All that remains, p.18
All That Remains, p.18Patricia Cornwell
"And you believe this was connected to your probe into fraudulent charities like ACTMAD?"
"There's no question about that. There were other threats, the last one as recent as two months before my daughter and Fred Cheney disappeared."
Bruce Cheney's face flashed on the screen. He was pale, blinking in the blinding haze of TV lights.
"Mrs. Harvey . . ."
Reporters were interrupting each other, and Pat Harvey interrupted them, the camera swinging back her way.
"The FBI was aware of the situation, and it was their opinion that the threats, the letters, were originating from one source," she said.
"Mrs. Harvey. . .
"Ms. Harvey" - a reporter raised her voice above the commotion - "it's no secret that you and the Justice Department have different agendas, a conflict of interests arising from the investigation of the charities. Are you suggesting the FBI knew that the safety of your family was in jeopardy and didn't do anything?"
"It's more than a suggestion," she stated.
"Are you accusing the Justice Department of incompetence?"
"What I'm accusing the justice Department of is conspiracy," Pat Harvey said.
Groaning, I reached for a cigarette as the din, the interruptions reached a crescendo. You've lost it, I thought, staring in disbelief at the TV inside the small medical library in my downtown office.
It got only worse. And my heart was filled with dread as Mrs. Harvey turned her cool stare to the camera and one by one ran her sword through everyone involved is the investigation, including me. She spared no one, and there was nothing sacred, including the detail of the jack of hearts.
It had been a gross understatement when Wesley had said she was uncooperative and a problem. Beneath her armor of reason was a woman crazed by rage and grief. Numbly I listened as she plainly and without reservation indicted the police, the FBI, and the Medical Examiner', Office for complicity in a "cover-up."
"They are deliberately burying the truth about these cases," she concluded, "when the act of doing so serve only their self-interest at the unconscionable expense of human lives."
"What a lot of shit," muttered Fielding, my deputy chief, sitting nearby.
a reporter demanded loudly. "The, deaths of your daughter and her boyfriend or are you referring to the four other couples?"
"All of them," Mrs. Harvey replied. "I'm referring to all of the young men and women hunted down like animals and murdered."
"What is being covered up?"
"The identity or identities of those responsible," as if she knew. "There has been no intervention on the part of the Justice Department to stop these killings, The reasons are political. A certain federal agency is protecting its own."
"Could you please be more specific?" a voice shot back.
"When my investigation is concluded, I will make a full disclosure."
"At the hearing?" she was asked. "Are you suggesting that the murder of Deborah and her boyfriend. . ."
"His name is Fred. " It was Bruce Cheney who had spoken, and suddenly his livid face filled the television screen.
The room went silent.
"Fred. His name is Frederick Wilson Cheney."
The father's voice trembled with emotion. "He's not just Debbie's boyfriend He's dead, murdered, too. My son!"
Words caught in his throat, and he hung his head to hide his tears.
I turned off the television, upset and unable to sit still.
Rose had been standing in the doorway, watching. She looked at me and slowly shook her head.
Fielding got up, stretched, and tightened the drawstring of his surgical greens.
"She just screwed herself in front of the whole damn world," he announced, walking out of the library.
I realized as I was pouring myself a cup of coffee what Pat Harvey had said. I began to really hear it as it replayed inside my head.
"Hunted down like animals and murdered . . . " Her words had the sound of something; scripted. They did not strike me as glib, off the cuff or a figure of speech.
A federal agency protecting its own? Hunt.
A jack of hearts like a knight of cups. Someone who is perceived or perceives himself as a competitor, a defender. One who does battle, Hilda Ozimek had said to me.
A knight. A soldier.
Their murders were meticulously calculated, methodically planned. Bruce Phillips and Judy Robe disappeared in June. Their bodies were found in mid August, when hunting season opened.
Jim Freeman and Bonnie Smyth disappeared in July their bodies found the opening day of quail and pheasant Ben Anderson and Carolyn Bennett disappeared March, their bodies found in November during deer season.
Susan Wilcox and Mark Martin disappeared in late February, their bodies discovered in mid-May, during spring gobbler season.
Deborah Harvey and Fred Cheney vanished Labor Day weekend and were not found until months late when the woods were crowded with hunters after rabbit squirrel, fox, pheasant, and raccoon. I had not assumed the pattern meant anything because most of the badly decomposed and skeletonized bodied that end up in my office are found by hunters. When someone drops dead or is dumped in the woods, hunter is the most likely person to stumble upon the remains. But when and where the couples' bodies were discovered could have been planned.
