Picture Perfect 75
Dan arrived back in Stellerton around 5. He was happy to see no one was in the mobile war room He walked around the room as he ate a pizza slice. The map had pins stuck in it to represent summer festivals; churches where visiting Fathers were regulars. Red pins marked where each of the abductions had taken place. They were noted with red pins.
He took the box of pins and from the list on his tablet he placed a yellow pin in additional places that the visiting priests went to perform mass or other ceremonies. Next he placed blue pins in each of the places that the Hippo had visited that summer. Finally he placed white pins for places his father had traveled on his school circuit or had taken wedding, banquets pictures.
If the time of the visits for any of them didn’t co-ordinate with an abduction he removed a pin. Not that it was impossible for someone to return to do the deed but if they were busy at the same time the pin came out. Pins for each of the Hippo’s three touring groups gave them the largest number of pins.
Pins that remained but were not in close enough proximity to an abduction he removed. As he did this is hoped some sort of pattern would emerge.
“Working out a theory?” Warszawa came into the war room.
“Looking at the logistics. If I want to find something in a picture I first have to have a picture.”
“I’ve been working with one of our profilers. There isn’t that much to go on but he feels there’s enough to draw some conclusions about the cases.”
“It’s a bit like trying to profile Jack The Ripper.” Dan said.
“Too late for us to catch Jack but there’s a good chance whoever did this is still alive and probably still in the region.”
“Does the profiler have any ideas about what happened to the children. Why there is no trace of them?” Dan asked.
“No. But it is unlikely that any of them are alive. It’s not a captive situation. He feels there’s no copy-cat either. Whoever did this wanted to keep these children for himself. Possibly to protect them from the world around them. The one thing they all had in common was … a lack of parental supervision … a lack that the profiler says could have represented neglect to the abductor.”
“Plausible. I think it’s someone who knew the region pretty well as opposed to a tourist.”
“Yes. The profiler agrees with some of the conclusions we’ve already reached. That it is someone the children trusted, as opposed to someone who knew well.”
“They could have easily been drugged or just assaulted.”
“There’s been no evidence of that.”
“That could be in the initial investigative reports. Without them we can’t be sure.”
“Some of them have been … uncovered.”
Stephanie Carter came into the war room. “I saw lights on. I was expected Baxter to be here. I’m sort of glad he isn’t.”
“I was adding some pins to the map. No real pattern yet.” Dan said.
“Tell me about it.” Stephanie sighed. “If we tracked every travelling salesman we’d run out of colours very fast. I didn’t realize how many people were on the move. Mailmen, bread delivery, roadwork crews.”
“That’s right. I remember there was a rash of road contraction that summer.” Dan nodded. “We had to detour around one.”
“There was an election in the fall.” Stephanie added. “Roads equal votes.”
“So now we can add road crews to the list of possibilities.”
“Oh yes & regional rock bands. Ever hear of the Dashers? They played over two dozen gigs that summer – school proms, graduations, pubs, a couple of the local festivals. When I scratched the surface I could see how the Mounties were overwhelmed.”
Baxter came into the war room.
“It’s hard not to see everything as a clue, every person as a suspect. No one was innocent.” Warszawa said. “The curse of investigators.”
Baxter came into the room. “Everyone is a suspect except me and thee.” Baxter said. “And I’m not sure about me. Chamberlain is intriguing. They didn’t have elephants in their two-bit carnival in the first place.”
“Original carnival art has sold for up to a hundred thousand dollars at auction recently. So there’s nothing two-bit about that carnival now.” Stephanie said. “I checked.”
“I stand corrected. What do you know about Chamberlain?”
“Only what’s on his facebook page.” Dan joked.
“Is he a serious suspect is that I mean.”
“Considering he was fourteen at the time I doubt it.”
“There are lots of teenage murderers.” Baxter said.
“Not denying that but this was abduction. Serial abduction. Something that takes more planning and thought than the sort of rage killing typical of teenagers.”
“You certainly hit some nerve with him. What do you think caused it?”
“Nothing directly. Those pictures brought back unexpected memories.”
“What?” Warszawa asked.
“His shirt. Her hair do. I’m can’t speculate on that sort of thing based on someone looking at a photograph. But he had a defiant reaction to them.”
