A rogue dog, or something, is killing women in local parks in Northern Virginia. Meanwhile, Thad is looking for clues about Mr. Jacques’ murder.
“Three Killed in Area Parks” The front page of the morning paper announced a new string of deaths. The article revealed that in two days time three people had been killed in Great Falls National Park. The deaths, like the earlier deaths in Eakin Park, had occurred in lesser-frequented areas and apparently after dark. Once again, park officials were warning people to stay off the side trails and to be out of the park before dark. Speculation was that it was the same animal that had been in Eakin Park, that it had, somehow, changed locations. However, visitors to Eakin Park were still being cautioned to be out of the park by sunset and stay on the main trials. As of yet, there was no mention of closing either facility.
Thad scanned through the article a second time. Details were sparse, but he had a funny feeling about the deaths. It was mentioned only in passing that all but one of the people killed had been female – a detail that he thought interesting.
Thad laid the carefully folded paper on the table and stood up. Cindy was visiting her sister so he didn’t have to say anything about where he was going. Half an hour later he was in the older section of Hendon. He pulled into the lot of a white building that looked like a church but bore the square and compass of a Masonic Lodge, got out and walked a few blocks. He stopped at a house with a tall wooden fence surrounding the backyard.
A faint clicking, and the sound of someone moving about, answered his call. A moment later an older, slightly grizzled, man came out wearing a grey and maroon bathrobe. He carefully closed the gate behind him and looked around before turning to Thad.
“Taking a chance coming here, kid.”
“I know.” Thad glanced over his shoulder in the direction of the dark street and the nearby homes. “But I need to talk to you.”
“What’d ya want?”
“You were called in on the Jacques murder.”
“What did you see?”
“The vic was shot by a young male. And there was a small footrest missing from the front of the easy chair. I could just make out where it had been. The perp moved the chair to try and hide it.”
“Why take a footrest?” One eyebrow crept up.
“It probably had the bullet in it.”
“Oh. But how’d he get it out?”
“Think, kid. One door was still unlocked. He took everything out, came back in, and locked up the house. There were signs of him at every window and door in the place. Then he left. Assuming he’s not overly large, it wouldn’t have been too hard.”
“Of course.” Thad nodded. “You heard any of the news lately?”
“Some. Ron and Becky leave the evening news on sometimes.”
“I got this funny feeling they’re related.”
“Could be. Wouldn’t be the first time. Hell, use to be that those that didn’t turn dark were the exception.”
“Yeah. Now all we have to do is catch the dirtbag.”
“That’s your job kid,” Rudolf snorted. “You better go, before someone sees us.”
Thad looked over his shoulder, half-expecting to see someone coming, seeing nothing he turned back. Rudolf was gone. He heard a faint clicking on the other side of the now closed gate. Chuckling he turned to leave. Rudolf hadn’t lived as long as he had by being careless. During the drive home, he pondered the information he’d gotten. Maybe it was time to call in a favor.
Thad stopped at his cousin’s home on his way to the station the next day.
“All right, what do you need?” Winfriede leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs, waving him to the other chair.
“We have a case we can’t crack. We need the help of someone who works on another level.”
“What kind of case?” Winfriede asked.
“A murder. We have no suspects, no motive, and a locked house,” Thad told her. “Homicide is totally baffled.”
“So what’s your interest in the case?”
“I was first on the scene. I’d like to see this solved, somehow.”
“Okay, I’ll buy that.” Winfriede nodded.
“I know you’re psychometric.” Winfriede nodded, agreeing with him. “Can you ‘work’ off a picture?”
“Sometimes.” Winfriede’s voice was a carefully schooled neutral.
“Okay,” Thad nodded. “I brought some pictures. Unfortunately, I was unable to get my hands on any of the victim’s personal effects.”
“Then the pictures will have to do.” Winfriede uncrossed her legs and leaned forward slightly in her seat.
Thad nodded and picked the folder up off the floor. Pulling two of the better close-up shots out, he laid them on the table. He rotated the photos to face Winfriede as she reached out to pick them up with her left hand.
Winfriede mentally groaned when she noticed that all the pictures were taken after the subject had died. Still, she felt she had to at least give it a try. Closing her eyes, Winfriede blanked her mind and focused on the subject in the pictures. After a couple of minutes she sighed and slowly shook her head. The only thing she had been able to get from the photos had been the pain of traumatic death, and the void of life departed.
“Let me see the photos of the home.”
Thad pulled out a couple of other photos and handed them over. Winfriede looked at one of them for a moment the slowly nodded. She looked at a second and nodded again.
“You get anything?”
“Yes, I did manage to get something. “The person you are looking for is a 23 – 25 year old Hispanic male, about 5 foot 9, black hair, brown eyes, around 185 pounds, medium build. No distinguishing marks or tattoos. Wears his hair about collar length, no glasses or facial hair. He has a faint accent. He was one of Jacques’ students a few years back. Best I can give you for a name is Rodrigus. I don’t know if that helps.”
“Actually, it does help.” Thad leaned forward, clasping his hands together. “We can contact the school and have them check their records. He should have given them an address.”
“That’s assuming he still lives there.”
Thad shook his head briefly and stood up. He grabbed the folder the pictures had been in as she rose. “Thank you, Winnie. You’ve given us something to work from.”
Winfriede rose a fraction behind him. “My honor,” she replied. “Next time though, why don’t you stop by with your wife, when you don’t need a favor?