All the Little Pieces, p.25Jilliane Hoffman
The warden took the thick folder back. ‘Hmmm. That’s Ed Carbone, he was a volunteer who taught GED classes, and tutored boys interested in Spanish. He taught Mr Poole, but I’d have to say, he was more like a mentor to the boy. He was one of the younger staff members. He was about ten years older than the kids. We don’t normally like to have our staff or volunteers so close in age, but he was a positive role model for them.’
‘Not so fast,’ muttered Bryan as he pulled out Cuddy’s sketch and held it up next to the volunteer ID. ‘Where’s he at now?’
‘I have no idea,’ replied Lee. ‘Ed left about five years back. He hasn’t kept in touch with anyone.’
‘I’m not so sure I’d agree with you on that, Mr Lee.’ He picked up his cell and dialed Tatiana first. ‘Maldonado,’ he said before she could answer.
‘I was just gonna call you,’ she said, somberly.
‘I need you to run someone, find out where they are, who they are,’ he started. ‘I might have something.’
‘We got something, too,’ she replied. ‘Velasquez says they just found a body in a ditch off US 27 in Hendry County. He thinks it’s the rest of Noelle Langtry.’
‘Damn it!’ Bryan slapped the folder with the back of his hand. Dossiers and pictures spilled out and onto Lee’s desk. He hadn’t really held out hope that Noelle Langtry was going to be found alive, especially after the slaughter he’d seen in the shack, but it still stung to know that a beautiful little girl, the same age as his own daughters, would never come home. He stared at the face that had landed, fittingly, at his feet. ‘All the more reason we need to move on this, Maldonado. I think I might’ve found Poole’s partner. And his name is Ed Carbone.’
‘The hat’s a match; same DNA as the fabric patch in the woods,’ Bryan started. ‘Fibers in the car and at the shack match the patch.’ He was standing in Elisabetta Romolo’s office. She had not asked him to sit. She was reading something at her desk, and her Prada glasses rested precariously on the tip of her nose as she looked up at him.
‘Whose DNA is it?’ she asked.
‘I have the profile. I think the name is Ed Carbone. He was Poole’s tutor and mentor when Poole was locked up in juvi. They spent a lot of time together.’
‘We can’t find him. He was living in an apartment in Okeechobee for the past year. Had a part-time job off the books working at a scrap-metal plant. Disappeared about two months back. No one knows where.’
Elisabetta took off her glasses. ‘Besides being Poole’s mentor, what makes you think this guy is his partner?’
‘He dated Emily Foss. Or tried to. Hung around her at the strip joint where she worked in Miami so many times that she took out a restraining order against him and moved up to Palm Beach. He stopped coming around the club after that, and she disappeared a year later. No one knew about the restraining order up here, because it was taken out in Miami and she let it lapse. I found it running his name through FCIC. She’s the link, Elisabetta. She was the first victim. If Jane Doe, the charred torso found in Glades back in 2012 is this guy’s, she might have happened before he hooked up with Poole, because we couldn’t find anything linking her to the shack. But the two of them murdered four girls together, maybe more.’ He slid the volunteer photo and the Cuddy sketch across her desk. ‘Faith Saunders identified his photo this morning. I have a BOLO out to locate him for questioning. The dots are connected.’
She nodded. ‘I’ll indict the DNA profile. Once you pick up Carbone, we’ll swab him.’
Bryan put the pictures back in his file. ‘I’m picking up Poole today. This is as good as we’re gonna get on him.’
‘Serial killer partners in Palm Beach. A Little Shack of Horrors,’ Elisabetta mused aloud as she spun around to look outside her window at the bustle of people going in and out of the courthouse across the street. ‘This is going to be huge, Detective; get ready.’
Elisabetta twisted the curly gray phone cord around her long, Black Pearl fingernails. She looked out the window at the beautiful marble-and-glass building across the street, which looked more like a resort than a courthouse: a grand and imposing four-story arched entranceway, a thirty-two-foot waterfall in the lobby, floor-to-ceiling windows in some of the courtrooms. The view of downtown and the water was so spectacular from some courtrooms that she hated trying cases in them because it was too distracting for jurors, who, on the best of days, had a limited attention span.
‘The news outlets have been calling, Arnie. Trust me, it’s going to be big,’ she said quietly. ‘It has all the ingredients, and it’s all mine.’
‘What’s the name?’
‘Derrick Poole. You probably heard of it as the Little Shack of Horrors investigation.’
There was a brief pause. ‘Yeah, yeah. I saw something about a torture shack that the police had found down by you. No shit, that’s yours?’
‘I just authorized his arrest. He’s a serial killer. And I’m indicting the DNA strand of his partner.’
Arnie Greenburg perked up like a flower that had just been watered. ‘Two serials? Really? How many have they killed?’
‘At least three. We’re waiting on DNA to confirm the identity of the fourth. And there’s a fifth that we probably can’t prove, but know they did.’
‘That doesn’t sound like a lot, you know, for a serial.’
She rolled her eyes. ‘We think this is only the beginning; there could be a lot more,’ she added.
‘How do they kill them?’
‘Different ways. They tortured the girls first, some were dismembered. Then they dump the bodies in sugar cane fields. That shack was bad. The press doesn’t know how bad yet, but they want to. My office is being very tight-lipped about this, as you can imagine.’
‘I wish it were that easy. No. And Poole’s never gonna plead; I’ll be taking it to trial.’
‘Where’s the other guy? You said you were indicting his DNA? Do you have a name?’
‘I have a name, but he’s absconded. As a matter of protocol, I’m indicting the DNA profile, but the detectives are confident it will belong to their suspect, once we bring him in.’ A rush of guilt came over her. Divulging confidential information on an active criminal investigation was not something she’d ever done before. ‘That name will come out soon enough.’
‘Who are the victims? How long have you been looking for these guys?’
‘The murders stretch over the course of a year. The victims are prostitutes and strippers. Think Florida’s very own Green River Killer.’
‘You’re about forty-five short of that title, but the partner angle is intriguing and the torture shack is fascinating. Yeah, yeah, I do remember seeing something about it up here.’ He clucked his tongue a few times like a ticking clock, which meant he was thinking things over.
Up here. Elisabetta rolled her eyes again. Ya gotta love New Yorkers – if you can make it on the news up there, you can make it anywhere. ‘It’s Palm Beach, Arnie, don’t forget. Crimes like that don’t happen around here. Ask a Kennedy. Or a Trump.’ She closed her eyes. That sounded desperate.
‘Well, your competition’s pretty stiff, Elisabetta. I was gonna call you about that. I found out that Rachel Cilla, the federal prosecutor who took down that sex-trafficking ring in LA last year, put her name in the hat. She’s the front-runner at this point. They’d absolutely looove to get C.J. Townsend, but she turned them down.’
Elisabetta shook her head. ‘No! No! No!’ she mouthed at the phone. Ever since Arnie Greenburg, an old law school classmate who was a literary/talent agent at Janklow & Nesbit in New York, had called her to tell her that CNN was looking for a legal analyst to host a new crime show, it was all she could think of. And after some long, hard thinking, she’d realized it was all she wanted. As much as she wished it didn’t, it bugged her that her prosecutor counterpart in Miami – C.J. Townsend, who had prosecuted the serial kill
‘She’s four. Pigtails, blonde curls, cute as a button. Looks like Drew Barrymore in E.T. She was in the car with her mom and saw Poole and his partner abduct one of the women whose blood was found splattered all over a cage in that shack.’
‘A cage? They kept them in cages?’
‘This case is going to give me the exposure you were talking about, Arnie. What did you say, like Fairstein after Chambers, Townsend after Cupid, Guilfoyle after the Presa Canario mauling? I know its hard to predict what cases will catch the public’s eye, but after ten years of prosecuting, you know which ones are hot.’ God she hated how she sounded – like a used-car salesman to the prospective customer who was walking off the lot.
‘Elisabetta, I don’t have to tell you this – you look great on camera. You have the perfect look, just what they say they want. You’re smart, you can think on your feet, you’re clever, feisty and engaging. And I’m sure you’re amazing to watch in trial. I’m in your corner, that’s why I called you as soon as I heard about the show, but you have no name, honey. They want a name – not a person who might make a name for herself if the public thinks the case is interesting enough to follow.’
‘The defendant is a good-looking, white accountant with a dark past that’s gonna come out, too,’ she continued. ‘He tried to rape his grandmother, Arnie. His partner in these murders was a volunteer at juvi who taught him Spanish and helped him pass the GED. See what I mean? It’s got it … well, I know it’s gonna be big, is all.’
‘OK. Great. I have a meeting with Woodsen next week on another matter. I’ll make sure I bring you up. Let’s see where your case is then.’
She nibbled on a nail. ‘When are they looking to make a decision?’
Arnie yawned. ‘Sorry, about that. I didn’t get much sleep. They want to roll the show out next fall, so I think they want a name by early 2015.’
‘It’s not gonna go to trial by then. Not on a murder.’
‘Oh,’ he replied. There was a long pause. ‘Well, see what you can do, darling, to get those headlines rolling and get your name out there. Don’t compromise your case or nothing. No one wants that.’
‘Of course not,’ replied Elisabetta with a weary sigh, knowing full well that that was exactly what the cost would end up being. She hung up the phone, and untwisted her fingers from the cord. And she thought about something her mother once said to her a long, long time ago.
You better get your asking price, Elisabetta, because when you sell your soul to the devil, there are no returns.
The first time Faith could remember her father being drunk, she was five or six. Actually, the memory was of her mother yelling at her father for being drunk. He’d come home from a night out celebrating some big case he had won. It was very late. Charity had a virus, so their mom was in and out of their room every hour or so checking her temperature and Faith couldn’t get to sleep. She’d heard the front door open downstairs and her dad singing some ditty in his soft Irish brogue – when he was a teenager in Dublin he’d sung in a band that played in pubs and at weddings. He started up the stairs, slower than he usually did. His shoes dragging on the wood. At the top of the landing he opened the door to her and Charity’s small bedroom. The door creaked and the light from the hall backlit him so Faith couldn’t see his face. ‘I love you, my little ladies,’ he said into the dark, louder than what was probably intended as a whisper.
‘Look at you!’ Aileen had snapped from out in the hall. ‘It’s one in the goddamn morning! I told you she was sick! What, do you not care?’
‘I was celebrating!’ he’d replied jubilantly.
‘Patrick stop it! I’m not dancing. You’re drunk. You smell like a bottle of cheap whiskey.’
‘It wasn’t cheap,’ he’d answered with a hearty laugh.
‘I was celebrating, what’s wrong with that? I won my case; I get to celebrate. Jesus Christ, Aileen! Can’t a man celebrate something around here? It’s always so down.’ He started singing again. ‘You’ll be fine with it when I get the check, I assure you. Everyone’s happy when the money comes in.’
Her mother’s voice, laden with disgust and resignation, trailed off as she’d walked back down the hall to her bedroom. ‘The problem is, Patrick, you’re always celebrating something.’ She slammed the bedroom door closed. Her father slept on the floor of Faith’s room that night, between their twin beds.
Drunkenness wasn’t an event for her dad, it was a condition, a state of being. He liked his Jameson and he made no attempt to conceal his affection. He never hid his drinking or tried to minimize it. There were no mini-bar bottles hidden throughout the house, and he didn’t mix his whiskey with orange juice or put a beer in a water bottle to disguise what it was he was drinking. He wasn’t a fall-down, vomiting slob, or a mean drunk, or a gushy, teary emotional sot. In fact, except for a few really bad benders that she could recall, Sully acted no different off the sauce than he did on it, which meant that either he was constantly drinking, or he had a really high tolerance. It turned out that it was both.
