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Authors: David Anderson

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BOOK: An Indecent Death
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“He’s the custodian. Pierre Pepin, the janitor, and he’s creepy.”

Lori was making more notes. “Creepy? What do you mean?”

“He’s been around forever. He just looks weird. He’s got a missing tooth and a strange smile. He’s quiet, kind of sneaks up on you. One minute you’re alone, next thing, you turn around and there he is. Creepy. And some of us think that he kind of deliberately hangs around the doors of the bathroom and change room. The female teachers, I mean. Like he’s trying to get a peek.”

“How can he be working in a school if he’s suspected of doing that?” asked Lori.

“It’s nothing definite, it’s just the way some of us feel. And he’s nice enough when you talk to him, and he does his job, I guess. And I know the kids like him – they like his grin! I think it’s nasty. I don’t know, maybe I’m exaggerating it a little. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, I don’t like him.”

Lori sighed. She had a headache and way too much to think about. She left her card with Lynnette Cranston. She hated to do it, but she asked her last question, “I’m sorry, Lynn, but I need to ask you what you were doing Friday night. It’s routine.”

Lynnette took it well. “I know. I was here, at home, watching a movie, until I fell asleep.” She pointed out at the living room. “One of my own, French Kiss, with Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan. But unfortunately I was by myself.”

Lori stood up and made ready to go. “Here’s my card, Lynn. If you think of anything else, please give me a call. You’ve been most helpful. Thanks for being so candid.”

“I hope some of it is useful to you,” said Lynnette.



Drumm, Karl Wesson and Lori Singh met briefly in Drumm’s office to review their progress to date. Wesson had filled Lori in on the Noonan interview; Lori had summarized her lengthy conversation with Lynnette Cranston.

Drumm said, “So, we have Terry Noonan who has attacked his wife in the past. He wants to get back together with her and she says no. He has a temper and no alibi. He’s got motive and opportunity.”

Wesson nodded, “On the other hand, the wife was strangled, not beaten. That’s not his style. If he lost his temper with her, he probably would have used his fists, or picked up something handy and bashed her with it. And if he did strangle her, he likely would have used those big hands of his, don’t you think?”

Lori looked doubtful. “Not necessarily. He might have deliberately set out to kill her because he knew about her behaviour. And if it was premeditated, then he could have planned to do it in a way that would deflect suspicion from himself. And another thing: it looks like she was strangled almost in her sleep, and with a scarf or something similar. It’s more the way a woman would do it, don’t you think? Points to someone completely different.”

Drumm said, “Maybe. Maybe a woman, maybe not. A clever man might have chosen that way deliberately, to mislead. It’s all just speculation at this point.” Drumm went on, “I think Noonan has to be our prime suspect for the moment, but who else do we have?”

Wesson said, “Most of the men from Elmdale, it seems. Donald Musjari, Bill Deans, Kevin Callaghan.”

“And don’t forget Douglas Madsen. And Pierre Pepin. And Greg Parent,” Lori added. “And the Bitchin’ Crew.” She said this with a smile.

“No, we can’t rule out any of those people yet,” Drumm agreed. “Not until we talk to them. So that needs to be our next priority.”

“What about Lynnette Cranston?” asked Karl. “She has no alibi. It’s just possible she killed her out of jealousy.”

“It wasn’t her,” Lori said positively.

“You don’t know that,” said Wesson.

“No, you’re right, I don’t know that,” said Lori. “But all the same, it wasn’t her.”

Drumm looked at her. “Maybe you got too close to her in your interview, Lori. Karl’s right, she has to be a suspect. But we are going to concentrate on these other people for the time being. So here’s what we’ll do. Lori, get over to The Fit Life and see what you can find out. Noonan and Lynnette Cranston were regulars there, so there are likely a number of people who know them. See how the two women acted when they were there, who noticed them, that kind of thing.”

“Fine. And what about you?”

Drumm smiled. “Karl and I are going to pay a visit to the cranky Mr. Gregory Parent.”


Greg Parent lived in a small house on a dead-end street with many similar-looking homes. The lawn needed mowing, the few gardens that there were badly needed weeding and there were pieces of what looked like car parts strewn about the property. A rusty Jeep Cherokee sat on the crumbling, oil-stained driveway.

Drumm was in an irritable mood. There was nothing specific causing it, it was just a whole series of things. He hadn’t slept well, his neck was sore and he’d cut his lip shaving, which he absolutely hated doing, and his mind kept wandering. It was Emily he was thinking about rather than the case, and that wouldn’t do.

