Episode II: Part III - The Case of the Menacing Notes
As a Private Investigator, it’s not unusual to run into the occasional detour. Unexpected twists, turns, and roadblocks are the norm. The more serious the crime, the greater the odds for additional foul play, up to and including murder. Someone wanted this guy silenced, worried he might let the, ‘cat out of the bag.’ Blanchard was calling from her cell phone. I was keeping my fingers crossed that she was calling from the crime scene.
“I’m at the scene of the murder,” she predictably revealed. My officers and I have cordoned off the area. Another homicide detective is en route as well as crime scene techs and the coroner. He’s definitely the guy who was in your client’s apartment.”
I sat back down in my chair, stunned. “Okay, just to clarify,” I began, “you’re telling me he matches the description of the guy who was in my client’s apartment?”
The perp who who handed me a prescription for a sleeping pill on a stick?
“You’re absolutely sure?”
“Damnit Matt, that’s yes now three times,” she retorted, her voice growing louder with each answer.
“How do you know?” I shouted back, unsure of her positive id. “I was lights out, face down on the floor,” I reminded Blanchard, while quickly recalling Becca’s only view of this ‘john doe’ was his backside as he raced out the apartment door wearing a hoodie.
Sergeant Blanchard explained: “We found the so-called ‘notes’ you mentioned when you briefed me at your client’s apartment; it was pretty much verbatim as you described.”
I grinned like I had just rolled three triple bars on a slot machine. “Yeah, it’s definitely sounding like our guy,” Detective. “Where are you?” I asked, waiting for Blanchard to provide the location. My grin quickly disappeared when she answered.
“In front of your home.”
By the time I arrived it was dark, the entire neighborhood illuminated by the usual parade of flashing police and fire vehicles, ambulances, and news vans. The investigative team kept the media and other onlookers at a distance, securing the area with strategic placement of yellow crime scene tape and uniformed officers patrolling the front of the property. My backyard was fenced, the media and onlookers warned to remain at a distance. I exited my vehicle and quickly walked toward a uniformed officer standing at the end of my driveway, my bifold id wallet in hand and opened displaying my license and badge.
“Let him through,” Blanchard shouted at the officer as she exited the front door of my home, waving a latex gloved hand and walking in my direction. Arriving home to the circus in progress outside my house felt eerily surreal, and it didn’t help that I now needed permission to walk onto my own property. I stooped slightly to move under the tape the officer raised upward. As soon as I stood upright Blanchard took me aside and brought me up to speed; she was not a happy camper.
“We responded to a 911 dispatch of gunfire. Your neighbor across the street noticed a male adult running down your driveway toward a waiting car parked next to the curb in front of your home. He jumped in the right front seat and the driver shot out of there like a rocket propelled grenade; that same neighbor ran across the street and up the separate walkway. That’s when he discovered the deceased, face down behind the hedges next to the home just outside the front door; we’re in the process of attempting to identify him; he had no wallet or id on him so we’ll have to rely on fingerprints, DNA if no prints are in the database.”
“Was he in my home?”
“We believe he was; the door was ajar when we arrived. He used a pick-lock set we found in his pocket, probably the same one he used to gain entry to your client’s apartment. I took a quick look around and nothing appears out of the ordinary, but you’ll need to go through it again. He appears to have been shot outside the house.
My mind was racing. “What the hell was he doing in my home?” I thought to myself, pushing the open front door inward and walking inside. I completed a quick ‘look around’ of my one story bungalow, coming to the same conclusion as Blanchard; nothing caught my immediate attention. I waked back outside, the culprit’s body in the process of being placed on a gurney for transport to the coroners office.
“It was a 9 millimeter,” Banchard revealed, holding a clear sandwich size baggie with three expended copper shell casings inside. She handed the baggie back to one of the crime scene techs to be placed with other evidence gathered, then reached down and picked up a small brown paper bag and opened it. “I almost forget,” she continued, “this is the ‘sap’ we found on the deceased, probably the same one used to put that knot on the back of your head.”
