Trinity Island – Chapter 16

January 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm (Trinity Island)

Galen left Claire and Mac by the front desk and headed down the hall to Kay’s room. Dr. Eberly was sitting with her keeping an eye on her condition. He stood when Galen arrived and shook his hand. “You can talk to her for five minutes or until she’s too tired, whichever is sooner.” He left the room to give Galen some privacy.

Galen approached the bed and peered through the bandages to see that Kay’s eyes were open. They were swollen and purple, but they were aware. He introduced himself and asked her to tell him anything that she could remember from her attack.

“His ring,” she whispered. Her head ached and she didn’t want to move or she’d get that awful vertigo again. But Galen stood very still so she didn’t have to follow him around the room with her eyes.

“Which hand did he wear the ring on?”

“Right. Ring finger.” She closed her eyes, trying to recall what it looked like. “Gold. Onyx. Initial.”

“His ring had an initial on it?”

“Yes, don’t remember.” She paused again, trying to see the initial. “Don’t remember what initial.”

“Don’t worry, this is a lot to go on already. Did he say anything to you?”

Kay started to nod, but the brace on her neck and head forced her to stay still. “Leave island. Or he’d make me disappear.” She swallowed hard, remembering the fear the words brought with them. “Like the others.”

“Do you remember anything else about him? Could you see his face at all, or anything about his size or voice that seemed familiar?”

Kay tried to recall anything else about that night, but all she could see clearly was the ring. “Wore balaclava.”

“Where were you when he attacked you?”

“Reggie’s.” She tried to recall the address of the house, but couldn’t bring it up. She had a key and she remembered that she had to use a code for the alarm, but she couldn’t remember what the code. “Alarm was off.”

“Is that normal?”

“No. Thought Reggie … brought someone else. Besides me. Got mad … left. Attacked inside.”

“Ok, let me make sure I have this correct. You went to a house owned by Reggie, and I’m assuming you’re referring to Reginald Wallis here?” When she whispered the affirmative, he continued. “The alarm is normally on, but wasn’t. You thought that meant Reggie was bringing other women there and that made you mad, so you started to leave, but were attacked.” Kay confirmed that he had it right.

“How did you make your plans to meet Reggie that night?”

Kay told him how she’d talked to him earlier that day and he’d said he wouldn’t have time. She said how he’d texted her later to change his mind. When he asked if his voice had sounded different, she said no. When he asked if the text came from a number she recognized, she said yes. When her eyes started to droop, Galen finished up the conversation so she could rest.

He left her room and asked at the front desk for her belongings. Inside was a set of keys, the contents of her purse and her cell phone. He signed a receipt for the keys and the cell phone and handed the rest back to the nurse. When Dr. Eberly emerged from a room down the hall, Galen walked over to him.

“Has her family been in?”

Eberly nodded. “Her mother went down to the cafeteria to get some coffee. Her father is having a hard time accepting this. He didn’t like that she was having an affair with Reginald Wallis and he hates the thought that she almost ended up the same as those other missing girls. Mostly, I think he’s scared about the damage done to her. She took a hell of a beating to the head.”

“No way to tell yet how she’ll do?”

Eberly shook his head. “No, but she’s quite coherent right now. That’s a positive sign. It can change on a dime, so I don’t want to build it up right now to her parents.”

Both Galen and Dr. Eberly turned when the front desk nurse called out to them.

“They’ve found Alyssa! She’s at the marina and she’s bleeding, badly. Paramedics are across the island on another call.”

Dr. Eberly looked at Galen. “You got a car here?”

Galen nodded, already heading for the door.

Eberly grabbed a trauma kit and a backboard from the nurse’s station and headed out the door. He tossed the backboard into the bed of Galen’s pickup and climbed in the back seat with Mac. Claire slammed the door shut and Galen pealed out of the driveway.

He made the distance in less than two minutes, thankful there was little traffic during the dinner hour. Mac grabbed the backboard and Eberly sprinted down the dock to the waiting group of people. Eberly barely registered the body bag that the girl was lying in. He peeled the coat away from her and assessed all of her wounds before getting started on the worst of them.

