[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
001 002 Prologue 001-002 003 004 005 Chap 1 003-005
Chap 2 006 007 008 Chap 3 007-008 009 010 Chap 4 009-010 011 012 013 Chap 5 011-013 014 015 016 017
Chap 6 014-017 018 019 Chap 7 018-019 020 021 022 023 Chap 8 020-023 024 025 026 027 Chapter 9 024-027 028 029 030 031 Chapter 10 028-031 032 033 034 035 036 037 038 039 040 041 Chapter 11 032-041 042 043 044 045 046
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 047
Chapter 12 (6 of 7): The Detective
“I see what you’re getting at,” Phoebe said slowly. “A bit longer, then?”
“Yes, a bit longer,” the coroner said. “Let’s see, it’s Monday morning. I’d say by Friday or Saturday for sure. You’ll have the gross autopsy report by Sunday. Tox screens and tissue analysis might take a few days more. A week from now you’ll know everything this poor soul’s body can tell you.”
“Yes,” Phoebe intoned, “that’s what I was afraid of.” She flipped through the pages of the notebook she’d been scribbling in. “Any indication animals got to her at some point?”
“None that I saw,” Barb said. “The fact that there are no tracks up to the body doesn’t mean much. I mean, she obviously ended up here at some point before the snow began falling this morning.”
Phoebe nodded in silent agreement.
“I’m going to have a look myself,” she said. “Barb, I’d like you and Henry to take measurements for me. The body, width and length, distance from the road, to the nearest trees.”
The two assistants slid back down into the ditch, and Phoebe followed them clumsily, holding on to Pete’s hand as he stood by the edge of the road. She wished she could have stuck to that diet she’d made in yet one more New Year’s resolution – and that had gone the way of all the others over the years. She opened a fresh page in her notebook and began to draw in a rough sketch of the crime scene. It was not art, but it was functional. She was good at getting proportions of distances right, and she scratched in wavy lines where there were tracks from the hunter’s initial approach. Where the snow had gathered under the side of the corpse, she used a gloved hand to remove some sample patches. The body was not lying directly on top of the dead plants and brushwood of the ditch but on earlier layers of solidified snow. Alongside the drawing she noted in her private shorthand as follows: “no sno/ground whn dumpd – Ö Weather Bur date last sno Sw cnty.”
With the flat of her hand, glove on, she felt the body right above the belt. It was indeed rock-hard. Yes, like a frozen turkey, she thought distastefully. The jeans had pockets, and from the stitching on the reversed sides of the shirt she inferred that it too contained pockets. The side pockets on the jeans were solidified, and she would have had to force them open to check for contents. There was no tell-tale bulge of wallets or ID cards or money clips. The back pockets, or the shirt, might be another matter, and she made a note to check this possibility when they lifted the body for transport.
She finished her walk-around. Henry and Barb had completed their measurements, and the three of them were helped up onto the road. Phoebe got the numbers from her assistants and jotted them down on her drawing.
She had seen nothing that Barb hadn’t. As far as what was visible of the corpse, they had pretty much exhausted the preliminary search for evidence. And yet the most pressing question was still a complete blank: who was this Asian woman, and how did she come to end up so sadly in this remote rural spot in the deep of winter?
She motioned to Preston Schwenicke, the coroner. “O.K., Mr. Schwenicke, it’s your turn.”
The sheriff said, “Vernon, why don’t you give Preston here a hand with the body.”
Vernon didn’t look pleased at this prospect, but he did as asked.
He and the coroner got a gurney from the hearse and slid it down into the ditch about five feet from the head of the corpse. It was laborious going for them with the unwieldy stretcher on the uneven ground beneath the thick snow, but they managed to place it almost level next to the body. When they moved her, she rocked freely, not as if she were coming unstuck from the ground. As the men lifted the body onto the gurney the shirt flaps stuck out stiffly from the bed like truncated wings on a bird. The woman herself was like a board.
Using ropes and the helping hands from above they got the woman up on the road. They popped the gurney up on its wheels.
Phoebe bent down to waist height and peered under the body. There were pockets on the back of the jeans. “Can we rock her just a little?” she asked. “I’d like to see if there’s anything in the back pockets.”
TO BE CONTINUED