“A man lay here,” said Erik. “Or an extraordinarily tall woman. He washed his face; those appear to be his whiskers in the sink. The woman’s attire implies that of a prostitute, but there’s no evidence of sexual contact, especially sexual violence. There’s blood on the sheets; the man entered this room after the murder. By why would two men leave while one stays behind to take a nap?”
“But attention to detail is,” concluded Davis.
Erik moved through the rooms, retracing the path Davis Holden had just traversed, mumbling to himself. James looked over his shoulder, pulled out a notepad, and began documenting the necessary information.
“Broken glass under the table – judging by the fall it wasn’t done intentionally. Knocked over by the woman? And the wine, or whatever that is – get a chemical analysis done on that. It’s too sticky, and it doesn’t smell right.
“The bed’s a mess; either he’s a real uneasy sleeper or there was a struggle. But it would appear that he was the only one who slept here, so that–” Erik gestured to the main room “–must have occurred before he came in here.
“Bloody fingerprints on the doorway and floor – he stood here and fell to his knees. Observing his own work – or coming to grips with it?” Erik knelt by the door. “Then he leaves – there’s blood on the door handle. And no other sloppy handprints. There are other fingerprints, sure, but no one else was this messy. Wonder why…”
Davis Holden stared at Erik in startled awe. James watched the detective with mild amusement.
“Yeah,” said James. “He does that.”
* * * * *
Outside, James Mathus and Davis Holden clutched steaming mugs of coffee. Erik Strand stood a few feet away – seemingly oblivious to his surroundings – and stared out across the street, making the remaining Police officers curious and uncomfortable. They bustled around him as he stood, unmoving. The ambulance pulled away, carrying away the corpse. The crime scene was slowly losing fervor. Davis had made his official statement to the press, and had wandered back, eyeing the two Federal Agents suspiciously.
“You mentioned circumstances,” Holden said warily.
“If this is an isolated incident, then Erik and I shake everyone’s hand and go home,” said James. “But we’ll examine the evidence and determine if this is a federal matter.”
“We’ve been contacted by someone locally who we believe has information about the series of homicides,” Erik chimed in.
James rolled his eyes. “Remember what I told you about discretion?”
“The suspect in the earlier cases,” Davis asked carefully. “Was he ever identified?”
“Yes,” James nodded. “Oh, yes.”
James was silent.
“You have his whereabouts?”
James pursed his lips. “He has been dead nearly ten years.”
“So you believe this is a copycat killer?” Davis cocked his head to one side.
James had no answer.