Dan was about to come up with another excuse when Ed walked into the office. He smiled over at Jeanie who was working on the daily paperwork that comes with the job. She flashed a smile back.
"Well, sheriff I'm sorry I took longer than expected to get back. Mike Harris wanted me to give you his preliminary autopsy report. So I had to wait around the coroner's office until he was done."
Ed Douglas was a little older than I was. In fact, he was the oldest deputy I had on staff. He was tall and stocky. You could tell by his height and build that he used to play football during high school many years ago. He used to be darn good too. If he wanted, he could have probably gone off to play for a college team. However, instead he went to the academy and pursued a career in law enforcement.
Ed made a great deputy. He got along with everyone, was easy going, and he rarely lost his cool. The only times I have ever notice Ed to lose his temper was a couple of times around Dan. For some reason Dan would occasionally get under his skin. Like the time Dan started banging around the coffeemaker Ed brought from home. Dan could not get it to work and when he can't get things to operate for some reason he thinks banging them around will fix the problem. Well, Ed said a couple of harsh words and then proceeded to plug the coffeemaker in. It has worked great since.
Don't get me wrong. Dan and Ed get along great, most of the time. They even spend a lot of their off time together.
"Well, what do we have?" I asked Ed as he slapped a file folder onto my desk.
"Miss Drummond died from someone slitting her throat with a sharp instrument. Most likely it was a knife of some sort."
I was paging through the report looking for anything that might catch my eye. "Ed, did Mike find any skin scrapings under Victoria's fingernails?"
"No, none. In fact, Doc Harris believes that there wasn't even a struggle. She has no signs of bruising or lacerations. It looks like she was caught by surprise."
"This case is getting stranger by the minute. You saw the crime scene. The place was busted up. You think it was staged?"
"I don't know sheriff? Johnny said there was a lot of yelling."
"In all that blood did you find any footprints?"
"The only footprints or fingerprints for that matter we found around the crime scene were the ones belonging to Johnny and you and of course the deceased. Everything else was smudged."
Dan's eyes widen. You could almost see the 15-watt light bulb blink on over his head. He snapped his fingers and then started to wave it around. "I got it sheriff!" he blurted out excitedly. I motioned for him to lower his voice. Even Brent and Betty looked over at us. We waited until they returned to their conversation then I motioned for Dan to continue.
"It's so obvious," Dan moved in closer to Ed and me before he began to share his revelation with us. "I think Johnny and Brent were working together. Johnny kills Victoria with Brent's hunting knife. He wipes off the handle in a hurry, but forgets to wipe off the blade because he's in a rush. He breaks up a few things inside the house. Runs out and hands the knife to Brent. Brent tosses it inside his backpack and starts off down Upper Country road not paying attention to the bloody blade.
"Johnny waits a little while so Brent can get down to Lower Country road before he calls in the body. I find Brent. He makes up this story of being assaulted and you respond to the call. You find Johnny and he tells you some story. Therefore, you never suspect it's him. You'll dismiss his footprints because you think it's someone else. Pretty cleaver right?"
"Dan, you amaze me," I said looking at Ed who was rolling his eyes. Brent started smiling his goofy smile again. "You absolutely amaze me. I don't know where to begin. Your story is so full of holes and is pure speculation."
Dan's smile disappeared from his face. "Well, I uh..." Dan began to stumble for words. "I was just brainstorming."
"Yeah, that was a real cloud burst," Ed started to laugh.
I stood up and grabbed my hat. "Dan, I want you to check out everything about Brent Underwood. I want to know about his daily routine. I want his work records and I want you to interview his coworkers, friends and family."
"Where are you going sheriff?" Dan asked.
"I have to talk to the grieving family."Posted by deg at November 29, 2006 7:31 PM