The Cost of Betrayal(13)

By: Dee Henderson

“She instead finds him badly injured from the fall, but alive. He’s lying there probably with a broken back, broken neck—he could be crippled for life, and the family trust prioritizes health expenses over everything else. She’s seeing her future disappear. If she calls 9-1-1, she’s hurting herself. She can walk away, but the cops will find him when they check the parking lot and see the car still there. If he hasn’t died already, odds are good he’ll live another day or two just lying there. She can’t risk smothering him, having the ME put that as the cause of death. She wants her freedom, not to walk herself into a prison term. He has to die before he’s found, and she has to be protected from any blame. She needs to give the cops a stronger viable suspect. And with that thought Janelle’s fate is now sealed too.

“No one saw Andrew go tumbling down the flight of stairs or they would have called for help. So she’s gambling no one can say it wasn’t Janelle who pushed him. And if Janelle can push him, she can stab him. Do it right, given the medication he’s on, he’ll bleed to death quickly. Janelle’s got a pink pocketknife with her name on it. Tanya needs tangible evidence Janelle did the crime. It doesn’t get more direct than if she uses that knife. With Janelle on a date, odds are good she’s carrying a clutch purse that matches her dress, and her handbag with the pocketknife will be hanging on the inside of her closet door. It means risking that no one finds Andrew in the thirty minutes it is going to take for Tanya to go fetch the knife and get back, yet it protects her from being blamed for his death.

“So Tanya gets the pocketknife from Janelle’s apartment, also grabs a pair of her tennis shoes, and then rushes back to the beach. She stabs her brother while he’s lying on the sand at the bottom of the stairs, only once as she’s trying to sell stab-and-fall, and she’s afraid multiple stab wounds risk making it apparent he was lying down. She’s nicked his liver, and he’s bleeding steadily. She gets blood on the shoes. She takes his wallet and phone and ring so it can be argued a robber did this. She makes sure some blood drops get left at the top of the stairs where the so-called robbery happened. She then slips away from the beach and creates an alibi. She returns the shoes to Janelle’s closet, keeps the pocketknife as her insurance policy. If cops don’t buy robbery, if they don’t focus on Janelle and find the tennis shoes, then the pink pocketknife can turn up in the sand—with Janelle’s name on it and Andrew’s blood. She’s protected any way this moves forward.

“The only thing that doesn’t work out for Tanya is that the cops don’t find him. It’s getting late with no officer knocking on the door. She’s worried if it goes past midnight with the cops not focused on Janelle. If so, she has to shut this down fast. So she goes back and ‘finds’ her brother dead. The ME report is inconclusive because of two critical points: that he’s stabbed while lying on the ground, and that the stab wound took place at a different time than the fall.”

Paul thought it was an insightful variation. “It softens Tanya into being an opportunistic murderer, so it’s got serious merit. Why don’t you prefer it?”

“It’s two trips to the beach—one to find the brother, the second to return with the knife and shoes. Then there’s getting the shoes returned to Janelle’s apartment. The timing is tight.”

Paul thought about that timeline aloud. “After Andrew and Janelle break up at the beach, Janelle walked to the pizza place and called a taxi. She had to wait for it to arrive . . . then you add the drive time to her apartment. After she arrived home, she went back out again when she took her dog for a walk. Janelle is away from her apartment for a considerable amount of time after she has left Andrew. Tanya is driving, can eliminate those delays. So it is possible. I wouldn’t say probable. It’s doable, but tight.”

Ann nodded. “But now add in the sum total of what transpires next. Tanya handled her reactions when the cops arrived, the interviews, without ever stumbling on what she wanted to say. She didn’t fumble and need to repair a statement in a later interview. What transpires is too neat for a plan put together in a matter of a couple hours. She was leading everyone right to the conclusions she wanted them to reach, from the detective at the beach that night to the jury at trial later on. She didn’t figure out those nuances on Friday night in the two hours she had to prepare for what would unfold. She had spent months getting ready for that performance.”