Page 4 of Detective

Jorge's skill in obtaining that answer had become legendary.

He started with a pre-interview entirely legal during which he gathered basics: the suspect's name, address, birth date, occupation, social security number. . . But Jorge proceeded with deliberate slowness, taking time for comments. So you were born in August, Maggie? Hey, so was I. That makes us Leos, but I don't really believe in that zodiac crap. Do you?

Despite the low-key approach, the girl was still wary, so Jorge let the pre-interview run on, though he had not yet mentioned the crime being investigated.

Maggie, just a few more personal details. Are you married?. . . No? Me neither. Maybe someday. Well, how 'bout a boyfriend? Kermit? Well, I'm afraid Kermit's in trouble, too, and not a lot of help to you right now. Maybe he's the one who got you here. . . How about your mother?... Wow! You never saw her?... Well, how about your father?... Okay, okay, no more questions about them.

Jorge sat close to Thorne, occasionally touching her arm or shoulder. With some suspects, he might hold their hand, even perhaps induce tears. But Thorne was tough, so Jorge held back. There were limits, though, to how long a preinterview could last.

Is there anyone at all you'd like me to contact for you, Maggie?. . . Well, if you change your mind, be sure to tell me.

From outside, Ainslie waited tensely to witness the Miranda declaration. Meanwhile he watched the girl. There was something familiar about her face, but despite a facility for "flash recognition" an identification system in which police were trained he couldn't place her. The elusiveness puzzled him.

Okay, Maggie, there's a lot more to talk about, but I do have to ask you this: Are you willing to keep talking to me just like we're doing now without an attorney present?

Jorge was walking a hairline, though still within legal bounds.

Almost imperceptibly, Thorne nodded. Good, 'cause I'd like to keep talking too. But there's something we need to get out of the way you know how regulations are. So I have to tell you this, Maggie, for the record. You have the right to remain silent. . .

The official formula continued, the wording more or less: You need not talk to me or answer any questions. . . Should you talk to me, anything you say can be used as evidence against you . . . You have the right to an attorney at any time. . . If you cannot afford an attorney one will be supplied free of charge . . .

Ainslie listened carefully. Although police interview rooms were mainly soundproof, voices could penetrate the one-way glass in front of him, so later he could testify, if needed, that the Miranda warning had been given. Never mind that Jorge's voice had become offhand and casual; the right words were what mattered, though Thorne seemed scarcely to be paying attention.

It was time for Jorge's second calculated gamble.

Now, we can either keep talking, Maggie, or I go back to work and you won't see me anymore. . .

On the girl's face a look of doubt: What happens next if this guy disappears?

Jorge recognized the signs. He was close to success.

Maggie, do you understand what I've just said?... You're sure? . . . Okay, so that's out of the way . . . Oh, just one thing! I need you to sign this piece of paper. It confirms what we've been saying.

Thorne signed the of ficial release form, her handwriting scrawly but certifying that after having been informed of her rights she had chosen to talk to Detective Rodriguez without a lawyer present.

Ainslie put away the notes he'd made. Jorge was in the clear, and Ainslie, already convinced of the pair's guilt, believed there would be at least one full confession within the hour.

As it turned out, there were two.

* * *

As Jorge's questioning continued first of Thorne, then, in the other room, of Kaprum it became evident they had had no coherent plan to begin with, a fact that caused a capital crime to be committed instead of simple robbery. Then, afterward, they had seriously believed they could get away with it by concocting a stew of lies, all of which seemed ingenious to them but ludicrous to anyone with crime-solving experience.

Jorge to Thorne: About that car you and Kermit were in, Maggie. You told the trooper you'd found it just a few minutes earlier, with the keys in it, and took it for a ride . . . Well, what if I tell you we have a witness who saw both of you in that car last night, saw the whole thing happen ? Also, there were a dozen or more empty drink cans in the car, food wrappers, too. It's all been sent for fingerprinting. What if your prints, and Kermit's, are on that stuff ? . . . Actually, it will prove something, Maggie, because it will show you were both in that car a whole lot longer than just the ' few minutes" you say.

Jorge sipped coffee and waited. Thorne drank some of hers.

Something else, Maggie. When you were picked up and searched, you had a lot of money on you more than seven hundred Dollars. Mind telling me where you got that?. . . Working for whom and doing what? . . . Really! Must have been a lot of odd jobs for all that cash. What were the names of the people who employed you?... Well, then, give me the names of one or two and we'll check with them... You can't name anyone? Maggie, you're not helping yourself here.

All right, let's move on. Now, mixed in with those Dollars found on you were some deutschemarks. Where did you get those?. . . Deutschemarks, Maggie German money. You been to Germany lately?. .. Oh, come on, Maggie! How could you forget something like that? Did you get it from Mr. Niehaus? . . . He's the gentleman who was killed. Did you shoot him with that pistol of yours, Maggie? Tests are being done on the gun. They'll tell us if you did.

Maggie, I'm talking to you as a friend. You're in trouble, big trouble, and I think you know it. I'd like to help you, but before I can, you'll have to start telling the truth. . . Here, have more coffee. . . Think about it, Maggie. The truth will make everything easy especially for you. Because when I know the truth I can start advising you about what to do. . .

And later, with the other, younger suspect, Kaprum whose eyes did bulge like a frog's, Ainslie realized the questioning was tougher: Okay, Kermit, for the past half hour I've listened to you answer all my questions and we both know that everything you've told me is total bullshit. Now let's pack it in and have some facts. You and your girlfriend Maggie hijacked that car, robbed that old man, then killed him. Now, I may as well tell you that Maggie Thorne has confessed. I have her written confession in which she says the whole idea was yours, and that you fired the shot that killed Mr. Niehaus. . .

The nineteen-year-old Kaprum leapt to his feet and shouted wildly, "That lying bitch! It was her who done it, her idea, not mine! I just went for "

Hey, hold it! Stop right there, Kaprum! You hear me! Settle down!

It was like winning the lottery, Jorge thought. Kaprum, reacting to what he saw as Maggie Thorne's betrayal, was now eager to relate his own version of events. Ainslie might have smiled, but he remembered the poor dead German.

A Miranda warning had been given Kaprum earlier. No need to repeat it.

So are you ready to tell me, Kermit, what really happened and this time the truth? If you are, you'll be helping yourself. . . Okay, let's begin when you and Thorne held up that car and took it over. . . All right, we'll put Thorne's name first if that's the way you want it. . . So where were you both when . . .

Jorge was scribbling on a pad as Kaprum spoke quickly, blurting out facts, heedless of consequences, failing to realize it made little difference, if any, who had done what, and what counted most was that the pair of them had killed in collusion. When asked by Jorge why any shot was fired at all, Kaprum answered, "The old bastard badmouthed us. Shouted a lot of crap we didn't understand. He wouldn't shut his goddam mouth, man."

When it was done, using a ballpoint pen that Jorge handed him, Kaprum initialed each page as having read it, then signed what had become a full confession.

A few hours later the ballistics report revealed that three bullets were found in the dead German's body. One had been fired from Kaprum's gun, two from Maggie Thorne's. The medical examiner's conclusion was that Kaprum's bullet would have wounded the victim. Either one of the two from Thorne would have caused immediate death.

Ainslie was called away, then returned in time to hear part of a second session between Jorge and Thorne. At the end the young girl asked a question, her expression serious. "What's gonna happen? Will we get probation?"

Jorge made no attempt to answer, and Ainslie knew why.

What could you say to someone who was so strangely ignorant about the gravity of what had transpired, and the inevitable consequences soon to come? How could Jorge tell a young girl, No, there is not the slightest chance of your receiving probation, or even going temporarily free on bail, or for that matter ever getting out of jail again. What is a near certainty is that after the two of you have been tried before a judge and jury, you will be found guilty of murder and sentenced to die in the electric chair.

* * *

In court, defense lawyers going through the motions would rant and rave, complaining that Thorne's and Kaprum's confessions had been obtained under duress. The word "trickery" might be used not without some truth, Ainslie conceded.

But a judge, armed with testimony that proper Miranda warnings had been given and that the accused had knowingly signed their rights away, would dismiss the objections and the confessions would stand.

As to the "trickery," Ainslie had come to believe it was justified. With any capital crime, total, conclusive proof was hard to come by and because of guileful lawyers sometimes the guilty walked away. The O.J. Simpson case came inevitably to mind. But the Thorne and Kaprum confessions, however extracted, represented truth that would lead to justice, and from society's point of view and Ainslie's that was what mattered most.

* * *

The thought of confessions brought Ainslie's mind back to Elroy Doil and the reason for this interminable drive. He wondered, as he had since the phone call from Raiford earlier tonight: What kind of confession was he going to hear?

He peered out at lighted signs on the roadway. They had left I-95 and were on Florida's Turnpike, with Orlando their first objective two hundred miles away.


Malcolm Ainslie, who had dozed off soon after passing Fort Lauderdale, was awakened by a thump perhaps a road bump or more likely a raccoon; their carcasses littered the highway. He stretched and sat up, then checked the time: ten minutes after midnight. Up ahead he could see an exit ramp to West Palm Beach, which meant they were a third of the way to Orlando. Jorge, he noted, was driving in the far left lane amid fairly heavy turnpike traffic.

Ainslie reached for the phone and punched in Lieutenant Newbold's number. When he answered, Ainslie announced, "Evening, sir. Miami's finest here."

"Hey, Malcolm. Everything okay?"

Ainslie glanced to his left. "The mad Cuban hasn't killed me yet."

Newbold chuckled, then said, "Listen, I checked some flights for you, and made reservations. I think we can get you up to Toronto by tomorrow afternoon."

"That's good news, Lieutenant. Thanks!" He jotted down the details: a 10:05 Delta flight from Jacksonville to Atlanta, connecting with Air Canada to Toronto.

He would be in Toronto only slightly more than two hours later than originally planned, and was relieved. The arrangement was not ideal because he knew that Karen's parents, who lived more than an hour's drive from Toronto's Pearson Airport, had some kind of party planned for lunchtime, which he would miss. But he would be at the family dinner in the evening.