A story of innocence lost by blood shed.
|“Oh, please help me. In here, help me,” Rebecca called from the kitchen floor in sobs. Uniformed officers and an ambulance team rushed through the apartment’s back door. “Oh God, please help me,” Rebecca cried. The EMT rushed to Rebecca’s side, as she lay bloody, bruised and naked on the floor unable to move. The police officers searched the rest of the second floor apartment.
“In here, John,” Pvt. Harrison called to another uniformed officer. “Take a look at this one,” Harrison said when Pvt. John Wells entered the living room.
Wells looked at the bloody body of the dead woman lying beaten on the floor. Blood surrounded her and soaked into the carpet. The woman’s robe and nightgown was soaked with deep, dark red blood, the scarf around her head hung apart just as soaked as her night clothes. Her face was swollen and almost beaten apart.
“What do you think happened?” Wells asked not able to look away from the disturbing remains of the woman.
“Hopefully the girl will be able to tell us,” Harrison looked to the kitchen as the EMT rolled Rebecca out the back door on a stretcher.
“Mama! Mama!” Rebecca screamed, as she started to regain consciousness. She sat up violently searching the hospital room for her mother.
“Rebecca,” Detective Jamie Stanton touched Rebecca’s arm gently.
“Who are you? Where am I? Where’s my mother?” Rebecca shook her arm from the woman sitting at the side of her hospital bed.
Jamie set her arm back in her lap and stared sympathetically at Rebecca’s bruised face and bandaged head. “Rebecca, I’m Detective Stanton,” she tried to place her hand over Rebecca’s again but withdrew it when Rebecca shrunk away from her, “Rebecca, I need you to tell me everything that happened.”
“Where’s my mother?” Rebecca asked quietly.
“Rebecca, for us to help you, you need to tells us exactly what happened to you and your mother,” Jamie said again avoiding Rebecca’s sad stare.
“Where is my mother?” Rebecca asked again more quietly.
Jamie looked up into Rebecca’s eyes but looked away before the tear started to come down her cheek. She wiped the tear away, stood up and walked out into the hall where her partner, Detective Mark Greene, and her supervisor, Kellman, watched through the glass observation window. She turned her back to the glass so that Rebecca wouldn’t see her silent tears.
“Stanton,” Kellman said sadly, “you have to keep together.”
Jamie looked through the window to see Rebecca’s sad eyes staring back at her. She quickly turned away, “I know, but I can’t just tell a little girl that her mother was brutally murdered.”
“I know you don’t have much experience with these sorts of things but with a girl in her age range, she would take the news better from a woman. 16 to 18 year old girls take bad news better with someone they can relate to, especially when they can see true emotion in your eyes,” Li, the station’s psychiatrist, said from behind Rebecca. “I would do it but I may make her feel too impersonal and official.”
“Okay,” Jamie said letting out a heavy sigh. She turned standing in front of the room’s door and took a deep breath and slowly walked into the room and back over to her chair next to Rebecca’s bed. She looked deep into Rebecca’s eyes, “I’m sorry Rebecca but your mother, we found her body in the living room of your apartment.”
“What do you mean? Body? Where is she?” Jamie could see Rebecca’s eyes empty all emotion, but she thought if she had seen any emotion there at all.
“When we found your mother, she was already dead, I’m sorry,” Jamie kept from crying and held Rebecca’s hand.
“Dead,” Rebecca whispered softly, “Oh, no, oh god no,” she looked back up at Jamie, “I, but no, no,” she sobbed, covering her mouth with her hand and shook her head.
“Now Rebecca, we need you to tell us what happened so we can catch whoever did this,” Jamie watched Rebecca’s empty eyes search the room. “Rebecca...”
“No,” she said quietly, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“But Rebecca...” Jamie started.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Rebecca yelled in a shrill, broken voice.
Jamie started to ask again when Kellman came into the room, “Stanton, come on,” he gestured for her to come out into the hall.
Jamie looked back at Rebecca one last time then followed Kellman out to the hall closing the door behind her.
“Don’t push her,” Li said after Jamie had closed the room’s door, “right now she needs to gather herself. Her head injury is making her tired, and unreasonable. We should come back when she wakes up again, then she will have come to grips a bit.”
“We still have no idea what happened here,” Dave, the crime scene investigator, said to Jamie and Mark, “I mean, there’s sign of a struggle in the bathroom,” Jamie and Mark followed Dave into the bathroom of Rebecca’s apartment, “you can see the smeared foot prints in the blood.”
“What’s the other stuff, all this clear stuff mixed with the blood,” Mark asked squatting to get a closer look at the bathroom floor.
“Just regular bathroom things, shampoo, body wash, hair conditioner. The tests we did showed that the brands of the soaps and shampoos are the same as the bottles here in the house,” Dave gestured to the bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash sitting on the toilet top. “We looked at everything else, it seems someone was taking a shower when whatever happened, happened. We found two different samples of blood and hair in the drain, we’re comparing the samples with mother and daughter right now.”
“What about in the living room?” Jamie asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Dave walked into the living room and stood at the side of the mass of blood stains and pointed at the spot Rebecca’s mother’s head had been, “you can still see the hair imbedded in the carpet, so we know mother’s head was somehow forced hard into the carpet here, maybe repeatedly.” Using a pen he pointed to the deep, red blood stains, “These are from deep wounds, and from the look of her face before they took the body to forensics, it looked like she was beaten with something. Evidently, what ever it was she was beaten with, was swung hard and fast continuously.”
“Well, at least we know what happened to mom, but what about Rebecca?” Jamie looked at Mark.
“Rebecca?” Dave stood up and looked at both of the detectives.
“Yeah, that’s the daughter’s name,” Mark explained.
“Oh, well since mom was found here, face up with her head away from the bathroom, she was looking toward the kitchen or at least at the bathroom through the kitchen. The EMT said they found daughter, sorry, Rebecca on the kitchen floor clutching the leg of the kitchen table,” he walked back into the kitchen, “which means her feet were that way,” he gestured toward the bathroom, “and since she was most likely too tired to walk and then stumble she had to have crawled out of the bathroom, pulled the phone that was on the table, down to her and called the police,” Dave gestured all of the movements with his pen. “The EMT said she was naked when they found her so I’m guessing she was the one in the shower.”
“But you still don’t know what could’ve happened?” Jamie asked sadly.
“Well, no, not right now, we can do more tests, but that’s about it. We haven’t found a weapon, Rebecca didn’t look as beaten as the mother, it’s Rebecca’s blood that’s all over the bathroom, there’s these shoe prints in the blood going through the house and they’re the same shoe prints that are in the bathroom. So the best we’ve got is that there was an intruder or maybe even intruders who attacked them,” Dave looked hopelessly at Jamie and Mark.
“Okay, well thanks,” Mark took Jamie’s arm and led her out onto the back porch.
“I’ll call you if we get anything new,” Dave called after them.
“Yeah, thanks,” Mark yelled back to Dave, then turned to Jamie, “we have people looking for any clues, anything within a five block radius, if there’s anything we’ll find it.”
“Yeah, I just want to catch whoever did this, nobody should have to go through this,” Jamie said and looked up at the rain soaked roof of the porch and it’s swelling wood from the brief shower earlier that day.
“God, I hate Mondays,” Mark said looking out at the gray sky. He looked back down at Jamie, “Maybe we should get over to forensics and see what Sonya’s found.”
Jamie nodded distractedly, “Yeah.”
“Well,” Sonya said as she pulled the sheet back from over the mother’s body on the slab, “we ran tests and it looks like mom was hit repeatedly with a baseball bat, she was beaten to death. I haven’t found any splinters of wood, or any indentations of words or a brand or anything. But I found pieces of hair all over her clothes and body, hair that should be on her head.” Sonya looked worried at the detectives, “The person who swung that bat at mom was very angry and had a score to settle, they swung fast and hard.”
“Why was there hair on her clothes?” Jamie asked looking at the body of the mother, searching for the hair Sonya mentioned.
“Most likely because the bat was swung so hard that when it hit her head, it cracked instantly and the bat continued on its course in a semi-circle,” Sonya explained.
“What do you mean?” Mark asked confused.
“Example, Mark, you’ve played a little ball before right?” Sonya gave a small smirk.
“A little, yeah,” Mark said modestly.
“Okay, position yourself like you’re about to swing a bat,” Sonya watched as Mark brought up his hands as if he were holding a baseball bat and came up beside him. “Now, slowly swing as if you were hitting a ball or aiming to hit something.” Mark slowly swung in front of him and Jamie watched as the invisible bat slowly came in front of him. “Now Jamie, come up here, in front of the bat,” Jamie stepped in the way of the bat as Mark swung. The imaginary bat came up to Jamie’s face and Sonya motioned for Mark to continue to swing the bat so that he twisted and the route of the imaginary bat made a semi-circle. “You see? If the bat had hit her head at such an incredible speed and cracked mom’s head on contact, there would be blood splattered on the bat and hair ripped off. The hair would stick to the bat since it didn’t bump or rub anything on it’s route, so when the bat hit another spot on the body, the hair would be interrupted and wiped off on that part of the body or clothes.”
Mark went back to his normal upright stature and stuffed his hands in his pocket, “But if the hair was to be rubbed off, the bat would have to have been turned around.”
“Or swung at a different angle,” Sonya pointed out.
“Wow, so the person had to swing hard enough to crack the mother’s head instantly,” Jamie exclaimed with disgust.
“Yeah, so this person would have to have had a lot of strength,” Mark thought out loud.
“Or be on drugs,” Jamie added.
“Or have a grudge,” Sonya put in matter-of-factly.
“Thanks for calling us right away,” Jamie said gratefully to Dave.
“I’m sorry it took a day but I think you’re gonna like this,” Dave motioned for Mark and Jamie to follow him out to the back yard of the two flat apartment building where Rebecca and her mother had lived. “We found these things quite a ways away but blood on the gloves match mom’s.
“Good,” Jamie said lightly, “so the intruder used these gloves when they were beating mom.”
“Exactly,” Dave said at ease.
Mark looked at the other things in plastic evidence bags laying on the first floor apartment’s back porch, “I’m guessing this is our murder weapon?” Mark asked lifting up a baseball bat in an evidence bag.
“Yep, and these shoes, they match the bloody footprints that were found in mom’s blood through out the house,” Dave looked confused, “but one thing that we can’t figure out, the bloody footprints were found coming from the living room where mom was killed, which is of course where the blood came from and from the bathroom down the back stairs, but there aren’t any leading from the little walkway here at the bottom of the back stairs up to the front gate which is the only civil way out.” Mark nodded taking in all of the details. “And I did some tests on some of the liquids on the bathroom floor, I found samples of vaginal fluids mixed in with the blood and the other shampoos and soaps.”
Mark looked worried, “We’re going by the hospital later today we’ll check to see if she has a rape kit.”
Dave nodded in agreement, “We went through the building’s garbage but found nothing good. There was just this one bag, well it wasn’t a bag, just garbage wrapped in a big piece of plastic. I guess the old lady who lives downstairs ran out of trash bags, Rebecca’s garbage can isn’t big enough for that load of trash.” Mark nodded uninterested.
Jamie walked over to the silver painted gate that separated the two flat’s backyard from the parking lot of the church next door. “Maybe the intruder climbed this gate and ran out from in front of the church.”
Dave looked over at Jamie and the gate, “No, we checked, there would be blood on the gate.”
“What if they took off the shoes,” Jamie turned from the gate.
“Well, that would explain how the shoes got off,” Dave said guessing.
“Where’d you find the shoes?” Mark asked.
“In a dumpster behind the dollar store down the street, in the little mini mall area,” Dave pointed in the store’s general direction.
Mark looked at Jamie, “Maybe we should talk to the people that work at that dollar store.”
“No, I was working here all day Monday, I didn’t see anything,” Daniel, the Johnny’s Dollar Store Plus cashier, said, “Jay usually works that day but he went out of town and he asked me to fill for him.”
“And you didn’t throw anything away that day?” Jamie asked Daniel searching his face closely.
“No, we didn’t have any orders delivered that day and we only throw things out when we get new shipments,” Daniel said looking back at Jamie nervously.
Mark came back from looking through the aisles and stood beside Jamie, “Stock looks a bit low.”
“Yeah, we’re supposed to be getting new shipments today so that we can throw things out before trash Thursday,” Daniel looked at Mark for sympathy from Jamie’s hard stare.
“Yeah, trash Thursdays, I know them all too well,” Mark said to lighten the mood.
“Did you know Rebecca at all?” Jamie asked ignoring Mark’s lightness.
