Read Progeny Online

Authors: E. H. Reinhard

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

Progeny (4 page)

BOOK: Progeny
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Angel turned her head toward Carmen. “I know, Mama. I’ll be careful.”

She ever so gently pulled the blade across the skin. Each piece of meat and fat had to be removed before they could salt the skin and let it dry.

Carmen walked to the corner bench and went to work on a piece of skin from one of the man’s legs. “Your daddy just said he loves seeing us together like this.”

Angel looked over and smiled.

Chapter 5

After my history lesson from Ed, I drove back to the station. I needed to get with Rick and see what he’d come up with as far as getting the old files on the Quilter case. I was about to call him when the captain walked into my office.

“Well?” he asked, taking a chair across from me at my desk.

“The homicide is identical. Ed showed me his old file from the victims in the eighties. There’s just no denying someone copied the Quilter’s method to perfection. I’m having Rick get our files on the Quilter case brought from archives. Maybe the contents can tell us something.”

“Rick and Pax didn’t come up with anything, though?” Bostok asked.

“I’m about to call him to double check, but if he did, I’m sure he would have called me. They were going to process the gauze that the man was found in.”

“Do we have anything on the victim to go on?”

“Ed gave me the height, weight, and approximate age. He was still waiting on the results from the toxicology report to come back.”

“Did you call up to missing persons and see if they’ve had anyone reported lately that hits those marks for height, weight, and age?” Bostok asked.

“It’s on my to-do list.”

The captain rubbed his white beard. “So, same methods as the Quilter.”

“Same everything. How much specifically do you know about the Redding case?” I asked.

“Just what I’ve heard. I was over at Jacksonville while that was all going on here. Everything I’ve heard is all second hand. I’ve never been through the file.”

“Well, I’m going to check in with Rick and then go talk with Danes. You want to join me?”

“Yeah, I just saw the major in his office. I’ll go give him a heads up. Grab Rawlings when you’re done talking to Rick and meet me over there.”

“Sounds good.”

The captain walked out. I dialed Rick. The conversation was short. They’d found nothing. The gauze was everyday, over-the-counter stuff. The blood on it was entirely from the victim. No other trace evidence. The files from the Quilter case would be in from our archives by the end of the day.

I hung up and then dialed Steinberg upstairs in missing persons. They’d had no one reported that hit our marks in the past couple months. Steinberg said he’d let me know as soon as he heard anything. I hung up and went to Hank’s desk.

“Anything?” I asked.

Hank leaned back in his desk chair. “No. And apparently the neighborhood residents really don’t like to talk with cops. I think I was hung up on about ten times. What did you get from Ed?”

“Copycat, down to the finest details. Major Danes was actually the second in command on the Redding case. Cap wanted me to grab you so we could go get the story from him. Archives is bringing over the original case files and evidence.”

“Okay. That was my last phone call for the day.” Hank sat up in his chair. “Are we going over there now?”

“Yeah, come on.”

Hank followed me past my and the captain’s offices, down the hall, and to the right. Through the glass window, I could see the captain sitting with Major Danes inside. He waved us in when he saw us, and I opened the door.

“Major,” I said.

“Come in, guys. Grab a seat,” Danes said. He sat at his large cherry-wood desk, his arms folded on top. Behind him on the wall were a slew of framed service awards. While my office sometimes bordered on disaster, Danes’s was immaculate. Each piece of furniture matched and gleamed as if recently polished. The ficus by the window looking out at the park appeared to be thriving. I didn’t spot a speck of dust on anything.

Hank and I took seats next to the captain.

“So we have a copycat of the Quilter?” he asked.

“Yeah. I’m not too familiar with the particulars, but hearing it from someone who worked the case could lead us somewhere,” I said. “Ed gave me a little more information on it when I was over there.”

Danes nodded. “Yeah, Ed was the assistant ME at the time. What did he tell you?”

“Basically, what he knew about the bodies. Also said that the city was in an uproar.”

