Crime & thrillers

Murder at the House in the Middle

Gregory A. Sallee

Murder at the House in the Middle

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Day One
Tuesday

The sky was gray with the smell of rain in the air. There was a storm coming, everyone knew it, but no one knew when it would start. Detective Tom James, blond and tall, at exactly six foot four, and wearing a gray suit walked up the path. Tom was a family man with a wife and two young kids. He had loved his wife since they were in high school together. He loved his family more than a dog loves his bone and was very protective of his time with his family, to the point that he was rarely late getting home. Tom worked hard to uncover the reasons behind the crime no matter how obscure the story was. In this process he would find the killer and be able to give more information to the victim’s family about why they’d lost their loved one.
As he arrived, he noticed that the house was a modest two-story with a yellow exterior and brown shutters at the windows, situated between two other houses on the block. There was a path moving from the sidewalk to the front door that was lined with rose bushes on either side. One window showed into the living room and two on the second story. The yard was well kept too. As Detective James walked into the house, the smell of rain surrendered to the smell of death. The house was well kept. The living room looked as if it had just been cleaned. There was a couch under the window and a wooden coffee table in front of it. There were two end tables with a tall lamp on each one on either side of the couch. There was a chair in the corner with a floor lamp behind it and an ottoman in front of it. In other words, it was like millions of other American homes.
The kitchen was a different story; it looked a little more lived-in. There were a few dishes in the sink. The breakfast nook table was a small round wooden table with four chairs around it and a pile of what looked like a week’s worth of mail. There were crumbs on the table as if someone had just finished eating a meal. Broken glass on the floor lay in a pool of water mixed with what appeared to be blood. There was blood all over the kitchen, a bloody knife on the floor and a bloody trail leading out the back door, fading on the grass right before the back gate.
Detective Thomas James found Detective Turner in the kitchen saying, “How did you get here?”
Detective Mike Turner, a stocky man about five foot eleven inches tall and wearing a blue suit, was kneeling next to the body. He was looking over what appeared to be stab wounds made by the knife lying on the floor. Mike loved to eat, which showed with his extra padding. He was single but didn’t go out a lot, living alone in an apartment. Mike was okay with being alone but was always on the lookout for someone to spend his life with. He didn’t like others fussing over him and trying to get him a date. He figured that he would find the right person when the time was right. He was always looking for the truth in everything. Mike was best friends with his partner Tom James.
Detective Turner said, “I rode over with the coroner.”
“What happened Saturday last night? Why did you cancel your date?
“I didn’t feel like going, she wasn’t my type.”
“Who are you kidding? You don’t have a type.”
“I just don’t like set ups.”
“Okay, okay. What do we have here?”
“The victim’s name is Kathy Jefferson. She is 21 years old and appears to have been home alone. It looks like she let the killer in; there isn’t any forced entry. She appears to have been stabbed to death with the kitchen knife that is on the floor. The knife was taken from the butcher block on the counter.
“With all the blood all over the room, it looks like a frenzied attack. This could be a crime of passion,” commented Detective James.
Mike asked the coroner, “What is the approximate time of death?”
Dr. Shonna Johnson answered, “Based on liver temperature it looks like it was Sunday between 1 and 5 in the afternoon.”
The room had blood on the counter, cabinets, and in a big pool on the floor surrounding the victim. She was leaning up against the cabinet with her arms at her sides. Blood was splattered through her long blond hair, and her baby blue eyes were wide open, with a look of fear. She was wearing a blue tank top, tan shorts, and white sandals.
Detective James asked, “Who discovered the body?”
Turner responded, “She is right over there. Her name is Kaitlyn Thompson; she is the victim’s best friend she is pretty upset.”
A young woman in her early twenties with long black hair wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.
As Detective James walked over to her, he got out his pad of paper and a pen. Kait appeared to be nervous and scared.
“How are you holding up?”
“I don’t understand what happened,” she said, sobbing, “She was so happy. How could this happen to her? Do you think that this was random, or could he come back?”
”It’s hard to say. My name is Tom. How did you know her?”
“We met in high school and we became close. She is my best friend.”
The detective asked, “Do you know of anyone that would want to hurt her?”
“No, everyone liked her. No one would hurt her.”
“Where are her parents?”
“They all went to the beach for two weeks, Kathy came back early because school started yesterday after spring break. I should call them,” she said.
“Don’t worry about it; we will call them. What were you doing here?”
“I came here looking for her because she wasn’t in class yesterday or today and she didn’t answer when I called so, I came over to see why she was missing school. I used the spare key that they keep in the plant on the front porch. When I came in, she was just sitting there. She looked terrified.”
“Where were you on Sunday between 1 and 5 in the afternoon?”
“I was at home working on my paper.”
Detective James asked, “Was there anyone else there that could corroborate your whereabouts?”
“Yes, my parents were home, downstairs.”
“Thank you, we may contact you again.”
“Yes, I want to help find this monster.”
“What is your address?”
“52697 Hanover Street.”
“And phone number?”
“(555) 555–2368.”
Mike walked over to Tom and said, “I’m done with the body and it is headed to the morgue for the autopsy.”
Tom said, “Let’s head back to the station and see where we stand with what we have so far. Besides, we need to contact the parents. They are still on vacation.”
Once in the unmarked car, the two detectives started to theorize about the case.
Thinking out loud, Tom mused, “I wonder if there was a boyfriend. It’s hard to believe that a young woman that attractive wouldn’t have a boyfriend.”
Mike responded, “She could have had a fight with the friend that found her. Finding her would give her a good reason to be there. She could have killed her over the weekend, waited a few days and when no one found her she could have gone over and ‘found her’ then called 911.”
Tom said, “Let’s look into her alibi and see where she was at the time of death.”
Mike stated, “Why don’t we go to her parents’ house now before she can talk to them?”
Tom said, “Sounds good to me.”
They drove over to Kait Thompson’s house to see her parents Rodger and Lucy Thompson. On the way, Tom got on the phone and called Kathy’s parents. Susan answered the phone.
Susan answered, “Hello?”
“Hello, this is Detective James. I’m from the Hollow Brook Police Department. I have some bad news that I need to share with you. Are you alone or is there someone there with
you?”
“My husband is here with me. What is it? Has our house been broken into?”
“Ma’am, please have a seat before I go on.”
“Okay, I’m sitting down. Please tell me what is going on.”
Her voice sounded like she was in shock. She could only imagine what the detective was going to say next.
“We found your daughter this morning in your kitchen.”
“Oh my God, did something happen?”
Her voice was now shaking and quivering as she spoke.
“Yes, she was found dead on the floor. She had been stabbed to death.”
“No, you have to be wrong. That couldn’t have happened. We live in a safe neighborhood.”
“I don’t want to get into it over the phone. So, when you get back come straight down to the station and we will go over everything. You won’t be able to go home; it is still a crime scene. I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you. We will be heading back right away. We should be there by 4 o’clock.”
As they drove up to the Thompson house the street looked like any other street in suburbia. There was a group of kids playing basketball in a driveway a few doors down and a couple of kids riding their bikes in the street. The yard looked well kept. The grass appeared to have just been cut. There was a tree that provided shade for the yard and the front of the house. It was a two-story house painted blue with white trim with a purple front door. There were two windows upstairs, one of them by the tree, and one large window in the front of the house on the first floor. There was a 3-car garage attached to the front of the house.
When they got to the Thompsons’ home, they walked up to the door and rang the doorbell. They heard footsteps and then the door opened. There stood a beautiful woman in her late fifties, about five foot six, with long black hair wearing a long flowing red dress.
“Hello, can I help you?”
Tom said, “Hello, Mrs. Thompson?”
“Yes, I am Lucy Thompson.”
“I am Detective James, and this is Detective Turner. Can we ask you a few questions?”
“What is this about?”
Mike said, “We are just wondering if your daughter was home on Sunday between the hours of 1 to 5 pm?”
“Why, what does it matter if she was home or not?”
Mike said, “We are conducting an investigation and she may have been a witness.”
Lucy responded like the strike of a rattlesnake to protect her child from anyone and everyone that posed as a threat to her.
“Why, do you think that she is involved? My daughter wouldn’t be involved in anything illegal.”
Tom said, “Well, we have to see if she could have seen anything and if she hasn’t then maybe she knows of someone that might have been around to see something. Besides, she is the one who discovered Kathy’s body.”
“Oh my God. She is going to be upset. I’ll give her a call.”
“Could you wait just one minute and tell us if she was home?”
“Okay. Yes, she was. She was in her room all day studying.”
“Which room is Kate’s room? Is it the one at this front corner of the house?”
“Yes, why do you ask?”
“No reason. Thank you for your time.”
Tom and Mike walked away as the door shut behind them.
Mike turned to Tom and asked, “Why did you ask which room hers is?”
“You didn’t see it? There is a tree just made for climbing outside of her window. So, her alibi is a little shaky. She could have easily climbed out of the window and gone over to Kathy’s house.”
“That sounds like a possibility.”
“Hey, let’s get some lunch before heading back.”
Mike responded, “Where do you want to get something to eat at?”
“I was thinking Chinese. Let’s go to Ming Palace.”
“Sounds good to me. I’ve been wanting Chinese lately. Why don’t we get Chinese more often?”
The restaurant was in a strip mall containing a grocery store, liquor store, and several other small retail stores. They parked right in front of Ming Palace. It was decorated with the traditional Chinese décor. There was a small dining room with three booths lining each side of the dining room with two tables in the middle of the room. There were red vinyl seats and seat backs on the booths and metal chairs at the tables in the middle of the room. The air was filled with the aroma of chicken, beef, and pork searing in the kitchen. A waitress greeted them as they walked in. She was wearing a brown and red vertical striped blouse and black pants with white tennis shoes.
“Sit anywhere that you like, gentlemen,” she said with a pleasant smile.
They sat down at one of the booths across from each other and the waitress walked over and handed them menus.
The waitress said, “My name is Jiayi and I will be taking care of you tonight. Can I get you something to drink?”
Tom stated, “That is an interesting name.”
“It’s Chinese. It means auspicious one.”
“That is really interesting. I will have an iced tea.”
Mike said, “I will have a Coke.”
“I will be back in a few minutes to take your order.”
Tom said, “Okay, thank you.”
Tom and Mike studied their menus like they were studying for a test.
Jiayi came back to the table. “Do you know what you would like to have?”
Tom said, “Yes, I will have the orange chicken with fried rice.”
“I would like to have the beef with broccoli and fried rice.”
“That is a good choice,” Jiayi responded with a smile. “I’ll have that right out for you.”
Mike stated, “I’m looking forward to this lunch. I have been craving Chinese food.”
“You are always craving all food.”
“True.”
“That tree outside of Kait Thompson’s room is really bothering me. I think that there is more going on than what she is telling us.”
“Yeah, I know something is off.”
“I’m hoping that those canvasing reports show us something new; otherwise we don’t have any more leads to follow.”
“Also, maybe her parents will have an idea of who would do this to her.”
Tom said, “Yeah maybe.”
When the waitress came back with the food, the air around the booth was filled with the smell of orange chicken, fried rice and beef with broccoli.
“Here we go. I hope that you gentlemen enjoy,” Jiayi said with a flirtatious smile.
After a bite, Tom said, “I have to admit this is really good.”
“Yeah it is. This sauce is really good and actually seasoned properly.”
“Well, if it has to do with food, you would know.”
Tom and Mike ate their lunch, barely saying a word as they enjoyed their food.
As they finished, Tom said, “That was delicious. We really should look through the canvasing reports as soon as we can and see if anything looks out of place.”
Jiayi brought the check to the table.
“Just take care of this when you’re ready.”
Tom looked at the check and it said the cost was $32.58. They put $41 in the folder and gave it back to Jen.
“Okay, I will have the change back in a minute.”
“Keep the change.”
“Thank you. Have a good day.”
Mike responded, “You too.”
As they left the restaurant it started to rain, just a slight drizzle.
Mike started to yell at the other drivers. “Don’t you know how to drive? I swear people forget how to drive as soon as it starts to rain.”
“You know they can’t hear you, right?”
“I know, but it makes me feel better.”
“Yeah, but it hurts my ears when you yell in the car like that.”
“I’m sorry. It’s just that they frustrate me so bad. It’s just a little rain.”
“Would it be better if I drive?”
“Maybe it would. I will pull over up here and you can drive in this mess.”
Mike pulled in the driveway of a gas station up under the awning. They got out and switched places, Tom getting into the driver’s side and Mike into the passenger’s side. Tom pulled out of the driveway and into traffic. They drove about ten blocks without saying a word.
Then Tom said, “I believe that the rain is getting worse. I have been steadily moving the wipers to go faster and now they are on constantly.”
“Can you still see?”
“For now, but it is still getting worse. Have the parents gotten back yet?”
“They are due back in about an hour.”
“Let’s go back to the station and meet them there. I promised that we would be there to meet them. I don’t want to keep them waiting.”
Tom drove back to the station and got there at about the same time as a car drove up in the front. The station was on a busy street with well-kept grass and bushes in the front. The detectives walked in through the back door from the police parking lot. The lot was filled with marked and unmarked police cars, with a staircase leading into the building leading to the back door of the station. In front of the building the Jeffersons were arriving walking up to the main entrance to the station. They walked in to the station and up to the front counter. The room was filled with chairs in the waiting area with half a dozen people sitting in them waiting for various reasons. There was a front counter stretching across the back of the room with several officers sitting behind it including the desk sergeant.
The desk sergeant asked, “Can I help you?”
“Yes, my name is Paul Jefferson. We are looking for Detective James.”
“Okay, I will let him know that you are here.”
The desk sergeant called Detective James on the phone.
“Hello.”
“There is someone by the name of Paul Jefferson here for you.”
Tom said, “Okay, tell him that I will be right out.”
Sergeant Gonzales turned to the Jeffersons and said, “He will be right out. Please have a seat.”
The Jeffersons walked over and took a seat in the waiting area.
“Hello, you must be the Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson?”
“Yes, I’m Paul. You must be Detective James?”
“Yes, but you can call me Tom. Why don’t we go to the back and talk?”
Tom led them toward the back of the building. As they walked toward the back, they saw lines of desks with computers on them, desk chairs behind them and office chairs next to them in a large room with smaller offices lining the sides of the room. They went back to one of the private rooms to talk. When they walked into the interview room there was a couch and a couple of chairs surrounding a single coffee table. They shut the doors.
“Please have a seat,” Tom said in a calm voice. “Can I get you something to drink or eat?”
Susan reached for some tissue that was on the table, but the box was almost empty. Susan and Paul still seemed to be reeling from the shock of finding out that their daughter had been murdered.
“I couldn’t eat right now,” Susan exclaimed, “I still feel sick.”
“I’m really sorry for your loss.” Mike stated, “We would like to ask you a few questions about your daughter’s relationships in her life.”
Paul responded, “Yes but I don’t see how we can help. Didn’t someone break in?”
Tom said, “It looks like she let the person in that killed her; we think that she knew her killer.”
Susan said, “Oh my God, I don’t know of anyone that would hurt her. She is—I mean was—the sweetest person. She was liked by everyone.”
“Well, someone wasn’t happy with her.”
“Anything that we can do to help?”
“Good, that’s what we need. Is there anyone that either of you can think of that would want to hurt her?”

Format: 13.5 x 21.5 cm
Number of Pages: 210
ISBN: 978-1-64268-161-1
Release Date: 27.03.2020
USD 28,99
USD 17,99