“I’ll be right down.” He glanced at the time on his cell. He wasn’t expecting Warszawa until after lunch. Something must have come up.
Since his first consultation for the RCMP he’d been called in on several cases where documents were concerned. Soft-wear he had developed enabled him to quickly ascertain if a photo had been doctored. In a couple of instances he had been able to remove the the alteration to reveal what was there before. He’d refined that to do the work on the child porn case.
He went down the back stairs to his office. Robert Warszawa was already sitting in front of his desk.
“Could you explain to Ushio (Dan’s assistant) I am not a good sergeant but a dogged Inspector.” he reached out to shake Dan’s hand.
“I’ve tried. He once asked why you don’t wear red.”
“That is what I’d call racial profiling.” Robert laughed. “I know our appointment wasn’t till this afternoon but …”
“You had to know what I’d found?”
Dan took a folder from side file drawer in his desk.
“I hate to tell you but the these are authentic.”)
“Tech talk first. These are repros.” He put on a pair of cotton gloves and spread the photographs on the desk.
“Crap I was afraid of that.”)
“You mean others made from the same negative?” Robert rubbed the scruff of beard along his chin line.
“No these are copies of photographs. Clearly someone didn’t have the negatives but waned copies of them for some reason.”
“Copies of copies?”
“Not unusual. We used to do that fairly frequently here. Someone wanting to share family photos from an old album. These copies are third generation versions. From the quality of the image. Each such retake affects the image quality.”
“They weren’t scanned?”
“I doubt it. It was like taking a picture of a picture. Only we’d do it under very controlled conditions to get best possible quality. These are okay but not best possible, I’d say. Now I could venture as to what camera was used to make this copies but I can’t tell what took the originals.”
“From the content? They’re just a bunch of holiday snaps. The sort a Dad may take. Beach. Amusement Park. Probably Florida from the hotels in the background.”
“I figured that much.”
“But …” Dan pushed one of them from the others. “In this one of the crime scene.”
“Where you found them on the coffee table.”
“Why aren’t there any blood spatters on any of them.’
“What do you mean?”
“Look for yourself. Here …”
Robert came over the desk and leaned over Dan to see what Dan was pointing out.
“There’s spatter on the napkins, shot glasses. If these were there at the time of the shooting there would be spatters on the top one at least. Nothing.”
“Fuck me! So they were put there after.”
“Or the top couple were taken. But there’s no spatter on any of them. I presume you dusted them for prints?”
“No! We assumed they were there all along.”
“Which brings me to my next question? Did you find any other photos like these at the crime scene. An album of family photos?”
“Nope. Just these.”
“Hmm. Okay, then this will seem even odder to you. You realize that these are random. They’ve been made to look like a set but they aren’t.”
“For one thing there are different families in each of them.”
“As in not the same people. Sure at first glance they all look like the same mom, pop and the three kids at the beach, at the amusement park, on the McDonald’s terrace. They are in fact three different sets of people.”
Warszawa took the photos and studied each of them carefully.
“Here’s a comparison I work up for you.”
Dan opened a file on his desk top computer that had isolated the faces of the families and place them side by side.
“Holy fuck!” Warszawa said. “What the … ”
“I’d say these probably aren’t the victim’s at all but left there by the killer.”
“Interesting theory Dan but leave that sort of wild speculation to us professionals.” Warszawa got up to leave. “You have anything more surprises for me?”
“Not yet. But take them, as I have my back ups to look at. I might do some location search to find out where they were taken.”
“You can do that?”
“Experimental at this point. A program I’ve been working on like Face Finder only for places. If these spots have been photographed before and uploaded nearly anywhere my spiders will find them.”
“Keep me posted. You’ll do a written to go with these.”
Here we are at day 9 of NaNo 2014 and things are moving along much better than expected. I’ve passed 20,000 easily and have pushed my daily count quickly from 2200 to 2300 as I get into the flow of it (partially by cutting down the flow of other things in my daily life to make for more writing time.)
Pushing the word count has forced me to push my initial scene idea into new directions. I’m pretty good at making people talk and I can let them go off on tangents – sometime that tangent gets a strike through. Some will a write out in revision if they haven’t lead anywhere productive.
At this early stage I never know what I may want to pick up on later and figure the more information I have at this point the more I’ll have to chose from later anyway. Better to lay loose threads now than have to go back an stitch in some new pattern.
This sample is from day 2. As you can tell I’m writing off the top of my head as things take shape. The strike throughs are starts of things that got cut. This scene was to show how Dan would analyze a photo, as well as show his relationship with Warszawa. Friendly but formal and a bit distant.
While I wrote this, the fact that the pictures were left by the killer, and not the property of the victim came to me in one of those moments of insight. This quickly cascaded from a curious plot thread to what will possibly be a major sub-plot when the RCMP look back at some other cases and find similar photographs have been planted on the scene. A serial killer who leaves other people’s photos at the scene of a crime? I like that.
The minimal tech talk reflects my lack of knowledge of this sort of document forensics – I’m having fun making it up as I go along and as long as it seem real to me I’ll be happy, as this point. Write first, research later.
I do know a couple real photographers. One specializes in b/w & still uses film. I’ll tap him for believability when I get to rewrites.
November 1-30 – participating – NaNoWriMo 2014 – http://nanowrimo.org