Parent answered their knock wearing blue track pants and a green Roots sweatshirt. He had several days’ worth of stubble on his face, unwashed wiry black hair and he appeared to be hung over. “Yeah?”

Wesson showed his badge through the screen. “Karl Wesson, York Police Services. We need to talk to you about the death of your daughter’s teacher, Sarah Noonan. May we come in?”

“I don’t know nothin’ about that,” Parent said. He started to close the door.

Drumm opened the screen door quickly and put his foot across the threshold, preventing Parent from shutting the door. “You can talk to us here or we can haul your ass down to the station. Which do you prefer?”

Parent slowly opened up again, eyeing Drumm warily. Then he waved them in and led the way past the kitchen into a dark and rather untidy living room. Drumm could see counters covered with dirty plates and pots and numerous beer bottles as they went by. Parent gestured to them to be seated, sitting himself in a grubby Lazy Boy armchair. The two detectives sat on opposite ends of a couch, facing Parent.

Drumm began. “I’m Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm, Violent Crimes Unit. We’re investigating the murder of Sarah Noonan. She was your daughter’s teacher, correct?”

“Yeah, and about thirty other kids as well. You gonna interview all of them?”

“Depends, Mr. Parent.” Drumm stared at him.

“Depends on what?”

“On how many of them pounded on the principal’s desk and yelled at her.”

Parent took in what he had heard, then laughed. “Oh, so that’s why you’re here! For God’s sake. The woman was a cow. She deserved to be yelled at. Worst excuse for a teacher I ever seen.”

Wesson said, “From all we’ve heard, she was a good teacher and well-liked by her students. What was
problem with her?”

Parent switched his attention to Karl Wesson. “
problem? She picked on Chelsea. She did it all the time, centred her out in class, embarrassed her. I told her a couple of times to cut it out but she kept it up. So, the last time, I told her if it didn’t stop, I’d have to take it further. Chelsea came home from school crying and I went in to see that useless, dumb idiot of a principal.”

“You lost your temper in the principal’s office? You yelled at Sarah Noonan? You threatened her?” Drumm asked.

“No, I didn’t threaten her! Who told you that? I never threatened her. Is that what Shithead Shaughnessy said?”

“Mr. Shaughnessy stated that you were angry, and that he had to threaten to call the police to get you to calm down. Are you denying it?”

Parent answered. “Nope, that happened alright. I told her to leave my kid alone. Maybe my voice was too loud but I didn’t threaten her.”

“Were you drinking, Mr. Parent? When you went into the office that time?” Wesson again.

“What if I had? No crime against it, is there?”

“Have you been drinking today?”

“None of your damn business!”

“Where’s Chelsea today, Mr. Parent?” Drumm looked around the room.

“At school, of course! Where do you think?”

“And Mrs. Parent? Where is she at?”

Parent closed his eyes briefly, then looked at Drumm. “She died four years ago. Of cancer. It’s just me and Chelsea here now.”

“Do you work?” Karl already knew the answer but he wanted to hear Parent say it.

Greg Parent looked away. “No. Lost my job awhile back.”

“And where were you Friday night, Mr. Parent? From four o’clock on?”

Parent looked at him. “Like that, is it? I was right here. And so was Chelsea. You can ask her.”

“Oh, we will, sir. You can count on it.”

“Great. You can leave now. I’ve got things to do.”

“I doubt that. But never mind. We’ll see ourselves out.” Drumm and Wesson were glad to leave the dark and depressing Parent home. It was hard to stomach the thought of a twelve-year-old girl growing up in such an environment.

“So he’s got an alibi.” Karl was looking a little subdued.

“We’ll see what Chelsea says. I wonder how intimated she might be, growing up with an alcoholic father? She might say whatever he wanted her to say. I think we’d better notify Child Services about this situation, Karl.”

Karl looked puzzled. “Uh, did you mean intimidated, Nick?”

“Sure. That’s what I said.” Drumm looked at him oddly.

Okay then, thought Karl. And then he realized what Drumm had just said and inside his head he groaned. Child Services meant paperwork and more paperwork.


Lori was annoyed and she had a headache. She’d spent more than an hour talking to Lynnette Cranston. Of the three detectives, she was the one who knew Lynnette best, and she knew that it was unlikely that Lynnette had killed her friend. And yet her opinion had been dissed by Karl, and Drumm had backed him up. And then she’d been given the minor task of checking out the fitness centre.

