Episode III: Part VIII - The Case of the Missing Virus
“Executed,” Morelli revealed. “All three shot in the back of the head."
“And the vials?” Matt asked, glancing at the CSI personnel, all scurrying around taking photographs, collecting trace materials and documenting the scene. Several were busy swabbing areas of likely contact, attempting to collect low-level DNA and other biological evidence.
"Nothing Anderson and I observed,” Morelli replied. The missing vials are still missing, Duggan. If they were in the in the cryo-refrigerators as you stated earlier, that’s no longer the case.”
“What’s the initial findings on the killing of Mitchell and his two henchmen?” Matt asked.
“Either a revolver was used, or the semi-auto shell casings were gathered before the executioner and accomplice departed."
“Or accomplices,” Delia added.
Morelli gazed at Delia and nodded. “I wouldn’t disagree." He turned and looked at Matt. “Let me see your revolver, Duggan.”
“What?” Matt asked, glancing at Morelli, a puzzled look on his face.
“You heard me — let me have your revolver.”
Delia rendered an incredulous stare at Morelli. “Are you serious?”
“It’s alright,” Matt assured Delia. He removed his .38 caliber Charter Arms snub nose revolver from its holster, handing it to the lead FBI agent. Morelli pushed the release slide allowing the cylinder to pop open. He turned the revolver upward, five jacketed .38 rounds dropping into his gloved hand. The bullets were intact. Morelli sniffed the gun for the pungent odor of cordite, then checked the barrel for traces of carbon. He noted the gun’s six digit serial number stamped on the frame above the trigger, then handed it back to Duggan.
“If the forensic pathologist determines the slugs are .38 caliber we’ll need to see your revolver again,” Morelli disclosed.
Matt smirked. “Not a problem, Frank, but I’m sure you know a .357 magnum can also fire .38 caliber rounds,” he reminded the detective.
“Don’t get cocky with me, Duggan. Here - take your ammo,” Frank barked, handing the five bullets back to Duggan. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he removed Delia’s cell phone and tracking button, handing both back to her. “You might want to stick this button back into your boss’ clothing somewhere. It seems he has a tendency to get lost.”
“Very funny, Frank. We’re all laughing,” Matt uttered, a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
Ignoring Matt’’s comment, Morelli exchanged glances with Delia. “I’ll have one of the CSI people take you both back to the agency,” he told her.
“We’re at a dead-end,” Matt complained, standing adjacent to the kitchen counter and pouring himself a cup of coffee. He lifted the glass carafe in Delia’s direction.
“No thanks,” she said, shaking her head. “Now tell me something. What do you mean we’re at a …. dead-end?”
Matt took a deep breath. “I was confident we’d put all the pieces together after Mitchell and his two thugs were in FBI custody, considering what he had to lose in terms of a lengthy prison sentence."
“And?’ Delia encouraged.
“All the key players we’re aware of are now dead.”
Delia gently removed the coffee cup out of Matt’s hand. Placing it on the kitchen counter, she turned and gazed deep into his overflowing brown eyes. “Remember when you returned to the office after your meeting with Wayne Hutchinson of Virolabs?”
Matt pondered for a moment. “Yes, I remember,” he answered.
“You handed me a file given to you by Hutchinson. It was Mitchell's bio file.”
“That’s correct,” Matt affirmed. “I asked you to use the remainder of the day to find out everything you could about the missing scientist.”
“And I did just that,” Delia replied. “My data base research confirmed there was nothing unremarkable or out of the ordinary regarding Mr. Mitchell — nothing I needed to bring to your attention.”
“Okay, there were no red flags,” Matt concluded. “So, why do I get the feeling you’re going somewhere else with this?”
“Because I am,” Delia asserted.
Matt nodded, then leaned against the kitchen counter. “Alright, I’m listening,” he said, grabbing his cup of coffee and raising it to his lips.
Delia pivoted and began walking slowly around the kitchen. “Mitchell’s file contained a reference to his assistant, Joan Miller.”
“Why wouldn’t it?" She was his assistant.”
"The reference was in regard to a top-secret security clearance, requested by Mitchell on behalf of Ms. Miller and obtained by Virolabs, Inc.,” Delia explained.
“That wouldn’t be unusual for an employee in her position to have,” Matt suggested.”
“Correct,” Delia said. “And that’s my point. She was working directly with Mitchell. When you briefed me after your meeting with Hutchinson, you mentioned his conversation with Joan Miller. After I noticed the reference in the file about the security clearance I decided to run a data base investigation on her as well.”
“Okay, and what did your investigation reveal?”
“That her real name isn’t Joan Miller. It’s Joelle Lohmiller, her naturalized name, born in Dresden in the former East Germany in 1977. She immigrated to the United States in 1991 following the collapse of East Germany in 1989. She legally changed her name to Joan Miller more than ten years ago.”
Matt washed his empty coffee cup in the Kitchen before returning it to the dish rack. “A lot of people have immigrated to the United States from the former East Germany — that’s not so unusual.”
“Oh, is that so? she replied with a smirk. “And how many worked for the former Leipzig-based Research Office for Chemical Toxicology?”
Matt turned off the faucet and stared momentarily at the backsplash, then quickly pivoted. “Say again?”
“Uh-hum. I see I have your attention now, detective,” Delia grinned. “It’s — or more correctly — was an East German Research facility that manufactured chemical and biological weapons during its heyday in the German Democratic Republic.”
Taking a deep breath and pursing his lips, Matt’s frustration quickly evaporated. “I’ll grab my spare cell phone and car keys.”
“Are we going somewhere?” Delia knowingly asked.
“We are — back to Virolabs. Time to pay Ms. Miller — or Ms. Lohmiller an unannounced visit.”
Click to read Episode III Part IX "MATT DUGGAN - DETECTIVE SERIES"