A Winter of Wolves
Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask is summoned to a murder scene. A Park Police officer has been brutally murdered at the Lincoln Memorial. As Trask and a team of local and federal investigators try to find the killer, more police officers are murdered.
While attending the funeral for one of these victims, Trask and his team find themselves in a firefight with a cell of radical Islamic terrorists. Disqualified because of his involvement at the scene at Arlington National Cemetery, Trask is reassigned to Washington D.C.'s Joint Terrorism Task Force, where he discovers that the firefight at Arlington was only part of a bigger and much more sinister bomb plot that threatens the entire eastern seaboard.
Based on actual events occurring in the United States, A Winter of Wolves is a gripping thriller that sheds light on how Islamic Cells are recruiting within prisons, creating immediate threats from within.
Release date: October 10, 2016
Print pages: 265
Content advisory: Adult language, violence
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
A Winter of Wolves
Jackie Turner began the circle around the Lincoln Memorial, switching her gaze from the road to the huge marble structure from time to time just to make sure nothing was going on. So far, it had been a routine patrol on the graveyard shift. Christmas was only a few days away, and the crowds on the National Mall had dwindled to the usual trickle. The tourists were at home for the season. Whatever they could scrape together in a tight economy was going for gifts to put under their trees.
She looked up again at the Doric columns shining white in the spotlights, guarding the giant figure that sat staring at the Capitol across the Capitol Mall and Reflecting Pool. The park rangers had gone home at 10:00 p.m., about three hours ago. Responsibility for the memorial had shifted to the United States Park Police at that time. Officer Turner’s duties included drive-arounds on the circle bordering the Lincoln at random intervals, with an increased emphasis—stressed by the brass at every shift-change roll call—on preventing vandalism.
One crazy woman throws paint from a soda can and everything changes. It's been eighteen months now since the green stains got cleaned off Abe's shoes, and it'll take another year for the captain to think about something else to look for.
She glanced through the branches of the trees bordering the base of the north portico. Most of the steps surrounding the memorial were visible this time of year, with only a few shielded by some evergreens along the base. Something flashed in one of the spotlights, and she squinted at the tiny object, seeing what appeared to be an aluminum can sitting along the edge of the floor at the base of the columns.
Damn. Better check that out—at least toss it in the trash. They'll have my ass if there's more paint in that thing.
She steered the white Dodge Charger with the blue stripe to the edge of the circle and pulled out her uniform jacket and gloves before locking the patrol unit. It was just cool enough to be worth the effort. She checked her watch for the shift’s log entry she'd have to write: 1:26 a.m.
She climbed the stairs toward the northeast corner of the memorial and the soda can, silently cursing the thoughtlessness of whoever would litter one of the nation's most iconic monuments. She bent over to pick up the can, not noticing the huge figure rushing out from behind the corner column. A giant hand flashed across the left side of her head as she stood up. The fingers grabbed her upper palate through her open mouth, pulling back so violently that she was denied the breath she needed to scream. She felt herself being dragged back into the shadows behind the column. Her right hand instinctively reached for the gun on her belt, but her assailant had anticipated the move, covering the weapon with another huge hand and trapping hers in a grip so powerful that the bones in her hand cracked like dry twigs. The weapon was tossed to the side, out of her reach.
Jackie felt the top of her head being pulled in one direction, her bottom jaw pulled in the other. The tearing of her flesh and ligaments sent lightning bolts of pain shooting through her head and shoulders. Just as the light and life left her, she had the impression that she was looking down at her own corpse.
Death is different.
That’s what Trask was thinking as he drove toward the District. He had heard the old-timers say it. The ones who had successfully prosecuted death penalty cases—always in other federal districts—all said the same thing. Trask had tried some capital cases before, but until his last trial, he had never gotten the jury to pull the trigger. Ramón Dominguez had been different. A Zeta Mexican drug cartel chief who had the deaths of hundreds on his bloody hands, Dominguez—even more so than the other murderers—had deserved the ultimate punishment. This time, the jury had given it to him.