An afternoon spent at The Fit Life had been responsible for the headache. She arrived outside the building and spent some time in her car observing the clientele entering and leaving the place, which was a stand-alone facility next to the Sunrise Mall. Then she wandered up and down the sidewalk, eventually going up to the window to see if she could see anything. Some fitness centres had clear windows that allowed passersby to check out the members using the equipment, presumably in hopes that they would be encouraged to join. This one didn’t, though; the windows were covered with lettering and pictures, making it extremely difficult to see in. Lori had thought it possible that a stalker or peeping tom might have ogled Sarah through the window, but it seemed not.

She waited until a group of women had gone in, then followed, so that it looked like she was with them. Once inside, she moved to a corner of the room, and sat down to do up her shoe. She had been able to get a good idea of how things worked. The Fit Life had fifteen treadmills, nine of which had been in use. There were ten ellipticals and four of these were occupied. There were three rowing machines, a stair climber and a whole section devoted to Nautilus machines. Two of the walls were mirrored, the change rooms at the back.

The members were mostly young, a mix of male and female. Most looked fit, like they were regular users. There were a few large women in baggy clothes and a couple of older men who were grossly overweight, but it was mostly young women in spandex and young men in shorts and tee-shirts. Lori thought that Sarah Noonan would have fit right in. She went in search of the manager of the club.

The manager was also the owner, a man in his early forties, she estimated. He remembered Sarah Noonan and knew she was dead.

“How well did you know her?” Lori asked the owner, who introduced himself as Barry Friedkin.

“Oh, geez, not well at all. I knew who she was, that’s all. She often came in with another woman – don’t know her name – nice girl, a bit overweight. But Sarah came in by herself a lot, too. And she was a regular. She took her workouts seriously and was proud of how she looked. You could see that.”

Singh smiled inwardly at the fact Friedkin knew the name of Sarah Noonan but not Lynnette Cranston. She supposed it was normal for a man to check out a hot-looking woman, even if she were younger. Aloud, she had said, “Did you ever notice anyone hitting on her? Or bothering her, or spying on her? Anybody peering in the window when she was here? Any particular men she talked to regularly?”

But Friedkin shook his head, no, Sarah had just seemed to attract the same amount of attention as the other young women there. There were no surveillance cameras, either, he had said, when asked.

Lori had asked the usual question about his whereabouts Friday evening.

“Right here, Detective, with dozens of witnesses. I put in long hours. Sometimes it feels like I’m chained to the place,” he said.

The whole afternoon had been pretty much fruitless, and that was why her headache was worse. She was looking forward to a hot bath and a cup of tea.


Drumm headed home after his visit to Child Services. It was always the same – a load of forms to fill out. He wondered if anything would come of it, but he was legally bound to report suspected child abuse to Child Services. And Gregory Parent’s lifestyle and alcohol abuse were grounds enough to file a report.

Drumm’s phone rang as the Miata was cruising along the fastest part of his homeward journey.


“Hello, Nicky.” It was Emily; he’d been thinking about her, on and off, all day.

“We finally get to talk, Em.”

“Are you home yet, Nicky?”

“On my way.”

“I was glad to get your message, Nicky. Very glad. I’ve been wondering about you all day and wanted to phone so many times. But I know how you hate personal calls when you’re working.”

Drumm didn’t quite know what to say. “I’ve been thinking about you, too,” he admitted finally.

“Let’s have lunch tomorrow, Nicky. Can you get away?”

Could he get away?
Oh, yes, he could get away alright. Just try to stop him. He wouldn’t tell her that, though. “I think so, yes. But you know how it is, if something comes up, I’ll have to cancel.”

“I know. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. How about Luigi’s, at noon? You used to like it there.”

“I still do, Emily. Luigi’s is fine.” He paused for a moment. “It’ll be good to see you.”

“Ditto, Nicky. I’ll wear something special for you. See you tomorrow.” And she hung up before he could say anything more.

Will was pleased to see him when he arrived home a few minutes later. Drumm fed him some raw steak and salad, as well as his kibble, and walked him around the block, all the while thinking about Emily. She was going to wear something special, he thought. That sounded intriguing. He could think of all kinds of interesting possibilities.

BOOK: An Indecent Death
13.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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