Everyone started talking at once, so Galen got them quieted down and appointed someone to get blankets for all the people who’d gone in the water. He spotted Jacques, who was still kneeling next to Alyssa, holding her hand. One of the boys said that the old guy had called out to them for help and then they’d gone into the water to get Alyssa.

“Detective, there are more down there,” the kid said.

Galen took a good look at the bag Alyssa was lying in and finally registered what it was. “That’s a body bag.”

Eberly nodded. “I’ll need that backboard down here so I can transfer her to it and get her up to the hospital.”

Mac brought the backboard over and assisted the doctor in moving Alyssa from the bag to the board. Eberly strapped her in and closed up his bag. Mac took Galen’s truck keys and told several of the boys to come with him to hold the board in place. The old guy didn’t want to leave Alyssa, but Galen needed to talk to him.

“I’ll have someone take you to the hospital to see her once we’re done here,” he promised. With Alyssa on her way, Galen asked Jacques if he’d staged the attack on his campsite.

The old camper nodded. “I heard about the girls going missing and that useless mayor doing nothing about it, so I came here to see what I could do on my own.” He explained that the only way, in his mind, to get something done was to provide proof that something bad had happened to someone. Since he couldn’t figure out where the girls had gone, he made it look as though he’d been attacked. It worked, he said.

“Who were you looking for?” Galen asked.

The man’s shoulders slumped. “My niece, Melissa Romm.” He looked down at the water where they’d pulled Alyssa up, wondering. “She’s my sister’s only kid.”

Galen recognized the name as one of the girls who had been reported missing to the mayor. “We’ll find her.”

“Yes, Detective, I think you will.”

The man’s shoulders shook with grief and tears dripped down his cheeks. Claire stepped forward and wrapped her arms around the man. She didn’t have any words to comfort him, so she kept silent.

Galen pulled out his cell phone and called his boss in Victoria. He’d need a dive team and a mobile forensics unit to process the area. He didn’t know how many bodies were below the surface, but he needed them examined quickly and any evidence they could retrieve from the remains had to be analyzed immediately.

“I have some photos you should see, Detective,” Jacques called out. He said how he’d watched the killer motor his boat in behind the boathouse and moor there. “I took a bunch of photos, but the lighting was poor, so I don’t know how much good they’ll do you.” He told one of the boys hanging around the dock where he’d left his gear and the kid ran off to retrieve it. Jacques handed Galen the camera, saying he didn’t think he’d need it for a while.

Mac returned a half hour later. He said that Alyssa was stable and the wounds she’d received were deep, but not life threatening. She was awake, but said that she hadn’t recognized her abductor. The lighting had been poor and she’d been drugged most of the time. She had no idea where she was held.

Galen flipped back through the photos that Jacques had taken, noting a few that he’d send to Victoria for further enhancing. When he came to several pictures of a shed, he stopped. He knew that spot. He’d checked it out when he’d gone looking for the mayor. He showed the picture to Claire who nodded.

“That’s the shed Sarah and I mentioned to you.” As she said it, she realized that she’d been right there and hadn’t known that Alyssa was inside.

Jacques put his arm around her shoulder. “I didn’t know she was in there either. I thought the place was empty.”

Galen needed to get in that shed. It was unlikely that the killer would still be there, but he may have left something behind that could identify him. He tried to leave Mac behind to secure the scene, but Mac refused. Claire said she would stay so that Mac could be his backup. Jacques promised to stay with Claire. Galen nodded his thanks before running down the dock toward his truck. Mac called out, heading down a different path, towards a boat.

“We can’t drive across now. Let’s take my boat over.”

Galen changed directions, following Mac to a forty-foot cruiser docked on the outside edge of the marina. Galen tossed the lines as Mac fired up the boat and pulled away from the dock. He had the clearance under the hull to travel across the middle pinch point, so he headed straight for it.

