All that remains, p.32
All That Remains, p.32Patricia Cornwell
The first person I saw when I reached the office on Monday was Fielding.
I had come in through the bay, and he was already dressed in scrubs, waiting to get on the elevator. When I noticed the plasticized blue paper booties over his running shoes, I thought of what the police had found inside Steven Spurrier's house. Our medical supplies were on state contract. But there were any number of businesses in any city that sold booties and surgical gloves. One did not need to be a physician to purchase such items any more than one needed to be a police officer to buy a uniform, badge, or gun.
"Hope you got a good night's rest," Fielding warned as the elevator doors parted.
We stepped inside.
"Give me the bad news. What have we got this morning?"
"Six posts, every one of them a homicide."
"Great," I said irritably.
"Yeah, the Knife and Gun Club had a busy weekend. Four shootings, two stabbings. Spring has sprung."
We got off on the second floor and I was already taking off my suit jacket and rolling up my sleeves when I walked into my office. Marino was sitting in a chair, his briefcase on his lap, a cigarette lit. I assumed one of the morning's cases was his until he handed me two lab reports.
"Thought you'd want to see it for yourself," he said.
Typed at the top of one report was the name Steven Spurrier. The serology lab had already completed a workup on his blood. The other report was eight years old, the results of the workup done on the blood found inside Elizabeth Mott's car.
"Of course, it's going to be a while before the DNA results are in," Marino began to explain, "but so far so good."
Settling behind my desk, I took a moment to study the reports. The blood from the Volkswagen was type O, PGM type 1, EAP type B, ADA type 1, and EsD type 1. This particular combination could be found in approximately 8 percent of the population. The results were consistent with those of the tests conducted on the blood from Spurrier's suspect kit. He also was type O, types in other blood groups the same, but since more enzymes had been tested for, the combination had been narrowed to approximately 1 percent of the population.
"It's not enough to charge him with murder," I said to Marino. "You'd have to have more than the fact that his blood type includes him in a group of thousands of people."
"A damn shame the report from the old blood isn't more complete."
"They didn't routinely test for as many enzymes back then," I replied.
"Maybe they could do it now?" he suggested. "If we could narrow it down, that would be a big help.
The damn DNA for Spurrier's blood is going to take weeks."
"They're not going to be able to do it," I told him. "The blood from Elizabeth's car is too old.
After this many years the enzymes would have degraded, so the results this time would be less specific than what's on this eight year old report. The best you could get now is the ABO grouping, and almost half of the population is type O. We have no choice but to wait for the DNA results. Besides," I added, "even if you could lock him up this minute you know he'd make bail. He's still under surveillance, I hope."
"Being watched like a hawk, and you can bet he knows it. The good news is he's not likely to try whacking anyone. The bad news is he's got time to destroy any evidence we missed. Like the murder weapons."
"The alleged missing gym bag."
"Don't add up that we couldn't find it. We did everything short of tearing up his floorboards."
"Maybe you should have torn up his floorboards."
I was trying to think where else Spurrier might have hidden a gym bag when it occurred to me. I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier.
"How is Spurrier built?"
"He ain't very big, but he looks pretty strong. Not an ounce of fat."
"Then he probably works out, exercises."
"If he belongs to some place, the YMCA, a fitness club, he might have a locker. I do at Westwood. If I wanted to hide something, that would be a good place to do it. No one would think twice when he walked out of the club with his gym bag in hand or when he returned the bag to his locker."
"Interesting idea, " Marino said thoughtfully."I'll ask around, see what I can find out."
He lit another cigarette and unzipped his briefcase. "I got pictures of his crib, if you're interested."
I glanced up at the clock. "I've got a houseful downstairs. We'll have to make it quick."
He handed me a thick manila envelope of eight-by-tens. They were in order, and going through them was like seeing Spurrier's house through Marino's eyes, beginning with the Colonial brick front lined with boxwoods and a brick walk leading to the black front door. In back was a paved drive leading to a garage that was attached to the house.
I spread out several more photographs and found myself inside his living room. On the bare hardwood floor was a gray leather couch near a glass coffee table. Centered on the table was a jagged brass plant growing out of a chunk of coral. A recent copy of the Smithsonian was perfectly aligned with the table's edges.
Centered on the magazine was a remote control that I suspected operated the overhead television projector suspended like a spaceship from the whitewashed ceiling. An eighty-inch television screen was retracted into an inconspicuous vertical bar above the bookcase lined with VCR tapes, neatly labeled, and scores of hardbound volumes, the titles of which I could not make out. To one side of the bookcase was a bank of sophisticated electronic equipment.
"The squirrel's got his own movie theater," Marino said. "Got surround sound, speakers in every room. The whole setup probably cost more than your Mercedes, and he wasn't sitting back at night watching Sound of Music, either. Those tapes there in the bookcase" - he reached across my desk to point them out. "They're all Lethal Weapon-type shit, flicks about Vietnam, vigilantes.
Now on the shelf right above is the good stuff. The tapes look like your everyday box office hits, but you pop one of them in the VCR and get a little surprise. The one labeled On Golden Pond, for example, should be called On the Cesspool. Hardcore violent pornography. Benton and I were together all of yesterday viewing the crap. Friggin' unbelievable. About every other minute, I felt like taking a bath."
"Did you find any home movies?"
"No. Not any photography equipment, either."
I looked at more photographs. In the dining room was another glass table, this one surrounded by transparent acrylic chairs. I noticed that the hardwood floor was bare. I had yet to see a rug or carpet in any room.
The kitchen was immaculate and modern. Windows were shrouded with gray mini-blinds. There were no curtains, no draperies in any room I had seen, not even upstairs where this creature slept. The brass bed was king-size, neatly made, sheets white, but no spread. Dresser drawers pulled open revealed the warm-up suits Marino had told me about, and in boxes on the closet floor were packets of surgical gloves and booties.
"There's nothing fabric," I marveled, returning the photographs to their envelope. "I've never before seen a house that didn't have at least one rug."
"No curtains, either. Not even in the shower," Marino said. "It's enclosed in glass doors. Of course, there are towels, sheets, his clothes."
"Which he probably washes constantly."
"The upholstery in his Lincoln is leather," Marino said. "And the carpet's covered with plastic mats."
"He doesn't have any pets?"
"The way he has furnished his house may have to do with more than his personality."
Marino met my eyes. "Yeah, I'm thinking that."
"Fibers, pet hairs," I said. "He doesn't have to worry about transferring them."
"You ever thought it interesting that all of the abandoned vehicles in these cases was so clean?"
"Maybe he vacuums them after the crimes," he said.
"At a car wash?"
"Maybe. Who knows what he did?"
I said. "But the picture we're getting is of someone who is obsessively treat and careful. Someone very paranoid and familiar with the types of evidence that are important in forensic examinations."
Leaning back in the chair, Marino said, "The Seven-Eleven where Deborah and Fred stopped the night they disappeared, I dropped by there over the weekend and talked to the clerk."
He nodded. "I showed her a photo lineup, asked her if anybody in it looked like the man who was buying coffee in the Seven-Eleven the night Fred and Deborah was in there. She picked out Spurrier."
"She was certain?"
"Yes. Said he was wearing a jacket of some sort, dark. All she really recalled was that the guy was in dark clothes, and I'm thinking Spurrier already had on a Warm-up suit when he went inside the Seven-Eleven. I've been running a lot of things through my mind.
We'll start with two things we do know for a fact. The interiors of the abandoned cars were very clean, and in the four cases before Deborah and Fred, white cotton fibers were recovered from the driver's seat, right?"
"Yes," I agreed.
"Okay. I think this squirrel was out cruising for victims and spotted Fred and Deborah on the road, maybe saw them sitting real close to each other, her head on Fred's shoulder, that sort of thing. It sets him off. He tails them, pulls into the Seven-Eleven right after they do. Maybe he slips into the warm-up suit at this time, changes in his car. Maybe he already has it on. But he goes inside, hangs around looking through magazines, buying coffee and listening to what they're saying to the clerk. He overhears the clerk giving Fred and Deborah directions to the nearest rest stop where there's a bathroom. Then he leaves, speeds east on Sixty-four, turns into the rest stop and parks. He gets his bag that's got his weapons, ligatures, gloves, and so on, and makes himself scarce until Deborah and Fred pull in. He probably waits until she's gone to use the ladies' room, then he approaches Fred, feeds him some story about his car breaking down or whatever. Maybe Spurrier says he was working out at the gym, on his way home, thus explaining why he's dressed the way he is."
"Fred wouldn't recognize him from the Seven-Eleven?"
"I doubt it," Marino said. "But it don't matter. Spurrier might have been bold enough to mention that, say he was just buying coffee at the Seven-Eleven, and his car conked out right after he left. He says he's just called a wrecker and wonders if Fred could give him a lift back to his car so he can wait for the wrecker, promises that his car isn't very far down the road, et cetera. Fred agrees, then Deborah reappears. Once Spurrier's inside the Cherokee, Fred and Deborah are his."
I remembered Fred described as helpful, generous. He probably would have helped a stranger in distress, especially one as smooth and clean-cut as Steven Spurrier.
"When the Cherokee's back on the Interstate, Spurrier leans over and unzips his bag, puts on gloves, booties, and slips out his gun, points it at the back of Deborah's head ...."
I thought of the bloodhound's reaction when he had sniffed the seat where it was believed Deborah had been sitting. What the dog had detected was her terror.
". . . He orders Fred to drive to the spot Spurrier's already picked in advance. By the time they stop on the logging road, Deborah's hands have probably already been tied behind her back. Her shoes and socks are off.
Spurrier orders Fred to take off his shoes and socks, then binds his hands. Spurrier orders them out of the Cherokee and walks them into the woods. Maybe he's wearing night vision goggles so he can see. He might have had those in his bag, too.
"Then he starts his game with them," Marino went on in a detached voice. "He takes out Fred first, then goes after Deborah. She resists, gets cut, and he shoots her. He drags their bodies to the clearing, positioning them side by side, her arm under his, like they was holding hands, holding on to each other. Spurrier smokes a few cigarettes, maybe sits out there in the dark by the bodies, enjoying the afterglow. Then he heads back to the Cherokee, takes off his warm-up, gloves, booties, puts them in a plastic bag he's got inside his gym bag. Maybe puts the kids' shoes and socks in the bag, too. He drives away, finds some deserted place with a coin-operated vacuum and cleans out the inside of the Cherokee, especially the driver's area where he's been sitting. All done, and he disposes of the trash bag, maybe in a Dumpster. I'm guessing he put something over the driver's seat at this point. Maybe a folded white sheet, a white towel in the first four cases - " "Most athletic clubs," I interrupted, "have a linen service. They keep a supply of white towels in the locker rooms. If Spurrier does keep his murder kit in a locker somewhere - "
Marino cut me off. "Yeah, I'm reading you loud and clear. Damn. Maybe I'd better start working on that one pronto."
"A white towel would explain the white cotton fibers found," I added.
"Except he must have used something different with Deborah and Fred. Hell, who knows? Maybe he sat on a plastic trash bag this time. The, point is, I'm thinking he sat on something so he didn't leave fibers from his clothes on the seat. Remember, he's not wearing the warm-up suit anymore, no way he would because it would be bloody. He drives off, dumps the Cherokee where we found it, and trots across the Interstate to the eastbound rest stop where his Lincoln's parked. He's out of there. Mission accomplished."
"There were probably a lot of cars in and out of the rest stop that night," I said. "No one was going to notice his Lincoln parked out there. But even if someone had, the tags wouldn't have come back to him because they were 'borrowed."' "Right. That's his last task, either returning the tags to the ride he stole them from or, if that isn't possible, just pitching them somewhere."
He paused, rubbing his face in his hands. "I've got a feeling Spurrier picked an MO early on and has pretty much stuck to it in all of the cases.
He cruises; spots his victims, tails them, and knows he's hit pay dirt if they pull off at some place, a bar, a rest stop, where they're going to be long enough for him to get set up. Then he makes his approach, pulls something to make them trust him. Maybe he strikes only once for every fifty times he goes out cruising. But he's still getting off on it."
"The scenario seems plausible for the five recent cases," I said. "But I don't think it works quite as well for Jill and Elizabeth. If the Palm Leaf Motel was where he'd left his car, that was some five miles from the Anchor Bar and Grill."
"We don't know that Spurrier hooked up with them at the Anchor."
"I have a feeling he did."
Marino looked surprised. "Why?"
"Because the women had been in his bookstore before," I explained. "They were familiar with Spurrier, though I doubt they knew him very well. I'm guessing that he watched them when they came in to buy newspapers, books, whatever. I suspect he sensed immediately that the two women were more than friends, and this pushed his button. He's obsessed with couples. Maybe he'd been contemplating his first killings, and he thought that two women would be easier than a man and a woman. He planned the crime long in advance, his fantasies fed every time Jill and Elizabeth came into his bookstore. He might have followed them, stalked them after hours, gone through a lot of dry runs, practicing. He had already selected the wooded area out near where Mr. Joyce lives and probably was the person who shot the dog. Then one night he follows Jill and Elizabeth to the Anchor, and this is when he decides to do it. He leaves his car somewhere, heads to the bar on foot, his gym bag in hand."
"Are you thinking he went inside the bar and watched them while they drank beer?"
"No," I said. "I think he was too careful for that. I think he hung back, waited until they came out to get into the Volkswagen. Then I think Spurrier approached them and put on the same act. His car had broken down. He was the owner of the bookstore they freque
"And he bleeds inside the Volkswagen," Marino said.
"A nosebleed, maybe. Ain't no vacuum cleaner gonna get blood out of a seat or floor mat."
"I doubt he bothered to vacuum. Spurrier probably was panicking. He probably ditched the car as quickly as he could in the most convenient spot, which turned out to be the motel. As for where his car was parked, who knows? But I'm betting he was in for a little hike."
"Maybe the episode with the two women spooked him so bad he didn't try again for five years."
"I don't think that's it," I said. "Something's missing."
All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell / Mystery & Detective / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes