"Coworkers at her father's store all have solid alibis and no evident motive. To the man, they all stated that the victim, far as they knew, had no known enemies, no outstanding debt or narcotic dependency. Search of the victim's room yielded no controlled substances, seven hundred dollars in cash, and no diary. A review of the victim's bank records showed the victim's deposits were in statistical keeping with the amount of money she earned. No large deposits or withdrawals until the morning of Friday the fifth when she closed out the account. That money was recovered from the dresser drawer in her room and is in keeping with Sergeant Power's discovery that she was planning to leave town on Sunday. Preliminary interviews with neighbors have yielded nothing to support any theories of family strife."
Brackett stacked his pages together against the table to indicate he was finished, and Friel turned to Souza and Connolly.
"We ran down the lists acquired from the bars the victim was seen in, her last night. We interviewed twenty-eight of the patrons so far out of a possible seventy-five, not counting the two Sergeant Powers and Trooper Devine took, ah, Fallow and this David Boyle. Troopers Hewlett, Darton, Woods, Cecchi, Murray, and Eastman took the remaining forty-five and we have preliminary reports from them."
"What's the word on Fallow and O'Donnell?" Friel said to Whitey.
"They're clean. Don't mean they couldn't have hired the job out, though."
Friel leaned back in his chair. "I've worked a lot of contract hits over the years, and this doesn't look like one."
"If it was a hit," Maggie Mason said, "why not just blast her there in the car?"
"Well, they did," Whitey said.
"I think she means more than once, Sergeant. Why not just unload?"
"Gun could have jammed," Sean said. And then to the narrowing eyes in the room, he said, "It's something we haven't considered. The gun jams, Katherine Marcus reacts. She knocks the guy down and takes off running."
That quieted the room for a bit, Friel thinking into the steeple he'd made of his index fingers. "It's possible," he said eventually. "Possible. But why beat her with a stick or a bat or whatever it was? That doesn't speak of a professional to me."
"I don't know that O'Donnell and Fallow run with that professional a crowd just yet," Whitey said. "They could have hired it out to some pipehead for a couple of rocks and a Bic."
"But you said that the old woman heard the Marcus girl greet her killer. Would she do that if a crack addict was approaching her car, all jacked up?"
Whitey gave what could have been a nod. "That's a point."
Maggie Mason leaned into the table. "We are going on the assumption that she knew her killer. Correct?"
Sean and Whitey looked at each other, then back at the head of the table, and nodded.
"So, not that East Bucky doesn't have its share of crack addicts, particularly in the Flats, but would a girl like Katherine Marcus have associated with them?"
"Another good point." Whitey sighed. "Yeah."
Friel said, "I wish for everyone's sake this was a hit. But the bludgeoning? That says rage to me. That says lack of control."
Whitey nodded. "But we can't rule it out entirely. All I'm saying."
Friel looked back at Souza, who seemed a bit pissed by the digression.
He cleared his throat and took his time looking back at his notes. "Anyway, we talked to this one guy? a Thomas Moldanado? who was drinking at the Last Drop, the last bar where Katherine Marcus went before she dropped off her friends. Seems they got one toilet in the whole place, and Moldanado said there was a line for it just as he noticed the three girls leaving. So he goes out back into the parking lot to take a piss, and he saw a guy sitting in a car, lights off. Moldanado said this was at one-thirty, on the dot. Said his watch was new and he checked to see if it glowed in the dark."
"The guy in the car, though," Robert Burke said, "could've been sleeping off a drunk."
"First point we made, Sergeant. Moldanado said that's what he thought at first, too, but, no, the guy was sitting upright, eyes open. Moldanado said he would have taken him for a cop, but the guy drove a small foreign car, like a Honda or a Subaru."
"A little banged up," Connolly said. "Dent in the front passenger quarter."
"Right," Souza said. "So then Moldanado figured he was a john. Said that area's popular at night for hookers. But if that was the case, what was the guy doing in a parking lot? Why not just cruise the avenue?"
Whitey said, "Okay, so? "
Souza held up a hand. "One sec, Sarge." He looked over at Connolly, his eyes bright and jumpy. "We took another look around the parking lot, and we found blood."
He nodded. "If you walked past it, you'd figure it for some guy was changing his oil in the lot. It was that thick, all pooled in mostly one place. We start looking around, we find a drop here, a drop there, all moving away from the spot. Find a few more drops on the walls and the floor of the alley behind the bar."
"Trooper," Friel said, "what the fuck are you telling us?"
"Someone else got hurt outside the Last Drop that night."
"How do you know it was the same night?" Whitey said.
"CSS confirmed. A night watchman parked his car in the lot that night, covered the blood, but also kept it from most of the heavy rain. Look, whoever the vic was, he's hurt bad. And the guy who attacked him? He's hurt, too. We found two types of blood in the lot. We're checking hospitals now, and cab companies, in case the victim hopped a ride. We found bloody hair fibers, skin, and some skull tissue. We're waiting on callbacks from six ERs. The rest have turned out negative, but I'm still betting we find a victim who walked into an ER somewhere with blunt head trauma on Saturday night, early Sunday morning."
Sean held up a hand. "The same night Katherine Marcus walks out of the Last Drop, you're telling us someone caved in someone's skull in the parking lot of the same bar?"
Souza smiled. "Yup."
Connolly picked up the ball. "CSS found dried blood, types A and B neg. A lot more A than B neg, so we figure the victim was A."
"Katherine Marcus's blood was type O," Whitey said.
Connolly nodded. "Hair fibers indicate the victim was male."
Friel said, "What's the operating theory here?"