by Damon Nomad
Rated: 13+ · Novel · Crime/Gangster · #2287465
Dead dealers in Clear Creek. State investigators suspect the sheriff, but no evidence.
| Chapter Three|
Tony and Melissa were in the patrol vehicle driving past the park in the late afternoon when a call came over the radio. "Patrol two this is dispatch, got a call from Connie Holland she is hysterical. Says David is dead someone killed him at the restaurant. The sheriff is on the way."
They could both hear the emotion in Jemma's voice, there has never been a murder in Clear Creek. Not that either of them had heard about and they have both lived their entire lives in the small town. Tony took the next left and sped up. Melissa keyed the microphone. "Roger that dispatch, patrol two in route." She paused for a moment. "Calm down Jemma. Sit down and take a break." It wasn't exactly police protocol, but it was a small force and they were all close.
Tony parked the patrol vehicle next to the sheriff's vehicle outside the restaurant. The sheriff was outside with Connie Holland. As they got close, they could see that Connie was trembling and crying. In between sobs, she cried out. "Why would someone do this? I don't understand." She looked at Paul. "Who would do this?"
Paul gestured to Melissa to come close, whispering instructions. "Get her back to the office, have a friend get their children out of school. Take a formal statement when she calms down a bit."
Tony and Paul went inside the restaurant after Connie and Melissa were gone. David Holland was in the kitchen face down with a single gunshot to the back of the head. Next to him was Ray Hart also a single gunshot to the back of the head. Their hands were behind their backs secured with plastic flex cuffs. Tony gagged nearly throwing up as he bent over.
Paul scanned the room. "Doesn't look like there was a struggle. Wednesday, they aren't open for lunch. Connie was coming in to help get ready for dinner. This must be about the drugs, no money in the register before they open." He walked over to an open door leading to a storage room next to the kitchen. There was a large safe on the floor, the safe was open. Paul moved in for a closer look as Tony watched from the door. Paul looked inside the safe. "There must be nearly fifty thousand dollars in here. They wouldn't have that much money here from the restaurant."
Tony stared up at the ceiling trying to regain his composure. "Open but they didn't steal the money. What is this about?" He moved away from the bodies still a bit pale. "What about Green and Heaslip?"
"Good question." Paul pushed the talk button on his radio. "Jemma, you okay?"
"Yea, do you need something?"
"We need Peter Langsley for reserve duty and the coroner from Pulaski to come to the Pizza restaurant. We also need a state police homicide investigator, tell them we have a double homicide, they should contact me on my mobile." He turned to Tony, gesturing to the door. "Let's get out of here and wait for Peter."
Less than fifteen minutes later Peter Langsley arrived with a side arm wearing a sheriff's shirt and jacket. "What do you need me to do Paul?"
"David Holland and Ray Hart are dead inside; they have been shot."
Peter gasped stepping back. "Dead. Crap." He took a breath, "Okay, sorry what do I need to do?"
"Just keep the scene secure out here. The coroner from Pulaski is on the way over. Don't let anyone else in and you stay outside. The state police will be sending someone, they will take over the crime scene."
Paul gestured to his patrol vehicle. "We need to track down Green and Heaslip, see if something has happened to them. Green doesn't work. At least nothing full-time. Lives in that trailer park on the northeast side of town. I'm not sure about Heaslip I don't know her very well."
Tony's color was nearly back to normal as he followed Paul. "She works part-time at Smittys market. Also lives in the trailer park"
Paul answered his mobile phone just as they got inside his patrol SUV. "Sheriff Bachman."
"Sheriff . . . this is John Green. Amy Heaslip is with me at my trailer. Someone texted us to call you, with a picture and a message." Green's voice began to quiver. "They sent pictures of David Holland and Ray Hart. Looks like they have been shot. The message says we should confess to dealing drugs with Hart and Holland if we don't want the same. Send someone to get us we will confess."
"We know they are dead and were busy. You two get in a car and get down to the Sheriff's office. Melissa Barton is there, report to her. Connie Holland is there, so be respectful."
Paul and Tony got into the patrol vehicle with Tony on the driver's side. He put it into gear and hit the gas. "Let's get to Hart's place."
They parked in the drive of the small house on the northeast edge of town, an old run-down rambler. They both know Hart lives alone, there were no other cars in the driveway. They head straight for the detached garage in the back. That is where Hart and Holland went after the apparent drug run. Hart's jalopy was parked back at the pizza place. Tony waved at the garage door. "I've always seen cars in the driveway, not the garage. Do we need a warrant?"
