Diff. Crime tale -no"formula". DH is crime analyst - in RL crimes solved in odd ways
“Get this.” Detective Delaney tossed a paper onto Sergeant Cohen’s cluttered desk.
Cohen read it aloud with a frown. “Grand opening, Zelmer’s Fashion Boutique. New and unusual clothing for that hard-to-fit figure.” He looked up at Delaney. “What? You wanna take me shoppin’, Delaney?”
Lou Thompson, Cohen’s partner, hooted with laughter. “Yeah, find something sexy for that hard to fit figure.”
Delaney scowled at them. “Very funny. Does the name ring any bells?”
Cohen shrugged and rubbed the back of his neck as he looked at the paper again.
“The lady with the baby, remember? Baby was sick and needed treatment but she was a single mom. Didn’t have insurance.”
“Oh, sure! We took up a collection. I wonder what happened to her?”
“I dunno,” Delaney rubbed his hand over his chin. “I think I’ll pay her a visit.”
“Hey, be sure to check out those wonder bras.” Thompson winked at Cohen. “My partner could use some extra support.”
He laughed as he pulled on his jacket.
Delaney decided to walk the two blocks to the boutique. He noticed the buds on the crepe myrtle and felt the warm sun on his face. His job was so filled with darkness; it felt good to notice new life awakening around him. He ran one hand through his short salt and pepper hair, then buttoned his jacket. It was cooler than he’d thought.
The boutique was wedged between a family bookstore and a German Deli. The aroma of baking bread permeated the air. The store had two big glass windows, each depicting a fashionably dressed lady walking a poodle. There was a door between the two windows with “Zelmer’s Fashion Boutique” etched into its glass. Through the window he could see two young women folding sweaters, their movements in concert. He tried the door and, finding it unlocked, entered.
One of the women looked his way with a smile. “I’m sorry, we aren’t actually open yet.”
“That’s ok,” he said,smiling in return,“I’m here to see Mrs. Zelmer.”
“I’m right here, may I help you?” Mrs. Zelmer stepped out of the back room. She was dressed in a blue pantsuit that complemented her dark red hair. Her eyes held all the warmth of cold, gray steel.
“Mrs. Zelmer, I’m Detective Delaney. How are you?”
“Rather busy at the moment, I’m afraid.”
“I’m sure you’re looking forward to the grand opening.”
“I certainly am. Now I hope you’ll excuse me but…”
“Actually, Mrs. Zelmer, I wanted to ask about the baby. How is she?”
“She died six months ago, Detective.” She looked at him with obvious impatience.
“I’m sorry to hear that. Was she here at Bayville Trauma Center?”
“No, she wasn’t.” Her curt answer held an air of finality. “Is there something I can do for you? I have a great deal to do.”
“No, no, Mrs. Zelmer. I hope your opening goes well.”
“I’m sure it will, thank you,” she said, stepping into the back room again.
“Well,” he turned to the two women who were now regarding him rather as they might watch a roach scuttle across a wall, “you ladies have a nice day.” He walked out. The warm sun felt good after the chilly reception he had received in the boutique.
Mrs. Zelmer’s words kept turning over and over in his mind as he strolled back to the precinct. “Something didn’t feel right.
Paul Delaney had been on the force for 17 years and was beginning to wonder if he’d just seen too much. He thought about Mrs. Zelmer and her baby all morning and decided it was time to make a discreet phone call to his old friend, Dr. Jack Mercer. Jack was a hospital pathologist and Delaney had a couple of favors to pull in.
Jack answered on the first ring.
Paul cleared his throat. “Jack, this is Paul“
“What can I do ya’ for, Buddy?”
“I know I’m calling in a big favor, but there’s a lady whose baby died from cancer about 6 months ago. I need some info on it.”
“I can get the death certificate. That’ll list the cause of death.”
“That’ll be a good start. I’d like to see where she died as well as the cause.”
“Just give me the name. How soon you need it?”
“Shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll get back to you first thing in the morning.”
