|Sheriff Porter 3
Thorn was the first to go. As I promised I wrote him a good recommendation for a job with the highway patrol. The state really seemed to be swimming in the Warren County labor pool. I really didn’t mind Thorn leaving, even if it was on short notice. He left only two weeks after I took office. It just meant I had to find a detective willing to come to Warren County to live and work. Either that or I had to find someone worth a damn on the Department at that moment.
“Good morning Chief Deputy,” I said as Eddie Simpson walked into the room.
“As I remember you were a pretty good detective. I don’t suppose you would like to get out of all this political bullshit, and go back to real police work?”
“That is actually what I wanted to talk to you about. I think I would like to be the detective, if I don’t have to take a cut in pay to do it,” he said.
“Can you start when Thorn leaves?” I asked.
“Oh yes, I definitely can,” he said. “I’ll fill my replacement in.”
“There is not going to be a replacement. Instead of a Chief Deputy, I am going to have an administrative assistant,” I suggested.
“And who do you have in mind for that job,” he asked.
“Mrs. West of course. She will probably know where most of the bodies are buried,” I said.
“Actually I think that is a good idea. You want me to solve those three murder cases first thing?” he asked.
“No, I’m going to solve those. You just keep the current stuff moving,” I said.
“By the way, I would have spotted that hit and run as a phony,” Simpson said.
“Funny, but I remember you were a hell of a detective back in the day,” I said.
“I also want you to know this, the Thorn thing taught me a lesson. I want you to start mentoring your replacement. Whenever you need help, we will try to get him for you. Let me know who you choose and I’ll get him assigned as your back up every time I can. He will do his regular job, when he isn’t working for you.”
“That sounds fair enough but I don’t want a guy. I want a new deputy we hired about six months ago. She graduated first in her class of criminal justice. As a matter of fact she had the highest scores in the state for at least ten years.” he said.
“This is strictly business, right Simpson?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” he said.
“Your last act as Chief Deputy will be to explain it all to her. As you pass by send West into see me,” I demanded.
“Yes Sheriff Porter,” she asked. “Is everything all right?”
“Actually no it isn’t. Chief Deputy Simpson will be leaving his post next week,” I said.
“My God, what are you going to do to fill his slot,” she asked.
“I’m not going to fill his slot. What I am going to do is create a new job, Administrative assistant. I need someone to take care of all the paper work of his job, but not be responsible for the personnel problems. So what do you say? Would you like to be my Administrative Assistant? There is a little more money, but the hours might be longer now and then”, I suggested.
The budget office was happy because there was a net saving of 5k a year. They called it a clean reorganization, but I called it getting good cops back in the field and off their asses playing paper pusher.
I bought the crime scene technician coffee and a biscuit every morning. He gave me lessons and tips. Even helped set up a new protocol about what crimes were investigated and which weren’t. Lots of new categories of crimes were defined as forensic worthy. It was going to take a while, but I was certain we were going to remove our files from the state bureau investigation’s lab.
Letter was working an informant. He promised to call me when he got the wire ready to go. I wanted to be there to make sure nobody cut these guys any slack. If they tried to trade on information about me, I wanted to be there to personally tell them to Fuck off. We weren’t making any deals period.
Every thing was working as it should for the first two weeks after I reorganized the department. While Letter worked on his drug case and Simpson worked anything more involved than the routine traffic stops, I continued my education, and read the files on those three murders.
“I did complete background checks on the men. One of them was a tow truck driver. He didn’t have any other employees, and he was found dead in his truck. Just sitting there bent over the steering wheel.
He was a good family man with two kids in their early teens. Bert’s towing’s owner Bert Mathews was the most recent of the three Murders. It was three months old. I needed something new to get it back on track again. Okay let’s get reasonable I thought. Of course I was pounding on the bag at 8 PM, when I had time to really thing about it. I decided to take the file to breakfast with the older forensic man the next day.
I came in from my run at 11 PM. I was exhausted, too exhausted to go into a chatroom. That had been happening lately.
The next morning I was sitting across from Wilson when he opened his biscuit. “So, Wilson, what do you know about the Mathews murder?” I asked.
“I know they worked it hard. Lots of man hours were spent on Mr. Mathews. They finally decided it was a random hit. Just some nut with a guy on Saturday night and who thought it would be thrill to kill somebody.”
“Did they pull the cell calls he got that day?” I asked.
“Of course nothing important,” he said.
“Where was the body found in relation to his last job?” I asked.
“No where near it and he wasn’t headed home from it. But we had no idea where he was headed.” he replied.
“Did anybody check all the contracts with finance companies he held?” I asked. “In other words did anybody try to determine whether he was a repo?”
“I’m sure they did,” Wilson said.
“Did you find any prints in his truck that didn’t belong?” I asked.
“No, I found his and his son who cleaned it. They were the only ones,” he said.
“So if he had a job, he was on his way there,” I said.
“Yeah, but he was on the side of the road, not in somebody’s yard,” Wilson said, and he was right.
“Okay so it looks like ‘he was killed by a pissed of customer theory’ can go on the back burner. How about the old faithful having an affair,” I suggested.
“Best I can remember the man was too busy to have an affair,” Wilson said.
“Well it’s been three months, the family should have relaxed by now. I think I will go talk to the neighbors. Thanks Wilson you are a good sounding board.”
I didn’t find time to go talk to Mrs. Mathews’ neighbors until two days later.
I asked them how things had been since the funeral. Did anyone seem to be trying to take advantage of her? I was careful to make it sound like I was looking into confidence men taking advantage of new widows. It took a while but one of them eventually mentioned, “Mrs. Mathews seem to spend a lot of time out in the evenings. She is leaving the kids alone. Sure they were old enough to run to the store, but to be out till 1 AM that seems a bit much. I try to keep an eye out, to be sure no one is coming to the house, when the kids are alone. But it just seems wrong to be dating again so soon after Burt’s death. You won’t say that I told you will you?”
“No, of course not. Just so I can be sure the man isn’t one of the confidence men do you know his name?” I asked.
“No, but he is younger. I have seen him stop by in the day and when he does he drives a truck with writing on it. He sometimes has a trailer with farm equipment on it. The truck is red,” the woman next door told me.
When I got back from my early Lunch hour, I asked Mrs. West to come into the office. “Alice I have a job for you, if you aren’t too awfully busy?” I asked.
“I guess I can find time, what can I do for you?” she asked.
“I need someone with better computer skills than me and a better telephone voice to trace a red truck with a trailer. The truck has writing, so it’s some kind of business truck. Probably a one man show, that kind of thing. The trailer has farm equipment according to a witness, which means it could be anything vaguely outdoorsy. Give it a check please,” I said.
“Do you want something in particular, or just want to know who owns the truck?” she asked.
“Well for now who owns the truck,” I replied.
“Moose James’s yard and landscaping from Dobson owns one like it. I could check to see if anyone else does,” Mrs. West said.
“Well let’s see how the Moose does before you spend any more time on it. You wouldn’t know how many trucks he has would you?” I asked.
“I think he has one and his son has one they work together.”
“You are amazing, thanks Mrs. West,” I said.
After she left the office I made a call to the phone number for the company and found out the son’s name was Seth and he was not married. I ran Seth through the department of motor vehicles and got his ID number. So I ran him through NCIC. There I found that Seth had a DUI and he had been arrested for a bar fight the year before.
Seth was my first viable suspect. I wanted to move slowly and I convinced the patrol division to look out for him either in the truck or his car. I wanted him pulled over and a routine roadside interrogation conducted. I wanted to know his demeanor. It was also good to find out if the suspect had a temper before I took a run at him.
I waited a couple of days and he either didn’t come into our jurisdiction or we missed him. So I called the Dobson PD and asked them if they wanted to pick him up or have our people come into Dobson to get him. If we got him, we would bring him back to County Seat. I really didn’t care. I had no expectations that he would roll.
“Why don’t you come over and do the interrogation in our interview room. The chief suggested. “It will give us a chance to meet.”
“Fair enough, but I also want to talk to his family,” I replied.
“Okay we will ride along with you to make sure there isn’t any trouble at the office,” the chief suggested
“Let me call to make sure he is there before I drive all the way over,” I said.
“Yeah why don’t you let us pick him up and you meet us at the station. You can always go back to the house, if you need to do so,” the Chief of police said.
“I got a better Idea. Why don’t I come over there and have a run at the family regardless of whether we get him or not,” I suggested.” You never know.”
“Sure, we will meet you at Moose’s office,” the chief suggested.
Edited by Walt