SYNOPSIS: 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.
Finding Molli and Cate, Rape Victims
Monday, June 29, 2015
Jason came out of Sean's office and saw Zac sitting at his desk. “Zac, I have job for you.” He handed Zac the list and pointed to the names of Molli R. and Cate S. “Think you can identify these two women?”
Zac looked at the names. “Hmm. The first names are not common spellings. That'll help.”
“The dates there may be the dates they were raped. They may not have reported it as a rape but the rapist usually beats up his vics. They probably were treated in the emergency room of a hospital the same day or the next and reported the attack as an accident. The women would probably be between fifteen and thirty. They both live in the southeastern corner of Wyoming, the northeastern corner of Colorado or the southwestern corner of Nebraska.”
Zac shook his head. “Oh boy. That's not much to go on. I'll see what I can do.”
By midnight Sean and Mary had the newspaper set to publish. It would be a llate. Mary departed for home while Sean retreated into his office to leave Jason and Zac to do their thing. Jason worked on making videos while Zac set up websites and accounts. In no time Zac had Paulo signed up on Facebook, Linked In, and Google+. He also created a website called Saving Paulo. On each site, Zac posted links to the videos that Jason made. Jason also created a slide presentation and posted it in numerous places with links. Within thirty minutes they started getting hits and likes. Jason’s story covered the front page along with a photo of Paulo. The headline read “Paulo McAdams Is Innocent.”
The story under Jason byline read:
The Torrington Star-Gazette has discovered that Paulo McAdams who was convicted of murdering his longtime girlfriend, Angelina Littlefield, last month was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. The paper’s investigation uncovered that key evidence was improperly processed. Paulo McAdams was charged with raping and murdering Angelina Littlefield on August 15, 2012. He was pressured into a plea deal for second degree murder even though he was innocent.
During the autopsy, the medical examiner found pubic hairs. The hairs were sent to the state crime lab for testing but never tested. The test was never done because the Torrington Chief of Police, Captian Jeri Cruse, called the crime lab and asked them not to perform the tests. He told them that since McAdams confessed in a plea deal, the tests were no longer needed. A DNA test of this evidence would prove that Littlefield was raped and killed by someone other than McAdams. This lapse by the police department is either ineptitude or a cover up to protect one of their own.”
Jason left the office around three in the morning to get some sleep. It was a waste of time. He was too psyched up to sleep. He returned to the office shortly after seven. Mary wasn’t in but Sean was sitting at his desk. Jason strode into Sean's office. Sean looked like he’d been up all night. He was still wearing the same clothes with a couple of new coffee stains. He had bags under his eyes. Jason started to speak but Sean put his finger to his lip to shush Jason. Sean pointed to his couch. Zac was asleep on the couch with a pillow over his head.
“He’s been up all night,” whispered Sean. “He just laid down about thirty minutes ago. He’s done one hell of a job. I’m proud of him.”
“So how’s it going?” whispered Jason.
“Well, the phone has been ringing off the hook since about six this morning. I finally just left the phone off the hook so Zac could sleep. I’ve got a couple hundred e-mails. I would say things are going well, thanks to you and Zac.”
The Star-Gazette website had over 10,000 hits by noon. By three they were approaching 100,000 hits. Sean started getting calls from the mayor and every other agency in town. Soon the media in Cheyenne was calling. Sean called for another staff meeting for four that afternoon. Once everyone was settled, Sean started the meeting. “Zac, tells us what we have, please.”
“Sure, grandpa. On Saving Paulo’s web site we have over 150,000 hits. At least 76,000 have signed up for updates and over 97,000 have signed our petition. If I add all the hits on all sites, we’re approaching 235,000.”
Sean whistled. “Unbelievable. What’s the population of the State?”
“Over five hundred thousand, close to six,” answered Mary.
Zac frowned. “Boss, these are not just from Wyoming. These are from all over. Some are from overseas.”
Jason jumped in, “When people want to correct an injustice, they petitions authorities anywhere.”
Sean thought about that for a moment. “Elected officials don't care about signators who can't vote. So did only the Wyoming residents sign the petition to the Attorney General?”
Sean’s question was met with silence. Finally, Zac answered, “We couldn't limit signatures to just the state. Anyone who wanted to sign could and did. Does it matter?”
“I don’t know,” answered Sean. “I guess it doesn’t matter. What else?”
“The story in the paper made a big impact,” answered Zac. “People have been visiting our web site and leaving comments. Do you want to hear some of them?”
“Not just yet,” answered Sean. “Print them and I’ll read them later. Jason, I want to run a front page story every day until Paulo is released. I don’t care how long it takes. We need to keep this issue alive. Mary, you make sure every news agency gets copies. Zac, you continue to work your magic with the social media. We’ll meet every afternoon at four.” As Jason, Mary and Zac started to leave Sean’s office, he stopped them. He stood up and leaned on his desk with his head bowed. After a moment he raised his head and sighed. “Here’s the thing…. I can’t pay OT.”
Mary was the first to answer. “No one asked you for over time.”
Zac and Jason echoed Mary’s remarks.
By noon the next day, the Saving Paulo’s web site had over 400,000 hits. They now had over 150,000 signatures on the petition for the Attorney General. The hits on all sites was approaching 500,000.
Sean kicked off the four PM meeting. “I had a call from the Attorney General on my private phone.”
“How did he get your number?” asked Mary.
“Probably from Jeri. He called me too. I guess we're no longer friends. He had very harsh words for me.”
“Duh,” replied Zac. He held up his right hand and made an “L” sign for loser.
Sean just shook his head at Zac gesture. “Anyway, the Attorney General was very angry with me too…with us. He said we should’ve contacted him first before releasing the story.”
“I knew it,” said Jason.
Sean gave Jason a stern look. “As I was saying, he was very angry. He wanted to know how we found that the pubic hairs were not tested.”
Jason jumped up. “It’s on the lab report. That’s available to the public.”
“Well, sort of,” replied Sean. “The pubic report doesn’t say why the tests weren’t done. It just shows that it wasn't done. In particular, the Attorney General wanted to know how we found that Chief Jeri requested that those tests not be done. That's not in the public domain.”
“Holy crap!” said Jason. “That came from Tina and Dyanna at the crime lab.”
“Dyanna?” asked Mary. “I know Tina's your high school classmate, but who's Dyanna?”
“Oops,” said Jason with a frown. “She's my other CI from the crime lab. She's Tina's roommate.”
“I'm sure glad that I'm not one of your confidential sources,” kidded Zac.
“Are they in trouble?” asked Jason.
“They might be. You had better call them,” added Sean.
“Okay. I’ll call when we’re done here.”
“No. No. Call now. Don’t wait,” Sean insisted.
Jason pulled out his cellphone and dialed Tina. After a few rings she answered. Jason told her about the Attorney General.
“I figured as much,” replied Tina. “All hell has broken loose here. The Attorney General had a meeting this morning with the head of the DCI and his deputies including the head of our lab. They have us going through all the files and looking at every case out of Torrington.”
“Are you and Dyanna okay?”
“Yeah. Nothing connects us with you. Anyone in DCI could pull up that information.”
“Are you sure? What about the sign in book and ID picture?”
“OMG. I forgot about that. Yes, if they check the log they will see your name. Your picture is on file too. Let’s wait and see.”
Jason frowned. “What’ll you do if they find that you’re my source?”
“Don’t even worry about it. Now days there’re plenty of jobs for biologists. We knew the risks.”
Jason thought for a moment. “Isn’t there a law about firing whistle-blowers?”
“No, cowboy. That’s a Federal law and doesn’t apply for state agencies. Gotta go, love.”
Jason hung up. When he looked up he noticed all eyes were on him. “You all heard?”
“Yeah,” said Sean. “Now I’m sure that the Attorney General might tap our telephones.”
“Cellphones?” asked Jason.
“Maybe,” answered Zac. “If you like, I can get devices to encrypt our calls.”
Sean thought about it for a moment. “Go ahead. Meanwhile, we should avoid using the telephones.”
Zac raised his hand and when Sean nodded he said, “I can set up something to record all telephone calls. Might come in handy if we are threatened.”
Sean thought about it for a moment. “We have to tell folks that calls are recorded.”
Zac laughed. “No sweat. It's an automatic voice. It would say that we are recording the call to improve customer service.”
Mary agreed. “I like the idea.”
“If the phones are tapped and we stop using them,” said Jason. “They'll know we know. We should continue to use the phones but not talk about the murder.”
“Any way,” continued Sean. “The Attorney General used pretty foul language on the phone. When I asked if I could quote him he hung up. We might be winning. Zac, can you set something up on our website to get donations for Paulo’s legal costs?”
“Yeah, no problemo,” replied Zac. “You’ll need to open a bank account and give me the account number. Pay Pal would be the safest way.”
“What are you thinking?” asked Jason
“Paulo is going to fire his lawyer, that hack, Patton. I’ll open an account first thing tomorrow.”
“Grandpa, we don’t need to pay for a lawyer. I’ve three emails from lawyers who want to help for boners.”
Mary marched across the room and slapped Zac on the back of his head.
Sean laughed. “You mean Pro Bono. I don’t trust those lawyers. Paulo needs a lawyer can control; one who works for us. We don’t want a lawyer who is looking for publicity.”
“What about Mrs. McAdams?” asked Mary.
“I already discussed it with her. She agrees. As soon as we hire one, Patton’s gone.”
Sean’s cellphone rang. He looked at it and said, “It’s Paulo’s mother. Stay put. Hello, this is Sean.” Sean nodded his heads a few times. “Okay. I’ll tell him.” Sean hung up and looked at Jason. “Paulo want to talk to you. He’ll call home in one hour. Be there. I’m guessing their phones aren’t tapped.”