Galen pulled out the map he had from their search that morning. He knew roughly where the house was, compared to the house Alyssa had been abducted from. He directed Mac over to the small dock, hopping out when they got close enough. He tied off the boat as Mac powered it down. Galen pulled his pistol from his shoulder harness and nodded at the shotgun Mac grabbed from the lockbox on deck.

With flashlight in hand, he headed up the dock, toward the shed. The grounds were dark; no security lights had been set up or, more likely, the killer had deactivated them. Galen cleared the area surrounding the shed before checking the door. The padlock was still in place.

“I’ve got a crowbar in the boat,” Mac whispered.

Galen nodded, and Mac ran back to the boat to retrieve it. When he returned he handed it to Galen and turned to watch the yard. It took several good pulls to wrench the lock free of the doorframe. Pushing the door in, Galen shined his light around the interior.

“Jesus,” he whispered, taking in the workbench inside. He figured the psychologists would have a field day with the shed. The restraints, the soundproofing, even the method of body disposal were well thought out. Their killer was a highly functioning individual.

***

Marty pounded his fists into his mattress. The anger at being forced to finish Alyssa early had morphed into a seething rage when he’d learned of her safe removal from his group of ladies. How had she lived! He’d helped her along the path! She couldn’t have come back from the path, it was impossible.

And now all of his ladies had been found and would be moved. No more would they sing to him as he brought them another neighbor. He’d have to find a new place to store his ladies. What was he going to do? He couldn’t go back to the shed, either. He knew the cop would find that, too; Alyssa would tell him.

He had nothing set up to replace the shed. All of the work putting the soundproofing in, wasted. He’d have to start all over again. Marty fell to the bed, kicking his legs and screaming at the top of his lungs. It wasn’t fair! His work was important and the cop was getting in his way!

How would he keep the need fed now?

Marty’s body stilled as the fear coursed through him. The need would come. If he didn’t have a lady to assist along the path, the need would consume him. He needed an alternative to the shed. He’d picked several options that could eventually work as stand-ins, but they needed too much upgrading. He hadn’t found anything on the middle island that was perfect as it was.

He’d have to go on the hunt for a new shed. And he wouldn’t limit his search to the middle island this time. It wouldn’t be ideal to work on the main island, but he could live with the inconvenience. When things settled down a little, then he could return to the middle island.

The cop was the problem. He’d have to do something about that.

***

Galen left Mac to guard the shed with several other volunteers, taking the boat back to the marina and Claire. One of the boat owners had offered them the use of his boat, since it was moored directly opposite the burial site. He’d also agreed to drop Jacques off at the hospital on his way home.

Several other volunteers remained behind to keep an eye on the site. Galen knew that two of the men probably had daughter’s in the water. His ma brought food and coffee for everyone and they settled in for a long night. Galen didn’t expect to sleep, but he managed a few hours. He held Claire tucked into his side as he stared up at the stars.

He’d sensed from the start that the missing women weren’t alive, but it still hit him hard. He’d wanted so badly for them to have all gotten bored with island life and left for better things. He’d studied serial killers for years and the one thing that had never been made clear was the trigger. What was it that changed a person from an ordinary, law-abiding citizen into an inhuman killer? What switch got flipped inside them?

He knew that there were early warning signs, if people were paying attention. He’d read all of the statistics on abuse, animal torture, and the escalation into human torture. Each individual had a different reason. Some killers reenacted the death of their abuser. Others wanted people to experience the pain they’d lived through. And some never gave a reason for what they did.

He had a killer living on the island and he had no idea what he was looking for. He had no pattern to follow. He could only hope that his forensics team would recover a fingerprint and that their guy would be in the system. DNA would take longer to process and would be less likely to provide a match.

Galen was worried that another girl would disappear and he’d be no closer to figuring out where she was or why she was taken. He’d read through what little he’d been given on each of the missing women and hadn’t found a common thread between them. They’d varied in ages, from Alyssa at 23 to Ann Marsh at 36. There was no common hair color, eye color, or body shape. There was nothing that he could see that gave him an idea of who could be a potential target.

