Rose Kerrigan and Detective Bates
Rose Kerrigan was a pretty, outgoing computer genius. She was raised in Northeast Philly, a product of the Irish-Polish-Italian-Catholic tradition that dominates that area. She went to Roman Catholic high, where she played the cello, was captain of the cheerleading squad, and graduated third in her class. She took her act to Temple University, where she graduated in two and a half years with a BS in computer science. And she graduated summa cum laude.
After Temple, she enrolled in Carnegie-Mellon, in Pittsburgh. In four years she managed to acquire two master's degrees, one in mathematics and the other in computer science. She returned to Philadelphia, enrolled at Penn, and got a PhD in computer science.
After her stint at Penn, she was recruited by just about everyone and anyone. HP, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, the FBI, and the CIA all had approached Rose with top-shelf job offers. Rose, however, chose Brickwall, Inc. Brickwall was an information sciences think tank in Reston, VA. They employed about six hundred people, most of them with PhD's, and worked on system an internet security. Brickwall had done a lot of work for the FBI, the CIA, Apple, Microsoft, and IBM. Rose fit right in, enjoying the work and the people she worked both for and with.
Rose had first met Greg three years ago, when he was working a rather nasty child pornography case. There was a "gentleman," running an Internet porn site, in the town of Avoca, PA. His website featured "girl next door" types doing the nasty in a variety of situations. He was close to the small cities of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, as well as two hours north of Philadelphia. He had no trouble recruiting models for some video and photo shoots.
Most of the pornography the man marketed was not illegal. However, some of the girls were below the legal age of eighteen. Those girls were filmed and photographed and those photos and videos were sold to a child pornography ring. And, to make matters worse, some of the girls had a nasty habit of disappearing, with no trace whatsoever of their whereabouts.
While Detective Bates handled the everyday police investigation, Rose handled the computer side of things, tracing the route of the videos and photos around the web via the Internet. The two of them worked closely, and Rose became impressed by Greg's seriousness, concentration, and willingness to learn. He also had the intuitive abilities of a top-flight mathematician. Rose felt that the man had missed his calling.
Gregory had experience with the sleazier side of life; pornography, prostitution, and murder were not new to him. Rose had never experienced any of this in real life. Greg guided her, gently shielding her, and yet exposed her to the areas he felt she needed to know to help with the investigation. What Rose saw revolted her. At times, she became violently ill when she saw what really went on in the sex trade. Greg was always there to support her, and, if needed, allowed her to cry on his shoulder.
When the case was finally finished, and the pimp indicted and convicted of murder and child pornography charges, it was Rose who supplied the information to Interpol and the FBI that led to arrests in the south of France and northern Italy. The PA State Police, as well as the FBI, provided counseling for the woman. But it was the cool, knowledgeable presence of Detective Gregory Bates, who had seen so much human ugliness in his career that carried the day. He had protected her fragile psyche and helped her heal. It was something she would never forget. So, when he called, asking for assistance, Rose jumped into her Beamer and headed north, armed with two laptops and two external hard drives, and a brain that understood every major computer operating system in use.
She showed up slightly past nine am at Greg's townhouse. Greg fixed her breakfast and coffee, and then filled her in on the case. He held nothing back, including his opinion that this was not a standard murder-suicide. He told her that his gut instinct was to check the computer, and he did not have enough computer knowledge to really get inside the box. Rose smiled, gulped down her eggs, mushrooms, sausage, and coffee, and said, "What are we waiting for?"
The two of them headed out to the crime scene, where Rose jumped on the Dell PC and went right to work. Detective Bates gave the house a quick once-over, and then went back to the bookcase. There were some things there that had caught his eye, and he wanted to take another look. As Rose dug into the PC, Bates began to pull some of the books out of the bookcase, and began to read.
Detective Bates read for about three hours, when Rose roused him and asked him to run for snacks and some bottled water. Greg checked her worktable. She had her laptop opened, had it plugged into the desktop, and had an external hard drive plugged into her laptop. She smiled and explained that she was about to make a complete image of the other computer on the external hard drive. Then he could examine it at his leisure.
Bates went outside, opened his cell phone, and informed the chief that Rose was working on the computer and had his permission to do so. He would take full responsibility. The Parkesburg police chief informed Greg that this was no problem; just let him know when they were finished. Greg headed off to a deli to get some wraps, potato chips, and bottled water.
When Greg got back with the food, Rose was on her cell phone calling in a favor.
"Listen, dork-o, you nerds at Microsoft owe me! Now I want those access codes, or my fee doubles the next time you get a bug you can't get rid of!" The woman was scowling, and obviously upset.
She frowned at the phone for a few minutes, and then hooked her laptop up to the internet connection. She keyed some stuff into the machine, watched the screen intently, and finally shouted, "Got it!" into her cell phone. She disconnected the coax from her laptop, reconnected her laptop to the desktop, keyed a bunch of commands on the keyboard, sat back, said "Thanks!" into the cell phone, disconnected the call, looked up at Greg, and smiled.
"Well, hot stuff," she said, "we have about three hours to waste. Wanna do it?"
"Do what?" asked Greg, with a genial look. "And just why are we wasting three hours?"
"Well," said Rose, batting her eyes in a caricature of sexy and drawing out the "well", "I am making a complete snapshot of the hard drive and the OS. It will be on that external disc you see there. What that means is that both you and I will be able to go over their computer with a fine toothcomb at our leisure. It will take roughly three hours to complete. Now, you can't examine this thing unless you have a PC. That means, Greg hun, we have to go and buy one."
"Find anything interesting?"
"Quite a bit, actually," said Rose with a warm smile. "You may find some of it quite interesting yourself. The lab guys at the police lab may find something, but I doubt if they will find what I have found. Now, you need a PC at home to look at this thing. Up for a shopping trip?"
The two of them wolfed down their lunches, jumped into Greg's Mazda, and headed to Delaware to the computer store. Rose walked through it like she owned the place, picking out this computer, that monitor, this video card, that external hard drive, and this printer. When she was finished, Greg pulled out his plastique fantastique and found himself about twenty-seven hundred dollars poorer.
"I got you an IMAC, Greg hun," said Rose. "I also got you a copy of Windows, which we can install and you will need to see some of the things on their PC. The IMAC is mostly for your use, and is far and away superior to anything Microsoft has on the market. But I will set this thing up after dinner, we can plug the copy of their desktop into it, and I will show you how to start browsing. Fair enough?"
Greg merely nodded. He had been thinking of getting a home computer for a long time. He had tried both the Microsoft-based products and the Apple, and preferred the Apple. For now, he would just let Rose take the lead. After all, this was how she made her living.
When they got back to the house in Parkesburg, the family of the dead woman was beginning to go through some of the possessions. Greg asked them, very gently, to leave the bookcase for now. He estimated he would be done with it by Tuesday. The woman's mother was out of control, openly breaking down and weeping as she touched several items in the house. Her husband asked the inspector if he had any idea what had happened, stating that the couple had seemed very happy. The inspector merely shook his head no, and said the Parkesburg Police Chief would keep them up to date on any new developments. He did not want to give the families any false hopes.
The programs Rose had been running completed. Rose powered down all of the computers and bundled her equipment up in her cases. Greg explained to the relatives of the deceased that she was with the State Police and working the case, which was not completely true. They went back to Greg's townhouse, Greg ordered Chinese for dinner, and Rose went to work setting up his computer. They ate as Windows was loading on Greg's IMAC.
Rose said she had had enough for one day. She would take him through the IMAC tomorrow, and then plug in the external drive with the PC image on it. She would show Greg how to access it, and he could examine it at his leisure. She also would be handy to answer any of Greg's questions.
They finished their dinner, watched a movie, and Rose headed off to bed. She was exhausted after the long drive and the computer work. Greg smoked his pipe and explored the IMAC, beginning to learn a little bit about home computers. He heard Rose finish up in the guest bathroom, holler out a "Niters!" and close the door of the guestroom. Greg went to work. He wasn't the lease bit fatigued. He was getting into the investigation and his adrenaline was flowing. There would be time enough for sleep later.