It was April and El Nino was pelting the rooftop in full
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It was April, and El Nino was pelting the rooftop in full
force. The rain came down in buckets, only to let up for a few
seconds, then resume with a crash of thunder and a torrential
downpour. Detective Jack Barretta hated being called out on a
case on days like this. He and his partner, Wally Cruz got the
call to go to the scene of a homicide on the East side of town.
A body had been found in a batchelor's apartment apparently
stabbed to death in a home invasion robbery. When Jack and Wally
arrived on the scene, the entire apartment complex was taped off
with yellow streamers that read "Police line, do not cross."
As they entered the apartment, there were several uniformed
officers with their notebooks in hand getting information that
would later be integrated into the homicide division crime
report. Kneeling over the body was the Coroner's crew, rifling
through the victim's clothing for identification and any forensic
evidence to help them determine the cause of death. As if the
four-inch gash on the victim's throat wasn't clue enough as to
what killed him.
Jack separated the crowd with his corpulent body and gazed
down at the victim. He looked around the room to determine the
possible motive for this killing.
"Does the victim have a name?", asked Jack to no one in
"The apartment was rented to a Reid Jennings," said one of
the uniformed officers. "The manager has identified the body."
Wally was interviewing a short, fat lady in a housedress
just outside the apartment door.
Over by the window was a bloody butcher knife with a wooden
handle. "Is that the murder weapon?", asked Jack.
"As far as we can tell, there was a struggle, the victim was
stabbed, and the perpetrator escaped out the front door," said
the officer. "Nobody saw or heard anything."
Wally entered the apartment. He was a young go-getter and
always enthusiastic about his assignments. A shock of black hair
fell across one eye as if it were intentionally styled to give
Wally a boyish look.
"The manager says the victim was quiet, payed his rent on
time, and was away on business for weeks at a time. He didn't
have any visitors, and didn't talk much," reported Wally.
The apartment was sparse. The only furniture was a love
seat that made into a bed, a small desk with a lamp, an
overstuffed chair, and a computer. The small closet contained
several expensive suits, top quality ties, very expensive shoes
and a large briefcase. Inside the briefcase were several manila
folders containing invoices for gold coins and uncut diamonds.
The heading on the invoices read West Coast Import Company and an
address at the Union Bank Building on Wilshire Boulevard.
The Coroners had finished preparing the body for transport
to the morgue and the supervisor walked over to Jack and said,
"Can we take the corpse over for an autopsy now?"
"Yeah, get him out of here so we can work,," Jack grumbled.
"Looks like we're in for a long day," Wally was just trying
to make conversation, but Jack was too engrossed in scanning the
crime scene to respond. Wally got the hint that Jack didn't want
to engage in idle conversation, so he went into the small kitchen
to search for clues.
The kitchen contained a small refrigerator, a built-in
stove, a double sink and a painted cabinet. One of the drawers
was partially opened. Wally peered into the drawer and
determined that it contained kitchen utensils.
"This is probably where the murder weapon came from." Wally
thought out loud. "Did someone dust these cabinets for prints?"
"Yeah, the lab guys have been though here with a fine tooth
comb," answered one of the uniformed officers. "They took what
they had back to criminology."
"There's not much else we can do around here," Jack said.
"Let's go back to the office and study the photos and whatever
else the lab guys have for us."
"Tomorrow we can check out this West Coast Imports, maybe we
can come up with something," Wally replied.
Jack Barretta had been on the force for 16 years and he was
never surprised by the sight of a crime scene. There was blood
soaked into the carpet, furniture turned over and the scene
looked like the typical burglary gone awry. The victim comes
home and surprises the burglar, a stuggle ensues, and somebody
gets hurt, usually the victim is only beaten up a little, but
occasionally, someone dies.
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Wally, Flash, Crime comics, Tales from the Crypt
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