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Authors: Bradley Bigato

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BOOK: Over Her Dead Body
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Chapter 28

 

Detective James arrived at the CSI headquarters before the officers. There were interrogation rooms at the police station, but he preferred the ones in the CSI office. For one, there was better coffee. There were also better couches to crash on when he got tired, his evidence was right at hand, and the interviewer’s interrogation chair was much more comfortable. All in all, it was the right place to interrogate when it was going to take some time. And he had a feeling this was going to take a while.

The detective poured himself a cup of coffee, met up with
Dr. Crane
and went over the evidence. The DNA from Mrs. Bander had matched that of the girl almost perfectly. It had to be her daughter; there was no doubt about it. And if she hid the fact that it was her daughter they had found in the woods, then it goes to reason that she helped put her there. It didn’t look like Mrs. Bander was going back home tonight. She may not go back home for another thirty years from the look of it.

The two officers found Detective James and notified him that Mrs. Bander had been left in the interrogation room. The detective nodded and went for a refill on his coffee. He grabbed a glass and filled it with water and took it into the interrogation room.

Mrs. Bander looked up at him as he entered the room. She looked like they had dr
a
g
ged
her out of bed. Her brown hair was all tousled and her eyes were baggy. She didn’t look happy.
She was about to be a whole lot less happy
. He thought.

The detective placed the glass of water in front of her. It’s an old interrogation trick. It gave an extra opportunity to read body language. Many suspects would take a sip of water directly after telling a lie or when an uncomfortable subject was touched upon. Usually that would indicate a point of focus for the interrogator. In most cases they were also able to legally obtain fingerprints that way as well. The glass was always collected with a cloth and handled as evidence. The detective slid the glass toward her. “I’ll be right back in a moment. Is there anything I can get you?”

April Bander looked directly at him. “You can get me my husband,
D
etective.”

The detective smiled and exited the room. When he came back he had a legal pad and a pen. He set his coffee and pad on the table and pulled up his cushioned chair. The chair they sat the suspects in was very uncomfortable. The longer they sat in that chair, the more likely they were to start talking. Most people were able to be broken within twenty hours. Once the butt is sore, the stomach is hungry, the mind is tired, all the nerves just become unglued. The emotions flow and the words just start coming out. Lying becomes difficult because the suspects begin making mistakes as their mental ability to remember their own deceit becomes more and more difficult the more weak and irritable they become.

She was already fatigued, weak, and irritable. The detective looked at her and decided that this probably wasn’t going to take all night. He looked at the clock on the wall. Quarter after seven. He sure hoped not, because he was likely to be the one messing up if he didn’t get some sleep soon. He looked across the table at April. “I’m sorry to ask you to come down so late in the evening and on such short notice. Please understand that we are trying to do the best we can to help you and your husband out and solve a crime at the same time.”

“And shooting my husband helps him out how?” April asked sarcastically. She reached out and grabbed the glass for a drink of water. Not because she was nervous, but because she hadn’t had a drink in hours and her lips and mouth were dry. The detective took note that they had her fingerprints but decided there was nothing more to read into.

“I’m sorry. That was not my intention to shoot at him. I called for the officers to cease fire immediately.”

“And was it your intention for him to be tortured and almost raped?”

The girl sitting across from him seemed to be a whole
different girl than the one who
was crying
in his presence
earlier that day.
A lot has happened since then
. He thought. “Look, Mrs. Bander, he is a suspect in a murder investigation and tried to escape. The officer that took a shot had no idea what had happened to him and the other officers will be investigated and tried. We don’t condone that kind of behavior by anyone on our team. Now, if there is a logical explanation for all of this, by all means, let’s get to the bottom of it so we can get the two of you back home and you can return to your normal lives.
"

“Have you found him? Is he ok?” April asked, her tone changing from sarcastic to concern.

