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Authors: David Anderson

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BOOK: An Indecent Death
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And in the end, Karl had to let him go.

 

Bill Deans lived in a modest bungalow on a quiet road in the west end of the city. It was the kind of street where everyone looked after their properties; Drumm admired the well-kept gardens and manicured lawns. If only his place looked as good. But then, it was hard to maintain his property as well as these were when he was always being called away on a case. As he waited for Lori Singh to arrive, Drumm looked up and down the street. It was busy this late on a Saturday morning, with kids biking and skateboarding, people coming and going, doing their chores and running errands. A typical, peaceful Saturday morning on a quiet suburban street.

As Lori Singh’s Prius drew up to the curb, Bill Deans came out of his front door and joined them on the sidewalk. He was dressed in blue jeans and sweatshirt with sandals on his feet. “Thank God you didn’t come in a cruiser with lights flashing,” he said. “My neighbours would have loved that.”

“We try to be discreet, Mr. Deans,” said Drumm. “You remember Detective Singh? Nice neighbourhood here. Lived here long?”

“A few years, yeah. It suits me.”

As they spoke, the three of them moved up the driveway to the garage where a red Chevy Equinox was parked. Drumm moved purposefully into the garage so as to get a good look at the vehicle, remarking as he did so, “This is a nice toy, Mr. Deans. But it must cost you a bundle in gas.” He moved around to the front of the vehicle, his eyes checking out the contents of the garage as he did so. There were garden tools hung up on the walls, a snowblower in one corner, winter tires in another. Bill Deans was a tidy and organized man.

“It gets better mileage than you might think,” Deans said. “Almost thirty miles per gallon. I do quite a lot of outdoor stuff, though, so I need the room in the back.”

“What kind of outdoor stuff?” Drumm looked at the front bumper of the Equinox which appeared to have been in a minor accident.

“Oh, camping, fishing, hiking mostly. I travel around the province quite a lot on weekends when I can get away. Algonquin Park is a favourite spot of mine.”

Drumm pointed at the bumper. “What happened here?”

“That? Oh. I had an argument with a pole. At a campground.” Deans looked out at the street, then said, “Why don’t we go out back and talk? It’s more private there, and some of my neighbours are way too nosy for my liking.” He led the way to a patio set around the back. “Something to drink?” he asked politely.

Before Lori could say anything, Drumm answered, “Coffee, please, if you have it.”

“Nothing for me, thanks,” said Lori.

Deans disappeared into the house and Drumm got up from his chair and moved towards the garden shed that stood to one side of the property. Lori joined him and they looked inside to see a lawnmower, wheelbarrow, hoes and rakes, a spade, fertilizer, grass seed and a couple of bags of what appeared to be hedge clippings and other garden waste. They strolled around the property, admiring the neatly edged gardens, then headed back to the patio.

“Looking for anything in particular, Nick?” asked Singh.

“Getting the measure of our man, Lori, that’s all.”

The man in question reappeared with coffee for Drumm and two glasses of lemonade. “In case you change your mind, Detective,” Deans said to Singh. Sitting down, he said, “I wasn’t entirely honest with you the other day, Detective Drumm. When you asked me about sex with Sarah, that is.”

“Yes, I know that,” said Drumm, sipping his coffee.

“You do? Yes, I guess you would. Fact is, I did have sex with Sarah in the storage room. Just the once.”

“Why didn’t you say so on Wednesday then?” asked Lori.

Deans switched his attention to her. “Because you surprised me. I wasn’t expecting that question. I didn’t think anyone knew. How
did
you know anyway?”

Drumm answered for her. “Someone saw you. Tell us about it.”

Deans shrugged. “It was awhile ago, and it was just the once. It was after school and there was no one around – or so I thought – and she followed me into the room where we keep the supplies. I was looking for something, can’t remember what. Next thing I knew, she had closed the door and was pushing up against me and asking me to look at a stain on the front of her tee-shirt.” Deans took a drink of his lemonade. “She was looking at me with this look on her face… Well, you can’t mistake that look when you see it on a woman…” He looked over at Lori Singh, then continued quickly. “Anyway, I obliged her. It was quick, and it was good. And we never did it again.”

“Did she enjoy it?” Drumm thought he knew the answer.

“Enjoy it? Oh yes, she enjoyed it alright. That woman would always enjoy sex, I should think. But we never did it again. I don’t know why.”

“You said before that you and Sarah Noonan had gotten together for drinks after school a few times. Never just the two of you, you said, there were always other people around. Is that true or were you lying about that too?”

Deans flushed suddenly. “That was true, Detective Drumm.”

“How about how she dressed, Mr. Deans? Do you remember now the type of clothing she was fond of wearing? She dressed to show off, isn’t that right, to flaunt her body?”

“I suppose so, yes.”

Drumm took another sip of his coffee. “You said you went shopping last Friday after school. We did find a clerk who remembered you at the grocery store.” He paused. “What did you do afterwards?”

Deans shrugged. “I told you, I made myself supper and watched a movie.” He looked over at Lori Singh. “I made myself a chicken curry, had a couple of beers. Then I watched Batman. The one with Heath Ledger. Poor bugger! But I was by myself.”

Drumm asked, “Do you know what GHB is?”

“GHB? That’s a drug, isn’t it? Isn’t it called the date rape drug?”

“That’s the one. Sarah Noonan had it in her system. Do you know anything about that?” Drumm watched Bill Deans carefully.

Deans stared at him. “No, I don’t. She was given GHB? You think I gave it to her? Where would I get GHB?”

“You tell me, sir, where did you get it?” asked Drumm.

“I didn’t get it anywhere! I didn’t give it to her!”

Drumm said, “But you’ve heard of it, haven’t you? So you know something about it, don’t you?”

“It’s not a crime to have heard about GHB, for God’s sake!” Deans’ voice rose. “I didn’t give it to her!”

Lori Singh asked suddenly, “What were you doing last night, Mr. Deans?”

Deans turned to face her. “What?” As Singh just waited, he said, “I was here, watching TV. That’s what I do on Friday evenings. I make myself dinner and watch TV or a movie.” He looked over at Drumm. “Why do you want to know about last night?”

Drumm replied, “Because someone hit Lynnette Cranston on the head last night, and we were wondering who.”

“Lynnette? Why, for God’s sake? What happened?”

Without going into too much detail, Drumm explained the circumstances of the attack. “We don’t know why it happened. Do you?”

“Of course not. Poor Lynnette. Is she alright?”

“She’ll be fine, Mr. Deans,” said Lori. “So nobody can verify that you were here about nine-thirty last night?”

Deans looked at the two of them and shook his head. “Like I said, I was here by myself. Unless one of my neighbours noticed I was here. But I didn’t go out and I definitely didn’t hit Lynnette Cranston.”

Drumm stood up and Lori Singh followed suit. He said, “We’ll check. Thanks for the coffee. You need to think about what you’ve told us. And if something else occurs to you, give us a call.” He left his card on the patio table, gestured to Singh and followed her back out to their vehicles.

Bill Deans stood in his garage and watched as they drove away.

sixteen

 

They used the interview room because of its large table. At the moment it was littered with the remains of their lunch: sandwich wrappers, cups, straws, bags and napkins. It was a working lunch, and Wesson and Lori had experienced one or two of these before with Drumm. Their boss’s style was to talk everything through, compare notes and get their input on the state of the investigation. Just now, aside from the lunch debris, the table was covered with crime scene photos, lab reports, witness statements and their own notes and interview summaries. A TV was in the corner on a trolley, having just been used to watch Wesson’s interview with Douglas Madsen.

“I like Madsen for it,” Karl said. “He had the perfect motive, and he can’t account for his whereabouts. You saw his reaction there in the interview – he looked guilty as hell to me.”

