Mystery and Crime Fiction posted February 21, 2021 Chapters:  ...23 24 -25- 26... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
The detectives are following up on a promising lead.

A chapter in the book Where Are All The Children

Promising Leads

by Mistydawn

The traffic is unusually heavy for this time of day, making tailing a suspect more difficult. Toni didn't want to get too close to where she'd be noticed, but she wanted to be within a certain range so he couldn't get away. This would be a lot easier if I'd put a tracker on the doc's car, she thinks, weaving around the morning commuters.

She follows him from Martin Luther King Blvd. to a small house over on Larchwood Rd. The towering shrubbery surrounding it and the sizable yard make the dwelling difficult to see. Picking up the binoculars, Toni studies the meager home.

The white single-story wasn't fancy, but it was far from being a shack. Its old-style framework, towering pillars, spacious porch, fancy awning, and trim make a spectator believe it was built around the turn of the century.

Toni scans at the houses that surround it. There's one on either side and two across the way. They, too, are early 19th Century Homes. You'd think the neighbors would get suspicious, seeing young girls coming in and out all the time.

Getting out of his car, the doc unlocks the door.

Toni snaps a picture of him crossing the yard and then a few of him entering the house. She zooms in, hoping to look inside only to discover the blinds are closed. I wonder who owns this place.

Exchanging the eyepiece for a tablet, she types the address into the system. So this is the doc's family home, and it's been handed down since it was first built. Is this his only place or does he own property somewhere else?

Toni is typing his name into the system when she hears a knock on her window. She turns to find a tall, burly gentleman beside her. She rolls her window down.

The man takes a firm stance and asks, "Can I help you with something?"

"My realtor said this house might be up for sale, so I wanted to take a look, you know, get a jump on it before someone else does."

"I don't see the doc and his wife putting their home up for sale, not with them running their charity from it and all."

An inquisitive expression crosses her face. She tilts her head to the side and asks, "His charity?"

"That's right. He takes runaways, kids who fell through the cracks, aged out of the system off the streets. He gives them a place to stay, helps them get an education so they can make a life for themselves."

Toni rolls her eyes. He educates them alright, but it's nothing like what you think. "His wife helps him with this?"

"His second wife. His first wife passed years back." He lowers his head and continues. "Cancer took the poor dear quick."

Toni glances towards the house and then the man. Maybe he got rid of her and used the diagnosis as a way to explain her disappearance.

"His current wife is how this charity came to be. She stumbled into the ER one day, all broken, bruised. The doc asked what happened, and she told him her story, how she managed to escape. She went on to say there were over two dozen in the home waiting to be saved, how a majority of them are from the neighboring Indian villages. The doc decided to set up a place they could go to for help, get their lives back on track."

He'd have to have a license for that if his story is legit. "Maybe he decided to move to somewhere bigger, so he can get more troubled kids off the street."

"It's possible, I suppose, since they seem to be getting new girls in all the time." The neighbor chuckles and says, "I was telling my wife just this morning that they're going to need to trade their van in for a bus before long. My wife laughed and said watching them pile in and out reminds her of the clown cars she used to see at the circus when she was a girl. Despite the crowding, the doc and his wife manage to take the kids to school and pick them up every day. You can almost set your watch by them."

"You'd think it would be easier to homeschool."

"That was his original intentions, but with the extra licensing and the department of education's strict guidelines, they quickly discovered it was more of a hassle than what it was worth."

Or he's taking them to massage parlors, different motels using the school as an excuse. Toni's phone rings. Realizing it's the captain, she turns to the man and says, "Excuse me a second." Scooping up, she answers, "Se...Sarah, hi, you're right, the house at 22 Larchwood road is perfect, just what hubby and I are looking for...That's right; I'm here now." She glances at the man and smiles. "His neighbor was telling me about the doc's charitable efforts, getting runaways off the street.....He and his wife decided not to sell? Oh, what a shame.....Sounds like a plan. I'll meet you at your office in a few." She turns towards the man. "My realtor just told me the doc decided not to sell after all." She eyes the house, sighs, and says, "It would've been perfect too. Well, it's been nice talking to you." Rolling up her window, Toni drives away.

Doc notices the sergeant's unmarked vehicle drive by when he steps onto the spacious porch. He then notices his friend walking towards his house. "The cops are questioning my neighbors. That's not good, not good at all." Pulling the cell from his pocket, he darts inside.


The undercover officer and Jamal follow their suspect from the restaurant to his office. It was one of the large tan buildings off of Peachtree drive. The business district of midtown Atlanta.

Jamal turns to Jarrad and says, "I'd love to get ears in the office and a bug on his computer to find out what's going on."

"I can help with that, sir." The officer smiles. "All I have to do is send a link to his cell. Once he opens it, we'll have full access to his phone." Noticing the surprise on Jamal's face, he explains. "We use this in our undercover work when their provider is giving us grief or taking too long to respond."

"How do you propose we get him to click the link?"

"Easy, I'll disguise it as a picture of a young girl. Make it look like it came from his partner's cell. As long as his phone is on, we'll have the ability to listen to his conversations both on the device and what's going on around him."

Jamal laughs. "The criminals don't stand a chance when you're on the job, do they?"

Jarrad smiles. "I just even the odds, make it harder for the criminals to get away."

Jamal remembers the captain's warning about taking shortcuts. "Your techniques are all well and good, but let's get a wiretap order just to be safe."

The young cop smiles and says, "I know a judge who owes me a few favors." Picking up his phone, he scans his list of contacts.

"Where did you learn this stuff anyway?"

"I was the guy you guys nicknamed the Midnight Hacker."

Jamal recalls a fifteen-year-old juvenile being arrested for committing over three million dollars worth of cyber crimes. With a surprised look on his face, he asks, "That was you?"
The officer chuckles. "I'm afraid so. When I served my time in Juvie an officer asked me to help him stop a cyber attack. He was so impressed with my work that he offered me a full-time job. I do undercover work as a favor to the boss." 

"I'm glad you're on our side."

Jarrad smiles. "Me too, sir, me too."

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