He returned to the living room and smelled something new an addition to the putrid odor resulting from open wounds on dead bodies. As he moved closer to the victims, the smell grew stronger. Then he saw it. Alongside one hand of the dead woman was a bronze bowl containing what appeared to be human excrement, partly immersed in what was obviously urine.
There were occasional moments in his work when Pablo Greene wished he had chosen some other profession.
As he drew back, he reminded himself it was not unknown for criminals to defecate at crime scenes usually during break-ins at well-to-do homes, presumably as a gesture of contempt for the absent owners. But he could not recall ever having seen this before at a homicide scene, especially given the nature of the awful killing of two old people. Greene, a good, decent family man, thought fiercely of the perpetrator: What kind of vile piece of human garbage are you?
"What was that, Pablo?" a voice from the outer doorway inquired. It was Newbold, who had just arrived, and Greene realized he had spoken aloud.
Still caught up by emotion that he rarely felt or showed, Greene gestured toward the two bodies, then pointed to the bowl he had just surveyed.
Leo Newbold stepped forward and inspected it all.
Then he said quietly, "Don't worry. We'll get the bastard. And when we do, we'll put this case together so goddam tight, we'll make sure the son of a bitch burns."
Newbold was also remembering Major Yanes's words, spoken not long ago: Make sure there's nothing undone that should have been done. Go over every detail and look especially hard for connections between cases.
Well, Homicide knew of a probable connection between the Frosts' killings and the Hennenfelds' in Fort Lauderdale, and now, with this new double slaying so clearly aligned with those other two, inevitably the question would be asked: Could more have been achieved by combining the two earlier inquiries, accepting them as serial killings? Might they even have found a suspect?
Newbold didn't think so. Just the same, he was sure there would be some second-guessing, to which the media would contribute, almost certainly resulting in further pressure on Homicide and the Police Department generally.
But most essential at this moment was intensive focus on this latest case, coupled with reexamination of the other two. There was no question that Homicide was combating a bona fide serial killer.
"Were you able to get Ainslie and Quinn?" Greene asked.
Newbold nodded. ''They're on their way. And I told Quinn to call his contact in Lauderdale."
A few minutes later an ID crew of four technicians arrived, followed almost at once by the ME, Sandra Sanchez. Whatever phoning Newbold had done after Greene's urgent call from the crime scene, he'd evidently pulled out all stops, probably by going much higher in the department.
Through the next five hours work progressed swiftly. Near the end of that time the remains of Lazaro and Luisa Urbina were placed in body bags and conveyed to the county morgue, where, later that night, they would be autopsied. Sergeant Greene would attend the autopsy, again putting off the paperwork on his desk for at least one more day, by which time still more would have been added.
While detailed study and analysis needed to be done on much of the evidence collected by the ID crew, one disappointment emerged early.
"Pretty certain the perp wore gloves," the fingerprint technician, Sylvia Walden, told Sergeant Greene. "There are quite a few smudges, the kind made by latex surgical gloves same as we had at the Royal Colonial. Also, I think whoever did this knows enough to wear two pairs of latex gloves, because with one pair a print will come through after a while. There are some prints around, of course, and we'll check those out, but they're probably not the perp's.''
Greene shook his head and mumbled, "Thanks."
"For nothing," Walden added.
Several hours earlier, Ainslie and Bernard Quinn had arrived at Pine Terrace and agreed with Newbold and Greene that a single serial killer was now their quarry.
On his way out, Ainslie walked around the scene a second time before the victims' bodies were removed, lingering over the bronze bowl still close to the dead woman's hand. There was something about that container and its contents that stirred an idea, a vague memory, an incomplete image he could not define. Ainslie returned to the object twice, hoping the elusive notion in his mind would clarify.
Maybe there was nothing at all, he decided, nothing except his own weariness with scenes of tragic death, and perchance some wishful searching for new leads. Perhaps what he needed now was to go home and spend an evening with his family . . . laugh around the dinner table . . . help Jason with his homework . . . make love to his wife . . . and possibly, by morning, some answers would have sprung to mind.
As it turned out, the next morning produced no new thoughts. It took four more days, when he least expected it, for Ainslie's memory to awaken with dramatic, shocking clarity.
Four days after the Pine Terrace murders, Lieutenant Leo Newbold held a formal Homicide Department conference. It included supervisors and detectives involved with the serial killings, ID technicians, a medical examiner, and a state attorney. Senior police officers were informed of the conference; two attended. It was at that conference, as Ainslie thought about it later, that the drama broadened and, like a Shakespearean plot mutation, a new cast of characters entered the scene.
Among the new characters though not new to Homicide was Detective Ruby Bowe, a member of Sergeant Ainslie's investigative team. Ruby, a petite, twenty-eightyear-old black woman with a penchant for glittering earrings and stylish clothes, was liked and respected, worked as hard as anyone in Homicide, sometimes harder, and expected no concessions because of her sex. She could be tough and tenacious, even ruthless. But at lighter times she displayed a sense of fun and mischief appreciated by her colleagues.
