Thursday 20 – Saturday 22 October 2016
The sleeping bag hit the shoulder of the road with a distinct sloppy thud. Witnesses to the dump wouldn’t be able to provide much information regarding the vehicle or the driver who pushed it from the nondescript, black SUV. He’d removed the licence plates, and there was nothing else on the car that would lead to it being identified by anyone.
The four young hikers approached the red sleeping bag with caution. Unsure of what they might find wrapped within it, they crouched around it and filled with the fastener, parting the zipper’s teeth ever so slowly. A small child’s hand flopped out of the bag, and sent all four hiker reeling backwards, and screaming in terror. A quick test of the child’s pulse, and they called the emergency services, demanding that the police come out immediately to rescue them from their hideous find.
By the time the police arrived at the scene of the body dump, Simeon Mathieu had driven back across the state line, wiped down and discarded the SUV, and was casually eating a burger meal at his local diner.
* * * * *
‘Detective Woodrow Kane, everybody,’ the police media liaison officer announced to the waiting mass of journalists and reporters. Woodrow Kane took his position, front and centre, hoping he was fully prepared for the onslaught of accusatory questions that would be fired at him. The detectives he worked the closest with, Bonnie Teller and Ryan Reid, stood in the corner by the door away from the direct line of sight of the media representatives. Kane straightened his tie, smoothed over the notes he’d laid on the desk in front of him, and cleared his throat in preparation for his statement. He scanned the faces in the room, some of them familiar, and waited for their silence to fill the media room.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll hold your questions until I’ve read my statement . . . late this afternoon, at around fifteen hundred hours, 3pm, the body of a young boy wrapped in a sleeping bag, was thrown from a black SUV, approximately forty miles over the state line. There were four witnesses to the dumping of the body, however, no suspect has been apprehended. Although the young victim was discovered across the state line, our colleagues have called my team in to assist in the investigation, as the injuries sustained by the young victim bear a striking similarity to previous cases that my team and I have investigated. We are consulting with our colleagues with the possibility of taking the lead in this new investigation, pending reports from forensics and medical examiner. We’re in the process of identifying the young boy, and that may take some time, as you well know, we have an extraordinary number of missing persons’ cases, and a large number of those cases are children.’
A reporter in the front row interrupted Kane’s statement.
‘Is this the work of the same person who has taken twenty-one young boys off of our streets, assaulted, murdered, and dumped them in the national forest, Detective Kane? Is it The Trapper?’
‘Patrick, I did ask that you hold your questions until the end.’
‘Come on, Kane, we go through this same routine every time a boy goes missing. You failed to protect twenty-one young boys in the past. You failed to apprehend this murderous cretin, and it’s on your head that this new kid has died.’
Kane, despite the reporter’s words smarting like a slap to his face, maintained an air of calm and dignity.
‘Patrick, I’m as angry as you, and everyone else, about the fact that we were unable to apprehend the killer when we last had the chance. Unfortunately, though, we did, and he’s still out there somewhere. We can’t make assumptions that this new case is any more the work of the person you’ve labelled The Trapper than any of the other cases that bore similarities to his previous victims. You’re jumping to conclusions, Patrick, you’re scaremongering, and you’ve got no concern for the previous victims, or the current victims that we’re dealing with. Now please, stop being such an ass, ask sensible questions for your story, or get the hell out of here and let the serious journalists do their jobs.’ Once more, the room echoed with silence.
Teller grinned. She admired her boss, and if she was completely truthful, she’d have admitted a long time ago that she had a thing for Kane. She held off applauding him for the outburst, elbowing Reid in the ribs instead.
‘Oh he got that shithead good,’ she whispered to Reid.
* * * * *
They sat in their lounge room in the dark. Other houses in the neighbourhood were lit up like Christmas trees, but the Lawson residence was in total darkness. Huddled on the sofa, Mark wrapped his arms around his wife, and held off the rest of the world for her. Benji had been gone far too long for them to ever believe he’d be found alive, and with the news that a young boy’s body had been thrown from a car, it seemed to Mark and Kathy that the only news they’d receive about their son would be bad.
Kathy’s cell phone buzzed on the coffee table. She leaned forward, breaking Mark’s grip on her, and reached for the device. The display showed Woodrow Kane’s name and cell number. Hesitantly, she accepted the call.
‘Hello, Detective Kane. You have news?’
Mark studied his wife’s face by the glow of her cell phone screen.
. . . To be continued . . .