The killer wanted his victims found, but not right away, so he killed them off season, knowing that it was probable his victims would not be discovered until hunters were out in the woods again. By then the bodies were decomposed. Gone with the tissue were the injuries he had inflicted. If rape was involved, there would be no seminal fluid. Most trace evidence would be dislodged by wind and washed away by rain. It may even be that it was important to him that the bodies be found by hunters because in his fantasies he, too, was a hunter. The greatest hunter of all.
Hunters hunted animals, I thought as I sat at my downtown desk the following afternoon. Guerrillas, military special agents, and soldiers of fortune hunted human beings.
Within the fifty-mile radius where the couples had vanished and turned up dead were Fort Eustis, Langley Field, and a number of other military installations, including the CIA's West Point, operated under the cover of a military base called Camp Peary.
"The Farm," as Camp Peary is referred to in spy novels and investigative non-fiction books about intelligence, was where officers were trained in the paramilitary activities of infiltration, exfiltration, demolitions, night-time parachute jumps, and other clandestine operations.
Abby Turnbull took a wrong turn and ended up at the entrance of Camp Peary, and days later FBI agents came looking for her.
The feds were paranoid, and I had a suspicion I might know why. After reading the newspaper accounts of Pad Harvey's press conference, I had become only morel convinced.
A number of papers, including the Post, were on my desk, and I had studied the write-ups several times The byline on the Post's story was Clifford Ring, the reporter who had been pestering the commissioner and other personnel of the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Ring mentioned me only passing when he implied that Pat Harvey was in-appropriately using her public office to intimidate a threaten all involved into releasing details about daughter's death. It was enough to make me wonder if Mr. Ring was Benton Wesley's media source, the FBI conduit for planted releases, and that would not have been so bad, really. It was the point of the stories that, found disturbing.
What I had assumed would be dished out as sensational expose of the month was, instead, being bruited about as the colossal degradation of a woman who, just weeks before, had been talked of by some as-possible Vice President of the United States. I would be the first to say that Pat Harvey's diatribe at the press conference was reckless in the least, premature at best. But I found it odd that there was no evidence of a serious attempt at corroborating her accusations. Reporters in this case did not seem inclined to get the
The media's only quarry, it seemed, was Mrs. Harvey, and she was shown no pity. The headline for one editorial was SLAUGHTERGATE?
She was being ridiculed, not only in print but in political cartoons. One of the nation's most respected officials was being dismissed as a hysterical female whose "sources" included a South Carolina psychic. Even her staunchest allies were backing away, shaking their heads, her enemies subtly finishing her off with attacks softly wrapped in sympathy.
"Her reaction is certainly understandable in light of her terrible personal loss," said one Democratic detractor, adding, "I think it wise to overlook her imprudence. Consider her accusations the slings and arrows of a deeply troubled mind."
Said another, "What's happened to hat Harvey is a tragic example of self-destruction brought on by personal problems too overwhelming to endure."
Rolling Deborah Harvey's autopsy report into my typewriter, I whited out "pending" in the manner and cause of death spaces. I typed in "homicide" and "exsanguination due to gunshot wound to lower back and cutting injuries."
Amending her death certificate and CME-1 report, I went up front and made photocopies. These I enclosed with a cover letter explaining my findings and apologizing for the delay, which I attributed to the long wait for toxicology results, which were still provisional. I would give Benton Wesley that much. Pat Harvey would not hear from me that I had been strong-armed by him to indefinitely pend the results of her daughter's medicolegal examination.
The Harveys were going to get it all - my findings on gross and microscopically, the fact that the first rounds of toxicology tests were negative, the bullet in Deborah's lower lumbar, the defense injury to her hand, and, pathetically, the detailed description of her clothing, or what had been left of it. The police had recovered her earrings, watch, and the friendship ring given to her by Fred for her birthday.
I also mailed copies of Fred Cheney's reports to his father, though I could go no further than saying that his son's manner of death was homicide, the cause "undetermined violence."
I reached for the phone and dialed Benton Wesley's office, only to be told he wasn't in. Next, I tried his home.
"I'm releasing the information," I said when he got on the line. "I wanted you to know."
Then he said very calmly, "Kay, you heard her press conference?"
"And you've read today's paper?"
"I watched her press conference, and I've read I'm well aware that she shot herself in the foot."
"I'm afraid she shot herself in the head," he said.
"Not without some help."
A pause, then Wesley asked, "What are you talking about?"
"I'll be happy to spell it out in detail. Tonight. Face-to-face."
"Here?" He sounded alarmed.
