All that remains, p.23
All That Remains, p.23Patricia Cornwell
"Did you ever dispense Librax to her?"
I waited while he looked.
"No, ma'am. No record of that."
Perhaps the prescription was Elizabeth's, I considered "What about her friend Elizabeth Mott?"
I asked the pharmacist. "Did she ever come in with a prescription for Librax?"
"Was there any other pharmacy either woman patronized that you're aware of?"
"Afraid I can't help you on that one. Got no idea."
He gave me the names of other pharmacies close by. I had already called most of them, and calls to the rest confirmed neither woman had brought in a prescription for Librax or any other drug. The Librax itself wasn't necessarily important, I reasoned. But the mystery of who had prescribed it and why bothered me considerably.
Abby Turnbull had been a crime reporter in Richmond when Elizabeth Mott and Jill Harrington were murdered. I was willing to bet that Abby not only remembered the cases, but probably knew more about them than Captain Montana did.
The next morning she called from a pay phone and left a number where she told Rose she would wait for fifteen minutes. Abby insisted that I call her back from a "safe place."
"Is everything all right?" Rose asked quietly as I peeled off my surgical gloves.
"God only knows," I said, untying my gown.
The nearest "safe place" I could think of was a pay phone outside the cafeteria in my building. Breathless and somewhat frantic to meet Abby's deadline, I dialed the number my secretary had given me.
"What's going on? " Abby asked immediately. "Some Metro cop came by my apartment, said you'd sent him."
"That's correct," I reassured her. "Based on what you've told me, I didn't think it a good idea to call you at home. Are you all right?"
"Is that why you wanted me to call?"
She sounded disappointed.
"One of the reasons. We need to talk."
There was a long silence on the line.
"I'll be in Williamsburg on Saturday," she then said. "Dinner, The Trellis at seven?"
I did not ask her why she was going to be in Williamsburg. I wasn't sure I wanted to know, but when I parked my car in Merchant's Square Saturday, I found my apprehensions diminishing with each step I took. It was hard to be preoccupied with murder and other acts of incivility while sipping hot apple cider in the sharp wintry air of one of my favorite places in America.
It was a low season for tourists, and there were still plenty of people about, strolling, browsing inside the restored shops, and riding past in horse-drawn carriages driven by liverymen in knee breeches and three-cornered hats. Mark and I had talked about spending a weekend in Williamsburg. We would rent one of the nineteenth-century carriage houses inside the Historic District, follow cobblestone sidewalks beneath the glow of gaslights and dine in one of the taverns, then drink wine before the fire until falling asleep in each other's arms.
Of course, none of it had come to pass, the history of our relationship more wishes than memories. Would it ever be different from this? Recently, he had promised me on the phone that it would. But he had promised before, and so had I. He was still in Denver and I was still here.
Inside the Silversmith's Shop, I bought a handwrought sterling silver pineapple charm and a handsome chain. Lucy would get a late Valentine's Day present from her negligent aunt. A forage, inside the Apothecary Shop brought forth soaps for my guest room, spicy shaving cream for Fielding and Marino, and potpourri for Bertha and Rose. At five minutes before seven, I was inside The Trellis looking for Abby. When she arrived half an hour later, I was impatiently waiting at a table nestled against a planter of wandering jew.
"I'm sorry," she said with feeling, slipping out of her coat. "I got delayed. Got here as fast as I could."
She looked keyed up and exhausted, her eyes nervously darting about. The Trellis was doing a brisk business, people talking in low voices in the wavering shadows of candlelight. I wondered if Abby felt she had been followed.
"Have you been in Williamsburg all day?"
"I don't suppose I dare ask what you've been doing."
"Research" was all she said.
"Nowhere near Camp Peary, I hope."
I looked her in the eye.
She got my meaning very well. "You know," she said.
The waitress arrived and then went off to the bar to get Abby a Bloody Mary.
"How did you find out?"
Abby asked, lighting a cigarette.
"A better question is how did you find out?"
"I can't tell you that, Kay."
Of course she couldn't. But I knew. Pat Harvey.
"You have a source," I said carefully. "Let me just ask you this. Why would this source want you to know? Information wasn't passed on to you without there being motive on the source's part."
"I'm well aware of that."
"The truth is important."
Abby stared off. "I'm also a source."
"I see. In exchange for information, you pass on what you dig up."
She did not respond.
"Does this include me?"
"I'm not going to screw you, Kay. Have I ever?"
