“This is it?” Jarrod looked at the scarce pile of evidence. The enormity of what he was going to have to do in order to move forward with this case wasn’t lost on him.
“This is it. The case file is thin. You can speak with Detective Kimball, but to be honest, that can be a difficult task.” Harris looked at him, her gloved hand holding the frame of the boy’s bike. It wasn’t even the full bike. Just a partial, sawed in half, piece.
“Who cut it in half?”
“William Smith, apparently.” Harris checked the chain of evidence and frowned. “Tony Roth and Detective Kimball.”
Jarrod snorted. Those names were familiar, all right. “Big surprise there.”
“No kidding.” Her eyes met his.
It was the first time they’d agreed on anything.
“We’re going to have to start at the beginning with this,” Harris said. “How do you want to do it. I’ll start processing all of this again. If we can. It may be too degraded.”
Jarrod made a split second decision. “No. Give it to your girl here. We’ll hit the crime scenes ourselves. The floods are similar now to what they were back then. And Harris, bring your camera. And wear mudboots. It’s going to get sloshy out there.”
“Hey, it’s all part of the job.”
Twenty minutes later he had Harris in his squad car–a Chevy Tahoe–and they were driving down the straight highway that connected Finley Creek County to the one just south. The victim had been from Finley Creek, but his body had been found in Barratt County.
Because of recent trouble that the Barratt County sheriff had had, the Finley Creek post was taking over the case. No surprise; Finley Creek had a better forensics department.
Not that Jarrod thought that was going to make much difference. Forensics didn’t work in every case.
No, it was going to depend on old-fashioned police work.
“Where exactly are we going?”
“Killion Mill Road. It was the smaller mill fifteen miles south of Bracker’s Mill.”
“Thomas Rodrigo lived on Bracker’s Mill Road–our side of the county line. That’s where his bike was found, as well. Signs point to it being the primary crime scene.”
“And his body was found where?”
“Just over the county line. There’s a small tributary that connects Bracker’s Mill with the greater Finley Creek. His body was washed out in the floods.”
“DNA was conclusive?”
“Yes. They ran it through the Wichita Falls lab. Called us this morning.” She’d changed into a pair of jeans that hugged perfect curves and a simple green t shirt. She had coveralls in the seat behind her. But Jarrod preferred his new partner in jeans. They made her look less uptight. More approachable.
Signs of storm damage was everywhere.
His new partner gasped.
“Not been out this way lately?”
“Not since right after the storm. The wind damage was bad enough; this is from floods.”
“Yes. But the floods are what found Thomas Rodrigo for his family.”
“True. What do you know about him?”
“I know nothing. I’m going to speak to the parents myself–without being tainted by old evidence.” The previous detectives on the boy’s case had turned out to be more criminal than anyone they had ever arrested. Jarrod had seen firsthand just how deadly and cruel they were. He doubted they’d given a thirteen-year-old son of two immigrants much priority. Two had retired in the last five years. But Kimball was still around. Still being a jerk to everyone who he thought was beneath him. Especially the women they worked with.
He bit back the anger that thought brought.
Anger didn’t bring answers.
Harris was taking photos as they drove. “What are you doing?”
“Reference photos. We probably won’t need them, but I’d rather be overly cautious.” She never spoke loudly, sometimes he had to strain to hear her. Was that what McKellen liked about her? How he had to lean closer to hear her? She had to do it on purpose.
Funny. He never would have thought she would be the type to manipulate a man that way.
Then again, she’d only yelled at him about a dozen times. She got plenty loud then.
“You really think forensics are going to help us determine who killed this kid–twenty years ago?”
“No. Forensics isn’t like a magic button that does the police work for you. No one in my department has ever said it is. What it does is supports theories. Or disproves them. It’s impartial. Not magical.”
She got snitty awfully quick. Especially with him. “I know that, Harris.”
“I know your opinion of forensics. You think we’re a waste of time and a waste of resources. You’re just like Kimball and all of his buddies.”
Now that was just being mean. Jarrod pulled the Tahoe over to the side of the road. “Ok, Harris, we’re going to talk this out. Right now.”
“I don’t know what your problem is. I’ve never done anything to disparage your position with the TSP. Yet, I’ve heard you say many times how you feel.” She shot him a look from those blue eyes of hers. “I just choose not to pay any attention to idiocy when it comes my way.”
Yes, Harris had a definite bite when she wanted to.
Jarrod fought the urge to grin.
He was going to have a lot of fun needling her. When he could.
“Look, I apologize for every time I disparaged forensics. We have to work together. We might as well give this a chance. Who knows? We may be good together. Yin and yang and all that. And look at this way, I’m just as nice as Daniel McKellen. You just have to get to know me.”
“What you are, Detective Foster, is a pain in the ass. The road to the crime scene is one and three-quarters miles ahead. Let’s get going. We have worked to do. Tommy Rodrigo has waited long enough, don’t you think?”
That was one point on which Jarrod would never argue.
That kid had deserved better.