“You know there is one thing we have overlooked. Probably not the cops, but we don’t know why this got reported. If I’m the nanny, and I’m in on it, just as soon as I get somewhere safe I have the bad guys call mommy and say no cops or the kid dies,” I said to Vlad and Anya.
“So, if that is the case, who reported the kid missing?” Vlad asked. “She was grabbed at noon and the cops were on it by 12:30. I agree who reported it.”
“Let’s find out before we go all redneck on the families,” I suggested.
“When I was young in the old Soviet Union, we called that going Stalin,” Vlad said. “But when you go Stalin, everybody dies.”
I called Blevins back. He didn’t want to tell me at first, but when I explained why we were thinking about going a different direction without questioning the nanny’s people, he relented.
“Maxine this had better not get into the papers,” he said.
“If it does, you better look somewhere else my friend. There are only three of us who know and all three of us would rather die than talk to a reporter. Now give it up.” I demanded.
“The Granny went to the play school. She planned to meet the nanny and take the child home with her. It had been arranged with the mother and dad the night before, but the nanny had gone for the day so she didn’t know. The nanny drove right past Granny as she left the parking lot. Then nanny and kid disappeared. Granny knew something was wrong. So when she couldn’t find the nanny, or the kid, she tried to called the dad. He was in conference and couldn’t be disturbed. Then Granny tried the mom on her route, but mom didn’t answer either, so she called us. That’s how we got onto the missing kid.”
“Fair enough, then we will start talking to people right now and get back to you. Clear it for me to talk to the mom and dad. My PI license is still good, so I can have some official standing, if someone will retain me.”
“If all esle fails. I think we can swing that, by calling you a consultant,” Blevins suggested.
“If I can’t get it anywhere else, I’ll think about you as a boss,” I said reluctantly. “It will be hard for me to do what I do, if I have to answer to the judicial system,” I replied.
When I hung up I asked. “Who is going to hire us?”
“Granny,” Anya said smiling the most wicked smile. “Got to be tough old bird to face dealing with a bunch of cops on a guess.”
“Then she is the first stop for me. You two get in position to find out about the nanny and I mean really find out. Don’t listen to that ‘she’s a good girl’ shit. Something ain’t right. I’ll call you once I get the retainer
Across the street from the victim’s home there were two TV station Vans. It was going to be a three ring circus from that point on.
I expected to find Granny at the home of the Parents. It’s where I would be, if it were me. There were no cop cars and nothing that even looked like an unmarked cop car. The days of the wire tap having to be inside the home of the parents were gone. My guess was that the wire tap was in the back of a van two or three blocks away.
I knocked on the door of the middle class frame home in the middle class neighborhood. When what was obviously the mother opened the door, I pulled her name from the recesses of my mind. “Mrs. Blair, my name is Maxine Stone, I would like to help you, if I can.” The older woman was standing behind her.
“We don’t need your help everything is fine,” she said.
“No disrespect intended, but your daughter is missing, you have reporters on your lawn, and people are going to be coming out of the woodwork to take advantage of you. Unless you have dealt with kidnapping before, you are going to be lost, and confused.”
The Grandmother did exactly what I would have expected her to do. “Ms. Stone, I am familiar with your reputation. The police respect you and so do the criminals, I for one would appreciate your help. If my daughter won’t talk to you I certainly will. And if she won’t let you in her house, we can talk outside, on the lawn in front of the reporters.”
That’s right Granny, I thought. Put her ass in a box. What I said was, “Yes ma’am it’s understood, I work for you, not the cops, or the thugs. The advice I give you is what is most likely to get your grand daughter back safely. To be honest that might prove to be impossible, but it’s priority one.”
“That’s what we need right now in spite of my daughter’s opinions,” she said angrily.
“I need to make one phone call. I have some friends who know the nanny’s friends and family. They will be interviewing them, while I talk to you guys.” The grandmother nodded.
I was inside the house when I placed the call to Vlad’s cell phone. “Vlad find out who is working this, and I don’t give a crap how you do it.” I said it for Granny as well as Vlad.
I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee in front of me while I spoke to the parents and grandmother about the little girl. “I did some checking and you guys are not rich, but I still believe this was a kidnap for ransom. If that is the case you have already been contacted by the bad guys. I need to know a couple of things about that call. Whatever you say stays with me. If you want the cops to know, you tell them. I won’t tell them anything unless it becomes absolutely necessary for their help in some way.”
I stopped and looked at each of them seriously before I went on. “So have you been contacted.”
They didn’t want to answer, so I tried something else. “Look, I think the nanny is unwittingly part of the kidnapping. That can work for us. She will most likely want to get the little girl back to you safely. So for God’s sake I need you to help me, help her do that.”
“When we got home, we found a package with a cellphone. The cell phone rang a few minutes after we got it. A voice told us not to report the call to the police or they would kill Sheryl.” The mother said it through her tears.
“Don’t worry I’m not the police and none of my friends are either. So did you talk to Sheryl?”
“Yes they let me talk to her a second. She said that she had not been harmed and that nanny was taking care of her.” the mom said.
“Good, every time you talk to the kidnappers, from this point forward, refuse to cooperate until you speak to Sheryl. Once they have what they want from you, all your leverage is gone. It will reinforce the idea in their mind that that must keep her unharmed. Now tell me this, did the man have an accent?”
“Yes he did, how did you know?” she asked.
“We think it might be a friend of the nanny’s. One who used her to gain the information to kidnap your daughter. What we need to know is was his voice similar to the nanny’s. The way he pronounced words?” I asked.
“Yes he said words the same way Rose does. We call her Rose because Sheryl can’t say her Russian name.” the mother said tearing up again.
“Now what do they want to bring Sheryl back?” I asked.
“I don’t think I can tell you that,” the mother said looking up at the father.
“Okay, how about I tell you?” I suggested. “If I get it right then cooperate with me completely. If not we can play the game your way.”
The mother nodded.
“They want to know the details of the warehouse where you work. They want to know the number of guards at a certain time of the night. They want to know the access codes on the gate or doors you need to enter. They want to the location of certain drugs inside the facility.” I looked at her hard then asked, “Well?”
“I have already given them the information. They said after they had the drugs, they would drop Sheryl at a fire station,” the mother said hopefully.
“So what time were they interested in?” I asked.
“The after midnight shift,” she explained. “I have the information because I start my work day before the day shift comes to work.”
“So sometime after midnight they will break into the warehouse?” I asked it thinking out loud. “They are not going to want to hold your child longer than they have to, so it will be tonight.” What I didn’t tell her was the it was likely the child was already dead. I wondered if the nanny thought she could walk back into her old life. If she thought that, she might keep the kid alive.
“I’m going to tell you the cold hard facts of any kidnap. It is safer for the bad guys, if they leave no witnesses. However, there are two ways this can end better than the usual kidnapping. One is that we find where they are holding your daughter and rescue her. The second is that the nanny thinks she can walk back into your open arms. So in any press statement you make, or any contact you have with the kidnappers, stress your concern for Rose as well.
“So what are you going to do now?” the father asked me. I had begun to wonder if he was so ‘pussy whipped’ that he wasn’t capable of speech when his wife was in the room.
“I’m going to let my friend interrogate Rose’s friends and family. I’m going to hope we find who is doing this and where they are holding your daughter. If we do find out, then we will go ask for her return in person.” I said calmly.
“Isn’t that dangerous,” he asked.
“No more than waiting her with our fingers up our ass, hoping they will release her after she has seen their faces,” the grand mother said angrily.
“I don’t have much money, but you can have it all, if you being her back.” the old woman said to me.
“My fee for this, win or lose, is $1. That is payable in advance.” I said it knowing it would cover my ass only in the strictest sense of the word. But hell my shyster was Jennifer, all I needed was a crack and she would show me how to drive a fork lift filled with dead bodies through it.
I called Vlad on the cell phone from the parents living room. “We are on the case,” I said when he answered. “The man who called had an Eastern European accent, so work your fucking magic.”
“We have a name,” Vlad said. “It will take a while to check it out.”
As I left the house a reporter with a TV crew grabbed me. “Ms Stone you have quite a reputation, what are you doing here?” The young man asked.
“I just offered to help. To do what I can. If someone watching has that little girl, they need to know something. My friends and I will find them, and their families. When we do, most likely we will go all Stalin on them.” I quickly left before I had to explain it. The people who needed to know, would know what I meant.