Paint a Picture, the early cases of Detective Shawn Corin
This book is dedicated to memory my mother and father. Mary Elizabeth and James O’Neail. Who nurtured in me a love of books that borders on the obsessive.
The scene was like so many before, a bloody rag doll splayed out over a standard urban landscape. Sometimes it’s a litter strewn alley sometimes a bedroom with crumpled sheets. An office desk cluttered with paper, or like this time, a kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink.
An ordinary middle class kitchen with a table and chairs from Ikea, plates from Walmart, and wine glasses from grandma. One plate and two wine glasses sticky with last nights meal and splattered with congealed blood. The life size rag doll reclined back in one of the chairs, like some overworked office staffer taking a nap after a hard day. Only the second mouth gaping over his tie proclaimed this was a nap of eternal slumber.
I surveyed the room from the doorway looking for voids in the splatter, something out of place, something placed that didn’t fit, but without the body, this looked like any other cluttered kitchen in a downtown apartment.
“See anything right away detective?” Asked one of the CSIs. A nameless drone about his gory business of photographing everything.
“No” I said. “Not yet”
I moved further into the room. Looking around the room from a different angle and glancing again at the body. “Careless” I mumbled.
“What was that? Said the agent without lifting his eye from the screen.
“It’s careless, almost casual” I said a bit louder
“Well maybe he was too busy to keep it neat” said the cameraman.
“No, not the apartment, the body”
he stopped taking pictures and looked for a long moment at the body.
“No posing, no display, no overkill, it’s as if someone casually came over slit his throat and calmly walked away.” I thought for a minute. “The murder weapon is where?”
What do you mean?
“Someone this casual in killing either has a favorite weapon or just cast aside whatever came to hand.”
The csi looked a little awestruck, I had a reputation already with some of the force of being a bit psychic, but honestly it was just observation and a strong dark imagination. I could picture myself as the killer easily, and would play the scene out in my head. Most criminals were not overly creative, and it wasn’t hard to recreate their movements with enough time.
“It’s..I mean we think it’s the bread knife in the sink” he glanced over in that direction ” they didn’t do a good job of hiding it”
“They weren’t trying to hide it” I responded. “Just put it in the most ordinary place you would put dirty cutlery” I looked in the sink.
“Whoever did this has done it before, or is a complete sociopath to be this casual about murder.”
The csi went back to taking photos while I walked the perimeter, glancing at the tableau from every angle. I went back to the sink. “You done here?” I asked, pointing at the sink.
“Yeah, go ahead” he replied, moving into the hallway, bulb flashing every few seconds. At least the kid was thorough.
Gloves on I pulled the knife from the bottom of the sink from where it had slid down. I was sure it had just been tossed in and had slid to the side on its own. The little bits of flesh caught in its teeth and the blood that still rested on the blade assured me this was the murder weapon.
As I dropped it into an evidence bag I noticed the colour smear on my glove. I put my glove up to my face and could smell it. Oil paint. Sort of a dark green, forest green I think they call it. “Hey! ” damn it I couldn’t remember the guy’s name.”Hey, um, kid”
He came back into the room, looking a bit let down.”Steven , it’s Steven”
“Sorry Steven. Keep your eyes open for anything this colour” I held up my glove.
The kid was sharp, snapped a picture of the paint smear and looked closer. Then glanced around the kitchen again.
“Where’s that from, there nothing in here that colour.”
The knife, it was on the handle”
“Wet paint? That’s weird. I’ll check the other rooms.” Off he went again. While I carefully removed my glove and dropped it into another evidence bag.
The search of the rest of the apartment didn’t reveal any other clues, except that nothing appeared to be missing, and nothing appeared to be forest green.
When they came for the body, I went back to the office to begin my report.
Some police officers hate paperwork, will let it pile up for weeks. Me, I use it to put things into perspective, like a running diary of the case. It gives me a chance to review my findings without being distracted by the smells or new discoveries as I work through the facts.
So the csi had not found anything else. No fingerprints, no footprints in the blood. This guy was casual, but not stupid. So why would there be paint transfer on the knife. And no fingerprints? Was he wearing gloves? We’re the gloves used before to paint something?
What did we know about the victim, who was he, who would want him dead. What was the motive? There’s always a motive. Even if only the murderer understands it, there is a reason for someone to take another life. It’s never a casual undertaking, no matter how casual the act itself.
So our victim is Mark Hodges a lower level office worker in a minor corporation that sells medical insurance. Not a sales guy or a claim adjuster, just some data entry guy. So I doubt it was someone angry about their claim. No live in girlfriend, just casual dating, so a jilted lover seemed unlikely. No obvious debts, no creepy porn or websites on his laptop. An expensive laptop that would have been worth stealing. So not theft, not an association of questionable merit. Just some ordinary guy living an ordinary life, or at least on the surface. One other lesson I learned was that just as there is always a motive, there is always a secret. No one lives their whole life with the curtains open. Somewhere they have a private place that they don’t share with anyone. Somewhere deep inside is the one part of their lives that no one knows, but is as much a part of them as the food they eat.
There wasn’t much to see in the victim’s personal space so I went to his friends and coworkers.
Again very little beyond speculation. After 3 days of questioning I had found out he was a great guy, hard worker, probably gay, not gay, a good lover, a considerate person, a workaholic, a lazy do nothing, a science fiction fan, an art fan, a football fan and didn’t like fried chicken.
So much for the interviews. Everyone had an opinion, few had a clue.
After four days I had two people show up at my desk. Steven the csi guy and the lieutenant. Csi Steve had found a previous case, and the lieutenant a new one. I rode over to the fresh scene with Steve as he filled me in on what he had found.
“So about a week ago there was a murder in the east end. Some prostitute got beat up then choke to death with a scarf. Seems the scarf had paint on it as well, yellow this time, and a lot of it. Both paints turned out to be artist quality oils, not basic house or furniture paint. And again, no theft, no sex, just a beating and a murder with no motive anyone could figure out.. Everyone interviewed said the scarf was not hers and that she had not been in trouble with her pimp or anyone.” Steve handed over the crime scene photos. Not as good as his I noticed. Sloppy and quick, but when the victim is high risk, there seems to be less effort put in by the investigators. Far too many street walkers and homeless people seem to fall victim to predators without really drawing much attention from the media or the police. It has to be a slow news day to get one of these murders past the third page.
There was dna on the scarf but it doesn’t match anyone in the system. Man this guy was sloppy, but why were there no fingerprints? Gloves again? And with an artists paint on them?
We got to the scene, a house just north of downtown, owned by a little old lady who had breathed her last, not due to natural causes, but due to a blow on the head and a stab to the chest. This time the ever present rag doll was in the living room at the back of the house. Sprawled on the floor with her head propped on the couch. Legs splayed like a dropped marionette. Blood smeared the carpet and the couch.
“She’s been moved” said Steve.
“Yeah, I see that”but his quick grasp on the evidence impressed me. Someone flipped her over. ” and do you notice something else?”
Steve looked at the body and then the stain on the carpet.
