“Sam, that package…”
The sweeper turned the package over in his hands while Sydney spoke.
He did not hear much, he was concerned about Miss Parker, knowing *his*
ass was on the line if she did not return alive.
“I’m sorry, Sydney. Did you say something?”
“I asked if you had any new findings from Broots?”
“No. He’s still running searches and diagnostics or something.” Sam rubbed
“When’s the last time you slept, Sam.”
“Um, what day is this?”
“Sam, get some sleep. You can start fresh tomorrow,” Sydney suggested,
sounding very Ph.D.
The sweeper nodded and slowly rose from the chair, the package still
in his hands. He knew Sydney had been watching him toy with it, but as
much as he trusted Sydney, the package was staying with him. He left Sydney’s
office, quietly, and began down the hall to the elevator.
Something made contact with his chest and he stopped. Broots. Sam sighed.
“Uh, I’m sorry, Sam. But I just found something.”
“On Miss Parker?”
“Well, not exactly. More like, whoever it is that is shutting us out
of the system.”
“Right. Um, we can’t talk here. Come on.” Broots led Sam back down the
corridor, away from the elevator, and into his office.
“What, Mr. Broots?” Sam sighed, pushing the door closed.
"We're waiting for Sydney." A knock was heard at the door.
"Come in," Broots responded.
"You wanted to show me something, Broots?" Sydney asked as
Broots said nothing, but motioned for Sam and Sydney to step closer.
He wrote a code name on a piece of paper: BANE. The three men shared a
look of mutual terror and whispered simultaneously: “Cox.”
* * * * * * * * *
Day 6 -- Saturday
Local Police Station
Socorro, New Mexico
“Detective Sydor,” he answered his ringing phone. “Yes, ma’am… What?…
That’s not possible… You’re sure?… All right, where?” Sydor scribbled
an address on a notepad and tore the sheet from the stack as he hung up
the phone. “Come on, J.T. We have a witness to question.”
Shrugging, Nieuwendyk rose and followed his partner.
* * * * * * * * *
Socorro, New Mexico
10 Blocks from Anderson-Dean University Campus
Miss Parker saw the car approaching and sent the signal to Jarod. Sydor
stepped from the car and strode to the door.
“You’re the anonymous caller?” he asked.
“The witness is this way.” Miss Parker ignored his question and led the
two detectives through a corridor and down a flight of stairs, through
another corridor and into a darkened room. A small light cast an eerie,
faint glow over a tall man in the center of the room.
“Can we get some light in here?” Sydor asked, straining his eyes to see
Miss Parker hit a switch and fluorescent lights buzzed to life overhead.
“He’s not a witness! He’s a suspect!” Sydor snapped.
“You are right about one thing,” Jarod began, stepping into the room,
pulling a red, silk scarf through his fingers, “Mr. Van Allen is not a
witness. However,” Jarod pushed Sydor into a nearby, wooden chair, “you
are wrong about him being a suspect.” A glance to Miss Parker sent her,
Craig, and Nieuwendyk from the room into the corridor, and into a side
room behind a two-way mirror.
Sydor shifted in the chair, uncomfortable about being alone in the room
with this man. “Who are you?”
“That is of little importance, now, isn’t it?” Jarod tied the red scarf
around Sydor’s neck.
“Ah, ah, ah. You only speak to respond to direct questions.” Jarod pulled
the shaken detective from the chair to stand in the center of the room.
“And, for each incorrect answer, one article of clothing will be removed,”
Jarod explained. He waited for the tap against the mirror that signaled
everything was set, and removed the detective’s weapons, phone, and handcuffs,
tossing them aside. “First question: Where is your ex-wife?”
“I don’t know.”
“Wrong.” Jarod removed Sydor’s shoes and socks. “You called her last
week, in Phoenix.” Jarod stuffed the socks into the shoes and shoved the
shoes across the floor. “Next question: Where were you the night Michele
Maldonado was killed?”
Sydor swallowed. “I was with my partner, J.T., answering a call.”
Jarod clucked his tongue in a *tsk* and wagged his finger at the barefoot
detective. “I’m sorry, that’s wrong too.” He pulled Sydor’s shirt free
and tossed it in the general direction of the shoes. “You’re not doing
very well. Maybe I should ask an easier question. What’s my name?”
Sydor gave Jarod a look that screamed *you’re kidding, right?*
“Failure or refusal to respond is the same as a wrong answer.” Jarod
took a step toward the detective.
“Wait. Your name is Jarod.”
“Very good. Next question: How did you know to suspect Craig Van Allen
in the murders?”
Sydor’s eyes fell to the floor. “There was evidence to support the accusation.”
Sydor raised his head as he spoke, confidently making eye contact with
“I’m sorry, wrong again.” Jarod pulled out the recently honed, butterfly
knife Nieuwendyk had given him, expertly flipped it open, and shredded
Sydor’s pants. The detective now stood in his undergarments with a red,
silk scarf around his neck. “The only evidence that would have linked
Craig to the third victim was not known until *after* you picked him up.
The ID on Maldonado hadn’t come back and the only way for you to know
that she was his ex-girlfriend would be if *you* were the killer!”
“Preposterous!” the detective snarled at the accusation.
“Wrong again!” Jarod slid the butterfly knife under the hem of Sydor’s
undershirt and cut straight up to the neck, then pulled the shirt from
the man’s arms. “You hated your wife for what she did to you! But, instead
of killing her, you found women who looked like her and killed them!”
Jarod’s accusatory tone struck hard.
“NEVER! I never killed those women. They did it to themselves. I tried
to help them.”
Jarod stepped in front of Sydor, the butterfly knife poised to remove
the last article of clothing. “We found your wedding band at the Maldonado
scene, and several witnesses saw you arguing with each of the women the
day before each was killed. Your partner found a box full of red, silk
scarves in the trunk of your car. All the evidence points to you!”
A long pause settled over the room between Jarod’s tirade and Sydor’s
Finding his voice again, the detective spoke, “They were all just like
her. Beautiful, happy, nice, then they turned on me.” His eyes narrowed
and his voice deepened. “I had no choice. I tried to give them a scarf
like I gave her, but they rejected me. You see? I had to do it. I tied
the scarves around their necks to show them how nice they looked, and
they still rejected me. So, I tied them tighter, until they stopped fighting.”
Sydor’s eyes seemed to glaze over and lose focus.
“Why did you leave them naked, outside?” Jarod coaxed, his voice calmer
“To humiliate them.” Sydor’s voice held a maniacal timbre. “They didn’t
deserve the pretty clothes they had.” His head fell to his chest, his
arms limp at his sides.
Jarod tapped on the mirror and waited for Nieuwendyk, Miss Parker, and
Craig to enter the room. “Miss Parker, get the car ready. Craig, help
J.T. with Daniel.” Jarod watched the two men help the wilted detective
into a robe and remove the scarf from his neck. He collected the video
recording and dropped it into an envelope.
“Ready, Jarod?” Craig asked, stepping into the corridor behind Nieuwendyk
“Yeah. Let’s go.”
* * * * * * * * *
Socorro, New Mexico
Anderson-Dean University Campus
“So, what’s going to happen to him?” asked Craig, sipping water.
“He’ll spend the rest of his life under close psychiatric observation
and care. He has a lot to work out. He may never get over the fact that
his wife left him, but, my guess would be, his psychiatric problems are
much deeper than that.” Jarod glanced to the young woman with the shining
eyes and warm smile as she approached. “Lea, how are you?”
“I’m doing well.”
“You did the right thing reporting those scenes. I know it wasn’t pleasant.”
“I’m okay. I have Craig to talk to about it. I think I’ll be fine.” She
took Craig’s hand in hers and squeezed it. “What about the last victim?”
Nieuwendyk spoke up to answer this question. “No one’s claimed the body.
There’s nothing more we can do. We’ll have to bury her.”
“That’s so sad. To die alone,” Lea commented.
“I wish there was more we could do, but with no evidence, and no further
murders, we have little to go on and the case will go cold.” Nieuwendyk
knew his explanation did not assuage the young woman, but it was the best
he could do; it was the truth.
Lea nodded, understanding the situation better. “Jarod,” she waited for
his acknowledgement, “where’s your friend?”
“Oh. Miss Parker? She had some important personal matters to attend to.”
A lie, but there was little else he could say.
“Tell her ‘thank you’ when you talk with her again.”
“For me too,” Craig added, extending his right hand to Jarod.
“I’ll do that.” Jarod accepted the handshake and collected his belongings
to embark on his next journey.
“Thank you, Jarod. While I hate doing this to my partner, I know it’s
for the best.” Nieuwendyk shook Jarod’s hand.
“You’re welcome.” Slowly, Jarod walked away from the small group, brought
closer together through a horrible tragedy.