Home > I Am Death (Robert Hunter #7)(9)

I Am Death (Robert Hunter #7)(9)
Author: Chris Carter

Hunter and Garcia turned to it.

‘How did the perpetrator gain access to the house?’ Hunter asked.

‘As yet unknown,’ the captain replied. ‘There were no signs of forced entry but the back door was unlocked. The problem is, Ms. Bennett can’t remember if she had left it that way or not. But even if she hadn’t, Nicole could’ve unlocked it for some reason and forgot to relock it, there’s no way of confirming that. And there’s also the possibility that the perpetrator could’ve simply picked the lock. Forensics said that there was no damage to it, but we all know that with the right knowledge and tools, door locks aren’t that hard to breach.’

Hunter nodded and carried on reading.

‘Ms. Bennett called the police immediately after disconnecting with Nicole,’ Captain Blake added. ‘But by the time they got to the house – twenty-two minutes later – Nicole was gone.’

‘Any CCTV cameras around where the Bennetts live?’ Garcia asked.

Captain Blake shook her head. ‘None. You’d have to go all the way to the bottom of Hollywood Hills to find one.’

‘How about the boy she was babysitting?’ Hunter asked, reading from the file.

‘Joshua, three years old,’ the captain confirmed. ‘He wasn’t touched. They found him asleep upstairs, just the way his parents had left him. The boy heard and saw nothing.’

‘Are Nicole’s parents rich?’ Hunter asked.

‘Not by any stretch of the imagination. Father is a school-teacher. Mother works in a local supermarket.’

‘So the perpetrator broke into a wealthy family’s house to abduct the babysitter?’ Garcia this time. ‘Not the boy?’

‘As unnatural as it sounds, yes,’ Captain Blake answered, having one more sip of her coffee. ‘And that’s our first tricky question – why? Why complicate things for himself? He could’ve made his job a lot easier by taking Nicole either before she got to the Bennett’s house, or after she left. A simple approach and grab job. Why increase his risk by breaking into the house and taking her from inside?’

Both detectives understood their captain’s concern very well. They all knew a street abduction made collecting left-behind clues and evidence like fingerprints, fibers, hairs and so on infinitely harder, not to mention the fact that everything gets exposed to the elements. Clues could easily be blown away by a gust of wind, washed away by rain, or contaminated in many different ways. But if a perpetrator breaks into a confined space like a house, the risk of third-party contamination decreased exponentially, and he allowed the police an elements-free and much more focused area to work with.

‘One of two reasons,’ Garcia replied, first looking at Hunter, then back at Captain Blake. ‘He was either too stupid to figure out that he would increase his risk of being identified, or he was confident enough to know that he wouldn’t leave anything behind.’

Hunter nodded his agreement.

‘And if he was so bold as to be having a sandwich in the kitchen and to allow his victim to answer a phone call before making his move,’ Garcia carried on, ‘I don’t think that we’re looking at reason number one here, are we, Captain?’

Captain Blake finished her coffee, placing her cup on her desk.

‘No,’ she finally replied. ‘Forensics scrutinized the house for two whole days. Everything they found was matched either to the Bennetts or to Nicole Wilson herself. The unsub left absolutely nothing behind.’

‘Did the FBI get involved?’ Garcia asked.

The captain shook her head. ‘No. The Adult Missing Persons Unit didn’t request any help from the Bureau. As I’ve said, Nicole Wilson was twenty years old, not a minor, which means that the Lindbergh Law doesn’t apply to her.’

Hunter got to the end of the dossier. There was nothing else. ‘So when was her body found?’

Captain Blake walked back behind her desk, opened the top drawer on the left and retrieved two new files.

‘In the early hours of this morning. It was left on an empty field by Los Angeles International Airport. And if the house-break-in-sandwich-eating scenario wasn’t creepy enough – have a look at this shit.’




Squirm waited by the metal sink in the kitchen. He kept his eyes low, tracing the black-and-white squares on the old linoleum floor he had just cleaned to as much of a shine as it would go. His hands were shackled in front of him. A half-foot-long heavy metal bar kept them apart, but each end had been specially fitted with a rotating cuff, allowing Squirm’s hands some restricted movement, enough for him to handle a mop and scrubbing brushes. From the center of the metal bar, a long chain connected it to the loop that had been fixed into the east wall. Every room in the house had one, like power points, including the bathroom. Squirm was always shackled to a wall, no matter where he was. There were metal loops built into the walls in the basement too, but he was never allowed down there.

Actually, the basement scared Squirm speechless. Screams came from down there – desperate, full-of-fear-and-over-flowing-with-pain screams. The kind that would haunt one’s dreams for ever. He’d heard them for the past few days. A woman’s voice, pleading, begging for the man to let her go. She even yelled out her name once. Or at least Squirm thought it was her name – Nicole.

The screams stopped sometime yesterday. He hadn’t heard her since.

The man was also in the kitchen, sitting at the small, square breakfast table a few feet in front of Squirm. He was having his usual breakfast which consisted of a bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee, a few slices of cheese, a raw egg, and some toast. His full attention was on the newspaper on the table, by his coffee cup. He didn’t even seem to acknowledge the boy’s presence.

Squirm’s stomach growled like a confused dog and that made every muscle in his body go rigid. He was not supposed to make a sound. The man had told him that.

Terrified, the boy’s eyes flicked to the man for just a split second before quickly focusing on his manacled hands. The cuffs, even though they allowed him some movement, were fitted tight around his tiny wrists and his morning cleaning chores had dug them further into his flesh. A thin circle of fresh blood decorated each wrist like a crimson bracelet.

The man didn’t look up.

Squirm’s stomach growled again, this time for a while longer. He hadn’t eaten anything for a whole day. There had been no scraps left over for breakfast, lunch or dinner the day before. He was so hungry he could feel his legs weakening under him.

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