Chapter One - Excerpt
A gust of wind ruffled the leaves, carrying with it the scent of death, abandoned dreams, and a flock of crows. Monday mornings were always bad, but standing on the edge of the riverbank, with a storm brewing overhead, made it worse.
“Dang, Kacy, it hurts me just to look at that.” Detective Dave Capello ran a hand through his hair and turned away from the naked bodies dangling from the lower limb of a huge oak tree and swaying in the morning breeze drifting in from the Chicago River. “Why do we keep winding up with all the sicko perps out there?”
“Nature of the job, partner.” I studied the ground around the tree. “Ladder indentations. Whoever hung them wasn’t tall enough to just throw the ropes over the tree limb. Copious amounts of bleach poured over the bodies, ropes and around the area. Either the perpetrator wasn’t taking any chances on leaving anything that would identify him behind, or he was trying to keep animals away until the bodies were found.” I stepped aside just in time to miss bird droppings. “Not that it helped much with the birds.”
“May be the nature of the job, but you’d think just once, Park would give the crazy cases to Sims and Gardner,” Dave grumbled as he pulled out his notepad and pen. “Male and female victim, approximately late thirties or early forties, although with their heads covered, I could be wrong about that. Access to site most likely by boat.” He stepped closer to the bodies. “Bruising around necks, and from the holes in their chests, I’d estimate their hearts have been removed.” He grimaced. “Along with another vital part of the male anatomy. Not enough blood here to be the murder site.” He shook his head and jotted a few notes. “Probably bled out before they got here. Your turn.”
“Hanging is usually associated with justice, revenge, and shaming. The fact the killer left them nude and covered their faces also points toward shaming.” I studied the bodies and sighed. My stomach was flip-flopping, and icy fingers trickled down the back of my neck and spine. “The heart removal makes it highly personal, as does the removal of the vital penis and testicles you’re avoiding mentioning.”
Dave groaned and turned away from the scene as I continued. “It could be that whoever did this wanted the world to see their shame and consider them heartless.” I grinned at Dave. “As well as wanting the world to know the guy was dickless.”
I turned toward the sound of boat motors.
did have a knack for giving us all the cases involving the crazies. “We’ll have to wait on Myriah for cause of death and identification.” Commander Park
Dave came to stand beside me on the bank as we waited for the boats to dock. “You heard from Greg?”
“No.” I didn’t elaborate, hoping Dave would take the hint. I didn’t want to discuss my failing relationship any more than he wanted to discuss the male victim’s castration.
The first boat docked, and three officers joined us on the riverbank. I was glad to see Officer John Tedrow in charge. He was a good officer and easy to work with. “We’ll split up and comb the area. We’re looking for clothes, wallets, purses, shoes, or personal items, as well as”—I pointed to the victims—“missing hearts and private parts.”
“Damn.” Officer Tedrow, like Dave and his fellow officers, avoided looking directly at the male victim. “How long do you think they’ve been out here?”
“Not long. A couple of fishermen spotted them at five this morning. Probably late last night.” A clue, although a useless one. The killer had placed the bodies in an area with high early-morning boat traffic, wanting them to be discovered quickly.
“Lots of coyotes around here, along with a few bobcats. If the body parts were here, they may not be now.” Tedrow issued orders to the other two officers as the second boat docked. “We’ll start out covering a quarter mile in each direction.” He nodded toward the dark clouds gathering overhead as the wind picked up. “I doubt we’ll have time for much more than that before the storm hits.”
“Thanks, John. We’ll join you after we’ve had a word with Myriah. I’d rather we were all back on high ground before it gets vicious.”
Myriah suited up, smiled, and walked our way. “You know they’re beginning to call you the gruesome twosome, don’t you?”
“I’m sure we’ve been called worse. Besides, it’s not our fault if Park always gives us the weirdoes.” I returned her smile. “Dave is having a bit of trouble with this one.”
Myriah surveyed the bodies as the photographer took pictures. She waved her crew forward and chuckled. “I can see why it might bother him. We’d best cut them down, bag them up, and move them before the rain hits. There’s no way we could set a tent up out here. With the lack of any serious blood spill beneath them, this definitely isn’t the murder site.”
“Dave and I came to the same conclusion. We’re going to have a quick look around, then check out the boat docks to see if anyone rented a boat yesterday afternoon and didn’t return it last night. Let us know as soon as you have an ID.”
Myriah nodded, turning her attention to the task at hand.
I placed my hands on my hips, studying the directions Tedrow and the other officers had taken. The area was hilly and forested. Unless the killer had a reason to want us to discover the missing body parts, they were most likely at the bottom of the river. “What do you think, Dave?”
“I think we’re wasting our time here. Would have taken him a while to get the bodies in place, pour the Clorox over them, then clean up his mess. If he didn’t leave so much as an empty bottle behind, I doubt we’re going to find anything.”
“Kacy, you’d better take a look at this.” Myriah had removed the covering over the man’s head. “And I’ve got an ID for you.”
The word pedophile had been carved in the man’s forehead. That could explain the missing penis.
“Who is he?”
“Thomas Wilcott. Senator Wilcott’s son.” She knelt beside the woman’s body and removed the cloth. “Damn, I was hoping I was wrong. It’s his wife, Trina Wilcott.”
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. The phrase echoed inside my head as I stared at the woman’s mutilated face and head. “Do they have children?”
Myriah nodded. “Two. A fourteen-year-old girl and seven-year-old boy.”
“Put the covers back on, Myriah, and don’t allow any more pictures until you’re back at the morgue. If this leaks out, we’ll all be in hot water.” I glanced at Dave. “We’d better give Park a heads-up. There’s going to be more than one storm brewing before the day is over.”
Book 4 in the Detective Kacy Lang series. Can be read as a standalone. Grab your copy now! Amazon
Entire series available on Kindle Unlimited.