Konan and Lilly left former police Chief Tia Mather’s handcuffed in the interview room. Lilly, still visibly shaken by Tia’s confession, sat down at their desk and wept. Konan patted her on the shoulder. At times like this, Konan didn’t know what to do. With the elevation of crimes such as sexual harassment, he refused to hug anyone.
“I can’t believe how cold she is, Konan.”
“Yeah. She’s a rough gal. I’m going to head out to her home and pick up her ‘self-preservation package.’ Do you want to ride with?”
“Yeah. You need backup.”
Together the two walked out to garage and climbed aboard an unmarked SUV. Tia lived close to the outskirts of town, on the south end. Large plumes of black smoke filled the air. “Oh no,” Lilly muttered as they drew closer. “Not again.” Flames billowed from the windows, firetrucks with their lights flashing were parked on the curb and in the driveway of Tia’s residence.
“Let’s hope that safe was fireproof,” Konan whispered to Lilly.
The detectives recognized Fire Chief Willie B. Bolton and walked over to him. He nodded at them, then turned and issued orders to a firefighter. Konan watched the Fire Chief. Closing in on his 50th birthday, Bolton was a solid 225, and could multi-task with the best of any profession.
“How did the fire start,” Lilly asked him. Bolton shrugged.
“We won’t know that until we get the fire out. Once we’ve had an opportunity to look it over, we can let you know.”
“That works,” Lilly said. Bolton stepped away from them, issued more orders and offered advice to his new firefighters. “Man,” Konan thought, “does this guy’s battery ever run down?” The fire chief seemed to be everywhere.
An hour later, the firefighters had contained the blaze. Chief Bolton and his arson investigator walked the remains of what was once Tia’s house. Charred debris was all that remained. Konan and Lilly followed them in.
It took some time, but they were able to locate the safe. Lilly rolled the tumbler to the code Tia had given them and opened the safe. A sealed manila envelope sat inside, along with a wad of cash and more papers. Lilly took it all out, and headed out of the house. Konan shined his light into the safe to make sure nothing got left.
Taped to the top of the safe was a grey journal. Konan took it and walked out to his partner.
“This,” Konan said waving it, “is Tia’s personal journal. We should look it over, there’s no telling what we might find.”
“Is that really necessary, Konan?”
“We get paid to follow every lead, right?”
“Yes,” Lilly sighed. “We get paid to follow every lead, but do you think that Tia is stupid enough to write down meetings and times in her journal?”
“She was stupid enough to think she could get away with murder, so yes. I think she’s stupid enough to make notations about meetings and other such things in her personal journal.”
“Call SWAT and tell them we are on our way to the Super 8 to pick up Ric Terrace.”
Lilly pulled out her phone and dialed SWAT. The Super 8 sat off of Exit 133, it’s parking lot started in front of the lobby and extended to the left and right side of the motel. There was no way for them to avoid giving away their approach. Lilly instructed the SWAT Commander to keep his siren and lights off until they had cordoned off the area.
Konan guided the unmarked SUV under the canopy in front of the lobby. Lilly got out and briskly walked into the foyer. Next to the fire extinguisher was a graphic of the motel layout, complete with the room sequence. She walked out and got back in the vehicle. Konan drove to an empty spot near the entrance and shut off the vehicle.
“Room 12 is on the ground floor, at the end of the building, left side,” Lilly told the commander over the phone.
Konan watched as one of the two SWAT vehicles blocked off the exit, the other stopped short of Room 12. Heavily armed and armored police officers offloaded and charged the room. The entry team stacked on the left side of the door and breached.
The breach man tossed a flash-bang grenade into the room. Upon the explosion they entered the room.
Seconds later, they came out. A tall, muscular man was led to the back of the van and shoved in. The SWAT Commander came over to the two detectives. A smug grin stretched across his thin face.
“We got ‘em, detectives. He didn’t even put up a fight. Of course, the grenade tends to make them compliant. We’ll get him to lock up, you guys can take it from there.”
“Alright, commander. Thanks for doing the work,” Konan said.