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Secrets of the Asylum Ch. 7 Part 1
File Case 7: Tip of the Iceberg (Dec. 1, 2009)
It was Winter.
It was Winter when the house of twenty River Drive was broken into and it was Winter when Diana Taylor had a terrifying telephone conversation that would lurk in her mind for the rest of her life, like a long and deep scar that never heals.
“Hello, your alarm just went off and you failed to punch in the correct security code, so what is the password?”
“Oh good, I was worried for a moment that I would get an automated telephone call, they’re so annoying, but nowadays it seems like that’s the only type of conversation that I can have on a telephone.”
“Sir, what is the password.”
“Don’t interrupt. Now as I was saying, those automated telephone calls are so annoying. Just when you want to talk to someone then there’s that annoying, emotionless voice.”
“Excuse me sir, do you mean that you didn’t punch in the security code just because you wanted to talk to someone?”
“No, actually I broke into someone else’s house just to talk to someone. You see I’ve been having this problem recently that I don’t think any stupid shrink or dumb doctor can cure. It all started when I killed this girl. Not the first, but that’s when I was ready to make my first vocal appearance.”
“Sir, what is the name of this girl.”
“No need for me to answer that, her corpse is next to me right now. However I will tell you some information. First of all my, car is parked in front of the house and right now it has the license plate CANUDANC on it. By the way, the roads are slick with ice and snow, of course the snow stopped about five minutes ago and it will probably stay stopped for the rest of the day, but still tell your little police officers to drive carefully. Finally give my regards to Nick Hanson…Diana, isn’t it?”
“So what am I looking at here?” Nick asked Captain Steel as he eyed the peculiar sight in front of him.
“The dead body of Brittany Sullivan with a paper sign stuffed in her mouth,” Captain Steel replied, who was only slightly phased by the odd sight before her, due to the fact that after many years of work on various levels of police work she had seen a wide variety of odd and disgusting things, but still she was a little phased.
“I was hoping for an explanation a little more detailed,” Nick explained, not phased in the very slightest sense of the word. “Well to start with, why you called me here, who are all of the other people in the house, do you have any suspects.”
“Okay to start with,” Captain Steel replied, starting out slowly, but quickly picking up speed as she spoke. “Seth Green is that man over there with the black hair and dark brown eyes. He’s one of the college students residing here. Jim Stewart is the man over there with the red hair and blue eyes. He’s another of the college students residing here. Catherine McKenzie is the lady over there with the brown hair and green eyes, she’s an environmentalist, and she’s also a college student sharing this place, but unlike the rest she is twenty-two, while the others are twenty-one. They were all straight A-B students. However the snow stopped them from going out today, so they stayed home, only to find Brittany missing, and they couldn’t reach her by cell phone. Naturally they went out into the streets, in order to look for her, that way they could be sure that she was missing, before they informed us. When they came back without finding her, they found her right here, next to the phone and the back window broken. As for the reason why I called you and Jake here, I have several reasons. First of all look at that sign stuffed in our victim’s mouth and second of all, the lunatic who broke in mentioned your name on the phone while talking to the security system operator.”
“The sign could serve as a diversion,” Nick suggested, as he looked at the sign that read, TO MAKE THE WORLD FAIR, with flawless lettering. “By the way you can leave out any mention of the phone call. I already listened to it, thanks to Rachel. So did you find the car with the license plate marked CANUDANC?”
“As to your question, yes we found it, it’s a hummer. As to your suggestion, Nick I’m going to go with the psycho theory,” Captain Steel said rubbing the bridge of her nose. “The last thing that I want is to have this guy keep attacking innocent people all over D.C., because we’re spread so thin that we can’t investigate a theory at our normal pace.”
As Captain Steel finished her sentence, Detective Morris, who was nearby, butted his way into the conversation. “You heard the Captain, we should trust her instincts, after all that’s why she’s Captain.”
Captain Steel turned towards Detective Morris. “Yes, the gossip is true that I’m considering you for promotion, so you can just get back to your job and let Nick speak, or I just might reconsider my idea to promote you.”
Nick had not been intimidated in the least by Detective Morris. “CANUDANC, that’s the license plate of the car that ran over Mac.”
“Yes it is. That’s one of the reasons why I hired you two and Dr. Qing, an expert in criminal psychology.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Dr. Qing stated making herself noticed for the first time and holding her hand out.
“Oh, like the Qing dynasty,” Nick said shaking Dr. Qing’s hand, and making eye contact.
“Correct, Mr. Hanson, you’re the second person this month who has made that connection,” Dr. Qing stated.
“Let me guess, it was Tim who was the other person to make that connection,” Nick said.
“I can see why you hire him already,” Dr. Qing said. “That’s good, we should break this case wide open in no time.”
Smoothly and quickly Nick replied. “Thank you, but I would like to know your thoughts on this insane person theory.”