“Hey,” Claire whispered. She’d been awake for the past few minutes, watching him. He’d been staring so hard at the sky that she thought he had to be giving himself a headache. “Let it go for now.”

Galen tucked her into his side again, nodding. “I’ll try.”

***

Galen’s forensic and dive teams arrived at six the next morning. He’d given up on sleep around four, covering Claire with a blanket before leaving the boat. He’d paced back and forth along the dock until one of the father’s joined him. They’d talked for an hour, Galen listening to Mr. Prickett tell how he’d been embarrassed about his daughter’s behavior. Everyone in town had known what she was up to with the mayor.

That’s when Galen had remembered the common thread. Each of the women had had an affair with the mayor. The man had confessed to numerous affairs with women who hadn’t gone missing, so it wasn’t conclusive. But it gave him a place to start. Someone was picking the mayor’s ex-lover’s. Galen just had to figure out why.

Victoria had sent him a five-man dive team and a forensic pathologist with three assistants. Following close on the heels of his support teams was the press. Galen had to set up a perimeter around the marina to keep enterprising reporters from taking lurid photos of the bodies being recovered. Several shots still received a lot of airtime in the media, but short of creating a no-fly zone around the island, there was little he could do about it. Townsfolk were doing interviews and Mayor Jeff Anglove was not faring well in the court of public opinion. He’d tried to take up the public figurehead stance, but when several people in the town accused him of getting rid of his ex-lovers’, Anglove went into hiding.

Galen had checked in with his mother only to get an earful about the substantial increase in tourism and business. She was happy for it, but was also forced to work sixteen-hour days to handle the load. She said that Rebecca Anglove was doing fine and hadn’t gone into labour yet. “And your father is becoming a local celebrity in your stead. He has hours to stand around and chat with the press, but he can’t come in here for five minutes and serve my customers.”

Claire had offered up her barns for his teams to conduct their examinations. The hospital didn’t have all of the equipment they needed, nor did they have the space for it if it came. The Wallis Foundation offered to ferry or fly in anything they needed, and to cover the expense, which the provincial government quickly accepted. Flights to and from her barns were becoming so common that Claire had joked about installing a helipad.

It took the dive teams several hours to conduct their examinations around the burial site and several more to remove the bodies. Most of the bags had lost the air inside of them, so they had settled into the silt. The dive teams had to follow the length of cable to each bag, ensure that the bags were still intact and then begin the process of removal. The forensics teams put each bag on a gurney and transported it to the barn.

It took two days to get all of the bodies identified. Mostly because of the oldest body; the male. Dental records showed that he was Larry Streiber who, until the time of his disappearance, had worked at Trinity Trust as the bank manager. When he didn’t show up for work for several days, Trent West took over his position at the bank. Larry disappeared four years earlier and his family had never believed that he’d simply left the island without a word.

The pathologist, Dr. Page Yvonne, showed Galen that the death of the first individual, Mr. Streiber, was radically different from that of any of the women. Streiber had his neck snapped; clean and quick. All of the women showed marks of torture and abuse.

“This doesn’t mean I’m saying that you have two different killers, you understand,” Dr. Yvonne said. “Not yet, anyway.” Before Galen could even start to swear, she went on. “The bodies are remarkably well preserved, given the cold temperatures of the water and their nearly airless environment inside the body bags. I won’t get finger or palm prints from the older bodies; that’s just not possible anymore. But I can still judge the size of the hands involved. I believe they’re different, but as I said I need to run more tests to confirm.”

Galen left her to her tests, heading for the kitchen at Wallis House. Mac and Claire were waiting for him. Mac had brewed a vat of coffee for the divers and the doctors, so Galen helped himself to a cup. He sat at the table and wanted to put his head down and sleep for days, but there was too much work to do. He looked up at them and they saw it in his eyes.

“We may have more than one killer on the island.”

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