Page 46 of Detective

"But how'd they know the gun was there, and where the keys were kept?" Garcia asked.

"Maddox-Davanal could have had friends who knew all that," Ainslie said. "Gun owners are big talkers, and they like to show their guns off. Another thing Julio says the Glock pistol has a loaded clip, so the Smith & Wesson .357 was probably loaded, too."

"And ready to shoot," Garcia added.

"I'm wondering about 'inside,' too, Jose," Ainslie said, "though let's not lock our minds up yet."

"There's one thing we need," Julio Verona told the others. "We've got a fair number of fingerprints from this room, and we should get voluntary prints from any of the house people who normally come here."

"I'll arrange that," Jorge Rodriguez said.

"Be sure you include Holdsworth," Ainslie told him. "And I guess Mrs. Davanal."

* * *

That night and the next morning, the "Super-Rich-Davanals' Bloody Murder," as one newspaper headline described it, was the dominant story carried by local TV, press, and radio, and there was national coverage, too. Most reports quoted an interview with Felicia Maddox-Davanal on the Davanals' own WBEQ-TV, where she referred to "the savage murder of my husband." Asked if she knew whether police had any suspect in mind, she had answered, "I'm not sure they have anything in their minds. They seem totally lost." She promised that a reward would be posted by the family for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Byron Maddox-Davanal's killer, after as she put it "my father returns from Italy, where he is still confined to his hotel in a state of shock."

An AP reporter in Milan, however, who had tried unsuccessfully to interview Theodore Davanal the day after his son-in-law's death, reported that Theodore and Eugenia were observed lunching at the exclusive Ristorante L'Albereta di Gualtiero Marchesi and, in the presence of friends, were laughing uproariously.

Meanwhile, at the Brickell Avenue house, Miami Homicide continued its investigation. During the second day, Malcolm Ainslie, Jorge Rodriguez, and Jose Garcia met at midmorning in the exercise room and study.

Jorge reported that two housemaids and a male houseman had agreed to voluntary fingerprinting. "But when I asked Mrs. Davanal, she said absolutely no; she wasn't going to be fingerprinted in her own home." The butler, Holdsworth, had also refused.

"That's their privilege," Ainslie mused. "Though I wanted Holdsworth's prints."

"I can try for them without his knowing," Jorge suggested. Police detectives often obtained fingerprints surreptitiously, though officially the practice was frowned on.

"Too risky in this house." Then Ainslie asked Garcia, "That old British police record of Holdsworth's did you say he was convicted?"

"Pleaded guilty, got probation."

"Then they'll have his prints on record."

Garcia said doubtfully, "After thirty-three years?"

"The Brits are thorough; they'll have them. So call your U.S. Immigration contact again and have them get those old prints sent here by computer, fast."

"I'll do it now." Garcia nodded eagerly and went to a corner of the room and used his police radio. Julio Verona, who had arrived a few minutes earlier, said, "Let's hope you find something. Those prints from the clock were a dead end. Nothing comparable either in our records or the FBI's. Oh, and by the way, Dr. Sanchez would like to talk to one of you two at the morgue."

Jorge glanced at Ainslie, who said, "We'll go together."

* * *

"There's something funny about this Maddox-Davanal death, something that doesn't fit." Sandra Sanchez sat behind a desk in her second-floor office at the Dade County morgue on Northwest Tenth Avenue. Files and papers were spread around. The ME was holding some handwritten notes.

"Doesn't fit in what way, Doctor?" Jorge asked.

Sanchez hesitated, then said, "The murder scenario I heard all of you discussing. Not my business, really. All I'm supposed to do is give you the cause of death . . ."

"You do a lot more than that, and we all know it," Ainslie assured her.

"Well, it's the bullet trajectory, Malcolm difficult to follow exactly because so much of the head was blown away. But from what remains, and after X-rays, the bullet appears to have entered the dead man's right cheek, gone upward through his right eye into the brain, then out through the top of the head."

"Sounds enough to kill him," Jorge said, "so what's wrong?"

"What's wrong is that for someone to dispatch him that way, it had to be at extremely close range, with the gun held practically under his nose, then fired."

Jorge asked, "Couldn't the whole thing have been so fast and unexpected that the victim never knew what was happening?''

"Yes, it could, though that's hard to buy. And it leaves two questions: First, why would a shooter take a chance he didn't have to by getting that close to an athletic guy like Davanal? Second, fast or not, the victim would have resisted instinctively, even put up a fight, and there's no evidence of it."

Ainslie reminded Jorge, "When we first viewed the body, you pointed out there was no sign of resistance." He asked Sanchez, "So what else is on your mind? I know there's something."

"Yes, and it's a simple question. Have you considered the possibility of suicide?"

Ainslie was silent, then said slowly, "No, we haven't."

"With plenty of reason," Jorge broke in. "There's strong evidence of forced entry. A patio door was jimmied, there were shoe prints outside, and no gun, which there'd have to have been for suicide . . ."

"Detective," Sanchez shot back, "there is nothing wrong with my hearing, and I was at the death scene for an hour, listening as I said at the beginning."

