Mac looked at his pile of paperwork and cut in. “Dad, can I talk to Katie? It’s important.”
“Of course, son, just you hold on a minute.”
Mac waited. He heard the phone being picked up and Katie’s familiar voice. “Hello Mac, what’s up? Your father said it was urgent.”
Mac laughed. “I just wanted to talk to you.”
“Well I’m all yours,” she replied. “That is, until your mom drags me off shopping again.” She laughed. “Haven’t had so much fun since...” her laughter trailed off. “Sorry Mac, it’s getting better, I promise.”
Mac would have held her close if he was there. Instead he said, “Hey, you hold on there.”
She sniffed. “You found Josie’s killer, yet?” She asked the same question most days.
He had no answer that would satisfy her. “Katie, all I can tell you is that we’re getting closer.” It was the best he could do, and it was true. Elmer had updated the profile and the squad had been out in force following up leads. “I’ve got a meeting lined up later this morning; we hope to have some real progress reports.”
“Just find him for me, Mac,” she replied.
Mac had to move away from this; it was awkward for both of them. The beginning of a relationship, how much could they open up to each other. “Look Katie, you go shopping with my mom, let us take care this end, okay?”
She seemed to accept it. “Okay, Mac. You take care. I don’t want anything bad happening to you.”
He shrugged it off. “Hasn’t my Dad told you I’m bullet-proof,” he replied. “I’ll call again when I get some positive news, okay?”
There was silence at the other end. “Make it soon, Mac,” she eventually replied. “Make it real soon.”
He was going to say something else, something like how much she meant to him, but she interrupted. “Mac, gotta go now, your mom’s waving her credit card at me. Talk later.”
He wondered if there was ever going to be a right time. “Yeah, okay, have fun,” he said as the line crackled and disconnected.
Mac hadn’t told Katie about enrolling Sammy and the two kids in the case. Come to that, he hadn’t told Andy or Elmer either. And Chief Amos would hang him out to dry if he knew the full picture. Mac hoped they would come up with a name or a lead, but it was a long shot, and he knew it. At the next homicide unit meeting he would mention he had a couple of informants on the street. He would take it from there. He glanced up from his desk. The squad was gathering in the incident room and, outside the door, the chief was feeding a bill into the coffee machine. Mac got up and moved over to him. “Mine’s black as it comes,” he said. “You want some change?”
Chief put out his hand and nudged Mac away. “This one’s on me,” he replied.
At least Chief was in a good mood. It was a good time to give him advance notice. “Chief, before we go in, I got a couple of informants on the go, but I don’t want anyone butting in, especially Andy. You okay with that?”
Chief Amos stopped. “Something I ought to know about?”
Mac reassured him. “Better you don’t know, but it’s not illegal what they’re doing, and it could flush the perp out of his hellhole.”
Chief picked up their Styrofoam cups and handed one to Mac. “Let’s keep it that way, Mac,” he said, ushering Mac into the room.
“Okay, listen up,” said Andy. Elmer will give us a profile update, and then we’ll go round the room and log the progress. We’ll assign duties as we go, is that ok with everyone?” He looked around the room.
Chief Amos put up his hand. “Before you start, let me tell all of you the political status so you know what’s up. Then I’ll butt out, ok?” This was one of Chief’s strengths, painting the bigger picture, and not interfering with essential police work.
Andy nodded. “Go ahead chief.”
“The bottom line is we have breathing space to apprehend the perp. That comes straight from the Mayor’s office. No one is going down the political route on this one. Everyone is in agreement, a serial killer loose on the streets of Longfield is bad news for both the parties.” He stopped and glanced around the room. “The bad news is the goodwill will end if we don’t get quick results, or if the killer strikes again.” He grinned at the group as he got up from his perch and moved across to the door. “No pressure, then.”
“Well we know what we’re up against,” said Andy as he reconvened the meeting. “Minimum interference from the policy makers providing we catch the perp, like yesterday.” He motioned towards Elmer. “For those of you who are still wondering, Elmer has been seconded from Stockton to profile our killer. He’ll provide us with an update based on our current understanding. Hopefully it’ll save us wasting time chasing up wrong alleys.” He stopped and waved a hand at the group. “Before you go thinking that he’s one of those airy-fairy physco-babble freaks, that’s not true. Elmer is a cop. He bases his profiles on real-life homicides.” Andy glared around the room as he sat down. “Don’t you forget that.”
Elmer stood up and moved across to the flip chart. “No need to take notes I’ve got hand-outs for everyone. Let’s quickly run through the main update points,” he said, as he peeled back the paper. “Stop me if you got a question, okay?”
Elmer pointed to the chart. “The perp needs media attention. He would continue to kill if he was denied that. We have reported the latest murder of Josie Forbes to local TV and papers.” Elmer paused. “We hope the local coverage would entice the perp to contact the media in some way, maybe to ask when it would go nationwide.” Elmer smiled. “If that happens we could get a handle on how he thinks, and what he plans to do next. We’ll be one step closer in nailing him.”
“Sorry Elmer, can I interrupt?” said one of the women cops. Sue.
“There’s a lot of conjecture there. Why are you saying he needs nationwide media attention?”
Mac interrupted. A little too quickly. “Sue -- the crime scenes he leaves behind are like from the movies. He’s a damn egoist. And sick.”
The room hummed. Mac’s voice had an edge. Elmer held up a hand to calm them down. “Hear me out first.”
Elmer turned over a sheet. The room went quiet as they read the assessment. “Here is our latest profile based upon the ‘bullet in the hand’ homicide in Stockton, and the ‘fish hook’ and ‘celebration dinner’ homicides here. It indicates he is young enough to be physically seeking a partner, but his continued violation of women backs up our initial profile that he has some mental or physical disability that prevents women relating to him. He resents his disability, and he hates women for rejecting him. This leads us to conclude that the disability is not from childhood but acquired later, possibly as a result of a transport accident or even during active service. He just cannot adapt to it.”
Chuck raised a hand. “Elmer, do you have an opinion, either way? Physical, or mental?”
Elmer shrugged. “The jury’s out on that. If it’s physical, he has disguised his disability so that most people wouldn’t be able to tell at first sight. As you know, he has enough charisma to entice his way into women’s apartments.” He pointed to the handout.
“Single white male aged around thirty, in reasonable physical shape, and in a profession where media attention is common practice. We can narrow it down even further. Stats over the last five years indicate similar homicides occurring in places where the Bees tour. He could be part of the Bees entourage.”
Chuck again. “How many are we talking about?”
Elmer grimaced. “Bad news. Bees are big business with a big payroll. There could be close to two hundred possible suspects, some are regulars who come and go as they travel from town to town.” He glanced across at Andy. “That’s where we’re at.”
Andy stood up. “Okay, I’ll take questions first.”
Mac spoke up. “What DNA testing we done?”
Andy shook his head. “It’s a sensitive issue. Having cops all over the Bees personnel would be inviting a media storm and a public outcry, let alone potential multi-million lawsuits from the disgruntled management and sponsors. We gotta have more than enough reason before we blanket the entourage. No disrespect to Elmer’s stats, at the moment we got a profile of probabilities, not hard evidence. If we can narrow the numbers down to a few, we can keep it low key.”
This was the opportunity that Mac was waiting for. “Andy, I have a couple of informants working on this angle right now.” He could see Andy showing signs of reluctance. “You’ll have to trust me on this, it’s not illegal and it isn’t going to hamper our investigation. Chief has given me the green light.”
Andy thought awhile, and nodded. “Okay Mac, better we run with it off line; just keep me in the loop with what’s happening, okay?”
After the meeting, Mac trudged back to his desk and his caseload. Finding this perp was like looking for a needle in a cornfield. Until someone or something surfaced, there was not a lot to go on. He began to sift through the latest homicides, put most of them in the serious crime folder, and the remaining few he put into the Chief’s inbox.
Balls were in the air, all he needed was a break. He looked at his watch. He had an appointment down at the local radio station; they were doing a lunchtime live broadcast on the homicides. Engaging the public, they called it.