Drumm wasn’t so sure. “Maybe, Karl, but where would he get GHB?”

“Easy. From his bartender friend. Danny whatshisname. Bartenders know all kinds of stuff. He’d have no trouble locating some.”

Drumm was unimpressed. “I grant you that it’s possible. But why would he attack Lynnette?”

Lori objected, “We don’t even know that was connected to the murder, actually.”

Drumm agreed. “No, we don’t. In fact, the sum total of what we don’t know is enough to sink a battleship.” He sighed. “More questions than answers.”

Drumm was starting to feel better. Earlier he had been weak and a bit nauseous, a sure sign that his blood sugar was low. In his rush to get out to interview Lynnette Cranston, he had skimped on his breakfast, knowing as he did so that he would pay the price later. And he had. By the time he finished with Bill Deans and driven back to the station, he’d been feeling shaky. In the bathroom he had used his glucose meter to discover his blood sugar reading was 4.4, considerably lower than it should be. No wonder he was feeling so bad. The chicken salad sandwich and orange juice had revived him.

Lori said, “Terry Noonan is still our chief suspect; he has to be. He’s got a history of abusing his wife. He wanted to reconcile with her, and he’s has admitted as much. He could easily have gone to her place and forced his way in. Or maybe he was able to convince her to let him in. When he saw he wasn’t getting anywhere with her, he drugged her and then killed her. He’s definitely strong enough to have gotten her out of the apartment and taken her to the park.” She frowned. “However, it’s not clear to me at all why he would want to go after Lynnette. And the method of killing Sarah – strangulation – that wouldn’t be his style. And why would he drug her? He’d just rape her, don’t you think? There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t fit, as I see it.”

Drumm was nodding. “And how would he get the stocking into Pepin’s desk, if he were the killer? He hadn’t been seen at the school.”

Karl said, “Just to confuse the issue, because Lord knows it’s not muddled enough, how about Greg Parent? He’s a nasty customer. He drinks too much and he had a vendetta against his kid’s teacher. So he had a good reason to kill her. It’s easy to see him forcing his way into her apartment and strangling her in a fit of rage. He can’t account for his whereabouts the night Sarah died, and his daughter can’t provide an alibi.”

Drumm objected, “But would Sarah Noonan have shared a drink with him? And how did he get the body out of there? He’s not a big man. And then there’s Lynnette. Why go after her?”

Lori shrugged and said, “Let’s toss this one out there too. Jim Shaughnessy. He’s got no alibi for the night of the murder and he said he didn’t know much about Sarah, which is a little hard to believe. That might be true, I guess. I suppose principals need to keep their distance from their staff, just like the police brass keep their distance from us. And he could have put the stocking in Pepin’s desk.” She looked over at Drumm. “But then, so could Deans or Musjari or Callaghan or anyone else. And, a man as fat as that, who sweats so much, well, maybe it’s just me, but it’s hard to see him being interested in a sexy young woman. His school is well-run, you can see that, and he has an awful lot to lose. He must make a lot of money. Do you see him putting all that at risk?”

Karl said, “No, I don’t. Pierre Pepin, though. Strange, creepy man. Plenty of people at the school say so. He seems to like peeping at ladies.”

Lori objected, “We don’t have any proof of that, you know. It’s just hearsay.”

Karl nodded. “Maybe, but he could have talked his way into Sarah’s apartment, drugged her and killed her. Strangling her would suit a little guy like him. He knows Lynnette, knows her habits, might have thought she knew too much about his relationship with the victim, and so he decided to take her out. And of course, he had the stocking in his drawer, the one we think killed Sarah.”

Lori looked skeptical. “Honestly, Karl, how could a sixty-year-old man who looks as frail as he does get a body out of the apartment? And again, where would he get GHB? Although I suppose a custodian might come across it in a school at some point in his career. Maybe if he had worked at a high school.”

