DEATH OF A WASHINGTON MADAME
“According to the maid, everything seems in its place, except for the big gold cross she wore around her neck.”
Fiona looked toward the body and the Eggplant’s gaze followed.
“She said the victim wore this big gold cross around her neck, even when she went to sleep. As hysterical as she was, she noted this. I checked. He apparently didn’t pull it off, but removed it by slipping it over her head. Maybe he found religion after he did it. An epiphany.”
“Nothing else? No money? No jewelry?”
“Her pocketbook was opened, the contents spilled. Nothing in it but lipstick, change purse with a few pennies. No wallet. The maid told us that she kept the wallet in her desk drawer. There’s a small office adjoining the bedroom. It was still there.”
“And no jewelry missing?”
“Nada. As far as we know now.”
“Nothing missing in any of the other parts of the house?”
“Hard to tell, but the maid doesn’t think so and there’s no evidence that the perp went into any other rooms. Just here, backstairs, basement and out the way he came in.”
“One additional floor, the third. The maid said she never goes up there. No one has for years. Just closed guest rooms.”
“And nothing taken,” the Eggplant mused, shaking his head and directing his gaze through the windows. Looking out, Fiona could see TV crews setting up their equipment and a knot of reporters forming on the street in front of the entrance to the house. The Eggplant turned and faced her.
“No security system?”
“Oh they have one, but they haven’t activated it in years.”
“In this neighborhood?”
“According to Roy,” Fiona said shooting a glance at Gail. “They had Marshall.”
“The dog. He apparently died last week,” Fiona said.
“Better than any security system,” Gail said. “They probably got used to having him around and let the security system slide.”
“Actually,” Fiona said. “According to Roy, they haven’t had any trouble. Roy thinks it’s because the drug dealers don’t want anything to call attention to the neighborhood.”
“I don’t buy that,” Gail said. “More like a big house such as this is perceived as being well protected.”
“Until last night,” the Eggplant said, shaking his head.
“We’re wrapping. This baby is ready for the freezer,” Flanagan interrupted. He was a florid faced man with red hair starting to go gray. He had been with MPD for more than twenty-five years and was fighting the idea of retirement. Everyone knew he was a man who articulated the prejudices of the past, and since it was a given, he was tolerated affectionately, a kind of outspoken bigot whose speech carried a message of prejudice of which there was no evidence in his actions.
The Eggplant nodded and two techies came in carrying a stretcher and prepare for the removal of the body.
Fiona had already called Dr. Benson’s office. He was the Medical Examiner, her closest friend in the Department. She requested a high priority autopsy.
“Any theories?” the Eggplant asked Fiona.
“Too early, chief,” Fiona said.
“We need this one, Sergeant,” the Eggplant reminded her.
“That’s why we’re not going to sing songs unless we know the lyrics.” She looked at Gail who nodded her head in solidarity.
Suddenly they heard a commotion in front of the house. Looking out, Fiona saw William Shipley and his wife emerge from a black limousine. The Governor looked pale and somber. Madeline, in high Hollywood mourning style wore large sunglasses and a kerchief on her head. Led by a large burly black man, who performed intimidating blocking maneuvers through the crowd, the two moved silently through the knot of chirping reporters.
“Don’t put her in the bag,” the Eggplant said to Flanagan. “Get her downstairs quick. I don’t want him to see this mess. Tell the uniforms to clear them for downstairs only. We’ll get an ID of the victim from the Governor.”
Gail barked the order into her walkie-talkie.
“I’ll be down in a minute,” the Eggplant said, turning back to absorb the scene.
The men discreetly laid out the body with a view to modesty, then put it on a stretcher and covered it with a blanket. Fiona led the way down the stairs to the hallway, an ornate area dominated by a huge rock crystal chandelier. Shipley and his wife, following in the wake of the larger man, came in the door stopping as the stretcher reached the landing.
“It’s alright,” Fiona said to the uniform who manned the door.
“Him, too?” the uniform asked, meaning the large man, obviously a bodyguard for the couple. He was big, thick-necked, fierce-looking and unsmiling and tailored to hide what was undoubtedly an Uzi beneath his jacket. Probably an ex-lineman for a pro-football team, Fiona speculated, serving the Governor and his wife as a combination bodyguard, watchdog and professional intimidator.
“Absolutely,” Madeline Newton said, addressing herself to the bodyguard. “Clayton is indispensable.” She looked toward the man, whose expression was impassive, her eyes hidden behind large sunglasses. It seemed obvious that she called the shots in terms of Clayton’s duties.
Fiona nodded, despite this minor violation of the integrity of the crime scene.
“I’m sorry Governor,” Fiona said, appropriately somber. “Too bad we have to meet again under these circumstances.” Shipley nodded, obviously shaken and grieving. Madeline, acknowledging Fiona, bit her lip and said nothing.