At 0900 the following morning, Lilly and Konan walked into the office of Judge Traylor. A pretty, well-dressed woman sat behind a expensive looking desk. Her black hair hung below her shoulders, her grey eyes took them in as they approached. She gave them a professional smile that lacked warmth.
“Good morning. How may I help you?”
“Hi,” Konan said. “I’m Detective Konan, this is my partner, Detective Thompson. I have an appointment at 0900.”
“Right. You have questions.”
“If you will follow me, I’ll take you back.”
Konan and Lilly followed the woman back. She led them to another room which had another beautiful woman sitting at another expensive looking desk. She looked up as they approached. Unlike her counter part, her smile radiated warmth.
“Hello, I am Lindsey. Please have a seat.”
“Thank you.” Konan waited until Lilly and Lindsey sat down before he found his seat. Lindsey was different from her fellow receptionist in more ways than one. Whereas the first one had black hair, Lindsey was red-headed, where the first one was frigid and stoic, Lindsey was friendly and cheerful.
“So, you have questions, Detective Konan?”
“I do. There are two separate cases we are interested in. We need to know if Judge Traylor presided over both, who was involved, and other pertinent information.”
“May I ask what this is concerning?”
“Sure. We are tasked with solving the homicide of the young girl stuffed in a sack on the side of the highway.”
“Okay. Ask away.”
“Did Judge Traylor preside over the cases of two known pedophiles, Norm Withers and Loxie Brown?”
Lindsey tapped on the keys of her computer and pulled up the judge’s records. She scrolled down and looked up at Konan. She nodded.
“Yes, she did.”
“What were the verdicts?”
“Both were found guilty of multiple charges.”
“Could you please print off what you have there, plus any other information you may have.”
The trio sat in silence listening to the hum of the printer. Konan looked at Lindsey, she looked back at him. Lilly watched them both. “How does he do this? Who else would have thought to look into the judge’s sentencing record?”
When the printer finished, Lindsey put the printouts in a brown manila envelope and handed them to Konan. He gave her a smile. She smiled back. Once again, her smile was warm. Konan thanked her for the help and handed her one of his cards.
“If you remember anything else, please don’t hesitate to call me.”
“Sure, detective. Come back soon. Don’t be a stranger.”
Lilly shook her head and walked out the door. Konan trailed after her. She was waiting by the car when he strolled up.
“Sounds like your theory may hold water,” she said.
“It’s too early to tell. We’ll see in a bit. Am I the only one that is hungry?”
“Nope, you’re not. Let’s grab a bite and talk this through.”
Konan drove them to a nearby country restaurant for breakfast. The sign in front of it read: Welcome to the home of the world famous Bacon and Pancake Platter. More than 6 million pancakes served. They got out and walked in. The hostess met them at the door. With a smile she led them to a table at the far back of the restaurant. Konan dropped the file on the table. He pushed it over to Lilly.
She was about to open the file when the waitress showed up. She was tall and stunningly beautiful. Her long brown hair was in a French braid, her eyes were sky blue.
“Hi. What can I getcha?”
Lilly shrugged and motioned for Konan to go first. He handed the waitress his menu.
“I’ll have the world famous Bacon and Pancake Platter and a cup of coffee, please.” The waitress scribbled it down.
“And you, ma’am?”
“I’ll have the same thing, please.”
“Okay. I’ll get this in and bring you your coffee.”
They waited until the waitress disappeared into the back to open the file. Lilly scooted close to Konan so they could share it. Lilly turned to Konan, her eyes wide at what the file revealed.
“Tell me you see what I see.”
“You would have me assume that we noticed the same thing?”
“Yeah. Judge Traylor sentenced them both on the same day. How did that work out you reckon?”
Konan pulled out another file, this was the arrest records of both Withers and Brown. He opened it and checked the dates. Both pedophiles were arrested with three days between said arrests. Withers and Brown were both arrested by the same police officer. Sergeant Terry “Two-fisted” Smith had signed off on the reports. Konan scoffed.
“Answer me this, Lilly. What are the odds that you would arrest two different pedophiles, three days apart, and they both stood before the same judge and got the same verdict?”
“Um, zero. With the astronomical backlog of cases in the judical system, both of these men may have been given parole.”
“Instead, one cellmate is rotting in the ground, the other was just released. Not to mention, one of the two died after he raped the presiding judge’s son.”
“We need to have a chat with Brown, again.”
“Yeah, we also need to have a sit down with Judge Traylor.”
“Why would her receptionist hand us this incriminating evidence against her boss?”
“Who knows. Until we have something solid, we need to be careful who we trust with this.”
“I agree. Tia should be brought into the loop.”
Konan sighed and looked around. The waitress was still not back without his coffee.
“Did she get lost,” he growled. This case was shaping up to be a doozy. There was no way to know where the thread would end up, but as it stood right now, it was going to be trouble. “Like I need more trouble.”
The waitress came around the corner holding a coffee pot and two cups. Deftly with one hand she sat down the two cups and poured their coffee. With her free hand she put sugar and cream on the table.
