“Detective…Lawson? I’m not familiar with that name.”
The grizzled old lieutenant handed Linda Lawson her ID back.
“I’m new in town,” said Detective Lawson, trying to put her best grimace on. “You gonna let me in, or do I have to call the chief and find a way to get you fired? I’m just guessing since I’ve only been here a week, but I’m betting you’re not her favorite Lieutenant.”
The lieutenant held up his hands. “Whoa! Okay okay, I’m just doing my job.” He lifted up the police tape.
Linda raised an eyebrow. “I hope you were at least able to mark the evidence. It’s Friday afternoon, I want to wrap this up before the weekend.” She stepped under the police tape, careful not to step in a small mud puddle in the apartment building’s fake front yard.
“Not much to look at honestly, bit of a mystery,” said the Lieutenant. “No motive, no witnesses.”
Linda thought better of asking for more details. “Right, thanks.”
The lieutenant let out a snort and turned back around to resume guarding the tape.
Detective Lawson smoothed out her black pantsuit, took a deep breath, and marched towards the crime scene. Apartment 111’s door was half ajar, and the door jam was destroyed from being kicked in. Linda put on some latex gloves and gently opened the door, worried it might fall off its hinges. There was a single deadbolt in the door and non-locking handle, and thankfully the door swung open without much fuss.
A red-haired female deputy stood inside the small apartment. She had a notebook out and was talking to a distressed-looking tall muscled man in a white t-shirt and jeans.
“Okay James, I think that’s all we need. You’ll just need to speak to the detective when she gets here,” said the deputy.
“Ahem,” said Linda.
The deputy whirled around with alarming speed. “Oh! Hello there.” In one fluid motion she put her notebook in her back pocket and came deftly over to Linda. “I’m Deputy Carlisle, pleased to meet you.”
“Detective Lawson,” said Linda, shaking the deputy’s hand. “What have we got?”
“Well, it’s a bit grisly and mysterious. This is James Henderson. His roommate, Bill, is deceased in the bedroom over there. He is — ”
“Hold that thought, Carlisle. Let’s go have a look.”
The deputy nodded and asked James to have a seat on the couch. The two women walked into the bedroom.
Bill was laid flat on the floor on his back, staring up at the ceiling. There was a wound on his forehead with some glass sticking out of it. He was wearing jeans and a pale blue polo shirt. He had a little numbered evidence card sitting next to his head. There was a small bruise on his right hand. A male officer was standing over him taking pictures.
“Oh hi,” said the photographer as the women entered the room. “Just about finished up.”
“Thanks,” said Linda.
“You’re the new detective, right? Name’s Lance.”
“Nice to meet you Lance,” said Detective Lawson. “Make sure you get a picture of the bruise on his hand.”
“Huh. Hadn’t noticed that. Good eye. Not much else to look at on this one, but the details don’t totally line up. Just the body and the shattered door over there. Shortest assignment of the month so far. Hope we can find the guy. Probably ran off.”
Linda looked over at the sliding glass door onto the back patio. One of the two panes was completely shattered and in pieces on the floor, next to another small evidence card. She scanned the rest of the room. It was a pretty plain bedroom. Bill had one night stand, a lamp, and a small computer desk. There was a laptop on the desk with an unplugged charger next to it.
“Medical examiner say how long the body has been like this?” asked Linda.
“Several hours, he thought,” said Deputy Carlisle.
Lance took a few more photos. “Okay I’m out of here. Starting to stink in here. I’ll have these back at the station if you need to see them.”
“I shouldn’t,” said Linda. “Did he have anything in his pockets?”
“Nope, probably stolen by the perp.” said Lance.
Detective Lawson nodded, and walked over to the night stand. She pulled the bottom drawer open and began to root around inside. Lance walked out of the room.
“Whatcha looking for?” asked Deputy Carlisle.
“This,” said Linda, pulling a wallet out of the bottom of the drawer. She flipped it open. It was Bill’s. It had a driver’s license, a single credit card, and about 18 dollars inside. “A bit weird this was all the way down here, don’t you think? And that the murderer didn’t take it?”
