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Dear Ellie - Part 28

Photo by jlgsgirl Photography: Used by permission

Photo by jlgsgirl Photography: Used by permission

Disclaimer

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental

Last Time

When we left last time, Scott found a super big clue, if only a DNA match could be made.


Stella yanked her vehicle into the Branson's driveway and ran up the steps. Ellie met her at the door before she had time to ring the doorbell. Scott ran to get the note. The three of them sat at the table looking it over, waiting for Stella to say something. Finally . . .

"Child, there's not much I can do. We don't know which bus stop. It could be any. I assume it is a school bus stop, but my goodness Child, there's so many. I know the Brentwood police can't cover all of them."

Scott spoke up. "Well, can we also assume it's a bus stop on Bookman Avenue? That should narrow it down quite a bit, don't you think? Could we assume it's the closest stop to 2620 Bookman?"

"We might be able to do that, Child, but there is another problem."

Scott wasn't interested in hearing about problems. He wanted action. "Okay, okay. So what's the other problem?"

"We don't know when. It could be any day between now and December 12."

Ellie was growing impatient as well. "Stella, we can't sit here and just do nothing. Another child is going to go missing. There must be something that can be done."

"Honey, you're overlooking the main problem but not to worry. No child will go missing. You're holding the order. It got as far as your dog. It was never delivered to the abductor. He knows nothin' about it."

Ellie and Scott had to agree. There wouldn't be an abduction, but Scott had one last question. "Stella, can you tell anything from the handwriting. Does it match the other notes?"

I was lookin' at that, Child. To me, it looks like someone else's writin.' I'll take it to the lab anyway, and see if we can find anything. What would really be nice would be some DNA. That would be a big break. I'll get back to ya with the results."

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Continuing

Stella was off to find Calvin at the lab. "Hey, Cal. Check this out - ya know, fingerprints, DNA, the whole nine yards. And don't mention this to Larson. Jus' gimme the results as soon as possible, I think we may have somethin' here. It's the Branson case." Cal took the paper and began to run the tests. Crime was down this year, and he was always glad to have Stella bring him some work.

Stella turned to leave. She made an abrupt turn as she exited through the door only to bump into Larson. Both were surprised. It was obvious to Stella that Larson had been listening to the conversation on the other side of the door. " Oh, 'scuse me, Larson. I didn't see you standin' there with your ear against the wall. How clumsy of me!" Larson's face turned bright red as he faked his apology.

After Stella disappeared from view, Larson quietly entered the lab. "Hello, Cal. What's happening?"

"Oh, Stella wanted me to check this paper for fingerprints and DNA."

"And what paper might that be?"

Cal was afraid he'd ask, and he did. "Oh, just a paper she wanted to be checked out. I don't really know what it's about."

"Cal, why is it neither you nor her followed protocol on this?"

"What do you mean?"

"Surely you know all lab testing is to be authorized by me or another detective. And surely you know Stella's just a cop. She has no authority to be using the lab for her own personal work. Okay. Okay. Not a big deal. Just make sure I get the results. I'll handle that information."

Cal waited a moment. Then he carefully poked his head through the doorway. He looked both left and right. Larson was out of sight and just as carefully he made his way to Stella's cubicle.

"Stel, Larson's on to us. He wants a copy of the results before I give them to you. How do you want to play this?"

"I'm pretty sure I know what the results will be. There will be no fingerprints. Larson's too careful for that. The only fingerprints you'll find will be Scott's. He's the only one to handle it, 'cept for Larson. DNA? If ya find any it will be Scott's. The handwritin' - ya are gonna do a handwritin' analysis, right?" Cal nodded.

"The handwritin' analysis will match the other handwritin' samples. So ya tell him the handwritin's inconclusive jus' like before. You found no fingerprints or DNA. Now, to cover ourselves. Tell him I was on a run when Mrs. Branson called. I stopped at the Branson residence while passing through. I couldn't find Larson when I returned but felt it was an emergency so I hurried it to you. You didn't know I didn't talk to Larson about it. Now, go see what that paper really tells us."

Cal hurried back to the lab hoping to avoid eagle-eye Larson.

Cal pushed open the lab door. He couldn't believe it! Where was the paper he was examining? it was gone - nowhere to be found. A quick text went out to Stella. She came running down the hall.

"What is it, Cal? Wha's so important?"

"The page from the notebook. It's gone. I lost the evidence."

"You los' nothin'. Cal. It was stolen. And besides, it wasn't officially entered as evidence. Even the thief, Larson, said so, You or me have no authority, remember?"

"Looking for something?" Larson stood in the doorway waving the evidence above his head and smirking the whole time. "Now, you both know all evidence has to go through me. Obviously, that didn't happen. So, what's all the secrecy about?"

Stella gave him the line she rehearsed with Cal, but Larson didn't buy it. He returned the page to Cal. "Get me the results sooner than possible." Then he turned to Stella. "Washington, aren't you on street patrol?" She started at the ceiling iin annoyance.

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The phone was ringing at the Branson house. Scott answered. "Hello, Branson's." The phone was silent for a moment. Then a computer-generated voice began to speak.

"Something big is going down at the Brownsville Golden Age Nursing Home this Saturday morning. Maybe I'll see you there."

That was followed by another time of silence, then a click.

"Hello. Hello. Are you still there? Hello." Scott's attempts fell on deaf ears.

"Ellie, Ellie, come quick!" Ellie always dreaded it when Scott would use the word quick. She knew something was going to happen that she didn't want to happen - like Scott getting involved with the case again. Dutifully, she entered the room.

"Ellie, someone called to tip me off about a deal taking place at the nursing home this weekend. They said it would be 'something big.' Call Stella. Let her know."

"Scott, are you sure it's really that important? We've bothered Stella enough."

It's that important."

Ellie dialed Stella's personal number. She didn't want to involve Larson. At least, she was hoping he could be avoided.

"Stella Washington. How may I help you?"

"Stella, it's Ellie. Scott just got a call from someone claiming there would be another child exchange at Brownsville this weekend. Can you be there?"

"Child, I'll be at a conference beginnin' Friday and I won't be back until nex' Tuesday. Besides, I really don't have jurisdiction in Brownsville. I will call the Brownsville police and let them know wha's goin' on, but I'll need more information. Oops! I have to go. Cal jus' got the results from the note we gave him. I'll talk to ya later."

Stella was anxious to hear the results. "Okay, so what do ya got, Cal?"

"First of all, Larson's gone for the day. I was supposed to tell him first. So you don't know anything about this, right?"

"Right."

"Okay, so it goes like this. Fingerprints - I lifted two sets. One from Scott Branson. One from Larson. Larson's was the freshest. After all, he touched it last. Of course, Branson gave it to you, so it's logical his prints would show, too. We know at least two who touched the note, but it doesn't prove anything.

"Handwriting analysis - matches the other two samples. That would be Larson and Alexander.

"DNA - you're going to love this, Stel. All the DNA I could get came from a dog. There was dried saliva all over the paper."

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Stella laughed and then took time to think. "Okay, Give Larson the results jus' as you gave 'em to me, but don't tell him about Scott's fingerprints. I know they can be 'splained away, but he's out to hang Scott. This much I know. Scott is innocent. My gut tells me. Good work, Cal. And thanks."

© 2017 William Kovacic

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