After a few moments of contemplating the body Dr. Qing stated her initial opinion. “Usually people who are psychotic killers are triggered by something that reminds them of a past pain that they had in their childhood, when they were most easily influenced. However this one is different, he brings pain to the friends or family of the victim and he seems to have the belief that the world is better without whoever he kills. I think he is a self proclaimed judge, and he kills without considering the good in people. Perhaps he’s not insane, so much as he is a vigilante.”
While Nick was speaking Jake’s eyes flicked across Nick’s face, quickly assessing Nick’s mood. If there was one special skill that Jake had that Nick wasn’t already better at it was reading emotions and as Jake read Nick’s emotions he could see the truth. He could tell form the forced laughter that was almost completely convincing, the slightly downcast eyes and the steadily growing furrow in Nick’s brow, that Nick was hiding a deep sadness. Nick didn’t usually show any kind of sadness, but there was something about this case that made Nick sad and could that possibly be a hint of anger?
Zach walked over to stand next to Jake. “Have you found anything?”
“No,” Jake lied, though he could have just said that Nick’s emotions were not relevant to the case even though Jake suspected that they were in some odd way.
“What about the letters on the paper, could we get an ink analysis off of the paper,” Zach inquired.
“It would depend on what was used to write the words,” Jake replied.
Then unexpectedly Rachel came up behind them. “I’ve already taken a sample of that, I’m almost positive that it’s red ink.”
“Then we should be able to test it,” Jake concluded.
Just then Jake kneeled down to get a better look at the writing on the paper, he had found something. At first Zach and Rachel didn’t understand what he was doing and they especially didn’t know what he was doing when he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket.
“What are you doing?” Rachel asked. “Is that recycled paper?”
“Yes to the second question, I’ve been buying recycled paper, ever since you told me how much damage paper can really do, but as to the first question I am checking the angles on the letters, because on second thought there are a few ways that letters can be written, without any trace of their normal handwriting,” Jake replied.
So Jake took the piece of paper that he had taken out of his pocket and put it against the other piece of paper that had been cruelly shoved down the victim’s throat, after about a half minute of careful examination Jake stood up and pronounced his conclusion. “We won’t be able to get a hand writing analysis off of that, the lines are perfectly straight and parallel to the edges of the paper, the two Os have little holes in their centers, and the T has its vertical line perpendicular to its horizontal line.”
“I don’t get it,” Zach said.
“What courses did you take in school?” Jake asked.
“I was into football but other than that I didn’t really do anything extra,” Zach responded.
“Soccer is so much better than football, it takes a lot more talent,” Jake argued good naturally.
“Jake would you mind getting back to the writing,” Rachel requested, “and anyway, swimming is better than soccer or football, so you can consider that argument over.”
“Right, anyway one of the subjects that I took in school was drafting, in there we used tools like the compass and T-square to make the lines perfect, so looking at the perfect letters, especially the little hole in the middle of every circle made me realize that the criminal that we’re looking for knows how to use drafting tools,” Jake concluded putting stress on all of the times he said perfect so that his friends would make the connection that he had.
“I wish you were wrong, because, if you are right then we have a lot of draftsmen to investigate,” Rachel said.
“We won’t have to investigate that many people actually, my drafting teacher told me that only he taught hand drafting, he said that all the other teachers in Virginia start their students out on computer and keep them on computer. Due to that almost no one in D.C. learns how to use the equipment now, so we just have to cross reference the draftsmen in this area, with ones that actually own drafting equipment other than computer programs,” Jake stated, triumphant at having solved even a minor portion of the case.
“That’s great, I’ll call Conner, and get him to work on the cross reference, that is of course if I can remember the coroner office number, seeing as he forgot his cellphone today” Rachel replied happily, with a gleam of admiration in her eyes.
“Wait, Conner Allen?” Jake asked quizzically. “Isn’t he the coroner?”
“Yes, he is,” Rachel replied. “However he’s able to do more than one thing, particularly with so few corpses to deal with right now.”
Without another word Rachel flipped open her cell phone and proceeded to make the call.
If only she had known that it would not be long before Conner did have more corpses to deal with.
Later that day Nick was brooding and thinking as he sat with a cup of coffee in his hands that had gone cold a long time ago and now sat motionless like a swamp with creatures swimming just beneath the surface. In mid thought Nick’s phone rang, and he answered it, pushing all of his thoughts out of his head as he did. “Hello, this is Nick Hanson.”
“Oh, sorry I think that I got the wrong number, but you might as well know what I found,” the person calling replied.
“Is that you Conner?” Nick asked.
“Yes it is,” Conner replied. “I intended to call Rachel, and say who our suspect is, but I’ll tell you, the only draftsman in the area that uses hand tools is a man named Kyle Cooke.”
“Well that’s interesting, but I haven’t known you to get the wrong number…ever.”
“People make mistakes Nick.”
“I have four numbers different than Rachel’s number, that’s a pretty big mistake.”
“I pressed the wrong speed dial number.”
