Sheriff Porter 4
I called dispatch and told them to have the officer backup for Simpson to swing by the courthouse to pick me up. It took about twenty minutes for the chubby little blond twenty five or so year old to show up in my office. She was cute in the thirty pound overweight way.
“Hi there, I’m Deputy Melissa Osborn. Dispatch said to report to you,” she said.
“Yes you and I are going on a little road trip,” I said. “I’m going to Dobson and I need a ride. So you get to be my driver.”
“Of course Ma’am,” she said.
“Have you had lunch yet Osborn?” I asked.
“No Ma’am,” she said.
“Are you a health food nut or have any special requirements in your diet?” I asked.
“Well I try to eat healthy,” she said.
“Okay it’s the salad bar at the steakhouse on the way to Dobson,” I said.
“That sounds fine,” she said. “But if you would prefer somewhere else I would be fine with that as well.”
I could tell she was the chubby nerd in high school. Way smarter than anyone of her friends, but not very athletic or any of the other things that wins you peer approval. “So Osborn I hear you are a brilliant deputy.”
“I don’t know what to say to that,” she said.
“You don’t have to say anything but if I were you I would start reading all the FBI manuals on investigation and forensics,” I said.
“Detective Simpson said the same thing when he saw me in front of the station yesterday,” she suggested.
I nodded, then I gave her the GPS coordinates for Moose and Son lawn service and Landscaping. Deputy Osborn went right to it. I walked in to find a skinny man. I would never have expected anyone to call moose behind the desk.
“This is Deputy Osborn and I’m Sheriff Porter from Warren County,” I said.
“You are out of your jurisdiction aren’t you?” he asked.
“Yes we are that’s why the Dobson Police are on the way. If you would like we can wait for them and then do this in the police station,” I said calmly.
“Oh hell you are going to do it anyway, what you want?” he asked.
“Is your son Seth around?” I asked.
“He’s out on a job,” he said.
“Out on a job or out at the Widow Mathew’s house?” I asked.
“What is that supposed to mean?” he asked.
“Well you have to admit someone shoots her husband, and three months later your son is all wrapped up with her. The rumors are flying about her relationship with Seth.”
“Look, she has been good for Seth. She calmed him right down, and he is a better man for it,” Moose said.
“And what did he do for her?” I asked.
“I don’t think I have anything else to say to you,” he said.
“Like I said we can take you in as a material witness. You have to know something to help with our investigation. That’s what material witness means. So suit yourself.”
“Look, that husband of her’s was a real piece of work. According to Seth he never came home. He also had a string of girls on the side. I mean real girls not women.”
“He was a tow truck driver what could the appeal have been for him to have girls?” I asked.
“I have no idea, but Seth said there were plenty,” Moose suggested.
“Can you call Seth on the phone and ask him to meet us downtown. Just to give us a statement and to straighten this out,” I suggested.
“Sure I’ll call his cell and then his lawyer,” he said.
“If you really think he needs one. My lawyer charges $100 an hour from the time she walks in the door. You could wait to see what he has to say, unless you are sure that he is going to have something to hide,” I said.
“I don’t like your attitude,” he said.
“Well Moose you are going to have to forgive me. You see when Burt was killed his kids lost their father. Now you and your son might think that wasn’t much a loss, but those kids probably think otherwise. You call whoever you need, just let me know what your son decides, I said. I handed him a card with my cell number on it as I pointed Osborn to the door.
“Gee what was that all about,” she asked just like a good partner would.
“Osborn, you and I were on an exploration mission. We found out that Seth and Mrs. Mathews were seeing each other before the murder, giving Seth a motive for murder. He believed, rightly or wrongly, that Burt was seeing other women, which in his mind might have been justification for murder. That’s how I build a temporary scenario,” I said.
“You sure gave him enough rope to hang himself,” she said.
“Well if he killed for love, he won’t want to leave without her. He will probably stay and try to bluff it out. Hell even if he runs, we learned something,” I said.
“Alright Sheriff,” Osborn said skeptically.
Within two minutes my phone rang. “Seth has agreed to meet you in County Seat. He does not want the Dobson Police involved,” Moose said.
“He’s in the driver’s seat right now. I’ll be in the office till five,” I said.
“I know Simpson worked with you once,” Osborn said.
“Actually I was a rookie and he was the detective,” I said.
“He said you had a feel for the job that was better than all the FBI training in the world. He said you were devious and understood how the bad guys thought,” Osborn said.
“I was just a lucky Deputy and I’d rather be lucky than good any day,” I said.
“Yes I heard that to,” she said smiling. She waited a long second then added, “You know I saw that u tube video.”