“She was stabbed after they flipped her over.” And there’s a void in the blood on her chest. In fact..” He pulled out a pen like item and stuck it into the chest wound.” This didn’t kill her it’s barely an inch deep.”
I’d glanced away as he poked the body, I always felt it was a bit indigent to be prodding away at the corpse like a kid playing with a dead bug. And immediately found the paint smear. It was on the edge of a glass sitting on the floor next to the table. Something was wrong.
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“You see the paint Steve?” I pointed.
“Yellow again” he bent over. “It looks pretty dry this time.”
Dry, that was it. There was nothing in the glass, there was no spilled drink, just a glass with dry paint sitting on the ground.
I started to open the cupboard, and sent Steve to check the kitchen. “See if you can find the rest of this glass set.” I instructed, but I knew we were not going to find it.
This place was neat and tidy. Everything in its place even the tv remote was in a drawer beside the couch. Four plates four cups and three glasses in the cupboard four wine glasses in acute antique bar but nothing that matched the heavy glass on the floor.
“Okay, hey Steve bag up that glass, and I bet you we are going to find prints on it.” I was beginning to think, this serial killer was not so sloppy after all. Something was off about the evidence, way off.
Once again we had a casual killing, once again we had paint, and this time it was laid out like a prize at a kid’s treasure hunt. Our killer was getting impatient for us to chase him. He was leaving us a trail and making it way to obvious to miss.
I waited impatiently outside while Steve finished his grim photo shoot Cursing myself for not bringing my own car. I didn’t need to spend hours at a crime scene I needed to write down my thoughts and get into the head of our killer.i held up the only piece of evidence I had taken from the scene, a ticket stub to a local art show at a cultural center in the downtown. The date was today, and our victim had been there only a few hours ago in the early morning.
After Steve finished I asked him to drop me at the cultural center. Seems a bunch of local artists had donated pieces for the show. I wanted to see if anyone remembered her at the show and who she left with. On entering without paying, another perk of carrying a badge, I wandered around looking at the pieces, sculptures, paintings of anything from flowers to abstract to sketches of animals and pencil drawings of portraits. There was a surprising lack of landscapes and I mentioned it to the smartly dressed woman at the counter while showing her a less disturbing picture of the elderly victim.
“Yes, these were selected to show life in the city, the dirty underbelly of our society and the beauty within it.” She replied.”Some of these artists are quite famous. Jackson, Pellet and Davis will probably be very wealthy men some day if they can get the recognition they deserve. Most of them make a decent living now, but there are glimpses of brilliance in their work as well.” She pointed at the picture. “She may have been here this morning but there are always walk ins just here to look at the art, when they come for a class or something upstairs. I was busy with the buyers.” She wandered off to try and interest someone in a much better suit than mine to take one of the paintings home, while I stared at a rough riot of colours that comprised what I imagined was a streetwalker plying her triad on a willing consumer. The irony of the well dressed art dealer and her resemblance to the girl in the painting was not lost on me. I guess we are all prostitutes of some sort, looking to make a buck with what talents we think we can use to our advantage.
I swore at myself for being such a cynic, and then swore some more as I waited for a bus back to the station. Damn Steve and his offer to drive to the scene. By the time I got back he had already started on the glass.
“You were right, there are a lot of finger prints on this, I am running them now. Any luck at the cultural center?” He inquired
“I’ll let you know.”I said. I wanted to write it down before talking about it. The trip to the cultural center had been a bust, no one remembered our victim in any of the classes upstairs. If she had been anywhere other than the art show, it wasn’t in that building.
After a few hours at my desk I went home for the weekend to my very pregnant wife and a home cooked meal. I rubbed her sleeping belly and whispered to my son about all the things we would do as he grew up. I sounded like a cliche of all the father son songs I had ever heard, but it made me feel better knowing that at least once in my life I created something good that didn’t involve anyone having to die for me to succeed at the task.
Steve was waiting for me at the desk when I got in. He was holding a page in his hand and a few folders under his arm.
“You’re not going to believe this, but I ran a search on all crimes that had paint left behind and called over to a few other precincts. There were four other cases before that match this guy. Everyone had some trace of paint and this one” he held up a file,” had an artist paint brush used as the murder weapon, if you can believe it.” He then dropped the piece of paper he had been holding on my desk, and in his excitement it caught the breeze from the central air and slipped off the desk onto the floor.
“We got a hit on the finger prints” he said in a rush, as I picked up the paper from the floor I could see the name. Michael Davis, the same name that had appeared at the bottom of the streetwalker painting.
“He was picked up a few years ago on a drug charge. Possession. Got off with a warning but still in the system” Steve, it appeared was quite the keener.
“Want to come with me to pick him up?” I asked unnecessarily as Steve looked like a dog waiting to go for a walk.
“Really?” He almost gushed.
“Sure, but you wait outside” since I didn’t currently have a partner assigned to me I didn’t see any harm in a ride along, and he had been very helpful so far.
As Steve and I pulled up to the artist studio I reminded him again that while he was part of the force he was not a cop. He didn’t have a gun, he didn’t have the training to take down a dangerous suspect, and he was to stay in the car until I returned. If he heard shouting, or gun fire call for back up, do not get out of the car. looking a bit chagrined he agreed and waited while I went upstairs to what I expected to be a chaotic mess of a dirty smelly studio. Instead I found myself in a pleasant entrance way of a well to do apartment complex, and my starving artist living in the penthouse.
After a few minutes of careful knocking the door was answered by a middle aged man in a very expensive suit, easily worth a grand, even used. I doubted this was my artist.
“I’m here to see Mr Davis” I said, flashing my badge
” What’s this about officer? I’m his agent, Davro, Mark Davro.” I didn’t mind that he didn’t know the difference between a detective and a uniform officer. It showed a lack of familiarity with the police, and usually that means a clean life. The James Bond style self introduction told me that this was a man who believed in his own worth, probably more than his loving mother did. The self important see themselves as larger than life and have difficulty hiding it, just as they always seemed disappointed that when they announced their name you didn’t swoon in recognition. Yup, there it was. I could see the mildly desperate expectation in his eyes, as he waited for a glimmer of reaction, that faded to an inner sulk at my lack of Recognition. Recognition from a Cop who’s only experience with art was finger painting in the first grade and redoing the living room ceiling as the flat white version of the Sistine Chapel. Unbelievable.
But speaking of white, this apartment was a virtual shrine to blandness. Walls carpet ceiling, all flat white. Couch and chair looking like a polar bear and it’s cub lost in a snow storm, or would have if there had been at least a couple of black dots that looked like eyes anywhere. Even the coffee table was white with the only splash of colour being a magazine on the corner. set at such a perpendicular angle to scream, displayed, not discarded.
“It’s a private matter Mr. Davro, is he here?” I asked peaking further into the stark white environs.
“Yes. Of course, this way, he’s in the studio.” Davro led me further into the room to a closed door at the rear of the open concept apartment. He opened the door without knocking and I got my first view of my suspect. “Excuse me a moment” he said and wandered into the equally white eating area.