“Uh, yeah, she’s a regular, she’s in here all the time buying stuff for the house, you know toilet paper, towels, soap and stuff. She ran a lot of late night errands for her mother, practically at closing, but she’s a good friend, very friendly, I would unlock the door for her or whatever, let her off if she was short some change,” Daniel smiled slightly.
“Seems like you really liked her,” Mark said from behind Jamie.
“Yeah, she’s the kind of customer neighborhood stores like this pray for. She was always polite, always up for a little small talk on good days, when business is slow. And she’s real easy to talk to, a few months ago I found out we liked the same music, so for her birthday I bought her a Counting Crows CD,” Daniel’s smile grew at the memory.
“Her birthday? You must have known her well,” Jamie suggested nonchalantly.
Daniel looked at the floor, “Well, not really, she told me once when she bought a half gallon box of ice cream, she seemed really sad so I asked her what was wrong and she said she had a lot of errands to do that day, mostly for her mother, and she was really tired, she said the ice cream was her treat to herself because it was her birthday. She said it was all she had gotten all day, I felt bad so I told her the ice cream was on me, she insisted on paying for it but I wouldn’t let her.”
Mark saw the sadness behind Daniel’s eyes, “You seem to care about her.”
“Yeah,” Daniel said sadly, “I was always too shy to really talk to her, you know, like ask her out or anything. But when I did sort of hint at it, hanging out or anything, she would always say her mother keeps her too busy for much of a social life, so didn’t I try anymore. I really like her, she’s really sweet and pretty.” Daniel quickly looked up at Mark and Jamie, “I mean, I wouldn’t do anything to hurt her, you know I just, liked her...” he started nervously.
Jamie held up her hand, “It’s okay, that’s fine, it’s understandable, she’s really cute,” she said softening, seeing that she was being to hard on the teenage boy.
Daniel smiled sadly, “Yeah.” Jamie started to walk out of the store and out to the mini mall’s parking lot.
“Well, thanks for your cooperation,” Mark said as he followed Jamie out to the parking lot.
“Is she okay, I mean will she be okay?” Daniel asked Mark when he got to the door.
Mark turned to the boy, “I’m sure in a few weeks, she’ll be fine.”
“We’re never going to find anything,” Jamie said to Mark when he came up to her side.
“We’ll find something,” Mark assured her.
“Thank you for cooperating with us Mrs. Mills,” Mark said as Mrs. Mills, Rebecca’s downstairs neighbor, handed him a cup of hot tea.
“Oh, of course, anything I can do to help, that poor girl, she’s the sweetest thing ever. Her mother was murdered and she was beaten up pretty bad.” She looked over at Jamie sitting in front of her on her couch, “I saw her when they put her in the ambulance, poor, sweet, sweet thing. You know, they have been living here for almost six years and I’ve never had a problem with them once, well maybe her mother, she was a bit rude at times but never Rebecca, never, she would help me with my groceries and even ask if I wanted anything from the store when she would go out,” she turned to Mark sitting next to Jamie, “since my oldest boy, James, moved out I’ve needed a little help around the house. I never had to even ask her for help when she would make sure I was okay or needed anything, and when she baked something like a cake or pie or cookies, she would bring me something all the time. She always cooks, she told me, and she’s the greatest cook I’ve known since my mother. Sweet little thing.”
“Yes, she seems like a great girl,” Jamie said politely.
“Oh, the best,” Mrs. Mills agreed.
Mark looked around the living room of the slightly bigger apartment. “Um, Monday, did you happen to hear anything suspicious?”
“Now that I think about it, yes, I usually hear thumping coming from upstairs but this was a little different,” Mrs. Mills’ bright face frowned, “Running, down the stairs, at first I thought that maybe it was just Rebecca in a hurry or something, her mother kept her busy, poor thing, I thought maybe she was just running down the back stairs in a hurry although she’s always considerate of me always making sure she’s not too loud to disturb me or James.”
“Did you happen to see the clock or note the time that you heard the running down the backstairs?” Jamie asked.
“Yes, 12:34 that afternoon,” she turned to Mark, “I like when the clock shows the numbers in order like that.”
Mark smiled politely, “Did you hear anything else that day?”
“Yes, thumping, really loud thumping, twice actually, two different times. There was a series of thumps, this is a really old building so I hear almost everything that happens up there. First, there was really loud thumping here, in this area,” she pointed to the ceiling where the living room was in the second floor apartment.
“Around what time was this?” Jamie asked.
“It was around ten after twelve, I’d say,” Mrs. Mills nodded sure of herself, “it went on for a little while, and then after a few minutes I heard the running down the back stairs.”
“Um, you said that you heard two different series of thumping,” Jamie prompted.
“Yes, but it was over the kitchen,” Mrs. Mills pointed to the ceiling over her kitchen where Rebecca’s bathroom was. “At first it was light but then it got louder and then there was a loud thump and then no more.”
“And what time was this?” Mark asked.
“Well, I’m not sure of the exact time but it had to be between one o’clock and one thirty, Maury had just come on and I had gone into the kitchen to get something to eat when I first noticed it,” Mrs. Mills said thoughtfully.
Mark looked at Jamie who stared back at him confused, Jamie turned to Mrs. Mills, “You heard the noises over your kitchen after you heard the running down the back stairs?”
“Yes,” Mrs. Mills said completely sure.
“Are you sure?” Mark asked still confused.
“Yes, I’m definitely sure, and I heard the tub water running all day since about twelve o’clock until the police came,” Mrs. Mills added.
Jamie cleared her throat, set her glass of water down on the coffee table and leaned her elbows on her knees, “Okay... um... Mrs. Mills, when, how long ago did your son James move out?”
Mrs. Mills thought, “About a year ago, got a big job downtown, he’s a really smart boy.”
“Was he fond Rebecca?” Mark asked seeing Jamie’s aim.
“Yes,” Mrs. Mills smiled, “we all were, I had two daughters too, they both moved out before James. But now, he has a new job and he’s starting a new career, he’s moved in with his fiancé, they’re going to be married in the summer.”
“Where could we find your son now, Mrs. Mills,” Jamie asked.
“He lives with his fiancé, they’re going to be married in the summer,” she said with a big smile.
Mark and Jamie exchanged glances, “And where do they live?” Jamie asked again.
“Oh, yes, they live downtown in a condo near James’ new job, he’s starting a new career,” Mrs. Mills said still smiling.
“Mrs. Mills is a very sweet lady,” Gena, James’ fiancé, said smiling, “She’s very nice but I’m really worried about her living alone.”
“Why?” Jamie asked, “She seems to be getting on fine.”
“Yeah, Rebecca would help her a lot, it’s a shame what happened to her, I’m really sorry. She was the sweetest girl I’ve ever met, always polite and very helpful. Whenever I would come to visit she’s either helping Mrs. Mills or asking if Mrs. Mills needs any help. She can use all the help she can get especially since James’ accident,” Gena looked sadly at the floor.
“Accident?” Mark asked sipping at the glass of orange juice Gena had brought him.
“Yeah, almost a year ago, we had just moved in together and he had just started his new job at a firm downtown when he got into a car accident on the first day he was suppose to go to work,” Gena shook her head sadly, “I miss him a lot, we were just about to get married that summer.”
“What do you mean?” Jamie asked.
“Well, after James died, Mrs. Mills seemed to go into a permanent shock,” Gena looked up at Mark and Jamie, “it was like she couldn’t let him go.”
“James is dead?” Mark asked.
“Yes,” Gena said hesitantly, looking at them both confused.
“Well, we’re very sorry,” Jamie apologized, “it’s just that Mrs. Mills told us that he was living here with you.”
“Yeah, I’m so sorry for the confusion, Mrs. Mills, started to be a bit delusional,” Gena gave a sad smile, “she never was able to get over his death.”
“Well thank you for your cooperation,” Mark said as he stood up and set his drink on the end table. He and Jamie shook Gena’s hand and stepped out into the hall of the condo building. Outside back down on the street, Jamie lowered her head with sadness.
“We are getting nowhere, we can’t even get a set time because the only witness we have is disillusioned,” Jamie smacked her forehead in disgust.
“We can’t give up on this, we’ll find something I’m...” Mark was interrupted by the buzzing in his pocket. He held up a finger at Jamie as he dug out his cell phone. “Greene, yeah... uh huh. Okay, we’re on our way.” Jamie looked at Mark questioningly, “That was, Li, Rebecca’s stable and she’s ready to talk.”
Continued in Part 2