“Oh you are the one,” I said.
“Yeah me and well over a million others. That Mateo went way off the rails with you after that.”
“Well thanks Osborn, but it’s alright. I was there I know what happened,” I said.
“I just,” she began.
“Enough damn it,” I snapped at her. “And before you say you are sorry, don’t be just move on.”
“Will you let me sit in on the interview?” she asked.
“Even if he comes today your shift will be over,” I suggested.
“It’s okay I will do it on my own time. My rotation ends today anyway. I have a couple of days off before I begin swing shift,” she said.
“When your shift ends, go down to McDonalds and get three large coffees and bring them back to me. The coffee here is shit,” I said.
She came in at three thirty with the coffees. I told her, “Take one of those down to Wilson in the lab. If you are smart you will stay there and learn something till Seth gets here,” I said.
She left and was gone a little over half an hour when I called her back. “So you are Seth James?” I asked.
“Yes I am and I want to tell you I didn’t kill Burt,” he said.
“This is Deputy Melissa Osborn, she is going to be monitoring the interview. She is here to be sure I don’t violate your rights. So first of all let me assure you I don’t give a crap if you were fucking his wife,” I said. “I don’t care, if she was a two bit whore even, and she was fucking everyone in town, that is still no reason to kill her husband.”
“Stop talking like that about her. She is a good woman,” Seth said angrily.
“Well Seth, here is how it is looking now. Either you killed Burt
so you could have his wife, or she killed him so she could be with you. Now where were you at the time Burt Mathews was killed?”
“I was with Louise. We were having dinner at the plaza,” he said.
“Just a minute please.” Then I turned to Osborn and motioned her out of the room. “Get your ass on the phone call Mrs. Mathews and find out where she says she was when her husband was shot. Make it sound casual. I’ll keep him busy.”
“So Seth, if you didn’t do it and Mrs. Mathews didn’t do, who do you think did it?” I asked.
“Maybe it was some pissed off client,” he said.
“Well we thought of that, but he pulled his truck over on the shoulder of the road. That kind of looks like he didn’t expect any trouble from who ever shot him. How well did you know Burt?” I asked.
“He did some work for my dad now and then,” Seth said.
“Oh really what kind of work,” I said.
“He used his crane to move things, when we needed it moved for the landscaping. You know like a concrete statue that sort of thing,” he said.
“I see, so your dad and Bert were friends?” I asked.
“I guess, but it was more like business associates friends,” he replied.
Shit, I thought, I went from no suspects to three. Two were solid and one was shadowy. If it were TV it would be the father Moose. But it wasn’t TV so odds were it would be the one who looked the best for it. Seth or Louise were the best bets.
“Seth, Louise doesn’t verify your alibi. According to her she was home with the kids, when she got the news.”
“Yeah, she heard two hours after he was killed,” Seth said.
“How do you know that,” I asked.
“Because the TV news was filled with time of death, and I know when I took her home. Tell her it’s alright to tell you the truth,” Seth said.
I nodded to Osborn to go into the hall and then to call her back and verify his alibi if possible. A few minutes later Osborn came back and into the room and whispered, “She said they weren’t together that night.”
Give me your cell number,” I demanded of Osborn. I sent her the cell phone pictures I had taken of Louise Mathews and Seth James. Go out and ask the restaurant if anyone recognizes them, and where they remember them being there in June. If possible get the date and time. Check for security cameras on site as well.”
“I think I want to go,” Seth said.
“I don’t blame you. You can probably get a pretty good head start before we finish talking to the restaurant where you say you were,” I replied. “Course if it was me, and I wanted to look innocent, I would stay till the bitter end.”
“Well you ain’t me,” he said standing.
“Up to you,” I said.
It was nine o’clock when Osborn returned. “They were not there that night because the restaurant was closed for renovations that whole week,” she said all proud of herself.
“Go pick him up, book him for murder and take tomorrow off. I’m going to get a warrant to search his house and the Mathews house. We’ll search hers first, then get to his,” I said.
We found a cheap 9 mm pistol in the Mathews house. It looked as though one or both of them were involved in some capacity. So I let them both sweat till the next day.
Louise Mathews sat in her house with the kids worrying about her involvement, while Seth sat in a jail cell. When I went in to work the next day Wilson, the lab geek, was waiting for his breakfast. “You know,” he said, “I sent the 9 mm off to the SBI lab. It will take a week to hear from them, if not longer.”
“I know the University lab is faster,” I said. “It is a good justification for changing over. I just have to get the proposal ready for the County Manager’s office.
Edited by Walt