Two experts team up to catch a deadly serial killer
"The fall must have been what killed her," said the chief, a high ranking bureaucrat who had little sense when it came to solving crimes. He'd been promoted to chief solely because he was good at playing politics. "This clearly screams accident. Cased closed."
"But the evidence shows that she was dead when she fell. From the M.E.'s report, she was strangled. How does that say accident?" pressed Detective Clint. "Plus, you can't ignore the fact that a red ribbon was tied around her neck. It has similarities to..."
"The evidence shows that she fell from a great height and died. The fall killed her. She happened to have a red ribbon tied around her neck when she fell. I will grant that there are a few measly similarities between this case and THAT case, but it's just a coincidence. You're to write it up as an accident, and leave it at that. Understood?" Clint grudgingly nodded his head. "Good. If that's all, I have other matters to attend to."
Clint left the chief's office. "You might believe it's an accident, but I know otherwise," Clint muttered under his breath has he headed back to his desk.
Connor Clint, a police detective of eight years, stepped up to the door and knocked. After his meeting with the chief, he quickly wrote the report as an accident and left quickly taking the case file with him. If the chief wouldn't listen to him, there was someone else who would. If this was the same case, he'd be able to find it.
The door that was painted green with the number 3 on it, opened. A young man of 23, maybe, stuck his head out the door. He had blond disheveled hair, blue eyes, and a faint trace of stubble. He looked groggily at Clint. "What are you doing here?" he demanded. "I don't remember inviting you to dinner, or inviting you to anything for that matter. So, why are you here?"
Clint put on a friendly, casual smile. "It's been awhile, Greg. Five years, I think. I wanted to come by and see how you were doing, check up on you, and see how school was going for you." Greg glared at Clint.
"You've never cared to know how I was doing before. I highly doubt you were struck by the need to be considerate of me, especially after not seeing me for five years. Whatever you want, go ask someone else." Greg started to close the door but Clint wedged his foot in it to stop it.
"I'm not leaving, Greg. I need help, and you're the only one that can help me. Just let me in, tell me what I need to know, and I'll be out of your messy hair before you know it." Greg glared at him.
"Fine! But this better not take long." Greg opened the door and let Clint into his apartment.
It looked like a crime scene all its own. Articles of clothing strewn everywhere, bowls of what must have once contained food where scattered around the room. Books were piled on the coffee table, beside the couch, on top of the TV, and in several corners. Clint was slightly appalled. "When was the last time you cleaned?" Greg glanced at Clint's horrified face.
"You know I have little skill when it comes to housework. I hired a housekeeper to come once a week."
"It looks like she hasn't come here in several weeks!"
Greg shook his head. "She was here on Monday. The place looked wonderful when she was done," he said with a smile.
"But today is Wednesday! How could it get this bad after only two days?!" Clint was completely appalled at Greg's lack of basic cleaning skills.
Greg just shrugged and stated, "I couldn't sleep last night, so I stayed up and watched a little TV. Then I had an epiphany and so I was stayed up even later looking through a few books..."
"A FEW?!", Clint questioned.
Greg glared. "Are you here to criticize my terrible housekeeping or did you come here for some other reason?" Clint gave the room one more look and turned his attention to Greg and then stated the reason he'd come.
"It's about this case," Clint explained. "A woman was found dead at the bottom of a cliff. M.E. says that she was dead before she fell, strangled."
Greg nodded. "Ok. Seems like a simple thing, it was murder. I don't understand why you came to me."
"That's what I said. The chief, however, said that it looked like an accident and that that's how I was to write it up in the report", Clint exclaimed.
"So, that's why you came to me. Your high ranking, bureaucratic boss told you something you didn't agree with!", Greg smirked. "What do you expect me to do?"
"I want you to take a look at this case and a case that it has similarities with and see if you can find anything that would tie them together. Should be simple enough, right?"
"I suppose I can take a look, but why come to me with this? You could have easily gone to someone in the department. It probably would have been a lot easier."
"For two reasons. One, no one in the department would have been able to change the chief's mind or go over his head. And two, no one in the department solved nine cases between the ages of seventeen and eighteen."
Clint walked into the police station. He'd spent half the night explaining the case and particulars to Greg. When he left, he could tell that Greg was completely absorbed in the case. He knew that something would come from his help.
As Clint walked up to his desk, he noticed that there was an envelope addressed to him. He opened the envelope, and found a small strip of paper inside.