I stood for several minutes taking in the room and the younger man within it. If anything this room was even more stark, I felt like I was standing in a hospital ward where everything was laid out in precise order while the artist expanded the only example of colour from the tip of a brush with agonizing slowness. His movements were so painfully slow that I felt a momentary urge to rip the brush from his hand and finish the slowly curving red line he was maddeningly dabbing at.
“MICHAEL DAVIS!” My voice was overly loud in the small room and a bit of that frustration still remained in it from my agonizing observation of his work.
He started and dropped the brush, but rather then turning around he knelt down and with a cat like mew, began to wipe up the small splatter of paint on the floor with a handy cloth.
I spun around so quickly I almost knocked the glass of water from the Agent’s hand that he was holding towards me. Turning so that I could keep both men in my line of sight I reached for the glass, while having second thoughts about having left Steve in the car instead of watching my back.
“Why thank you Mr. Davro, this will do nicely.” I said and taking the glass I slowly poured it out on the floor while pulling out an evidence bag to stuff the all to familiar glass into.
Davro barely moved but Davis was like a whirling dervish. He screamed somewhere between anger and pain and leaped at me, I side stepped still keeping both men in sight almost dropping the glass as I reached for my side arm, and then stood astonished as Davis fell to the ground and began to sop up the water in his handy rage like a madman. That does it I thought, No more risks, I diverted my hand from my side arm towards my cuffs and attempted to cuff the artist while he was in such a convenient position. That ended up being harder than I expected, he struggled every step of the way getting louder and louder in inarticulate moans, his head swinging back and forth between the few drops of paint that remained by his canvas and the smeared puddle of water on his floor.
Davro kept talking to him saying soothing things trying to calm Davis down but to no avail, he continued to struggle and twist in my grip. In the end I told Davro to back off as I escorted this trembling mess back to the car, moans and all.
“Steve!” I shouted as I approached the car, “open the back door. I glanced at the moaning artist, and give me your lab coat.” Steve with a bit of a wild look got out, opened the door and began to shed his white coat. As I put Davis into the back I wrapped the white coat around him, it seemed to calm him somewhat, but did little to stop the wailing. That continued the whole drive back to the precinct, while Steve kept casting fugitive glances over the seat, clearly wishing he was somewhere else.
That’s the guy?” He asked trying to ignore the sounds from the back seat.
“Yeah, That’s him. Crazy as a loon from the look of it.”
“Umm, was he naked when you arrested him?” Steve glanced longingly at his lab coat that was the only shred of modesty that was covering our suspect.
“No, Buddy, I always strip down my suspects before cuffing them. Of course he was. Naked as the day he was born, painting something. I have not been able to get a word out of him just that moaning and screaming.”
Steve turned towards the front and stared solidly out the front window. “This is a lot different than my regular days” He didn’t say another thing the rest of the ride. I figured I had lost my partner inter right then, but luckily, I was wrong about Steve’s level of interest, and ambition.
It was a good four hours later that Davis had calmed down enough to interview. Wearing a mix of borrowed clothing from the locker room and lost and found he sat quietly in an interview room when I entered. The too tight pants and oversized shirt gave the impression of a man melting into the chair and his rather bewildered face matched the image as he shrank away from me as I entered. I held a rather thick folder and dropped it on the table before saying a word. This was something I always did, but usually the folder was filled with random reports and miscellaneous papers to look intimidating. The is time it was full of actual reports files and pictures of evil. Evil that all pointed at this nervous barely rational figure cuffed to the table across from me. Once again I couldn’t shake the feeling something was horribly wrong here, and I was going to find out what was causing me to itch so bad about this case.
“Mr. Davis”, I said in an authoritative voice, “we seem to have a problem, or to be more precise. You have a problem” I opened the file and began to read of names. “Julia Richards, Marcus Okinski, Nadia Mahmoud, Veronica Wolf, Mark Hodges..”
“What about Mark?” Davis asked quietly. Moving forward in his chair.
I stopped reading and looked up at the curious face. This was the first normal reaction I had seen from this man, and also the first coherent words he had uttered since I first saw him. “So You knew Mr. Hodges?”
He flinched back at my voice and you could see the panic start to rise in his eyes. I shifted tactics. “He’s an acquaintance?”I asked in a friendlier voice. No response. “A buyer? Maybe someone who like your work?” He was still shying as far away as the cuffs would let him. “I lowered my head almost to the table so that I was looking up at him. “Someone said he liked art.” I spoke as if to a child. “Maybe he came to one of your shows?”
Davis looked at me shyly but I could see his body beginning to relax. I used the most effective interrogation technique I knew and pretended to read the file in the silent room. It only took a few minutes.
“Mark’s a friend” Davis almost whispered, then his voice began to rise, but never above a quiet conversational level. “He called last week. Wanted to get together. I would have liked that. I have not seen him for a while, but I guess he wasn’t really interested in talking, or anything else.”
I waited for more, but was disappointed.
“Why did you bring him up?” “What about Mark?”
I looked the artist in the eyes and said in a neutral voice. “He’s dead. But you already knew that.”
His reaction was a symphony of emotions, this guy would have lost his shirt in a poker game. He stared blankly for a while at me, cocked his head like someone was whispering in his ear explaining what Dead meant. His eyes started to tear up and the shake that started at his feet moved up his leg to encompass his whole body. “What do you mean, dead” He stammered “Is that why I’m here? did something happen to Mark? What happened?”
Okay, maybe he could win at poker.
“Your friend Mark was found dead a week ago with his throat slit and the knife you used still bloody in the sink.” I said. rising up I started to toss the pictures on the table one after another. “Just like all these other people you murdered” I continued the list of names as I dropped each photo. “Julia Richards, Marcus Okinski, Nadia Mahmoud, Veronica Wolf, Mark Hodges and Jennifer Waters. You killed them all, and I want to know why, Michael.”
He glanced at the other pictures as they landed on the table but was focused on the macabre scene of the Hodges murder. the head tilted back at an angle that would not be possible without the gaping neck wound, The blood coated tie shirt and table, splatters of red on the glasses and plate. The Artist seemed fascinated at what he was seeing, and I realized he was ignoring me. The tremors had stopped and he was absolutely still, staring at the photo. “Michael?” I prompted “They are searching your apartment now. What do you think we will find there? Michael?”
As if the reality of the situation had snapped him to his senses, he looked directly at me. “Nothing. I wouldn’t hurt Mark, he was…special. He helped me get started, bought me my first canvas. I never thanked him for that. He made me a real person. I don’t even know these other people. Why would I kill them? How could I kill ….”He drifted off. Something haunting and frightened came into his expression. “I wouldn’t have. I couldn’t have. Not again.”
At that moment it sounded like someone unleashed a wild bull elephant in the squad room.
I opened the door of the interview room to see a short barrel chested man covered in a rainbow of shiny ribbons and medals that barely outshone his smooth bald head in the overhead lights. He was surrounded by a staff of equally medal encrusted soldiers in dress uniform who stood by like shepherds guarding a flock of one bellowing bull. What I suspected was that the two men by the door in dark suits and ear pieces were the actual guards, and from the way they looked around, these were wolves Guarding the shepherds guarding the bull.
