Then, if you have it in ya, read my offering for this week.
10 Word Challenge: air tight seal, bitter cold, draft card, diner, paragon of virtue, broken computer monitor, CPR, a love of folk music, scatter-brained, can of worms
mini challenge: California here I come, Springtime in Alberta, panorama, etchings, miracle foot repair
This week’s episode: Questions
Captain Jenkins made it to the old Indian cemetery site in record time. While he knew Cpl Eugene Bradley Stoddard could at times be somewhat scatter-brained, he could tell from the shaky voiced transmission that he had discovered something unnerving. It had saved him from the task of replacing his broken computer monitor. The duty clerk would handle it in good fashion and relieve him from opening up the literal can of worms that was the nest of cables and wires in back of his desk. He swept past the old wooden sign at the base of the dirt road that forlornly stated “California here I come”. The joke was that the trail lead into the Mojave National preserve without a gas station for hundreds of miles. The Nevada DOT had never bothered to put up a sign telling travelers that small detail.
The consequence was that once or twice a year someone got stuck in the preserve and had to be rescued by the California authorities. The excuse always seemed to be that the stranded folks were searching for ancient Indian rock etchings and artifacts and lost track of how much gas they had left. If the Californians had been smart, they would have made a sign and donated it to Nevada. On the same sign post was placed some old time advertisements, including ironically “Doc Johnson’s Miracle Foot Repair”.
Stoddard had regained his equilibrium by the time the Captain made it to the scene. “What appears to be one victim Sir, though without the clothes it would be hard to tell it was ever a human” he explained as the Captain exited his cruiser. “ID in the victim’s purse indicates it’s Connie Liplin” he added. “I didn’t touch anything else in the vehicle to maintain the forensics” he finished.
“Ok, let’s have a look.” “I’ve got the state forensic team coming down from Reno” Jenkins said as he opened the driver’s door. The odor and heat coming from the interior was oppressive and vile. The cab of the Tahoe had close to an airtight seal when the heater controls were adjusted properly and that seemed to be what had happened here. He reached in and turned the key off and the engine died. While it had been bitter cold during the last few days, the victim’s vehicle had stayed very warm indeed with the heat turned up full and the cab closed up. He took note that the gas gauge was almost on empty. The amount of corruption, decay and deterioration of the victim’s body was both astounding and revolting.
Jenkins pulled back out of the Tahoe and looked out over the panorama of the strip below. Why would someone do something like this? And more importantly who did this and when? “Let’s get the crime scene stabilized and roped off” he told Stoddard. “I’ll call in and get some more bodies up here” he added. Jenkins made the call and had the clerk pull the info on Connie Liplin. By the time the extra officers showed up to secure the scene, he had her address in Bullhead city.
Because Bullhead was across the river in Arizona he called his counterpart, Captain Bud Mellinger and asked him to meet him at the victim’s condo. He gave his friend, Bud, the details of the case on the way to the condos.
Connie Liplin had done well in the Colorado River Market. She had maintained licenses as both a realtor and broker in both states and had known the local market as well as any. So it was no surprise that she had purchased the biggest condo at Riverside Heights in Bullhead City. The sprawling complex overlooked the Colorado River from cliffs above the highway. Connie’s condo was in the top row at the end with the best view.
“Hey Bud, thanks for meeting me” Jenkins said. “Come on Ned, you know I wouldn’t miss out on a case like this, and procedure says an Arizona law enforcement officer is to be present” answered Mellinger. “Besides, you will probably need some crime scene help from our guys on the condo, won’t you?” “If your budget can stand it, I’ll take all the help I can get on this one” Jenkins responded.
The secretary at Liplin Realtors had provided Captain Mellinger with a key to the condo and they used this to enter the front door. Inside they found a richly and well decorated home. On the entry wall hung an original Ansell Adams photograph entitled “Springtime in Alberta.” Both men donned latex gloves and split up to search the rest of the home. Captain Mellinger took the kitchen and public rooms while Jenkins took the bedrooms and the home office. From what Mellinger could tell from the victim’s music collection, she had had a love of folk music as well as gospel.
Nothing out of the ordinary was apparent in the rest of the public rooms though some of the art on the walls was definitely unusual. The most striking piece was a montage on the living room wall behind the upscale stereo system. It consisted of brochures and memorabilia from her father’s life. This included her fathers torn up draft card, a menu from a now closed diner in Kingman and an outdated card with CPR instructions with the date of her Dad’s death written in pencil on it. Included with this was a receipt from the Mustang Ranch (a legal brothel outside of Vegas). It seemed she knew her father was no paragon of virtue, but had loved him anyway.
“Hey Bud, come on back to the office” Jenkins called out. “Did you find something” Mellinger asked when he came in the office door. “Yes and No” Ned replied. “How many times have you ever seen a computer with nothing on it?” he asked as he looked towards Bud. “Maybe it’s new or just for show” Mellinger offered. “Maybe, but look around this office” Jenkins replied. Both men looked at the desk with notes and scribblings on the desktop calendar. Next to it was a file cabinet with files of sales, commissions and expenses. There was a couch and chairs with a conference table. Each knew this office had been well used, yet the computer was totally empty. Both wondered why and what that had to do with her death.
Jenkins bagged the laptop; he would take it back to his office. The state tech guys would find out if there had ever been information on the thing. Neither man found another computer as they continued their search. The Arizona team would finish checking the condo in detail. Now it was up to Captain Jenkins to pull what evidence there was together and consider suspects.
This was the ugliest murder in the town’s history. The movers and shakers in Laughlin, the owners and managers of the Casinos, would want this kept low profile and solved quickly. Both of those outcomes looked to be unlikely. His world was going to be very busy for some time to come.