Detective Gregory Bates
Detective Bates, of the Pennsylvania State Police, leaned on the rail of his deck at his townhouse, puffed his pipe a bit, and looked at the night sky. He had that funny tingle in his gut. When his gut tingled, it was a sign that he was to throw out the logic and reason and solve the case with intuition and instinct. And this case just didn't make any sense, at least on the surface, by any measure.
Gregory Bates was African-American, fifty-two years old, tall at six foot one, and weighed one hundred ninety-five pounds. His hair was starting to recede, and his doctor was on his case about his smoking. He suffered from the normal male middle-aged maladies.
Bates had spent his entire career doing police work for the PA State Police. He finished high school in Downingtown, PA, did a hitch in the US Navy, enrolled at West Chester State College (now West Chester University) after his discharge, and got a degree in law enforcement. He joined the PA State Police, where, for a few years, he jockeyed a cruiser around the local highways. When the promotion came through for a detective's shield, Bates jumped on it.
Detective Bates had a natural talent for the work, solving some of the roughest cases on record and always delivering plenty of evidence for prosecutors to use. Some of the hardest cases were the ones that were not so obvious. This was one of those cases. The local police force in Parkesburg, PA, thought that they had it pretty well handled. But, just to be on the safe side, and having no detectives on a small town police department, they had called in the state police for help. Bates lived just outside of West Chester and he got the assignment.
The case looked like a basic murder-suicide. The woman, twenty-seven years of age, had been shot through the left temple. The man, twenty-eight years of age, then put the .44 caliber pistol into his mouth and pulled the trigger. All of this happened in the living room of their rural home. But Bates' belly was tingling. It did not add up.
The young man was originally from Essington, PA. He attended West Chester University and got his degree in Information Sciences. He had a good job at QVC as a web developer. The woman was from the Pittsburgh area, and attended the same school, one year behind him. She got her BS in Secondary Education and was employed as a Social Studies teacher in the Downingtown schools. They had gotten married three months after her graduation. She was working toward permanent certification. Once she had received her Master's Degree, the couple would start on their family.
The couple appeared to be happily married and settled into their lifestyle. And that, Bates knew, was the problem. Murder-suicides almost always occur in one of two situations. The first is a hostage crisis. The second is an estranged or divorced couple. They are not living together, and there is a great deal of tension. These two did not even come close to that pattern.
The neighbors described them as quite happily married, and sociable, but not party animals. They attended church regularly. The man was a bit of an introvert, but had a "boys night out" on occasion with some friends. The woman had callers, mostly other teachers, and belonged to a sorority from West Chester U. As an alumnus, she remained active with other alumni and advised the undergraduate women in the group.
The two were friendly, congenial, and supportive of neighbors. They also liked to travel, taking three and four-day weekends visiting major cities in the USA and Canada. The woman often said that each city, even the smaller ones, had their own distinct flavor or style. Her husband seemed to enjoy these jaunts with her, armed with a camera and taking hundreds of pictures.
This was where things failed to add up. This couple seemed to have everything going for them. In addition, there are usually signs of domestic violence around the house, such as furniture overturned, dishes broken, etc., during this sort of affair. The only sign of violence was the coaxial cable. The cable came into the house right below the picture window, and was split, one going to the TV and the other to the computer. The coax had been violently yanked from the wall and lay like some dead blacksnake on the floor.
And then there was the cryptic and most unusual message on the PC. It was a simple word document, unnamed and not yet saved, that was on the screen. The message was as follows:
"They have found us. They are coming. They will be here before long. I cannot fight them or resist. There is only one thing left to do to protect my wife; I, however, will be damned. May Jesus Christ have mercy on our souls! My love, I hope to join you soon in a better place. And I will love you always!"
Greg tamped out his pipe, went back inside, and put on the teakettle. He liked to drink tea; it helped him think. He sat down at his kitchen table and looked at the case notes he had made, all on bits and pieces of notepaper. Tomorrow he would go into the office and convert them into a status report to be sent to his Captain. But for now, he just read and reread them. Nothing was jumping out at him, screaming, "Look at me!" He waited for the water to come to a boil, made his tea, and then picked up the phone.
The first call was to the Parkesburg police chief. Gregory requested that the house be secured for the weekend. The bodies had been moved to the morgue, and the families notified. As it was a Wednesday evening, Henry wanted four days to go over the house more thoroughly. The request was easy. The family would be grieving, and too busy working out the funeral arrangements to check on their loved ones' possessions. The chief said it would be no problem. He told Greg to take his time; the chief wanted this case wrapped up nice and tidy like a Christmas present.
The second call was to a private home just outside of Reston, VA. The woman was a computer expert. Greg got her answering machine.
"Hello. This is Rose. Getting any? I guess not, or else you would not be on the phone. Tell your story!"
Greg chuckled when he heard the cheerleader voice on the other end of the line. He left a message to call him, either on his cell or his landline, went back to his tea, and opened a book on the life of Alexander the Great. Greg enjoyed biographies, and he needed a break from the case.
After roughly forty minutes, his phone rang. Greg answered it immediately with his usual response.
"Hey, hot stuff! How's you?" Greg instantly recognized the perky cheerleader voice on the other end. Rose Kerrigan had gotten back to him pretty quickly.
"I need a favor," said the detective. "Computer stuff. I know how to use one, but I need someone to dig deep inside and check this one out. It is part of a case I am working. How soon can you get here?"
"Hey," said Rose, her voice getting serious, "if anyone here owes, I owe you. Now, how soon do you need me? I can be up by Friday morning. Is that soon enough?"
"Fair enough," said Greg. "But there is a catch. You don't know where I live."
"Silly! I can call you on my cell and you can talk me in. I will leave about 4:30; that gets me there by nine."
"Don't you know it is illegal to talk on a cell and drive?"
"You're a state cop," giggled Rose. "If I get a ticket, you can fix it for me. Now, is that time okay?"
"Sure thing," said Greg, smiling. "Call me when you get to Wilmington, DE. It is pretty easy from there. Oh, and plan for the weekend. I may need you until Sunday."
"Ciao!" said Rose. "See you then."
Greg hung up, and made some fresh tea. His original mug had gone cold. He would read about Alexander for a bit and then get some sleep. Tomorrow, he would visit the crime scene again, where he would do another inspection. Then he would head to the office and write up his findings.