I rendered a quick nod, pursed my lips in frustration and turned around. I wanted to go back inside my home and examine it more thoroughly, but decided to wait until MPD's investigation was complete. It was obvious, now, at least to me, that someone at Becca’s former law firm not only wanted return of the incriminating notes, but elimination of the designated henchman as well - add murder to the shopping list. There was no longer any doubt that Becca’s life was in danger, and I was even more determined to find the ringleader behind it. Evidence continued to mount toward a cabal of crooked attorneys and greedy pharmaceutical executives, their motive wealth and influence facilitated by skirting federal and state regulations limiting the amount of opioids that can be legally manufactured and marketed.
“You okay?” Blanchard inquired, her question interrupting my train of thought as I turned in her direction.
“I believe it’s time to involve the feds,” I replied, ignoring her question as I stared directly into her steely grey eyes.
“You mean the DEA?”
“And the FBI,” I added. “We’ve got a law firm and one or more pharmaceutical companies involved in a murder and criminal conspiracy. I don’t think you’ll disagree we’re going to have to call in the ‘Big Guns.’ “
“We’re almost done here,” she responded obliquely. “Meet me at the State Attorney’s Office tomorrow morning at 9:00 am. Bring your client with you.”
An hour later the last MPD and rescue vehicles departed. I turned and sauntered casually on the concrete walkway toward the front door. I wanted to take another look at the inside of my home, then drive back to my office to check on Becca and Delia; that’s when I heard my name being called.
“Matt…., hey Matt,” a voice resonating from behind catching my attention.
I stopped and turned around. It was my neighbor across the street. “Hey Jim,” I answered hurriedly as he walked in my direction. James O’Malley was the typical, conscientious and watchful neighbor who always noticed when a non-resident or unfamiliar vehicle made its way into the neighborhood. He knew what I did for a living, so he was on full alert when he heard what he believed to be a gunshot, then noticed the driver occupied four door sedan, idling roughly and parked in front of my home.
“I ran across the street just as some dude jumped into the front seat of the waiting car. As soon as the door shut the driver floored it. I continued up the walkway and that’s when I noticed the guy face down behind the hedges. He wasn’t breathing. I checked for a pulse - nothing. That’s when the first police and emergency vehicles arrived.”
My watchful neighbor was fidgeting, rubbing his chin and looking around. He was clearly irked about something. He stuck his hands in the pockets of the light jacket he was wearing and continued his story.
“I was questioned by the first two officers, and later by Sergeant Blanchard and another detective. I told them both the same thing I just told you, then her partner told me to take a hike; said he had everything he needed from me, so I walked back to my house and sat in the garage. A few minutes later you showed up. I was waiting for them to leave so we could talk.”
I didn’t have time nor was I in the mood to render a thankful speech about how much I appreciated my neighbor’s crime prevention efforts, nor apologize for the rudeness of the unknown detective. I would thank him later. It appeared he knew something and wanted my private audience. “Okay, Jim, you have my attention. What is it you want to tell me?”
“Well, I would have told that detective if he hadn’t been such a dick,” he fired back.
“Well that’s what they used to call us,” I chuckled, referring to the word 'dick,' a dated, shortened version of the word detective. I’m sure he knew what I meant, but I wasn’t in the mood and I didn’t have time to clarify. He just admitted he knew something, and I needed that information. “Okay, Jim, let’s have it,” referring to the information only he knew.
“Can you tell me what this is all about, Matt?” his question catching me off guard. Just out of curiosity?” he asked, a smirk on his face.
I sighed. Not that it was any of his business, it wasn’t. He was overstepping his boundaries as a watchful neighbor. “You know I can’t divulge any information regarding my client or the case,” I reminded him. “Now, for the last time, what is it?”
He paused momentarily, then rendered, a big, Chesire Cat kind of grin. “I wrote down the license plate number on that car.”
Click to read Episode II Part IV "MATT DUGGAN - Detective Series"