That had been months ago, but Trask still thought about the trial. Hell, he was still reliving it. He’d persuaded the jury to kill. He had no doubt about the monster’s guilt, about the justice of the verdict, and—as he’d told a reporter at the time—he’d have pushed the plungers himself if given the chance. It was the weight of the horrors Dominguez had inflicted that haunted him. The fact that a human being had been—could even be—so inhuman. He hadn’t been sleeping well as a result, the tales of the hundreds of murders scrolling across the ceiling above him each night, forcing his mind to try to answer questions he could begin to even formulate.
Ross Eastman, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and Trask’s boss, had ordered him to take a full week off. Eastman had recognized something that even Trask himself hadn’t been able to see in the mirror: the exhaustion and the weight on his shoulders of representing all those lost souls as he was trying to get the appropriate verdict for their killer. Some of those souls spoke to him in his dreams. Some simply smiled and nodded at him, grateful for his efforts. Others told him that his job was not done yet, warning him that worse times were ahead. He had trouble wondering what the hell that could mean.
Who could be a bigger son-of-a-bitch than that Zeta bastard?
The downtime was over. It was an early Monday morning, and he was making the drive again into the District from his house in Waldorf, Maryland, a generally quiet bedroom suburb located about five o’clock on the beltway “clock.” Despite the week off, Trask felt like he could use another, but that would mean another thousand e-mails to read and another fifty phone calls to return when he got back. He was thankful that it was winter. He never minded the cold, having been raised in the South, where the heat and humidity always fought to see which could climb the highest.
I don’t have to mow the yard in the winter, there are no bugs when it freezes, and the cooler temps generally mean cooler tempers. In my line of work that usually means a lighter workload, he thought. Usually.
Time to get back on the horse. Maybe the crime critters of DC will take it easy on me for once—let me work my way back into the grind.
A ringing noise—the ringtone for the Bluetooth paired to his cell phone—jolted him.
No such luck.
“Trask.” He answered before he looked at the dash display and recognized the number. The caller was Dixon Carter, DC’s best homicide detective. “What's up, Dix?”
“You coming in today, Jeff?”
“On the Indian Head now.” Trask was on the highway running across southern Maryland into the capital city.
“Good. You had breakfast yet?”
“Nope. I was thinking about pulling off for a fast-food biscuit someplace.”
“Don’t. You might not be able to keep it down.”
“Wonderful.” Trask rolled his eyes. “What’s up?”
“Don’t stop at the office. Meet me at the Lincoln Memorial. North side. You in the Jeep?”
“I’ll have the uniforms look out for you and clear you in.”
“Thanks, I guess.”
“Don’t thank me now.” Carter paused. “You won’t thank me later, either.”
Trask clicked off the Bluetooth from the button on the steering wheel.
I wonder what that was all about?
He turned on an FM station. Music. No news stations for now. Whatever was on the news about whatever he was driving into could only color his judgment. Trask decided he’d get it first-hand, not from some sound bite editor with an agenda. The radio responded, and the mournful lyrics of Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble” floated through the Grand Cherokee.
Trask shook his head. Music had always been a set of audio tarot cards for him, telling his fortune even when he tried to avoid the forecast.
Here we go again . . .
The Indian Head turned into I-295, and he followed the road past what he had known while on active duty with the USAF as Bolling Air Force Base and the Washington Naval Station, now merged into an installation called “Joint Base Anacostia.”
He crossed the Anacostia River on the Douglass Bridge, and drove north toward the Capitol before heading west. He passed dozens of government office buildings, the various museums of the Smithsonian, and a couple of pick-up football games in progress on the Capitol Mall.
Not in school or at work, so might as well play, right guys?
