Kindred in Death:In Death 29

By: J. D. Robb


“Yes, sir.” It was awkward, she thought, and uncomfortable to be thrust in the position of interviewing her commander. “Do you know what time they returned home this morning?”

“At eight-thirty-two, precisely. I took the liberty of checking the lock log, and it confirmed Jonah’s statement to me. I’ll give you a copy of the statement from my home ’link log. He contacted me immediately, requesting you, and requesting my presence if possible. I didn’t seal the scene—her bedroom. But it is secure.”

He gestured, stood back. “I think it best if I go down, let you proceed. When your partner arrives, I’ll send her directly up.”

“Yes, sir.”

He nodded again, then sighed as he looked at the open bedroom door. “Dallas . . . It’s very hard.”

She waited until he’d turned away, started down the stairs. Alone, she stepped to the doorway and looked at the young, dead Deena MacMasters.





2



“RECORD ON. DALLAS, LIEUTENANT EVE, AT scene, MacMasters, Deena, victim.”

She scanned the room first as she took Seal-It from her field kit to coat her hands and boots. A large space, bright and airy with triple windows—privacy screen activated—along the park-view wall. A padded bench, mounded with colorful pillows, curved under the glass. Posters of popular musicians, actors, personalities covered walls done in a dreamy violet. A little clutch tightened Eve’s stomach as she studied one of her friend, Mavis Freestone, blue hair swirling, arms lifted in triumph, titled Motherhood Rocks!

On it, she saw Mavis’s big, bold handwriting.

YO, DEENA,

YOU ROCK, TOO!

MAVIS FREESTONE





Had Deena pushed the poster at Mavis at some concert or event, and Mavis—laughing, bubbling—signed it with Deena’s purple pen? Noise, lights, color, Eve imagined, and life. And a thrilling memory for a sixteen-year-old girl who couldn’t have known she would have so little time to treasure it.

A portion of the room was designed for studying and schoolwork with a glossy white desk, shelves, a high-end comp and com center, disc files—all ordered and tidy. A second area, suited for lounging, probably hanging out with girlfriends, also sat tidy and apparently undisturbed with plump cushions, soft throws, a scatter of stuffed animals likely collected throughout childhood.

A hairbrush and hand mirror, a few colored bottles, a bowl of seashells, and a trio of framed photos stood on a dresser in the same glossy white as the desk.

Thick, boldly colored rugs flashed over a gleaming wood floor. The one nearest the bed, she noted, skewed out of alignment. He’d knocked it or skidded against it, or she had.

A pair of panties—simple, white, unadorned, lay near the rug.

“He stripped off her underwear,” Eve said aloud, “tossed them aside.”

The nightstands beside the bed held fancy, frilly lamps with tasseled shades. Again, one of the shades sat crooked on its base. A bump by an arm or elbow. Everything else around the bed itself showed a delight in order and precision, a love of pretty, girlish things.

A young sixteen, to Eve’s mind, but maybe she was projecting. At sixteen she’d been counting the days until legal adulthood and escape from the foster system. There had been no pink, no frills, no fuzzy teddy bears beloved since childhood in her world.

And still, she felt this was the room of a girl still firmly in childhood, just barely approaching the woman she might have been. One who had died living a woman’s worst fear.

In the center of the pretty, cheerful room, the bed held vicious violence. The tangle of pink and white sheets ruined with rusted blood-stains wound around the body’s legs like rope. He’d used them to bind her feet to the footboard, to keep her legs open for him.

She’d fought—the bruises and raw marks on her ankles, her thighs where her purple skirt was rucked showed she’d fought, showed he’d raped her violently. At the side of the bed, Eve leaned in, angled down to peer at the police restraints binding the victim’s hands behind her back.

“Cop cuffs. Vic is a cop’s daughter. Evidence of struggle in bruising and lacerations on wrists. She didn’t go easy. No signs of mutilation. Some bruising on the face indicates physical blows, bruising on neck indicates manual strangulation.”

She eased open the victim’s mouth, used her penlight and magnifier. “Some threads and fabric in her teeth, on her tongue, blood on her lips, teeth. She bit her lip, deeply. Some blood and possibly saliva on pillowcase. Looks like he used it to smother her. Clothes are askew but not removed, some tearing at the shoulders of the shirt, buttons missing. He pulled at them,” she continued as she worked her way down the body. “Pulled them out of his way, but he wasn’t interested overmuch in the rapist’s foreplay.”

With care and deliberation, even as her mouth went dry and the back of her head pounded, she examined the damage caused by violent rape.

“Torture—choke, smother, rape, choke, smother, rape. Vaginally and anally. Repeatedly by the amount of bruising and tearing.” She felt her breath hitch as her lungs tried to shut down, and forced air out. In. Out again. “Blood from vaginal area indicates victim might have been a virgin. ME to confirm.”

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