With both Butch and Sue in custody, Jasper takes a team to go examine the home of Troy’s grandmother.
As much as he didn’t want to enter the Berman/ Intriago household again, Jasper was pleased to lead the raid. He had the warrant in hand. Sending two officers around back, he and his friend, Aaron, took the front. Taking their positions on either side of the door, he nodded. Aaron thumped on the door with his fist.
“Mrs. Berman, Police. Open up.” He thudded on the door again.
Glancing in the window, Jasper saw the old woman sitting in her chair. She wasn’t moving. The dogs barked, a cacophony of yapping filled the air.
“Try the knob,” Jasper ordered.
Aaron tried it and the door opened.
“Mrs. Berman. Ma’am? Gertrude?”
The dogs capered and barked, getting in his way. Jasper walked over to Gertrude Berman’s chair and felt her pulse. It was weak and thready. Her respiration was sharp and shallow, as she gulped for air. The air was even more fetid than when he’d been there before, and it didn’t take long to determine that the old lady had shit herself. Calling EMS, he warned them of the situation. Leaving her for the moment, he moved toward the back door and let the other officers in.
The kitchen was knee deep in storm debris. Part of the roof had come down. Plaster, insulation and shingles littered the room And something else caught his eye. It was a bright pink woman’s jacket. There was no way in hell that would fit Gertrude Berman, even if she were likely to put on an athletic hoodie with a big, sparkling W bedazzled on the breast. There was blood on the jacket, and something more he didn’t want to identify. After taking some pictures, he carefully, he picked it up, looking for identification. A license and a set of keys tumbled into his searching hand. The pretty face, framed by lush blonde hair, told a sad story.
“It’s Wendy’s,” he told the others. “Lock this place down. It’s a crime scene. Aaron, you got your kit in the car?”
“Yes, sir. You don’t want me to call Sherri?”
Jasper rolled his eyes. “Do you think this is the appropriate place for her?”
“No. Of course. I wasn’t thinking. I’ll be right back. EMS is here. I’ll let them in and call Animal Control. We can’t have these dogs around while we process the scene.”
“Good idea. Thanks.”
The other two officers had locked the back door, but went around opening the windows. The stench was enough to choke an entire army. Jasper found the air conditioner and started the fan, hoping to suck out the smell.
Minutes later, Animal Control pulled up. Behind them, Scott rolled in. By this time, EMS had collected Gertrude. She was breathing, but she was in bad shape.
“Looks like she might have been drugged,” one EMT said. “But it’s hard to tell. Jesus, this place! How do people live like this?”
“No clue. Thanks. Keep me posted?” Scott asked.
“You got it.”
The Animal Control offier, with the help of the two blond policemen, rounded up the dogs.
“First thing we’ll do is get you each a nice, hot bath. Won’t that be fun? You poor babies. I don’t think they’ve ever been clean. And this one, bless her heart, is expecting!”
It took some doing to go through the kitchen for evidence, but there were enough trace specimens on the table and floor to show them that this was where Wendy was raped and killed. Aaron, with the help of another officer, went over the scene twice to be sure they had photographed and gathered everything.
While this was going on, Scott and Jasper found the grow room. It was on the enclosed Florida room off the back. Someone had been enterprising enough to tap illegally into the power line, to keep the power use off the police radar. There were dozens of healthy plants in the spacious, spotless room, which ran the length of the house. A sophisticated watering system was set up to tend to the plants, and the air in here was fresh, though it did smell of weed. They left the doors open, to help the house odor.
“I’m never gonna get this stench off me,” Jasper said.
“I’m gonna have to boil or burn this suit. I can’t come home smelling like this.”
“We can’t go back to the station like this,” Jasper said. “Vanessa would throw us out!” His phone rang and he recognized the number of the EMS. “Go for Waters.”
“I’m sorry, Jasper. The old lady died. She’d been drugged all right. And she was severely dehydrated. She’s got a bracelet on that says she’s diabetic. I don’t know her glucose level, but I’m pretty sure she went into a coma.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. She was a strange old bird, but no one deserves to die alone like that. Thanks.” He reported to Scott.
“Well, damn. I was hoping to talk to her.”
“Boss, the woman is dead.”
“Yeah? I’m sorry about that, but if her family is any indication, she was a horrible person. I can’t find it in me to care right now. Wendy was raped repeatedly, and strangled. Right here. Did she really sleep through it all? Or did she simply pretend?” He shook his head. “We’ll never know. The only witnesses to her death, are the ones who killed her.”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes