At Close Range(6)

By: Laura Griffin


“Any good news?” Dani asked Roland.

“Yes and no.” He wiped his brow with the back of his arm. “Come have a look.”

He crossed the concrete floor, which looked clean enough for heart surgery. All of the Tracers Dani had met were neat freaks. Probably a prerequisite for the job.

Roland led her around the Honda, and she saw that the rear door on the driver’s side had been removed. It was sitting nearby on a large plywood table. The window was missing.

“Spent all morning trying to get the embedded slug out without scratching it,” he said.

“How’d you do that?”

“Very carefully.” He grabbed a clear plastic tray. Using a pair of bamboo tongs, he picked up a small chunk of metal. “Through-and-through bullet. Passed straight through his sternum and lodged in the top of the door.”

Dani frowned down at it, noting the dark smudges of blood. It looked more like a glob of chewing gum than a spent bullet. “Will they be able to do anything with that?”

Roland shook his head. “Don’t know. Scott’s got the Midas touch and all, but this looks like shit to me, so I wouldn’t count on it.” He glanced up at her. “What about the ME? He get anything at autopsy?”

“Two slugs, one from each victim. Both looked useless, but I’m no expert.”

Roland smiled. “That’s what we’re for. He send them over?”

“This morning.”

“Well, lemme show you what else I’ve got going. Although it isn’t finished yet.” Roland turned to a counter behind him and opened a cardboard box.

Dani leaned over to look inside. “The tire tread from Woodlake Park.”

“A plaster cast of it, yeah. We managed to get it before the rain really started coming down. It’s pretty good. I haven’t ID’d it yet, but I can tell from the size and wheelbase it’s from a sedan.”

“Could it be from the Accord?”

“Not this Accord.” He nodded at the car. “Different type of tire. I’ve got to run it through the database to see precisely what it is, and then I can tell you what kind of vehicle you’re looking for.”

“How do you run this through a database?”

He grinned. “That’s the fun part. First, I have to put it in a box that films it from all angles and converts it to a digital image. Then I can submit it to the system, see what pops. I haven’t gotten to that yet. We’ve been busy on the inside of the car.”

“We?”

They turned around, and Brooke was watching from her stool. No more earbuds.

“You taking credit for my work again?”

“Hey, that hurts, Brooke. Didn’t I just buy you a Slurpee?”

Dani walked over to Brooke’s table, where she was clipping a slide onto the stage of a microscope. The CSI had dark hair and mesmerizing blue-green eyes. The spark of excitement in them now told Dani she’d found something.

“Three hairs,” Brooke said. “All from the same source, all with the root and follicular tissue.”

“Which means DNA?”

“Exactly. Have a look.”

Dani peered into the microscope and saw what looked like a big rope.

“This hair is fourteen inches long. It’s naturally light brown, and you can see that it’s bleached blond from the tip to about half an inch from the proximal end.”

“So, it’s probably her hair, not the killer’s,” Dani said.

“Assuming her killer is a man,” Brooke said.

Dani glanced up. “Good point.” She looked back at the car. “What about fingerprints? Particularly on the front passenger door?”

Brooke slid from her stool and walked over to the car. “I went over it twice with an alternative light source. The rain doesn’t help us. Fingerprints are typically composed of dust and oils, so I was only able to lift two from the door’s exterior, both on the underside of the door handle, most likely whoever opened that door last. Could be the killer’s, could be the victim’s. Depends how everything went down.”

“The pathologist printed her at the autopsy,” Dani said. “You have the file yet for comparison?”

“Not yet. I just checked my email, too, so maybe he’s running behind. You told him we were handling all the evidence, not just ballistics, right?”