Detective Dave Allen no sooner sat down at his desk when his partner of ten years, Bobby Jordan, barged in and slapped a file down in front of him.
“New info in the Anonymous case, “ he announced as he reached for the coffee pot and a mug.
Dave wadded the remnants of his lunch into the paper bag it came in and tossed it in the waste basket. “What, no Hi, Dave, how was the trip?” He leaned back and eyed his partner sarcastically.
“Yeah, yeah, that too,” Detective Jordan bobbed his head and waved away Dave’s rhetorical complaint.
Booby Jordan was a stocky man of a shorter stature with balding black hair, a New York accent, and an energetic and straight forward approach to everything he did in life. “You can fill me in on that one later, but trust me, you’re gonna wanna hear this.”
“You’re right,” Dave admitted, “and I hope it’s good.” He handed Bobby his empty cup.
“Best of the good news,” Bobby said, filling the mug and handing it back to Dave, “we got evidence. We finally got some goddamn evidence.”
“Prints? Hair? Blood?”
“Blood,” Bobby said. “We think the son-of-a-bitch cut himself when his knife got too slick with the victim’s blood. It’s not much, but it’s enough to test.”
“How soon ‘til the lab has news?” Dave eyed him.
“Should have it tomorrow.”
“Good. We can hope like hell they’ll find a match in the database, though I don’t have much faith.”
“Yeah, well, we know how those can turn out, even though, it’s our ace in the hole. But…here’s the other good news. It’s not for certain, but we think we may have a witness.” He looked pointedly at Dave.
“Dave was about to take a sip of his coffee but set his mug down instead. “No ****?”
Leaning back on the coffee counter with his arms crossed, Bobby shook his head. “Wouldn’t do that to ya, buddy.”
“Dave rocked back in his chair and let out a low whistle. “I’ll be damned. How’d this little morsel come about?” Dave knew as well as Bobby that this case had been kept tightly wrapped. The public had no info on it.
Bobby picked up his mug, brought it to his lips and took a long sip. “Girl comes to the station with a complaint about what she claims is an internet predator…”
“Internet predator?” Dave interrupted, a small tingle starting at the base of his neck. “How old’s the girl?”
“Twenty-eight, I believe.”
“They meet up at a café and she says the guy acted weird--nervous like. He invites her to his place for a weekend and she says no, she’d like to give it a little more time.”
“He accepts that alright, leaves on good terms and they continue the online thing--but,” Bobby paused for effect, “shortly after they had this café rendezvous she says she’s being stalked, that someone’s been inside her place, that her things have been messed with.”
Dave scratched his head, folded his arms, looked out the window then back at Bobby. “Was anything missing? Did she get a threatening call, hear his voice?”
“Nada, but what she did notice was his cologne. She says it’s really unusual and that one evening she comes home and smells it in her place.”
“Okay, okay,” Dave ran a hand through his hair, “but how does this relate to the killings? No two have been alike, that’s the only thing that even remotely links them, other than the vics all being female. We can’t even be sure they are linked.”
Bobby was shaking his head. “You’re forgetting one. Four years ago, the woman who called in what she thought was a burglary. Nothing was missing though, but like this girl, she noticed the scent of cologne. A month after that call, the woman was found dead.”
“I remember now,” Dave said, thinking aloud. “We couldn’t link her murder to the break in without any prints or any other distinguishable evidence--and we never had another case that followed that pattern…”
“Until now,” Bobby supplied. “Even though this isn’t a murder…yet.”
“Anyone babysitting this girl?
“We’re keepin’ two shifts.”
Dave let out a long sigh and leaned forward on his elbows. “If the cologne and the break ins are possible links, we’re gonna need to smother this girl. If and when he makes a move, though, that still only links two cases.”
“Well, with a witness, we can take a composite back through the old cases and see if we can find anybody who might remember ever seeing him around the time one of the murders took place.”
“True…and it’s a helluva lot better than we had before.” Dave couldn’t help thinking about Maddy when he thought about this new development--the guy and the internet. And he couldn’t quit thinking about the new development. “Bobby…have one of the guys look back through all the old cases…see if he can find a link to chatting in any of them.”
“Somethin’ you know that I don’t?” Bobby raised his brows.
Dave frowned. “No, just a thought. But have ‘em get right on it, will ya?”
“You got it.”
After Bobby left, Dave went over everything in his mind again. They had fourteen murders, all women, though different ages and looks. All the murders had a different M.O.. None were killed with the same weapon, often not even the same type, nor were they killed in the same manner. No prints or other evidence had ever surfaced in any of the cases. They’d been left hanging in the wind for six years. They had a feeling they were linked to the same person due to the sheer randomness of them, but they had nothing concrete, not even a suspect.
Now they had a break in case similar to that of one of the murder victims--nothing was stolen and the scent of cologne was left behind. He wondered if they might also be able to link the cases through internet chat. And if they did…where did that leave Maddy? It was very likely she would meet her dream man and live happily ever after. There was no reason to believe her situation had anything to do with this case, but on the other hand, what if he’d let an innocent bystander walk unknowingly into the hands of a killer?