True to his word, Paul’s phone rang early.
“Hi Paul, did you say the baby had cancer?”
“A brain tumor.”
“The Death Certificate says she died of SIDS.”
“What!? Did it say where she died?”
“County? She had money for the baby’s treatment, why would she go to County?”
“I don’t know, Paul. What are you looking for here?”
He told Jack the story of the destitute single mother and her sick child.
The Community had dug deep into its pockets to help pay
for the treatments. They’d raised over $250,000.00.
Jack whistled. “Dr Ray Blackman signed the report of Death, let’s pay him a visit. I’ll call and set up a time. He’ll talk more freely if I’m with you.”
“Thanks, I really appreciate your help.”
Within the hour Jack called back. They had a meeting with Dr. Blackman at 11:00 that morning.
“That’s terrific. I’ll pick you up at 10:45.”
Delaney spent the next couple of hours writing down everything he could remember about the case, including how the Community had banded together for the child. Almost everyone had pitched in something, even if they couldn’t really afford it.
He took his notebook when he went to pick up Jack. As Jack slid into the passenger seat, he handed him the unofficial report.
They rode along in silence for a few minutes while Jack went over the report.
“Odd,” was his only comment.
They met with Dr. Blackman in an unused conference room behind the E.R. Jack shook his hand and introduced him to Delaney. He seemed a little taken aback at hearing “detective”
“Listen, Jack, this is really confidential patient-doctor information. What’s going on here?”
Delaney nodded. “I understand your concern, Dr. Blackman. Getting a warrant won’t be much of a problem, but I’d like to keep it off the record for now. I’d really appreciate your cooperation.”
The doctor regarded him solemnly, then nodded. “Well, there isn’t really much to tell. The baby died of SIDS, that’s Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.”
“But what about the brain tumor?”
“ What brain tumor?” Blackman looked somewhat bewildered.
“Let me explain….”
“Oh my God. That woman must be one hell of a good actress! I remember the case clearly. I mean, a lot of things come through the E.R. but when it’s a baby, you remember, you know?”
“Her mother had called 911. She woke up in the middle of the night and found the child unresponsive and not breathing.” He rubbed his hands together and frowned. “She seemed genuinely anguished and there were no marks on the baby, nothing to indicate foul play. She was a normally developed, seemingly healthy sixteen-month-old. She wasn’t malnourished, no bruises…”
“Isn’t that kind of old for SIDS?”
“It’s a little unusual, but it’s been documented up to three years.”
“Was there an autopsy?”
“No. It was a Medical Examiner’s case because of the sudden death but when there’s no signs of abuse they usually pass on an autopsy.”
“What about blood work?”
“Blood would have been drawn, of course, but once the child expired the results just went to the Medical Examiner’s office for review. We wouldn’t have gotten them post-mortem.”
“Can you find them?”
“Certainly.” He went to the computer and typed in the name. A few more clicks and they were looking at the results. “Oh my God..” Dr. Blackman looked sick. “Her glucose was way below normal, she was in insulin shock!
“Wouldn’t anyone have noticed these results?” Dr. Blackman looked stricken. “Not in the ER. The M.E. should have followed up on those results, but it seemed like an open and shut case. It may have been an oversight on his part.”
Delaney shook his hand. “Thank you, Dr. Blackman. I appreciate your assistance. I’ll be back with a warrant for the file. “
There was quite a crowd outside the Boutique waiting for the doors to open. Delaney, Cohen and Thompson made their way through the crowd, collecting quite a few angry looks in the process. They glanced at each other, then at their watches as they waited for the doors to open.
Right on schedule, Mrs. Zelmer unlocked the door to usher in her first customers. She looked up at Delaney in some confusion when he called her name.
“Are you diabetic?”
The color drained out of her face as her shoulders sagged in defeat. “Yes, why do you ask?”
“Mrs. Annette Zelmer, you’re under arrest for the murder of your infant child, Melanie Elaine Zelmer. You have the right to remain silent….”