Read Progeny Online

Authors: E. H. Reinhard

Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Police Procedurals, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Murder, #Serial Killers, #Thrillers

Progeny (10 page)

BOOK: Progeny
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Carmen shook her head as she took the hammer.

“What?” Angel asked.

“You and your gloves. Gloves for this.” Carmen rocked her head to one side. “A different pair of gloves for that.” She rocked her head the other way.

“If they find us right away, we won’t be able to finish,” Angel said.

“Baby, your prints aren’t on record. The cops can’t do anything with them.”

“I know, but what about you?”

“I wish them luck finding me.”

“It’s almost like you want them to, though,” Angel said.

“I wouldn’t say I want them to, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing,” Carmen said. “I’ll kill a couple of them, they’ll kill me, and I can be with your father.”

“Whatever. Why don’t you just kill yourself, then?” Angel asked in a sarcastic tone.

Carmen punched the hammer through the garage-ceiling drywall. Dust and pieces of the sheetrock fell to the garage floor. She jammed the hammer through again. “Your father said I couldn’t. He was mad at me after I tried last time.”

Carmen finished exposing one of the ceiling studs and hung the first winch. She began punching a hole through the ceiling’s drywall for the next. “Angel, go inside and wait at the door. We don’t want that woman surprising us. I can handle getting this guy up.”

“Okay, Mama. Did you pull the plug for the garage door opener?”

Carmen nodded.

Angel walked back in the house and waited patiently at the front door as the sounds of Carmen working out in the garage carried through the house. Twenty minutes passed before she heard the sound of a car door. Angel put her eye to the peephole in the home’s front door. A short, round, gray-haired woman walked up the sidewalk toward her. It was Maggie Carpenter. She held a brown paper bag of groceries under one arm.

“She’s coming!” Angel said in a hard whisper.

Carmen came from the open garage door into the house. Her body and the butcher’s apron she wore were covered in blood. “As soon as she opens that door, pull her in,” Carmen said. “I’ll take care of the rest.”

Angel nodded and took a position to the right side of the door. She saw the handle of the door twist, and then it pushed open. Angel snatched the woman by the front of her blouse and yanked her through the doorway with everything she had. The bag of groceries flew from her hand. A head of lettuce flew, bounced, and rolled into the living room. A carton of orange juice hit the floor and burst open, spilling its orange liquid across the tile. The old woman sprawled to the floor inside the house. Angel reached out with her left hand and swung the door closed. She turned toward the woman just as Carmen pulled the scalpel’s blade across her throat. Maggie Carpenter’s blood splashed down the front of her light-pink blouse. Her eyes bulged as she clawed at Carmen’s hand holding the blade. Her movements became slow, and she slumped over.

Carmen let out a breath and looked at Angel. “Let’s go get this old bag strung up.”

Angel twisted the front door’s deadbolt.

Chapter 16

Detective Jones’s wide frame came through my office doorway. “He was a juror,” Jones said.

I held my desk phone against my ear with my shoulder. “LaSalle? It’s confirmed?” I asked.

“Yeah. I have all the names right here.” He slapped a sheet of paper against his hand. “We got names for, well, three that are alive and pretty local. There were five, but two were our victims.”

“The rest?” I asked.

“The trial was thirty years ago. Anyone who was older than forty-eight at the time…” Jones shrugged and paused. “Well, you know, Father Time catches all of us.”

“Okay. Are any of them in our jurisdiction?”

“Just one. A Ronald Braird. He lives on North Oregon, across the river there in some new townhouses.”

“The others?”

“A Maggie Carpenter in Clearwater and a Maria Flores in Riverview.”

I wrote the names down. “Okay. I need you to make contact with all of them and explain the situation. Have them come in so we can get them somewhere safe.”

“I’ll do it now. Did you get anything?”

“I’m on hold right now, waiting to speak with Carmen Simms’s old parole officer. I figured she had to have one. I called the DOC, and they forwarded me the officer’s information.”

“Okay. We’ll talk in a bit,” Jones said. He left my office.

I continued to hold, my shoulder pressing the phone to my ear. A couple minutes later, I heard a click. I grabbed the receiver with my hand as a man answered.

“This is Tom Lawrence,” he said.

“Lieutenant Kane with Tampa homicide. I need to see what you can tell me on an offender that was assigned to you.”

“Sure. What’s the name?” he asked.

“Carmen Simms.”

“Carmen, huh?” he asked.

“Do you remember her?”

“Oh, yeah. I remember Carmen. What has she done?” His voice sounded as if he’d been waiting on the phone call.

“It’s something that’s currently under investigation. We don’t really know in what capacity she’s involved, but it’s not looking good. We have a couple homicides here with her prints involved.”

“Hmm,” he said. His tone said he wasn’t surprised.

“What can you tell me?” I asked.

“I was assigned to her from 2006 until 2007. One year. June to June, if I remember right. She was over at the state mental health facility down south. She went to a halfway house after that and then came back up to the Tampa area, where she had to deal with me.”

“Any idea where she is now?” I asked.

“No. I haven’t seen her since she was released from supervision in 2007.”

“Where was she living while she was under supervision?”

“She was moving around from apartment to apartment. She came to me for all of our meetings. I was never out to any place she resided.”

“Work?” I asked.

“She worked as a waitress at some mom-and-pop diner out in the sticks. I popped in there once a month to check in on her. She was always there. I’m pretty sure that place burned down a few years back, though.”

“What was the extent of her supervision?”

“Just a monthly. Minimal. I wasn’t even required to check in on her at her work. I did it anyway because I was worried about what she would do.”

“Why was that?”

“She’s batshit crazy,” he said.

The comment caught me off guard. “Excuse me?”

“I mean, it probably sounds bad to say, but she’s not playing with a full deck. I’m not sure exactly what she was diagnosed with—it’s probably a handful of things—but that woman isn’t right in the head. Half of our appointments were spent with her talking about her boyfriend—just random day-to-day stuff: arguments, what they had for dinner, things they did that week. Then she told me she was pregnant.”

“Okay, what’s the problem with any of that?” I asked.

“Nothing… except that it was all make-believe. Her boyfriend supposedly drove her to one of our appointments and supposedly waited for her in our lobby. She told me this during our appointment. I walk her out after we concluded, and she introduces me to an empty chair. Then she proceeds to act like she’s holding the guy’s hand as she walks out.”

“What did you do?”

“I stood there in disbelief. I watched her as she left. She got into the passenger side of a car and sat there for hours. I called back to the hospital where she was released from. They said she’d completed her time and wasn’t a harm to anyone. Well, the next month she comes in all beat up—says her boyfriend knocked her around and she lost the baby. I looked at her knuckles. They were all bruised from what I assumed was her doing it to herself. I mean, I was at a loss as to what to do. I contacted the state hospital again, but it became pretty clear that they weren’t interested in dealing with the matter. I shared everything with my superiors, even the local police. Nothing ever became of anything, though.”

“Do you know the details of the crime that got her sentenced to the hospital? My sheet just says aggravated assault. Ten years in a mental-health facility is an odd sentence for that.”

“She tried cutting a woman’s tongue out with a broken piece of a beer bottle. The woman was apparently talking to her boyfriend.”

“Did this boyfriend exist?”

“Nope. That probably would have got her some jail time alone for the attack. Yet, it was her courtroom speech and attempted suicide that got her sentenced to the hospital.”

“Explain,” I said.

“During her court appearance, she read off a lengthy set of notes that she put together, a bunch of ramblings about how in love her and Jack Redding were and how this woman was threatening that. Keep in mind Jack Redding had been put to death the year prior. She talked about how Jack asked her if she could please remove the woman’s tongue. After that, she just went on and on about a bunch of craziness: stolen babies, conspiracies, you name it. If you could jam a hundred crazy thoughts into one ten-minute speech, that was it. Then she proceeds to grab a pen from her attorney and starts stabbing herself in the throat. She damn near died.”

“So she had a thing for Redding?”

“Big time. The imaginary boyfriend she introduced me to was also named Jack. I can’t say I got a last name.”

“Great. So I have a psychotic on the loose that’s infatuated with a dead serial killer. Do you know if she ever actually knew him?”

“No clue,” he said. “I asked the same thing. All I ever heard was she was just some crazy follower.”

I wrote down everything the parole officer told me, got a few more bits of information, and hung up. I rubbed my eyes. The sound of tapping came from my office door. Hank stood in the doorway. “You all right?” he asked.

“Yeah. I just had an interesting conversation with this Carmen’s old parole officer. Apparently, she’s psychotic… and now homicidal.”

“Great.” Hank’s voice rang with sarcasm. He held two sheets of paper in his hand. A familiar look on his face said he’d found something.

“What did you get?” I asked.

“So, I’m looking at these two restraining orders.” He walked them over and set them on my desk for me. “One is old, filed by a Cynthia Hanson, in 1981. The other looks to be the most recent account we have on Carmen Simms—a restraining order filed by a Marcy White in 2008.”

He stared at me with the same look on his face—almost a smile. He was leading me to the point where he would actually tell me what he’d found, building suspense.

I let out a breath. “Hank, are you going to spit out what you found or just stand there with that goofy look on your face?”

Hank tapped the name on the restraining order from 1981. “Cynthia Hanson is the maiden name of Cynthia Redding,” he said.

“So this Simms was involved somehow with Redding when he was still active,” I said.

“Looks like it.”

“Well, obviously we can’t interview Cynthia Redding. What do we know about the other one?” I spun the second restraining order toward myself to read the name. “Marcy White?”

“I haven’t looked into her yet.”

I pushed the two restraining orders back toward Hank. “Find out whatever you can. If she’s local, let’s get something set up as soon as possible.”

“Got it.” Hank took the two sheets and left my office.

I leaned back in my chair, stretched my back, and clasped my hands behind my bald head. We needed to figure out a way to find that woman before she did anything else. I leaned forward, scooped up my desk phone, and dialed Jones.

“Detective Jones,” he said.

“Hey, it’s Kane. What have we got?”

“I spoke with Ronald Braird, the juror that’s in our jurisdiction here. He’s on his way in. I can’t get in touch with the Clearwater juror, Maggie Carpenter. The Maria Flores I spoke with out in Riverview doesn’t want to come in.”

“Doesn’t want to come in? Did you tell her that she may be a target?” I asked.

“Yes. She wants no part of it.”

“Let me get her number.”

Jones rattled it off, and I wrote it down.

“Okay. I’ll give her a call. Why don’t you get on the phone with the Clearwater PD and see if they can send someone out to”—I glanced down at my notepad—“Maggie Carpenter’s house and make a house call. Try to get something set up over at Imperial Suites for a couple rooms, and then get with Timmons on stationing a couple patrol guys there.”

“Got it.”

“Thanks, Jones.” I hung up and dialed the number Jones had given me for Maria Flores. Someone answered within a couple rings.

“Hello?” a woman asked.

“Is this Maria Flores?”

“It is.”

“Hi, Maria. Lieutenant Carl Kane with the TPD. I believe one of my detectives just gave you a call.”

“Yeah, he did,” she said.

“He explained the situation to you?”

“Said I may be a target, yeah.”

“We’d like to put you up for a few days, for your protection, while we sort this out.”

“Sorry. It’s just not a possibility.” The tone of her voice said the topic wasn’t really open for discussion.

“Can I ask why?”

“I have about a hundred reasons, but mainly, I have people who depend on me to be around—four beautiful grandchildren that I look after daily. I can’t go crawl in a hole and hide. Plus, I work. Those people depend on me to be there, and I depend on them for a paycheck.”

“You won’t be able to help any of those people who depend on you if something happens.”

“If someone comes for me, they’ll be in for a fight.” Her words were short, snappy, sure.

I’d dealt with my fair share of defiant people before, but the conviction in the woman’s voice told me I wouldn’t be able to change her mind. However, I wanted to give it a few more attempts.

“We can take in your family members as well,” I said.

“No. I won’t interrupt their lives.”

“Did my detective tell you exactly what our suspect is doing?”

“Targeting jurors from the Redding trial. Killing them.”

“This doesn’t worry you?” I asked.

“Sure. I’d be crazy if it didn’t. But I have a concealed-carry permit and a nice little Smith & Wesson to help me if needed.”

I rolled my head against the back of my chair. “Can you please work with me on this?”

“I’m not sure how.”

I tapped my fingers on the top of my desk. “Let me make a few calls. If I can provide you with an officer, to just keep an eye on you and not interfere with your daily life in any way, would that be acceptable?”

BOOK: Progeny
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