This story is by William Yoder and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I closed the phone and put it back in my pocket, lifted the yellow police tape that cordoned off the living room from the rest of the house and walked in. The lights had been turned off for various tests, which left the scene with a more chilling feeling than usual. Which if I considered the phone call I just had with my boss, was a welcome change. I had to step over receipts and letters on the floor to get to the middle of the room. Frank, a crime scene tech I had been working with on these cases, walked over with a plastic bag in hand.
“Frank, you sure it’s him?”
“Positive. Take a look.” Frank pointed out a writing desk in the back of the living room.
Five paces from the couch stood a brown writing desk cleared of all materials except uncooked white beans which spelled out the words “Miss me Detective?”. That’s him alright, I thought. He had been hounding me for three months. It was our game of cat and mouse. After five years on this job, I had earned myself a reputation of being quick witted and adept at solving puzzles, but this one had me vexed. We had yet to get a single shred of DNA and nobody could give an ID of this guy.
“Anybody find anything yet?” I yelled out, making my voice heard through the house, but nobody responded. “Frank, what’s in the bag?”
“Alright, thanks for letting me know. My wife will be there for the appointment.” Frank hung up his phone and put it back in his pocket. “Sorry Detective, I have a pool guy coming over in a few hours.”
“It’s a few hairs we found by the desk. I’ll send them to the lab to get them tested. Hopefully it’s him and not the victim’s.” Frank said as he left to put the possible evidence in the van outside.
The body was hunched over, blood mixed with the dull green of the couch itself. He was a thin man, maybe 160-170 pounds and probably just around 6 foot tall. The right side of his head was badly beaten by some kind of blunt object and he had 5 gunshot wounds in his chest. The other side of the couch contained 4 bullet holes.
“You guys already got pictures of the vic, right?”
“Yeah, the guys taking the pictures moved on to a different room already.” Frank had reentered from the van and was back to collecting the evidence that had already been bagged.
Good. For something I have to do in just about every case, I always hated putting on the latex gloves. Their convenience was great, but in the Florida summer, my hands were always sweating. The vic’s body lifted fairly easily off the back of the couch and I was able to match up the exit wounds with the entry holes on the couch. Ok, so he was murdered here on the couch. Surprisingly, the head wound did not show signs of having bled much, but the bruising shone through his hair. Must have been done posthumously. Shows he is getting angrier, more reckless. But I’m still no closer to finding him. “Hey Frank, do we have a time of death on this guy?”
“Yeah, brother found the body around 1PM, based on the state of the body, death was probably two days ago.”
My work phone vibrated on my hip. “Detective Grant,” I said answering the call.
“Bad news Detective, we weren’t able to get a match on the DNA or fingerprints.”
“Nothing?” I asked.
“Nothing. Whoever he is, he hasn’t been in the system before.”
“Alright.” I said shaking my head, focusing on the carpet down at my feet. I hung up the phone. “I need everything you can get me on this man. Call the brother back over here, I’ll have a few questions for him.”
I paced around the room and waited for the brother to come downstairs. The place looked superficially ransacked: a couple of chairs turned over and papers strewn on the floor.
A younger version of the dead man on the couch walked in, and I prepared my questions. “Mr….”
“Steven.” He said quietly as if to not disturb the dead man.
“Steven, what time did you come to find the body?”
“1PM, about an hour and a half ago now.”
“Did you notice anything odd when you came over? Was there any sign of a break in?”
“No sir, the door was unlocked which was weird. Tim always locks his doors, he had a break in a few years back and was paranoid about it happening again,” Steven said. His head turned back to where his brother was on the couch. A sheet had been placed over the corpse while Steven was in the room.
“Thank you, we will give you a call if we have any more questions. You’re free to leave when you feel ready. I am sorry for your loss.” I bowed my head to him and he walked toward the door head in hand.
How does he keep getting away without leaving a trail? Someone has to have seen him at some point. As I thought, my leg bumped into the end table by the couch where the body was and a calendar fell on to the floor. “Frank, what time did you say the guy died?”
“Ugh, about two days ago.” I heard from another room in the house.
The top note still stuck to the rest of the pad read “2:30PM April 5th Plumber”. Two days prior almost exactly. I finally felt like I could exhale. Our first break in the case. I needed to find out who he used as a plumber… and if the other victims had the same one.