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.
Dyanna Jones, Rape Victim and Rex Gilmore, Registered Sex Offender
Thursday, July 9, 2015
(Part 2 cont.)
Jason told Sean about the registered sex offenders; Theodore McPherson and Rex Gilmore.
“It might be worth a visit to Mr. Gilmore,” said Sean. “Let McPherson go for now. I’m going with you. I don’t want you facing a potential murderer alone.” Sean took his pistol out of his desk drawer and stuck in his belt under his coat.
Sean and Jason drove over to the address given for Gilmore. It was a nondescript house partially hidden from the street by high hedges. A white picket fence circled the property. Mr. Gilmore was raking grass in the front yard. He wore camouflage pants and a white T-shirt, and a baseball cap that covered long hair down to his shoulders.
Sean took the lead. “Mr. Gilmore, could we talk to you?”
Rex Gilmore met them at the front gate. “Yes?”
“Sir, my name is Sean Tyler and this is Jason Franco. We’re from the Torrington Star-Gazette. We’d like to talk you about the Littlefield murder.”
Rex threw down his rake. His whole demeaner changed. “You ass holes! I don’t have to talk to you. You’re not the police.”
Sean raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. “No, sir. We’re doing a story about the Torrington PD’s handling of the case. We just want to know if they interviewed you.”
Rex calmed down a little. “No, they didn’t, and I’m a little surprised.” He took a cigarette and lit it.
“Why’s that,” asked Jason.
“The same reason you’re here, I’m guessing. Look. I served my time. I paid my debt to society. I haven’t had so much as a traffic ticket in fifteen years. But every time someone gets assaulted within five hundred miles of here, the police come knocking. They didn’t this time. Why not?”
“You’re saying they didn’t come around this time?” asked Jason.
“No, and that’s odd, isn’t it?”
“Well, the boyfriend confessed,” said Sean.
“Maybe that’s why. Anyway, I had a rock solid alibi.”
“Oh?” asked Jason.
“Yeah. That night is my AA meeting night. We meet from seven to nine. Afterwards, a few of us went for pizza. We were together until eleven.”
Sean thought for a moment. “Isn't it odd that the TPD didn’t question a registered sex offender who has raped several women and lives nine blocks away?”
Rex shook his head. “Never happened.”
“What never happened?” asked Jason.
“I never raped any women.”
“Your file says that you were court-marshaled for raping recruits. The Army sent you to Fort Leavenworth.”
“I never raped any women.”
“What?” asked Sean.
“They were men. I’m gay, you idiots. Besides, it was consensual sex, not rape. The Army said it was rape because I outranked them–undue influence, fraternizing they said.” Gilmore madde air quotes with his fingers. “The persecutor scared the recruits into saying it was rape. No violence–consensual.”
Sean looked at Jason and back at Rex. “Okay, we got that wrong. I’m sorry that we bothered you.” He handed Rex his card.
Sean and Jason were satisfied and headed back to the car. Sean stood by the side of the car and pounded it with his fist. “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”
Seans reaction surprised Jason. Sean was always cool headed. “What’s stupid?” he asked.
“What the fuck were we thinking? We shouldn’t have been here.”
Jason agreed. “We made a mistake.”
“No. No. We lost sight of our objective. What did we want to accomplish by coming here?”
“We wanted to find who killed Littlefield.”
“No!” shouted Sean. “That’s what I mean. It’s not our job to find the killer. That’s a job for the police. We should be after the story. The story is that the TPD mishandled the investigation and may have sent an innocent young man to prison. We don’t have to solve the case. We have only to show there is a reasonable doubt that Paulo's guilty, because the police mishandled the evidence.”
“You’re right, of course,” agreed Jason. “But now we confirmed that the TPD didn’t question all possible suspects. Why?”
Sean thought for a moment. “Because they know who the killer is. They railroaded Paulo and covered up to protect one of their own.” He pointed a finger at Jason. “I warned you about jumping to conclusions. Don’t be judgmental.” Sean shook his head.
“We made assumptions. We assumed that Mr. Gilmore raped women, not men. What if the TPD made wrong assumptions too. Since there was no evidence of forced entry, they assumed Angie knew her attacker. Maybe she didn't. The door wasn't locked so anyone could have come in. Then since they assumed she knew her attacker, they assumed it was Paulo. When they found the murder weapon at the McAdams house, it only confirmed their assumptions–case closed.”
“Maybe they're not covering up; just making bad assumptions.”
“Maybe. They should know better.” Sean kicked the dirt a few more timer. He looked up at Jason. “What if Mr. Gilmore had a shotgun instead of a rake? He could have shot us and claimed self-defense. Would I shoot him?”
“I think you would. You have your gun from Vietnam.”
“Yeah. Yeah. And what if he confessed? If he's guilty, we tipped him off. He could escape. Were you prepared to arrest him? Would his confession to two reporters be admissible?”
“I don’t have the answers, Sean. I guess we didn’t think it through. It was stupid on our part.”
“Do you think?” Sean opened the car door and got in, slamming the car door.
Jason got in the passenger side. “Did you shoot anyone in Vietnam?”
“Never ask a vet a question like that.”
Jason smiled. “I’m just the dumbest guy in the room.”
“Well, to answer your dumb question, no I didn’t. I was a platoon leader. I planned ambushes. When the shooting started, I was too busy to shoot anyone.”
“I guess it was bad over there? In Nam, I mean.”
Sean started the car. He looked at Jason. “I’ve never told anyone this.” He took a deep breath. The reason I don’t talk about it is because I actually enjoyed the war. I’m not ashamed about that, but I’m not proud either. It was thrilling. The VC were trying to kill us, and we were trying to kill them. It was an adrenaline rush; a game of wits--a deadly game.”
When Jason got back to his desk, he checked his e-mails and saw a message from Chief Higgins in Casper. He said the DNA from Beth Alton's rape and Jill Stones rape matched.