Page 51 of Detective


* * *

Metro-Dade Criminal Records was in another section of the main police building. Here crime reports from Dade County's twenty-seven municipalities, ranging over the past twenty years, were stored. Recent records were computerized, older ones were on microfilm. Like the rest of Metro-Dade's headquarters, the offices were clean, welllit, and modern.

Ruby Bowe had brought with her a note of Elroy Doil's tape-recorded confession, in which, referring to the money clip, he said, "Got it in a robbery, couple months before I knocked off them slants."

She decided to begin her search of robbery records three months before the Esperanzas' murders, which occurred on July 12, 1980.

"Do you have any idea what you're taking on?" a records clerk asked when Ruby told her. "You could be here for weeks." She held up a single microfilm cassette. "In there, from 1980, are one day's Offense-Incident Reports for Dade about fifteen hundred pages on film, including robbery, burglary, auto theft, rape, battery, alarms you name it! So for three months of reports you'd be looking at about thirty thousand pages."

"Can't the robberies be separated?"

"Nowadays, by computer, they can. The ancient stuff on microfilm no way."

Ruby sighed. "However long it takes, there's a robbery case I have to find."

"Good luck," the woman wished her. "Dade County has an average of seventeen thousand robberies a year."

* * *

As the hours passed, Ruby's eyes grew weary. She was seated in the Criminal Records main office, facing a stateof-the-art Canon Microprinter, which both read microfilm and made printed copies if needed. The microfilmed pages were copies of standard police forms Offense-Incident Reports. The standardization made scanning faster because at the top of each form was "Type of Incident," and only when this showed "Robbery" did Ruby pause to view the whole page quickly. Slightly lower was "Nature of Offense," and when this read "Armed Robbery" she paid extra attention, believing Elroy Doil was more likely to have committed that type of crime. A further item was "Property Taken," and if no money clip was listed as had been true in every case so far Ruby moved on.

The remainder of the first day produced nothing, and in late afternoon Ruby quit after arranging to resume her search the following morning.

The next day produced nothing, either, although by this time Ruby was moving at high speed through the microfilm reels, having learned to keep the non-robbery reports sliding by. By the end of that day she had reviewed and discarded five microfilm cassettes.

The next morning, while threading film from a new cassette through the reader-printer's setup reels, she wondered doubtfully, Did this robbery ever happen as Elroy Doil claimed ? And if it did, was it ever recorded ? The nagging questions stayed with her through the next two hours as she realized how much more searching lay ahead.

Suddenly Ruby's attention was riveted on an armed robbery case, number 27422-F, dated April 18, 1980. At 12:15 A.M. that day a robbery occurred outside the Carousel Nite Club on Gratigny Drive, Miami Lakes. She zoomed in to magnify the details. These showed that the robber, wielding a knife, approached his male victim, Harold Baird, and demanded all of Baird's money and jewelry. Four hundred Dollars in cash was taken, as well as two rings worth a hundred Dollars each, and a gold money clip worth two hundred. The clip bore the victim's initials, HB. The report described the perpetrator as "a very large white male, identity unknown."

With a sigh of relief, Ruby pressed the machine's printout button and reached for the emerging copy of Report 27422-F. Then she leaned back and relaxed, knowing she had found proof that at least part of what Doil had told Sergeant Ainslie was true.

Now on to Tampa.

* * *

Back at her Miami Homicide desk, Ruby telephoned the Tampa Police Department, was transferred to the Detective Bureau, and then to its Homicide Squad, where a Detective Shirley Jasmund took Ruby's call.

"We have some information here," Ruby announced, "about what we think is an old case of yours a husband and wife named Ikei, murdered in 1980."

"Sorry, I was still in school that year fifth grade." Detective Jasmund giggled, but added, "Somewhere, though, I've heard that name. How'd you spell it?"

When Ruby told her, Jasmund responded, "It may take a while to look up, so give me a number and I'll call back."

Three hours later Ruby's phone rang and Jasmund's voice announced, "We found that file, looks interesting. An old couple Japanese, both in their seventies stabbed to death in a summer home they had here. Bodies shipped back to Japan for burial. No serious suspects, it says here." "Are there details about the crime scene?" Ruby asked. "Sure are!" Ruby heard the sound of pages turning. "Officers' reports say it was very messy. Bodies brutalized, bound and gagged, facing each other . . . money taken, and . . . wait, here's something odd . . ."

"What?"

"Hold on, I'm reading here . . . Well, there was an envelope found beside the bodies. It had blobs of sealing wax on the back, seven in a circle it says, and inside was a printed sheet a page from the Bible."

"Does it say what part of the Bible?"

"No . . . Yes! Here it is. Revelation."

"That's it! The case I want." Ruby's voice was excited. "Look, we have a lot of information to exchange, so I'm going to fly up to you. Would tomorrow be okay?"

"Let me ask my sergeant."

The sound of muffled voices followed, then Jasmund's again. "Tomorrow's fine. You've got us all curious, including our division captain, who's been listening. He said to tell you that the Ikeis' relatives in Japan still phone each year with the same question: Is there any news? That's where I heard the name."