"Uh, it's not a good idea, not tonight."
"I'm sorry. But it can't wait."
"Kay, you don't understand. Trust me-"
I cut him off. "No, Benton. Not this time."
A frigid wind wreaked havoc with the dark shapes of trees, and in the scant light of the moon the terrain looked foreign and foreboding as I drove to Benton Wesley's house. There were few streetlights, and the rural routes were poorly marked. I finally stopped at a country store with a single island of gas pumps in front. Switching on the overhead lamp, I studied my scribbled directions. I was lost.
I could see the store was closed but spotted a pay phone near the front door. Pulling close, I got out, leaving headlights burning and the engine on. I dialed Wesley's number and his wife, Connie, answered.
"You've really gotten tangled up," she said after I did my best to describe where I was.
"Oh, God," I said, groaning.
"Well, it's really not that far. The problem is it's complicated getting from where you are to here." she paused, then decided, "I think the wise thing would be for you to stay put, Kay. Lock your doors and sit tight. Better if we come and you follow us. Fifteen minutes, right?"
Backing out, I parked closer to the road, turned on the radio, and waited. Minutes passed like hours. Not a single car went by. My headlights illuminated a white fence girdling a frosty pasture across the road. The moon was a pale sliver floating in the hazy darkness. I smoked several cigarettes, my eyes darting around. I wondered if it had been like this for the murdered couples. What it would be like to be forced barefoot and bound into the woods. They had to have known they were going to die. They had to have been terrified, what he would do to them first. I thought of my niece Lucy. I thought of my mother, my sister, my friends. Fearing for the pain and death of one you loved would be worse than fearing for your own life. I watched as headlights grew brighter far down the dark, narrow road.
A car I did not recognize turned in and stopped far from mine. When I caught a glimpse of the driver's profile, adrenaline rushed through my blood like electricity.
Mark James climbed out of what I assumed was a rental car. I rolled down the window and stared at him, too shocked to speak
Wesley had said this was not a good night, had tried to talk me out of it, and now I understood why. Mark was visiting. Perhaps Connie had asked Mark to meet me, or he had volunteered. I could not imagine my reaction had I walked through Wesley's front door and found Mark sitting in the living room.
"It's a maze to Benton's house from here," Mark said. "I suggest you leave your car. It will be safe. I'll drive you back later so you won't have a problem finding your way."
Wordlessly, I parked closer to the store, then got in his car.
"How are you?" he asked quietly.
"And your family? How's Lucy?"
Lucy still asked about him. I never knew what to say. "Fine," I said again.
As I looked at his face, his strong hands on the wheel, every contour, line, and vein familiar and wonderful to me, my heart ached with emotion. I hated and loved him at the same time.
"Work's all right?"
"Please stop being so goddam polite, Mark."
"Would you rather I be rude like you?"
"I'm not being rude."
"What the hell do you want me to say?" I replied with silence.
He turned on the radio and we drove deeper into the night.
"I know this is awkward, Kay."
He stared straight ahead. "I'm sorry. Benton suggested I meet you."
"That was very thoughtful of him," I said sadistically "I didn't mean it like that. I would have insisted hat;; he not asked. You had no reason to think I might here."
We rounded a sharp bend and turned into Wesley's subdivision.
As we pulled into Wesley's driveway, Mark said, "I guess I'd better warn you that Benton's not in a very good mood."
"I'm not either," I replied coldly.
A fire burned in the living room, and Wesley sitting near the hearth, a briefcase open and resting against the leg of his chair, a drink on the table nearby He did not get up when I walked in, but nodded slight as Connie invited me to the couch. I sat on one end, Mark the other.
Connie left to get coffee, and I started in. "Mark, I know nothing of your involvement in all this."
"There isn't much to know. I was in Quantico for several days and am spending the night with Benton and Connie before returning to Denver tomorrow. I'm not involved in the investigation, not assigned to the case. "All right. But you're aware of the cases."
I wondered what Wesley and Mark had discussed in my absence. Wondered what Wesley had said to Mark about me.
"He's aware of them," Wesley answered.
"Then I'll ask both of you," I said.
"Did the Bureau set up Pat Harvey? Or was it the CIA?"
Wesley did not move or change the expression on his face. "What leads you to suppose she's been set u
"Obviously, the Bureau's disinformation tactics went beyond luring the killer. It was someone's intention to destroy Pat Harvey's credibility, and the press has done this quite successfully."
"Even the President doesn't have that much influence over the media. Not in this country."
"Don't insult my intelligence, Benton," I said.
All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell / Mystery & Detective / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes