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.
Interviews of Rape Victims
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
The next day when Jason arrived at work, Mary handed him a can of insect spray. “You’ll need this.”
“Insect spray. It’s better than pepper spray. This sucker will spray fifty feet. Aim for the eyes.”
Jason noticed an identical can on Mary’s and Zac’s desk. “Is this really necessary?”
“You bet,” said Mary. “I’m not going down without a fight.”
“This is even better,” interjected Sean as he exited his office carrying a pistol. “This is my old Army forty five. I smuggled it out of Vietnam. It can stop a charging bull in its tracks. Do you have a gun?”
“No,” answered Jason.
“I can loan you one if you want.”
“No, thanks. That’s a too extreme for me. Besides, Tina offerred me one.”
“Okay,” said Sean. “It’s your neck.”
Jason decide to write a few stories for the front page so he would have time to check all the rape victims on his list. The stories didn't take long to write. He had been going over them in his head for days. It was a simple take to put his thoughts on paper easier than he thought it would be. Maybe he was becoming a journalist.
Jason looked over the list of rape victims. The closest, after Torrington, was in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, a forty minute drive. He called the Scottsbluff police department, but the chief said the case was still open, and he refused to discuss it. Jason already knew the victim's name was Carmine Evans. On a chance, he checked the online white pages and got her telephone number.
Carmine's father answered the telephone and explained that his daughter was at school in Florida. He said he would pass Jason's number to her and she if she wanted to talk to Jason she would call. A few minutes later, she did call Jason. They connected on Skype. She appeared to be in her early twenties. She wore a sweatsuit. Her hair was brown but with long light blue curls and dark blue bangs. She had two rings in her lower lip.
“Carmine, I'm a journalist with the Torrington Star-Gazette. I'm investigating what I believe is a serial rapist. I like to record this interview with your permission. If you're not comfortable with that, I won't.”
“No, go ahead. I'd like to help anyway I can.”
“Okay. Just tell me what happened in your own words.”
“I'm a little nervous. I'm studying astronomy here at Florida State. I have always been fascinated by the stars. Scottsbluff's a great place to go star gazing. The night I was attacked, I took my telescope and drove my mom's car up near the top of Scottsbluff. It's supposed to be closed after dark but I know a bike trail wide enough to drive a car up there. I set up on the farthest side away from the town lights. It's the best spot for star gazing.”
“Then what happened?”
“I don't know exactly. I was hit from behind and knocked out. When I didn't come home, my dad came looking for me. He found my car and called 911. Then he found me.”
“I know this is hard,” said Jason. “But can you tell me what your attacker did to you? It would help to identify this attack with others.”
“Sure. He took off my shorts and panties. He put my shorts over my head. I guess he took my panties.”
“Did he beat you?”
“Yeah, to a bloody pulp. I woke up when my dad found me but I couldn't see out of my left eye for three days. He broke my nose too.”
“So you were unconscious while he raped you?”
“Did you see anyone else on Scottsbluff, any cars?”
“Not really. Just the usual kids making out. No, I didn't see anyone out of the ordinary.”
“Do you think that your father might have seen some thing?”
“The police asked him that. He said he passed three cars as he drove toward Scottsbluff: a black van, a red pickup, and a white four door car. The police later found the pickup but it was a couple of teenagers who were making out up there.”
Carmine stopped to take a drink of water. “Does that help?”
“Actually, a white car has shown up in other rape cases. It might be the rapist.”
“I'm glad I could help.”
Jason decided to try and contact Molli Roper and Cate Smith. After a search on the internet he discovered Cate Smith relocated out of the state; however, Molli Roper still lived in Douglas. When he called she hung up on him.
Douglass was an hour and forty minutes drive, so Jason decided to drive over and attempt to talk to Molli. Douglas was about the same size as Torrington and was also the county seat. Jason had been there before when he attended the Wyoming State Fair.
Jason located Molli's address and knocked on her door. A young boy answered and told Jason that his mom was at work. She was a waitress at a local diner. Jason drove to the diner. It wasn't hard to find Molli – there were only two waitresses, and they had name tags. Jason sat down at a booth and Molli walked over to take his order. Molli was a plump, medium height woman. She had blond hair with blue highlights with the ends tinted in dark blue. When she smiled, Jason saw that she was missing a couple of teeth.
“Are you Molli? Molli Roper?” he asked.
“Yes,” answered Molli. “Do I know you?”
“No, No. I'm a reporter with the Torrington Star-Gazette, and I would like to talk to you about your attack back in 2010. I'm investigating a serial rapist.”
“I weren't attacked,” Molli replied. “I had a roll over accident in my ATV.”
“Maybe you did, but I have reason to believe that you were raped.”
“I ain't going to talk about it.” Molli started to leave.
“Let me show you something.” Jason put a picture of Angie on the table. It was a picture from her yearbook. “This girl was raped and murdered in Torrington two years ago.”
Molli stopped and looked at the picture. “I remember reading about it.”
Jason placed another picture of Angie on the table. It was from the autopsy. “This picture is what she looked like after her attacker beat her. Maybe the same guy beat you like that.”
Molli shook her head. “Okay, I'll talk to you. Just let me tell my boss.” Molli left and returned a few minutes later. She sat down opposite Jason. “I don't know if I can help. I never saw my attacker.”
“Why didn't you report it? Ashamed? Embarrassed?”
“No. Scared. I thought the guy might come back and kill me; maybe my whole family.”
“I get that,” said Jason. “but any small detail might help. This guy has raped maybe fifteen women.”
“Oh my god,” said Molli as she covered her mouth. “I didn't know.”
“Right now, no one knows for sure, but he may have. He beat this girl severely before he raped her.” Jason pointed to Angie's picture. “Did that happen to you?”
Molli started to sob. She nodded her head.
Jason drove home the point. “These women were all beaten. The rapist put their shorts or jeans over their heads to cover their faces. Did that happen to you?”
“Yes. Yes. I had on a skirt. When I come to, it was over my head and face. My panties were gone too. My face was so beaten that I couldn't hardly see.” She pointed to her missing teeth. “He knocked out some of my teeth. I managed to get home and call 911.”
“Can you think of any details; however insignificant they may seem? It might help.”
Molli thought for a moment. “Smelled WD-40. You know that stuff. We use it at the diner. It's a very distinctive order. It was weird.”
Molli and Jason talked for another fifteen minute and then Molli said she had to get back to work. She gave Jason her number.