“WHERE IS MY SON!” the bull shouted again. “BY GOD I’LL TEAR THIS PLACE DOWN IF I DON’T START GETTING SOME ANSWERS RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!”
His entourage seemed familiar with the volume, but I can’t say the same for our desk Sergeant. A Sargent isn’t use to being shouted at, but the stars like bookends on either side of the ever reddening head were giving him pause. What the hell was an angry general doing in my Squad room, and where was the Lieutenant? I glanced over at the Lieutenant’s office only to see him with an almost equally red face listening intently on the phone. The General’s eyes locked onto me as I moved from the door.
“YOU! YOU’RE CORIN! WHERE THE HELL IS MY SON!?” he began to move around the front desk towards me, but that was enough for the Desk Sergeant, who moved to intercept. Suddenly the feel of the room changed from slightly comical amusement to something a bit more deadly. The wolves were prepared to pounce and god only knows what would result from that.
“It’s okay Sarge, let him through.” I pointed to an empty interview room between us. “Shall we talk. Sir?” I asked sternly, moving towards the room I had pointed at.
“We damn well will” he replied, but at least he was no longer yelling at the top of his lungs. His posse started to follow him around the desk.
“I think the General and I will be fine without your assistance gentlemen” I pointed back to the far side of the desk, and surprisingly they moved back that way. I did notice one of the wolves drifting to the corner of the room where he would be able to see through the glass wall and decided that closing the curtains would not be productive to the situation.
“Have a seat General..Davis I assume.” I was not sure where he got my name, but was pretty sure that if he knew that then he knew who was questioning his son, and since there were not that many cases I was working on, I could easily assume his boy was the artist currently handcuffed to a table in the next room.
“I got a call from my son’s agent telling me that you arrested him, and dragged him naked out onto the street” He said standing toe to toe with me. Well that explained where he got my name, and set the mood nicely.
“Yes sir, I did, and if you would be so kind as to have a seat, I have some questions for you.” The combination of a polite request and hint of suspected wrongdoing backed the general up a step. No one is so innocent that they don’t get a bit apprehensive when a police officer wants to question them. All sorts of dirty laundry rises up in the mind and there is always the concern that some of it is hanging out somewhere. “Your son is a suspect in a series of murders around the city, and I suggest that we discuss anything you know that might help him.”
That got his attention. He sat slowly into the chair by the table. “Murder! Michael? He can barely leave his apartment without panicking. How could he possibly have committed a murder?”
“Murders,” I corrected. “several murders.” The General stared at me like he was waiting for the punchline to a bad joke, then as he realized I wasn’t joking, his expression changed to one of disbelief. “Your son’s fingerprints and other evidence has been found at the scene of several recent murders, and I brought him in for questioning. You might be able to help him if you could shed some light on a few things.” The General looked at me with a blank stare. “For example” I continued “What does he mean by ‘not again'”
The general broke his stare away at that point and looked around the room as if seeking an escape. Eventually his body sagged as he realized the only trap was of his own making, and talking was the release. I waited as he took a deep breath. “Michael has some problems, mostly anxiety and panic syndrome. He isn’t dangerous. In fact his problem is withdrawal, he shuts down without his medication. When he was first diagnosed, he was put on a tranquilizer that had some nasty side effects, he started sleepwalking. At times his mother would find him outside sleeping on a lawn chair and he wouldn’t remember how he got there. When he wandered into a neighbours house one night we had him institutionalized. But his medication was changed years ago, he hasn’t had episodes like that in years. Did he say he doesn’t remember?”
I thought for a minute. “No, he insists he didn’t do it, but that might explain his reluctance.”
Our team is sweeping his apartment now, but I have to tell you it doesn’t look good for your son right now. The best thing you can do is not make a scene and get him a good lawyer. I didn’t want to tell this firecracker that I had my own doubts about this case, but pointing him towards a lawyer wasn’t going to help me in any way and I think he knew that.
The general looked sharply at me and seemed about to explode again, but after a few seconds he narrowed his eyes at me and nodded. “I can have the top NATO crime investigators here in a day, to help clear my son.”
“No doubt, you can, but they would have absolutely no jurisdiction in a civilian case.” I retorted “Maybe the finest NATO lawyer would be more useful.”
“Fine,” he said, his displeasure clear on his face, “no one is going to railroad my son into a conviction through lazy policing”
“I don’t railroad”I rose as well.”and lazy, is demanding someone be released before you even know why they are here. You want to help your son, fine, I understand that, but bulldozing into a police station like you own the place isn’t doing him one bit of good. I’ll be a good cop, you be a good father.” He was about to go off. “Would you like to talk to him before you leave?”
He froze in mid breath. God I love doing that to people.
“May I? Yes! Yes I will talk to him for a few minutes.” He was off balance, but recovered quickly.”where is he?”
“He’s in the next interview room, If you want to talk to him, then I would ask that you take your friends back to the base. They are making the Sargent nervous.”
I led the General to the next interview room where he spent the next hour getting answers from his son, far better than I could have as I sat in the closet sized room between the interview rooms looking through the mirror at them and hanging on every word.
Yup, A lawyer would have made my job a lot tougher.
CSI Steve came into the closet room as Davis was writing a letter to his mother. Still not wearing his lab coat, I assumed he wanted to wash it or perhaps burn it. People are funny that way. Even a guy who deals with death as his job, doesn’t like things that have been touched by death in their personal lives. It’s why selling houses that have had a murder committed in them is so tough. Even after the body and blood are removed, something seems to remain that makes people uncomfortable. A residue of evil you might say.
The last hour had been helpful. Davis had told his father he was still on his meds, and that while he had been sleeping more than he use to, there were no new side effects he was feeling. In fact he claimed to have been at home sleeping during each of the murders. Possibly the weakest alibi ever and far too unlikely for six murders committed at various times of the day.
I could tell that even the General’s faith was being shaken by this weak excuse and the pile of evidence I had carelessly left on the table in full view.
“Micky just called from the Davis apartment” Steve said, “they found what looks like a vial of blood hidden in an old paint can. It looks like our artist friend may have been mixing blood into his paint. They are going to bring all the paint back for testin…” He trailed off as he looked through the mirror. After a few seconds he looked back at me and with a confused expression on his face said “We ah, we may have a problem here”
“What?” I asked
“Remember how I said there was nothing that seemed unusual while I was taking the crime photos? That the paint on the knife was the only odd thing?”
“Well” He pointed through the mirror. “If the killer had been left handed, that would have been unusual.”
I looked back through the glass at the Artist who was tearfully writing to his mother holding the paper in his right as he wrote. Pen grasped easily in his left hand.”Damn” I whispered. How had I missed that? When someone slits a throat with a knife it’s hard work and no one would do it with their off hand, the wound makes it very easy to see which way the knife was drawn. left to right, or right to left. There had been just so much evidence pointing at this guy I had stopped looking for new clues. A rookie mistake that I should never had made.
