Roscoe and I walked into the county medical examiner’s office Monday afternoon and approached a woman sitting behind the desk eating a salad and reading a celebrity gossip magazine. She did not look up.
“Chief Ross, Sand Point PD. We spoke earlier.”
The receptionist sighed and punched a button on her desk phone with her free hand, “Dr. Bishop. Chief Ross is here to see you.”
“Thanks, Melissa. Send him in,” I heard through the intercom.
The receptionist punched the button again, cutting off the intercom, then pushed a ledger across the desk without looking up, “Sign in.”
I watched Roscoe sign the ledger then signed my own name on the next line and pushed the ledger back.
“Right through there,” she pointed with her fork then turned her attention back to her salad and the lives of the rich and scandalous.
We pushed through the swinging double doors and entered the brightly lit, tile and stainless steel lined examination room.
“Dr. Bishop. Marco Ross, Sand Point PD.”
Dr. Bishop looked up from the man lying on the table, “Hello Chief.”
“Hello doctor. This is my deputy, Roscoe Bartlett.”
Roscoe stared at the body and shoved his hands into his pockets, “Hello doctor.”
I turned to the ME, “Do you have anything on my vic yet?”
“You must have some serious pull to get this guy on my table so quickly.”
I smiled, “Yeah. AG Lopez and I go way back. We put away a few bad guys up in New York. He’ll never admit it, but I saved his ass on more than a few cases.”
“Wonderful. A real live superstar,” Dr. Bishop gave a quick, upward motion of his mouth that he probably intended to be a smile then turned back to the table. “Well, the water’s temperature and its effects on the body make it tough to give a definite time of death, but it takes a week or two in warm water for a body to putrefy to the point of floating, so I’d say he was dead at least that long when you found him.”
Roscoe wiped a few beads of sweat from his forehead then crossed his arms on his chest.
“What did him in?”
He looked up from the body, “I found no water in his lungs so he was dead before he went in. He’s got a few cracked ribs, a busted jaw, and quite a few smashed teeth resulting from multiple blows to the torso and head. I don’t see any signs that the attacker used a weapon of any kind, so cause of death was probably severe traumatic brain injury resulting from multiple blows to the head, including a blow to the temple, which is probably the proximate cause. Mechanism of death, probably a massive cerebral contusion. Manner of death, most certainly homicide.”
“OK,” I nodded.
Dr. Bishop continued, “Mind you that’s all preliminary since I just opened him up. I need to complete my autopsy and do a cranial exam to give you an official time of death, but that should get you started on the right track.”
“Thanks Doc. Let me know what you find.”
“That’s the plan,” he said, already peering over his glasses down at the corpse.
Roscoe and I left the exam room and waved to the receptionist who didn’t look up.
When we got to the truck I put in a call to Houston PD while Roscoe stared out the passenger side window and chewed his nails.
When I ended the call, I turned to Roscoe as I drove out of the lot, “Me and Cassi are heading up to Houston this afternoon. HPD questioned our guy about his wife’s murder. We’ll see what we can get off the guys who worked the case. I want you to partner up with the County Sheriff and track down any leads they got off the tip line we set up this morning. The lines are probably ringing off the hook with loonies and psychics, but sometimes you can get a decent lead or two out of the mess.”
“No problem,” Roscoe turned his attention back to the window and his nails as we headed back to the station.
We arrived back at the station and headed to my office, where Roscoe grabbed Parker’s rap sheet off my desk. Cassi was behind my desk looking down at a chart of the harbor. She looked up as we entered, “Hey Chief.”
“Hey Cassi. You got something for me?”
“Sure do. Harbor Patrol analyzed the currents for the past few days and mapped out possible dump sites in the channel.”
“Great. You and I are heading up that way this afternoon.”
“HPD questioned Parker for killing his wife. I arranged for us to meet with the detectives who handled the case.”
“Wow! Nice break.”
“Sure is. We’ll see if we can sweet talk some information out of the detectives up there. I’m betting the beat down this Parker guy took had something to do with their case.”
Roscoe dropped Parker’s rap sheet, scattering the papers across the floor. He bent down quickly to pick them up.
I looked down at Roscoe, “What’s wrong with you, Roscoe? You’ve been jumpy all day.”
“I’m fine. It’s just my first murder is all. Maybe it’s getting to me,” Roscoe’s hand trembled as he fumbled with the papers.
“I get that. I do. But you need to get a hold of yourself real quick.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry, Chief.”
“Hey. Don’t sweat it. You’re popping your homicide cherry,” I smiled wide, “the first one’s always tough.”