Drumm said, “Bill Deans. He literally knew the victim intimately, and he could easily have wanted more from her. He has no alibi. It would have been simple to talk his way into her apartment, sit down with her and have a glass of wine, drug her and then kill her. He’s a big guy, and he would have had no trouble getting her out of there. Maybe he thought Lynnette saw him and Sarah together and that’s why he attacked her. But, like Shaughnessy, he’s got a lot to lose, as a vice-principal. And we have no idea as to where or how he could have gotten the GHB. On the other hand, there’s something else working against him, too.”

“Which is?” asked Karl.

Drumm said, “You remember the piece of red plastic that was found along the path at the park? Bill Deans has a red Chevy Equinox, and the front bumper has been damaged. There’s a piece missing. Those bumpers are plastic. It’s just possible that the piece that was found will match up with his vehicle.”

Lori rummaged through the papers on the table and came up with the lab report. “Let’s see, where is it? Here. That red plastic is consistent with coming off a child’s wagon or scooter or skateboard.” She looked at Drumm. “It doesn’t say anything about a car bumper.”

“I know,” said Drumm. “And the materials are quite different. Still, it’s a hell of a coincidence, isn’t it? We’ll have to check with the lab and see if it’s at all possible that piece came off his vehicle. And also, if there was enough room to get an SUV along that pathway. If there was, it sure would have been easy to get the body in there.” Drumm looked at Wesson. “What about Musjari, Karl?”

Karl grunted. “Well, I don’t like him and I don’t think too many people do. He’s a resentful, negative jerk and he was definitely interested in Sarah. He lied to us about his relationship with her and we only have his word for it that they never had sex. He has no alibi for the night she was killed; we don’t know about last night yet. He’s a strong, muscular guy, and he could easily have forced his way into the apartment. He lives close to Sarah’s building. I think he lusted after Sarah and ogled her at the gym. Probably he creeped her out, and she didn’t want anything to do with him. It’s possible he wouldn’t take no for an answer, went over to see her and he killed her in an angry rage.”

Lori objected, “But where did he get the GHB? And would she share a glass of wine with him? I think that’s doubtful.”

Drumm nodded and said, “I agree.”

Karl said, “I still think our Mr. Madsen is the guy. We know he had sex with the victim and he most likely wanted it again. He says he was at a bar the night she was killed and last night, but even taking him at his word, he was home early enough both nights to have committed the crimes. Besides, I bet Danny the bartender would cover for him, if they’ve known each as other as long as he says. That’s likely also his source for the GHB. I can quite easily see him drinking to get his courage up and then going over to her apartment. He’s not a bad-looking guy; she could have decided to let him in and have some more fun. Maybe she changed her mind and he gave her the drug, then killed her because he was afraid she’d remember him. The attack on Lynnette could be because he wanted to rape her too.” Karl looked at Drumm. “That last part is a stretch, I know, but I still like him for the murder. There was something about the way he reacted in that interview this morning that didn’t feel right. Well, you saw it. I think he’s our man.”

Drumm said, “Maybe.” But he didn’t look convinced. “Let’s not forget Kevin Callaghan. Again, he had sex with our victim, knew her well and could easily have gained entry to her apartment. In fact, of all these men, he’s the one she would have let in first, I think. But did he kill her? Why would he do that? I can’t think of any good reason why he should want to rape her or want her dead. And that goes for Lynnette too. What motive could he have for attacking her? I just can’t see it.”

Karl looked at Lori, then at Drumm. “Did we get anywhere with this little chat session? If we did, it’s not clear to me.”

Drumm stood up and stretched. “No, probably not. But at least it was a decent lunch.” He thought for a moment. “Lori, you need to go and see Lynnette and find out if she’s remembered anything else. Check with her neighbours again, and see if there’s anything at the scene that was missed. Also, go talk to Danny the bartender and find out how well he knows Madsen. And whether he’ll confirm his alibi. Karl and I will visit Mr. Terry Noonan and see if we can’t break him down. Besides, I want to see where he lives.”

