Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's Good to be Afraid-- 16, October


Michael Samuels pulled up in front of the King Street residence. The house was already awash in blue and red from the surrounding police cars. An officer was visible turning the neighbors away while a woman protested her concern. At the sight of Michael's ambulance, her eyes went down to the ground and her protesting stopped.

Officer Dawn Kirkley spotted him at the same time and waved Michael over. Mike added his flashers to the police's, then joined the woman.

“Three more,” she said. “Whole family.”

This was the second house in as many nights. The open front door, the circus of cops outside and the anxious hush that had fallen over the community said it all: Murder.

Dawn entered the house but blocked the door before Michael could follow. “For the record, I asked them to send someone else.”

Michael shrugged. “Third shift lunch break. Is it a 900-pounder or something? You didn't think I could do the pickup?”

Dawn looked resigned, then lead the way into the house. They came straight into a hallway with open doorways leading off in all directions. “Whole family,” she said again. “Mother, father and. . .”
Michael saw where she was going. The night before had been an elderly couple, mercilessly killed. The old man had a dozen stab wounds to the back. The lady had a metal lamp wrapped around her head.
“Teenage son,” Officer Kirkley finished.

“Hey, I'm a professional,” Michael reminded her. Dawn looked at him, and he couldn't tell if it was doubt or just sadness he saw on her face. Had the thing he said outside the asylum gotten around? About seeing his son? Or was it just simple pity and shared grief for a missing child?

“The father's in the kitchen.”

Michael followed Dawn to the right across a linoleum floor. The father was slumped against the counter, his elbows against it, his legs splayed on the floor. A large kitchen knife was buried in his head right next to the bridge of his nose.

“Christ,” Michael said. “Right through the bone.”
“There's more,” Dawn said. “Living room.”
He followed her back across the hall.

In the living room, half hidden between two chairs, was what must have been the mother. The fact that it was even a woman was only identifiable from her body shape. Her head was nothing but a crushed mess. Next to it was the cast iron frying pan used to destroy her.

“Likely point of entry was the side door leading into the kitchen,” Dawn said.

Michael was no detective, but he could see the whole thing play out in his mind. The killer walking calmly in through an unlocked door and picking up a knife from the kitchen counter. Dad turns around just in time to get it straight to the face. Then the killer grabs the next thing available-- a frying pan from the stove-- before marching into the living room. Michael wondered if the wife even had time to scream. Then the killer headed upstairs.

Dawn and Mike followed his trail.

The kid wasn't as bad. At least his face was intact. He was shirtless, with a serene expression. The only thing ruining the picture of a resting teenager was the broken broomstick in his neck.

“Looks like they kept after him to clean his room,” Mike commented. “We're going to need a second van to clear all the bodies out.”
“It'll be a while before we wrap up anyway,” Dawn said.

Another officer joined them at the top of the stairs. Michael didn't recognize this one. “We got a positive ID,” the man said. “Navarro family. Two parents and a kid.”
Dawn nodded.

“One problem, though,” the man said. “The Navarros didn't have a son. They had a daughter.”
Dawn looked confused. “She wasn't home? Then what was this kid. . .?”
“She was home,” Michael said. He pointed across the room to the open window.
“Our first suspect?” the man asked.
Dawn shook her head. “More like another victim. Whoever did this came from the kitchen door. We have boot prints going in both directions. Size 12, male. It's someone else out there. . . doing this.”

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