Friday 18 – Saturday 19 October 2013
Frank O’Brien and his partner, Officer Max Deacon, had been at 1225 Parker Way for fifteen minutes before Detectives Hugh Scott and Amy Griffin arrived on the scene.
‘Here we go, Deacon. The geniuses from detective squad are here,’ Frank said with contempt in his voice. He watched the detectives get out of their car, and engage in a brief chat before joining he and Max.
‘What have we got, boys?’ Scott asked.
Frank sighed. He hated the patronising way many detectives, like Scott, dealt with other cops, but he begrudged letting Scott see how much it bothered him.
‘There’s a lot of blood in there, but no body. And before you ask, yes, we were careful about where we stepped. There’s some duct tape around the arms of a dining chair, a bloodied knife . . . it looks bad, but I don’t know that there’s enough blood there for her to have bled out. Husband called it in, but he’s not here. Oh, and we’ve called crime scene to come process the house.’
Scott nodded as he took down notes.
‘Sarge?’ asked Griffin. O’Brien gave her his full attention. ‘What’s your take on this?’
O’Brien gave due consideration to her question before he attempted an answer.
‘My gut says the wife is still alive. I don’t think this is a homicide just yet.’
‘What about the husband?’ she asked. If Scott had asked, Frank knew he would have shot off a nasty answer to the question, implying that the detectives should do the detecting given that’s what they get paid for, but he liked Griffin. She never forgot where she started her police career: in a blue uniform, pounding the streets, and filling out paper upon paper for what seemed insignificant complaints.
‘I don’t know, Detective Griffin. It wouldn’t be the first time a husband harmed a wife –’
A grey Audi sped over the verge and on to the lawn, the driver throwing open the door and running towards the front door of the house.
‘NORA. NORA. Where the hell is my wife? NORA.’
Deacon intercepted the screaming Wade Aitcheson before he could step foot inside the house.
‘Get off me you BASTARD,’ arms flailing and fighting against the officer, Wade yelled at the officer. The distraught husband stood little chance of getting by Deacon, who spent his high school and college years as a running back for his campus football teams. With little time to play football, these days Deacon maintained his fitness by working out in the gym, and for a man his size, he was a strong runner.
‘Mr. Aitcheson . . . Mr. Aitcheson, it’s really not a good idea for you to go inside the house. It’s a crime scene, our people need to process it, and your wife isn’t in there.’
Wade stopped fighting against Deacon the moment he heard that Nora wasn’t in the house.
‘Then where is she?’ he asked again.
‘We don’t know, sir, but we’re going to find out,’ replied Deacon. ‘I need you to be calm, Mr. Aitcheson. Can you do that for me?’
‘Okay, I’m going to step back from you now, sir. Just remain calm or I’ll have to cuff you. Do you understand what I’ve just told you?’
Again, Wade nodded. He was smart enough to understand that if Nora had been abducted, and he was arrested, then he’d be of no use to her.
Deacon took a step back from Aitcheson, and waited to see how the man would react. Wade remained still. He took a few deep breaths to try to calm himself but it did little to help. O’Brien, Scott, and Griffin joined Deacon, and surrounded Wade Aitcheson. Scott turned to a new page in his well-worn notebook, ready to take down any information that the husband could give them. He nodded at Griffin to begin.
‘Mr. Aitcheson, tell me what happened.’ She spoke using a kind but firm tone. There was no time to waste mollycoddling the man.
Aitcheson recounted the phone call he made at the art gallery. Scott noted down everything that Wade said, and how he behaved as he spoke. More often than Scott wanted to admit, it was the psychological aspect of a suspect that provided the leads the police needed to solve a case.
‘Mr. Aitcheson, I’m going to get a couple of officers to take you down to the station.’ Griffin waved to a couple of officers who had just arrived. They joined the group around Wade Aitcheson.
‘Guys, this is Wade Aitcheson. You need to take Mr. Aitcheson back to the station, and take his statement. I have a feeling that Mr. Aitcheson is going to vehemently protest about this, but he’s to be kept at the station until Detective Scott and I get back to speak with him. He is not under arrest, at the moment,’ Griffin looked Wade in the eye as she spoke, ‘but if he insists on causing a ruckus, then you are to arrest him. Is that clear, Mr. Aitcheson?’
Wade tried to protest but Griffin reiterated her point.
‘You will be arrested, Mr. Aitcheson. Is that clear?’
Aitcheson, defeated, nodded in agreement. ‘Yes, it’s clear.’
‘Good. He’s all yours, boys.’
Aitcheson was escorted to the police cruiser and driven away.
Scott put his notepad in the breast pocket of his jacket, and rubbed his hands together.
‘I want to get a look inside before forensics arrive, and kick us out of our own crime scene,’ said Scott. Griffin followed his lead into the house, leaving O’Brien and Deacon out the front.
‘Give it a couple of minutes, Deacon, and the two of them will be back out asking us for our opinions again.’
Deacon was lost in thought, and hardly noticed the absence of the detectives.
‘Maxie, where’s your head at?’ asked O’Brien.
Deacon slowly brought his attention back to the Aitcheson residence.
‘You know, Frank, I keep thinking that I’ve seen that set up somewhere before.’
‘What are you talking about?’
Deacon pointed to the front door. ‘Inside. How it was set up. The crime scene. There’s something very familiar about it.’
Whispering between themselves, Detectives Scott and Griffin returned to O’Brien and Deacon.
‘You are sure that you didn’t touch anything inside, aren’t you?’ Scott directed at O’Brien.
‘Are you questioning my professionalism, Scott?’ O’Brien was itching for a fight. Griffin interjected.
‘Not at all, Sarge. It’s just that the scene – ’
‘Looks like something you’ve seen before?’ Deacon interrupted.
‘Exactly,’ said Griffin.
‘It’s like the Pettit, Hamilton, Lawley, and Fisher scenes.’
‘Exactly like those scenes, Deacon. They happened years ago. What do you know about those cases, Deacon?’ asked Scott.
‘You’d be surprised, detective. You think we have a copycat?’
‘I’m worried that it’s more likely we’ve got the original,’ Scott said.
. . . To be continued . . .