“Steve, we need to go back over everything, and deeper.” I motioned towards the door. “Get someone to help with a backgrounder on Mr. Davis and the victims and we will go through them together. Everything, no matter how small should be on my desk by this evening”
He started to leave”And Steve?” he turned back “Great job.” He smiled and hurried off as I sat back trying to figure out what else I had missed, and what I was going to do with Davis and his father.
I asked General Davis to step back into the other office before he left ignoring the hand gestures of the Lieutenant, who was clearly signally to stay cool and by not interfering with the interruption to his squad room made it pretty clear that his continued rise in the force may depend on how this meeting turned out.
“General, I wanted to discuss a few points with you in private, just so we are clear on how I am going to proceed.” I pointed at the same chair and he sat down.”First off I want you to know that I am keeping your son in custody for now. I will not put him among any other prisoners and will have him transported to a secure medical facility for evaluation. Tonight, if I can.”
He sat silent for once, As he suspected there was more to come.”There is some doubt that your son committed these murders.” before he could interrupt I raised a finger “BUT! If he didn’t do it, someone is going to a lot of trouble to frame him. Someone who has already killed 6 people and probably wouldn’t hesitate to kill one more.” There was relief and apprehension on his face. “The safest place for your son is in custody.”
“He’d be safer on the base surrounded by guards” he ventured with a hint of his earlier bluster.
“Not really I said. ” First off he is still the only suspect, and he’s not walking out of here without cuffs or a straight jacket on. Second, if I were to release him now what do you think the murderer would think? As long as your son is in custody, the real murderer is going to think he is getting away with this. and that brings me to three. As long as the murderer knows your son is in custody, he will not be committing any more murders. If I were to release your son, I can assure you it wouldn’t be long before another body shows up, whether your son committed it or not.”
The General looked at me sternly.”Let me get this straight. You don’t think my son is guilty, but you want to keep him locked up, just to make your case easier.” Even he didn’t believe it while he said it. It was a goad.
“No, I didn’t say he didn’t do it. I said there’s a chance he didn’t, and I assure you, If he goes to trial, It will be because I am sure he did it. one hundred percent, sure.” I rose to let him know the interview was over.”I think it’s best you didn’t mention this conversation with anyone. For your son’s sake and for the sake of any innocent people out there who might be the next victim.”
He nodded his head in agreement and then just as I was about to open the door said one final quiet statement. “I don’t know if my son did this or not anymore, but if you can find the person responsible I would be very appreciative. I’d shake your hand on it but I don’t think that will keep up appearances very well. Thanks Detective, and don’t take this personally.” He stepped out the door and began to shout again. “AND DON’T THINK THAT THIS IS THE END OF THIS MATTER DETECTIVE. I’LL HAVE YOUR BADGE IN MY HANDS BEFORE LONG, JUST LONG ENOUGH TO SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS!” Out he stormed muttering and wagging his finger, past my ashen faced boss, ignoring his outstretched hand and the crowd of crisp pressed uniforms that followed him out. One of the suited wolves had led them out and the second one, who had been watching through the glass gave me one last look as he headed out. I swear he winked at me from under those mirrored sunglasses, but was probably imagining things.
As the lieutenant approached I halted him before he spoke. “Don’t worry about it Sir. I’ve got it under control.” The Lieutenant nodded and returned to his office, but his colour didn’t seem to be any better as he sat behind his desk watching his phone like it was a snake about to bite him.
Over the next two hours, I made a call for Davis to be transferred in the morning and found a quiet cell where he would be well away from any disturbances. Out of sympathy I gave him some paper and the crayons we kept for the occasional kid we had to deal with. I left him quietly colouring in the cell as I went back to my desk. Or at least where my desk should have been. It was hard to recognize it with the stacks of paper and evidence boxes that were piled up on it. Over the next hour I had 4 people I had never seen before show up with something else to drop on my desk. One from the precinct that had found the dead prostitute. Somehow Steve had mobilized a small army and I was beginning to worry that this was the only case anyone was working on for the time being.
Eventually Steve showed up with a few more papers and a secure laptop computer. He looked speculatively at the mountain on my desk.”I think that’s everything” He said and pulled up a chair. “Where do you want to start?”
We spent the next 3 hours going over the physical evidence but there was nothing new there. The DNA on the scarf had not come back but I expected it to match the Artist. It fit the pattern. no good fingerprints had been found on the murder weapon paint brush, just smudges, and expect that was due to someone holding the brush with a glove. The CSI running the search of Davis’ apartment filled Steve in over the phone. Yes it was blood in the vial, yes there was a glass there as well that didn’t match the rest of Davis’ sets in the same paint can as the vial. There was a virtual deli counter of drugs but all prescription and all in Davis’ name. Most of them were for Anxiety stress and several stronger than over the counter sleep aids. On a hunch I asked Steve to find out how old the prescriptions were and how much was in the bottles. After a bit of math in my head I noticed he had to be taking at least twice the recommended dose. Suddenly the sleeping alibi wasn’t so far fetched. That itch was back.
“Steve have someone put the evidence back in holding, but leave the files here. I’ll be back in a minute. I went back to the cells and found Davis had begun to colour on the walls. Perhaps colour was the wrong word. He still moved with lethargic slowness but the lines were as crisp and sharp and clear. I was watching the slowly materializing face of Mark Hodges. Not as I had found him but as a young man, maybe a teenager. Captured in a moment of joy, frozen in the amber of memory.
“Michael.” I called softly. he turned to face me with tears running down his face.
“Michael” I repeated. “Who all has access to your apartment?”
“Just me” he said “sometimes Mark brings in movers to pick up pieces for a show, I usually go out or stay in my room while they are there, I don’t like strangers in my place.”
For a moment I was confused by him referring to the dead man as if he was still alive, and then it hit me. “Mark, as in Mark Davro? Your agent? Does he have a key?”
“Sure, he is more than just an agent, he takes care of me as well. Brings the groceries, sets the schedules, Sometimes he just hangs out to talk.” He wiped his hands off on the discarded shirt. “Why?”
“Nothing yet.” I replied.”I’ll be back later…And Michael? Please put the clothes back on as long as you are here, Okay?”
As I left he began to struggle back into the too tight pants. Asking questions to a naked man in a cell as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Sometimes this job asks you to do the weirdest things.
“Steve!” I called as soon as I got back into the squad room. “Let these guys deal with that.”I pointed in the general direction of the three people placing evidence back into boxes. “Grab the files and help me load them in my car. Have you met my wife? No of course not. How about you come over to my place for a late dinner? You don’t have plans do you?” I grabbed up a stack of the files we had been going through and headed for the door without waiting for an answer. I was excited by this new angle and figured if Steve had not already caught the investigating bug, he was sure going to be infected with it now. As I was opening my trunk Steve appeared lugging two full stacked boxes of files.
“No, Yes, No.” he said with a grin. My excitement was contagious.
“No, I have not met your wife. Yes Dinner sounds good and No, I don’t have plans for dinner.” He handed me the boxes and turned to get the rest. “Or for after dinner.” He said meaningfully patting the top of the boxes he had just handed me.
