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
(Cont. Part 2)
Three of the rapes on Jason’s list happened in Casper, home to the University of Wyoming where Jason went to college and Tina's alma mater. Jason hadn't been back since he dropped out of college. He thought it might be fun to see the old campus. When he called campus security, he was referred to the Casper police. Chief Huggins, the CPD Chief agreed to meet with Jason on the following Monday because Independence Day would be celebrated on Friday since July Fourth was on Saturday. Jason e-mailed the list of rapes to him.
On the drive to Casper, Jason kept thinking that the serial rapist may have driven the same route. The office of the Casper Chief of Police was like Chief Cruse’s office décor. Jason guessed they must have attended the same seminar on decorating offices. Chief Craig Huggins looked and dressed like Wyatt Earp including wearing a pair of pearl handled colt 45's.
After introductions and exchanging business cards, Jason got right to the point. “Chief Huggins, as I said in my e-mail, I’m doing a story about a possible serial rapist. Several rapes have occurred within a two hundred mile area, all with the same MO. Three of them occurred in Casper. I want to ask you about those. Do you recall those rapes?”
“Yes, of course. I got your e-mail and pulled those files. You’re correct. They're similar. We've no suspects so these cases are still unsolved. All three involved co-eds: two white and one African-American.”
“Were all three outdoors and at night?” asked Jason.
Chief Higgins sifted through the files. “As a matter of fact, they were. That’s unusual here. Most of our rapes involve alcohol or drugs and happen indoors and at night. Most don’t involve violence.”
“These three did,” said Jason. “All outdoors. The victims were beaten unconscious. All had their pants pulled over their heads and panties taken.”
Chief Higgins reviewed the files again. “Yeah. One vic was in a coma for three days.”
“Chief, I’m looking for clues that may not be common to all three but that might help us identify the serial rapist. In all these cases, the victims didn’t see their attacker. They were attacked from behind, knocked out.”
“Hmm. You got me thinking. Knocking a person out isn’t easy, especially if they're moving. Sometimes an attacker misses. I’m wondering if we have any reports of an assault where the vic wasn’t knocked out. Hold on.” Chief Higgins called in another officer and explained what he was looking for.
After the officer left, Chief Higgins continued, “You know, ninety percent of all campus rapes occur under the influence of alcohol. Of the women who are raped, only ten percent report it. About a third of the rapes take place on campus. Most victims knows their attacker. In these three cases, the women couldn’t ID their attacker. Here’s another odd thing. Most rapes occur on weekend. These three happened during the week.”
“Some of the others on my list did happen on weekends.”
“Now the case of Sandy Cameron in 2008,” continued the chief, “happened in the Wilkins State Park. The vic was jogging alone just before dark. She was hit from behind, dragged into the woods and raped. Another jogger found her and called 911. By the time the ambulance arrived, she was conscious. She never saw her attacker; however, she did say that shortly before she was attacked she passed a man on the jogging trial.”
“Did she describe the man?”
The chief shuffled through the file. “Here it is. Yes, she described him as average height and build. He wore all black; black hoodie, black pants and black shoes. She couldn't be sure of his ethnicity.”
“Could be her attacker or a witness. Did you talk to this guy?”
“No. We couldn't ID him. I know that trial – a lot of switchbacks. The guy could've cut through the woods and waited to ambush her.”
“Was her rape kit tested?”
Chief Higgins scanned the report. “No, not yet. We have a backlog.”
“Chief, that was over six years ago.”
“What can I say? We don't test them here. Rapes that include murder get priority. If we had a suspect, we might be able to bump up the priority.”
Jason shook his head. “If you tested it, you might have a suspect.”
Chief Higgins shrugged his shoulders. “Now the case of Beth Alton, 2009 is different. We did get DNA.”
“Oh, great. Any match?”
“No match. No suspect. Very similar case. She was hiking alone, was attacked from behind and knocked out.”
“How did the DNA show up?”
“The vic had braces on her teeth. A piece of a glove caught on them and tore off. It had the perp's blood on it.”
“But no match in the system?”
“Nope. It's been five years. Maybe we should try it again. Maybe the perp's in the system now.”
“What about the case of Jill Stone?”
Higgins opened another file. “Jill Stone, 2010. Similar. Outside alone. Attacked from behind. Knocked out. Higgins scanned the file for a moment. “We got DNA in that case too. Apparently, before she was knocked out, she tried to fight off her attacker and scratched him. Again, no match to anyone.”
“Did you compare the DNA from Stone to the DNA from Alton?”
Higgins scanned the report. “Nope. But I will and get back to you with the results. If they match, then that would confirm that we have a serial rapist.”
“I spoke to one victim who said she smelled WD-40. Did any of these victims say anything like that?”
“No. But WD-40 is rather common. We use it her in the department to rustproof our weapons. I'd guess half the gun owners in Wyoming use it. Anything else?”
“A couple of witnesses reported seeing a white car.”
Chief Higgins scanned through the files again. “Nope. No vehicles reported. Anything else?”
“No, Chief. Thanks. Please contact me when you compare that DNA from those two cases.”
As Jason stood up to leave, the officer that the chief told to check on assaults entered. “I have that info you wanted, Chief. One assault was reported off campus during daylight. Young woman in a rural area. A perp came up behind her and tried to hit her. She wasn't hurt and out ran him.”
“Did she describe him?” asked Jason.
“Yeah, average height and weight. All dressed in black. Wore a ski mask.” The officer handed Higgins the report. “I made two copies.”
Chief Higgins handed one copy to Jason.