The Rookie Club: Dead Center - novelonlinefull.com
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"Can't I stay here? I need some aspirin."
"They'll have some there."
"You don't trust me long enough to go to work and back? I'm not a puppy you can just drag along."
Jamie measured her breath. "You came to me, Tony. Not the other way around. My turf, my rules."
They spoke little on the way to the station. Jamie turned up the music to fill the s.p.a.ce though the silence shouldn't have bothered her. In the Brooklyn duplex where they'd grown up, long silences were as common as honking horns on the streets below. As young kids, she and Mick and Tony had filled the air with the idle chatter of childhood. Dares and bets and arguments over whether or not Mrs. Brandigi's cat would survive the two story fall out her window and if saying about cats always landed on their feet was true even from that kind of height. But as they grew older, they, too, joined in their fathers' quiet natures. Until dinners were sometimes pa.s.sed in silence aside from the occasional grunt to request someone pa.s.s the carrot and peas or the salt.
At Hunters Point, she went straight to the lab. Tony shuffled behind. When she walked in, though, Roger wasn't there.
"He left you that," Sydney said, pointing to a microscope.
She crossed to it and peered in. She had seen enough to identify the sample. It was s.e.m.e.n without DNA. "I already saw this."
Sydney shook her head. "No. We just finished this one."
"It's not Osbourne?"
Jamie felt her mouth drop. "Devlin? I thought she had s.e.x with Tim." As soon as the words were out, she felt Tony's stare. Her cheeks flushed. She ignored it.
Sydney nodded. "She did. First Tim and then another guy."
Jamie whistled. "A guy with no swimmers?"
"Just like my serial." Jamie was tracking a serial rapist with no sperm in his s.e.m.e.n. Now, Devlin's last s.e.xual encounter had been with a man with the same condition. She didn't like the coincidence.
"Maybe, but we're just doing an initial workup," Sydney explained. "We don't have the technology to do much with it."
Jamie frowned. "Because there were two samples, you mean?"
"Right. We're not even sure if the samples can be individually identified. This is just something Roger tried."
Jamie felt her pulse run a little quicker. "Has anyone talked to Hailey Wyatt?" She glanced around. "And where's Roger?"
"He went back to the evidence storage locker for something else."
Just then, the door opened and Roger entered carrying a cardboard file box. He set it down on the table and began rummaging through it.
Jamie waited, trusting he'd tell her what was going on when he found what he needed. In her opinion, Roger Sampers should have been the head of CSU. His reports were as meticulous as any she'd ever seen. He was the one people turned to for help in solving particularly complex evidence dilemmas. He was painstakingly precise, highly intelligent and great at thinking outside the box. Her suspicion was that the reason Roger wasn't in charge of the lab had to do with his appearance.
Roger had alopecia universalis, which left him completely hairless. Not just bald, but without hair on his arms or legs or face. No eyebrows, no eyelashes. She had always wondered if that was why he'd decided on CSU. After all, here he could be a model employee-one who never left a hair behind at a scene. But because he had no eyelashes, he blinked three or four times as often as someone with them. Plus, his appearance was odd. You didn't realize the impact of eyebrows on someone's appearance until you met someone without them. Jamie knew some people found it distracting to talk to him.
Just then, he pulled a manila folder out of the box. "Got it."
Jamie stepped forward. "What have you got?"
Roger pulled on gloves and emptied a series of clear plastic cards onto the table. They were fingerprint cards. Each one had a black smudged print in the center of the plastic, one that had been lifted from the scene. "These are the prints from Devlin's office that we haven't run yet." He glanced up, blinked twice. "We had nearly a hundred and it's a time-consuming process." He paused, looked over at the microscope. "You heard about the s.e.m.e.n sample?"
"Just like Osbourne."
"Well, not exactly. Since there were two samples, it's going to take us longer to be sure we've got them separate. In the end, we may not be able to. But I ran some initial tests and it looks like one of the samples may not have any DNA. I'm not anywhere near certain, but when I saw that, I went back and looked at the scene a little more closely."
He flipped through a few cards until he found what he wanted. "I was in charge of processing the evidence from the department and Devlin's office. We focused on running the prints inside her office, but there was one we found on the outside of her office that struck me." He shook the plastic card in his hand. "Let's check it out."
He crossed the room to a table with a gray computer and sat down in front of it. He slid the clear card into a reader slot. He typed a few commands and the computer began running the print for a match. Roger drummed his fingers on the table as he waited. "Could take a few minutes."
"Where did this print come from, Roger?"
He nodded and stood. "I'll show you." He lifted an iPad off the table and entered a four-digit pa.s.scode. Then, he flipped through ten or twelve images before stopping. "Here," he said, turning the device so she could see the image.
Jamie stared at a photo of the sign outside the Crimes Against Persons Department (CAP) where Devlin was an inspector. CAP acted as a catch-all for crimes that couldn't be divided into the other personal crimes units like Homicide, Robbery and s.e.xual a.s.sault. It also helped with other departments' overflow, of which there was always plenty.
