Monday, May 14, 2018

The Coffee Murders

July 17, 2017

Brampton, Ontario

“All right,” started Detective Marcus Bell, looking at a submerged car stuck in Professor’s Lake. “What would compel a man to drive himself through the barricade, wait for the ice to crack and just sit there as his car gets swallowed by the water?”

“It’s like Virginia Woolf all over again,” said fellow detective Joan Watson.

“Am I the only one that thinks this isn’t a suicide?” asked Police Chief Tommy Gregson.

“No, you’re not the only one,” replied Watson.

“Sherlock, did you find anything?” said Bell, walking up to his colleague, Sherlock Holmes, the great grandson of the great detective.

Holmes, however, didn’t respond. He was examining the scene, looking for the slightest clue. There were no marks on the dead man or inside the car- a brand new Rover 200- to indicate a struggle, nor were any of the windows or doors found open, with water pressure being the culprit. The barricade showed no sign of a break-in except for the fact that the car had driven right through it, and the cause of death was clearly drowning. Holmes still managed to spot something.

“If you’ll look over here,” said Holmes, walking Bell to a point right after the barricade had been broken, “you’ll notice two depressions in the snow. One of them is quite clearly the boots of the assassin while the other indicates that the car stopped at this exact point.”

“Assassin?” Bell asked, “how do you figure that? There’s only one set of footprints here…it could have been the guy who committed suicide stepping out to wonder what he was doing.”

“It was a cold night,” said Holmes. “The wind chill by itself plunged the temperature down to minus 15 Centigrade…why would the dead man come out of the car? If he wanted to pause to contemplate what he was doing, he would have just stopped the car and thought about things inside of it instead of stepping outside.”

“Okay,” said Bell, trying to understand Holmes’ thinking, “so maybe the assassin drove the car and, at this very moment, the two drivers switched…but if that happened, wouldn’t there be two sets of footprints?”

“Not if the assassin made the driver switch seats from inside the car,” said Holmes. “This man had to have had a gun to convince the dead man to move seats.”

“What did you guys find?” said Gregson, coming over to Bell and Holmes.

“This man was assassinated,” said Bell. “Sherlock and I concluded that the assassin drove our victim here, and, after he broke into the barrier, the assassin exited the car, pointed a gun at the victim and made him drive into the lake. That’s why there’s only one set of footprints.”

“He covered his tracks pretty well,” noted Watson. “Every other footprint he left he covered up…looks like he brought a snow shovel with him, stood on top of the broken barrier, shoveled snow onto his tracks and used the shovel to even things out…of course, he couldn’t get to his initial prints, but that was okay…he probably thought this would look like the victim stepped out of the car.”

“Registration on the car is new,” said Gregson. “So our next step is to see where our victim bought the car…our killer has to be tied to the initial dealer.”

Malibu, Los Angeles County, California

“Victim’s name is Jenny Peacock, 29, from right here in Malibu,” said California Bureau of Investigation Agent Grace van Pelt.

“It’s a very interesting way to die,” said colleague Wayne Rigsby, examining the body. Peacock was found with her hands and feet bound and gagged with her head placed inside a barbecue and charred to death. “I’ve never seen a barbecue used as a murder weapon.”

“Tynesha Stewart’s body was disposed of with a barbecue,” said colleague Kimball Cho, “and who could forget the ‘Barbecue Murders’ of Terra Linda?”

“Yes,” said Rigsby, “but those cases involved the barbecue being used as a method of disposal, not as a method of death.”

“All right,” said van Pelt, walking towards the body. “So the killer abducts Jenny…from where, we don’t know. He takes her here, to the beach, perhaps under the pretense of having a nice barbecued dinner here. He points a gun at her, ties her up, makes her kneel in front of the barbecue, stands over top of her, puts her head onto the grill and closes the top, before turning it on and holding her head there while it cooks her to death. He had to have been a stronger guy…after that, I really don’t know.”

“Well, he left the body here,” said Cho. “He must have believed he wouldn’t get caught.”

“We need Jane,” said Rigsby with a frustrated sigh.

“No we don’t!” said team leader Teresa Lisbon, enunciating each word for emphasis. “Look, I know he closes a lot of cases for us…but we’re experienced detectives. We can solve this on our own. Patrick Jane is an amazing detective, yes, but we got along fine without him before and we can get along fine without him here.”

“Where is Jane, anyway?” said Rigsby, confused.

“He went on vacation,” said Cho, matter-of-factly.

“Again?” said Rigsby, frustrated. “Ever since he caught Red John in that stupid barn in Manhattan, he’s had a very cavalier attitude towards work…it’s like he doesn’t like us.”

“Rigsby,” said Lisbon, sternly. “I let him have the vacation. I think he deserves a little time to celebrate the closing of the case that haunted him his whole life…besides, he’s worked with us since Red John’s capture…this is the first case he’s missed. If we need him, we’ll call him.” Lisbon took a look towards van Pelt. “What’s van Pelt doing?” she said, confused.

Van Pelt wasn’t listening. She had her eyes closed, doing her best to think about how the crime unfolded. She had her hands out, as if she was picking up vibes from the body. She then extended her arms before moving them upwards, while also raising her head, and breathed heavily. As the calm winds moved in her mind, the different permutations of the crime were unfolding in her head as she thought even more deeply. After five minutes, she broke her séance.

“I don’t know how he does it,” said van Pelt, frustrated.

“Jane?” said Cho. “He doesn’t tell us any of his secrets anyway.”

“No, Derek Morgan,” said van Pelt. “I was watching a video of his the other day on the FBI’s training web site where he walked through his profiling method.”

“Oh where he acts out the crime scene?” asked Rigsby.

“Yeah, that’s the one,” said van Pelt, excited. “You’ve seen it?”

“A couple of times,” said Rigsby. “It’s fantastic stuff.”

“Guys,” said Lisbon angrily, “we can discuss Derek Morgan’s video later. Right now we’ve got a crime to solve…let’s get to it.”

“We can start with the serial number on the barbecue,” said Cho. “This looks brand new.”

“Let me write it down,” said van Pelt, looking for the serial number. “I’ll get to it once we’re back at the station.”

Dothan, Georgia, Carolinian Empire

Nick Stokes needed to take a second look. Stokes and his fellow Carolinian Crime Scene Investigators, Warrick Brown and Morgan Brody, were investigating the strange death of Michael Carmichael, found dead with his head sticking out of a flat screen TV.

“Classic sign of a home invasion,” said Stokes, narrating the scene. “The scuff marks on the couch indicate that Carmichael fought his attacker and was wrestled to the ground, as seen by the imprint on the carpet. Upon being subdued, he was struck in the head, repeatedly, by the TV, until his head broke through can see it through the bruising. The killer then emptied Carmichael's wallet for its contents and ran from the home.”

Brown disagreed. “I don't think this is a home invasion,” he said. “There's no sign of any windows being broken or the lock having been picked. This had to have been someone he had over at his place.

“Carmichael lived alone, though,” said Brody. “I didn't come across a girlfriend or a spouse or even a jilted ex-lover in his it probably was a friend who came over. I'll also need to check the body and see if the blows really were the cause of death.”

“Okay,” said Stokes, taking charge. “You and Abby take a look at the body and see what you can find. Warrick and I will interview his friends and see where they were the night of the murder and we'll go from there. I'll call Gibbs and let him know what we've got so far.”

Montreal, Quebec

“Veronica Mars, FBI”, said Mars, who led the FBI’s field office in Montreal. She showed her badge to Montreal Detective Eddie Valiant, Jr., the grandson of the great private investigator. “What do we have?” The pair were outside of a coffee shop where a man was shot dead after exiting the shop, having just bought a coffee.

“Victim’s name is Rene Sorbet,” said Valiant in his trademark gruff. “He died of a single gunshot wound to the head…looks like he just stepped outside and bang! He was a goner.”

“Nobody saw the shooter?” said Mars, perplexed.

Valiant was flummoxed. “No. I find that particularly surprising.”

“How many gunshots were fired?”

“Witnesses say there was just one. There were conflicting reports about where the sound was coming from though.”

“Sounds like we’ve got a sniper here…that’s not good.”

“I know…I’m not liking this.”

“Okay…close this entire block…we’ve got to canvass each building and see if we can find any leads.”

In the distance, a man was watching Mars and Valiant discuss the crime from behind a tree.

“Simpletons,” he muttered to himself with a smirk. “They don’t know what they’re getting into.” He then left a card and lodged it in the branches of the tree, before leaving the scene.

Brampton, Ontario

“Okay,” said Chief Tommy Gregson to his team of detectives, Marcus Bell, Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes. “What do we have on Martin Foyer’s murder?” The team had been out collecting evidence and interviewing people of interests seeing if they could find any leads.

“Foyer’s friends and family check out,” said Watson, “none of them have motive to commit the crime and have solid alibis. Seems like this guy is pretty likeable…no one seemed to hate him.”

“The dealership did too,” said Bell. “In fact, he won the car as a prize in Jimmy Cochrane’s ‘Roll Up The Rim To Win’ promotion…no one at the coffee shop had any issues with him.”

“Sherlock?” said Gregson, turning his attention to Holmes. As time passed, Gregson got more annoyed. “Sherlock?” he repeated, angrily.

Holmes wasn’t paying attention, his gaze fixated on his pet tortoise, Clyde, which he placed on a table to use to simulate the Rover 200’s drive into Professor’s Lake.

“Okay Sherlock,” said Gregson, befuddled at the display, “what in the world are you going to get staring at a tortoise?”

“Hold on, Chief,” said Bell, excitedly. “He’s got something.” Bell then approached the table and crouched down to get a better look at Clyde.

Holmes then got up from his gaze and authoritatively addressed his colleagues.

“Watson,” he started. “You said his entire family checked out, right?”

“Yes,” said Watson firmly.

“Someone is lying,” he said, sternly.

“What?” said Bell, intrigued.

“Martin Foyer drove straight into the lake,” said Holmes. “He didn’t try to swerve or drive away from the killer, as we might expect if the killer was unknown to him. Also, the tire tracks were not tentative at all, as we might expect if Foyer were doing this against his will. No, he had an argument with someone he knew well, with the murderer using the gun to ‘force’ the issue. The argument didn’t end well for Foyer, who, becoming depressed, decided to drive into the lake no questions asked.”

“Wait,” said Watson, confused. “At the lake, you were certain this wasn’t a suicide…now you’re saying it is?”

“Sort of,” said Holmes, curtly. “This is still a murder given that Foyer didn’t drive himself willingly to the lake and the murderer made circumstances so difficult that Foyer didn’t have any choice but to kill himself…but Foyer wasn’t entirely coerced. That could only happen if Foyer and the murderer were having an argument that would cause Foyer to drive into the lake willingly.”

“So this all started because they were discussing something important,” said Watson, following along with Holmes’ analysis.

“Something other than donuts,” remarked Bell.

CBI Headquarters, Sacramento, California

“Okay so,” said California Bureau of Investigation Agent Grace van Pelt as she finished typing on her computer, “Jenny’s barbecue was not something she bought...she won it in a contest at Jimmy Cochrane’s.”

“The ‘Lift the Lip’ promotion?” teammate Kimball Cho asked.

“Yeah,” said van Pelt.

“Okay,” said colleague Wayne Rigsby. “So you think someone got jealous of her victory and killed her for it?”

“I don’t know about that,” said Cho. “I somehow doubt a barbecue is worth killing over.”

“Jenny has been a decorated girl,” said van Pelt, going over her file. “She’s very active in the community and has won numerous awards...certainly it would make someone jealous.”

“So the barbecue was the tip of the iceberg,” noted Rigsby.

“All right,” said team leader Teresa Lisbon as she walked in to the bullpen. “What do we have?”

“We know that Jenny is really active in the community,” said van Pelt. “She’s won numerous awards and the barbecue was her latest achievement.”

“Where’d she get the barbecue?” inquired Lisbon.

“She won it at Jimmy’s,” said Cho.

“Means she got lucky,” said Lisbon. “Her skills have nothing to do with ‘Lift the Lip’.”

“It still could incur jealousy,” said Cho. “I mean, we all know someone who has far better luck than we do.”

“Jane!” said van Pelt and Rigsby together, to which Lisbon laughed to.

“We think whoever was her rival,” said Rigsby, “likely saw the barbecue victory as ‘the last straw’…even though Jenny didn’t do anything to win it except be lucky, the rival still got frustrated that they aren’t enjoying the success Jenny is getting.”

“So is there someone who Jenny seems to consistently beat in all of her awards?” asked Lisbon.

Van Pelt typed away at her computer. “Luckily,” she said excitedly, “there’s one, Rita Johnson.”

“Let’s pay her a visit,” said Lisbon as the team nodded in agreement.

Savannah, Georgia

“Got it,” said Leroy “Jethro” Gibbs, the Director of the Carolinian Crime Scene Investigators unit, on the phone with his agent, Nick Stokes. “Morgan and Abby are having a look at the body as we speak...we’ll let you know what we find. In the meantime, follow up with Carmichael’s friends and see what turns up.” He then closed his phone and walked towards the lab to pay a visit to his forensic scientists, Abigail “Abby” Sciuto and Morgan Brody.

In the lab, the ladies were on a break from dissecting Carmichael’s body. Brody was playing Tetris on Abby’s computer, as Abby watched on.

“No, no!” Abby said loudly, moving her arm as if she could direct the block herself. “Move it to the left, move it to the left!”

“I’m trying!” Brody said, tensely. Since it was never a part of her youth, she was a relative newcomer to Tetris, and being at Level 8 with the faster moving blocks was rattling her.

Meanwhile, Abby, hunched over Brody’s chair, panted heavily as the tension of the rising blocks was getting to her.

“Oh crap...oh crap...” Brody was starting to get nervous at the rising level as well.

“Here!” Abby barked. “Hand me the controls, I’ll fix this!” Brody did just that.

It was here that Gibbs made his entrance.

“Hello ladies,” said Gibbs, entering with his dry charm and standing as he did, lording over the room.

“Oh...hi Gibbs,” said Brody, nervously. Abby was undeterred, continuing with the Tetris game.

“Hey Abby,” said Gibbs, who grabbed her shoulders and started to rub them.

Abby refused to turn around, her eyes peeled on the screen.

Gibbs patted her on the back. “Come on now,” he said softly. “We have a case to solve...once it’s solved you can have all the time you want for Tetris.”

The game finished, as Gibbs’ pat distracted Abby. “Did you have to do that?” Abby said, turning around and giving Gibbs a scowl and a grunt. “Meanie! I was on a roll!”

Gibbs could only laugh. He loved her like a daughter, as even though her antics grated him, her boundless enthusiasm continually gave the jaded Gibbs the strength to carry on his own job.

“So, ladies, what do we have here?” Gibbs continued.

“The bruising on Carmichael’s body is consistent with a brass knuckle attack,” said Brody, now standing over Carmichael’s body and directing Gibbs’ attention towards the bruises. “In fact, we think the culprit struck Carmichael with the knuckle first before bashing his head with the TV.”

“So he hits him with the knuckle,” said Gibbs, acting it out, “gets him down and then bashes his head with the TV.”

“Exactly,” said Brody, tapping the air authoritatively at Gibbs with her finger, telling him he was right.

“Good work Brody,” said Gibbs, with a firm smile. “Abby, what do you have?”

“The TV is brand new,” said Abby. “In fact, Carmichael won it via Jimmy Cochrane’s ‘Lift the Lip’ promotion.”

“So Michael Carmichael got killed out of jealousy,” he said, furrowing his brow.

“Yeah, but probably not just because he won the TV,” said Abby. “Since his home wasn’t broken into, it had to have been someone he knew, so the TV was just the tip of the iceberg.”

“What about the knuckle?” asked Gibbs.

“That’s the interesting part,” said Abby. “As we know, the Carolinian Empire doesn’t ban brass knuckles…they’re sold freely, as self-defence weapons. However, these knuckles aren’t sold in Carolina at all…as you can see the brand name is ‘Tsov Ntxhuav’, which is the Hmong word for ‘lion’.”

Gibbs nodded his head and furrowed his lips with approval. “Oh,” he said, “I didn’t know you knew Hmong.”

“Google Translate is my best friend,” beamed Abby.

Gibbs chuckled. “Good point,” he said. “How’d you find the brand?”

“It’s imprinted, faintly, on Carmichael’s cheek,” said Brody, directing Gibbs over to the mark.

“So that means that if we find the brass knuckle,” said Gibbs, analyzing, “we’ve found our killer. Do you know who bought the knuckle?”

“Unfortunately whoever did buy the knuckle,” said Abby, sighing, “bought it via cash…had to have been from an underground source…there’s no credit card information on this particular brand, at least not in Georgia. They all point to where it originates, in South China.”

“Check the flight records,” said Gibbs. “See if there’s anyone that flew back from China to Georgia within the last year. That will give us a start.”

“It’ll be a lot of names,” cautioned Brody.

“I know,” said Gibbs, “but it’s the best we’ve got. Hopefully we can narrow it down to Carmichael’s associates. See what you can find.”

Brampton, Ontario

“I’m thinking this is a dead end,” said Brampton Police Chief Tommy Gregson as his colleagues, detectives Joan Watson, Sherlock Holmes and Marcus Bell, combed the home of Martin Foyer’s brother, George. “There’s no murder weapon...the house is impeccably clean, George has a stable job...heck, in fact, all of his pictures with his brother suggest a happy relationship. There’s nothing to suggest that he’s a murderer.”

“Something is here, I know it,” said Watson.

“Well, this was your idea, Watson,” said Holmes dismissively. “If I had my way we’d still be looking at his wife.”

“His wife’s alibi checked out, remember?” Watson said, “and you, Sherlock, said it was family that killed Martin. George is the only one in his family that we haven’t looked at yet.”

“Guys,” said Bell, gesturing towards a bookcase, “I found something.”

There, on the top shelf, was a finished coffee cup from Jimmy Cochrane’s, with the lip lifted to reveal a “Please Play Again” message indicating that the cup was not a prize winner. The cup seemed out of place in the clean room, as the coffee residue was caked onto the cup, having been on the shelf for a long time.

“He kept the cup?” Watson said, shocked.

“It’s odd behaviour, yes,” said Gregson, “but it won’t connect him to the crime.”

“Well, this is about jealousy,” said Bell, “and the cup represents his failure to win the prize that Martin won.”

“...and,” said Watson, bringing over George’s high school yearbook, “you will notice that, right here, a coffee cup stain perfectly circles a picture of Martin’s wife, complete with Julia’s signature of George’s yearbook.”

“Dear George,” said Holmes, reading the message out loud. “You have been a light in the darkness that has been my life. Thank you for always being there for me, Julia xoxo.”

“Now, we match the DNA from that cup to that stain and we got him,” said Bell.

“Okay,” said Gregson, “that means he’s got motive, but it’s still not enough to connect him to the crime.”

Holmes then stood still, looking around the room, analyzing, before it hit him.

“Take a look at it this way,” he started. “Look at this room. Pristine. Not a book out of order, not a piece of furniture out of place, not a speck of dirt to be found…except in the yearbook and on that dirty coffee cup. See, George Foyer put that stuff thereknowing that we’d be here to look into him.”

“That’s great,” said Gregson, frustrated, “but we still don’t have any evidence!”

Holmes continued to prattle on, choosing to ignore Gregson’s frustrations. “You see, George put all those things out of place and referred them back to Julia to tell us that something is out of place with Julia. George isn’t fanatically in love with Julia- it’s quite the opposite. At some point during his life, he dated Julia and, while he loved her, he knew something was ‘off’ about her. Martin chose to ignore those signs and married her anyway, much to George’s protestations.”

Gregson shook his hands, pleading. “Sherlock, get to the point.”

“So George finds Martin, pulls a gun on him and orders him to drive to Professor’s Lake. The two of them have an argument- for what I surmise is the umpteenth time- about Julia’s treatment of Martin. George knows this, so he purposely drives Martin over the edge, forcing him to commit suicide in the lake. Why does he do this? Because George believes that Martin is too far in over his head that the only way he can be saved from Julia is if he is excised from existence. Hence the drive into the lake.”

Gregson lowered his head and grabbed his nose right between his eyes, shaking his head. “That’s great Sherlcok, but once again we have noevidence.”

“That’s because the evidence isn’t here- it’s at Julia’s house. George, thinking that his ploy would make us think of Julia, deliberately planted it at the farm as a form of misdirection.”

The team let his words sink in before a thought occurred to Watson. “Sherlock, we combed the Foyers’ house already,” she said, concerned. “We found nothing.”

“That is true,” said Holmes, “but Julia helps out with her sister at her horse farm in Snelgrove. We’re going to find our stuff there.”

“Maybe,” said Bell, “or maybe Julia is the killer after all. You can’t just conclude ‘misdirection’ and leave it at that- if George made signs that point to Julia then maybe they do point to Julia.”

“You see Bell,” said Holmes, quick to respond. “You would think that is the natural conclusion, but even you would admit that it is far too simplistic. This entire scene, cleaned too well, was orchestrated to get us to look at Julia, as if George was practically begging us to go over there and leave him alone. That reeks of desperation, and that leaves the only conclusion that George is trying to frame Julia, and, once again, we’ll have our proof in Snelgrove.”

Sure enough, the team drove to Snelgrove and, hidden in the walls of Julia’s office were the boots George Foyer used on the day he drove Martin to suicide. Footprint analysis confirmed that the boots produced the same footprints found at the scene, and, given that those boots were rare, it was easy to pinpoint them back to George, firmly placing him at the scene of the crime. The team formally arrested George, who confessed under interrogation, and officially charged him with Martin’s murder.

The case seemed closed, but after formally bringing George into custody, Watson couldn’t help but think something didn’t seem right.

“I can’t quite put my finger on it,” she said to Holmes when the two of them returned home to Holmes’ brownstone apartment, “but something doesn’t seem right about this case. I feel like we’re missing something.”

“Watson,” said Holmes, “I want to tell you that you’re wrong, but I would be remiss to say that. I somehow don’t think this is the end of the story.”

Riverside, California

“Vanessa Georges,” deadpanned California Bureau of Investigation agent Kimball Cho as Georges opened the door. “Agent Cho, CBI and this is my colleague, Agent Rigsby. We’re here to discuss the murder of Jenny Peacock…we need a few minutes of your time.”

“Oh…oh…okay,” said Georges tentatively. “Can this not wait? I’m cooking dinner for a friend.”

“No ma’am,” said Cho. “We need to do this now.”

Georges had a look of incredulousness on her face. “What,” she said, “do you think I have something to hide.”

“We’re not saying that,” said Rigsby, “but we’re busy just like you are and we can’t afford to waste any time.”

Georges sighed before reluctantly letting the agents in. “If I burn my scallops I know who to blame,” said Georges as everyone walked inside.

“It smells good,” said Rigsby once everyone reached the kitchen where Georges continued to cook.

“It’s my specialty dish,” explained Georges. “I’m hoping to open a restaurant one day…my friend, Jackie, is here to try out some of my stuff.”

“So you really enjoy cooking,” said Cho.

“Oh yeah,” said Georges. “I love it.”

“One more thing Jenny was better than you at,” said Rigsby with a smirk.

Georges stopped stirring her scallops to respond to Rigsby.

“Look,” said Georges. “Was it frustrating that Jenny beat me in everything? Yeah, it was…but I didn’t kill her.”

“Rita Johnson, her other rival,” said Rigsby, “her alibi checked out. You…you don’t have an alibi for the night of Jenny’s murder. In fact, our records firmlyplace you in Malibu that night.”

“I like the Malibu beach,” said Georges. “The dark sand…the rocks…the waves…it’s where I go when I need time to myself. It’s very relaxing.”

“…and then you saw Jenny and you snapped, right?” said Cho.

“This is very unprofessional of you,” snapped Georges. “I’m surprised you guys can even hold on to your jobs…you’re not even giving me a chance to defend myself here…I thought you weren’t supposed to determine guilt before you’ve actually assessed someone.”

“Every sign points to you,” said Rigsby, “so it’s your job to point them away from you.”

“Jenny Peacock was last seen alive at the Santa Monica Pier at 10:05PM,” said Cho, “where she picked up her barbecue that she won at the local Jimmy Cochrane’s. She was supposed to be on her way to a camping trip in Zzyzx but she never made it. At 6:29AM, the police received a tip that led them to Jenny’s body found at the Malibu Pier, which forensics put the time of death at 4:14AM. According to your credit card records, you stopped by a convenience store at 12:12AM nearby the pier, and at 4:49AM, you filled up your car with gas at the station just down the road from the pier. So, unless you saw who did it…there’s only one conclusion and it’s that you did it.”

“Well,” said Jackie Morrison, a triathlete, walking into the kitchen, “your forensics are wrong. She didn’t die at 4:14…it doesn’t take that long to burn someone. She had to have died, at the very latest, 2AM.”

“Which,” said Cho, pulling out a sheet of paper, “is precisely what forensics actually found. Surprised you knew that right on the button.”

“Actually,” said Rigsby, dryly, “it was 2:03AM, wasn’t it?”

“Jackie,” said Georges, “you did it?” Georges then widened her eyes and gave her head a shake before continuing with a surprised stare at Morrison.

“What are you guys talking about?” said Morrison. “I couldn’t kill anyone.”

“How else do you explain that you got the time of death precisely at the moment forensics got it?” said Cho. “Besides, we concluded a strong person was needed to subdue Jenny…you’re strong enough. Vanessa? No offence, but I don’t think Vanessa’s physically capable of that.”

“Besides,” said Rigsby, “we know you stole Vanessa’s credit card that night…and you casually wrote on Jenny’s Facebook Wall reminding her that the coffee you bought for her won her the barbecue.”

Morrison licked her lips nervously, then took a few deep breaths. “This is entrapment,” she stammered, nervously. “This won’t hold up in court.”

“Cho,” said Rigsby smugly. “Did we force her to talk? She came up here on her on free will, did she not?”

“Yeah,” said Cho, dryly. “She chose to come up here and interrupt our conversation with Vanessa…she didn’t even apologize for being rude.”

“So this is voluntary, right?”

“As voluntary as it gets.”

“Besides, we needed to catch you before you leave in about,” Rigsby stopped to check his watch, “ten minutes before you fly off to Zimbabwe on an impromptu trip. Nothing against Zimbabwe…but an innocent person doesn’t schedule a flight two days after we contact them regarding an investigation.”

Morrison hung her head and admitted defeat. A few minutes later, Cho’s and Rigsby’s teammates, Grace van Pelt and team leader Teresa Lisbon, emerged to formally arrest Morrison. Back at the station, Lisbon took some time to congratulate her team on their work.

“Nice sleuthing there van Pelt,” said Lisbon. “If you didn’t check up on our interviewees we could have lost Morrison forever.”

“I just had that inkling,” van Pelt said, relaxing in her chair. “As soon as Rita Johnson checked out we knew that Jenny’s real killer would panic believing we were on to them…and I was right. Plus, since she forgot she turned on her GPS…”

“So who wants to go to Vanessa’s once it opens?” said Rigsby with a smirk.

“I don’t know…those scallops weren’t so hot,” deadpanned Cho. “Eddie’s doesn’t sound like a bad idea though.”

“All right,” said Lisbon. “Let’s go. I think we’ve earned it.”

Savannah, Georgia

“Nick Stokes, CSI,” said Stokes to Remy Morris as Morris opened the door to Stokes and his partner Warrick Brown. “This is my partner, Warrick Brown...We’re here investigating the death of your you have a few minutes?”

“Well,” said Morris, a mellow older gentleman, “I was just watching Law & Order...but okay.”

“Which Law & Order?” Brown asked.

“The regular one...I couldn’t get into any of those remakes,” said Morris in a slow drawl. “Especially that

SVU one...too many weird ones there.”

“Elliott Stabler was a good man though,” said Stokes, as the agents and Morris walked into the living room.

“So where were you on the night of Michael Carmichael’s death?” Stokes asked right off the bat.

“Oh,” said Morris softly. “I was tending to things...I think I went to the post office that was mundane...I hardly remember the details...until I heard what happened to Michael.”

“What were you doing when you heard about the death?” Brown asked.

“I was roused from bed,” Morris explained. “I’m a welder...I work early I had been fast asleep.”

As Stokes asked the next question, Brown couldn’t help but hear a mosquito buzzing around him. The mosquito didn’t seem at all interested in Brown, but seemed to think it could fly right through him. After fruitlessly swatting away at it, Brown managed to cup it with his hand, and, noticing it wasn’t biting him, decided to bag it, alive.

“You like them ‘skeeters?” Morris said, quizzically.

“Yeah,” said Brown, “I collect them.”

“Oh,” sheepishly said Morris, satisfied.

“Listen Remy,” said Brown, “I need the bathroom…where is it?”

“Down the hall to your right,” said Morris.

As Brown walked nonchalantly down the hall, right after turning the corner, he couldn’t help but notice a hole in the wall. Pulling out his flashlight, he peered into the hole, which had a little crack indicating that the wall itself had been opened. Caulking had seemed to be applied on the crack, indicating that the wall was ripped open further than it initially appeared. Also, while Brown couldn’t quite say for sure, it did look like the hole on the wall seemed to have knuckle marks on it, as if it was first created via a fist.

Peering into the hole with the flashlight gave Brown the answer: “Tsov Ntxhuav”. Written on the brass knuckle buried into the wall (and unquestionably the source of the hole), the rare brand of brass knuckle was the “smoking gun” piece of evidence the CSIs needed to make their arrest. He texted the picture of the knuckle to Stokes before going back to the living room.

“Remy Morris,” said Brown, “we need you to come with us.”

“What?” said Morris, his eyes wide with surprise. “What did I do? I’m…I’m telling the truth.”

“The brass knuckle you tried to hide in the wall was the exact same brand used in the death of Michael,” said Stokes authoritatively. “Since it’s only sold in China, it’s rare to find it here in Georgia…which puts you entirely in suspicion.”

“No!” shouted Morris defiantly. “I’m innocent!” He then flipped the coffee table at Stokes, throwing it as if it was nothing, forcing Stokes to duck. Stokes didn’t waste any time, tackling Morris onto the couch Morris had just gotten up from.

“No wonder you needed a brass knuckle to kill Michael,” sneered Stokes as he arrested Morris. “Because you can’t fight fair.”

Testing would later reveal the truth: DNA recovered from the mosquito was matched to sweat on the knuckle, proving conclusively that it was Morris’. DNA from Morris would also be recovered from Michael Carmichael’s body, especially around the bruising from the knuckle. Morris, though offered a plea bargain that would spare him the death penalty, decided to contest the charges, although with Carolina’s trial laws that only called for evaluations of written reports on both sides with little chance for testimony, Morris’ fight wouldn’t likely be a long one. It was here that Gibbs received a phone call.