Paul pulled his pistol out from the holster. The first time in his career that he was ready to use his firearm other than target practice. "No, we are responding to a homicide. We are going to be careful. Step away from the door." He shouted out. "Sheriff's Office, identify yourself if you are inside." They waited and he repeated the warning and they waited again. There was no sound from inside. "We are coming in." He nodded to Tony, "Okay open it up." He crouched low so he could cover Tony as Tony opened the door.
Tony pulled the garage door up, they saw no one was inside. There was another open safe, on the floor. In front of it on the floor were bags of pills, opioid powders, and crystal meth. There were notebooks on a small table next to a scale and empty bags and other supplies used to bag drugs for selling. Tony put on gloves and picked up a notebook. "Records for buying and selling, this is the drug warehouse for Clear Creek."
Paul Bachman had been meeting with the town's part-time mayor Stephanie Fox and part-time lawyer Glenn Buckland in Buckland's law office for the past hour. It's nearly nine o'clock at night and Paul has been walking them through what they found on the USB in the morning and what happened over the course of the day.
Fox leaned back in her chair, pushing a few strands of hair away from her eyes. "Why didn't you call us this morning right away?"
"Come on Stephanie, what would you have said this morning if I told you I had anonymous pictures showing that David Holland was bringing drugs into Clear Creek with three locals working for him as dealers?"
Glenn Buckland was pacing the floor. "He's right Stephanie. We would have thought it was crazy, both of us. We all said someone from the outside was getting the supply of drugs in town. I never would have believed it was David Holland. But it sure the hell was."
Paul rubbed his eyes. "I don't know who gave us these pictures must be whoever killed them. Doesn't make any sense. Some kind of dispute about the drugs."
Buckland sat down his fingers folded on the table. "Something is off, you said there were drugs in the garage and cash in an open safe in the restaurant. Who would leave money and drugs behind?"
Stephanie gestured to Paul. "Could it be some kind of message, maybe their supplier? Maybe they owed them money. They only took what they owed him, I guess that sounds stupid. It doesn't make sense to me. I don't know . . . I don't understand how these people think."
Paul shrugged with a loud sigh. "I don't know either. We have confessions from Green and Heaslip. Details confirming everything, about Holland, Hart, and themselves. We advised them of their rights. They don't care about jail, they don't want to end up dead. What do you suggest we do Glenn?"
"I'm not a criminal lawyer, their statements are admissible evidence if you advised them of their rights. You have their confessions, the drugs, money, these notebooks all discovered in plain sight in responding to a crime. Green and Heaslip gave you the drugs and cash they had on hand. If their prints show up on all of this, sounds like an air-tight case for the dealing. You don't need the pictures on that USB. They are going to jail, we will talk to the county prosecutor about moving forward with those charges tomorrow."
Stephanie stretched arching her back. "The killings, what about the killings?"
Glenn Buckland's forehead creased and his eyes narrowed. "The state bureau of investigation is already here let them deal with that. I hate to say it but Clear Creek is better off tonight. Looks like the two people bringing meth and opioids to our town are dead. The other two sellers are going to jail. Paul and his office don't have the time or resources to chase down whoever killed them. I don't think most people will much care, other than Holland and Hart's families and friends. They should blame those two for getting involved in a dangerous and illegal business."
Jemma fidgeted nervously as she answered questions from the two State Bureau of Investigation detectives. They had been set up in a room at the small library down the street from the Sheriff's office for days. Feels to Jemma like they are being investigated, instead of whoever killed Holland and Hart. She answers the female investigator's question, repeating what she has already told them. "Yes mam, like I said before. I have lived here my whole life. The sheriff has been here a little more than ten years now, I think. He grew up in Blacksburg, went to college at VCU, and served in the Army. I have known Tony and Melissa since they were kids, but they are nearly ten years apart in age. Both went to grade school here and then high school in Pulaski, we don't have a high school anymore."
Rosemary stopped the tape recorder. "Sorry mam, need to change tapes, not many more questions Mrs. Baldwin." She loaded the new tape and lets Pete finish up the questions, he had been hitting her with the tougher questions.
"The first you heard about any of these suspects being involved in drug dealing, was that morning when sheriff Bachman came in with the USB and they started going through those pictures. You sure that you did not hear any previous discussions about who they thought was dealing? Who might be bringing the drugs into town or selling drugs."