 

Noonan lived in an older building on one of the city’s busier streets. It was one of those low-rise, dirty yellow-brick apartments that had been built just after the Second World War. It had seen better days and was now home to a poorer type of tenant than it had been built for originally. Drumm supposed that Terry Noonan, as a separated truck driver, qualified. He would be having difficulty just getting by on his salary, maybe even having to resort to a food bank from time to time as his money ran out at the end of each month.

The lobby of the building was dirty and smelled musty. It looked like it needed a good cleaning. Noonan lived in a ground floor unit; his view out the grimy window was of a few unkempt bushes and endless streams of busy traffic. All in all, thought Drumm, it was a pretty depressing place to live.

With bad grace Noonan admitted the two detectives into his apartment. They sat on his couch while he occupied the only armchair in the living room. The room was sparely decorated, and as cheerless as the rest of the building. Drumm could see a small kitchen off to the side, along with a single bedroom and bathroom. Like the lobby, there was an odd, unpleasant odour to the place. Drumm wondered if the other apartments in the building smelled the same.

“Nice place you got here, Mr. Noonan.” Drumm was being facetious; Noonan knew it, and he didn’t like it.

“It’s a dump but it’s all I can afford. I don’t have a huge salary like you cops.” He looked angrily at the two detectives. “And no pension either.” Noonan wore the same blue jeans as before, or a pair just like them, and an old black sweatshirt. He was unshaven and his hair looked like it needed a wash.

“Do you know Lynnette Cranston?” asked Karl.

“Sure I know Lynnie. Why?”

“How well do you know her?” Karl held a notebook, prepared to write down anything important.

“She’s Sarah’s friend. I’ve talked to her at school a few times is all. Why do you want to know?”

Drumm said, “Because she was attacked last night, that’s why. Know anything about that, Terry?”

“Attacked? What do you mean?”

“Attacked. Hit on the head. Knocked unconscious. I repeat, do you know anything about it?” asked Drumm.

“No, I don’t,” said Noonan. “You think I did it? And you think I killed my wife too. Anything else you want to accuse me of?”

Wesson said, “Lynnette Cranston was assaulted last night at her apartment building. Someone hit her on the head but another resident scared off her attacker before anything serious happened. We are trying to figure out who did it and why. Now, can you tell us where you were last evening?”

“Sure. I was driving. I took a load to London, came back via Woodstock. Check with Hobbes.”

“What time did you get back to the yard?” asked Drumm.

“Eight-fifteen. It’s all in my logbook. Check it out.” He folded his arms and stared at them.

“Lynnette was attacked at about nine thirty,” said Drumm. “So you had plenty of time to get over there and do it.”

“Over where? I don’t even know where Lynn lives, for Chrissake! And why would I want to hit her? I like Lynnie.”

“Let’s go back to the night your wife was strangled,” said Drumm. “You were here, you said. Can anyone confirm that?”

Noonan set his mouth in a firm line. “I already told you, I was here – by myself – watching baseball. And no, nobody was here. I wish there was someone so that I could get you guys off my back!”

“Where did you get the GHB, Terry?” asked Drumm suddenly.

Noonan looked surprised. “GHB? What are you talking about now?”

Karl said, “It’s a drug, sir, a date rape drug. It was given to your wife. Where did you get it?”

Noonan looked at Wesson, then over at Drumm. “You two are nuts. I’ve never even heard of GHB! Drug my wife? What the hell are you talking about?”

Drumm said, “Someone drugged and killed your wife, Terry. Last Friday night. When you say you were here all by yourself. Watching baseball. And someone attacked Lynnette Cranston last night. When you were out on the street. Again, by yourself. That’s what we’re talking about.”

BOOK: An Indecent Death
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