One falling leaf may herald the coming of autumn.
Clint reread the phrase that was printed on the paper. He was unsettled. An envelope addressed to him, containing a small strip of paper, which had an odd phrase printed on it. The phrase meant nothing to him, and yet it meant everything. He was chilled to the very bone. Clint grabbed his keys and coat along with the envelope and left the police station that he had just entered.
It had taken Clint ten minutes to drive to Greg's apartment. "Open up, Greg!" Clint said as he pounded on the door. "I got some possible evidence!" Greg would see the connection that Clint knew was there and yet couldn't comprehend between the cases and the odd little note.
The door flew open. "WILL YOU SHUT UP?!", Greg roared in a harsh whisper. "You're making a racket loud enough to wake the dead!"
Clint shoved the envelope into Greg's hands and said, "This note was on my desk when I got to the station this morning." Greg removed the strip of paper from the envelope and read it. He gave Clint a grim smile.
"Congratulations, Clint. You have a serial killer on your hands", Greg concluded.
Clint sat down on Greg's cluttered couch and questioned, "How do you know that the cases are connected and that this is a serial killer?" Greg was attempting to pick up several books that littered the floor.
"Well, the red ribbon tied around both victims' necks raises suspicions, but this note convinces me."
"How? If I'm going to open a full investigation into these deaths, I need proof."
"Look at the name," Greg said distractedly. "Rurik is a male Slavic name meaning red. Liaison is French, and it means ‘to bind' or link. A definition of link is something that encircles, and a synonym for link fitting that definition is ribbon; thus, ‘Red Ribbon'."
"Christ. So, you're telling me that this whack job has a title for himself?"
"No. I'm saying that's how he's showing that we're dealing with the same person."
"What else can you tell from the note?" Greg thought for a few minutes.
"Well, it's most likely a man. He has a flair for the dramatics. He knows that you're connected to both cases and that you'd realize the importance of this note. Oh, and he's intent on killing again."
"I could have told you the last part!" Clint screamed.
Greg shook his head. "You're not hearing me. The first time he killed he didn't leave a note, did he?" Clint shook his head. "Why would that be? Because he was trying it out. The second time he was gaining experience, and now he's telling us that he has no intention of stopping. He's basically saying, 'this is the beginning of the season of death'."
"So, what can we do?"
"Nothing. I'm still looking into a few things in the case files that you brought me last night. Just head back to the station and do your job. I'll contact you when I've finished. All we can do now is wait for another body to turn up."
Clint sat down at his desk. It had been three days since he'd found the envelope on his desk. He'd had forensics go over it, but they'd found nothing. Greg hadn't contacted him since they'd spoken three days ago and another body hadn't turned up yet. Clint was getting frustrated. He didn't want another body to turn up, but if he was ever going to catch this guy he needed another body.
The phone rang. "Clint," he answered.
The body was positioned. That was the first change that Clint had noticed. Where the other ones had just been left where they died, this one was positioned. The victim, another woman, lay on the floor. She had a yellow silk sheet wrapped around her with her arms folded on top of her chest. The red ribbon was wrapped around her neck as if she was a Christmas present. By her head, was a vase of fresh red roses. A card had been with them that read:
Flowers for her grave
"Damn," muttered Clint. He pulled out his cell phone and punch in a number. When the other line was picked up he said, "Greg, we have another body."
"Here are the crime scene photos," Clint said as he sat down on Greg's couch. The house keeper had been there, because the apartment was now clutter free. Clint felt a lot more comfortable now that the apartment was clean. "The body was positioned? This is the first time he's ever done that." Greg was looking through the photos.
"That's to be expected. He's evolving, gaining experience, becoming bolder. The next victim will most likely also be staged like this. He most likely has a powerful sense of the theatrics. In his mind this is probably a performance", explained Greg.
"So you think this freak doesn't know what he's doing?" demanded Clint.
"No, he knows exactly what he's doing. He also most likely knows that what he's doing is wrong, but he doesn't care. He's a complete psychopath."
Clint got out of his car and headed up the walkway to his house, a small three bedroom, two bath ranch-style house. He bought it shortly before his wife left him, which was about four years ago. All of his friends told him to sell the house and to move into an apartment, but he liked the house even if it did have painful memories.
As he stepped up to the front door, he saw that there was something taped to it. He peeled it off the door. He knew it was white and that it was made of stiff paper but, other than that, it was impossible to tell in the dark. He unlocked the front door, stepped into the entry hall, and turned on the hall light. It was an envelope with his name on it. A chill passed through him. He ripped it open and found a letter inside.
Dear Mr. Clint,
I hope you have enjoyed my latest masterpiece as I enjoyed creating it. My next piece will be even greater, and I hope that you wait with anticipation.
"Damn," Clint muttered. He dropped the things that were in his arms and pulled out his gun. He went from room to room, turning on every light, checking to see if anyone was in his house. When he found no one, he went back to the hall and picked up the letter to reread it. "Damn," he muttered again.
He went into his kitchen and grabbed his home phone and dialed Greg's number. When Greg picked up, Clint said, "He knows where I live. This goddamn freak knows where I live!"
Clint was at his desk, finishing up a report on a case that had just been solved. It'd been a week since he'd found that letter taped to his front door. When he'd gone to Greg with the letter, Greg hadn't been very surprised by it.
"You knew he knows who you are. Granted, I didn't expect him to do something this bold so soon but it's not that unusual for a murderer of this type," Greg had said. "What interests me is that he refers to the last murder as a ‘masterpiece'. He not only sees himself as a performer, but an artist. His pathology is interesting. Also on the card that was with the roses and this letter, he uses the term ‘friend'. I'll have to re-examine everything, but the good news is that we can go to the police chief soon. I think we need just one more body."
Nothing, however, had happened. The week had passed without incident which was worrysome.
"Hey, Clint," someone said. Clint turned to see Detective Bob Conrad standing behind him. "I was wondering if you'd look at something for me."
"Sure," said Clint. Conrad had only been promoted to the rank of detective a few months ago and was usually asking for second opinions from the senior detectives. Clint thought that he was a rookie, but that he had a lot of potential.
"There's this case that I received two days ago. Two sisters, Melanie, sixteen and Tabitha, eighteen, went missing and no one has seen any sign of them since. It appears that they ran away, but I think that maybe they were abducted..."
"What makes you think that?"
"Well, it seems that they came from a loving home, supportive parents, wonderful friends. They had a great life! Nothing to cause them to run away, and that's why it seems that they were abducted. The only flaw with my theory is that there isn't any sign of a struggle!"
"Hmmm. Maybe there wasn't a struggle. It's possible that it was a blitz attack. Look to see if you can find any evidence of that. Oh, and I'll keep my eyes open for anything that may help."
Tabitha was posed like the previous body. She was sitting motionlessly on a plush, maroon, velvet chair. She was in a blood red dress with no shoes on and a red ribbon tied around her neck. Her hair was done up and she had make-up on. She looked as if she was merely waiting for her date to arrive, to whisk her off to some party.
"Well, you got what you wanted. This one was a missing girl that a newly promoted detective was trying to find, along with her sister," said Clint as he sat down on Greg's cluttered, yet again, couch after he handed the crime scene photos to Greg.
"Was her sister found along with her?"
"No. The sister, sixteen, is still missing. Like the other two victims, there was no sexual assault. And, like the last two victims, she was strangled."
"Hmmm. He's no longer inexperienced. He's found the best method to kill his victims and he has settled on his signature. What I find most interesting is his choice of victim this time."
"What do you mean?", Clint asked, puzzled.
"In the past three victims, he chose one woman at a time, between 20-30 years of age. Now, all of a sudden, he choose two teenage girls. He's done something so uncharacteristic of him. I'm wondering why. But, we now have enough evidence to go to the police chief about this serial killer."
"Hello, Greg," said the police chief as he stood up while Clint and Greg were walking into his office. "I haven't seen you in five years. What brings you here?"
"I'm here to bring a case to your attention. A case that you overlooked, and that you need to correct your mistake with now."
The chief glared first at Clint then at Greg. "What do you mean?"
"What I mean is this. About a month ago, a woman, brunette, mid-twenties, was found stabbed to death. Tied around her neck was a red ribbon. No culprit has been found, and the case is still open."
"Your point?" growled the police chief.
"A week later, a woman was found at the bottom of a cliff with a red ribbon also tied around her neck. Evidence shows that she was strangled before she fell, or rather was thrown, off that cliff. You had Detective Clint write it up as an accident. You ignored the M.E.'s report."
"One was strangled, and one was stabbed. Both had ribbons tied around their necks. This doesn't mean they're the same case."
