Cristiãn 3: Prowl of the Vampire/Page 7 of 7

Chapter 10: New Orders

After waiting for nearly an hour, Agent Michael Janssen finally met with George Talbot, the FBI Assistant Director In-Charge of the New York Field Office, on Monday afternoon at a quarter to two. Director Talbot had been briefed by phone earlier that morning by Agent Janssen's immediate superior, the Assistant Director In-Charge of the Philadelphia Field Office, of his new findings. Director Talbot put off the meeting with Agent Janssen until the afternoon because of other commitments on his schedule, and because he considered the subject matter of low priority.

The Assistant Director In-Charge of the Philadelphia Field Office was not impressed with the theory that an interstate rampage killer was somewhere out there poking holes in people's necks, and Director Talbot was even less so. They suspected that there had to be a less colorful explanation behind the two murders. That is why Assistant Director Talbot was not inclined to adjust his schedule. He managed to leave a briefing early to give Agent Janssen ten minutes of his time.

"I understand you believe there is interstate rampage killer on the loose in New York," Director Talbot stated as Agent Janssen walked across the office to the chair in front of his desk.

Agent Janssen was surprised by Director Talbot's abruptness. He was not expecting Director Talbot to know the particulars of his request for this meeting. He was told by the FBI Assistant Director of the Philadelphia Field Office that Director Talbot would be informed of his coming, but his reluctance to give him a prompt meeting made Agent Janssen believe the details were omitted in that communication.

"I'm not sure the words rampage killer is a correct identifier," Agent Janssen hesitantly corrected.

Director Talbot pointed to the chair in front of his desk, where Agent Janssen promptly seated himself.

"Okay then, what is the correct identifier?" Director Talbot demanded as he studied Agent Janssen from across his desk.

"I don't know," Agent Janssen answered.

Assistant Director Talbot was a stern man. It was a description that was in keeping with his reputation. He was around fifty, tall, thin and in possession of a thick crop of light gray hair. Agent Janssen had seen the Assistant Director multiple times in the past, but this was his first one-on-one meeting with him.

"Well, the New York Police Department have been notified of the possible connection between the killing in Philadelphia and the drug dealer here," Director Talbot sighed with some reservation.

"Director, I think it's more than a possibility, and I think we need to assign some agents to it," Agent Janssen urged.

Director Talbot leaned onto his desktop and looked hard into Agent Janssen's eyes and found him steadfast and determined.

"I can't assign agents to a search for a killer who may not even exist," Director Talbot returned with a steady gaze.

"Sir," Agent Janssen returned with alarm. "We have two dead bodies that says this killer does exist."

"Those two bodies may have been, and most likely were, the victims of two separate killers," Director Talbot countered.

Agent Janssen was taken aback by the Assistant Director's casual dismissal. He realized that his theory was not being received well by his superiors.

"The body in Philadelphia and the body here have identical wounds," Agent Janssen instructed with authority. "And we have a car that connects the two cities."

"The wounds are similar, but we don't know that they are identical. And the car proves nothing," Director Talbot fired back. "Stolen cars are driven across state lines all the time," he added. "And when have you ever known a killer to commit multiple identical murders?" he asked quizzically.

Agent Janssen could not believe what he was hearing.

"Maybe … maybe we're looking at a serial killer."

Once again, Director Talbot was astonished by what he was hearing, and his face immediately displayed his disbelief.

"The victim here was a drug dealer," Director Talbot returned with shock that he had to point out the obvious. "A witness said that there were three men involved and the one who got away was looking to make a buy. One of the victims was shot through the head and the other one was probably stabbed with something like an ice pick or a pen," he continued, attempting to restrain his irritation. "These were street thugs killing each other. I think what we're looking at a here, Agent Janssen, is a coincidence."

"What about the similarities to the Grasso and Greenbelt Nine murders?" Agent Janssen returned, swiftly trying to salvage his argument.

"Those killings happened here—before the Boyd Rankin murder," Director Talbot argued.

Agent Janssen looked away, assessing his position with Assistant Director Talbot. The Director clearly did not buy his theory that a lone killer robbed and murdered Boyd Rankin in Philadelphia, stole his car, abandoned it here in New York and then killed a drug dealer and his armed guard on Friday night.

"Maybe he's coming home," Agent Janssen hypothesized with dismay. "I don't know why … but I … feel it's all connected."

"No one man killed Tommie Grasso and seven of his thugs," Director Talbot asserted. "And Grasso and his men were shot to death. You're grasping at straws."

Agent Janssen's frustration was palpable. Director Talbot had expressed credible counter arguments to his theory, but none of it dissuaded him from his conviction that a dangerous killer was on the loose in New York City.

"With all due respect, Sir, I think you're wrong," Agent Janssen argued. "I think this is one guy; I think he's here for a reason, and I believe he's going to kill again. We need to open an investigation to find the link."