“That is strange,” said Carlisle. Maybe Bill was trying to hide something?”
“Maybe. Not much to hide though.” Detective Lawson shuffled through the wallet, and found another ID behind Bill’s driver’s license. “Looks like poor Bill here worked for a small tech company. I want this logged as evidence.” She pulled a bag out of her back pocket and dropped the wallet inside. Then she noticed something else on the floor. It was some cherry-flavored lip gloss. She picked it up and bagged that too. “Someone’s left their lip gloss here. And that damned lieutenant outside didn’t catch it.”
“Maybe it’s Bill’s?” asked Carlisle.
“Could be,” said Linda. “Though he doesn’t strike me as a cherry kind of guy. What’s James’s story?”
Carlisle pulled out her notebook. “Well, he says he went out of the apartment to buy some groceries, and when he came back, he realized he had locked himself out. He tried getting ahold of his roommate who was at work, but he wouldn’t answer his phone. So he called the landlord to get the extra key. The landlord wasn’t in either, so in a moment of panic over the groceries spoiling, James decided to bust the door down. That’s when he found Bill dead and called the police.”
“Hmm. That’s…kind of strange.”
Carlisle nodded. “I agree.”
“You made an arrest before Carlisle?,” asked Detective Lawson.
Deputy Carlisle shook her head. “Not yet ma’am, used to work traffic violations.”
“Well get your cuffs ready,” said Linda. “You’re about to haul the murderer in.”
Carlisle went pale. “But…we don’t even have a motive or a suspect!”
“I’ll take care of all that presently,” said Linda. “I want you ready to grab James when I’m done talking with him. Walk out there calmly and stand outside the broken door. When you hear me say he’s under arrest, come in and grab him.”
“Don’t you have cuffs?” asked Carlisle.
“Sure, but you could use the credit for this one,” said Linda. “I like that you’re using a notepad instead of a phone.”
Carlisle grinned. She walked as calmly as she could out of the room. James looked up as she entered the living room. The Deputy kept right on going and stood outside the apartment, as asked, with her back to the open door. Before James could react to this, Linda came in and took a seat next to him on the couch. “I’m Detective Lawson, James. I just need to ask you a few things and then we’re done here.”
“Okay sounds good,” said James. “I can’t wait till you can get out there and try to find the guy who did this horrible thing to Bill!”
“Right. So, your story is you went out for groceries, locked yourself out, then kicked the door down and found your buddy Bill dead, right?”
James nodded. “That’s about it, yeah. It looks like someone broke the back door and killed him.”
Linda pulled a small recorder out of her pocket and hit the red start button. “Is Bill normally home on Friday afternoons?” she asked.
James shook his head. “No, he’s usually at work. It was so horrifying to find him like that. I hope that you can find the thief who decided to kill him.” James started to hyperventilate a little. “Oh man, they took my new watch! And my lockbox. I had all my important papers in there. If you want to see, my room is down the hall, and — “
“You had some things stolen? You didn’t tell the deputy about that. Did they take the groceries too? I’m not seeing any bags here. And I’m guessing you wouldn’t have spent the time to put them away.”
A look of anger flashed over James’s face. “I did tell her about the stolen items! She must not have written it down.”
“Does Bill have a cell phone?” asked Detective Lawson calmly.
“N…no he doesn’t,” said James. “I tried him at work but he didn’t pick up.”
Linda raised an eyebrow. “Really? Bill doesn’t have a cell phone?”
“Nope, he hates the things!” said James.
Linda let out a big sigh. “Okay James.” She put the recorder down on the coffee table next to the sofa. She crossed her hands and rested her elbows on her knees, then put her chin on her hands. “You’re not a very good liar, are you Mr. Henderson?”
James looked shocked. “What are you talking about?”
“There isn’t another murderer guy,” said Linda. “These details are so stupid I don’t even know where to begin picking holes in them.”