“No
ma'am
, I’m afraid we haven’t. I’m inclined to think that is a good sign. If he were fatally injured he would have surfaced by now. We’ve checked the rapids and the shores and there has been no sign of him. He hasn’t checked in at the hospital. No news, means he’s probably still on the run.” April didn’t comment. She didn’t seem too convinced. The detective took a sip of his coffee and picked up his pen. “I’m going to ask you some questions that might help us get to the bottom of whatever is going on. Understand that you are not under arrest, but if you would prefer to have an attorney present during the q
uestioning, we will be more than
glad to let you use our phone to call one and we can wait until they arrive to begin. Do you understand your right to have an attorney present?”

April’s angry look returned. “Why would I need an attorney? I haven’t done anything. I have nothing to hide. Ask me anything you need to.”

The detective scootched his chair up. That was what he wanted to hear. With an attorney present, his odds of obtaining a confession diminished more than seventy-five percent. Suspects were often afraid to ask for an attorney for fear it might make them look guilty. The detective groomed his mustache with his left hand. “Let’s start from the beginning, tell me where and when you first met Michael Bander.”

April stared at the detective for a moment and let out a long sigh. “Detective, we’ve already gone through this. I met Michael Bander in grade school. I didn’t really get to know him until high school.”

“And what year was that?” The detective asked.

“Um..I don’t know. I graduated in 1994. We started to date our sophomore year so I guess in 92’ sometime.”

“And how long did you date each other?” The detective asked.

“Until our senior year. We both left for separate colleges.”

“At what point were the two of you romantically involved?” The detective took a sip of coffee. Perhaps at his own embarrassment having to ask the difficult question.

April looked a little shocked. “You mean when did we start sleeping together?” The detective nodded. “I don’t know…I guess it was sometime in our junior year. Summertime if I recall. I don’t know how this is relevant.” April was trying to be mad but she was just too exhausted. She wished her sister was here to help her.

“I understand Mrs. Bander. Some of these questions will seem difficult. I apologize for that. “So you two became sexually active sometime in 1993 is that correct?” April nodded. “Please answer with yes or no so I don’t misunderstand your body language.” The detective said. Often times transcripts or tapes were played for a jury and not video footage so a jury would be unable to decipher a nod. The room was both videotaped and recorded.

“Yes, we became sexually active in 1993. Can we move on please?” April took a sip of water. The detective took note.

The detective cleared his throat and scratched notes onto the legal pad. “Did you practice safe sex?”

April looked aghast. “Did I …Oh I see where this is going. You think because that girl was Michael’s kid, that maybe she was
our
kid…” April looked perturbed. “I don’t think so. You’re barking up the wrong tree
D
etective. Michael and I have never had a kid.”

“Have you ever given birth?”

“No!” April said angrily.

“So back to my question; did you practice safe sex?” The detective asked.

April looked bewildered. She cupped her head into her hands and slumped to the table with her head in her arms. “Yes we practiced safe sex
.
” She said with her face toward the table.

“Mrs. Bander, I can’t hear you when your face is toward the table. Can you please repeat that for me?”

April looked up from the table. “Yes, we practiced safe sex. He always wore a condom unless I was blowing him. Is that enough information for you?” April was getting tired. When she got tired, she was grouchy. He was about to find out that this was a bad time to be questioning her.

The detective scribble
d
some more. He slid out a manila file folder from under the legal pad. He opened it and produced a picture and slid it in front of her. The picture was of a young girl in her twenties maybe. The girl had brown curly hair and brown eyes. She had a great complexion. She was very beautiful. April stared at it for a moment. It almost looked like a picture of her when she was that age. Almost, but not exactly. The girl in the picture seemed to be a little more stylish and wore makeup. April didn’t wear makeup in her early twenties. “Do you recognize the girl in the photo?” The detective was watching her expressions closely. This is where he expected to find his answers. She looked at the picture a little too long. Perhaps she was reliving the past in her mind.

April shook her head and slid the picture back to the detective. “No. I’ve never seen her before.”

The detective nodded and slid the picture back into the file folder. He pulled out another one and laid it in front of her. “Do you recognize her now?”

April’s hand went up to her mouth and stifled a scream. She pushed the photo back to the detective right away. She was shaking her head. “Why are you showing that to me? Is that her? Is that the girl that died? You think I’ve seen her? Are you out of your fucking mind? I want to go home! I want out of here! You don’t put that in front of me! I don’t want to know.” April was crying and had her arms across her chest rocking herself back and forth. “I don’t want to know.” She said again.

The detective put his pen in his jacket and left the room for a moment and came back with a box of tissue and sat it in front of April. He had shown her a picture of Maria on the morgue table with the bullet wounds visible. Her reaction didn’t tell him much. He would have expected the same either way. If she had killed her, the memory and sight of the girl on a morgue table could easily be traumatizing. And if she didn’t, the idea that her husband may have put her there would be equally as traumatizing. April took a couple of tissues and dabbed at her cheeks.

“Mrs. Bander, I had to show you those pictures because…” Her reaction here was going to tell the whole story. He thought. “Because that girl was
your
daughter.”

April stopped her hand mid wipe and stared at the detective. Her mouth opened to speak and then closed again. She turned her head to the side and then back. Her face slowly formed a grin and she began to laugh uncontrollably. The detective’s face went blank. That wasn’t the reaction he was expecting. He picked up his coffee and took a long swig.

Chapter 29

 

Six hours is a long time. That’s what Michael was thinking having stood in the water for that long. That’s how long it took the police to call off their search. That’s how long it took for Michael’s body to look like a swollen prune. He didn’t have to stay under water for the whole six hours. He only went under when boats would get in visual range of the area he was hiding in. In the six hours, he had been bitten by flies, nibbled on by fish, and had the pleasant experience of seeing a water snake and two turtles close up. Very close up. All those things couple
d
with the fact he was being hunted like he was number one on the FBI’s most wanted list, kept his heart beating like a rabbit on a six hour energy drink. In six hours he had a lot of time to think. He thought about April, about the dead girl, and about drowning himself in the river. He decided there was something about standing neck deep in a river while police searched the whole city for you that really placed a bleak perspective on life. Drowning in the river suddenly didn’t seem like such a bad idea. He pushed the thoughts away. He wouldn’t go out that way. He wanted, no he needed April and his family to know that he didn’t do this. That was all that mattered to him now. He didn’t even care if the rest of the town saw him as guilty, he just wanted them to know that he wasn’t…then he could drown himself in the river. But now, darkness had fallen,
t
he sound of boat motors had all but drifted off into the distance, and search lights were no longer bouncing along the shores.
Michael decided it was time
.
H
e lowered himself into the water and out from under the branches that concealed him.

Michael was happy to be out of the water. Well, happy wasn’t exactly a good word to describe a man who was on the run from the law and wanted for murder. But he was highly uncomfortable in the water and now he was less uncomfortable now that he was out. Well, that might not be exactly correct either he thought as he leaned over in the grass and flipped his hair violently back and forth getting all the excess water out. Because now he was wet and his clothes were going to chafe his skin.

Michael took off his shirt and rung it out. At le
ast he wasn’t in need of a bath,
h
e thought
,
as he put his shirt back on. There’s always a silver lining…Michael had come out of the water at the exact place he had gone in. He decided it was the least likely place they would be looking for him and he knew the area enough to make his way around in the dark.

Michael took a step toward the trail in the woods that would lead him back out and into the park. His shoes made squishing sounds with each step that he took. His wet overalls were already starting to chafe at his skin. Still having no underwear on, he had no way to keep himself protected. But he did have a plan. He was wide awake and had lots of energy. He was sure the cops wouldn’t be feeling the same way after the long day in the sun. They would be going home to crash so they could get up early and continue their search. If he was ever going to have a semi-safe chance at getting some clothes and food, now was going to be the best time.

Michael knew he was going to draw enough attention to himself as it was being all wet. He figured
that at
this time of night, there wasn’t going to be many people shopping at the local Walmart. And Walmart had a self checkout lane that he might get through quickly. It was the best plan he had. Get in and get out. The biggest obstacle was that it was nearly two miles away. That’s twenty minutes if he ran there. He figured a guy running in overalls m
ight attract too much attention
even in the dark
,
so he set off on foot
,
taking his time.

The night had begun to cool and a nice breeze had settled in. This would have normally felt good except for his wet clothes. It gave him a bit of a chill but his clothes began to dry as he walked. He started thinking about Becca and what she had said to him about having a kid.
DNA tests don’t lie Michael…
Was this some kind of bluff by the investigators? It didn’t make sense. Why would they make that assumption? And if they didn’t make that assumption, how could he possibly have a kid much less have dug her up on his property? Michael shook his head as he walked. None of it made any sense.

He’d only slept with a few girls in his whole life. There was April in high school. Then he went to college. He had gone to a couple of parties. He had met a few girls. But even in his four years at college, he had only slept with maybe six girls and he wore a condom with all of them. None of them had ever said anything about being pregnant. After college he had started off as a substitute teacher and worked various odd jobs until a full time teaching position had opened up at the school. He had been in two long relationships and dated a few
girls
in between. The girl’s arm had to belong to maybe an older teenager or a young adult. If the girl was fifteen years old, then that would have put her being born when he was about twenty. He didn’t start having sex until he was sixteen. So if the child really was his, there was only a logical four year window in which that could have been possible. Michael started checking them off in his mind. He dated April until he was a senior, that accounts for two… “What the he…” A large dog ran out of a yard right toward him snapping and barking. The dog had just about reached Michael but hit the end of his chain and fell backward with a yelp. Michael darted backward a little and continued walking. The dog about gave him a heart attack.
How ironic that would be
. He thought.
Evaded police, but killed by a dog…
Michael chuckled to himself but kept on walking.

Michael was beginning to notice a stinging sensation in his leg. It was throbbing like he had been cut. He looked down and was able to see a blood stain on his overalls. Either he scratched it against a sharp rock while diving into the water, or he had been grazed by the officer’s bullet. Whatever the case, he didn’t want an infection and he was going to need some bandages at the store. Michael picked up his pace.

Two yards up there was a slight glimmer in the lamplight coming from the street. As Michael approached the object, he saw it was a small boy’s bicycle. Michael, not wanting to break some kid’s heart hesitated, but then backtracked and snatched the bike.
I hope your parents have money kid
. He thought as he set out on
the
bike. He could get there five times faster and evade capture much easier. The bike was a good idea. As he pedaled the bike, his thoughts drifted back to high school and then college. He decided there were only two girls he had slept with in the first two years of college. He had been kind of a book nerd and kept to himself. He hadn’t really started to make friends and get involved until his junior year in college. The two girls from the first two years he had seen walking around on campus and in a couple of classes over the subsequent years. None of them appeared pregnant, nor had they said anything to him hinting at the idea. Not to mention, no broken condoms. There was only about a one percent chance… Michael began slowing the bike down.
The broken condoms…
Michael had never had one break… but he suddenly remembered one falling off and him not catching it until afterwards. It wasn’t with either of the college girls. It was with April. It was the summer after graduation. Right before they went their separate ways. They had gone camping. It was dark. They’d had a couple of drinks. Michael didn’t know until afterward. He never did say anything; he just hoped they had gotten lucky, or that maybe the spermacide from the condom prevented anything from happening. He hadn’t seen April for two years after that. He had bumped into her when they were both back on summer break. It was a little awkward and they didn’t really spend much time reminiscing.
What if April had gotten pregnant that day? Is it possible? What if she had a child?
And if she had a child then it must have been…Michael stopped the bike dead in its tracks. His heart was beating a million times a minute as he began to put the pieces together. The condom that fell off. Their getting back together. Her wanting to buy
that
specific house, and her betrayal at the park… “Oh God!” Michael said outloud. He felt sick to his stomach. “Oh no…Oh April, what have you done?” Michael suddenly felt woozy. He leaned against the handle bars to keep from falling over.
What have I gotten myself into?
Michael thought as the full gravity of his situation came crashing down on him.

BOOK: Over Her Dead Body
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