Joanne said. “No ID on their bodies. The car tag is gone, the VIN is gone so we can’t trace it, at least not yet.” I looked at the bodies of a man and a boy, lying side-by-side, face down, their heads facing east. The father’s head was brown, the kid, who looked to be eleven or twelve years old, had lighter hair with tinges of red.

“The man was shot in the back, and in the head.” said Martha the M.E. “But the back wound is at a strange angle… like he was shot while struggling. The boy was shot in the back from a distance, and then a coup de grâce to the back of the head that didn’t bleed… he was dead from the first shot.”

“They’re dressed up warm.” I said. “They were outdoors and intended to be outdoors for some time. Any idea of the time of death?”

“Over 24 hours ago, maybe 36 to 48 hours ago.” said Martha. “The cold affects the rigor process, but they’ve gone in and back out of it.”

“Sir,” said Joanne, “there’s virtually no blood here, and there wasn’t any when our first Officers arrived.”

“How far out from this spot have you searched for blood?” I asked.

“Not far yet, sir.” said Sergeant Rudistan. “We don’t want to trample on the scene until the last possible minute.”

“Good thinking.” I said. “When you do search in widening circles, look for large blood spots. If you don’t find any in this area, then what does that mean, Detective Warner?”

“That they were killed somewhere else, and brought here.” said Joanne.

“Very good.” I said. “Oh… Rudistan, y’all can put up a drone and see if you see blood spots in the area, but make the manual search, too.”

“Yes sir.” said Rudistan, making notes.

I had Joanne come with me to look at the vehicle. Detective Theo Washington was already examining it with the Crime Lab team.

“Sir,” said Theo, “the car is clean, and I mean clean clean. No fingerprints, not a scrap of paper, no registration papers.”

I was examining the tires. “More than that… they wiped down the tires after they parked the car here. And that was after washing the hell out of the car first. What is your assessment of that, Ms. Warner?” I was testing Joanne thoroughly, and a bit brutally.

“Combined with everything else, sir,” said Joanne, “they’re making it as hard as possible to identify these two bodies.”

“What’s the ‘everything else’?” I asked, a bit surprised at her answer. She was thinking of something, I realized.

“No fingerprints off the FBI database, sir.” said Joanne. “I ran it on the app, and it didn’t come back ‘no record found’ as it normally would. It came back ‘no data available’.”

“Yes, interesting.” I said. “Who called this in?”

“Those boys over there by the cars on Farm Road 2.” said Joanne.

“You talked to them yet?” I asked.

“No sir.” said Joanne.

“Ah, your first and maybe only mistake today.” I said. “Come with me.” We went over to where four teen boys were standing, accompanied by Patrolmen Johnson and Barker.

“You guys know who those two are?” I asked the boys.

“No sir.” said one of the boys.

“How did you find them?” I asked.

“We’ve been doing some research for our high school project.” said one boy. “We came out at dawn to get our cameras, and we saw the car. We went over, and found the bodies.”

“They were lying as they are now?” I asked. “You didn’t move them?”

“No sir.” said one boy. “We could see they had been shot. I checked for a pulse, but they were dead.”

“Checked on the neck? Wrist?”

“Neck, sir.” said the boy.

“Okay, good. I’m glad you didn’t move the bodies.” I said. “So guys, I don’t care if you’re doing illegal deer hunting, but I need to know the truth: what is the project you’re working on?”

“It’s not deer, sir.” said another boy. “It’s… kartal esmer escort it’s…” He now had a lot of people looking at him, and he was nervous.

“Come on, I need to know.” I said.

Another boy piped up. “We’re looking for the Slender Man, sir.”

“The Slender Man.” I parroted.

“Yes sir.” said the boy. “He’s this faceless guy, eight feet tall, shows up—“

I held up a hand. “I know who the Slender Man is.” I said. “Have you ever sighted him?”

“No sir.” said the boy. “We’ve been on a website with some guys in England, and they told us there were sightings here. Turns out it was one of your cases, Mr. Crowbar.”

“Yes, it was.” I said. “Would you guys mind showing us what you got on camera last night?”