"Well, it's a small town I heard the rumors about Ray Hart, Amy Heaslip, and John Green, bad kids a long time back I heard that around town as much as from the sheriff and deputies talking business. Not that any of them were the big supplier."
Pete sighed tapping his fingers lightly on the table. "But from the sheriff and the deputies, they didn't talk to you about who was dealing or bringing drugs into town?"
"Not directly. They don't involve me in that stuff, they meet in the sheriff's office to talk details about casework. I am not much interested, to be honest. They usually get together first thing in the morning and at the end of the day to go through casework. Sometimes I hear the occasional comment. I just answer the phones and handle people who come in during the day and use the radio to get in touch with them. That morning we just were all there, sitting at our desks drinking coffee when the sheriff gave Tony the USB."
"Mrs. Baldwin, did they seem surprised about what was on the USB, all of them?"
She gasped with a wave of her hand. "Mercy yes detective Webb, of course, they were surprised. I knew there were drugs, the whole town knows there is a drug problem. Everyone said the suppliers must be from Pulaski or Blacksburg. David Holland, bringing that poison to town . . . disgusting. It shocked me at first, I could not believe it."
Pete looked to Rosemary, she shrugged while shaking her head. She didn't have anything else. Pete nodded to Jemma. "That's it mam, thank you." Jemma left happy to be done with that nonsense.
Rosemary stared at the pile of interview notes, forensic reports, background files, and the micro cassette tapes. "What do you think Pete?" She has ten years of experience but Pete has been doing this for nearly thirty years.
Pete laid his reading glasses on the table. "Forensics gives us nothing and the gun is not in the system. No prints that help us, nothing from the crime scene from the state lab pointing to a suspect. These pictures on the USB don't have any useful metadata. This all says whoever did this used a lot of forensic countermeasures."
"You ever seen anything like these pictures, a cop getting those anonymously like that?"
"Nothing like that, I have seen pictures show up. But a massive set of surveillance pictures, all of them with date, time, subject, and location labels like that, no that's a first. Then the same day the two in charge of the drug business end up dead. I think we both know what happened here. It was time to stop the drugs from poisoning their town"
Rosemary frowned knowing what he meant. "The three of them, working together?"
Pete stood up and shuffled over to the window. "I don't think so, Barnes and Barton were not in on this, I think it was Bachman. From their testimony, they seemed to be legitimately distressed and confused about what is going on. I don't think they have the skills to pull this off. Bachman has a criminal justice degree from VCU and was an army CID officer. I am guessing it's him pulling the strings, orchestrating everything."
"But he is married with a family and this is a small town. He couldn't be out doing all of this surveillance without people noticing."
"Yeah, he had a partner doing that all summer, maybe someone he has taught to do basic surveillance, probably communicating with a burner. Bachman slips out late that night and they kill Holland and Hart. His partner sends the text messages to Heaslip and Green the next day as a warning. The next morning Bachman comes in with the USB that magically showed up in his mailbox with a post-it note for the Sheriff." He shook his head with a sigh. "Yeah right. He knew how the day would play out, leading them along following a script he worked out with his partner. Drugs and money left behind, all laid out like evidence with those notebooks, I can't see an angry supplier doing that. Why leave money and drugs behind? But I'm not a narcotics expert."
"We don't have any evidence implicating him and he has his story down cold. Not much of an alibi but we didn't really push. What are we going to do?"
Pete sat back down. "Write up our report based on the evidence, no leads, no suspects inactive but open. It's clear those two were responsible for killing kids with their dope; I'm not much interested in spending months here trying to make a case against the sheriff. Unless you have a better idea."
Rosemary shrugged as she tapped her fingers on the box of microcassettes. "Well, it does look professional, could be a drug dispute of some type. A supplier from Charlotte or Richmond but I would have no idea where to start. Maybe two things are going on. The Sheriff is working with someone to try and get evidence on these dealers and drug suppliers were after these guys." She chuckled shaking her head. "Yeah, that is a bit twisted, but it could be suppliers." She gave a half-shrug. "Or it could be like you say. Should we pack this all up? It's kind of late. Head back to Richmond in the morning?"
Pete started picking up files from the table. "Yeah, let's head back to Richmond in the morning, get back by lunch. We have a pile of other cases. Get the last of the forensic reports for this and finalize the report if nothing new comes up."
