The apartment was comparable to a closet, and as cluttered. Any important details were shrouded, however, by a lively cleanup crew that swept around the place in hazard suits.
I knocked the crime scene tape out of my way and snatched one of the cleaners by the arm. “Where’s the body?”
“You’re not supposed to be in here, sir.”
I rolled my eyes and flashed my badge. “Where’s the body?”
The cleaner shook her head. “She was taken to be autopsied. The scene was already cleared.”
“Dammit,” I spat between my teeth.
“Jamie does work fast,” Alicia mumbled.
“Were you here?” I asked the cleaner. “When they were still collecting evidence, were you around? Did you see the place before they started cleanup?”
“I’ve been here all day.”
“Then tell us everything you know. How Risa Mullohan died, where she was found, anything that sticks out in your mind as out of the ordinary.”
The woman shrugged, overwhelmed. “She was on the bed. Someone said it looked like an overdose. I don’t know anything else. There wasn’t much to see.”
“An OD,” I brooded. “Accidental?”
“I don’t know, sir. I don’t think that other cop knew either. That’s why they ordered the autopsy.”
“What is it she took?” Alicia asked.
“You’re people bagged it up. I didn’t see it. But there were needles, so I think she shot it up, if that helps.”
Alicia pressed her lips into a line. “That doesn’t sound like foul play, Cam. That sounds like a drug addict going too hard. We’ve seen it a thousand times before.”
I smirked, almost giddy for the first time. After offering my thanks to the cleaner and sending her on her way, I guided Alicia onto the landing outside the door. “We’re onto something.”
“Risa Mullohan was not an addict.”
She pinched her nose up in confusion. “You can’t know that.”
“I’ve been following the Canns case for two years. I promise that she wasn’t.”
“She didn’t get custody of her kids for a reason. Maybe this was the reason.”
“She lost custody because she couldn’t sustain a decent life for them. She was next to broke. I mean, look around. She lived here.”
“In a drug den.” She crossed her arms to punctuate her point.
“She lived here because it was cheap. Not everyone lives in a bad part of town because they’re bad. Some people are just down on their luck and Risa Mullohan was one of those people.”
“A lot can happen in two years. Hell, maybe losing the kids pushed her over the edge.”
“We’ve been monitoring, keeping an eye on her. She was never eliminated as a suspect. But she kept her nose clean. Nothing ever threw up red flags.”
“So you’re convinced that someone made it look this way as a coverup.”
“It’s the only explanation.”
“But whoever it was would have to believe that she was a junkie, otherwise they would have covered it up another way. Make her down a bottle of sleeping pills or something and make it look like suicide.”
“That’s definitely what they should have done. I assumed that’s what it was until the cleaner kept talking. I would’ve bought that story. Risa works a crappy, low paying job and lost everyone that mattered to her. Depression would fit the bill.”
“So why go this route?”
“Maybe they didn’t know her, or they’re trying to send some kind of message?”
Gloom passed over Alicia’s face. “And this still doesn’t connect us with the boys.”
I squeezed my eyes shut in thought. “If we approach it as if they are connected, maybe that could help us.”
“Pretending like whoever took the boys is also the murderer, we can narrow down a motive.”
“But if we’re wrong we’ll be heading in the complete wrong direction.”
“Any better ideas?” I griped.
She huffed with a shake of her head. “I guess not.”
“Great. So working from the abduction, we decided that the kidnapper is someone that knew Sawyer, Curtis, and Owen.”
“And most likely knew Risa too, if they killed her.”
“Someone with decent knowledge of the family, but maybe doesn’t know everything.”
“Since they assumed Risa Mullohan was a junkie.”
Alicia rubbed her forehead in concentration. “So they probably knew about the custody battle. I admit that I thought Risa might be a druggie based on the fact that she lost. Maybe that’s what this person did too.”
“So they knew about the split, but not any details. They knew where Sawyer lived and apparently knew where Risa lived. They grabbed the boys after school, knew when and where they would be.”
“This almost sounds like an acquaintance, with the bare minimum of intel,” she posed.
“A wealthy acquaintance,” I added.
One of Risa’s neighbors cast a strange look on us as they slipped into their room.
Alicia cleared her throat. “Maybe we should continue this in the car.”
My gaze froze on the unit next door. “A neighbor.”
She scoffed, “You think that random guy did it?”
“Not him specifically,” I grumbled. “I mean a neighbor in general. Not one of hers.”
“But one of Sawyer’s,” Alicia filled in. “Risa used to live there before they split up. The neighbors would get wind of almost everything. The gossip would be insane.”
“And calling Risa a junkie is just the sort of gossip that would spread around a community like that.”
“That narrows it down to an entire neighborhood.”
“It’s more than we had before,” I remarked. “Let’s go.”
She dragged me back as I tried to dart for the car. “It’s all conjecture.”
“Conjecture is what I do.”
“But this is a real life case, right in front of you,” she chided. “You’re having to deal with real people now and that’s my department. You have to be careful where you throw accusations. You have to have evidence in your hands to back up the claims.”
“Or maybe,” I cut in, “you guys should approach things more like me. I usually have very little evidence to go off of and I have to get creative. Out-of-the-box thinking. If you followed your instincts more and stopped worrying about pissing people off, maybe we’d get more criminals behind bars.”
She stiffened and her chocolate eyes darkened almost to black. “Are you criticizing the way I do my job?”
My gut twisted with guilt. “That’s not what I meant, Alicia. You know I get to talking and I stick my foot in my mouth. I’m just really hyped up to find these boys.”
“And I am on your side, so don’t be attacking me.”
“Tell me,” she goaded, “where do you even plan on us going with this now? Back to Sawyer’s house? Canvasing the whole street? Besides having a flimsy idea of a location, do you have any other clues to steer you in the right direction? You’re the one that said time is of the essence. You wanna waste time chatting up everyone that lives within five miles of Sawyer?”
“That’s faster than anything else.”
“Faster than finding more evidence so we can go directly to the source of all this?”
“Fine,” I finally snipped. “How ‘bout this. You go searching for more clues while I go scour the neighborhood and we’ll see who gets to the boys first?”
“You don’t work in the field and so far your interviews have been a little rough around the edges. If you’re going to be talking to people I think you’ll need me there.”
I put my hands on my hips. “Because I need a babysitter or because you think my way will get better results and you don’t wanna admit it?”
A sneer lifted her lip. “I’ll do it my way. Good luck with yours.”
I extended a hand to her. “Last one to the kidnapper/killer buys dinner?”
“You’re making a bet on a couple of missing boys,” she mused.
“I’m confident I’ll find them whether we bet or not, so might as well have a little fun while doing it. Too scared, Roberts?”
She seized my hand, threatening to crush my bones. “It’s on.”
To be continued in Bridges 6...
© 2021 by Kelsey Garber