"Tell the captain that when he gets his next call from Japan, I think he'll have answers."

"Will do. And when you know what time you'll get in, call and we'll have a squad car meet you at the airport."

* * *

An early Gulfstream Airlines flight from Miami to Tampa took sixty-five minutes, and Ruby Bowe was at the City of Tampa Police Department by 8:30 A.M. Detective ShirIey Jasmund came to the front desk to escort her to the Detective Bureau, and the two women black and white liked each other immediately. "Word's gone around about you," Jasmund said. "Even the chief has been told about that old case with the Japanese. When we're all through, he wants a report."

Jasmund, in her mid-twenties, was outgoing and lively, with shining brown eyes, dark hair, high cheekbones, and a slim figure that Ruby envied, having recently put on a few-pounds herself. You'll have to lay off the junk food soon, honey, she told herself for the umpteenth time.

"We have a meeting set up," Jasmund told her. "With Sergeant Clemson, Detective Yanis, and me.''

* * *

"The reason that Japanese family keeps calling us year after year," Detective Sandy Yanis of Homicide told Ruby, "is that they care so much about their ancestors. It's why they had the bodies flown back for burial, but apparently they won't rest well until whoever killed them is found and punished."

"They can rest soon," Ruby said. "It's ninety-eight percent certain that the man who did the killing was Elroy Doil, executed three weeks ago at Raiford for another crime.''

"I'll be damned. I remember reading about that."

Yanis, clearly an old hand, with a lanky, rugged physique, appeared to be in his late fifties. His face was seamed, the lines intersected by a long scar on his cheek that looked like an old knife wound. What remained of his graying hair was brushed back untidily. Half-moon glasses perched on the end of his nose; mostly he looked over them with a penetrating gaze.

The four were crowded into Sergeant Clemson's tiny office. In Miami's Metro-Dade headquarters, which she'd visited yesterday, broom closets would be larger, Ruby thought. Shirley Jasmund had already explained that the Tampa police headquarters, built in the early sixties, was inadequate and outmoded. "The politicians keep promising a new one but can never seem to find the money, so we struggle on."

Yanis quizzed Ruby. "You said you were ninety-eight percent certain about your guy Doil. How about the other two percent?"

"There's supposedly a knife hidden in a graveyard here in Tampa. If we find it, that ninety-eight becomes a hundred."

"Let's not play games," Sergeant Clemson said. "Be specific." He was younger then Sandy Yanis; though senior in rank, he seemed to defer to the older detective.

"All right." Once more Ruby described Elroy Doil's pre-execution confession to fourteen murders, including the Ikeis in Tampa a case that no one in Miami Homicide had heard of then Doil's emphatic denial of the Ernst double murder attributed to him, though he had not been formally charged.

"He was a pathological liar, and at first no one believed him," Ruby continued. "But now there are some doubts, and I have the job of checking everything he said."

Jasmund asked, "Have you caught him out in anything?"

"So far, not one thing."

"So, if whatever he said about Tampa checks out," Yanis prompted, "you might have another unsolved murder on your hands."

Ruby nodded. "A copycat."

"So what about the knife and a graveyard?" Clemson put in.

Reading from a notebook, Ruby quoted Doil's own words. " 'There's a cem'tery near where the Ikeis lived. Had ta get rid o' the knife I used, hid it in a grave. Know what was on the marker? Same last name as mine. Saw it, knew I'd remember if I wanted the fuckin' knife back, but I never got it.'

"Question: 'You buried the knife in a grave? Was it deep?'

"Answer: 'No, not deep.' "

Clemson opened a file on his desk. "The address where the Ikeis lived is 2710 North Mantanzas. Is there a cemetery near there?"

"Sure is," Yanis said. "Mantanzas runs into St. John, and there's a graveyard right behind called Marti Cemetery. It's small, old, and owned by the city."

"In case you hadn't realized it," Clemson told Ruby, "Sandy is our resident oracle. He's been around forever, forgets nothing, and knows every arcane corner of Tampa. Which is why he does pretty much what he likes and we put up with his peculiar ways."

"About memory," Yanis said, "I do have trouble remembering birthdays. Haven't a clue how many I've had."

"The bean counters know," Clemson rejoined. "When it's time they'll be around here with your pension check."

Ruby felt she was hearing an exchange that had taken place many times before.

More seriously, Yanis told her, "Most of the guys who work in Homicide get promoted out or move on to something else after six or seven years. The stress is too great. Me, I'm hooked on it all. I'll be here till they carry me out, and I remember old cases like the Ikeis, and love to see 'em closed. So let's get on start digging in that cemetery. Won't be the first time I've done that."

* * *

Sergeant Clemson used a speakerphone to call an assistant state attorney so the others could hear their conversation. After having the problem described to him, the attorney was uncompromising.

"Yes, Sergeant, I do realize we're not talking exhumation. But the reality is, no matter how near the surface the knife might be, you can't go disturbing any human grave without a judge's order."

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