Crime Scene Investigators, Steve Jennings and Danielle Stone are called out to a gruesome crime scene, where they stumble upon some creepy evidence, that points to the beginnings of a serial killer.
"Nice neighborhood," remarked Danielle Stone as she shut the door of the black unmarked SUV, glancing up and down the broad street as her close friend, fellow crime scene investigator, and former Texas native, young, handsome faced, dark haired, dark-eyed, Steve Jennings, walked around the vehicle to join her.
"Yeah, hard to imagine a four nineteen all the way out here, huh?" He said in his usual but faint Texas drawl.
Both of them ducked under the yellow police tape, before heading up the shadowy front walkway of the two-story Spanish style home in downtown Beverly Hills. A couple police beacons flashed over the exterior of the cream colored home, casting shafts of red and blue to roll across the side of the house, almost as if to ward off anyone who dared to enter. A few uniformed cops were stood near the sidewalk, interviewing a few eyewitnesses, and keeping a few passer-bys from crossing the scene.
A light warm breeze floated through the evening air, gently blowing a few strands of her shoulder length dark brown hair into Danielle's face. Both she and Steve were clad in matching black vests, their last names stitched on the right breast pocket and in white bold block lettering, the words, "LAPD CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATIONS," printed on the back. Along with their vests, they both carried their standard crime scene kits in the silver cases they carried at their sides.
"Hey Tim, what do you got?" Steve asked as they approached the tall, balding and husky plain clothes cop standing at the door.
"The victim's name is Candice Johnson. Neighbors called it in," Tim said. "They said they heard screaming and sounds of a struggle."
"What time was that?" Danielle asked.
"Sometime between a quarter to twelve and one a-m. The body's upstairs, second bedroom on the right Coroner's on his way."
Steve exchanged a look with Danielle with a nod, "let's go to work." She nodded her head, following him inside the dimly lit house.
Danielle pulled out her flashlight and shined it along the knob of the front door, leaning forward and scrutinizing it more closely. "There's some scratch marks around the keyhole in the door, indicates forced entry, probably with some kind of sharp metal object."
He looked down at the door and nodded his head. "Screwdriver maybe."
Squatting down on the floor, Danielle placed her case down and popped it open, taking out her 35 millimeter camera and snapping off a couple photos of the door knob. Setting her camera down, she pulled on a pair of rubber gloves then took out her fingerprint powder and brush. "Hey, shine the light here, will you?" Steve did as she told him to as she tried to recover any latent fingerprints that might of been left behind by the intruder. Unfortunately, she came up empty. She sighed softly. "Nothing."
Steve shined the flashlight from the threshold of the door and slowly around the wood floor, taking a few steps into the spacious, modern and sophisticated living room. "No foot prints on this side either, but it sure looks like Candice was doing pretty well for herself, she has a pretty nice place here. Hard wooden floors, chandeliers, leather furniture, glass end tables, velvet curtains...looks like a home fit for royalty."
Danielle sighed softly, a deep scowl crossing her face as she placed the brush and powder back in her case, grabbed her camera and closed it up. She hated it when good things happened to people who had it made in their lives, excluding celebrities. They were almost always the easiest targets in this world, and if it wasn't money someone wanted, it was always something much worse. Grabbing her crime scene kit, she looked over at Steve. "Yeah, too bad she won't get to live it anymore."
Together the two of them headed up the stairs and into the victim's bedroom, but after five years as a Crime Scene Investigator, nothing could of prepared Danielle for the gruesome scene in Candice's bedroom, her stomach turning when she saw the sight inside.
"Oh, man..." Steve said as he let out a long breath.
There was more blood than she could possibly imagine. There were half-circular blood spatter patterns across the walls above the brass framed bed, on the white silk curtains over the far right bay window, the lamp, the white closet door, and two huge puddles of blood seeping into the hard wood floors on either sides of the bed. A trail of bloody footprints led from the puddle on the side of the bed closest to the door, and stopped just at the threshold of the door. In the center of the bed, or what was left of her, laid Candice's naked and mutilated body, her limbs splayed lifelessly out at her sides, her horror filled eyes staring straight at the two of them.
Steve shook his head in disbelief. "As many years I've been doing this, I can never get used to a scene like this."
Rather than dwell on how nauseous the scene made her, or how angry and remorseful, Danielle tried her best to put her focus on doing her job. "Bloody footprints leading out of the room..." She remarked, shining her flashlight down the hall, then looking up at him for his approval, "but no prints in the hall. What does that tell you?"
Steve squatted down to scrutinize the last foot prints left just over the threshold. "That tells me that this guy stopped to change his shoes." He shined the flashlight over the bloody foot prints. "Take a look at the pattern of his stride. It stops here just at the threshold, which means he had to have taken a minute to change his shoes."