“That’s an understatement.” Danes stood and leaned into the edge of his desk. “It took us weeks to find Redding. Even then, without his wife turning him in, I’m not so sure we would have. Every newspaper and television channel focused on the case. Imagine Bob Cross—times a hundred—as far as coverage and public outcry.”

“Well, whoever did what we found this morning has inside knowledge of the crimes. I’m thinking that someone got to the files in order to recreate them, or Redding had an accomplice. Ed did say that Redding had kind of a cult following.”

Danes shook his head. “That was during his trial and while he was incarcerated. No one knew who he was, prior. On the outside, he was just an ordinary guy. Hell, his wife didn’t even know what he was doing.”

“Someone who had visited him in prison maybe?” Hank asked. “He was locked up for, what, seven or eight years before he was executed. That’s a lot of time to coach someone.”

I looked at Hank. “Good point. I have Rick getting the original case files and evidence brought to his lab. What would we have to do to get the prison’s visitor logs from that time?” I asked.

“You’ll probably come up empty there, Lieutenant. They didn’t keep those things—maybe for a year or two, but that’s about it. Keep in mind, this was before everyone started switching over to digital records,” Danes said.

I nodded. “It’s still worth a phone call. So, Major, do you mind running through the case with us?”

He let out a long breath. “As I’m sure the captain told you, I was number two on the case. It was around this time of year.”

I interrupted. “It was exactly this time of year, to the date. Ed had the dates written in his file.”

Danes nodded. “Well, unfortunately, I don’t have a ton to share with you. We didn’t know what we were dealing with when we found the first victim. We figured it to be some kind of gang thing or something. It wasn’t until we found the second and third victims that we put together what we were dealing with. We found those two on the same day. We found the fourth the following day, and then nothing. No more bodies. We had zero evidence. Redding would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for his wife.”

“So she found out and turned him in?” I asked.

“No. He took her to some little rat hole that he was working from and showed her what he was doing. She said that his face was filled with pride when he did. He wanted her to be a part of it. She was horrified but didn’t show it for fear of her life. As soon as she got out of his sight, she took their daughter and came to us to turn him in. Of course, you’ve heard about how the arrest went down with us raiding the house and him sitting there naked, covered in a human-skin blanket.”

“I didn’t know he had a daughter,” I said.

Danes nodded. “Yeah. What a shame. She went into the foster system after Cynthia Redding killed herself. Who knows, after that? She has to be in her thirties now if she’s still around.”

“So there were never any signs that he may have had an accomplice?” I asked.

“Nope.”

“Well, I’m sure there is a log of each piece of evidence that we have on Redding. At least we’ll be able to go through that and make sure everything is still there,” I said. “Of course, it won’t account if someone copied things from it. Not really any way to tell that.”

“This will probably sound macabre, but whatever happened to the skin quilt? Is it in with the evidence?” Hank asked.

Danes shook his head. “Incinerated after the trial. We were worried that someone, sometime, would get to one of our evidence guys with hopes of trying to get it.”

Captain Bostok spoke up. “Weirdos will pay big money for shit like that.”

“Hmm,” I said.

“Hmm what?” Danes asked.

“I just thought of something I could put the tech guys on. Searching for anyone who purchased or sold any items related to Redding or the Quilter case online. It could give us some leads.”

“Worth a shot,” Bostok said.

“How did you identify the victim’s bodies?” Hank asked.

“We found four driver’s licenses in the house. Our missing persons team matched them up with open cases. A dentist was brought into to confirm the identities via dental records.”

“Major, what was Redding’s hunting ground? Do we know how he chose his victims?” the captain asked.

“He was selecting them from Clearwater Beach. We found the victim’s cars there, a couple were last seen there, and Redding confirmed it. As far as how he was selecting them specifically, he just said that he chose them if he liked their skin.”

“Makes sense,” Hank said. He flipped one leg up on his other knee. “If you’re looking for victims for their skin, the beach is the place to go, I guess.”

“Do we know his process from when he selected a victim until he had them back at his house?” I asked.

“He never did reveal the specifics. It was one of the things he wouldn’t talk about.”

“Did you guys have a working theory?” Hank asked.

“We tossed a bunch of ideas out there. We thought he may have been drugging them somehow, but the tox screens never showed anything. It could have been something that left the bloodstream rapidly.”

I nodded. If the beach was Redding’s hunting ground, then there was a chance our victim was taken from there. “I’m going to call over to the Clearwater PD and see if we had any vehicles towed or people reported missing,” I said.

“Good idea,” Bostok said.

“What was the race of the victim this morning?” Danes asked.

“Caucasian,” I said.

“Same as Redding’s first. If there is another and this person is sticking to the way Redding did it, the next will be Latino. Maybe share that with the Clearwater PD as well,” Danes said.

“I will.”

“Okay guys, get to it,” Danes said. “The captain and I have a board meeting that we need to get over to.”

Hank and I left the major’s office. I headed to my office, Hank to his desk. I took a seat and woke up my computer to get the number for the Clearwater PD. My cell phone buzzed in my pocket. I slid it out and answered.

“Hey, babe,” I said.

“Hey, you’re not in the middle of something are you?” Callie asked.

I pulled up the Clearwater PD’s contact info on my laptop. “Nah. You have good timing. I just sat down at my desk.”

“Okay, good. I was thinking of scheduling something with the realtor for Saturday morning before we leave to go fishing. I want to look at the place over on Lake Thonotosassa”

I let out a long breath. “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to get out of town, Cal. What I got called in for this morning is bad. Like real bad. I should probably be around.”

“Well, we can always do the fishing and kayaking thing another weekend. What about the realtor?”

“Which place is it for? I know we looked at a couple over there.”

“The big blue old one with the boathouse and land.”

“Um. I thought we were kidding about that. It’s a little out of our price range. By about double. Plus, I’m pretty certain that it’s haunted.” I pulled the place up on the website we’d been shopping for houses on. The home was stored in our favorites list. I started browsing through the photos.

“It’s so pretty though, and you know we could afford it if we wanted to,” Callie said.

I clicked through picture after picture of the house. The place did check all the boxes yet also had a price tag that scared me to death. “I guess I could be talked into looking at it Saturday morning if you can get it set up.”

“That’s what I thought you’d say.” Callie laughed.

I took my eyes from the computer screen and rocked back in my chair. “It’s too expensive, though.”

“We’ll just look.”

“Fine.”

“What time are you going to be home?” Callie asked.

“I have some old files that I want to dig into that won’t be at the station until the end of the day. Probably seven or so before I’m home.”

“Okay. I’ll already be gone for class.”

“What time until?” I asked.

“I’ll be home at like nine or so.”

“Sounds good. I’ll make you dinner tonight,” I said.

“Can’t wait. Love you. Be safe.”

“Love you too.”

I hung up and dialed the Clearwater PD.

Chapter 6

I spoke with a Sergeant Withers over at the Clearwater Police Department. While they hadn’t received any notifications of a missing person, he was going to check with his beach patrol guys, as well as his parking enforcement, on any vehicles that had been sitting in the area. He also got the word circulated through his ranks to be on the lookout for any kind of abduction attempts.

Hank walked through my office door and took a seat.

“I called the prison—essentially what the major said. They can go back years on visitors now, but that’s now, not then. They saved records for the year in their office, then transferred them to archives for a year, and then shredded them. We’re about seventeen years too late on getting that.”

“Worth a phone call. You never know,” I said.

“Did Ed get back to you on the tox screen?” Hank asked.

“About a half hour ago. Fluticasone and salmeterol.”

Hank shrugged in question.

“Used for asthma or COPD,” I said.

“Does that help us?” he asked.

“Not really. Prescription but very common.”

Hank clasped his hands in his lap. “Are you still trying to get away for the weekend?” he asked.

“I doubt it now. We’ll see. I just wanted to get out of town and go fishing,” I said.

“Weren’t you just out of town?”

“Getting shot at, up north in the cold, doesn’t qualify as a vacation.”

“But you went to California after.”

“For two days.”

Hank shrugged. “Where were you guys trying to go?”

BOOK: Progeny
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