Her father slept on her floor a fair amount. Or Faith would bunk with Charity and let her dad have her bed. She could smell the alcohol in the dark when he snored; it filled the room like a Glades Plug-In. She hated that smell – until he died. Then it actually became a pleasant part of a memory associated with him, like the scent of his cologne. Because her dad was always so mellow and happy, the worst part of his drinking was the fighting between her parents. Faith remembered always wanting one of them to just stop – stop drinking or stop yelling about it. Just stop. But as her dad’s tolerance rose and he fed his condition to keep his being in the state to which it had grown accustomed, the fights grew more intense and closer together. Vivian’s house became her refuge. She’d sleep over for whole weekends, and sometimes Charity would, too. Then her dad could have his pick of beds.
Aileen made her best effort to get them to hate their father for drinking. She talked about it, and about him, disparagingly, saying, ‘Oh, you don’t know the half of it when he’s had too much, Faith. The money he’s wasted, the time, the things he’s done.’ Sometimes she’d share some of the things that her father had done. Then the tears would start.
But Faith never felt bad for her mother. She wanted to. Charity did. She felt bad for not feeling bad, for not siding with her. Faith resented her because she knew Aileen was no teetotaler herself. She favored wine instead of Scotch, and she didn’t drink as much or as often as her dad, but she drank. There were nights Faith watched her father carry her mother off to bed after she’d fallen asleep on the couch waiting for him to come home. She’d seen the empty Chardonnay bottles in the trash bin in the kitchen. They just never fought about it. Aileen would pretend nothing had ever happened.
She and Charity had vowed they would never drink. Not a drop. They would never become like them. Of course those promises were made when they were young, huddled in Charity’s bed under the covers, whispering so that their dad wouldn’t hear them. The smell was gross, so the taste must be disgusting. It was their fear of immediately becoming their parents upon the sip of a single drop of alcohol that kept them from tasting so much as a wine cooler by the time most of their friends had already experienced hangovers. But like fairytale characters who have been doomed by a prophetic curse would come to tragically learn at the end of the story, there is no undoing fate. Some things are meant to happen.
‘How do you plead to the charges?’ asked the judge. The small, chaotic courtroom in downtown Fort Lauderdale was packed with defendants, attorneys, family members. Even though the judge was speaking, there was an electric undercurrent of noise as lawyers whispered to their clients or exchanged information wi
‘Not guilty, Your Honor,’ said Faith’s attorney. He held his hand out to stop Faith from saying anything. ‘We demand discovery, trial by jury.’
‘Granted. Fifteen days, State. I need a trial date.’
‘January seventh, two thousand fifteen for report, January twelfth for trial,’ said the clerk.
‘Thank you,’ said the judge. ‘Next up?’
‘State vs. David Hoyt, page sixteen,’ barked the clerk.
Her attorney gently nudged her away from the podium and led her through the well and past the state and defense tables as the next defendant and his attorney made their way up. Jarrod was waiting for them in the front row of seats in the gallery. He stood and the three of them walked out to the hall, where the hustle and bustle continued. And that was it: she had been arraigned. She felt like she’d been strip-searched again; there were just more people in the room.
‘Thanks, Jack,’ Jarrod said to his partner, who was her attorney. Before he’d joined Krauss and Lynch, Jack Clark had been a big DUI attorney at Greenburg Taurig.
Jack nodded. ‘Let’s see what they’re offering. Because Faith was over double the limit, they’re gonna try and be tough at first, just warning you. That’s this office’s strategy. Let me see who gets assigned to the case. Hopefully it’s not a newbie – they like to offer state prison and make it sound like a deal.’
‘Prison?’ Faith cried.
‘No, no. Don’t worry about that. You’ll get probation and community service, I’m sure. No one was hurt, there was no accident, there’s no reason for prison. Your last DUI was ten years ago, which is better than less than ten. I’m just saying that brand-new prosecutors, which are the ones who handle DUIs, have something to prove, so they come out swinging. Their first offer won’t be their last. This may take a few weeks to work out, is all. Don’t worry, Faith.’
All the Little Pieces by Jilliane Hoffman / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes