[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 060
Chapter 14 (5 of 8): Headquarters
“Just that wound to the rear of the head. A nasty piece of work. And the note. It’s in the lab now, but they weren’t helpful about getting the numbers.
“But, no, nothing else. Just the body and the name.”
She shuffled a few folders in front of her and squared them up on the desk. “We should be thankful for small favors.” Phoebe could recall a few cases where she had started an investigation with just a suspicion of murder but no corpse. But she had cracked them. “At least we have a body. No doubt about that. And that’s a start. We’ll work with what we have.”
They were sitting around a scarred table. Sundelius and Aronson were drinking their lattes. “They’re both young,” Phoebe thought idly. And Garrett was putting cream into coffee from the hot plate. She herself was sipping from a cardboard container of apple juice and trying not to scatter crumbs from her blueberry muffin.
“And the autopsy?” Ulla Sundelius asked.
“It’ll be a while,” Phoebe offered. “I’ve already spoken with Dr. Szerny in the Pathology Department. The body was frozen solid, and it has to be allowed to thaw. Apparently they put it in salt water they keep a little warmer than normal body temperature. Last I heard there wouldn’t be an autopsy until sometime Wednesday morning, possibly Tuesday evening.”
Phoebe looked around the table at nobody in particular.
“In the meantime I guess we’ll have to keep ourselves busy in other ways,” Aronson suggested. “I suppose that means no finger prints either.”
“Probably not until Wednesday,” Phoebe replied.
“That’s too bad,” Ulla Sundelius said. She was very young, twenty-nine, Phoebe reminded herself. But a bright woman who would probably go far. She was on some kind of year-long exchange program with the Stockholm police, where, according to her dossier, she was on a hot track in that city’s homicide bureau. Phoebe liked her enthusiasm as well as the woman’s deference – which never inhibited her from saying what she thought. Her English was excellent. A lot better than my Swedish, Phoebe acknowledged. And she was very attractive. Not your typical American’s stereotype of the typical Swede, but dark-haired and dark-complected. There was some non-Nordic blood there, Phoebe thought. She liked Ulla; everybody did. She particularly liked the light-hearted sense with which she handled the men in the squad and firmly deflected their flirting without putting anybody off. A solid member of the team.
In turn, Sandra Schaeffer had been in Stockholm since July of last year and would return to the city in another six months. From all reports, she was enjoying her stay in Sweden and learning a lot. “They’re totally wired here,” is the way she had put it in a Christmas note to Phoebe.
“The note,” Ulla went on, “‘Mazarine’. A name? Her own name? Or somebody else’s?”
“My thoughts, too. But since people usually don’t write down their own phone numbers, I’d assume somebody else. Who knows?”
Phoebe gave her a your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine look.
“How about this Dexter Wright? Any chance he’s involved?” Willard Garrett was making a good if obvious point. He was her senior assistant, a reliable and easy-going six-footer with over a decade of solid experience in Homicide.
Phoebe shot out her lower lip and pulled an ear lobe. “It’s obviously something to consider. And we may have to visit that issue again later. But for now I make him a low priority. Very low. I talked to him pretty extensively, and my gut tells me he’s just what he says he is, a hunter who stumbled on a body hidden by the morning’s heavy snow fall.” She hesitated. “Of course, at this stage nothing is ruled out.”
Phoebe took it on herself to teach the people she worked with in the course of the investigations she headed up, and decided to probe. “What do you think we should do at this point?” She addressed her question to Rickie Aronson. He was a good-looking guy in his late thirties and had come over to Homicide about six months ago. He wasn’t a flashy investigator but meticulous and methodical. Kind of like Phoebe herself, she acknowledged. And he sometimes had a tendency to sound a little pedantic. But he had been with the police for almost fifteen years now and had had an excellent record in vice before he transferred. So far the only thing about him that gave Phoebe some pause was his guarded adherence to the dictates of political correctness, but that was a small point. She had found no fault with his style.
“Well,” he said cautiously, “I think at this point I’d go with missing persons. See what’s been posted over the weekend.”
“Good idea,” Phoebe said. Garrett was nodding in agreement. “What I would have recommended myself.”
“I’m on it.” Because of her facility with computers and data-base surfing she had become the chief techie for whatever team she was assigned to. And she was very good at it. “Shouldn’t take me long,” she said as she got up and went off to the computer room.
“Any other thoughts at this point?”
“I suppose there’s no need for us all to tramp out to the spot where the body was found,” Garrett said. “I mean, you were there, and shortly we should get the on-site report from the sheriff’s office. And Purcell and her crew. What do you think?”
“You’re probably right,” Phoebe said slowly. “By now the whole area is pretty thoroughly messed up, and we’ll have lots of photos. As well as video tape. Anders shot his usual thorough series. I’ve asked the graphics unit to stand by and create some schematics of the site, too.”
They twirled their drinks.
“Let me suggest the following. Rickie, while Ulla is searching missing persons I’d like you to get on line and see if you can find any similar cases. Dumped bodies, snow, winter, rural. Play around with it, finesse it.
“And then give the Weather Bureau a call and ask them if we can get a printout on the times and amounts of snow-fall around Dust for, say, the last month. Since the middle of December.”
“Right,” Aronson said. He asked no questions but simply grabbed his latte and left the room.
The phone rang, and they both went for their cells. It was Phoebe’s.
“Light!” she said. She listened, nodding, muttering. “Fine. Thanks for the heads-up.” There was some more nodding. “Back here at five. Bye.”
Garrett shot her a questioning look.
“Ulla. Thinks she’s got something.” Phoebe rose. “But for now I have the regular Monday afternoon thing with upstairs. This case is likely to be on the docket, and I’ll see if there’s any scuttlebutt. Somehow I have the feeling this is going to be one of those complicated things.”
“Could be,” Garrett said.
“See you back here around five. Pass the word to Rickie and Ulla when they get back. A memo will come around from Bev. Meantime, I’d like you to get some photos of the face from Pathology at the University. Give them to Sue and see if she can make some sketches of the woman’s face with her eyes open.” Sue Prentiss was the police artist. “I prefer not showing around shots of a woman who is obviously dead.”
TO BE CONTINUED