"Well then, Agent Janssen, that's your new assignment," Director Talbot returned with indifference. "Find the link."

"I'm due back in Philadelphia tomorrow," Agent Janssen responded, suddenly aware of the Director's instruction.

"Not anymore," Director Talbot asserted calmly. "I got you for two weeks. I've already called Commissioner Murphy. You're embedded in with the NYPD's major case squad. They're taking over the investigation of the two drug dealers. If you find something more, I'll give you more. Until then, you're on your own."

Agent Janssen had no response.

LINE BREAK

Detective Vera Washington made an uncharacteristic early departure from work Monday afternoon. She was thought of as a workaholic among most officers who knew her. She was known to pursue criminals and suspects with a vengeance. Those who knew Vera personally understood that she took delight in arresting people. She tried to hide her fondness for being the instrument of someone else's downfall, but that was an open secret among those who worked alongside her.

It was not that Vera had a particular hatred for criminals; she disliked people in general. Crime simply provided her with a legal outlet to act on her disdain for others. It was a quirk in her character that her fellow officers recognized and ignored. It was not a trait that was unique within the police force. She blended in nicely with officers who had a general disdain for the public. Most police officers thought of her as an effective cop and left her to do the work with her usual zeal for the ruination of a human's life. The only time an arrest darkened Vera's mood was when the person she handcuffed was discovered to be innocent of the crime.

When Vera left the station early Monday afternoon, she did not go home. She was working a personal investigation There was no criminal complaint attached to the person she was investigating. Vera was on a mission to uncover the mystery of Cassidy Tremaine, and her next stop in that investigation was the Chief Medical Examiner Building. Getting there before Dr. Janice McCullough left for the day was her reason for leaving early.

"Come in," Janice called out.

Janice was sitting behind her desk inputting her notes into her computer when she heard the knock at her door. When the door opened, she looked up to see Dt. Vera Washington coming through.

"Hi," a surprised Janice greeted.

Janice was surprised because she had never spoken with Vera one-on-one before. She had given briefings to her along with members of her team, but the two of them never interacted beyond stilted greetings and blunt questions. So, it seemed out of the ordinary to see Vera walking into her office alone.

"Do you have a few minutes?" Vera asked.

"Sure," Janice returned with a halfhearted smile. "Come in."

Vera promptly closed the door behind her and stepped quickly toward Janice. Janice noticed her expedient movements and thought that Vera's presence in her office was more business than casual. She directed Vera to the chair in front of her desk.

"How can I help you?"

"You did the examinations on the Greenbelt 9?" Vera asked.

"Yes," Janice concurred.

"What can you tell me about the bite marks you found on four of the victims?"

Janice was immediately surprised and relieved to hear Vera's question. She was surprised because it was an old case that Vera had no connection to, and she was relieved because it was not something personal about the two of them.

"Well, it was never decided that they were actually bite marks," Janice explained, without hesitation.

"Did you tell Tremaine about the markings on the bones?" Vera anxiously asked.

"Yes, I did," Janice returned. "She was very interested in those indentations."

The subject had taken on a whole new level of intrigue for Janice. The Greenbelt 9 case was a puzzle that she never solved, and Cassidy's shared interest in the puzzle gave the memory of the case an added thrill.

"Interested how?" Vera asked sharply.

"Oh well, Dt. Tremaine wanted to know what made those indentations," Janice explained as though she were relating an amusing anecdote. "She had me searching high and low for the answer to that question."

"And did you find an answer?" Vera pursued without amusement.

"No," Janice retorted with amused excitement. "If anything, I found more questions."

"What do you mean?" Vera asked, leaning slightly forward.

For the first time, Janice noticed Vera's extreme curiosity. The fact that she had a receptive audience added to her amusement. The idea that Vera's query was an attempt to find dirt on Cassidy never entered her mind. Janice knew that Cassidy had no connection to the victims or the criminals in this case, and that she was every bit as invested in finding answers to these questions as Vera appeared to be now.

"The same indentation was found on Albert Haynes' radius bone," Janice answered with an amazed expression.

"Albert Haynes?" Vera asked. "The guy that Cassidy shot after he killed her partner?" She demanded.

"One and the same," Janice confessed with a smile and a shrug.

"You did that autopsy?" a surprised Vera asked.

"No, but I read the report," Janice explained. "Dt. Tremaine was really intrigued by that."

"You told Cassidy that?" Vera queried with a stunned expression.

"Yeah, I told you, she was … obsessed about those indentations," Janice lectured. "She wanted to solve that puzzle even more than I did."

"Obsessed how?" Vera pressed.

"She wanted to exhume the body," Janice blurted with astonishment. "But I told her I couldn't do that. It wasn't my autopsy."

Vera was stunned into silence by that report. She was now convinced that the indentations was the link that the FBI agent was researching, and she now believed that Cassidy knew something about Tommie Grasso's murder that she was keeping to herself.