There was a collection of flashing lights around the base of the Lincoln Memorial. Trask counted at least a dozen Park Police and Metro units clustered on the north side of the circle. There was an ambulance as well.
I’ll bet the ambulance goes home empty, Trask told himself. No survivor here; they’ll need a body van instead to take the victim to the morgue. If Dixon Carter hadn’t called me about this, I’d turn around and run. I’ve never heard Dix sound like he did on the phone, and he’s seen the worse this town’s had to offer.
Trask rode the curb around the growing traffic jam as he neared the circle. A uniform saw the Jeep as it approached and waved him in past dozens of other motorists who shot him ugly glances while they waited in their stationary vehicles. Trask parked as close as he could below the north portico and climbed the front steps. He saw a very large, dark-skinned black man in a business suit and wool overcoat sitting about five steps below the main level, smoking a cigarette.
“I thought you’d given that up, Dix,” Trask said.
“I did,” Carter replied. “Had to mooch this off one of the uniforms.”
“What’s going on?”
“Go see for yourself. I couldn’t describe it if I tried. Wilkes is up there now.”
Trask climbed the remaining steps to the floor of the colonnade. A wall of U.S. Park Police officers stood between the last two columns on the right of the Memorial, looking outward, and shielding whatever lay behind them. A small man in coveralls stood beside the corner column, issuing orders to two larger men who were similarly dressed. Frank Wilkes, the chief crime scene investigator for the Metropolitan Police Department, heard Trask’s steps and turned to meet him.
“This is ugly, Jeff.”
“So I gathered. Dixon Carter called me over. I saw him on the steps. He almost looked pale.”
Wilkes snorted and nodded.
Okay, no humor is appropriate today. “What do we have, Frank?”
“She’s around the corner,” Wilkes said. He turned toward the wall of cops and made a parting motion with his hands. A hole opened and Trask followed Wilkes through the gap. When Wilkes stepped aside, Trask froze in his tracks.
The body of a female was lying on the marble. Trask recognized her uniform as that of a Park Police officer from the light-blue stripe along the side of the dark pants leg. Trask had seen crime scenes before, and the large pool of red around the top of the body was nothing new. It was the woman’s head—or what was left of it—that stopped him. The lower jaw was visible inside the blood- soaked collar. There was just nothing above it.
“Jesus!” Trask couldn’t move for a moment or two.
“The rest of it’s over there.” Wilkes waited for Trask to take it all in, and then pointed to his left. The upper half of the woman’s head, including the upper jaw, lay on its side at the end of a grotesque, curling trail of dried blood about thirty feet away, toward the interior of the memorial.
“Somebody rolled it over there,” Wilkes explained.
Trask tried to focus on the evidence, and not the horror of the event. He noticed a partial footprint to the side of the blood trail, the bloodstained tread markings of a tennis shoe sole—a very large tennis shoe sole. “Got all your pics?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Wilkes said. “The scene’s done except for the body recovery and cleanup. Have a look. You won’t hurt anything.”
You’re right. Trask shook his head again. I think the hurt’s over for this poor girl.
He walked over to the fragment of the head, Wilkes following. From his counted paces, Trask estimated that the distance from the upper skull to the rest of the victim was about twenty-five feet. He made a mental note to check that later in the crime scene diagrams. He crouched down, noting the auburn hair still neatly tied into a bun at the back. He paused for a moment, looking into the eyes, still wide with shock and fear, frozen in that death stare he’d seen too many times before. Part of the upper spine hung out from under the woman’s hair. He almost gagged, but choked it back. Trask gathered himself, and concentrated on what had been the corners of her mouth. The flesh was torn, jagged.
“What kind of weapon does that, Frank?” he asked, looking up at Wilkes.
“I don’t think he used one,” Wilkes said. “He, it . . . I don’t know. My best guess for now is that whoever or whatever did this ripped her head in half with his bare hands. That’s why the flesh looks torn instead of cut: it was.”
Trask stood up and walked back out past the wall of cops. He looked skyward toward the corner of the top of the memorial. A dark globe mounted on a white stem hung over the edge of the roof, above the top of the columns. The surveillance camera looked like a hawk staring down at the scene.
Trask saw that Dixon Carter was standing nearby. Carter followed Trask’s gaze up to the camera.
“Already working on that,” Carter said. “Tim’s on it. We’ll have all the videos in your office ASAP.”
Trask nodded. Tim Wisniewski was Carter’s junior partner. “Thanks,” Trask said. “For warning me about breakfast, that is.”
“Yeah. You’re welcome.” Carter threw the cigarette down and headed down the steps. A uniformed Park Ranger followed him, stopping to pick up the butt.
Trask stood for a moment looking across the Mall toward the Capitol. The world was carrying on, traffic running to and from the seats of government and the museums. The ball games on the mall continued. Everything was normal for most of those in the District. For the dead officer and her family—whatever family she might have—things would never be normal again.
The cold air snapped him back into the present, and he walked toward the Jeep, chewing himself out for leaving his coat on the passenger seat. He pulled away from the curb with the help of a uniform who stepped out and ordered the line of traffic to stop, making a gap. Trask headed for his office.
Minutes later he pulled into the basement parking garage of 555 4th Street, N.W., the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, the “Triple Nickel” to the worker bees inside. The elevator took him to the fifth floor, home to the attorneys and staff assigned to prosecute cases in federal district court. The door opened, but Trask wasn’t ready to get out yet. He pushed a button and rode back down to the street.
He walked westward half a block to the north end of Judiciary Square. In the center of some older courthouse buildings was a small reflecting pool, surrounded by curved walls with the names of thousands of dead heroes—agents, deputies, and cops killed in the line of duty—etched into the stone: The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Trask walked to an all-too-familiar spot on the wall, and ran his hands along the names of Juan Ramirez and Robert Lassiter. Juan had been Dixon Carter’s partner before he had been murdered. Lassiter wasn’t a cop; he’d been Trask’s mentor and sponsor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office before he was gunned down on the courthouse steps. A few feet away he found another slain officer’s name. They’d called him Sam when he was alive, before he died in an explosion set off by agents of the Zeta chief Ramón Dominguez.
There’s another warrior joining your company today, guys. Welcome her home. Her name will be on this wall soon enough, along with the names of all the cops gunned down after that Ferguson, Missouri, mess. We’ll do what we can down here.
Trask walked around the small pool and looked at another wall. A dark, sculpted lioness lay with her paw draped over the edge. Underneath her, an inscription had been carved: IN VALOR THERE IS HOPE.
Trask nodded. I hope that’s true. He walked back toward the office, feeling a familiar fear seeping into his gut. It wasn’t a fear of danger; there was no reason for that yet. It was the fear of failure, of not being able to find the killer of a cop, of not finding enough evidence to convict the thug who’d ripped her head in half.
When the elevator door opened this time, Trask didn’t bother going to his own office. He turned instead toward the corner suite, the office of Ross Eastman, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. Julia Forrest, Eastman’s secretary, smiled as she saw him, and waved him into the large room behind her.
“He’s been waiting for you, Jeff. I see that you got my voicemail.”
“Yep.” Trask smiled back as he headed for the door. I’m lying—I haven’t heard it yet—but I know that damned red light is blinking on my desk phone and I know what your message says, which is why I’m here now.
“Sorry I took a while getting here,” Trask said as Eastman looked up from his desk. “Dixon Carter called me from the Lincoln Memorial while I was driving in and I went straight out there.”
“No problem. I figured as much.” Eastman pushed the glasses back on his nose and sank into a big leather chair. “What do we have?”
“A very dead Park Police officer: a female officer,” Trask said. “The Medical Examiner’s report will list the cause of death as whatever the official medical term is for having her head pulled apart.”
“My God!” Eastman shook his head in disgust.
Trask knew his boss’s concern was real. Eastman had been a line prosecutor in the office once upon a time. Unlike the states, the District didn’t have a senator to make recommendations to the president for the appointment of a U.S. Attorney, and the job here wasn’t usually a stepping stone to higher office. Ross Eastman took his job seriously for what it was, and genuinely mourned the loss of any law enforcement officer.
“What are you thinking?” Eastman asked. “Any ideas yet?”
“Not really. The Park Police called in Dix Carter and Frank Wilkes to help. They know they’re the best in the metro when it comes to murder investigations and crime scenes, but it will officially be a Park Police investigation since it’s one of their own.” Trask paused for a few seconds. “I hope to hell our people here aren’t under attack like those poor cops who got ambushed in New York and Mississippi. Dix and his partner are pulling the surveillance videos from the memorial. Maybe they’ll tell us something.”
Eastman nodded. “There are several folks who could have handled that Ferguson mess more productively.”
“It’s like Bob Lassiter used to say,” Trask said. “Politics is always an infection in our business. I’ve always appreciated your efforts in trying to keep that to a minimum.”
“I hope I can keep doing that.” Eastman nodded again. “This time I’m not very optimistic.”
“That’s my biggest worry if this thing is a racial revenge attack, Ross.” Trask felt his temper rising. “The freakin’ attorney general himself goes with the bogus media spin and helps stir this all up. We might have a lot more cops alive if the initial headline from the Missouri incident had been, ‘Man robs store, attacks police officer, is shot resisting arrest.’ Instead we get, ‘White cop shoots and kills unarmed black teenager.’”
“He was a teenager, he was black, he was unarmed, and he was killed.”
Trask frowned. “Let’s not let the other facts dilute that line of publicity, shall we? The age of majority in Missouri is seventeen, and Michael Brown was eighteen; he was, therefore, an adult by law. A videocam recorded the store robbery, minutes before he attacked the cop, and the forensics, ballistics and bullet holes in the police cruiser backed the cop’s story. Those pieces of science aren’t something that any grand jury witness fabricated. Despite all that, the AG sends 100 FBI agents to Ferguson and does nothing to douse the flames started by a bunch of race-baiters. Besides, as anyone who has played a single snap of grown-up football can tell you, there’s no such thing as an unarmed 300-pound man. That hulk at the Lincoln probably weighed at least that much, and he apparently just pulled our victim apart.”
Trask took a breath. “The Garner matter in New York was more troubling for me, since it was a silly-ass arrest for selling loose cigarettes. They could have just written the guy a ticket, but there’s nothing indicating it was racial. Even Garner’s family is saying that.”
“You’re right,” Eastman conceded. “You just have to understand the background that the AG comes from.”
“No, I don’t,” Trask shot back, “because it’s agenda-driven bias and it becomes the very infection we’ve been talking about. The AG may be one of the guys who appointed both of us, but any racial spin isn’t part of the justice we’re supposed to be about which, by the way, the police are also entitled to receive. At the moment, they’re the only ones not presumed innocent. We’re supposed to be the only federal department where this stuff doesn’t matter unless it’s a hate crime. We’re supposed to be color-blind and let the facts—the evidence—drive our decisions. If Dr. King’s ‘content of character’ test had been put in front of Michael Brown, I’m not sure he would have passed it.”
Trask paused again. He could feel the heat in his face, and it was not the time or the place to let the anger in him spill over.
“We all know there are bad cops out there, but the vast majority of ’em are straight, and there’s no evidence at this point saying the cop in Ferguson was one of the bad ones. He’ll get cleared by the FBI sooner or later, but in the meantime good people are dying just for wearing a police uniform.”
“I know, and that’s why I want you to handle this, Jeff.” Eastman got up and stared out his window. “You’re my senior litigation counsel—my best investigative and trial attorney. Work with Carter and the Park Police on it. I know we owe our best to that murdered officer, and that’s you as far as I’m concerned. I just want you to be aware of the pressures we may have to deal with.”