Ruby was the youngest of nine children born to Erskine and Allyssa Bowe, all of whom were raised in the crimeridden ghetto of Miami's Overtown area. Erskine Bowe was a police officer who had been shot and killed by a fifteen-year-old neighborhood boy on drugs and in the process of robbing a local 7-Eleven store. Ruby was twelve at the time, devastatingly young to lose her father, but old enough to remember their special closeness.
Erskine Bowe had always believed there was something extraordinary about Ruby, and had said to his friends, "She's going to do something important. You just wait."
Ruby, even so long after her father's death, still missed him terribly.
Ruby had attended Booker T. Washington elementary school and Edison High, where she was a diligent student and volunteered for extracurricular activities, most aimed at social justice and change. She had fought especially hard against drug abuse, knowing it had been the real killer of her father.
Armed with an academic scholarship, Ruby attended Florida A&M University, majoring in psychology and sociology. She graduated with honors and, fulfilling a lifelong dream, immediately joined the Miami Police Department. Her father had been on the force for seventeen years; maybe in some positive way she could redress his death while "changing the world." And if not the world, perhaps in some significant way her own neighborhood.
No one was unduly surprised when Ruby graduated from the police academy at the top of her class. What did raise eyebrows was a decision by Lieutenant Newbold to accept Ruby immediately as a Homicide detective. The move was unprecedented.
Homicide, in any police force, was an apex. Homicide detectives were considered to have the best brains and the greatest resourcefulness, and their prestige made them the envy of most colleagues. Because of this, Ruby's appointment left a few older of ricers, who had hoped to join Homicide themselves, disappointed and resentful. But Newbold had a gut feeling about Ruby. "There are times," he confided to Malcolm Ainslie, "when you can just smell a good cop."
Ruby had now been a Homicide detective for four years, with an official rating of "outstanding."
As a member of Sergeant Ainslie's team, Ruby would automatically attend today's 8:00 A.M. conference, but while others were filing in, she was on the telephone, surrounded by a file of of ficial papers. Newbold, walking past, called, "Wind it up, Ruby. We'll need you in there."
"Yes, sir," she acknowledged, and moments later she followed him, adjusting the large gold ear clip she had removed for the phone call.
Adjoining the general Homicide office were interview rooms for witnesses and suspects, a room with more comfortable couches and chairs where families of victims were sometimes received, a large file room with crime records going back ten years, and, beyond all of these, the conference room.
Malcolm Ainslie sat at the conference room's large, rectangular table along with two other sergeant supervisors, Pablo Greene and Hank Brewmaster, as well as Detectives Bernard Quinn, Esteban Kralik, Jose Garcia, and Ruby Bowel
Garcia, born in Cuba, had been a Miami police officer for twelve years, including eight as a Homicide detective. Stocky and balding, Garcia looked ten years older then his actual thirty-three, prompting colleagues to refer to him as Pop.
The Homicide regulars were joined by the youthful Sheriff-Detective Benito Montes, who had driven to Miami from Fort Lauderdale in response to a phoned invitation from Bernard Quinn. In the matter of the Hennenfeld murders, Montes reported, there had been no progress since his previous visit to Miami Homicide.
The others included Dr. Sanchez, the medical examiner, ID technicians Julio Verona and Sylvia Walden, and an assistant state attorney, Curzon Knowles.
Knowles, who headed the state attorney's homicide division, had a formidable reputation as a criminal trial prosecutor. A soft-spoken, mild-mannered man who dressed modestly in off-the-rack suits and knitted ties, he had once been compared to an unassuming shoe clerk. During court trials, while cross-examining uncooperative witnesses, he was sometimes hesitant, conveying an impression of uncertainty when in fact nothing was further from the truth. Many such witnesses, believing they could lie with impunity while answering this unimpressive lawyer's questions, suddenly found they had been coaxed into a spider's web and had incriminated themselves before realizing it.
His disarming manner and razor-sharp mind were reasons why Knowles, during fifteen years with the state attorney's of lice, had achieved a remarkable eighty-two percent conviction rate at murder trials. Homicide detectives were always grateful to have Curzon Knowles handling their cases, just as Newbold and the others were pleased to see him now.
Major Yanes was also present, as was a high-ranking assistant chief, Otero Serrano, emphasizing the public importance of the new developments.
Lieutenant Newbold, at the head of the conference room table, opened the meeting crisply. "We are all aware that two of our pending cases and a third in Fort Lauderdale are now recognizable as serial double killings. It's possible we should have reached this conclusion before the third one, and we may take some heat for that as time goes on. But we'll deal with that later. Right now we have urgent business.
"What I want, here and now, is a complete review of all three double murders, leaving absolutely nothing out. We must find some connection that can lead us to "
Ruby Bowe raised a hand. Newbold stopped abruptly, frowning. "Whatever it is, won't it keep until I've finished, Ruby?"