“You left your cell phone at home today by accident, remember, even now you must be calling me on the coroner’s office phone.”
“Fine, here’s your answer, only three people know about what happened Nick, and I’m one of them, so I can make the same connections in a case that I assume you already have.”
Nick stared down at the ground with a longing for the many things that he had lost many years ago, when he was young, strong and happy.
“So I know that no matter the means you will solve this case.”
Nick moved his head back to the phone before responding. “Thank you.”
Later that day Captain Steel led Nick and Jake across a snow covered path that was meant to lead to the door of the towering complex that housed Kyle Cooke’s office. As the trio entered the office door they left behind them the only footsteps in the newly fallen snow. As the trio walked through the door Captain Steel commented. “Not many people around today.”
“I already called ahead for you,” Jake said. “Mr. Cooke assured me that he was here and for that matter, there he is.”
Nick found himself looking into the eyes of an African American man with a bald head and very dark eyes, that seemed almost black like a night sky. “Greetings, I am Mr. Cooke, certified draftsman. Please, come in.”
“Thank you,” Nick said as he was led the way into Mr. Cooke’s office.
The office looked more like a garbage dump, than a draftsman’s office, particular considering that draftsmen are commonly known for organization. There was a T-square hanging off of the edge of a desk, there was a triangle on the other edge of the desk, there was an opened book on top of a computer, there was a coat sitting on the back of a chair and there was a calendar hanging lopsided on the wall. All of which were a stark contrast to Mr. Cooke’s drawings, which he had drawn with the upmost precision and hung on the wall with the greatest of care. From orthographic, to isometric, to perspective drawings, all of them were flawless.
“So let’s start out with some questions,” Captain Steel said. “Where were you this morning?”
“I was here all night,” Mr. Cooke testified calmly.
“Let’s get something straight here…” Captain Steel said, her frustration over the case obvious. “I don’t trust what you say, especially if you have absolutely no proof to support your alibi. So you better give me the truth, because if I were the judge right now I would throw a big fat “you’re guilty” in your face. I am ninety nine point nine percent sure that you have committed a crime that would put you away for life, so you can have a shortened life, or you can confess, and get a life in jail.”
“Wait a second, I’m an American tax payer, I have my rights and I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Mr. Cooke defended himself boldly. “So I’m not going to say another thing until I get my lawyer.”
Just then Captain Steel’s phone rang, she answered it and heard Conner’s voice from the other end. “Hello Captain Steel I’m afraid that I have some bad news, I think that you better sit down for it.”
Just then Nick interrupted without noticing that Captain Steel was trying to talk on the phone. “Captain Steel this may be a bad time to tell you, but Mr. Cooke couldn’t have done it, the snow stopped before the body was even dropped off, so if he had returned here afterwards he would have put footprints in the fresh snow, but our footprints where the only ones leading to this office.”
After a look of frustration passed across Captain Steel’s face she turned to Mr. Cooke. “My apologies,” then she turned back to her phone. “Okay Conner this bad news better not be that bad, because right now I am in a very bad mood.”
“Well if it makes you feel any better it’s actually something that’s very weird. From what I have found in the body of Ms. Sullivan is that although she has had some surgeries, which makes sense, because she has a little bit of cancer in her organs, but not enough to kill her, in fact there is absolutely no reason why she should have died. No evidence of death by a natural cause even. I’m sure that she is dead, but yet, in a way, I question if she did die,” Conner explained.
By this point Captain Steel had turned red with anger and embarrassment. Without even closing the phone Captain Steel whipped around to glare at Nick and whispered through clenched teeth. “If Mr. Cooke couldn’t have done it, then who could have? You better be able to tell me that, or I’ll reconsider the amount that I pay you for each case.”
“Calm down,” Conner said, overhearing the statement on the phone. “This isn’t an interrogation, just let Nick speak, he usually has good ideas.”
After a moment of deep breathing Captain Steel said, “thank you.” She shut her phone, “I’m ready to hear what you have to say now Nick.”
“Actually I don’t have anything to say, when I think about it I can’t think about another person in the area with the right skills or equipment, but don’t get frustrated, while you were talking Jake informed me that he has just widened the suspect list a little bit. So Jake please enlighten us.”
Jake stepped forward, choosing his words carefully so as to not bring Captain Steel’s wrath down on him. “I know someone. I just realized that I said it myself. There is a whole group of people in D.C. who have the skills necessary. My former drafting teacher or one of his students could have made the sign. I said myself that he once told me that he was the only teacher in the area that still taught the old style of drafting, so we could go to the school, it may be closed to students today, but the teachers are still working.”
Nick turned towards Mr. Cooke, who was by now extremely frustrated with having been accused of a crime that he hadn’t committed. “May we use your phone to call ahead?”
“Let me think about that for a second,” Mr. Cooke replied sarcastically. “You came into my office with my greetings. Then you proceeded to threaten me with jail. I would say that any man with any self respect would shout no in your face. NO!”