"Almost two weeks ago, Clint came to work and found a note on his desk. Here's a photo of it," Greg said as he passed a photo of the note.
"Alright....Who the hell is Rurik Liaison?"
" A name that the killer used to identify that he was the same murderer to us. Rurik is a male Slavic name meaning red. Liaison is French, and it means ‘to bind' or link. A definition of link is something that encircles, and a synonym for link fitting that definition is ribbon. Thus, the name means 'Red Ribbon'. The same signature as the serial killer."
"I haven't designated this as a serial killer, and this could simply be a prank!"
"Possible, but add this with the previous evidence and the current evidence, it now creates a compelling argument. Three days after receiving this note, another body was discovered. This one was staged. This victim also had a red ribbon tied around her neck and died by strangulation. Next to her body was a vase of red roses and a card that read 'Flowers for her grave -A friend'."
"I see a few similarities..."
"That very night, Clint arrived at his house to find a letter in an envelope taped to his front door. It said 'Dear Mr. Clint, I hope you have enjoyed my latest masterpiece as I enjoyed creating it. My next piece will be even greater, and I hope that you are waiting with anticipation. -Your Friend'. Both notes had the term 'friend'.
A week after the letter arrived, two sisters went missing. A few days later, the older sister, Tabitha, turns up dead -- also staged, also a red ribbon tied around her neck, and also strangled. The younger sister, Melanie, is still missing. She is probably being held against her will by the murderer.
Four bodies, all with red ribbons tied around their necks, all women, all had no signs of sexual assault. Three of the bodies were strangled, and two of them were staged. I'm certain this is the work of a serial killer."
"What you've told me doesn't add up to serial killings. It adds up to random acts of murder. Now if you're done, please leave."
"Listen, if you won't designate this as a serial killing, I'll go to the mayor with this case. He is your boss, correct? He owes me a few favors, remember? And, I'll tell him how you were neglectful in your duties and that you allowed a serial killer to continue to roam free."
The police chief paled at Greg's words. "Alright, I'll designate this as a serial killing."
"And, you'll provide us with a task force."
"Alright," sighed the chief
"We're dealing with a psychopath here. He called the third victim his 'masterpiece', causing me to believe that he thinks of himself as an artist. Keeping that in mind, it's not that big of a leap to say he is a narcissist. Making light of these murders or insulting him in the media could cause him to become highly unstable," said Greg as he was giving a profile of the serial killer to the group of cops that the chief had gathered.
"Can you say anything about the killings?" said one police officer.
Greg thought for a moment. "Yes, the first killing is the strangest of all the killings. It was his first time and he was inexperienced, but it's the strangest of them all. From appearances, he didn't kill the first victim because he enjoyed it; he did it because he was infuriated at her, or someone she resembled. The murders succeeding that first killing was curiosity and pleasure. When we catch him, there'll be a link between that first victim and himself."
The phone rang and someone went to answer it. "What of the missing girl?" asked another police officer.
"I don't know. The victims have usually ranged from the ages of 20-30. I find it odd that he abducted two teenage girls and killed the older one. From that, I gather hope that he won't kill Melanie, the younger sister, but I'm not entirely sure...."
"Sir?" asked the police officer who had answered the phone. Greg looked up.
The house was a two story colonial, painted white. It had a long driveway that several police cars had parked in. Greg and Clint got out of the car. A police officer noticed them and came running up to them.
"The missing girl was found," he said.
"How was she killed?" asked Clint.
"She wasn't. She was found alive", responded the officer.
"Alive? Can she identify her abductor?" asked Greg.
The police officer shook his head. "She's unresponsive. She was found dressed up with makeup and everything like her sister, but she was found alive. There was a note found with her though."
They followed the police officer into the house. They walked through the foyer and into the living room. In the center of the room, was a red plush chair facing the opposite way. Next to it was a side table with red roses on top of it. Another police officer came up.
"She was found sitting in that chair. They've taken her to the hospital, but she was passive & withdrawn. This note was found with the roses." He handed the note to Greg. He opened it and read the following:
A gift for Detective Clint and Mr. Morning. I hope you appreciate it.
"Damn it!" muttered Clint after Greg had handed him the note. "He knows who you are now, Greg."
Greg just shrugged. "It was unavoidable. At least, we found Melanie alive. We'll catch him, Clint. Just remember that."