The department's sign was a generic, black plastic plate base with individual nameplates glued on top of it. The plate was worn and scratched and dried glue was evident where names had been removed or replaced.
The first plate read the captain's name, Morris Travis. Below his, each inspector had his or her own plate. They were listed alphabetically. Devlin's name came first.
"What am I looking at?" Jamie asked.
Roger flipped to another photo. This one showed a close-up of Devlin's plate. It was taken at an angle and the flash had caught a smudge between "Natasha" and "Devlin."
Jamie nodded. "It's a print."
Roger smiled. "A perfect right index." Just then, the machine beeped. "A match. Let's see whose it is."
Jamie followed, Roger's enthusiasm rubbing off on her. Even Tony came along.
Roger dropped into the chair and typed quickly. When he hit enter, a new screen appeared. "Holy s.h.i.t, yeah?" Roger said.
"Yeah," Jamie agreed. Holy f.u.c.king s.h.i.t.
At the very top of the screen, in bold yellow letters on a black background was the name whose print had been left perfectly centered between Natasha Devlin's first and last names.
It read Michael A. Marchek.
Jamie arrived at Michael Marchek's apartment with Roger and his team. Tony had opted to wait in the car. He had a schedule of AA meetings and she promised to drop him at one when she was done. The idea of joining in on the search of a rapist's house didn't appeal. Jamie didn't particularly blame him. She remembered hangovers like the one Tony had now.
Hailey arrived a few minutes behind them. She'd stopped off at the courthouse for the signed warrant. Marchek lived in a garage that had been converted into an apartment in the area of San Francisco where the Mission and Potrero districts met. The only window in the apartment was a rectangle seven feet off the ground. Twelve square feet of sunlight that faced Highway 101 just a half block over. At least the freeway managed to drown out some of the drunken neighbors.
Despite the unfortunate apartment, Marchek maintained the epitome of a pristine home. Jamie had been here once before, but Hailey led the pack this time. According to surveillance, Marchek was at work. Even so, a patrol officer rang the bell and only when there was no answer on the third try, did he use a crowbar to break the lock. The wood buckled against the steel and the door tumbled open. Two officers went in first and declared it clear before anyone else entered.
Roger walked through first. Leaving his bag at the door, he surveyed each room, ceiling to floor. He made notes on a clipboard and then stepped outside to address the two techs who had come with him.
"We'll run the light first." He pulled out a small black satchel with the words "Mini Crime Scope" printed in bright green along the side. The tech shut off the overhead lights while Roger donned a pair of red plastic gla.s.ses and lifted the small black box from the bag. The other tech handed Jamie and Hailey each booties to cover their shoes and a pair of red sungla.s.ses. Jamie stepped in, the smell of bleach burning in her nostrils.
Roger flipped on the machine, which purred softly, as he directed the beam across the floor and up the walls. Fingerprints glowed blue against white paint that now looked pink through her gla.s.ses. Each time evidence was located, the tech marked it with a numbered yellow sticker. The process took forty minutes. Fingerprints were all they found.
When he was done, they split up. Roger directed his first tech to run the vacuum. "Pick up anything he's left. Judging from the light source, there's not much. Alex, you take the bathroom and closets." He paused. "Take your time with those. If we're going to find something, it'll be there. Martin." He pointed to a shallow rubber tray at the door. "Drain the bleach solution in that bin and let's take it with us. We might get some hair or something out of there. I'll collect the prints.
"Once we're done, we'll tackle the clothes. Specifically, we're looking for a shirt that might match the b.u.t.ton we found in Devlin's office. Watch where you're walking until the floors are clear." Roger turned to Hailey and Jamie. "Have at it, ladies."
Jamie pulled a pair of rubber gloves from her coat pocket. Snapping them on, she started through Marchek's house, praying they'd nail this slippery son of a b.i.t.c.h.
The apartment was a studio. A thin off-white cotton curtain hung from a wire fed through small loop brackets in the ceiling separated the sleeping area from a small living s.p.a.ce. Hailey pa.s.sed through to Marchek's bed, so Jamie tackled the living room. One wall was covered with built-in bookshelves. They looked recently painted, but there wasn't a single book. Instead, model airplanes lined each shelf.
Each depicted a different model of plane though they all looked circa World War II. Each plane was painted with precision and Jamie thought Marchek must have a steady hand. She moved slowly along the wall as she studied the models. She lifted up several and turned them in her hands. There were a few new ones, but she thought most were the same as they'd been before. She did notice, though, that Marchek dusted them. There were no cobwebs between their wings, no dust on their noses.