Danielle squatted down to his level, picking up her camera and snapping a photo of the footprints. "Maybe he did, but why would he bother changing his shoes if he already left his prints behind? That doesn't make any sense."
"Well either this guy is really clever or really stupid. Either way, if he was stupid enough to leave his footprints behind, maybe we'll get lucky and find his fingerprints or DNA around here."
"Yeah, maybe. Well, better suit up." Squatting down, she set her case down on the floor, opening it up and pulling out a set of black booties, pulling them over her shoes.
"Right." Opening up his kit, Steve pulled on his own set of booties, both of them gathering what they needed from their kits and pocketing the tools inside their vests before cautiously entering the room, stepping over the footprints in their path.
Danielle turned back to the footsteps just inside the door, squatting down and setting a metal ruler down beside the print, before snapping off a few more pictures with her camera at different angles, then rising to her feet, taking a couple more. Turning around, she took a few more pictures of the footprints that led out of the puddle.
She looked up from her camera and over at him, where he was squatting down beside the bed, his brows furrowed inquisitively, "yeah?"
"You might want to come and see this."
Slowly walking over to where he was crouched, she blinked when she saw a pile of candid photos spread out in the puddle of blood, and "BITCH #1" written above the pile. "Looks like the work of a serial killer."
"Yeah, and if Candice is number one, it must mean that there's more on the way." Steve rose to his feet, stepping back to allow her to snap a couple photos of the area. "Hopefully there's something else here that will help us identify and catch this guy before there's another one. Did you check out those pictures?"
Danielle set her camera aside and picked up one of the many photos before her, then sifted through the others, "these are all of the victim, looks like most of them were taken peri-mortem." In the photos, Candice was bound, gagged, screaming, her eyes filled with terror much like they were right now. She looked over at Candice's body on the bed, an image flashing through her head, imagining the scene play out before her.
Candice tugged violently at her restraints, screaming and crying as numerous camera flashes went off in her face, "let me go! Please! Please let go! Noooo!" She threw her head back as a knife swept down on her, slashing into her stomach, her blood splattering across the lamp shade beside the bed and on the floor beside the bed.
"He tied her up and tortured her, he was snapping pictures of her while she was suffering his abuse."
Steve leaned forward, scrutinizing the photos over Danielle's shoulder, shaking his head and sighing deeply. "What kind of monster would do this?" Turning around, he walked over to the first puddle of blood, squatting down and pulling a vial from his vest, sliding up the swab inside and taking a sample from the blood pool and slipping the swab back into the vial, snapping it closed then pocketing it. Rising to his feet, he scrutinized the victim's hands and wrists. "Looks that way. There's some ligature marks here on her wrist."
Pulling a plastic evidence bag from her vest, Danielle carefully gathered up the pile of candid photos and bagged them before picking up her camera and rising to her feet, snapping off a few photos of the victim on the bed, the blood spatter on the curtains behind her, then moving carefully stepping around the blood pool to scrutinize Candice's left wrist closer. "Ligature marks on the other wrist, consistent with the photos and the assumption that she was tied up and tortured." She brought her camera up, snapping a couple of the victim's ligature marks on her wrist.
He leaned over the bed, shining his flashlight over and looking closely at the brass bars of the two post headboard. "Well whatever he tied her up with must of been a fiberless material, because there's only scratch marks here, obvious sign of a struggle."
"Chains..." Danielle implied.
She shined her flashlight over the headboard bars at her end. "More scratch marks here, proves she was bound at both ends."
Steve walked over to the foot of the bed, scrutinizing the foot board, as Danielle snapped a couple pictures of the marks. "No marks on the foot board. Looks like just her her wrists were bound." He moved back to scrutinize the wounds on the victim's body with a glower. "Multiple stab wounds to the chest, neck and pelvis, but none to her face and limbs." He sighed deeply, looking down at her bloody genital area with a scowl then over at Danielle. "I know we won't know more until the Coroner gets here, but if I had to guess, she was probably raped as well as murdered."
Danielle looked over at the blood stained dresser beside the bed, picking up a photo in a smashed gold frame of Candice, hugging a handsome sandy brown haired and blue-eyed boy, who looked to be in his early twenties. "Looks like she had a boyfriend." She scowled as she looked down at the happy couple, both of them with bright white smiles on their faces. Once again cursing the person who did this to such a sweet looking girl and shaking her head in disbelief.
"Well if there's a boyfriend, then there's definitely a suspect."
Picking up the photo, she pulled another plastic bag out of her vest and bagged it then lifted her camera, snapping photos of the spatter patterns on the walls, the dresser and a couple more of the victim. Walking back over to the footprints, she squatted down, moving the ruler to the other prints and snapping more pictures. Steve took out another swab and took a couple blood samples from Candice's body, then walked around to the opposite side of the bed and swabbed a few more from the blood pool, dresser and curtains.
"So how do you think it went down? Guy waits for Candice to go to sleep, breaks in, comes upstairs and surprises her, there's a possibility of a struggle, he handcuffs her or chains her to the bed, tortures her, takes pictures of her as he's doing it, rapes, then stabs her to death."
Danielle nodded and looked over at him. "That sounds about right. From this shoeprint, this guy looks to be about a size nine, possibly ten, probably a boot. The large space of this stride suggests he's probably a pretty tall guy."
Steve walked over to where she was, scrutinizing the prints from the puddle to the door. "I'm guessing six one, six two, maybe? I'll start printing the room." Taking the fingerprint powder and brush out of his vest, he started dusting at the footboard of the bed then worked his way up.
She rose to her full five-foot-seven height, walking over the bay window and brushing back the curtains. "Window looks intact. Guess that means he went out the same way he came in." She looked back at her partner, "anything?"
Steve shook his head. "Not yet, no."
Danielle found a trash can near the dresser, knelting down to search through it. She turned up a few bubblegum wrappers, used tissues, and a couple crumpled up pieces of paper. Taking one out, she unfolded it and shined the flashlight on the piece of paper, reading the letter out loud. "'Dear Candice, I need to see you. I can't live another day without you. You're my one and only. There's no other woman for me, and I hope you come to realize there's no one else worthy of you. We need to meet. We need to talk and damn it, it needs to be now. Don't pretend you don't care. Don't pretend I don't exist. You can't just walk away from me. You can't just turn your back on everything we had. You can't hide from me, Candice. You know I'll always find you, and when I find you, I'll make you want me again and forever, you will be mine. Yours forever, Alex.' Wow. That is one creepy love letter. No wonder she threw it out."
"Love letter?" Steve scoffed, glancing over at Danielle as he dusted the night stand. "Sounds like a threat to me. Does this Alex have a last name?"
"No, no last name, might be her boyfriend, or a secret admirer." Pulling out yet another plastic bag, she bagged the letter and a couple of tissues from the trash.
"Well, if we find out who Alex is, and we can prove somehow that he wrote that letter, then we've got ourselves a motive and our prime suspect."
"That'll be easy," Danielle remarked sarcastically, shining her flashlight over the rest of the room, searching for a possible murder weapon, though doubting she'd actually find one. After a couple minutes, she gave up and sighed softly. "I'm going downstairs, can you finish up in here?"
"Thanks." Walking out of the room, she discarded her booties, put them into a sterile plastic bag, grabbed her crime scene kit then headed downstairs. She flipped the light switch on in the kitchen, her gaze locking on the stainless steel kitchen sink. Walking over to it, she stared down, noticing that it seemed a little damp, a few crimson water drops still lingering behind, as if someone had used it recently. Her eyes roamed over the drain board, all of the knives seeming to have been washed, but none of them deadly sharply or big enough to do much damage, just butter knives and short bladed fruit knives.
Looking over at the wooden knife holder on the oak island, she noticed that one of the bigger bladed knives were missing. Setting her crime kit down, she picked up her camera and snapped a couple pictures of the holder then the sink. Walking over to the dishwasher, she pulled it open and found the missing knife, its broad sharp blade sticking up in the air, but clean as a whistle. Carefully picking up the utensil, she set it down on top of the island then knelt down at her case, grabbing the luminol and a vial swab. She dripped a drop of luminol on the swab, ran it along the blade of the knife, then dropped another drop onto the swab, turning it a dark pink color. It was positive for blood. She'd found their murder weapon.
Pulling out her finger print powder, she dusted the handle for prints, turning up nothing but a partial on the handle. Taking a piece of adhesive from the case, she smoothed it down over the print and pulled it from the knife, placing it with the rest of her evidence then carefully bagging the knife. After that, she continued dusting the kitchen for prints, the countertop, the sink, the dishwasher, and the knife holder. She did manage to lift a couple more prints from the dishwasher, but whether they were Candice's or the suspect, they wouldn't know until they analyzed them back at the lab.
Ten minutes later, after she'd nearly dusted her fingers to the bone, she headed back upstairs and stood on the opposite side of the threshold, looking expectantly in at a discouraged looking Steve. "Get anything?"
He sighed deeply, shaking his head. "No, you?"
"As a matter of fact, I did." She smirked softly, holding up the knife in the bag. "I found our murder weapon."