Kindred in Death:In Death 29

By: J. D. Robb


She had to straighten up, had to take a few more calming breaths. She couldn’t afford to switch off the record and settle herself, couldn’t afford to let the record show how much her hands wanted to shake, how much her stomach wanted to roil.

She knew what it was to be helpless like this, abused like this, terrified like this.

“At this time it appears the security was engaged. Cameras were subsequently turned off, and all discs removed from premises. There is no visible sign of break-in—Crime Scene Unit to confirm. She opened the door; she let him in. Cop’s kid. She knew him, trusted him. Face-to-face rape and murder. He knew her, wanted to see her face. Personal, very personal.”

Calmer, she got out her gauges to determine time of death. “TOD three-twenty-six. Primary determines rape-homicide to be confirmed by ME. Dr. Morris is requested if available.”

“Dallas.”

It showed Eve how deep into the moment—and into the past—she’d gone—too deep to hear her partner’s approach. She schooled her face to neutral lines and turned to where Peabody stood in the doorway.

“The kid died hard,” Eve said. “Fought hard, died hard. No tissue under her nails that I can find, but plenty of trace from the sheets. It looks like he held the pillow over her face, she bit it and her own lip. As it’s most likely multiple rapes, he may have gotten off on the struggle. Choked her, too. We should be able to get his handspan from the bruising.”

“I kind of knew her.”

Instinctively Eve stepped over, blocking Peabody’s view of the body, forcing her partner to look at her instead. “How?”

Sorrow, simple and sincere, shone in Peabody’s dark brown eyes. “When I was a rookie, we did this kind of public service thing in schools.” Peabody cleared her throat, pressed her lips together. “She was my liaison, like a student guide. A really sweet, smart kid. I guess she was about eleven or twelve. I was new to New York, too, and she gave me some tips on where to shop and stuff. And, ah, last year she did a report on Free-Agers for school.” Peabody paused, busied herself sealing up. “She got in touch, and I helped her out with some background and personal anecdotes.”

“Is this going to be a problem for you?”

“No.” On a breath, Peabody pushed her dark hair back from her face, threading her fingers once through the sassy flip she wore. “No. She was a nice kid, and I liked her. A lot. I want to find out who did this to her. I want in on taking the son of a bitch down.”

“Start by checking the security, the electronics through the house. Look for any signs of break-in.” Big house, Eve thought. It would take a while, long enough to put Peabody into cop mode. “We need all ’links checked, all logs copied. I need the sweepers, but I want it designated Code Yellow. This isn’t a media blackout, we can’t go there with a cop involved, but I don’t want the juice poured out either. I want Morris unless he’s not able.”

“He’s back?”

“Scheduled to be back from leave tomorrow. If he’s in town and willing, I want him.”

Peabody nodded, pulled out her communicator. “Given it’s a cop’s kid, I think we want Feeney.”

“You think right, and go ahead and tag your bony-assed cohab. Feeney’s going to need McNab on this anyway, so let’s get our EDD team up and running now.”

“He’s on standby. When Whitney contacted me, I asked him to wait for my signal. If you’re ready to roll her, I’ll give you a hand.”

Eve heard the message under the words. I need to do this. Need to prove I can.

Eve stepped back, turned to the body. “He didn’t remove her clothing. Tore it some, pulled it out of the way. Another indication it wasn’t sexual, and that it wasn’t about humiliation so much as punishment, violence, or causing pain. He didn’t care about stripping her, about exposing her. On three,” she said and counted out so they rolled the body facedown together.

“God.” Peabody breathed in, breathed out. “That blood’s not just from rape. I think . . . she was a virgin. And those are cop restraints. Using them, keeping her hands bound behind her back? He’s making a point, don’t you think with the first, and causing her more pain with the second. Look at the way they dug into her wrists, pushed into them from the weight of her body. He could have cuffed her to the headboard. Bad enough.”

“It’s about pain,” Eve said shortly. “Pain gives the inflictor more control over the victim. Do you know anything about her friends? Boyfriends, men?”

“No, not really. When I was helping her with the report, I asked about boyfriends, the way you do.”

As she spoke Peabody began to scan and study the room. Coming back, Eve judged, sliding back into cop mode.

“She got flushy and said she didn’t date much since she was concentrating on her schoolwork. Ah, she was really into music and theater, but she wanted to study philosophy and alternate cultures. Talked about joining the Peace Corps or Education For All after college.”

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