She looked hard at me.
"No," I said sincerely. "So far, you never have."
Her Bloody Mary was set before her, and she absently stirred it with the stalk of celery.
"All I can tell you," I went on, "is you're walking on dangerous ground. I don't need to elaborate. You should realize this better than anyone. Is it worth the stress? Is your book worth the price, Abby?"
When she made no comment, I added with a sigh, "I don't guess I'm going to change your mind, am I?"
"Have you ever gotten into something you can't get out of?"
"I do it all the time."
I smiled wryly. "That's where I am now."
"That's where I am, too."
"I see. And what if you're wrong, Abby?"
"I'm not the one who can be wrong," she replied. "Whatever the truth is about who's committing these murders, the fact remains that the FBI and other interested agencies are acting on certain suspicions and making decisions based on them. That's reportable. If the feds, the police, are wrong, it just adds another chapter."
"That sounds awfully cold," I said uneasily.
"I'm being professional, Kay. When you talk professionally, sometimes you sound cold, too."
I had talked to Abby directly after the body of her murdered sister was discovered. If I hadn't sounded cold on that horrible occasion, at best I had come across as clinical.
"I need your help with something," I said. "Eight years ago, two women were murdered very close to here. Elizabeth Mott and Jill Harrington."
She looked curiously at me. "You don't think - "
"I'm not sure what I'm thinking," I interrupted. "But I need to know the details of the cases. There's very little in my office reports. I wasn't in Virginia then. But there are news clips in the files. Several of them have your byline."
"It's hard for me to imagine that what happened to Jill and Elizabeth is connected to the other cases.' "So you remember them," I said, relieved.
"I will never forget them. It was one of the few times working on something actually gave me nightmares."
"Why is it hard for you to imagine a connection?"
"A number of reasons. There was no jack of hearts found. The car wasn't found abandoned on a roadside, but in a motel parking lot, and the bodies didn't turn up weeks or months after the fact decomposing in the woods. They were found within twenty-four hours. Both victims were women, and they were in their twenties, not teenagers. And why would the killer strike and then not do it again until some five years later?"
"I agree," I said. "The timing doesn't fit with the profile of your typical serial killer. And the MO seems inconsistent with the others. The vict
"Then why are you so interested?"
She sipped her drink.
"I'm groping, and I'm troubled by their cases, which were never solved," I admitted. "It's unusual for two people to be abducted and murdered. There was no evidence of sexual assault. The women were killed around here, in the same area where the other murders have occurred."
"And a gun and a knife were used," Abby mused.
She knew about Deborah Harvey, then.
"There are some parallels," I said evasively.
Abby looked unconvinced but interested.
"What do you want to know, Kay?"
"Anything you might remember about them. Anything at all."
She thought for along moment, toying with her drink.
"Elizabeth was working in sales for a local computer company and doing extremely well," she said. "Jill had just finished law school at William and Mary and had gone to work with a small firm in Williamsburg. I never did buy the notion that they went off to a motel to have sex with some creep they met in a bar. Neither of the women struck me as the type. And two of them with one man? I always thought it was strange. Also, there was blood in the backseat of their car. It didn't match either Jill's or Elizabeth's blood types."
Abby's resourcefulness never ceased to amaze me. Somehow she had gotten hold of the serology results.
"I assume the blood belonged to the killer. There was a lot of it, Kay. I saw the car. It looked as if someone had been stabbed or cut in the backseat. Possibly, this would place the killer there, but it was hard to come up with a good interpretation of what might have occurred. The police were of the opinion the women met up with this animal in the Anchor Bar and Grill. But if he rode off with them in their car and was planning to kill them, then how was he going to get back to his car later on?"
"Depends on how far the motel is from the bar. He could have walked back to his car after the murders."
"The motel is a good four or five miles from the Anchor Bar, which isn't around anymore, by the way. The women were last seen inside the bar at around ten P.M. If the killer had left his car there, it probably would have been the only one in the lot by the time he got back to it, and that wouldn't have been very bright. A cop might have noticed the car, or at least the night manager would have as he was locking up to go home."
"This doesn't preclude the killer leaving his car at the motel and abducting them in Elizabeth's, then returning later, getting into his car, and driving off," I pointed out.
"No, it doesn't. But if he drove his own car to the motel, then when did he get inside hers? The scenario of the three of them being inside a motel room together, and then forcing them to drive him to the cemetery, has never set well with me. Why go to all the trouble, the risk? They could have started screaming in the parking lot, could have resisted. Why not just murder them inside the room?"
"Was it verified that the three of them were ever inside one of the rooms?"
"That's the other thing," she said. "I questioned the clerk who was on duty that night. The Palm Leaf, a low rent motel off Route Sixty in Lightfoot. Doesn't exactly do a thriving business. But the clerk didn't remember either woman. Nor did he remember some guy coming in and renting a room near where the Volkswagen was found. In fact, most of the rooms in that section of the motel were vacant at the time. More important, no one checked in and then left without turning in the key. Hard to believe this guy would have had opportunity or inclination to check out. Certainly not after committing the crimes. He would have been bloody."
"What was your theory when you were working on your stories?"
"The same as it is now. I don't think they met up with their killer inside the bar. I think something happened shortly after Elizabeth and Jill left."
Frowning, Abby was stirring her drink again. "I don't know. They definitely weren't the type to pick up a hitchhiker, certainly not at that late hour. And I never believed there was a drug connection. Neither Jill nor Elizabeth was found to have used coke, heroin, or anything like that, and no paraphernalia was found inside their apartments. They didn't smoke, weren't heavy drinkers. Both of them jogged, were health nuts."
"Do you know where they were heading after they left the bar? Were they going straight home? Might they have stopped somewhere?"
"No evidence if they did."
"And they left the bar alone?"
"Nobody I talked to remembered seeing them with another person while they were in the bar drinking. As I remember it, they had a couple of beers, were at a comer table talking. Nobody recalled seeing them leave with anyone."
"They might have met someone in the parking lot when they left," I said. "This individual might even have been waiting in Elizabeth's car."
"I doubt they would have left the car unlocked, but I suppose it's possible."
"Did the women frequent this bar?"
"As I remember it, they didn't frequent it, but they'd gone there before."
"A rough place?"
"That was my expectation since it was a favorite watering hole for military guys," she replied. "But it reminded me of an English pub. Civilized. People talking, playing darts. It was the sort of place I could have gone with a friend and felt quite comfortable and private. The theory was that the killer was either someone passing through town or else a military person temporarily stationed in the area. It wasn't someone they knew."
Perhaps not, I thought. But it must have been someone they felt they could trust, at least initially, and I recalled what Hilda Ozimek had said about the encounters being "friendly" at first. I wondered what would come to her if I showed her photographs of Elizabeth and Jill.
"Did Jill have any medical problems you're aware of?"
She thought about this, her face perplexed. "I don't recall."
"Where was she from?"
"Kentucky comes to mind."
"Did she go home often?"
"I didn't get that impression. I think she made it home for holidays and that was about it."
Then it wasn't likely she had a prescription for Librax filled in Kentucky where her family lived, I thought.
"You mentioned she had just begun practicing law," I went on. "Did she travel much, have reason to be in and out of town?"
She waited as our chef's salads were served, then said, "She had a close friend from law school. I can't remember his name, but I talked to him, asked him about her habits, activities. He said he was suspicious Jill was having an affair."
"What made him suspect that?", "Because during their third year of law school she drove to Richmond almost every week, supposedly because she was job hunting, liked Richmond a lot, and wanted to find an opening in a firm there. He told me she often needed to borrow his notes because her out-of-town excursions caused her to miss classes. He thought it was strange, especially since she ended up going with a firm here in Williamsburg right after graduation. He went on and on about it because he was afraid her trips might be related to her murder, if she were seeing a married man in Richmond, for example, and perhaps threatened to expose their affair to his wife. Maybe she was having an affair with someone prominent, a successful lawyer or judge, who couldn't afford the scandal, so he silenced Jill forever. Or got someone else to, and it just so happened Elizabeth had the misfortune of being around at the time."
"What do you think?"
"The lead went nowhere, like ninety percent of the tips I get."
"Was Jill romantically involved with the student who told you this?"
"I think he would have liked for her to have been," she said. "But no, they weren't involved. I got the impression this was, in part, the reason for his suspicions. He was pretty sure of himself and figured the only reason Jill never succumbed to his charms was because she had somebody else nobody knew about. A secret lover."
"Was he ever a suspect, this student?"
"Did you talk to any of the other lawyers in the firm where Jill worked?"
"I didn't get very far with that," Abby answered. "You know how lawyers are. In any event, she'd been with they firm only a few months before she was murdered. I don't think her colleagues knew her very well."
All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell / Mystery & Detective / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes