Cristiãn 3: Prowl of the Vampire/Page 3 of 3

Chapter 1: Knock, Knock

It was shortly after twelve noon when Philadelphia police officers Peter Moffat and Donald Wallis got the call to do a missing persons check. They had been out on patrol for more than five hours by this time. There was nothing unusual about the request. It was out of the norm more than anything else. Missing persons case files were worked by detectives. A missing persons check was almost always limited to a door knock and possible walk through to see if the individual is in the home, and that was a rare task for a patrol officer. Knocks and talks usually amounted to nothing of consequence.

It was a hot summer Tuesday when officers Moffat and Wallis parked their patrol car in front of the three-story, five-bedroom, Chestnut Hill home. It was not an impressive house by comparison to some of the homes in the community, but the officers knew that the neighborhood it was in gave it far more value than it would have two miles east of where it was.

Examining the building as they went, the two officers casually strode up the front porch stairs one behind the other. They were not expecting anything decidedly different from previous experiences of this kind. Officer Moffat rang the bell and knocked while Officer Wallis stood back and watched for movement at the front window. When there was no timely response, Officer Wallis left the porch and walked over to the garage on the right side of the house. He reached down and gave the garage door a tug, but found it locked. By now, Officer Moffat had abandoned the front porch and started a clockwise walk around the house. The left side of the house appeared to be more conducive to foot traffic, making it a shorter path to the rear of the home. Officer Wallis followed his partner's lead for the same reason. There was no fence to negotiate, so they moved around the house with ease, trying to see inside at every available window; nothing indicated anyone was home. Officer Moffat ascended the stairs of the large back porch that spanned the width of the house and knocked at the door while Officer Wallis continued to peer into available windows. Officer Moffat soon gave up knocking, and just by chance gave the doorknob a twist. To his surprise, the door opened.

Officer Moffat immediately flagged his partner and softly called, "it's open." Officer Moffiat pushed the door open and peered inside while Officer Wallis hurried to a position opposite his partner, both on either side of the doorway. Neither officer was alarmed enough to ready their weapons, thinking the owner neglected to lock the door.

"Police. Is anyone home?" Officer Moffat loudly announced from just outside the rear door.

No response came from inside the home despite two more challenges from Officer Moffat. Convinced no answer was forthcoming, Officer Moffat led his partner through the doorway and into a spacious kitchen that took up much of the left rear of the house. After taking several steps inside, they stopped to listen for sounds of movement anywhere else in the house, but they heard nothing. Officer Moffat leaned into the open door of a small study for a quick glance but saw nothing to warrant his attention. Seconds later, they continued into a hallway moving toward the front of the house. Officer Moffat hesitated and called out again.

"This is the police. We're coming in."

Again, there was no response. The officers began to move forward with more resolution. They came to a stop at a central intersection of the house where a staircase to the upper levels was off their right. Just before the staircase was a large entryway to the living. The dining room was to the left, opposite the living room. Officer Moffat stepped into the living room and gave it a quick examination before turning back toward his partner who was moving cautiously toward the back end of the dining room.

"What the . . .?" Officer Moffat began as he moved to his partner's side.

Lying on the floor near the head of an eight-place dining table was the body of a man who looked to have been dead for more than a day. The neck wound and the small pool of dried blood on the floor beside him was a clear indicator of the cause of death. Officers Moffat and Wallis were sure they had stumbled upon a murder.

Minutes later, a half dozen police officers worked to secure the crime scene. Nearly an hour out, more than a dozen officers scoured the house and grounds. By that time, officers Moffat and Wallis had learned much about the victim, Boyd Rankin, and what had likely happened in that house.

Boyd Rankin was a 39-year-old divorced bank manager with a 21-year-old girlfriend currently attending Temple University. His marriage ended in divorce five years after it began; he was 32 at the end and she was 27. They had no children. Their professions came first, so by the time it became financially practical for them to start a family, they both were having affairs with other, more desirable partners.

Since the end of his marriage, Boyd Rankin had been enjoying his new status as a single male. He had gone through several different relationships with a couple them overlapping. His latest romantic relationship with Angela Banks was just over one year old now, and it was Boyd's sudden failure to answer or return her calls over the weekend that prompted her concern. She was even more worried when he failed to appear for work yesterday and today. She and the assistant manager at the bank where Boyd worked agreed to file a missing persons' report together. Given the length of time that he had gone missing, the police believed they had ample cause to do a knock and talk. Officers Moffat and Wallis were the unit closest to Boyd Rankin's home and were given the assignment.

During the hour and half long forensic and criminal investigation of Boyd Rankin's home, information about his demise filtered out to Officers Moffat and Wallis. They learned that Boyd Rankin's car was missing, along with the money in his wallet. And judging by the state of his study and bedroom, whatever money and valuables he kept there was also gone. The absence of signs of a break-in led the detectives to suspect that Boyd was the victim of a home invasion and that his car was probably the primary target. The fingerprints found throughout the house were typical of the occupant and his usual guests. The detectives assumed the assailant must have worn gloves or wiped his or her prints away. There was no evidence of a physical altercation anywhere in the house, and he had not been shot. They felt that Boyd had been physically overpowered by one or more intruders. Boyd Rankin was tall and physically fit. It seemed unlikely that a single unarmed intruder could have overpowered him without disturbing any of the nearby furniture. The idea that he suffocated on his own blood was evidenced by the small amount of blood on the floor and the supposition that his windpipe must have been punctured. How that was accomplished was their biggest unanswered question.