The next morning, Burke and Powell were already in the interrogation room when Slaughter entered. She greeted them with a “good morning, detectives” and garnered no upward glance and no more than a grunt.
After several seconds of silence, Slaughter said “okay. I’m not here to step on any toes but we’re in this little dance together so as I see it, there are two choices.”
“1. We can pool our collective resources and solve these murders.”
“Or 2. We can continue to measure ourselves.” She stood up, leaned over, put her hands on the table and through gritted teeth said “and I can tell you for a fact, gentlemen. MINE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS.”
Powell, clearly intimidated, was the first to capitulate. He handed Slaughter the photos from the first crime scene, saying that somehow they had been placed into the dead files. He picked up the next file, handed it to her and she began to read.
The second and third murders were a married couple named George and Lisa Moore. George owned a Health Food Store and Lisa worked for a local cell phone company.
It was a first marriage for him and a second for her. An immediate suspect was of course, her ex-husband but he was quickly cleared as he was out of town and had an air-tight alibi.
Crime scene photos showed they were found outside next to their pool, laying side by side as if intentionally posed. Both had ice pick wounds to their left ear. There were no signs of forced entry although it wouldn’t have been difficult for somebody to gain access through the back yard.
Nothing outside or inside was missing or disturbed. There were no signs of a struggle. Neighbors were questioned but heard and saw nothing. Friends and relatives were questioned about any known vendettas or problems but there were none to their knowledge.
Their autopsies showed that they weren’t killed at the same time. George had been killed first and a reasonable guess of five hours later, Lisa was killed. This meant that the killer either lay in wait for Lisa to come home or returned.
The fourth victim was an elderly widow who lived alone in a retirement community. It was an open secret that she had been an alcoholic for most of her life. There had been instances where she had fallen and injured herself while in a drunken stupor but her family always made excuses and turned a blind eye to her drunkenness.
An autopsy revealed that she was clearly inebriated when she was killed but even with her known lifestyle, it would have been difficult for her to accidentally fall onto an ice pick.
Her family denied her alcoholism to the police as did her friends and balked when it was suggested that maybe she had progressed to the next step and sought other outlets for a high, therefore becoming the victim of a bad drug deal.
That scenario wasn’t entirely plausible due to the lack of anything substantial missing from her home. Being elderly, she didn’t own any of the attractive and easy to fence modern technological mainstays, such as a computer or fancy phone. Most drug users and alcoholics will take anything, however the three gallons of Vodka found under the kitchen sink and her purse with credit cards and cash, more or less ruled that out.
The front door was unlocked, leading detectives to believe that she, like the other victims, knew her killer and invited them into her home.
Victim number five was a man named David Ludlow. He was in his early sixties and had some degree of success, writing books and selling them on a local website. He had been married in his early life. It had ended when his wife became involved with another man but they remained cordial through the years, due to sharing a son.
Years later, while on a skiing trip in Colorado, he met a woman from his hometown, named Candy. She was a successful bank executive, who had clawed her way from a teller to the top of the corporate ladder. They had a whirlwind romance and were married just six months after they met.
He had a reputation for having a wry sense of humor which was off-putting to some but his inner circle of friends were a tight-knit group. Nobody had any idea why anybody would want to kill him. When Candy came home from work she found him sitting in a chair, still holding his favorite guitar.
There was no doubt that Candy was at work when David was killed, so it was yet another head-scratching mystery.
Slaughter put the file down and said “any thoughts? Any commonalities that you could find in your investigations? Did they go to the same church? Did they use the same bank? The same dry cleaner? Did they buy their booze from the same ABC store?”
Burke said “we couldn’t find any connection. They seem to be pretty random.”
Slaughter said “No homeless people have been killed. No convenience store workers have been killed. No innocent victims, standing on the corner have been killed. All of these people were killed in their own homes.”
“These are not random killings. These people were carefully chosen.”