LEGACY OF DEATH:
THE DYSON’S COMET KILLER
By Richard Paolinelli
© 2019 RICHARD PAOLINELLI . ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO COPYING OR ANY OTHER REPRODUCTION OF THIS STORY IS PERMITTED WITH WRITTEN PERMISSION.
Darkness had fallen over the park by the time Bolton and Foster arrived at the crime scene. The media had converged on the area almost as quickly as the police and a sizeable crowd had gathered, drawn to the flashing lights and sirens like the proverbial moths to the flame. News vans already had their boom antenna extended, cameramen and reporters clamored to get past the police line, asking questions to anyone who walked by.
A patrolman Bolton recognized was the first to greet the Inspectors, lifting the tape so the two men could pass under as he cast a sour look and the media horde.
“Hiya, Mac,” Harrison had been on the force for over twenty years and had worked with Bolton on a few major cases over the years. As the two men passed under, Harrison reached out and touched Bolton on the shoulder. “Brace yourself son, this one is worse than the Parker case.”
The statement brought Bolton up short. He’d nearly quit the force after closing out the Parker homicide four years before. Harrison had been one of the first on the scene that night and would know what he was talking about. The old cop led the pair toward the scene, filling in some small details along the way.
“My partner’s a rookie,” Harrison said. “Less than six months out of the academy. When he first saw the victim he wound up tossing his lunch. I sent him along with one of the CSU folks to check the perimeter for any additional evidence. Tell you the truth, I nearly did the same myself. Like I said Mac, I saw the Parker scene and this is worse in more ways than I can imagine.”
Harrison stopped well short of the body, clearly reluctant to take another look. Mac nodded his thanks to Harrison before walking over to the now-covered corpse. A crime scene tech was processing the scene and Bolton was careful not to disturb any potential evidence. Foster had joined up with Chief Kiner, filling in the Chief of Inspectors on the ATM Bandit bust and getting whatever information the Chief had on this crime.
“What have we got so far,” Bolton asked the tech, checking her badge for a name as he slipped on a pair of latex gloves, “Sanchez?”
“No ID on the victim yet,” Sanchez said, gently lifting the dark plastic sheet covering the victim and Bolton could understand why Harrison and his partner were so shaken by what they had seen. That the woman had been murdered was a given, that she had been beautiful before her murder was also a given, as long as you only looked at her face.
Her face was untouched, eyes staring up at the sky. But her attacker had literally butchered her from the base of the neck on down. Sanchez answered the obvious question.
“I ran the kit,” she said quietly. “No sign of sexual assault. At least she didn’t suffer that. But what you see isn’t the worst of it.”
The tech gently rolled the victim over to expose a series of cuts on the dead woman’s back. One cut was a small circle below the base of the neck with several smaller, straight lines running away from the circle in a conical pattern.
On the ground below, written in blood that probably belonged to the victim, were four words.
BEHOLD! I AM COMING
“Fantastic,” Bolton muttered under his breath. “Can’t wait to meet you. Do we have a time of death yet?”
“About two or three hours at most,” Sanchez replied as she rolled the body back in place. Bolton glanced away from the still-open eyes, looking in the same direction as her dead gaze. Bolton scowled at the sky for a moment then reached into Sanchez’s CSU kit, plucking out one of the orange sticks CSU used to track angles of bullet wounds.
“This was the position she was found in,” Bolton asked, placing one end of the stick an inch above the dead woman’s left eye, “body, head and eyes?”
“Yeah,” Sanchez replied, puzzled. “Why?”
“Because two or three hours ago Sanchez,” Bolton said, pointing up at Dyson’s Comet drifting off toward the southern sky, “that comet over there was on the other end of this stick and it was probably the last thing she ever saw.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yep,” Bolton said, handing Sanchez back the stick. “Astronomy’s a bit of a hobby of mine. Three hours ago that comet was right in her line of sight.”
What Bolton didn’t add was that he was supposed to be sharing a glass of wine and some quality stargazing time with Lisa Owens about right now. It was a date that was not going to be kept.
“Sanchez, let’s roll her back over for a second,” Bolton helped Sanchez with the body. “Recognize the pattern of those cuts now?”
“Dyson’s Comet,” she replied. “Why carve it onto her back? What does it mean?”
“It means,” said Chief Kiner, who along with Foster had come up behind Bolton, “that we have another serial killer on our hands and this is his calling card.”
“It’s only a matter of time before we’ll be hearing from him again,” Bolton said, standing up and carefully stepping away from the body as Sanchez replaced the covering sheet.
“Anything you need,” Kiner said. “As many men as you want, and no problem with any overtime. I want this one off the street fast.”
Kiner walked away to address the clamoring press corps, leaving the two lead Inspectors to their dark thoughts.
“You okay?” Bolton asked his partner, who was unusually quiet.
“I’ve just got a bad feeling,” Foster answered, “that this isn’t going to end well.”
“These cases never do,” Bolton said.
Just then, Harrison’s rookie partner and the CSU tech that had accompanied him staggered out of the foliage behind where Sanchez was still processing the body. Both men were white as sheets and wore identical looks of horror on their faces.
“What’s wrong?” Bolton asked. “Did you find something?”
Neither man answered him and the rookie cop merely pointed back the way they had come. With Foster right behind him, Bolton worked his way through the bushes and trees that made up the natural beauty of the park. As he reached a small clearing Bolton stepped out of a small piece of paradise and walked straight into hell.
He had expected to find some kind of ritualistic laying out of the body parts removed from the victim they’d left behind. He got that but hadn’t expected to find a second body.
The second crime scene turned out to be even more horrific than the first one. But as the CSU techs processed the second body, they discovered that this victim had actually been killed first. The first body found that evening had apparently been intended to serve as a pointer to the killer’s grand finale of the night.
No one at the scene was talking, too stunned by what they witnessed to say anything. Bolton stood a few feet away, silently watching and nodding once or twice when a new piece of evidence was found.
Like the earlier body, this victim had suffered the same types of wounds, front and back, with the same comet-shaped cuts in her back. And like the first victim, her open-eyed gaze was also looking in the direction where Dyson’s Comet had been in the sky at the time of her death. Where the first body covered a message “Behold I am coming” written in blood, this body also covered a message written in blood from the killer:
I WILL CLEANSE THIS WORLD
The only difference was that this time the killer had opened up his victim, removed only her heart and placed the bloody organ in the dead woman’s hands, which were cupped together and resting on her belly. At her feet were the bloody parts that had been removed from the first body to be found.
The department’s profiler was already on the scene trying to get a handle on the killer. The only thing Bolton knew for sure was that there were probably going to be more victims before they found whoever was doing this and stopped him.
“At least we know who the vics are now,” Sanchez said. The CSU tech looked a little pale as she processed the second scene. “Karen Peters was the first one we found and that was Patty Kowalski. We found their purses and clothing in a neat little pile under that palm tree over there.”
“Give Inspector Johansen their IDs,” Bolton replied quietly. “He’ll see to it that their families are notified. Process everything you can find and run every test as many times as you have to.”
Bolton turned away from the grisly venue and headed back toward the first scene. Mercifully, the first victim had been removed. But there was no peace to be found for Bolton, whose thoughts were churning back to the grim days of the Parker case. Willie Joe Hamilton had kidnapped Sarah Parker and then taunted the department in general and Bolton in particular for a full week as they desperately tried to find the girl alive.
Each clue brought them a step closer but Hamilton managed to elude them for seven days, leaving Bolton messages of what he intended to do to the girl before he killed her. Bolton had finally caught his nemesis by surprise, guessing correctly where Hamilton would go to hide next. But Hamilton had managed to stay free long enough to brutally savage and then murder the City College student. They had found her body in a storage room splattered with her blood from the beatings she’d endured before the end.
Hamilton had been sentenced to death and was awaiting his fate on death row pending appeals. Bolton had turned in his badge, wanting no more to do with the type of person capable of such an atrocity. Chief Kiner had barely managed to talk Bolton into coming back, relying on a heart-to-heart talk between Bolton and his father, who was a retired cop, to bring Bolton back to work. Kiner then teamed Bolton up with the newest addition to the Inspectors’ division, Steve Foster. The two had worked together well, even becoming fast friends, and Bolton had been glad Kiner had talked him out of quitting. Until this night, Bolton thought to himself as he looked down at the white outline where Peters had been found.
Bolton turned to find Assistant District Attorney Lisa Owens standing a few feet behind him, a look of concern on her face. They had met during Hamilton’s prosecution and had become lovers soon after its conclusion. For now, they were both content to keep their relationship discreet; although Bolton was sure a few people in each of their respective departments had to know something was up between the two of them by now.
“I’ve had better,” Bolton said, looking up at the comet, which was just visible over the tree line. “Wasn’t exactly the night I had planned for us.”
“Same here,” she replied, drawing a surprised look from Bolton.
“It’s a little early for the D.A.’s office yet,” Bolton said. “We’re nowhere near an arrest.”
“I know,” she said. “But the boss wants a presence on this one early, sounds like the Mayor is already laying on the political heat and I drew the short straw. What can I say Mac, you always take a girl to the most romantic places.”
“I know two women who would disagree with your assessment of this place,” Bolton said as the coroner’s deputies walked into the clearing bearing the body of the second victim.
“Any idea on why the killer removed her heart?” Owens asked.
“Not a clue,” Bolton replied. “We’re going to have to wait until we catch him before we get that answer. I just hope the price we have to pay in blood isn’t too high.”
Bolton turned to walk back to his car and head for the station.
“Mac,” Owens said softly, “this isn’t the Parker case.”
“No,” Bolton agreed. “It’s a helluva lot worse.”
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Next Week: Chapter 4 – The Hunter
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