Authors: Alexandra Sokoloff
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Suspense, #Mystery fiction, #Horror, #Murder, #Police Procedural, #Murder - Investigation, #Massachusetts, #Ghost, #Police, #Crime, #Investigation, #Boston, #Police - Massachusetts - Boston, #Occult crime
Frazer started to elaborate. “Atropine is a hallucinogen found in—”
“Belladonna,” both detectives finished. Frazer looked surprised, possibly annoyed. He nodded stiffly.
“The lab found atropine in Erin Carmody’s system, and partially digested belladonna berries in her stomach,” Garrett briefed the others, sliding copies of the M.E.’s final report across the table. “It’s used as a recreational hallucinogen—and in witchcraft rituals.”
Carolyn’s eyebrows arched. She scribbled quick, neat notes on her legal pad.
Garrett took a moment to focus and started a recap. “Moncrief lives in the same dorm as Erin Carmody. We have a witness who puts them together last night—Friday night—at a Goth club in Kenmore Square called Cauldron. Moncrief plays in a band called Shriek, with a satanic theme going on: inverted crosses, a CD titled
the same number that was carved into Erin’s torso. The CD cover has the three-triangle symbol as well. I’ve just started researching it, but it looks like 333 is a number used in satanic rituals.”
He looked to Dr. Frazer, who frowned back. “I’m not familiar with it.” The doctor jotted it down.
Across from him, Garrett saw Carolyn write “333” and a question mark.
Landauer leaned forward. “The kid is definitely into this shit. His room is black everything. Bedspread, curtains—”
“—candles,” Garrett finished. “Black candles. And the lab found black candle wax on Erin Carmody’s body.”
“We’ve also got semen from Erin’s body,” Landauer supplied. “All we need is a DNA test and a match—”
Carolyn tapped her Cross pen on her pad. “There’s definitely enough here to hold him and get a semen sample.”
“We need a search warrant for the room, and his car.” Garrett heard impatience and sleeplessness grating in his own voice. “I’d like to get a look at the books on his shelf.” The others looked at him. “I think we’re going to find some of this 333 stuff, the triangles, in those books. The titles came up on my Internet search.”
“So you need a search warrant for his room and car, and you need a court order for samples for DNA testing,” Carolyn summed up, writing as she spoke. When she looked up, her eyes were bright and predatory, a quality Garrett had found sexy when he first met her, and now . . . was not entirely sure how he felt.
“Preferably before someone ponies up bail.” Landauer agreed, and Garrett nodded.
“I can do that,” Carolyn said, and closed her file. She leaned back in her chair, pen balanced between two fingers, taking control of the room. “Moncrief’s got a public defender for the moment. His father’s in the military, a colonel; Moncrief specifically didn’t want him called. His mother’s apparently in Europe, on vacation with the current husband: number four.” Garrett and Landauer raised eyebrows at each other at that as she continued. “I’m going to move on this before the family can be reached.”
She slipped her pen and pad into her Coach briefcase and stood. The men all rose automatically, something Garrett knew they would never have done for any other woman in the building. Carolyn gave them all a ghost of a smile, as if acknowledging the fact. “Gentlemen.”
As the door closed behind her, Dr. Frazer cleared his throat and glanced to the lieutenant. “Before the detectives called me this morning I was putting together a preliminary profile on Erin Carmody’s
killer. I think it’s of use for you to hear what I had compiled before my intake examination of Jason Moncrief.”
Malloy nodded for him to proceed. Frazer removed several files from his briefcase and opened one, passing photocopies of a report around the table to the other men.
“As we all know, true satanic crime is extremely rare. The ‘satanic’ crimes that have been identified have never involved organized or official covens. There are two types of these satanists identified by forensic profilers: ‘self-styled’ satanists, and ‘youth subculture’ satanists.”
The psychiatrist passed another set of photocopies around the table: a collection of mug shots and some instantly recognizable newspaper photos. “The most well-known ‘self-styled’ satanic serial killer is Richard Ramirez, a.k.a. the ‘Night Stalker,’ who was convicted in Los Angeles in 1989 of thirteen counts of murder.”
Garrett stared down at the famous photograph of Ramirez in court, with his black hair, flat eyes, and vulpine cheekbones, holding up his left hand to flash a pentagram inked on his palm.
“Ramirez identified himself as a satanist, and was indeed involved briefly with the Church of Satan; he boasted of having felt ‘the icy touch of Satan’ during a ritual conducted by Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey. But in actual fact Ramirez was a lone practitioner and used the concept of satanism to justify his fantasies of rape and murder. The murders he committed were not part of any ceremony or tradition. He was taking the minimal knowledge he’d picked up about satanic practice and using it for his own purposes.”
Frazer opened the next file, and passed around another photo. Garrett looked down on a black-and-white of a smiling man in a suit, vest, and tie, with a wide brow and receding hairline. He looked more like a Rotarian than a serial killer.
“Clifford St. Joseph was convicted of first-degree murder in San Francisco in March 1988. His never-identified homeless male victim had been kept in a cage and sexually abused by St. Joseph. The autopsy report states that a pentagram had been carved in the
victim’s chest. His genitals were slit, his body drained of blood, and candle-wax drippings were found in his right eye.”
Garrett and Landauer both started and looked at each other across the conference table with a shock of recognition at the similarities. The psychiatrist glanced up, nodded to acknowledge their reactions, and continued.
“St. Joseph owned several books on the subject of satanism and the occult, but he was not part of any cult or organized tradition; the ‘ceremonies’ he performed on his victim were ones that he had created on his own. The murder, just as the Night Stalker killings, was not part of any recognized occult ritual; it was rather a sadistic sexual homicide, with trappings of satanism.”
The psychiatrist paused, and reached for his third file. “And now, Detectives, if you’ll bear with me, I think you’ll find the next case particularly interesting.” Garrett and Landauer exchanged a glance across the table. As if they both hadn’t been riveted for the last fifteen minutes. Garrett could tell Landauer was having trouble refraining from making some comment that would undoubtedly get him suspended without pay for a week. Garrett fixed a look of intent focus onto his face and turned back to Frazer.
“The second pattern we find in these homicides is the ‘youth subculture’ murder. A prime example of a youth subculture satanic murder case is the 1995 murder of Elyse Pahler. Fifteen-year-old Pahler was raped and stabbed to death in a eucalyptus grove in Arroyo Grande, California, by her high school classmates Royce Casey, Joe Fiorella, and Jacob Delashmutt. These teenage killers were from middle-class homes, and of above-average intelligence, but according to their teachers lacked any real interest in school. The boys were in a band together and discovered the occult through heavy metal music. They began networking with practicing satanists in Internet chat rooms and collecting books on the topic of satanism. Joe Fiorella, in particular, had a growing library of satanic literature, including books and pamphlets by renowned satanist Aleister Crowley.”
Garrett felt a sharp stab of recognition at the name: the author
of at least three of the books he’d seen on Jason Moncrief’s shelf. Across the conference table Landauer was equally transfixed. Garrett leaned forward, listening in building excitement as the forensic psychiatrist continued.
“As you know, serial killers are driven by fantasy; they obsessively play out their violent desires in their imaginations until they try the fantasy out on another human being. As a group, these three boys created fantasies about human sacrifices, specifically the sacrifice of a virgin.” Dr. Frazer looked up from his notes to emphasize his next point. “When interrogated, the boys claimed that Satan had required a human sacrifice of them to fulfill their request to make their band successful.”
Now Garrett was positively tingling.
It was textbook. Was it really going to be this easy, this time?
Then he had a sudden flash of Moncrief, with his skin stretched over his skull, the insane fire in his eyes, before he lunged at Landauer, bared teeth gleaming . . .
Garrett forced himself back into the room, forced himself to focus on Frazer’s words. “But it should also be noted that Joe Fiorella had an obsession with the victim, his classmate, Elyse Pahler. So again, despite the outward presence of satanic elements and influences, this murder was consistent with the behavioral pattern of sexual homicide.” Frazer glanced down at the bottom of his report, and added, almost as an afterthought, “The three young men ultimately pled ‘no contest’ to the rape and murder charges and were sentenced to twenty-six years to life in prison.”
Frazer put aside his notes, stacking them neatly. “You can see from these examples that so-called satanic murders are committed by dabblers, either ‘self-styled Satanists’—who are lone occult practitioners; usually adults; or ‘youth subculture Satanists’—teenagers involved in a group exploration with the occult. Both types of perpetrators have some foundation in satanic practices but are in actuality simply using the surface details of satanism and the occult to satisfy their own sadistic fantasies.” He glanced at Garrett. “Detective Garrett is right that the killer will in all likelihood own reading material that details rituals, specifically satanic rituals,
and quite possibly ritualistic pornography; killers like these use print and other media images to fuel their fantasies. Adult serial killers overwhelmingly choose vulnerable victims such as homeless runaways and prostitutes. They troll neighborhoods frequented by these types and choose their victims opportunistically. And such a killer will often attempt to insert him or herself into the police investigation.
“In the ‘youth subculture’ model, the behavioral pattern will include a young white male or males from a middle- or upper middle-class background with an above-average IQ, though it’s likely the killer’s grades will not be good. There will be a history of drug abuse, particularly the use of hallucinogens, and indications of cruelty to animals or animal killings. The perpetrator will have participated in satanic activity as part of a peer group rather than as a lone practitioner, and will likely choose a victim he knows personally and harbors a sexual interest in . . .”
The psychiatrist continued, but Garrett no longer heard him. His head was buzzing; he was off in a world of his own.
This is it. A perfect case. My ticket to anywhere.
Morning light glimmered around the edges of the buildings outside the glass corridor as Garrett and Landauer headed back from the conference room to the detectives’ room to catch up on their reports. They were both gravel-eyed and snappish from overdoses of coffee and sleeplessness . . . but they were also in hyperdrive. They were close. So close . . . and well within that golden forty-eight-hour window, when it was most likely that a crime would be solved.
Lack of sleep be damned, they were going to have to get back up to Amherst right away, this time with a warrant, as soon as Carolyn could get back with it, to search Jason’s room and Erin Carmody’s room and question Erin’s roommate and boyfriend and other kids in the dorm and teachers and whoever the hell they could get to talk about Erin and Jason Moncrief.
In the work pod opposite Garrett, Landauer was positively gleeful, despite his stubble, despite the adrenaline crash, despite his bitten arm. “For once it looks like that cream puff Frazer might actually earn his keep. Didja hear all that? Satanic books, satanic music, praying to Satan to make the band successful . . . we are home free, homes. Slam-fucking-dunk,” he exulted.
It did seem like a dream come true, a perfect solve.
But now that they were out of the conference room Garrett was feeling alarm bells going off all over the fucking place.
Something wasn’t right.
The kid was seriously wrong, that was a fact. Violent
weird and into drugs that were off the charts even for a seasoned junkie. Opportunity and means, check. Into the occult, check. The numbers added up, and the number was 333: Current 333, to be precise, whatever the hell that was. But . . .
Jason Moncrief might be a nutcase, but he was nineteen years old. Nineteen. For a moment Garrett recalled the look in Jason’s eyes as the guard led him away.
A kid. A terrified kid.
For all its grotesque crudeness, the murder of Erin Carmody was a sophisticated crime. A man’s crime, not a boy’s, even if that boy was wealthy and prestigiously schooled. The decapitation, the carvings, the disposal of the body—all were precise and controlled. Mature.
“He didn’t do it.”
The voice came from above him, female, and Garrett had drifted so far off into his own thoughts that he wasn’t sure he’d heard it, or that he was even awake.
When he did focus, he was startled to see a woman of perhaps thirty standing in front of his desk, tall and willowy, dressed in a longish skirt over high boots, and a fitted blouse, all of a vaguely equestrienne style that was perfectly fashionable, but on this woman the effect was palpably sensual, with a hint of Victorian perversity. She was as Black Irish as the Black Irish come: eyes and eyebrows and long thick hair like coal, a pale yet still slightly olive-tinged complexion, sculpted cheekbones and full dark mouth, lips berry red, almost purple, like lush grapes, like wine . . .