On the drive over to my place I called my wife Janet to let her know we had company coming over. Since the baby bump had started to show, she was less likely to get all dressed up for no reason and she would have killed me if she had met someone new without some makeup on.
“Well, that’s pretty sudden” She said over the phone.
“Sorry Hun, it’s a working dinner, so anything will do”
“Yes it, will” she replied. “Make sure you get here soon, I’m gonna need your wallet to pay the delivery guy. Hope your friend likes Indian food.”
I winced at that one. Since the pregnancy she had developed a taste for hot food, and loved Indian. The fact that it was among my least favorite foods was her revenge on the short notice. Making me pay for it, was just twisted. “Sure Princess, I bow to your appetite and seek only to appease your culinary delight.”I looked over at the bemused Steve in the passenger seat. “What?”
“Nothing.” he said and smiled a little wider.
Great, I had a feeling that Steve and Janet were going to hit it right off, and dinner was going to be a roast no matter what the delivery guy dropped off.
Janet met us at the door and held it open as Steve and I lugged in the file boxes.
“Janet Steve, Steve Janet” I introduced.
Steve managed to juggle the boxes into one hand and a knee long enough to briefly shake hands. “Pleasure Mrs. C. Where should I put these?”
“Just put them on the table, We can..”I started to say
“Oh no you don’t. Into his office at the back of the hall. We are going to be eating off that table in a few minutes.” My radiant wife was the master of our home and I veered back into the hallway before she had even finished her statement.
“Yup, the office, much better.” I led Steve down the hallway to what was my cramped office for at least a few more weeks, and placed the boxes on the floor beside the folding table in the middle of the room being careful to not knock over any painting supplies that littered the perimeter of the room.
Steve set his load down and surveyed the room, pausing at the unicorn decal on the bright blue walls. My office had been condensed, as if a black hole had appeared in the floor and drawn everything into the center, revealing a joyful happy childhood surrounding, and about to engulf the last remnants of my man cave. “Guessing this is going to be the baby’s room?” He offered peeking at the unopened boxes of infant accessories. “Where are you going to put this stuff?” He’d picked up a framed photo of me as a uniform officer that had been sitting on the highchair box.
Down stairs” I replied. “Still need to clean it up a bit before I start setting everything up. Janet couldn’t wait, and started painting almost as soon as we found out.” I took the picture from him and stood it up on a randomly placed shelving unit. “You seem to be pretty good at moving boxes around. I have a lot more downstairs if you are looking for a new career.”
“Where’s my wallet!?” Janet called from the kitchen.
“Lucky. Saved by the delivery boy.” I grinned and headed towards the front door to pay for the pungent bags that were already burning my sinuses before I had even counted out a tip.
“So where are you from Steve?” Janet asked as we sat down to eat and so began her expert interrogation. With smiles and plates of food she discovered more about CSI Steve than I, the hot shot detective, had learned in the week we had worked together.
Steve Bloom was from Ottawa and had joined the military at eighteen. He had served overseas on two tours, one hot one not. He had cashed his pension out to go back to school and get a degree in criminology and forensics and applied to the Toronto police. Since we were not hiring officers he had gone in as a scientist and was assigned to CSI. He still wanted to be a street cop but was not excited about walking a beat so was waiting on an application to the RCMP and using his time in the military as the lead on his resume. He had worked on some of the most confusing cases Toronto had ever suffered and I was surprised to learn he had been loaned out to several investigations in other cities due to his excellent record and sharp eye. I now understood why he was so interested in working with me on this case as he had been trapped in his lab as long as he could stand. Based on the cases he mentioned I recognized his worth, and appreciated that every one of those mentioned had been non violent. My wife didn’t need to know the details of the blood soaked files I waded through every day.
Janet put a second pot of coffee on before she went to bed, and Steve and I went back to the office/nursery to work. “So where do we start now?” he asked.
“Davro” I replied. “I want to get everything we know about him, and where we need to look for more. He’s the only other person who has regular access to Davis’s apartment and could have planted the evidence.”
“He’s the talent agent, right?” Steve moved a box. There’s not a lot. He made a statement to the officers before the CSI team started taking the place apart, but we don’t have that yet.” Other then that just the basic search sheet.” He pulled out a single piece of paper, and began to read off it. “Mark Davro, divorced, forty-eight years old, owner/operator of Davro dealership. One employee a Missy Collins, twenty-four. Office in the Scotia building. No criminal record, no warrants.” He turned the paper over, and back again. “That’s it”
“Well I want more then that.” I said reaching for a note pad. “I started scribbling things down as I said them. “Credit reports, the divorce papers, Alibi..no,” I scratched that out. “Not yet. Interview his employee. Get a picture to hand out around the crime scenes, in case anyone saw him. Fingerprints, DNA if we can. Who else does he represent.”
Steve interrupted me. “Well that one is pretty easy.” He pulled the laptop out of the top box. “You have Wifi?”
After he plugged the laptop into my modem with some minor jabs about dinosaur and dial up he was online looking for the company website and social media accounts. “Okay, he seems to represent 4 artists and an actor..Never heard of any of these guys.” He expanded the search” Well that explains it. Davis is the only one who is successful. Most of these other guys have Facebook and that’s about it. Nothing new on the web site about them, no news articles. Lots of stuff about Davis.” I was reading over Steve’s shoulder.
“Top artist, Refreshing view. Something new. Bringing out the colour in our grey streets. Lots of headlines, are they all about Davis?” I asked.
Steve flipped through them quickly. “Yeah. This guy is pretty popular with the art crowd”
“Was” I corrected.
“What?” Steve glanced back at me and then back to the screen.
“Look at the dates on the articles.” I pointed out. “They are all from last year or before. Even the ones at the top of the list are reprints of older stories.”
Steve flipped through them again. “Yeah, You’re right. There isn’t much new and the only one from this year” He paused at a page. “Is from a little art pamphlet, not really a paper.”
I sat back for a bit and started to think. Why would you frame your only source of income? If Davis goes to jail Davro might as well close up shop. Even if the guy isn’t as popular now, any money must be better than none. And you can’t get insurance for having someone go to prison, could you? I asked Steve.
“No, I guess you could sue the artist’s estate for loss of income, but it would be a hassle. What about Davis’ father? The guy is pretty important. Blackmail or spy stuff?” He offered back to me.
“That’s possible, but pretty unlikely. This Davro doesn’t seem to have any experience in anything but art related stuff. How would he even know what was worth something to a foreign nation, and how would he even know how to sell it?” I shook my head. “It’s got to be related to art.”
We sat in silence for a while flipping through the inane posts the artists and their agent had posted on social media. One of them was overly fond of cute cats, another had some issues with comic books. two thought they were the funniest guys on the web, and posted dozens of short videos of them doing the most inane things. Davro’s was almost all business and even some tips for aspiring artists to try. Steve came back from the kitchen with fresh cups of coffee, now strong and bitter after sitting in the pot for hours.
As he came in I remembered the conversation with the girl at the cultural center.
“Jackson, Pellet and Davis will probably be very wealthy men some day if they can get the recognition they deserve”
“Hey Steve. What makes people buy paintings?” I asked as he stepped in.
“I don’t know” he replied as he handed me my cup. “Originality, investment, they just like it. Hell I think some buy it just because someone told them it was good”
“Think, investment.” I prodded “Now what makes an artist worth buying”
He knew I was trying to get somewhere on this tact so began to concentrate. “Well if the artist is good their paintings can be worth a fortune after they die, but that’s risky, No one knows which way the art crowd will jump on what artist. Take Andy Warhol, everybody got crazy for his stuff. He even painted a soup can to prove that people would buy anything he did. He was so famous even a doodle on a napkin would be worth a fortune” He paused.”I guess owning a painting from someone that is famous is a good investment”
“Or notorious” I replied. “Look Davis started off hot, everyone was buying his stuff but then people get tired of it and start looking for something new. Davis doesn’t stop painting, he really can’t do anything else, and his stuff is good, I mean even to a layman its good. But if you are his agent and his paintings are not selling any more how do you bring them back into the spotlight? How do you get them back in the news? Doing local art shows might get you a little exposure, but if you wanted everyone in the art world to see your artist you need to make a splash.”
Steve was right there with me. “A serial killer artist. There are a lot of people that would jump on that. The art crowd loves a scandal, and having one hanging in your collection would be exciting to some of them” He paused.”You know, the artist doesn’t even have to stop. He could paint in prison and his stuff would still sell. That could be it.”
I continued, on a roll now.”Davro could do it, he has full access to the artist, and his medication. Drug him. While he’s asleep take some paint or brush from the apartment and commit a murder of opportunity and plant the evidence. He had access to the paint, the scarf, the glass. Could easily hide the glass and blood from Veronica Wolf. He could have been at the cultural center and she would have probably been thrilled to talk to one of the artist’s agent. He could have intercepted the messages from Mark Hodges and set up a meeting. Most of the others were high risk lifestyles. Easy picking for a man with murder on his mind.” I began to write again.”We need to find out if Davro was at any of these places, and if there is any security footage of him around Davis apartment carrying anything in or out from a crime scene. We also need to find out if there are debts or obligations that could be stress points in the last few months.”
Steve began typing on the laptop. “Credit reports, Even where he hangs out. He may have a gambling or illegal drug problem that would not show up in a regular search” I knew this kid was sharp.
We continued to work well after the coffee ran out and I introduced Steve to our couch for the night while I climbed into bed with Janet. “Did you solve any cases?”She mumbled half asleep.
“Yes, Sweets we did.” And I spent the rest of the night tossing and sweating as my stomach fended off an attack of fiery arrows from the Paneer Tikki by trying to drown it in a gallon of twice reheated coffee.
The next morning I watched them load Davis into a transport to the secure mental ward at St Luc’s and told the escorting officer to be very sure he arrived unharmed. To make my point crystal clear I told them that there was a good chance they were transporting a witness, not a suspect. I then began to collaborate with Steve as we started the long task of trying to get anything to stick to Davro.
For three weeks we went over everything, as Steve had other cases to process I was on my own most of the time, but every chance he got Steve was right there on the case, and almost as often General Davis was on my phone demanding action.
“So there’s no video of Davro carrying anything from or to Davis apartment. But that doesn’t mean anything. They only have a camera at the front of the building and Garage. Nothing inside, and nothing at the rear entrance. Anyone with a key could come and go without being seen.
He is at the Cultural center that day, but nothing shows he talked to the victim. He spends most of his time with his employee” The girl in the suit I had talked to. “who was running the show.
There’s no security cameras at any of the murder locations. and no one remembers seeing him at any of the crime scenes” Steve dropped the file on my desk with a frustrated grunt. “He doesn’t have any really bad habit I can see. Spends a lot of money, more then he can really afford according to his credit report, but all in a legal fashion, and he’s not really behind on his bills yet. We can’t interview his Ex. She’s in Croatia of all places, but everything looks like the divorce was amicable. No contact after the divorce that shows up with any red flags. They just drifted apart and went their own ways. No kids, no mess. If he did it, I can’t find any evidence and honestly the only motive he could have is just being greedy.”
Maybe that was enough. Davro seemed to enjoy the lifestyle he had and maybe he could see far enough ahead to know it was coming to a close. Guys like him needed the glamour to maintain their sense of importance. Maybe greed was enough. I looked up and realized that maybe I was going to find out what actually made him tick. He had come into the squad room and was talking to the desk Sergeant.
From the front desk he spotted me and started to speak as if on a stage with a handful of cops as the audience. “Detective Corin” He said adjusting his shirt cuffs” at least he got my rank right this time. “I know what you are doing, detective and I am shocked. Shocked and disgusted that you are trying to drag me into this horrible affair. I don’t know if it’s Michael’s Father that has got you trying to muddle this case or if you just don’t know when to stop.” I rose, unimpressed with his allusion that I was somehow being bought off by a suspect’s father. As I approached he didn’t back down. In fact I began to see that this entire display was a show, a show he had rehearsed before showing up. It was inevitable he would eventually find out we were looking into him. In fact I was a little surprised how long it took him to confront me.
His show continued.”You have poor Michael in custody. God only knows how he is surviving in a filthy jail cell. He must be beside himself in grief over what he has done.” He paused dramatically and placed a hand over his heart.”But that’s not enough for you. While he sits rotting in a cell you don’t even charge him, there is no bail, there is no day in court. You dither around looking for someone else to blame when I am sure all he wants is closure. Closure and a chance to make amends for the horrible things he has done. Maybe I should have kept a closer eye on him when he began to become erratic. Maybe I should have known that he was on the edge of a breakdown and sought out the help he needed.” He actually used the word sought. “But I am only one man and I have a number of clients to take care of. I should not be subjected to this witch hunt that you are holding. Simply because I did not foresee the pain and suffering Michael would cause so many people.”
Okay, show’s over I thought. “Michael is not rotting in a jail cell he is quite comfortable under a doctor’s care.” I walked up to stand over this puffed up little man to see if I could get a tell or reaction from him that would send me on the right path, but as I looked into his Eyes I saw, nothing. There was emotion in his voice, in his gestures, but deep inside there was nothing. Everything was a show and display. the clothes, the words. This man was acting out a role that he felt was expected. He was a hollow body that had been clothed in a costume and played the role he thought others wanted to see. Here was a man who could gossip at a cocktail party or strangle a woman with a scarf with an equal lack of emotion. I could feel the psychosis, or more appropriately, I couldn’t feel the emotionless void that only a true sociopath contains. The dead eyes stared into mine for a moment and there was just a hint of fear that comprehension brought as he realized he had revealed something after all. “Gotcha” I whispered, and he turned and stormed away , but only as far as the door. By the time he got to the elevator his walk was as casual as someone taking a stroll.
I came back into the office on Monday ready for a new approach on how to deal with Mr. Davro. He had been right, it was a witch hunt, but this time there really was a witch. Normally we gather the evidence and use that to hunt for a suspect. It’s the natural order of police work, but here I had the suspect and was hunting the evidence. That’s what was making it so hard. It was unnatural to my instincts and I needed to adjust my way of thinking to it.