Jorge flushed. "Sorry, Doctor; I'll think about your question. There's one thing, though with a self-inflicted gunshot wound there's always a powder burn on the victim's hand. Was one discovered?"

"The answer's no," Sanchez replied, "even though both hands were checked before autopsy. But anyone who knows about guns can wash a powder burn off. Which brings up another question for you to consider, Malcolm: Is it possible that all that other evidence could be faked?"

"Yes, it is possible,'' Ainslie answered, "and in view of what you've told us, we'll take a fresh look."

"Good." Sanchez nodded her approval. "Meanwhile I'm labeling the death 'unclassified.' "


Among several messages awaiting Malcolm Ainslie on his return to Homicide was one from Beth Embry. She hadn't left a name, but he recognized the number and called at once.

"I've been canvassing some of my old connections," she announced without preamble. "And I've learned two things about Byron Maddox-Davanal that may interest you."

"You're a love, Beth. What have you got?"

"The guy was in deep money trouble, and I do mean deep. Also, he'd got a young girl pregnant and her lawyer was coming after Byron for support and, failing him, the Davanal family."

Informational shocks, Ainslie thought, were arriving like beach-pounding waves. "Deep trouble sounds right," he answered. "And there's something you said the last time we talked that it wouldn't surprise you if Byron had killed himself."

"Do things look that way?" Beth sounded startled.

"It's a possibility, though no more at the moment. Tell me about the money trouble."

"Gambling debts. Byron owed the Miami mob. Big. More than two million Dollars. They were threatening his life, also threatened to go to Theodore Davanal."

"Who wouldn't pay them a cent."

"Don't be so sure. Anyone who's clambered to the stratosphere like the Davanals have things to hide, and the mob could know about them. But if Theodore had paid them off, it would have meant the end of Byron's cushy freeloading."

Ainslie thanked Beth again, promising to keep her informed.

Jorge had returned to his desk next to Ainslie's. ''How about the suicide notion? Are you taking it seriously?"

"I take Sandra Sanchez seriously. And the notion just got more plausible." Ainslie described his conversation with Beth Embry.

Jorge whistled softly. "If it is true, it means the Davanal woman lied. I saw her on TV she talked about 'the savage murder of my husband.' So what's she hiding?"

Ainslie already had a possible answer. It hinged on something Beth Embry had said the first time around, and consisted of one word: pride. And Beth had said of the family, Their public persona must be impeccable, making them superior, even perfect, people.

"Do we question Mrs. Davanal again?" Jorge asked.

"Yes, but not yet. Let's turn a few more stones over first."

That same day, Wednesday, the Dade County Coroner's Department released the body of Byron Maddox-Davanal to his wife, Felicia, who announced that a funeral service and burial of her late husband would take place on Friday.

* * *

Through most of Thursday the Davanal household was occupied with funeral arrangements and, considerately, the Homicide detectives made themselves inconspicuous. Malcolm Ainslie, however, did ride an elevator in the mansion, two floors up, to meet the Vazquezes husband and wife who looked after the patriarch Wilhelm Davanal. He found the couple in their third-floor apartment. They were friendly and helpful and clearly caring of their charge. Yes, they had learned early about the murder of Byron, and were shocked. And yes, "Mr. Wilhelm" knew of it, too, though he would not attend the funeral, owing to the strain involved. Nor would it be possible for Ainslie to meet Mr. Wilhelm during this visit, since he was asleep.

Karina Vazquez, a registered nurse and a responsible, maternal figure in her mid-fifties, explained, "The old gentleman doesn't have much energy and sleeps a lot, especially during the day. But when he's awake contrary to what you may hear from his family he's as sharp as a tack."

Her husband, Francesco, added, "Sometimes I think of Mr. Wilhelm as a fine old watch. It will eventually stop, but until it does, its movement works as well as ever.''

"I can only hope," Ainslie said, "that someone will speak that way about me someday." He continued, "Do you think the old gentleman can tell me anything about the death?"

"I wouldn't be surprised," Karina Vazquez answered. "He's very tuned in to family affairs, but keeps a lot to himself, and Francesco and I don't ask questions. I know Mr. Wilhelm often wakes up in the night, so maybe he heard something. But we haven't discussed it, so you'll have to ask him yourself."

Ainslie thanked them and agreed to return.

* * *

Though there hadn't been much time, Felicia did her best to arrange a grand funeral for her late husband. The chosen church, a large one, was St. Paul's Episcopal in Coral Gables. News releases were rushed to the media and announcements made on WBEQ. The Davanal stores in the Miami area were closed for three hours so that employees could attend, word being passed that anyone using the time for some other purpose would have his or her name recorded. A Requiem Eucharist was arranged, with full choir, and a bishop, dean, and canon to officiate. Pallbearers included the city's mayor, two state senators, and a U.S. congressman, all drawn by a Davanal summons like iron filings to a magnet. The church was filled, though conspicuously absent were Theodore and Eugenia Davanal, still in Milan.