She scanned the rest of the bookshelves, walked her fingers along the trim in search of anything hidden. Found nothing. Turning to his hobby table, Jamie sat in the small plastic-backed chair and surveyed the newest model. The plane was half built, unpainted. The rounded body sat on a small wood block, its middle carved out to hold the plane upright. The tools were put away. The table had been cleaned off. There were no remnants of glue or paint anywhere. Immaculate. Jamie dropped to her knees and peered up at the underside of the table. Nothing.
Next, she opened Marchek's tool chest. She removed the top tray and set it in her lap. Slowly, she lifted each tool, studied it, and set it on the table. Marchek would be furious that someone had pawed through his precisely organized tools. The image offered her a fleeting moment of satisfaction.
She lifted a tool that looked like it belonged to a dentist. It was the width and length of a pencil with a sharp, curved hook on one end. She suspected it was for carving tiny grooves. Jamie imagined the mark on Emily Osbourne's thigh and thought it was the perfect size for that, too. She pulled an evidence bag from her pocket and dropped the tool inside.
"Found something," one of the techs called out.
Jamie set the tools down and walked into the bathroom.
Hailey stood at the door. "What is it?"
The tech grinned. "This bathroom outlet is loose." He drew out a master lock key. "Found this inside."
"Good work," Hailey said.
Jamie nodded. "Now we just need to find out what it fits to."
"Some storage facility, maybe," Roger suggested.
"Is there anything in the building?" Hailey asked.
Jamie spoke up. "No storage here, but we can do a search of sites in the area. He doesn't have a car that we know of, so he can't be going far."
"It's a step in the right direction. Thanks, Alex."
Alex blushed at Hailey's attention and Jamie returned to the tool kit. Nothing else stood out. She went through the chest twice more before moving on.
Hailey had continued to the closet, so Jamie took Marchek's kitchenette. The room was spotless. The floor's linoleum was lined with tiny cracks. A couple of the tiles were mismatched pieces, but it gleamed of a recent waxing. She studied the mismatched linoleum. Thinking she might find something, she tried unsuccessfully to pry them loose.
Next she turned to the cabinets. The first two cupboards were empty. The third contained perfectly stacked cans of corn, black and kidney beans, chilies and soups-mostly chicken noodle. His refrigerator held a gallon of one percent milk that was almost full and three nonalcoholic beers. He had three gla.s.ses, three plates, two bowls, and one set of silverware. It was all clean and stacked in its own cabinet. A roll of paper towels was the only thing out on the counter. The freezer was empty. Not even ice or an ice tray.
Under the sink, Jamie found a scrub brush, a small container of Dove dishwashing soap, and a single pot with no lid. It was almost as though Marchek kept a full residence somewhere else and the thought was terrifying.
Jamie dragged the chair from Marchek's modeling table into the kitchen. Standing on it, she searched the empty cabinets. She had reached the last one when Hailey walked in.
"Any luck?" Hailey asked.
"No. This place is amazing. There are no papers, no checkbooks, nothing." Hailey looked around. "How does this guy live?"
"Like a criminal," Jamie said flatly.
"Does he have a bank account?"
"He does," Hailey confirmed. "We checked it. Nothing unusual. Wells Fargo, few hundred dollars in it. Deposits his paycheck, all withdrawals are in cash. No credit cards. Pays rent in cash. Buys his models and very little else."
Jamie glanced into the cabinets. "I see that. What about utilities?"
"He's got a deal with the manager. They're included in the rent," Hailey told her.
"So if he's got a rental s.p.a.ce, it's going to be hard to trace."
Hailey nodded. "d.a.m.n near impossible."
Jamie stepped down from the chair, grabbing the edge of the sink as she did. The panel on the front of the sink seemed to shift as she came down. She stared at it. A small hole where a k.n.o.b had been was empty. Her sink was the same way. It was just a panel made to look like a drawer. No drawer could fit there because of the sink. Still, she ran her hand across it, frowned. Using her fingernails, she pried the side. It didn't budge.
She dropped to her knees and stuck her head under the sink. Glancing up, she could see a small cupboard.
"What is it?"
"I think this thing opens." Using Marchek's one clean b.u.t.ter knife, Jamie pried at the edge until a small triangular-shaped drawer fell open.
Inside were several pieces of paper and a small digital camera.
Hailey lifted the camera. "Nice work, Vail."
Jamie picked up the papers by a corner. One was Marchek's birth certificate and the other was a list of model airplanes with little check marks next to the maybe fifteen of the list of forty or so. "Nothing here. What've you got?"
Jamie looked over as Hailey stared at the screen on the back of the silver-colored camera. The camera was just about the size of a pack of playing cards and the screen was dark, making it hard to see the image. Jamie squinted at what looked like a woman getting out of a dark car. Behind her, there might have been another person in the pa.s.senger seat, but Jamie couldn't tell. Just beside the woman's head, something hung from the rearview mirror. The car's interior light shined through it, creating little rainbows in the photo.
Jamie focused back on the woman until the image cleared in her mind. "s.h.i.t. That's-"
"Natasha Devlin," Hailey said.