“Sorry,” she said. “We’ve had an employee shortage for the past month. Those of us that show up are pulling doubles and taking on extra duties.”
“No worries,” Lilly said. The waitress thanked her and hurried off to another impatient customer. Moments later, the waitress reappeared with their breakfast. Konan and Lilly ate in silence for a bit. Lilly dabbed at her mouth and sipped some coffee.
“What are you thinking?”
Konan sipped his coffee and added some more sugar. “Just wondering if Rankin and Manson are going to be brought in on our case. They replaced us on the last ‘high-profile’ case.”
“I don’t know. We have leads to investigate. We’ll make our case for being the only ones to handle it.”
“Yeah,” Konan said quietly. He was not looking forward to engaging with Tia. She hated him, and he wasn’t a big fan of hers. From day one they had been at odds. Between his past, and her attitude, there was no room for them to get along. Still, as the Chief of Police she had to be brought into the loop.
“You should be the one to bring her up to speed,” Konan said.
Lilly crossed her eyes and stuck out her tongue. Konan guffawed. Her expression reflected Konan’s emotional state when it came to dealing with Tia Mathers. Konan’s suspension had not helped matters. The rift between the two had not diminished. They left the restaurant at 0830 and drove to the police department. They started for their building, when Konan stopped.
“What’s wrong, Konan?”
“Nothing. Do you mind briefing Tia? I wanna have a word with the arresting officer. Or do you want me to go with you, and then you ride over with me to see Terry Smith?”
“We are a team. You come with me and then we’ll have a word with Two-fisted Smith.”
Konan and Lilly made their way into the building. Chief Tia Mathers sat behind her desk and watched them approach. Her eyes followed them right up to the moment they came into her office and sat down. She waited for them to say something.
“Chief, we need to bring you up to speed,” Lilly said. Tia nodded.
“Okay. Brief away.”
“Well, we’ve got a few leads concerning our case. Norm Withers and Loxie Brown are known predators of children. We spoke with Loxie Brown. He’s been released from prison, but he said he had nothing that would shed any light on the case. Withers is dead. He was shot to death by Judge Traylor when she caught him raping her son.”
“That’s where things get interesting,” Konan interjected.
Tia’s eyes moved over to him. She lifted her eyebrows and said, “oh?”
“Yeah. Withers and Brown were arrested three days apart but sentenced on the same day. The judge that handled their case was Judge Traylor, who just so happened to blow away Withers.”
“So, let me get this straight. You two want me to believe that a judge in good standing is targeting pedophiles? How does that have anything to do with murder of that little girl?”
Konan sighed. “This is a freaking waste of time,” Konan thought not for the first time.
“Chief, we’re just following the thread to where it led,” Lilly said. Tia stood to her feet and walked to the large window that gave her a bird’s eye view of the city.
“You two are killing me. Find the killer of Ana Marie. That’s all I want. I want you to do your job without over complicating it.”
“Roger,” Konan said. He stood to his feet and motioned for Lilly to follow him. They walked to their desk and sat down. Lilly shook her head and grimaced.
“I thought we were doing our jobs,” she said.
“What was the name of Loxie Brown’s attorney?”
“Do you still have her card,” Konan asked.
Lilly rummaged around in her purse until she found the card. She handed it to him. Konan punched in the number and waited.
“Hello, you’ve reached Tessa Ransom attorney at law. I am unable to answer my phone at this time. Please leave a message along with your number and I will call you back. Thank you and have a nice day,” the robotic voice said.
Konan left a brief message and his number and hung up the phone. Lilly stared at him.
“You’re going to have Loxie brought in?”
“The Chief just accused us of not doing our jobs.”
“Yep. Check this out.”
Konan walked over to the white board and picked up a green dry-erase marker. He wrote Ana, Withers, Brown, and Traylor on the white board. Underneath Ana’s name he wrote ‘victim’, underneath Withers and Brown he wrote ‘pedophile’, and under Judge Traylor he wrote ‘unknown’. He took the photos of Ana Marie, Withers and Brown and taped them underneath their names.
“What exactly am I checking out, Konan?”
“Ana Marie went missing three or four months ago, yeah?”
“Where were Withers and Brown?”
“When did Judge Traylor kill Withers?
“Okay, so Withers and Brown got a six-month vacation to the big house. Brown served his full term, but Withers was out working on the prison reform program, right?”
“Her son was assaulted last month, right?”
“Yeah. That’s when she,” Lilly shaped her hand into a gun and pulled the trigger. “Popped him.”
“My question is simply this: How was Withers selected to work on the program at Judge Traylor’s house? Who selected him and placed a known kiddie rapist within spitting distance of her three year old child?”
“And what does that have to do with Ana Marie Hendricks?”
Lilly shrugged. “I don’t get it.”
“It’s revenge, Lilly. Traylor is hard on pedophiles. For God’s sake she shot and killed Withers. Brown and Withers both got hammered on the same day, but someone put Withers on the detail. We need to find the overlap that would connect all these people together. If we find the connection, we’ll find the killer.”