“Sure.” said one of the boys. Joanne and Theo began running through the camera, which was actually two digital cameras, one infrared and one visible light. Neither showed anything the whole night. And a Crime Lab tech had everything copied to his computer as they ran through it.

“All right, Barker.” I said. “Take these boys to Headquarters and get their statements. Boys, you can call your parents when you get there, and I recommend that you do. And thanks for your help.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Sorry I didn’t show up at the crime scene.” said Cindy Ross as she came into my office. I motioned for her to sit down as she said “I was working with Vice to process their bust this weekend, and then I talked with Paulina about the Billy Russell DUI case. And I’ll just warn you now, you need to talk to her about that.”

“Oh?” I asked. “Anything wrong, there?”

“She didn’t say anything specific,” Cindy replied, “but I got a vibe about it. A nasty vibe. So what’s up with this double murder?”

“Still trying to ID them.” I said. “The kids that found them gave their statements, and are on their way back to school. County High. They said that they were looking for the Slender Man.”

“Yeah, right.” said Cindy. “They were illegally deer hunting, is what they were doing.”

“No, they’re right.” said a voice. I looked up to see Captain Teresa Croyle come in. “The Slender Man is coming for you, Commander. It’s inevitable.”

“Well,” I said, “At least Slender Man won’t be seen at the Ward Harvester warehouse… since that building has ceased to exist. How’s your lung healing up?”

“Good enough to easily win the Police Boxing Matches today, much less in May.” said Teresa with alacrity. It is possible that her eyes drifted to certain platinum blonde’s head when she said it. It is possible that the platinum blonde rolled her ice-blue eyes at that, too. And it is possible that the Police Commander was unable to resist laughing at what he was observing.

Just then there was a knock on the door. It was Myron Milton.

“We have an I.D. on the adult, sir.” he said as he came in. “I ran the fingerprints through the local database. The guy applied for a concealed carry permit, so his prints are on record here.”

“Don’t keep me in suspense, Myron.” I said. “Who is it?”

“The father’s name is Roger Eldon.” said Myron. “And we’re pretty sure the kid is his son, Jimmy Eldon. Mr. Eldon was an independent consultant for videography work, but most recently had been working as a manager at the K-Mart on Memphis Street. Before his videography consulting business, he worked as a video tech for KXTC.”

“Did you tell Detectives Warner and Washington this?” I asked.

“Yes sir, I went to them first, knowing you’d want me to.” said Myron. I smiled.

“Good.” I said. “Let’s go talk to them.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Going into MCD, I saw that Joanne was starting whiteboards. She had Roger Eldon’s DMV photo up, and Jimmy Eldon’s school photo up next to it. Yep, they were the victims, I observed.

“So what do you plan to do now, Ms. Warner?” I asked.

“Mr. Eldon was married, sir.” said Joanne. “I am thinking we need to speak to his wife before the Press finds out who he is and blabbers his name all over the place.”

“Excellent thinking.” I said. “Make it happen, quickly. As in, stop wasting time and go right now.” Joanne and Theo scooted out.

Twenty minutes later, I got a call on my Police cellphone. “Sir, this is Detective Warner.” said Joanne. “I’m at the Eldon home.” She gave the address, then said “Sir, you need to come over here. Right away.”

Part 3 – The Crime Scene, Redux

The home was a modest split-level in a typical middle-class neighborhood. The Crime Lab team had beaten me there by just minutes, and were just getting started. Martha was not there yet.

“Whaddya got?” I asked, coming in.

“She’s in the kitchen, sir.” said Joanne. I treaded on the newspaper that had been laid down as a pathway to the kitchen door and looked in. On the floor was an auburn-haired woman, lying on her side facing away from me. She’d been shot several times, and the wounds I was seeing on her back were exit wounds.

“Anyone check for a pulse?” I asked.

“Yes sir.” said Theo. “She’s been dead a good while. I took this photo while I was next to her, and took a fingerprint.” I looked at the photo. The woman’s eyes were still open, and her face registered pure horror, which I surmised meant she saw her attackers and what was going to happen to her… but only for a second.

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