All that remains, p.31
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       All That Remains, p.31

           Patricia Cornwell
 

  "I wonder if he suffered ridicule during his time in the navy," I conjectured.

  "Based on what I've been told, he did, at least to a degree. Spurrier's peers considered him a wimp, a loser, while his superiors found him arrogant and aloof, even though he was never a disciplinary problem. Spurrier had no success with women and kept to himself, partly by choice and because others did not find his personality particularly attractive."

  "Maybe being in the navy was the closest he ever got to being a real man," Marino said, "being what he wanted to be. His father dies and Spurrier has to take care of his sick mother. In his mind, he gets screwed."

  "That's quite possible," Wesley agreed. "In any event, the killer we're dealing with would believe that his troubles are the fault of others. He would take no responsibility. He would feel his life was controlled by others, and therefore, controlling others and his environment became an obsession for him."

  "Sounds like he's paying back the world," Marino said.

  "The killer is showing he has power," Wesley said. "If the military aspects enter into his fantasies, and I think they do, then he believes he's the ultimate soldier. He kills without being caught. He outsmarts the enemy, plays games with them, and wins. It may be possible that he has deliberately set things up in such a way as to make those investigating the murders suspect that the perpetrator is a professional soldier, even someone from Camp Peary."

  "His own disinformation campaign," I considered.

  "He can't destroy the military," Wesley added, "but he could try to tarnish the image, degrade and defame it."

  "Yeah, and all the while he's laughing up his sleeve," Marino said.

  "I think the main point is that the killer's activities are the product of violent, sexualized fantasies that existed early on in the context of his social isolation. He believes he lives in an unjust world, and fantasy provides an important escape. In his fantasies he can express his emotions and control other human beings, he can be and get anything he wants. He can control life and death. He has the power to decide whether to injure or "Too bad Spurrier don't just fantasize about whacking couples," Marino said. "Then the three of us wouldn't have to be sitting here having this conversation."

  "I'm afraid it doesn't work that way," Wesley said. "If violent, aggressive behavior dominates your thinking, your imagination, you're going to start acting out in ways that move you closer to the actual expression of these emotions. Violence fuels more violent thoughts, and more violent thoughts fuel more violence. After a while, violence and killing are a natural part of your adult life, and you see nothing wrong with it. I've had serial murderers tell me emphatically that when they killed, they were just doing what everybody else thinks of doing."

  "Evil to him who evil thinks," I said.

  It was then that I offered my theory about Deborah Harvey's purse.

  "I think it's possible the killer knew who Deborah was," I said. "Perhaps not when the couple was first abducted, but he may have known by the time he killed them."

  "Please explain," Wesley said, studying me with interest.

  "Have either of you seen the fingerprints report?"

  "Yeah, I've seen it," Marino replied.

  "As you know, when Vander examined Deborah's purse he found partials, smudges on her credit cards, but nothing on her driver's license."

  "So?"

  Marino looked perplexed.

  "The contents of her purse were well preserved because the nylon purse was waterproof. And the credit cards and her driver's license were inside plastic windows and zipped inside a compartment, thus protected from the elements and the body fluids of decomposition. Had Vander not picked up anything that would be one thing. But I find it interesting that he picked up something on the credit cards but not on her driver's license, when we know that Deborah got out her license when she went inside the Seven-Eleven and tried to buy beer. So she handled the license, and Ellen Jordan, the clerk, also handled it. What I'm wondering is if the killer didn't touch Deborah's driver's license, too, and then wipe it clean afterward."

  "Why would he do that?"

  Marino asked.

  "Maybe when he was inside the car with the couple, had the gun out and was abducting them, Deborah told him who she was," I answered.

  "Interesting," Wesley said.

  "Deborah may have been a modest young woman, but she was well aware of her family's prominence, of her mother's power," I went on. "She may have informed the killer in hopes that he would change his mind, think that in harming them there would be hell to pay. This may have startled the killer considerably, and he may have demanded proof of her identity, at which point he may have gotten hold of her purse to see the name on her driver's license."

  "Then how did the purse end up out in the woods, and why did he leave the jack of hearts in it?"

  Marino asked.

  "Maybe to buy himself a little time," I said. "He would have known that the Jeep would be found quickly, and if he realized who Deborah was, then he was also going to know that half the law enforcement world was going to be out looking for them. Maybe he decided to play it safe by not having the jack of hearts found immediately, so he left it with the bodies instead of inside the Jeep. By placing the card inside the purse and putting the purse under Deborah's body, he ensured that the card would be found, but probably not for a long time. He changes the rules a little but still wins the game."

  "Not half bad. What do you think?"

  Marino looked at Wesley.

  "I think we may never know exactly what happened," he said. "But it wouldn't surprise me if Deborah did exactly what Kay has proposed. One thing is certain - no matter what Deborah may have said or threatened, it would have been too risky for the killer to free her and Fred because they probably would have been able to identify him. So he went through with the murders, but the unforeseen turn of events could have thrown him off. Yes," he said to me. "This could have caused him to alter his ritual. It may also be that leaving the card in Deborah's purse was his way of showing contempt toward her and who she was."

  "Sort of an 'up yours,' " Marino said.

  "Possibly," Wesley replied.

  Steven Spurrier was arrested the following Friday when two FBI agents and a local detective who had been tailing him all day followed him to the long-term parking lot of the Newport News airport.

  When Marino's call woke me before dawn, my first thought was that another couple had disappeared. It took a moment for me to comprehend what he was saying over the phone.

  "They popped him while he was lifting another set of tags," he was saying. "Charged him with petit larceny. The best they could do, but at least we got our probable cause to turn him inside out."

  "Another Lincoln?"

  I asked.

  "This time a 1991, silver-gray. He's in lockup waiting to see the magistrate, no way they're going to be able to hold him on a nickel-and-dime class one misdemeanor. Best they can do is stall, take their sweet time processing him. Then he's out of there."

  "What about a search warrant?"

  "His crib's crawling with cops and the feds even as we speak. Looking for everything from Soldier of Fortune magazines to Tinker Toys."

  "You're heading out there, I guess," I said.

  "Yeah. I'll let you know."

  It was not possible for me to go back to sleep. Throwing a robe over my shoulders, I went downstairs and switched on a lamp in Abby's room.

  "It's just me," I said as she sat straight up in bed. She groaned, covering her eyes.

  I told her what had happened. Then we went into the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee.

  "I'd pay to be present when they search his house."

  She was so wired I was surprised she didn't bolt out the door.

  But she stayed inside all day, suddenly industrious. She cleaned up her room, helped me in the kitchen, and even swept the patio.

  She wanted to know what the police had found and was smart enough to realize that driving to Williamsburg
would get her nowhere, because she would not be allowed entrance into Spurrier's residence or bookstore.

  Marino stopped by early that evening as Abby and I were loading the dishwasher. I knew instantly by the look on his face that his news wasn't good.

  "First I'll tell you what we didn't find," he began. "We didn't find a friggin' thing that will convince a jury Spurrier's ever killed a housefly. No knives except the ones in his kitchen. No guns or cartridges. No souvenirs such as shoes, jewelry, locks of hair, whatever, that might have belonged to the victims."

  "Was his bookstore searched as well?"

  I asked.

  "Oh, yeah."

  "And his car of course."

  "Nothing."

  "Then tell us what you did find," I asked, depressed. "Enough weirdo stuff to make me know it's him, Doc," Marino said. "I mean, this drone ain't no Eagle Scout. He's into skin magazines, violent pornography. Plus, he's got books about the military, especially the CIA, and files filled with newspaper clippings about the CIA. All of it cataloged, labeled. The guy's neater than an old lady librarian."

  "Did you find any newspaper clips about these cases?" Abby asked.

  "We did, including old stories about Jill Harrington and Elizabeth Mott. We also found catalogs to a number of what I call spy shops, these outfits that sell security survival shit, everything from bulletproof cars to bomb detectors and night vision goggles. The FBI's going to check it out, see what all he's ordered over the years. Spurrier's clothes are interesting, too. He must have half a dozen nylon warm-up suits in his bedroom, all of them black or navy blue and never worn, labels cut out of them, like maybe they were intended to be disposable, worn over his clothes and pitched somewhere after the fact."

  "Nylon sheds very little," I said. "Windbreakers, nylon warm-ups aren't going to leave many fibers."

  "Right. Let's see. What else?"

  Marino paused, finishing his drink. "Oh, yeah. Two boxes of surgical gloves and a supply of those disposable shoe-covers you wear downstairs."

  "Booties?"

  "Right. Like you wear in the morgue so you don't get blood on your shoes. And guess what? They found cards, four decks of them, never been opened, still in the cellophane."

  "I don't suppose you found an opened deck missing a jack of hearts?"

  I asked, hopefully.

  "No. But that don't surprise me. He probably removes the jack of hearts and then throws the rest of the cards away."

  "All the same brand?"

  "No. A couple different brands."

  Abby was sitting silently in her chair, fingers laced tightly in her lap.

  "It doesn't make sense that you didn't find any weapons," I said.

  "This guy's slick, Doc. He's careful."

  "Not careful enough. He kept the clippings about the murders, the warm-up suits, gloves. And he was caught red-handed stealing license tags, which makes me wonder if he wasn't getting ready to strike again."

  "He had stolen tags on his car when he stopped you to ask directions," Marino pointed out. "No couple disappeared that weekend that we've heard about."

  "That's true," I mused. "And he wasn't wearing a warm-up suit, either."

  "He may save putting that on for last. May even keep it in a gym bag in his trunk. My guess is he has a kit."

  "Did you find a gym bag?" Abby asked bluntly.

  "No," Marino said. "No murder kit."

  "Well, if you ever find a gym bag, or murder kit," Abby added, "then maybe you'll find his knife, gun, goggles, and all the rest of it."

  "We'll be looking until the cows come home."

  "Where is he now?"

  I asked.

  "Was sitting in his kitchen drinking coffee when I left," Marino replied. "Friggin' unbelievable.

  Here we are tearing up his house and he's not even sweating. When he was asked about the warm-up suits, the gloves, decks of cards, and so on, he said he wasn't talking to us without his attorney present. Then he took a sip of his coffee and lit a cigarette like we wasn't there. Oh, yeah, I left that out. The squirrel smokes."

  "What brand?"

  I asked.

  "Dunhills. Probably buys them in that fancy tobacco shop next to his bookstore. And he uses a fancy lighter, too. An expensive one."

  "That would certainly explain his peeling the paper off the butts before depositing them at the scenes, if that's what he did," I said.

  "Dunhills are distinctive."

  "I know," Marino said. "They've got a gold band around the filter."

  "You got a suspect's kit?"

  "Oh, yeah."

  He smiled. "That's our little trump card that will beat his jack of hearts hands down. If we can't make these other cases, at least we got the murders of Jill Harrington and Elizabeth Mott to hang him with. DNA ought to nail his ass. Wish the damn tests didn't take so long."

  After Marino left, Abby stared coolly at me..

  "What do you think?" I asked.

  "It's all circumstantial."

  "Right now it is."

  "Spurrier's got money," she said. "He's going to get the best trial lawyer money can buy. I can tell you exactly how it's going to go. The lawyer's going to suggest that his client was railroaded by the cops and the feds because of the pressure to solve these homicides. It's going to come out that a lot of people are looking for a scapegoat, especially in light of the accusations Pat Harvey has made."

  "Abby..."

  "Maybe the killer is someone from Camp Peary."

  "You don't really believe that," I protested.

  She glanced at her watch. "Maybe the feds already know who it is and have already taken care of the problem. Privately, which would explain why no other couples since Fred and Deborah have disappeared. Someone's got to pay in order to remove the cloud of suspicion, end the matter to the public's satisfaction ...."

  Leaning back in my chair, I turned my face up to the ceiling and shut my eyes while she went on and on.

  "No question Spurrier's into something or he wouldn't be stealing license plates. But he could be selling drugs. Maybe he's a cat burglar or gets his jollies from driving around with borrowed tags for a day? He's weird enough to fit the profile, but the world is full of weirdos who don't ever kill anyone. Who's to say the stuff in his house wasn't planted?"

  "Please stop," I said quietly.

  But she wouldn't. "It's just so goddam neat. The warm-up suits, gloves, decks of cards, pornography, and newspaper clips. And it doesn't make sense that no weapons or ammunition were found. Spurrier was caught by surprise, didn't have any idea he was under surveillance. In fact, it not only doesn't make sense, it's very convenient. One thing the feds couldn't plant was the pistol that fired the bullet you recovered from Deborah Harvey."

  "You're right. They couldn't plant that."

  I got up from the table and began wiping the counters because I couldn't sit still.

  "Interesting that the one item of evidence they couldn't plant didn't show up."

  There had been stories before about the police, federal agents, planting evidence in order to frame someone.

  The ACLU probably had a file room full of such accusations.

  "You're not listening," Abby said.

  "I'm going up to take a bath," I replied wearily.

  She walked over to the sink where I was wringing out the dishrag.

  "Kay?" I stopped what I was doing and looked at her.

  "You want it to be easy," she admonished.

  "I've always wanted things to be easy. They almost never are."

  "You want it to be easy," she repeated. "You don't want to think that the people you trust could send an innocent man to the electric chair in order to cover their asses."

  "No question about that. I wouldn't want to think it. I refuse to think it unless there is proof. And Marino was at Spurrier's house. He would never have gone along with it."

  "He was there." She walked away, from me. "But he wasn't the first one there. By the time he arrived, he would have seen wha
t they wanted him to see."

  17

 
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