Mystery and Crime Fiction posted March 25, 2013 Chapters:  ...32 33 -34- 35... 


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Memories and Mayhem

A chapter in the book Along the Jericho Road

Osteya Moon

by Writingfundimension

Previously: A woman has been ritually murdered and a man is missing. The Detectives of Granite Mountain are scrambling to come up with witnesses and clues to both events. Complicating matters is the involvement of the pastor of the Catholic church the two victims attended, Father Brian DeShano, and a nebulous connection to a ten-year old pedophile case.
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The effect of Matthew Buell's offer of $10,000 to find his father exceeded Sheriff Oleson's fears. The Task Force detectives were straight-jacketed by tips ranging from a caller, certain she was sitting next to the missing man at a fast food restaurant, to a fisherman who panicked when his line snagged on a submerged log.

Derek chafed at the administrative position he'd assumed, moving detectives about like a chess master and trying to stay on top of the details of two converging cases. His constituency expected him to prioritize developments and make a case that would hold up in court. Though it was pure torture for a physical guy like Derek to be chained to his desk, duty trumped personal preference.

Monitoring without interfering was his motto, which had proven effective in prior investigations. He encouraged his detectives to lead with their skills and follow with their noses. He'd seen too many cases go cold because cops failed to grasp the larger view.

There'd been no ransom demand for Fritz Buell but Derek had notified the FBI, just in case he'd been kidnapped and taken across state lines. It turned out to be a good call having the Feds available considering the steaming pile of crap in which his department was currently immersed.

Derek kicked back from his desk and stretched his legs to lengthen his torso. He pressed his knuckles into the muscles along both sides of his lower spine and sighed as he felt the knots release. Averaging five hours of restless sleep was beginning to take its toll.

A shelved memory surfaced on his drive to the station that morning. Because of its persistence, he decided to visit the scene in his mind.

Early in the Padget murder investigation, he'd encountered a suspicious man at St. Matilde's rectory where he'd gone to interview Father Brian. "The priest denied it, but I know there was a third person in that rectory. Why would Father Brian lie to me?" 

"The stranger addressed me by name without a glance in my direction and claimed to be expecting me. Only Father Brian knew I was coming by for an interview after wrapping up at the crime scene. His claim that he saw no one and heard nothing doesn't add up."

In light of disturbing revelations concerning Father Brian, Derek chastised himself for letting a possible accomplice in the murder of Debra Padget slip from his grasp. It was of little comfort that he'd executed a thorough search of the study and found no means of escape. The man had, apparently, come and gone like a fragment of errant fog.

Derek removed his reading glasses, laid them inside the case on his desk and turned his back on the view of the grim faces toiling away in the bullpen.

A narrow window at the rear of his office afforded a view of the playground of Prescott Park. The decision to build a law enforcement center adjacent to the city park was a controversial one. Neighborhood parents felt the proximity to a criminal element presented a clear threat to their children's safety.

"When did the public start to question law enforcement's ability to prevent violent crime?" Derek blamed it on dirty cops that were like cancer cells bullying their way through a healthy organism. 

Derek's chair squeaked as he leaned back to enjoy a slice of normalcy. He watched a twenty-something mother hurry to keep up with her curious, energetic toddler. The boy's blonde hair curled about his neck, and his cheeks were flushed with exertion. As his mother pushed him on the swing, Derek could see the child's legs flailing in an effort to reach higher.

He wants to push the limits and be safe at the same time.

A knock on the door drew his attention from the tranquil vignette.

"C'mon in."

"You asked me to remind you of the Task Force meeting, Sheriff," his secretary announced from the doorway. "It's in twenty minutes."

"Thanks, Megan."

He lingered long enough to see the mother remove her child from the swing's seat and hug him to her chest. As she whirled him around and around, Derek could almost hear the boy's joyous laughter.

Crossing to the window, he drew the blinds and obliterated the happy scene. The young mother would expect him to keep her child safe, just as Debra and Fritz had. At the moment, he felt he was failing the citizens of Granite Mountain, leaving them exposed to an amoral avenger. Snatching up his glasses, he headed for the conference room.

Derek was the first to arrive. He set a carafe of coffee on the table and sat down near the evidence board. Crime scene photos of Debra Padget's body and the bedroom where she was murdered took up most of its space. Like beggars at the gate, photographs of Frtiz Buell, his car and the location of his abduction, formed a lone, straight line at one edge of the board.

He turned at the sound of the door opening. Jana entered alone. Her eyes went from his face to the board at his back, and Derek drank in the play of muscle, memory and emotion her features displayed. He wasn't sure when or why, but he had a strong sense the case had become intensely personal for his young detective.

"I'm glad you're the first to arrive, Jana. I'm anxious to hear what you've come up with on Father Brian's background."

Jana placed a file on the table, pulled out a chair and sat. She opened the folder and searched through reports, separating out the facsimile of a letter. Placing the paper on the table between them, she commented, "This is a copy of the letter Monsignor Flaherty sent recommending Father Brian for seminary admittance. I've highlighted the areas I think you'll find pertinent."

He glanced sideways, but her neutral expression gave no hint of her thoughts.

Derek withdrew his reading glasses from their case, picked up the letter and read it through twice to be sure he'd not missed any nuances.

Monsignor Flaherty related how a desperate Brian DeShano approached him following morning Mass. He offered to hear his confession, but the young man wanted to talk face-to-face about the  thoughts that plagued him. His mother's suicide had pitched him into  despair, and he feared succumbing to the voices urging him to follow her to the grave.

The letter went on to describe the healing Brian DeShano had experienced through the grace of God's sacraments. When he asked the Monsignor to sponsor him for the seminary, he'd been happy to do so.

'This young man is destined to be an exceptionally compassionate shepherd to other struggling souls,' Monsignor Flaherty had written, 'and I'm pleased to offer his name for consideration.'

Derek laid the letter down and stared into space. "Aside from the fact  a convicted pedophile wrote this letter, it appears innocent."

"What if the healing mentioned was more personal than this letter suggests?" Jana murmured.

"More personal... as in sexual, Jana? "

"Intimate in some way," she shot back. "If Father Brian had been in love with his benefactor, and later discovered that he'd just been another one of his victims, it could have led to a mental breakdown. The letter claims he admitted to Monsignor Flaherty he heard voices in his head urging him to do bad things."

"A plausible theory.Tell me... "

Jana clasped her hands together and steepled her fingers. "I think in some twisted way, Father Brian may have needed to murder Debra Padget to cleanse himself of guilt."

"For being a pedophile himself?"

"No! For failing to save the boys from abuse, just like he failed to keep his mother from suicide."

"But why kill someone who witnessed the abuse and... kept... quiet..." His eyes lit up with understanding. "You think he's projecting his guilt onto his victims and killing them to bury his sins?"

"It's one possibility."

"One possibility? You have another?"

Jana fidgeted in her seat. Her head was down but her words were clear and strong. "We Sioux believe in the power of the unseen to determine our destiny." Her eyes were bright with challenge. "This may sound like superstition, but I assure you it is something I have personally experienced."

"I don't doubt you, Jana," Derek answered with more passion than he'd intended.

The young detective's words tumbled out. "I think there is a supernatural force influencing a human agent to do its evil deeds. Whether that agent is Father Brian, I am not prepared to say. But, my gut tells me it would be easy for someone with inside knowledge of church affairs and his personal history to set him up."

She added, "I've been able to verify that Father Brian has solid alibis for the night of the Padget murder and the morning of the Buell abduction. In both cases, a number of people will vouch for him. Unless he has an accomplice, there's no way he committed these crimes."

Jana's phone buzzed and she glanced at the caller I.D. The name was both startling and unexpected.

"Detective Burke."

"Hi, Cuz. We found your missing Wasicu out here at Mullet Lake."

"Ty, tell me he's alive."

"Wish I could. Pretty gruesome scene here. I've secured the area and have done all I need to do. Now, it's your turn."

"We'll have detectives and a CSI team there as soon as we can."

"Jana, your uncle Tony found the body. Any reason you need him to wait for you?"

"How's he holding up, Ty?"

"Hard to say."

Code for he's standing nearby, and you don't want to offend him.

"Take him home will you? We can stop by the house afterwards."

Derek guessed the nature of the call and as Jana tucked away her phone she could see her boss was visibly deflated by the news. "I want you and Rick to work together on this one, Jana. I've got to locate Matthew Buell before he hears about this from someone else. I'll have my work cut out keeping him and his know-it-all private eye from descending on the crime scene."

Jana quickly gathered her notes and rose. Derek laid his fingertips on her sleeve. "I'm not questioning your ability, but keep me informed on every phase. We have not only Matthew Buell involved, but the F.B.I, and now Reservation Law Enforcement. There's a hundred different ways I can see this going all to hell."



Recognized


Characters:

Detective Jana Burke: Homicide Detective with the Granite Mountain Sheriff's Department and member of the Sioux tribe.
Detective Rick Morales: Detective with the Granite Mountain Sheriff's Deparment who is secretly in love with Jana Burke.
Sheriff Derek Oleson: Head of the Granite Mountain Sheriff's Department.
Ty Longacre: Tribal policeman and Jana Burke's cousin.

Fritz Buell: A elderly man abducted while visiting his wife's grave.
Matthew Buell: Wealthy industrialist and son of the missing man.
Monsignor Lewis Flaherty: A cleric convicted of pedophilia who died while incarcerated for his crimes.
Father Brian DeShano: Pasto of St. Matilde's Catholic Church in Granite Mountain.
Debra Padget: Elderly murder victim, also a member of St. Matilde's Catholic Church.

Terms:
Bullpen: The working area of a police station.
Cold case: A case that has not been solved.

Sioux Terms:
Osteya (bad luck) A/Oh/Shday/Yah
Wasicu: White Man

Many thanks to adrianart for the awesome artwork accompanying this chapter.
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