“I’d be a fool not to be aware of them,” Trask said. “I just need to know that after the usual suspects show up to organize their protests you’ll want me to do the right thing, wherever it leads. I promise not to tell the press what I think of their precious politicians and pot-stirrers.”
“Thanks,” Eastman said sarcastically. He walked back to his desk before looking at Trask again. When he did, he spoke calmly. “Go do your job. Go do the right thing.”
Trask walked out past Julia, who gave him just enough of a raised eyebrow to indicate that she had heard the entire exchange. He found Dixon Carter and his partner standing in the hall outside his office. Detective Timothy Wisniewski was as tall as Carter, but about ten years younger, much leaner, and much whiter.
“Video?” Trask asked as he unlocked the door.
Neither detective said a word, but Wisniewski held up an envelope, indicating that the contents were from the Lincoln’s surveillance cameras. Trask waived them in, accepting the envelope. He pushed the power button on his office computer and motioned the cops into some seats as he waited for it to warm up.
“Excuse me while I recharge my bat phone,” Trask said, pulling an iPhone from his shirt pocket and plugging it into a dock on the credenza behind his desk.
“That’s not the number we have for you, is it?” Wisniewski asked.
“No, you’ve got this one, my personal cell,” Trask said, patting a larger phone in a hard plastic holster on the left side of his belt. “To be honest, I don’t even know what the number is for that thing.” His head tilted toward the iPhone. “Ross makes me carry it, but I never give the number out. One, because I don’t know it; and two, because the damn thing is so password-protected that it’s virtually useless. We have to use at least two of every type of characters under the sun, change that password every full moon, and try to type that password on that tiny little keyboard in order to try and make any non-emergency call. I just use my own. I can pair it to the Bluetooth in the car, and I can actually communicate with it.”
“Why does he make you carry it, then? Doesn’t your office have to pay for the account?” Carter asked.
“Yes, we have to pay for it,” Trask answered. “Ross wants me to have access to all the office email. Of course, I’ve never actually checked my e-mail on it. I do that on this dinosaur.” He pointed to the computer on his desk.
“Don’t you get text messages on it?” Wisniewski was fondling his own cell phone, as if he’d sent Trask a text.
“The phone might get them, but I don’t. I still think texting is for sixteen-year-olds who don’t want to pay attention in class, or while driving. I prefer oral communications in the manner of humanoids. Those aren’t recorded, and don’t become something we have to give to the defense after a discovery motion.” Trask was looking at the cell phone from his belt. “I’ve got the number for the bat phone stored in here as a contact if I ever need to call myself.”
“What’s that number?” Wisniewski stood poised to enter it into his own phone.
“Like I said, I don’t know,” Trask said, returning his personal phone to the case on his belt. “I could look it up on this one, but I already turned it off.”
Wisniewski rolled his eyes toward Carter, who chuckled.
“I’m not really technophobic,” Trask said. “I just remember that whole eight-track fiasco. Not every new gimmick or gadget is really an improvement.”
A chime on the computer on Trask’s desk indicated that it was powered up and ready to use. He put the DVD in the tray and closed it. The computer made a whirring noise, and a menu flashed on the screen. Trask selected the file with the largest data content, and a video from the corner surveillance camera of the Lincoln Memorial appeared. Trask hit the “full screen” icon, and clicked the play arrow after that. He turned the monitor so that Carter and Wisniewski could see the screen.
For several seconds there was nothing to see, just the unchanging view of the outside of the Memorial from the camera perched above it. Trask fast-forwarded the video until he noticed some movement, then he froze the picture. A large hooded figure appeared on the screen, placing a soda can on the outside of the pavement at the bottom of a column.
Trask looked up at Carter and Wisniewski. “Anything?” he asked.
