It is surprisingly easy to pick a victim. The real problem is waiting for the one you've chosen to be sufficiently frightened before killing them. The waiting can be a pain in the ass.
Standing in the bedroom doorway, Detectives Paul Turner and Buck Fenwick gazed at the dead body. Neither of them had gaped at a murder scene in years, but Turner thought that if he was going to gape at one, this was it. He could see blood covering or splashed on or flecked over every surface. The man who had become a pincushion for the killer lay in the middle of the floor. He had bled copiously from stab wounds on his face, neck, chest, arms, stomach, thighs, and calves.
Fenwick said, "I hate to go too far out on a limb here, but my guess is that we have a very, very, very, very, very angry killer."
"That's so like you," Turner said, "always jumping to wild conclusions."
"I feel philosophical angst when I don't jump to conclusions."
"I hope that isn't catching. Anybody been in here?"
Fenwick wrinkled up his nose. "It smells like piss."
The dead man's wet and stained boxer shorts were the only clothing he wore. They were soaked, but they weren't red. Turner knew it wasn't blood.
Tommy Quiroz, one of the beat cops, said, "I know my training. I didn't touch anything. I waited for you guys."
"How'd you get in?" Fenwick asked.
"The gate was open. We found the entire security system completely shut down."
"What kind of system?" Turner asked.
"As far as we could tell, he had alarms on all the doors and windows, even those on the second floor. A surveillance camera on the street entrance."
Fenwick said, "Did the victim shut it down, and if so why? Although my money is on the killer shutting it down."
All of them moved aside for the personnel from the medical examiner's office and the evidence techs to enter the room.
Continuing to be careful not to step in any of the smears of blood, the three cops retreated to the hallway to wait for the experts to finish their work.
"Who is this guy?" Turner asked.
Tommy Quiroz flipped open his notebook. "I assume it's Craig Lenzati, the owner. We found a wallet in one of the other rooms. My partner says he was rich. Place is sure big enough for it to be true. I think I read something in the papers about this guy owning half the Loop."
"I always wondered who owned the other half," Fenwick said.
"It's nice of you to be willing to share," Turner said.
The mansion was south and east of the Loop, the Prairie Avenue District. These homes had been spared by the GreatChicago Fire back in 1871. The fire had traveled north and east from its origins on the site of the current Fire Academy between Jefferson and Clinton Streets just south of Taylor. Turner found it intriguing that they had decided to build the academy on the site of the conflagration's beginning.
All the rooms on the ground floor had high ceilings with windows close to the ground. Each room they'd seen had been crammed with antiques.
"Supposedly he owned a lot of real estate, businesses, and politicians." Quiroz leaned closer. "The rumor is the call reporting the crime came in from the police superintendent's office."
"As in Devin Nelson superintendent of police in Chicago?" Turner asked.
"How's old Devin?" Fenwick asked.
"I don't know if he asked for you specifically," Quiroz said.
"He doesn't call me much anymore," Fenwick said.
"The superintendent found the body?" Turner asked. "Was it someone in his office or the superintendent himself who called?"
"I don't know."
Fenwick said, "We need to find out the sequence of events and who was involved in them, even if it includes everyone in the superintendent's office, which would be no bad thing. Locking up bureaucrats should earn me several merit badges."
"I never knew you were a Boy Scout," Turner said.
"I have many secrets," Fenwick replied. "What pisses me off is top police brass being involved in anything I am connected with. I was depressed enough already when I got to work."
"About what?" Turner asked.
"Life," Fenwick replied.
"You've been testy since before roll call. I know you haven't been to court to get steamed at the judicial system lately. You haven't seen any of the higher-ups all day. Something wrong at home?"
Fenwick was taciturn and not forthcoming, which was unusual but not unheard of. Turner knew to let him be when this happened. Eventually his partner would tell him what was bothering him. For now his reticence was not interfering with their jobs and might lead to a slackening in Fenwick's output of ghastly humor, though Turner doubted he'd be that lucky.
Fenwick continued, "If I see too many idiots from downtown, I'm not sure I'll be up to making death scene, cute-corpse comments."
"I'm not sure that's all bad," Turner said.
Fenwick said, "I live to make cute-corpse comments. It's my métier."
Everyone present, the medical examiner, the crime lab and evidence technicians, the photographers, and the beat cops, all stared at Fenwick. He saw the attention and smiled, "What?"
"Buck," Turner said, "why don't you go back to making cute-corpse comments. It fills a need in your soul, and it might keep you from spouting out-of-character clichés. Philosophical angst? Métier?"
"You don't like my grim cop humor? Instead of philosophical angst, you want me to talk about hemorrhoids?"
"Specifically or generically?" the ME asked.
"Hell of a choice," an evidence tech said. "If we're voting, I vote for neither."
Turner said, "Buck, we've been partners for years. I'veheard more of your trenchant comments, gotten more information about your physical oddities, and heard more of your jokes than anyone except your wife."
"More. She cuts me off from sex if I keep it up."
Turner guffawed loud enough for beat cops in the living room to enter the hall and stare at him wonderingly. When Turner stopped chuckling, he said, "I certainly hope that was an inadvertent choice of words rather than a description of reality."
The ME said, "Did I hear right? Somebody's cutting off Fenwick's dick? I want to be there for that."
"That's not what he said," a crime scene tech said, "however, we could make that a threat to keep him from telling any more jokes. And we could offer to make it a complicated, painful operation using only a spoon and a fork."
"Count me out," Turner said. "The sight of blood makes me want to interrogate people."
An evidence tech said, "Maybe the killer heard one of Fenwick's jokes and went berserk."
"Can we get out of here?" Quiroz asked. "It's painful when you guys stand around trying to be funny. I don't get paid for listening to that crap."
"Let's cut off his nuts," Fenwick suggested.
The beat cops in the past few years had become less inclined to put up with Fenwick's jeers and sneers. One of them muttered in a stage whisper, "If we're lucky, he'll be next."
"I heard that," Fenwick snapped. "It's not funny."
The reference to being "next" was to a report in that morning's Chicago Tribune claiming that there was a serial killer on the loose who was targeting police detectives. The reporter had drawn a line from Boston to Gary, Indiana, with five stops in between, where police detectives had beenkilled. All had been in cities through which Interstate 90 ran. Starting in Boston and preceding west through Albany and Buffalo, New York; Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio; South Bend and Gary, Indiana, one cop in each city had been stabbed multiple times. The murders had occurred once every six months over the past three years. If the killer was on schedule, according to the report, he or she would strike within the next week to ten days and the next major city west on the Interstate was Chicago. While the cop profiles in each city had not matched perfectly, the parallels the reporter had drawn between the descriptions and lives of the victims had been numerous and unsettling. Few cops might admit it, but Turner guessed most detectives in Chicago had checked to see if they matched the profile of the victims. Turner and Fenwick had each met some of the criteria.
Unfortunately, no one could be certain what the discrepancies might portend. The reporter's analysis could be inaccurate, or incomplete, or dead wrong. Cops could hope they weren't in danger, but no one could be sure. Turner knew that if there was a serial killer, this doubt was one of the things he or she could prey upon.
SEX AND MURDER.COM. Copyright © 2001 by Mark Richard Zubro. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.