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.
(Chapter 22 Part 2 cont.) When Jason got back to the office on Wednesday, Mary and Zac were huddled around Zac's computer.
“What you guys looking at?” asked Jason.
Mary stood up. “We were just looking over this list of victims. We thought you should come up with a name for this rapist killer.”
Zac looked up from his monitor. “All serial killers have names given to them by the press. Names like the Boston Strangler.”
Jason laughed. “He's a serial rapist. He killed only one person. That doesn't make him a serial killer.”
“That we know of,” added Mary.
“Still,” continued Zac. “A cool name would mean more followers. Another newspaper will name him if we don't.”
“Zac's right,” agreed Mary. “You have the lead. You have to come up with a name. The press called John Gacy the Killer Clown. Now there's the Teardrop Rapist in LA.”
Zac and Mary looked at each other. “We've kicked around a few names,” said Mary.
Zac held up a sheet of paper and read from it. “Like the Torrington Terror.”
“Sounds like a boxer,” said Jason. “Although, he does box the hell out of his victims. We don't know where he lives.”
“How about the Wyoming Weasel?” suggested Mary.
“No,” both Zac and Jason answered.
“He might not live in Wyoming for all we know,” added Jason.
“The Cowboy Rapist?” suggested Zac.
“Might not be a real cowboy,” said Mary.
All three sat in silence for a moment.
“We got the victims' names from Register Cliff. How about The Register Cliff Rapist?” asked Jason. All agreed on the name. From then on Jason referred to The Register Cliff Rapist in his articles.
Jason spent the weekend with Tina in Cheyenne and drove back to Torrington Sunday night. On Monday, Jason and Mary were working late. Around nine they decided to call it a night and go home. Jason left first while Mary locked up. Jason’s car was parked on a side street as usual. He noticed that the street light was out. As he started to unlock his car, someone pulled a black bag over his head. Before he could react, his assailant had him pinned against his car. Jason felt a fist punch him in the back. His knees buckled and he dropped to the sidewalk as his attacker ran away. He tried to stand, but it was so painful that he couldn't move.
Mary turned the corner and saw Jason on the ground. “Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Don’t move, Jason. Lay still. I’ll call 911.”
Within minutes, Jason was on his way to the county hospital ER. After the doctor finished examining Jason, he opened the privacy curtains so Sean and Mary could come in.
“You okay?” asked Sean.
“I’ve been better.”
The doctor rapped his stethoscope around his neck. “No broken bones. He took a punch to the left kidney. He’ll pass blood for a couple of days, but he’ll be okay. We’ll start the discharge process.” The doctor left.
Sean shook his head. “They're trying to scare you.”
“Well, it worked.”
“Thank God,” said Mary. “They could have killed you.”
Jason smiled. “I seem to recall you cussing when you found me. You owe the cuss jar.”
Mary laughed. “It doesn’t count. I was outside. Shouldn't we call the police? You know, report this?”
Jason laughed and then made a face as he felt the pain in his back. He leaned to one side and grabbed his side. “My attacker might be a police officer.”
“I don't doubt it,” agreed Sean. “We pissed them off. Did your attacker say anything? Could you recognize his voice?”
“No, he didn't speak.”
“Come on and get dressed,” said Mary. You should stay at our house tonight.”
“No thanks,” answered Jason. “I live with my parents. I'll be okay.”
The next morning Mary marched into her father's office and closed the door behind her. Sean knew from experience that the closed door meant he had upset Mary. He didn't mind being reprimanded when he made a mistake. He did mind that Mary always seemed to be right.
“Did you know?” asked Mary.
Sean sat back in his chair. “Did I know what?”
“That if we kept up these stories about Paulo that there would be reprisals? Is that why you gave Jason the lead on this story?” Mary leaned forward on her father's desk. “So help me, dad, if you put that poor boy in danger to save your own butt, I'll...I'll...” Mary was at a loss for words.
“No,” interrupted Sean. “No, I didn't know. Honest. In the beginning, I thought we would be going after Paulo's lawyer and a mistrial. Jason uncovered the thing about the missing evidence.”
“You have to protect that boy, Sean.” Mary turned and stormed out of Sean's office.
After Zac did such a good job on the picture concerning the pubic hair that Jason decided to see if he could come up with the exact time of murder. “Zac take a look at these pictures. It might help if we could figure the exact time the killer took the picture of Angelina’s body.”
“That’s an easy one. The pictures are time and date stamped. But I can’t do it from just a print out of the pic. I need the cellphone.”
“We don’t have the cellphone. See what you can do with just the pictures.”
Zac took the pictures over to his desk and began to study them. After thirty minutes, he called Jason over. “Take a look at this picture of Angie’s body. Look closely at the back ground.” He handed Jason a large magnifying glass.
Jason looked through the magnifying glass at the picture. In the background, a kitchen cabinet was open. In the glass of the cabinet door was a reflection of a TV in the living room. He squinted but couldn’t make out the reflection. He looked at Zac.
“Don’t you see? That’s the weather girl on the news.”
“You can tell that?”
“Yeah. She’s hot. She’s the reason I watch the news. The image is reversed, but she’s doing the forecast at that point. The TV station records their program. It should be easy to pinpoint the exact time this picture was taken.”
Jason jumped up. “I’m on it.” Within the hour, he had a recording of the news broadcast. Ten minutes later, he and Zac were able to determine that the picture was taken at 10:34 pm.
Jason nodded his head. “That means that the murder must have taken around 10:30. The neighbor said that he saw a white car in the driveway at that time. It must be the murderer’s car. Thanks, Zac. Good job.”