“Then what can they tell us?” Baxter said.
“Time of day. How far the photographer stood from the subject. Facial expression can give clues as to the subjects’ mood. But it can’t tell me the emotional mood of the the person who took the picture.”
“Do you know who took those pictures?”
“Teresa didn’t say. They were taken within the same hour & at the same location. Most likely the girls took turns taking pictures of each other with the guys they ere with. It was one of those Kodak cameras. Nothing fancy.”
“Who took the one of the four of them together?” Baxter was looking the photos on his monitor. “You sure he’s only fourteen?”
“Yes. Here’s the full picture.”
“Tall for his age, was he.” Baxter said. “Look at that …”
“According to Teresa he was hung like a horse.”
“Was? Things like that don’t get smaller with time.” Baxter laughed. “I should know. I was … ah … tall for my age too. I think we should look a little closer at Winston Chamberlain.”
“By closer you mean with less clothing on?” Jennifer said.
“No! I mean check out his … you know … his history.”
“”Baxter keep in mind we aren’t law enforcement. Invasion of privacy and all that.” Stephanie said.
“The task force is already looking more closely at him.” Warszawa said.
“Fuck. Now they’ll take credit for busting the case they fucked up then. Do you sense we’re on to something here Jennifer.” Baxter asked.
“Yes, but not how you think. Dan is right in that Chamberlain was too young at the time. He was interested in sex. But not with children. Older girls were his target.”
“Oh.” Baxter slumped in his chair. “I was counting on us having something more definite by now.”
“Imagine how the Mounties felt back then.” Warszawa said.
“I don’t give a shit about the Mounties than and now. They are as responsible for these disappearances at the abductor. If they had done the right thing when they first started the investigation some of those children would be safe. I’m sure of it.”
“This sounds more like your concern for ratings than concern for those children.” Dan said. “You want drama.”
“Wake up Dan. This is not Mr Rogers neighbourhood. We didn’t script this and we’re not going to soften what we find either. Sure, I have a beef. We all have a beef with someone. It’s just that I have a chance to do something productive with it.”
“Whatever.” Dan started to leave.
“We’re not finished here.” Baxter said.
“While you were away we have been busy. The Toronto team has obtained information on the visiting Priests. We’ve contacted Sally Sewell.”
“The singer?” Dan said.
“One and the same. She’s even written a song about David. She grew up next door to the McPherson’s. She has never been contacted by the investigators.”
“How old was she at the time?” Warszawa asked.
“Uh … Seven.”
“There’s your answer. Unless she was an eye-witness to the abduction they wouldn’t have questioned her directly. I’m sure they talked to her parents though.” Warszawa explained.
“Please stop with the bullshit Baxter.” Dan looked up from his cell. “She wasn’t even born at the time.”
“Yes. But’s she’s heard stories. Her song ‘Long Gone’ is about this.” Baxter said.
“I supposed it’ll make a great theme song for the series?” Dan said.
“That it might. You’ll interview her later this week.”
“Why?” Dan asked.
“No way.” Dan snapped back. “You’re not turning this into a random talking heads show. I’m not dealing with one hit-wonder B-celebes trying to revive their careers by capitalizing on these missing children.” He went directly to the door.
“You come back here. We have story line to work on. This exactly what we’re paying you for.”
“No, it isn’t.” Dan said.
“You pumped up, egotistical, fucking, know it all.” Baxter voice filled the war room. “Just because you are some trained rcmp clown doesn’t give you the the right to tell me what to do with my TV show.”
“Baxter. I wouldn’t dream of telling you how to set the stage, where to put your cameras, what sort of button-down shirt I should be wearing on camera. I wouldn’t dream of that. I bow to your deeper knowledge of the things. That’s what you are paying me for. No pumped-up former child star queen can tell me how to conduct this investigation. It’s too bad you aren’t the one who died in that accident.”
“Are you saying you wish I was dead! He wants to see me murdered. You heard that. Everyone. We have that on tape you know.”
Dan walked to his car. Even with the door shut he could hear Baxter shouting at him.
“Come back here. You can’t walk out in a hissy fit whenever you want to.”