Jason Franco is an aspiring novelist stuck in a dead end job working for a newspaper in a small town where nothing exciting happens until someone rapes and murders a young woman only eighteen years old. All evidence points to the woman's boyfriend who confesses to the crime. Jason is assigned to write a follow-up story for the paper and soon suspects that the local police are covering up for one of their own. Jason enlists the help from a high school classmate who works at the state crime and the two soon fall in love. Jason and his girlfriend, Tina, follow the leads and Jason finds himself a target for the rapist turned murderer. An attempt on Jason's life puts him in the hospital as the alleged rapist commits suicide. An unexpected turn of events put Jason back in the cross hairs of a different killer.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”
The caller was hysterical. “My daughter. She’s been stabbed. I think she’s dead. Send the police and an ambulance right away.”
“Yes, Ma’am. They’re on the way. Are you sure she’s dead?”
“I’m a nurse. I checked her vital signs.”
“Okay. Stay on the line. The police should be there soon. What is your name?”
“My name is Margaret Littlefield.”
“Are you in a safe place?”
“I don't know. I think so. I'm in the house.”
“Maybe you should leave the house and wait outside.”
“Okay. Please hurry.”
Officers Marini and Rudd were first to arrive at the Littlefield residence, a three bedroom house on the east side of town. They were at the police station when the call came came in around 11:30 pm and drove over in separate patrol cars. Mrs. Littlefield was standing in the driveway when they arrived. She was still in her nurse’s uniform with a sweater on over it. It was not quiet fall yet but the weather had turned chilly. The cottonwoods along her street hadn't started to turn yellow yet. She led the two officers inside her house through the side door off the car port. Only the kitchen light was on. Her daughter, Angelina Littlefield, lay on her back on the kitchen floor. She was naked from the waist down. Her jean shorts were pulled over her head. Her tube top was covered with blood and there was a large puddle of blood on the floor. There appeared to be a stab wound in her chest.
Naomi Marini was the senior officer. She told Mrs. Littlefield and Officer Art Rudd to stay out of the kitchen to avoid contaminating the crime scene. She carefully tiptoed into the room, avoiding any blood spatter. She knelt down and checked for a pulse in Angelina’s carotid artery but found none. “Ma’am, is anyone else in the house?”
“Oh. I didn’t check. They told me to stay outside to wait for you guys. I didn’t see anyone.” Naomi instinctively pulled out her service revolver and turned to Art Rudd. “Check the house. The perp may still be here. Then check the doors and windows for a forced entry.” Naomi wasn’t worried about Art checking the house without backup. Art stood six feet two and was an expert in martial arts. He was also the top marksman in the department.
Art drew his service pistol and flashlight and carefully checked every room. He saw no one. He checked all the doors and windows but found no indications of forced entry. He returned to the dining room where Naomi was questioning Mrs. Littlefield. “All clear. There doesn’t appear to be any forced entry.”
Chief Jeri Cruse arrived with officer Gerald Dunley followed by the ambulance. Naomi and Art met them in the dining room. After conferring with Naomi, Chief Cruse said, “Let’s protect the crime scene and don’t touch anything. I’m going to request assistance from the State Police. They have a Regional Enforcement Team on standby. They can be here within a couple of hours. Gerald, you check outside around the house. Make sure no one is lurking about and then check for forced entry from the outside and footprints.”
Chief Cruse turned to Mrs. Littlefield. “I’m sorry for your loss, ma'am. I promise we’ll find whoever did this. But right now we can’t touch the body. We need to look for clues. Did you cover her face like that?”
Mrs. Littlefield shook her head.
“Ma'am, I know this is hard for you but the first forty eight hours are critical to catching whoever killed your daughter. We need to ask you some questions. Do you understand?”
Mrs. Littlefield shook her head yes. She was beginning to feel numb.
Chief Cruse removed a pocket recorder and turned it on. “In your own words, tell us what happened.”
She took a deep breath. “Okay. I'm a nurse at the Torrington Community Hospital. I work the second shift until 11 eleven pm. I got home around 11:30. That's when I found her.” She began to choke up. “Like that.”
“Was anyone with your daughter tonight?”
Mrs. Littlefield wiped her face with her hands. “I don't know. My daughter usually stays up until I get home. Sometimes her boyfriend is with her.”
Is there a Mr. Littlefield?”
Mrs. Littlefield shook her head again. She was starting to shake and turn pale. Chief Cruse took her hand and led her to a chair at the dining room table. “What about Paulo?” she asked.
“Who?” asked Jeri.
