An additional shock: Just as activity in the execution chamber was beginning, the same guard brought Malcolm Ainslie to the seat beside her. As he looked sideways, she sensed he was inclined to speak, but she averted her gaze and continued looking forward. Patrick, though, glanced across at Ainslie and gave a small smile. Cynthia didn't think it was returned.
As the execution proceeded, only part of her mind was on it, the other part still dazed and racing with nervous thoughts. But as Doil's body convulsed while successive cycles of two thousand volts surged through him, she felt slightly sick. Patrick seemed fascinated by it all. Then, almost before she realized, everything was over. Doil's corpse was in a body bag, and all the witnesses were standing, prepared to leave. At that point Malcolm turned toward her and said quietly, "Commissioner, I feel I should tell you that shortly before his execution, I talked to Doil about your parents. He claimed "
The shock at having the news she had dreaded so suddenly confirmed was too much. Barely aware of her words, Cynthia shot back, "Please, there is nothing I want to hear." Then, remembering Doil was supposedly guilty of her parents' deaths, ''I came to watch him suffer. I hope he did."
"He did." Ainslie's voice was still quiet.
She groped for some authority. "Then I'm satisfied, Sergeant."
"I hear you, Commissioner." His tone was noncommittal.
They moved outside the witness enclosure, and it was then that Patrick made a clumsy effort to introduce himself, which Ainslie acknowledged coolly, clearly knowing who Patrick was and implying that he did not care to know him better.
The exchange ended when Ainslie's prison of ficer escort appeared and showed him out.
On the bus conveying the witnesses back to Starke, Cynthia sat beside Patrick but did not speak. She found herself wishing she had not interrupted when Malcolm began, I spoke to Doil about your parents. He claimed . . .
What was it Doil had claimed? Most probably his innocence. And if so, did Ainslie believe him? Would he probe still more?
A new and sudden thought occurred to her. When, long ago, she used her superior rank to abort Malcolm Ainslie's promotion to lieutenant, had she made the gravest error of her life? The irony was glaring: If she had not done so, Ainslie would probably not be a Homicide detective now.
The procedure following promotion from sergeant to lieutenant was automatic the person promoted was moved to some other department in the force. If it had occurred that way, Ainslie would have been busy elsewhere and not involved with the serial murders. Therefore others in Homicide lacking his specialized knowledge were unlikely to have perceived the link between the killings and the Book of Revelation, and thus so many other things would not have happened as they had. Even more specifically, Ainslie would not be prolonging the investigation of the Ernst murders as he might be doing now.
Involuntarily, Cynthia shuddered. Was it possible that Malcolm Ainslie who had remained in Homicide because of what now seemed her long-ago misjudgment would, at some unknown time ahead, become her nemesis?
Whether that was possible, or even likely, she wasn't sure. But because it just might happen, and for what he had done to her and hadn't . . . and for everything he was and represented . . . and for so much else logical or not she knew now that she hated, hated, hated him!
Since Malcolm Ainslie's decision to summon an ID crew to the small temporary room in Police Headquarters, momentous discoveries had transpired. It was, as a state attorney would describe it later, "like honest daylight lighting up black evil."
The objects in the box unsealed by Ruby Bowe appeared to show convincingly that six and a half years earlier Patrick Jensen had killed his ex-wife, Naomi, and her friend Kilburn Holmes. It was a crime for which Jensen had been a strong suspect, though detectives were unable to prove his guilt.
It was also apparent from the box that Cynthia Ernst, who at that time was a Homicide detective, had conspired to conceal the evidence of Jensen's crime. Ainslie, though stunned and depressed by what he saw, brushed aside his personal feelings and waited impatiently for ID assistance to arrive.
The ID chief, Julio Verona, who responded personally to Ainslie's call, made a fast inspection of the box and contents, then declared, "We won't touch any of this here. Everything must go to our labs."
Lieutenant Newbold, who had also been called and briefed by Ainslie, told Verona, "Okay, but do everything as fast as you can, and tell your people this is ultra-secret; there must be no leaks."
"No leaks. I guarantee it."
Two days later, at 9:00 A.M. on a Thursday, Verona returned to the same small room with the box of evidence and his report. Ainslie was waiting for him along with Newbold, Howe, and Assistant State Attorney Curzon Knowles, chief of the state attorney's Homicide division.
Newbold had offered to move the proceedings to Knowles's of lice in another building, several miles away state attorneys were notorious for insisting that the police come to them, rather than the other way around but Knowles, a former New York cop himself, always liked coming to what he called "the heat." Thus the five were standing in the small, crowded space.
"I'll report on the plastic bags first," Verona told the others. "All of them bear fingerprints matching Cynthia Ernst's." As they all knew, police officers had their prints recorded, and they were not removed from the files when someone left the force.
The ID chief continued, "Then there's the handwriting on the labels. We have a couple of handwritten memos in our files from when Commissioner Ernst was a major, and our handwriting expert says it's a perfect match." He shook his head. ''To be so careless . . . she must have been crazy."
"She never intended any of this to be found," Knowles said.
"Keep going," Newbold told Verona. "There was a gun.''
"Yes, a Smith & Wesson .38."
One by one, the ID supervisor listed the checked items and results: The revolver bore the fingerprints of Patrick Jensen. Several years previously his house had been broken into, and he had let himself be fingerprinted to compare his prints with others left by the thief. Routinely, Jensen had received his fingerprint card back, but what he and other non-suspects were not told was that copies often were retained on file.
The gun, sent to the firearms lab, was loaded and fired into a tank of water. Immediately after, the bullet was placed in a double microscope along with one of the two original bullets removed from the dead victims. The distinctive markings on both bullets, put there by the rifling of the gun barrel, were identical. The same was true of the second crime-scene bullet. "There's no doubt whatever,'' Verona declared, pointing to the box. "This is the gun that was used to kill both those people."
Bloodstains on a T-shirt and sneakers found in the box showed the presence of both Naomi Jensen's and Kilburn Holmes's DNA.
"Then here's the clincher," Verona announced, producing an audiotape cassette. "This is a copy; the original is resealed and back in the box. Apparently it's a statement by Jensen of how he did the killing. But there are gaps. It looks as if someone else's voice was originally on the tape, but has been wiped out.''
He produced a portable player-recorder, inserted the tape, and pressed PLAY. As the tape ran, there were several seconds of silence, then sounds like objects being moved, followed by a faltering male voice, at moments choking with emotion, though the words were clear.
"I didn't plan it, didn't intend . . . but always hated the thought of Naomi with someone else. . . When I saw those two together, her and that creep, I was blinded, angry. . . I'd been carrying a gun. I pulled it out, without even thinking, fired . . . Suddenly it was over. . . Then I saw what I'd done. Oh God, I'd killed them both!"
A silence followed. "Here's where someone wiped the tape," Verona said. Then, again, the same voice from the player.
". . . Kilburn Holmes. . . He'd been seeing Naomi, was with her all the time. . . People told me.''
Verona stopped the tape. "I'll leave you to listen to the rest. It's bits and pieces, obviously answers to questions that were erased, and all the same voice. Of course, I can't say for sure it's Jensen speaking; I've never met him. But we can run a voice test later."
"Make your test," Ainslie said. "But I can tell you right now, that was Jensen." He was remembering their encounter at Elroy Doil's execution.
* * *
When Julio Verona had left, there was a silence, which Leo Newbold broke. "So, anyone have any doubts?"
One by one the others shook their heads, their expressions somber.
The lieutenant's voice was distressed. "Why? In God's name, why would Cynthia do it?"
Ainslie, his expression anguished, raised his hands helplessly.
"I could make some guesses," Curzon Knowles said. "But we'll know better when we've talked with Jensen. You'd better bring him in."
"How do you want us to handle that, counselor?" Ainslie asked.
Knowles considered, then said, "Arrest him." He gestured to the box that Verona had left. "All the evidence we need to convict is here. I'll prepare an affidavit; one of you can take it quietly to a judge."
"It was Charlie Thurston's case," Newbold pointed out. "He should make the arrest.''
"All right," Knowles agreed. "But let's have as few people involved as possible, and warn Thurston not to talk to anyone. For now, we must continue keeping a lid on this, screwed down tight."
Newbold asked, "So what do we do about Cynthia?"
"Nothing yet; that's why we need a tight lid. First I have to talk to Montesino. Before we arrest a city commissioner, she'll probably want to go before a grand jury, so Ernst mustn't even hear a whisper."
"We'll do our best," Newbold acknowledged. "But this stuff is red hot. If we don't move fast, word will fly.''
* * *
By early afternoon, Detective Charlie Thurston had been called in and given the arrest warrant for Patrick Jensen. Ruby Bowe would accompany him as backup. Newbold told the balding veteran, Thurston, "We don't want anyone else knowing about this. No one!"
"Fine by me,'' Thurston acknowledged, then added, "For a long time I've wanted to collar that prick Jensen."
From Police Headquarters it was only a short distance to Jensen's apartment. Ruby, at the wheel of an unmarked car, said to Thurston on the way, "You got a problem with Jensen, Charlie? You sounded pretty intense back there."
Thurston grimaced. "I guess bad memories got to me. When the case was running, I saw a lot of him, and from the beginning we were positive Jensen killed those two people. But he was arrogant as hell, all the time acting as if he knew we'd never nail him. One day I went to ask a few more questions and he laughed, told me to beat it."
"Do you think he'll be violent?"
"Unfortunately, no." Thurston chuckled. "So we'll have to take him in unmarked. Looks like we're here."
As Ruby stopped the car a few yards from a six-story brick building on Brickell Avenue, Thurston surveyed it. "Guy's come down in the world a bit; had a fancy house when I last knew him." He checked the warrant. "Says here apartment 308. Let's do it."