He crouched on a small rocky outcrop, an opening in the trees looking down on the town. He was watching them through binoculars. The SBI investigators had packed up everything from the library yesterday evening, he had been in town watching as they loaded up their car. He saw movement in the parking lot at the small hotel, he focused in with the binoculars. They put their bags into the trunk and got into the car. He watched the vehicle as it headed out of town toward the interstate. He put the binoculars back into his backpack and headed back along the rugged spur trail to his camp. He started the small camp stove and put on a pot of coffee feeling the warmth on his hands. It was starting to get chilly at night and in the early morning. In a few months, the leaves would be off the deciduous trees. The mountains and forest take on a very different look in the winter. He walked to the edge of his camp past the boulders and stopped on a massive flat-topped rock looking down on Clear Creek. It was quiet only the sound of the wind blowing through the trees. He was too high up to hear the sounds of daily life. He headed back to the campsite figuring the coffee should be ready. He would pack up and hit the road in the morning. He sat in a camp chair sipping coffee. He typed a short message onto the burner phone and hit send, leaving in the morning, all clear.
Paul sat in his patrol vehicle down the street from the Pizza restaurant as he watched people slowly stream inside for early dinner. It has been nearly three months since the killings. Connie kept the business going, her brother from Pulaski helping her out. People in town know that Connie did not know about the drug business. They weren't going to punish her for what David had done and she was trying to move on. Tony and Melissa hadn't seen any signs of dealing in town since the murders. He had read the final report from the Virginia Bureau of Investigation earlier in the day. The case was inactive but open, with no suspects. He started the engine and headed to Glenn Buckland's office. The mayor wanted to meet about something.
Paul came in the front door, the receptionist smiled with a wave. "Hey sheriff, they are in the conference room."
Stephanie Fox gestured to a seat. "Hey Paul, have a seat. Doctor Allen is coming She wants to a few minutes to tell us something."
A few minutes later Rebekah Allen came in. "Sorry I am late."
Fox nodded toward a seat. "No problem, Rebekah. You asked for the meeting, tell us what's up."
"I just wanted to let you all know about something I have been monitoring at the clinic, since this summer. Well....you all know what happened." She cleared her throat. "Anyway, you all know the clinic is for short-term acute needs. Stabilize people who need hospitalization for transport to Pulaski and routine checkups or minor ailments or injuries. That is why it was set up, years ago. I have been here nearly twelve years now, and unfortunately what I have dealt with far too often has been due to drug-related problems. The last two months I am seeing something different."
Glenn Buckland tapped a fist on the table. "Drugs are back. Some new drug?"
"The opposite, severe withdrawal. I am struggling to get people treated for withdrawal. I have been working with the pastor of the Methodist church. I have never seen anything like it, we are going to need to go to the state for some funding. Maybe try and set up a facility or cooperate with a place in Pulaski. They all say the same thing, there are no more drugs in town and they don't have contacts in Pulaski. There must be some people going to Pulaski for their fix, but a lot of people are going cold turkey without a supply."
Fox looked at Paul. He nodded his head in agreement. "We haven't seen any signs of dealing anywhere in town."
Buckland cracked his knuckles with a smirk. "I knew Clear Creek was better off. I can help you Rebekah I have some contacts in state government and Pulaski. Let's get these people the help they need."
Stephanie cracked the hint of a smile. "Let me know if there is anything I can do. By the way Paul, I saw the report from the state bureau of investigation, no suspects and no leads. It's a cold case for them, no reason for you to do anything more."
He nodded in agreement. "Yeah, cold case, nothing we can do."
Roland was starting to get on top of things, he bought a new townhouse, and he decided to run operations from a warehouse building. They are renting it for now. Trent was his first lieutenant, the same as he had been for Branded. They have a meeting in a coffee shop down the street from the warehouse this morning. Trent was waiting in a corner booth. He smiled as Roland took a seat, pouring him a cup of coffee from the carafe. "Rollie, hey man thanks for meeting me here."
"No problem Topper, did you finish checks on the rural network."
"Yeah, finished it yesterday. The people in Winston Salem got the message to stay away from our towns, they will stay to the east. We have a coordinator reporting from each county on the Carolina side. I have confirmation from each county that they have coverage for their cities and towns. Virginia has been more difficult. Several towns we have not heard from, but we have the county coordinators in place. What do you want me to do about the places we have not heard from?"
Roland shrugged with a small wave. "Nothing for now. Not worth our time, stay in touch with the county coordinators. Let's talk about Meck County and settle on our product line and pricing structure. Let's focus on boosting our volume, we need to start paying back the council."