“Paulo McAdams. He’s Angelina’s boyfriend. Someone has to tell him.” She gave him Paulo’s address.
“Okay, ma’am. We’ll take care of it. Naomi, go over to Paulo McAdams’s house and notify him. Take Art with you.” Jeri followed Naomi and Art outside. In the drive way he stopped them. “Be careful. This Paulo guy might be the perp. Look around and see if there’s any indication that he might be involved then bring him in for questioning.”
Officer Dunley came around from the back of the house. “All clear, Chief. No signs of a forced entry or footprints. She may have let her attacker inside – maybe someone she knew.”
“Okay. Check it again after sunrise.”
The McAdams's house was on the west side of town near the National Guard armory. When Naomi and Art arrived at the McAdams's residence, they found all the lights out. After several knocks, Paulo answered the door followed quickly by his mother in a robe. Paulo had on a pair of khaki shorts and a white T-shirt. Naomi noted that there was no visible blood stains on his clothes.
“Do you mind if we come in?” asked Naomi. When she saw the puzzled looks on the faces of Paulo and his mother, she added, “It’s about Angelina.”
Without another word, Paulo opened the door wider and stepped aside. Once inside, Naomi said, “We regret to inform you that Angelina Littlefield has been killed. We're sorry for your loss.”
Paulo’s knees buckled. Art grabbed him before he fell and helped him to the couch. Mrs. McAdams ran to the kitchen and returned with a glass of water for Paulo. As he slowly regained his composure, Mrs. McAdams hugged her son.
“When? How? Who?” stammered Paulo.
Naomi took the lead. “We don’t have much information at this time. Apparently, someone came into the Littlefield residence and killed her while her mother was at work. Right now that's all we know. Mrs. Littlefield said we should tell you right away.”
Paulo was still in shock as the news set in. “Can I see her?”
“I’m afraid not,” answered Naomi. “We’re waiting for a Regional Enforcement Team from the State Police. They’re the forensics experts. The medical examiner hasn’t released her body yet. When did you last see her?”
Paulo started to cry. Unconsciously, he began to pitch the skin on the back of his hand. “Like every night, we hung out at her place until about nine thirty. She wanted to clean up the kitchen before her mother came home from work, so I left.”
“Just the two of you alone?”
“Yes, of course.”
Naomi looked at Mrs. McAdams. “I hate to ask this but I’ve to. Can you verify that Paulo came home around nine thirty and stayed here?”
“She was asleep,” interjected Paulo. “I came in, watched TV for a few minutes and went to bed around ten or ten thirty.”
His mother nodded her head in agreement. Naomi made a note in her notebook.
“Did you call anyone or did anyone call you?”
“No,” answered Paulo.
“Did you use your computer or cellphone so we can verify the time?”
Again, Paulo answered, “No.”
Naomi touched Paulo’s shoulder. “We’re sorry for your loss. Would you help us by answering some questions down at the station? Maybe later you can see her body.”
Paulo stood up. “Yeah, sure.”
“I’m coming too,” said Mrs. McAdams. “Just let me get some clothes on.”
“Paulo, Officer Rudd here will stay with you as you get dressed,” said Naomi. “I want you to give him the clothes you wore tonight at the Littlefield house. We have to check them. It's protocol. Your shoes too.”
“Sure. I understand,” said Paulo.
After a few minutes, Paulo and his mother were dressed. Art had a large plastic bag with Paulo's clothes in it.
“Cell phone?” asked Naomi.
“Got it,” answered Art as he pointed to the bag of clothes.
“Officer Rudd will take you two to the station.”
After five minutes Art left with Paulo and Mrs. McAdams. Naomi waited in her patrol car until they left and then went back into the house with her crime scene kit and a paper bag. In her hurry, Mrs. McAdams forgot to lock the door. Since Paulo was a suspect, Naomi could legally enter the house. Naomi was in the McAdams house for only a few minutes when she called Chief Cruse. “Chief, we got a situation here. Art is taking Mrs. McAdams and her son to the station. I think I've found the murder weapon, the knife.”
“I thought so,” answered the Chief. “Don't touch anything. I'll be over there in a few minutes. Meanwhile take some pictures.”
“One more thing, Chief. I found Angelina's cellphone. There's a picture of her dead body on it.”
“Are you sure it's hers?”
“I'm pretty sure. Mrs. McAdams took hers and Art has Paul's cellphone. It has a pink cover and the information on the phone says it's Angelina's.”
Before noon, the Torrington police charged Paulo McAdams with aggregated assault and the murder of Angelina. Later, after the Medical Examiner’s autopsy, they added the charge of first degree sexual assault.