Sheriff Porter 5
Here is the deal Seth. I found a 9 mm in your room at your dad’s house. We also found one at your girlfriends house. It really isn’t much of a gun. Of course it don’t take much of a gun at close range. Now we got a shell casing from the scene and also the slug in Burt. We can’t do a ballistic check on the slug here. That went to the state crime lab last night. But what we can do is an extractor mark comparison. It is almost as good as the expert’s testimony. So we are going to do one of those on both pistols.
“Now Wilson the lab geek has a toy called a comparison microscope. He can look at a picture of the casing from the crime scene and ones from the two guns. Wilson can’t put either of you in prison for life cause he is not a court certified expert, but he is good enough for me to be sure it was one of you.”
“So here is your only chance to help yourself. If you tell your story before he makes that comparison, you got a shot to help yourself. If he says one of those two samples are a match. We just toss one of you in a cell and forget you while we wait for the ballistics match from the State Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab. At that time one you is a cooked bird.”
“So Seth is there anything you want to tell me?” I asked.
“Louise told me that Bert was a mean son of a bitch. He hit her and the kids plenty of times. I went to talk to him at his shop, but he was out by the highway just sitting there waiting for a call. I went up to talk to him and he grabbed me through the open window and we struggled the gun just went off,” Seth said.
Since I had the recorder running I had captured it all. “So why did you go to talk to him?” I asked. “What did you expect to get from it?”
“I told him I loved Louise and she loved me. I wanted him to give her a divorce,” Seth explained.
“Why did you feel like you needed a gun?” I asked.
“Louise told me how violent he could be. I just wanted to scare him with it, if he came at me. When he grabbed me through the window it just went off,” he said.
“Now I want you to remember this is your last chance to help yourself. Did Louise Mathews suggest you carry a weapon with you to talk to her husband?” I asked.
“No she didn’t. She just said I should be very careful. That Burt would probably get violent. So I was expecting it, but once he saw the gun I didn’t think he would jump me. I guess he was just crazy jealous,” Seth explained.
I had seen Louise Matthews and I couldn’t see what would make men want to fight and die for her. There was just no accounting for men, I supposed.
“Okay Seth, you can go back to your cell,” I explained.
“Well?” Eddie Simpson said in my office three hours later. “You should be proud. You closed a cold homicide case four days after taking it over. I always knew you understood the criminal mind. You think just like them,” he said but it somehow didn’t come out a compliment.
“So tell me how you let that idiot keep his job. The connection was so obvious once I looked past that random bullshit,” I explained.
“He kept his job because he was like family or something,” Eddie said. “You have no idea how much I hated the politics of this department. It’s a good thing you are a Libertarian they don’t have a machine yet,” he said.
“Eddie, you were right to want to go back to the Detective job. You were a lousy politician,” I said.
“Yeah I know,” he said. “Anyway let’s go to the cop out tonight to celebrate.”
“Come to the Englishman’s pub, and I’ll buy you a beer,” I said.
“I haven’t been there yet. I’ve been meaning to try it, so you have a deal. I warn you I am going to bring friends,” he said.
“As long as they are cops I’ll pay,” I said. “Just no friend of friends just to get a free beer. Eddie be sure you invite Osborn. She is going to be a hell of a detective after she spends a year or two on the road.”
“Yeah but the lure of more money and big city lights will take her away, I’m afraid.” he said.
“Yeah, that might be the case,” I said. Wait till it happens, I told myself. “Before that happens she might find a man, and not want to leave no matter what the drawing card.”
It was afternoon of the same day when I opened the second most recent case of homicide. A 68 year old man with dementia. It could have been suicide, but the medical examiner called it a case of death by unexplained cause.
Our County was so small we had no medical examiner. The autopsy was done at the University Hospital at Abbottsville. Like it or not we were already in bed with the University Forensic Departments. The pathologist’s office, within the medical school, was one of them.
“You have an appointment with Dr. Elliot at 3 PM,” West said.
“Thanks Mrs. West, if I leave now I can just make it. Do we have a map of the campus?” I asked.
“To be honest I have no idea. No one has ever visited down there that I know about,” Mrs. West said.
“Well find out if Simpson is free and that Deputy Osborn. If either or both can make the trip that would be nice,” I explained. “Also see if it is possible to drop into visit their forensic labs while we are there. It couldn’t hurt to meet some new people.”
“No indeed Sheriff, it certainly couldn’t hurt,” she said.
And that is how Simpson and I stood before the Pathologist for the University Hospital. In addition to the autopsies of patients who died in the hospital, his department also performed autopsies for several of the rural Counties in the mountain area, Warren being just one of those Counties. It saved the County a crap load of money to not pay a local doctor who would be inadequately trained and would lack a first rate lab to do the exams of tissue and fluids.
“Good afternoon doctor, I had Mrs. West alert you as to what I would like to talk about. I am reopening a murder investigation. One that may not have been looked a quite as closely as needed,” I said.
“If you are telling me the last detective in Warren County was a hack, don’t bother. I know he was a complete idiot. As far as I know you are as well,” he said.
“And as far as I know at this moment you are a butcher,” I said with a smile.
“We can enter into this relationship with a little trust, or we can enter into it as bitter enemies. I leave that to you,” I suggested.
“Good points all. So what do you wish to know, I have the file in front of me,” he said.
“The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head. You ruled out suicide?” I asked.
“No I ruled out self inflicted, it isn’t the same thing.”
“Yes, I know assisted suicide is still suicide to the medical community. So how bad was his dementia?” I asked.
“Was it bad enough that he wanted to die? Probably. Was he good enough to make a rational decision to end his life? Also probably. Did he make that decision? I have no way of knowing. I just know he didn’t pull that trigger himself.”
“I suppose you base that on the lack of gunpowder residue on his hands and absence of specking around the wound?”
“That is correct and also the fact that he was fully dressed. Dementia patients usually sit around half dressed or in their pajamas if they are as far along as your Mister Owens. He most likely would have had to have help getting dressed.”
I looked quickly into the file there was no mention of Owens being dressed. “Stupid prick,” I whisper.
“I think you understand now,” the doctor said.
“So most likely someone else shot him. Either at his request, or for some less noble motive,” Eddie added.
“You said he was dressed doctor. Did you by any chance get a sense of it being go to church dressed or sit around the house dressed?” I asked.
“He was wearing a tie and white shirt. I think it was a sweater and dress pants as well,” he said.
“So it wasn’t the funeral clothes they dressed him in before they shot him. It was take him out to a fancy lunch, or maybe visit his wife’s grave kind of outfit,” I said.
I looked into the file again. “I don’t even see if there was an estate, or who stood to gain by his death. Son of a Bitch I wish I could fire that idiot again,” I said as we stood to go.
“Thank you Doctor, you have been most helpful,” I said.
“Sheriff you two are welcome here anytime. Just ask for the Butcher,” he said with a smile.
“Well come to town and the incompetent bitch will buy you a drink at the Englishman’s pub,” I said with a laugh.
“Well you got right to it. Someone shot the old man. They came by his house dressed him, took him out to visit his wife’s grave one last time and shot him. According to the file he has a daughter and a son in law. Now we just need to figure out which one and why,” Simpson suggested.
“If you loved someone, would you have them kill you? I mean you knowing they would be going to jail if they get caught?” I asked.
“Sheriff, he had dementia. He wasn’t thinking clearly,” Simpson said.
“He probably asked someone, when he was thinking clearly. I would bet that he was killed by someone who cared about him. Also someone who would not be a real suspect, because they had nothing to gain,” I said.
“So you don’t think it was the daughter or her husband,” he asked.
“Our bumbling detective probably asked them for an alibi, and I will get back to them. Find out what he did on that last day, and we will find out who did it,” The last person to see him alive would be the killer,” I said.
“The last person to see them alive is always the killer,” Simpson said.
“Not true in the case of a gunshot that takes days to kill. Then it is the nurse who saw him alive last or the doctor who tries to save a live. Maybe it’s the paramedic who takes them gasping to the hospital. You know Simpson it isn’t easy to take a life, not without practice. When we get back, I need to do some research,” I said.
“You mean you will have Mrs. West do some research,” Eddie said.
“She loves it,” I answered.
When we got back West was gone for the day. I might have tried to do it myself, but the pub thing left me only time to eat, unless I had the dish of the day at the pub.
“Screw it,” I said out loud and reached for the phone. I made four calls before I found what I wanted. I didn’t know who killed Mr. Owens, but I had a good idea. The murder plot dated back five years, I was sure. I could pick it up the next day. There was no sense ruining a good party with murder shit.
Edited by Walt