“I’m insulted!,” yelled James. “Someone broke into my place and killed my friend, and you have the nerve to — ”
“This temper is probably why your girlfriend is cheating on you,” said Linda.
“I don’t, I’m not….my girlfriend is not cheating on me!” yelled James.
“So that’s that then,” said Linda, nodding. “That was the last piece. There’s no mystery murderer, James. This mysterious assailant didn’t steal anything…he didn’t even steal Bill’s wallet or laptop, which was sitting right in the open. If you break open a glass door with a rock or something, it’s highly unlikely that a small piece would have lodged itself in Bill’s head, killing him. And we would have found the rock. And the glass would be spread around the room, not right below the doorframe.”
James went a little pale.
“Shall I continue?” asked Detective Lawson, without waiting for a reply. “It’s almost impossible to lock yourself out of one of these apartments. If you leave without a key the door will stay unlocked, because you can’t lock the deadbolt. The only way is for someone else to have locked the door while you’re gone, or be inside with the door locked. I guess it’s possible that Bill could have left after you and locked the door, but it’s unlikely. You look like you’re between jobs, dressed like that, so he probably left earlier this morning. Do you work right now James?
“No….not as such,” said James.
“I thought so,” said Linda. “I refuse to believe that Bill didn’t have a cell phone. He works for a tech company in town. He owns a laptop. He surely has a cell phone. Everyone does. Here’s what I think really happened. You and your girlfriend were on the outs. Bill went to work and accidentally left his phone here one day, because he’s so busy. You’ve suspected him of liking your girl for a while, and sure enough, you snooped on his phone and found out he’s been seeing her for a few months now. Enraged, you made a plan to catch them in the act. So today, you told him that you’d be out all day shopping for groceries, hoping he’d make plans to see her.”
“This is ridiculous,” said James.
“Is it?,” asked Linda. She walked over and opened the fridge, and it was barren. “You waited till the last possible day to do the shopping, a menial task you always get stuck with since your buddy works long hours. So he knew you’d be gone for a while.”
“You need to be out there finding the guy that did this!,” yelled James.
Linda ignored him and kept going. “Sure enough, your ruse worked. You got here, and your girlfriend’s car was here. You yelled to them through the door, but in all your passionate rage, you had forgotten your keys inside. I bet we’ll find them somewhere in your room. Bill came to the door and held it shut while your girlfriend ran out the patio door, dropping her lip balm. I bet we’ll find her prints on it. You kicked the door open, bruising Bill’s wrist, and chased him into the bedroom, where you slammed his head into the door, killing him.”
“No!,” yelled James, standing up, “that’s not true! You can’t prove anything!”
“You tried to hide the evidence of the motive. You took Bill’s phone. You positioned him on his back on the floor so it’d look like he got hit from outside the patio door. You unplugged his laptop and let the battery die by running it down, hoping that a dead battery would somehow stop us from finding the emails between him and your girlfriend, because again, you got stupid and careless. You hid his wallet in the night stand hoping we’d think someone took it, and that we’d run off looking for someone else. Then, finally, you called the police. James, you’re under arrest for the murder of Bill — ”
“You’re crazy, you dumb bitch!,” yelled James. He took two phones out of his back pocket and threw them against the nearest wall. They cracked and shuddered and fell to the floor. Then he lunged towards Linda. Deputy Carlisle leapt through the door and fired her taser at James, dropping him to the floor in a convulsing heap, as the clicking sounds of the taser echoed throughout the room.
“Hah, good one Carlisle!”
“Holy crap!,” yelled the deputy. “I just did that!”
Linda took a moment to catch her breath. “I’m glad as hell you did! Get some cuffs on him, and I’ll get a tech in here to get the evidence we need off the computer and the shattered phones on the floor.”
“How’d you know so quickly that he did it?,” asked Carlisle.
Linda Lawson smiled. “Because I’m a good detective. I’ll buy you a drink after work. It’s good to have made a new friend.”
— — — —
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