After meeting the love of my life, my next stop took me to the police precinct. Judith and P. Belton had said detectives might reach out to me today. I decided to make sure they did. I walked up the steps of the 117th Police Precinct located in Fredericksburg, Mississippi.
An older woman tilted her head down and watched me approach the desk. Her weathered face was lined with frown lines, her hazel eyes were clear. I put her age to be in her early sixties. Her brow furrowed as I walked up to her.
“Can I help you, sir?” The desk sergeant had a direct manner about her, and I nodded.
“Yes ma’am, my name is Freeman. My daughter, Janie, was raped and murdered. I am here to speak to the detectives assigned to her case.”
“I am so sorry for your loss, sir. Give me a moment to call up the Murder Room, um, homicide. It’ll take just a second.”
She called upstairs to homicide, uttered a few words, and hung up the phone. I raised my eyebrows, and asked, “Are they coming down here?” She gave me a grizzled look and nodded her silvered head and said, “Yes sir, but it will take a moment. Please have a seat, and I will send them over when they are here.”
“Of course, ma’am. I’ll sit in the corner.”
I walked over to a plastic chair next to a large window that looked out over the front entrance and sidewalk. At one time the chair had been blue, but unfiltered sunlight and time had faded the color and spots of flaking paint had begun to peel. The wall behind the chair had begun to fade, and someone had patched holes with putty, but never finished the task.
As with all things dealing with the government, time and a lack of supervision had taken its toll on the area.
After fifteen minutes, a tall Hispanic man came down the stairs. He stopped by the desk sergeant’s counter, and she pointed him in my direction. I waited. He came toward me and extended his hand. I shook it.
“Mr. Freeman, I am Detective Tomas. Follow me, please.”
We walked back up the stairs and down the hallway that led to the ‘Murder Room.’ He opened the door and motioned for me to go inside. Detectives sat at desks, but none looked up at me. They all chatted on phones or conducted research on the computers. An older man sat in the office at the back of the room, and from what I observed, he wasn’t happy. He kept wiping at his large walrus mustache and waving his free arm around.
Tomas motioned for me to have a seat at an empty desk. He took a seat opposite of me, and said, “I’m sorry to hear of your loss, sir. I am dedicated to bringing those responsible for this heinous crime to justice.”
“Thank you, detective. I appreciate that.”
“You’re welcome, sir. At this time, I don’t have any solid leads. Um, the crime scene lab is doing their tests, and I’m awaiting the autopsy report. As soon as I know something for certain, I will bring you up to speed.”
“There is one thing you can do for me.”
I raised my eyebrows and waited for Tomas to explain further. He licked his bottom lip and cleared his throat. “Mr. Freeman, I need you to identify your daughter at the morgue. Do you feel up to it today?”
“Sure, Detective Tomas. I will go now.”
“Thank you, sir. I can drive you there if you wish.”
“That’s fine with me. I am ready when you are.”
Tomas drove me to the county morgue. Tammy Bowen, Chief Medical Examiner for Fredericksburg, and the outlying areas, met me in the lobby. I don’t know what I was expecting, but a sudden rush of tears wet my eyes. Quickly, I blinked them away.
“Mr. Freeman, if you will please follow me.”
Tammy led me to the back. I stood next to a cadaver covered with a white sheet. Tomas waited out in the hallway. Tammy pulled the sheet back, and my breath caught in my throat. I nodded.
“May I say goodbye to my daughter, ma’am?”
“Of course,” Tammy said.
I waited until she left the room before I broke down into sobs. The bruises on Janine’s face had turned from black to a sickly pus yellow, her lips busted and cracked, as if she had been stranded in a desert without water. I leaned close and whispered, “They will pay, Janine. I will find them, and they will die.” Then, I kissed her forehead, and my tears dropped onto the floor.
I stood upright and dried my eyes.
This is no time for tears. It’s time to hunt and kill.