The body was taken apart, various bits and pieces were weighed, samples were taken, slides prepared and when it was done what was left of the poor bastard was sewn back up, which seemed like an empty gesture to Anderson.
The two women were washing their hands when the front desk clerk came in, deliberately not looking at the body.
“Are you Deputy Anderson?”
T.K. looked up. “Yeah.”
“There's a phone call for you, sounds urgent. I guess they've been calling around.”
“Just a sec.” She dried her hands and patted her pockets, realizing that she must have left her cell phone in the car. She followed the clerk out to the front desk and picked up the phone.
“I gotta tell you princess, you're not exactly knocking this out of the park just yet, you know?”
“No one else could be bothered to do any more than just leave you a message, but I figured you wouldn't wanna be left out. They found someone. Might be the guy, might not, but they're moving on him right now. The task force took over a church at 23rd and Olive Way, but the suspects lives closer to Madison Park. If you hustle you might catch up.”
“And if you get on camera tonight, take advantage of it. And it wouldn't kill you to put some fucking makeup on.”
Anderson hung up. She left a card with Steele and thanked her for her time and ran for the door.
T.K. had a dashboard light and used it as she drove up and over Capitol Hill, taking Madison to 23rd. The church was set back off the street and a privacy screen had been set up in the parking lot, a blacked out fence, to mask the police vehicles behind it. She parked on the other side of the street and entered the church. An officer checked her ID when she entered and had her sign in on a clipboard.
The interior of the church was a zoo. At the front of the sanctuary, directly beneath a cross with what looked like a robe draped over it, a small SWAT team was preparing, checking and double-checking equipment. They were Seattle SWAT officers, Anderson recognized one of them from a training exercise a year or so before. She remembered him because he had the worst teeth of anyone she'd ever actually met in person. She couldn't remember his name though.
And there, standing around a folding banquet table covered with maps and papers, was Wozcynski, a guy who was probably the SWAT commander, and two other men, one in a suit, one in jeans. Anderson approached the table.
Wozcynski, the son of a bitch, looked surprised for just an instant. Then he just moved on. “You made it, good. Guys, this is Anderson, she's the sicko specialist.” He grinned at her.
“Hopefully we aren't gonna need you after all.”
“What's going on?”
“One of the bodies had ID on it,” the detective said, looking at the table and moving some things around. “Wallet was left on the body. It had a bunch of expired stuff identifying the body potentially as a veteran named Walsh. Records search showed that the guy was homeless or indigent, but that he had been reported missing after missing a regular counseling session at the VA Hospital. The shrink was who reported him missing, it turns out, and his card was also in the wallet. We have a...” he flipped over a piece of paper, “Mathison Kelty, PhfuckinD, a psychologist specializing in PTSD and survivor's guilt, according to the internet.” Wozcynski finally met Anderson's eyes. “And right now he's number one with a bullet on my list of potentially sick bastards.”
“True story, wallet, ID, shrink. What's the problem?”
“I don't believe this. You going to arrest the guy who reported his patient missing?”
“No, we're going to bring him in and assume he could be dangerous. We'll only arrest him if he doesn't want to cooperate.”
“You know it's not him, right?”
“What's not him?”
“This guy's not your killer.”
“What?” asked the SWAT commander, finally taking an interest in conversation.
“It's either an accident or a set up.”
“What are you on about?” Wozcynski said.
“Look no one had any idea there was someone operating on this scale in this area until today. So our guy is not retarded. And if he accidentally left a wallet that had the vic's ID and his own fucking business card in it, then he'd have to be drooling idiot. Which our Unsub is not. Do the math.”
The men at the table were silent. Finally, the commander spoke again. “My men are professionals. They will bring this guy in whether he's a witness, a perp, or a goddamn victim. That's my job. You can sort out the rest of this mess.” The last line he directed at Wozcynski before he stalked off. The detective glared at Anderson.
Anderson turned to the two other men and offered her hand. The man in the suit was Creighton, a Seattle deputy police chief, and the man in the jeans was Wallace, a Seattle detective. They were there to keep Seattle in the investigation. They would conveniently vanish if everything went to hell and the credit would only go to Auburn PD. Seattle's SWAT would have only been acting under their direction. If everything worked out, however, everyone would get a piece of the pie and Seattle SWAT would be heroes, working “in close cooperation” with the investigation.
“I think we're just about ready to head out,” Wallace said. “You coming along?”
“That's what I'm here for,” Anderson said.
“You can ride with the chief and me if you like, we're just observing as well. I mean, y sorry, I assumed you weren't going in.”
“No, I'm not.”
Everyone stood around the table for another moment, in awkward silence. Then, with a brisk movement, Wozcynski rolled up his map and walked away. He yelled out to the church in general, “We leave in five!”
“FIVE!” replied the SWAT team in one loud, clear voice.
Anderson looked at the two Seattle cops.
“No one thought to say something before I arrived?”
“Not my area, deputy,” said Creighton, hiding behind his rank.
“Not my place, I'm afraid,” said Wallace. “Besides, stranger things have happened.”
“Not in real life it doesn't.”
“Anderson, I was a young buck when the Green River mess started, and the big rumor in the department was that they fished a body out of the river with a rock jammed up her,” he cleared his throat, “business. That was true. These guys are weird, wacky and there's no understanding them. If there is a chance we're dealing with a brilliant moron who wants us to find him, then we're not going to miss that opportunity.”
“But you don't agree.”
“You make a good point. Unusual is possible. I would lay you steep odds, however, that we're not going to find a killer at the shrink's house. We'll find his body, or a very confused veteran's counselor who cared enough about his patient to report him missing. You won't find the guy who killed and dumped all those bodies in a hole in the ground.”
The chief nodded. “You're probably right. Wozcynski decided it wasn't worth the risk of waiting to find out, and I happen to agree with him.”
The nod and shrug that Wallace offered showed that he agreed with her more than his superior, but knew better than to say so.
“Well, I need a smoke before we head out,” Creighton said, straightening his tie. “I'll see you two out front in a minute.”
Great, Anderson thought, I'll be stuck in a car with two cops and the ghosts of cigarettes past.
Wallace looked at her and shrugged again.
“Well?” she asked.
“I don't know if you're right, but I'm sure as hell not gonna tell you you're wrong. I don't think bringing your killer in will be quite this easy, and I'll go ahead and say that whatever we find tonight is not going to be as satisfying as you toolbag partner over there.”
“Not my partner.”
“Ah, that explains it.”
“I'm the specialist ringer they brought in to crowd him.”
“Right. That always sucks for everyone.”
“So,” Wallace said, changing the subject, “How'd you get into this weird shit?”
“What weird shit is that?”
“Being a specialist, I guess.”
“I was in the right place at the right time once, gave me a reputation as a good candidate for this kind of position. The County paid for my post-graduate education and I get farmed off to every podunk town in three states that thinks it has a sicko.”
“I eat a lot of bad food and spend a lot of time driving.”
“Pff. That just makes you a cop, far as I'm concerned.”
“Huh. Yeah, I guess it does. I'll take that as a compliment.”
“Coming from me, being a cop is never gonna be an insult. You ready to take a ride?”
“I'm ready for the ride, I don't know if I'm ready for what happens after that.”