“Big guy. Black sweats, gloves. He hasn’t looked up yet,” Wisniewski offered. “If he’s our subject, it’s not much to go on.”
Trask looked at Carter again. The senior detective nodded in agreement with his partner.
“What size shoes made those prints at the scene, Dix?” Trask asked.
“Not sure yet,” Carter said. “Frank Wilkes said he’d work on both the size and the make. I wear a size thirteen, and I put my foot down next to the best print for comparison. It was at least two sizes bigger than mine.”
“Big dude with huge feet who owns a hoodie, sweats, and gloves. No hair color, eye color, or race.” Wisniewski was jotting in a pocket notebook. He snorted. “We should have him in custody shortly.”
“I don’t really want to watch the rest of this, but that’s what they pay us for,” Trask said, shaking his head. “Maybe there’s a lead in this somewhere.” He clicked on the play icon again. The big man on the screen headed into the interior of the colonnade, into the shadows and out of camera view. Trask fast-forwarded the video again, pausing it when Officer Jackie Turner appeared on the edge of the pavement, bending over to pick up the can. Trask put the playback into slow motion, and watched as the big figure in black hurled himself from the shadows onto Turner’s back, one hand reaching down over Turner’s to toss her gun to the side and out of view, the other massive paw gripping tightly around her head, pulling it backward.
Trask paused the video. “Was her gun found at the scene?” he asked Carter.
“No. I asked when I saw it wasn’t in her holster. None of the guys there saw it anywhere. We even did a walk through the bushes at the base. Only found that soda can. I told them to bag and mark it. Glad that I did, now.”
“Our thug must have taken the gun with him,” Trask thought out loud.
“I’ll get the make, model, and ballistics, serial number from her unit,” Wisniewski said, jotting again in the notebook. “Park Police District One handles the memorials. We’ll print the can, even though the killer was gloved up at the scene. Maybe he put the gloves on after having a drink. We might get lucky.”
Trask started the video again. The man’s right hand joined his left about the victim’s head, each hand pulling against the other, until a red spray suddenly spouted from between them.
“Oh, SHIT!” shouted Wisniewski, turning his head away from the screen.
“Wilkes was right,” Trask said. “The bastard just pulled the top of her head off.”
“Look at that,” Carter said, pointing at the screen where the video was still running. “He’s proud of it.”
The killer was holding the top of Turner’s head up with both hands, high above the rest of her body. Her arteries were still gushing blood onto the marble at his feet. Then he raised his trophy higher with his right hand, upward toward the corner of the Memorial.
“That asshole knew he was on camera!” Wisniewski growled, just as the figure on the screen tossed the top of Jackie Turner’s head into the shadows and jogged out of view.
Trask turned the video off. He activated the computer’s Internet browser and typed a phrase into the search engine. When the results of the search appeared, he clicked the mouse pointer on a link to a news article.
“Look,” he said as he rolled his chair back to let Carter have a closer look. “The can was bait.”
“July, 2013,” Carter noted. “Chinese national female arrested for vandalism at the National Cathedral. Investigation revealed she had also vandalized the Lincoln Memorial by slinging green paint all over the place. She had the paint concealed in a soda can. I remember that now. Bet the Park Police were still on high alert for copycats.”
“Let’s hope nobody copies this little stunt,” Trask said. “I know you guys have been asked to the party, but it’s a Park Police casualty, and they’ll want the case. Any idea who’s being assigned?”
“Yeah,” Carter said. “Nick McCarver. He’s out of town on leave, already on his way back. We’re supposed to pick him up when he lands at Reagan to take him to the autopsy. You coming?”
“Think I’ll skip this one,” Trask said. “I hope I’m wrong and that something useful comes out of the body exam, but I doubt it. Our manner and cause of death are on this little horror flick.” He removed the DVD from the computer tray and handed it back to Wisniewski. “Keep me posted. You have my number.” He patted the cell phone on his belt.
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...