Chapter 5

November 6, 2011 at 12:12 am (The Truth)

Mack and Pike started their day at the scene of the Ebersole murder. Mrs. Ebersole had been allowed to remain in the house during the investigation. The police had added a lock to the study door barring anyone from entering. Mack spent a few minutes with Mrs. Ebersole bringing her up to date on the investigation while Pike entered the study. She was wearing workout gear and the skin tight clothing made it difficult for him to focus on what he had to tell her.

“We’re still waiting for results from the fingerprinting to see who else may have touched the knife, aside from your husband.” Mack had taken her into the living room for their chat. She didn’t look as though she’d been sleeping very well. With her hair pulled back into a ponytail, her face was fully exposed. She had distinct circles under her eyes and, even before the tears started, her eyes were red rimmed.

“When will you know who did this to him?” she asked. She sniffled into a tissue and dried her watery eyes.

“It could take us some time, depending on what the evidence tells us.” Mack had nothing to back up his belief that Mrs. Ebersole was innocent. It was something he felt in his gut. Her emotions felt true to him and he didn’t like seeing the distress in her eyes. “Perhaps you should consider living somewhere else right now. With some family or at a hotel, perhaps?”

“I don’t have any family here and I can’t afford a hotel. Carlton’s brother has frozen the accounts until this investigation is completed.” She leaned her head back against the couch and closed her eyes.

“Why would he do that?” Mack still hadn’t heard back from the lawyer about the will.

“If I’m proven guilty of Carlton’s death, everything goes to his brother.”

Mack made a mental note to check into the brother’s alibi. “Is his brother in any sort of financial difficulty?”

“No, he’s a realtor. He sold us this home a few years ago. Even with the economic slump, he has steady work.”

The commission on a home of this size would be impressive, but people had killed for less obvious motives. And, just because he didn’t sense that Mrs. Ebersole was involved in her husband’s death didn’t mean Mack wouldn’t exhaust every lead he had to prove she did it, if the evidence started to lean that way.

Mack left Mrs. Ebersole in the living room to join Pike in the study. The first thing he noticed upon entering the room was the chilly air. A breeze blew the curtains away from the windows. Pike had a fingerprint brush in his hands. He dusted powder onto the window sill and the bottom edge of the window.

“Someone broke in here?” Mack assumed. A quick look at the case showed that several more knives were missing. Mack pulled photos of the original crime scene from his file and compared it to the case. “We’ve got five missing knives. I’ll have to get the insurance records from Mrs. Ebersole to determine their worth.”

“I have several good prints and a few partials.” Pike placed the transparent tape across a print and smoothed it down with his fingers. Peeling the tape up, he stuck it to a fingerprint card and prepared the next tape. “Thing is, the windows are wired.”

Mack examined the security system on the windows. Each opening window was wired so that the tiniest of movements would set off the alarm, assuming it was activated. “Someone had to know the codes.”

Mack left Pike to his fingerprinting and went in search of Mrs. Pike again. She wasn’t in the living room, so he wandered through the lower level of the house. He found her in a second living room, spread out on a yoga mat on the floor, holding a pose. He couldn’t name the pose, but found it very suggestive. The skin tight clothing outlined every curve of her body. He thought the boobs might be real.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Ebersole,” Mack made his presence known to her.

“Yes, Detective,” she answered, not changing her position on the floor.

“I’ll need you to give me a list of everyone who has access to the security codes for the house.” Mack felt stupid talking to her upturned ass, but if she was comfortable with it, who was he to argue? “You can email them to me. My address is on the card I gave you.”

“Alright, I’ll be sure to send them to you before the end of the day.”

Mack thanked her and left the room. Once Pike had finished reprocessing the study they checked their file for the brother’s address and drove to his house.

Klein Ebersole had a grand home in the heart of Vancouver’s wealthy Kerrisdale neighbourhood. Where Carlton’s home had been sleek and modern, Klein’s home was dignified, bordering on pompous. Mack wouldn’t have been surprised to find servants quarters removed from the main home. A four-car garage had been constructed at the side of the house, out of view of the front entrance.

Mack pulled up to the gated entrance and pressed the buzzer. When his call was received, Mack stated his name and provided his reason for calling on the Ebersole’s.

“Do you have an appointment, Detective?” the guard asked.

“No,” Mack said. In an active investigation, his wants topped Klein Ebersole’s right to set boundaries. Still, Mack didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot. “I understand our arrival may not be the most convenient time for Mr. Ebersole, but the investigation into his brother’s death requires that he answer a few questions for us.”

The guard conferred with someone on his end before opening the gate. “Someone will meet you at the front entrance, Detective.”

“Thank you.” Mack drove through the gate and parked his car at the base of the stairs leading up to the front entrance. Surveying the grounds, he noticed that the grass was clipped to within an inch of its life, the flower beds were perfectly mulched and weeded, and there wasn’t a stray piece of gardening equipment to be seen. There was nothing homey or relaxing about the yard. Mack doubted that a game of touch football would ever be permitted on the front lawn.

Pike led the way up the stairs, to the woman standing in the doorway. She fit the house to a tee. Her hair was coiffed in what she no doubt thought of as a casual up ‘do. Not a hair was out of place. The blonde was either natural or recently touched up. Mack was betting on the latter. Her shirt collar looked as starched as her personality. She wore shoes in the house. Her heels clacked on the floor as she led them into the drawing room. Mack couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard anyone refer to the living room in such a way.

Their living room didn’t have a TV, perhaps that’s what changed it into a drawing room. He decided he would Google it later, to see what the specifications of the room were. She’d introduced herself as Mrs. Klein Ebersole. Mack knew from his files that her name was Payton. He’d always found that that method of introduction made a woman sound insignificant. Payton Ebersole did not appear in any way inconsequential.

Mrs. Ebersole offered them a seat on the couch and asked if they would care for any refreshments. Both men declined.

“My husband is just finishing up a phone call with a client and then he’ll be right with you.”

When she prepared to leave the room, Mack requested that she join them until her husband arrived. Though she looked put out by what had sounded like an order rather than an offer, she sat on the edge of the chair across from them. Her back was ramrod straight and she didn’t use more than the first six inches of the seat. Her hands were folded in her lap.

“Mrs. Ebersole, we would like to confirm your husband’s whereabouts on the night his brother was killed.” Pike took the lead with the questions, giving Mack the freedom to observe. “Perhaps you could tell us.”

Mrs. Ebersole adjusted the cuffs on her shirt. “My husband and I were at a gala function held at the Wall Centre, to support our Premiere in his bid for re-election. We stayed until midnight and then we came straight home.”

The needle on Mack’s bullshit meter had hovered around truth until her last sentence. He couldn’t tell which part rang false. Either they hadn’t stayed until midnight or they hadn’t come straight home.

Pike had been gifted with the same meter. “We’ll need you to provide us with a list of guests who were in attendance at that function.”

“For what purpose?” she sniffed, as though something funky had just wafted through the air and offended her nose.

“For the purpose of continuing this investigation, Mrs. Ebersole,” Pike said. His tone suggested she not fight him on the issue.

“I’d rather you not distress our friends with such business.” Mrs. Ebersole either hadn’t noticed his tone, or had chosen to ignore it.

“Your brother-in-law is dead,” Pike reminded her. “It’s our job to investigate his death. I’m certain your friends will get over whatever minor inconveniences we cause them.” Before she could attempt to talk him around to her way of thinking again, Pike continued. “Our request was non-negotiable, Mrs. Ebersole.”

“Sorry to keep you waiting, officers,” Klein said as he swept into the room and stood beside his wife’s chair. “How can we help?”

Pike ignored the drop in their rank. He had no doubt that Klein knew they were detectives. Shifting to ignore Mrs. Ebersole for now, Pike addressed his comments to Klein.

“We’ve made a request to your wife for a list of the people who attended the gala function with you on the night of your brother’s murder. You can email that list to us by the end of the day.”

Klein stiffened at the order, but then chose to ignore it. He nodded, shifting his stance a little to stare down at the detectives. “As you wish, officer. Is there anything else?”

“Yes there is. Perhaps you’d like to have a seat, Mr. Ebersole?” Mack suggested.

“I’m fine. I don’t have much time, gentlemen. Perhaps you could get to the point?”

Pike refused to lose his cool with the arrogant prick. If Klein was so focused on his precious time, Pike would take as much of it as he could. “Did you get along well with your brother?”

Klein frowned, but couldn’t see any way out of answering their questions. He crossed the room and took a seat in the wing chair matching the one his wife was sitting in. “Yes, I got along well with my brother. He was my only close family and that bitch took him away from me.”

“I assume you’re referring to his wife,” Pike said.

“Of course I am. She’s a sniveling, scheming shrew who married Carlton for his money. He was either too stupid or too infatuated with her body to notice. And now he’s dead. I’ll be damned if that whore will get her hands on his money.”

“Klein, the language,” Mrs. Ebersole complained.

Mack raised a brow at the censure in her tone. Bitch was acceptable, but whore wasn’t.

Klein ignored her. “You should be looking at her, officers, not at me.”

Pike took a breath to get his temper under control before continuing. “Their marriage wasn’t a happy one?”

Klein shook his head. “Carlton was about to file for divorce. If he’d lived, she wouldn’t have gotten a dime.”

“Was your brother seeing anyone else, Mr. Ebersole?” Pike asked.

“Not that I’m aware of.”

“Had he already consulted his lawyer about the pending divorce?”

“I don’t know. We didn’t get into the details. I remember telling him it was a damn good thing he’d made the bitch sign a prenuptial agreement. She could have screwed him in the divorce, otherwise.”

Pike asked several follow up questions before he and Mack took their leave. Pike reminded Klein about the list of guests at the gala. He felt the whoosh of air as the door slammed shut behind them. Pike waited until they were settled in the car and headed down the drive before he asked Mack for his insights.

“I’m looking forward to checking with the people on that list to see if the Ebersole’s left that party together. Mrs. Ebersole said they’d stayed until midnight, but when you’d posed the question to her husband as we were leaving, he said he hadn’t stayed past eleven.”

“She really didn’t want us to have that list of names. Did she think we couldn’t have come up with it another way?” Pike focused on his driving, heading back for the precinct.

“I don’t think she thought very highly of us, in general,” Mack replied. “I’m not sure what to make of her yet. And Klein standing beside her when he came into the room, it was less about solidarity and more about dominance.”

“He still didn’t look like the one who wore the pants in that family.”

Mack agreed. There was steel in Mrs. Ebersole’s spine. Something Klein Ebersole appeared to be lacking. Mack decided they would have to look into the Ebersole’s respective backgrounds a little further before determining if their strange dynamics were pertinent to the case or just odd.

“I hate it when rich people think they can tell the cops what they want and leave out whatever they don’t feel like talking about. It pisses me off.” Pike started to get steamed just thinking about it.

“Yeah, but you handled them perfectly. The fact that you did manipulate the conversation to get what we needed must have burned their asses. I don’t guess they get that sort of treatment very often.” Mack had been impressed with Pike’s performance. Not one to hold back what he was thinking, Pike often lambasted people with his temper. He had gotten more than one slap on the wrist from the inspector for it.

“Guess it’s more effective than the fire-breathing dragon, huh?” Pike laughed. He was well aware of the department’s opinion of his people skills. They thought he didn’t have any. Most of the time, they were right. When he’d been partnered with Mack, at first he’d thought the young hotshot was working a smoke and mirrors gig with his observational voodoo. It hadn’t taken Pike long to realize that if he could curb his tendency to stomp all over everyone and, instead, run through the routine of asking questions, then it would give Mack the chance to study the suspects from his own angle. When it all clicked, they made a hell of a team.

“The dragon has its place, but in there, yeah, the diplomacy served us better. I want to look at their financials. I want to know for sure that they didn’t need Carlton Ebersole’s money.”

“You still think the hot young wife didn’t do it?” Pike asked.

“I don’t think she did it, but I don’t have any solid facts to back up the gut instinct. We need to talk to friends of Carlton’s to determine if their marriage was as happy as she states it was.”

“I trust your gut, but you know the DA’s going to want proof. She’s not much of a believer in your voodoo.”

Mack snorted out a laugh. “We need to talk to Carlton’s lawyer, too. If he trusted the man to do his will, then he would have trusted the man with a pending divorce.” Mack fished his phone out of his pocket when he felt it vibrate. “The lab,” he said to Pike.

“Mack, we got the results back on the knife. Fingerprints belong to the wife. None were overlapping the husband’s, so it’s difficult to say if she held it before or after he did. No other prints were found on it. We’re still working on the prints found in the room. I’ll call when I have those sorted out.”

“Wife’s prints are on the knife,” Mack said once he’d hung up.

“How does your gut feel now?” Pike asked.

“Hungry, let’s get some lunch.”

 

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