I started to go through the messages on my desk, as this, while the most interesting, was not the only case I was working on. The third message in the pile had me running for the door.
As I ran out to the parking lot I could see Steve walking up the sidewalk to the entrance. “GET IN THE CAR!” I shouted as I jogged towards where I was parked. Coffee still in his hand Steve sprinted to my car and beat me to it by several second. I clearly needed to spend more time at the gym, or he needed to spend less.
“What is it!” he asked as I unlocked the doors and we got in.
“Some idiot released Davis from the hospital yesterday” I jammed the car into gear and almost hit a patrol officer coming in from a long night on the streets.
We got to the hospital in less then 20 minutes and I fumed in the elevator on the way up to the psych ward. I had explained what little I knew to Steve during the car ride. “Somebody checked Davis out of the ward and since he was checked in as a witness not a suspect, they let him go. The idiot who was escorting him checked the wrong boxes on the form. If I find out it was his father I’m going to rip those stars off his shoulders and stuff my badge up his ass.”
I rushed over to the nurses station as soon as the door opened.”Davis!” I almost shouted. What time was he released?”
The startled nurse began to reach for a phone to call security on me. probably thinking I had escaped from one of the mental wards. One for overly excitable patients who may be a threat. she looked over my shoulder at Steve and hesitated, then reached for a clip board. I looked over my shoulder to see that Steve was holding his ID up over my head.
“You might want to consider letting people see your badge before you assault them” He quipped
“Sorry, Ma’am”I apologized.”It’s very important, When was Michael Davis released and into whose custody.” I pulled my badge out.”Please”
With a slightly perturbed look on her face she glanced at me, the badge Steve the badge and then the clipboard.
“Davis” She mumbled to herself as she looked through the papers. “Davis. Oh yes the boy who wouldn’t keep his clothes on. He was quite popular with some of the ladies”
I looked annoyed.
“Just saying” she shrugged and looked back at the board. Yesterday, Sunday morning at 9:30am. He was released into the custody of his official agent a Mr.”
“Davro” Steve and I said along with her.
What was he up to? I couldn’t see an end game. or was it a continuation? Had Davro developed a taste for the murders and needed his patsy out to continue them? Or was he just looking to create one more scene with evidence that clearly implicated Davis? Where would he have taken him?
I rushed back to the car with a copy of the release form in a fresh evidence bag and Steve in tow. Pulling out my phone I called it in and asked that some uniforms be sent to Davro’s home while Steve and I went Davro’s office. This time I didn’t ask Steve to wait in the car, he had combat experience that I hadn’t known about before and I could use the backup.
In the office was only the girl from the art show at the cultural center, Missy Collins. “Is Mr. Davro here at the moment?” I asked.
“No, he has not called in yet? Would you like to leave your name and I will have him call you?” She clearly didn’t remember me, but of course I had not been a buyer so would not have interested her enough at the time to make an impression. This time I remembered to take out the badge first.
We’ll just take a quick look around” I said as I strolled past her desk. She followed me around protesting slightly at the invasion of privacy and needing a warrant. Way to many people watch American police shows and don’t know the laws in Canada. I didn’t need a warrant to look for a suspect in his own office, when I suspected a crime was about to be committed, and if I did I would worry about it later. In the end it was a waste of time. Davro wasn’t there and I would need a warrant if I wanted to look in the safe or his files. Steve and I left and when we got back to the car I called for an update on Davro’s home. He wasn’t there either.
We drove back towards the precinct dejected and knowing something dark was about to lift it’s head and laugh at our incompetence and I wanted to get my hands on Davro and shake him till he confessed.
I almost drove off the road reaching for my phone when it started to ring.
Hello? Corin here.” I said regaining control of the wheel while I put the call on speaker.
“Detective Corin…. Hi”
“Davis?” I asked incredulously “Where are you?”
“I’m at home, detective” He said in a distracted sing song voice.”I’ve done something really bad, Detective. Really really bad.”
Don’t be so sure Michael” I soothed, “We think it was Davro. Do you know where Davro is?”
He giggled sadly. “Yes. You should probably come over.” and he disconnected
I turned the car around and started driving towards Michael Davis’ apartment while Steve called in and asked for some uniforms to meet us there but to not. NOT enter until we arrived.
Thirty minutes later we arrived at Davis’ building and parked in front of the door. “You guys watch the doors, and there’s another one out back so send someone to watch it. Davis and Davro are to be apprehended if they try to leave. Got it?”The officers started to move. “Steve, you’re with me.”
As we got to Davis’ apartment I listened but couldn’t hear anything through the door. with Steve and I flanking the door I knocked quietly. Within moments the door was opened by Michael Davis, dressed in a well tailored suit he invited us in. “Come in Detective, and your friend as well come in.”
I couldn’t quite get a grasp on his state of mind. He was not happy, not sad, just distant and..relieved. that was it. he was relaxed and relieved.
“In there.” He pointed towards his studio and with a quick unnecessary glance at Steve to keep an eye on Davis, I made my way carefully to the door of the studio and pushed the slightly ajar door open wider.
There was a new painting propped against the wall at the far end of the room in the upper left quarter of the canvas was the same image that Davis had started on his cell wall. an illuminated Mark Hodges smiling but looking down at a blood covered slumped Mark Davro, Except Davro wasn’t painted, he was nailed to the canvas and the blood was very very real.
“It’s not very good” I heard Davis say from the other room. “It’s very hard to work with blood, it wouldn’t stay on the canvas right. But I think Mark will understand”
As I reached for my cuffs I wasn’t sure which Mark he was referring to, but as he calmly turned around so I could cuff him I realized he was clearly aware of what was about to happen, and this time he had dressed for the occasion.
Michael Davis was charged with manslaughter and found mentally insane, he was going to spend several years in a mental facility visited often by his parents, and painting as therapy.
Steve got a call from the RCMP and was off training with them.
The excited buzz of dozens of voices filled the auction room and subsided quickly as the auctioneer climbed the few steps to the stage
“Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for coming. I think we all know why we are here, so I won’t waste your valuable time with unnecessary backgrounds and chit chat.” He bowed slightly to the polite applause. “So to begin.” He pointed to his left and a sharply dressed Missy Collins stepped forward to put her first client’s painting on the viewing stand. “A small early oil painting by the notorious artist Davis of Davro”
Missy Collins smiled brightly at the crowd, one hand on her hip as she swept the other gracefully past the painting. No one in the room noticed the instant that her movement perfectly shadowed the pose of the brightly coloured prostitute offering her wares in the painting.
“Shall we start the bidding at..Oh..one hundred thousand? thank you madam, am I offered one ten?, one ten?, do I see one twenty?..twenty?..twenty?..yes..thirty?..thirty?..”
And somewhere in the city, a child that had never been born was whisked out into the night never to be seen again
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will be available for purchase when I finish writing it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this first book of the cases of Shawn Corin and I hope you are as interested as I am to see what the next page reveals .
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