"Jamison to the Chief."
"Go ahead Lonnie." came the Chief's reply from the radio in his office.
"Chief, guess who's in town, Miranda."
"Do Tell." came the Chief's familiar reply.
"Affirmative" Lonnie replied " I just saw her and her father leaving the
"Well maybe she'll drop in and see us. Thanks for the information. Chief
Miranda, known as "Randi" McNamera had worked at Sparta PD during the
summers between High School and for a year afterward, before going off to
Ole Miss. to study Criminalistics. The last few years she'd been working
for the Mississippi State Bureau of Investigations in Jackson. As if on
cue, Randi walked thru the front door of the Police Department. Bubba
absent mindedly looked out the window of the Chief's office, seeing Randi
he said "Well speak of the little devil." Randi greeted all in the front
office before making her way to see the Chief and Bubba, who was seated in
his usual spot on the corner of the Detective's desk.
"What blessing we owe this visit? Child how are you?" Chief stated as
Randi entered the office.
Randi shook her head in the affirmative as she said she was good. After
several minutes of small talk, Bubba asked if she was still with MSBI and
silence filled the room as Randi attempted to formulate her response.
Slowly she said, "I've laid the badge down and came home to die. I have
the same cancer as Mama had and doctors say it wont be long."
"Say What?" came the instant response from both men as shock and sadness
filled their faces.
Just then Parker called for the Chief to come to the jail. He squeezed
Randi's shoulder tightly as he passed by. Bubba stood facing her and put
his hands on her shoulders as their eyes made contact.
"Randi Dawn, you have to fight this thing. You are a vibrant and tenacious
young lady and can't let it whip you like this."
Eyes filling with tears, Randi replied "Bubba, I've been fighting this for
six months or better, my fights about gone."
He pulled her to him then embracing her long and close as only a big
brother could do. She returned his embrace.
Saturday was a typical fall day, dreary and misting. Randi thought she
would get a workout at the Aquatic Center before planning the rest of her
day. Up ahead she could see two girls climbing the embankment and
frantically trying to flag her down. Randi pulled to the shoulder,
stopping just before them. She instinctively removed her handgun from the
console. Both girl flocked to the passenger window, which Randi had rolled
down. They were hysterical, screaming about a girl lying on the riverbank,
her hands and feet bound, and bloody. Randi pulled the keys from the
ignition and exited her vehicle. From the roadside, looking down at the
river she could see the young girl. Randi turned to the two girls
explaining that she was a MSBI agent and for them to stay put, and guide
the police to her when they arrived. Randi holstered her handgun in her
waistband and descended the embankment.
Randi had seen scenes like this dozens of times in Jackson. Thankfully the
girl was still alive, semi conscious, very evident she had been sexually
assaulted. Randi called it into Sparta PD on her cellphone and went about
securing the crime scene to the best possible. In short order all
personnel needed were on the scene. EMS was enroute to Sparta General with
the victim. Chief and Bubba were the last to arrive. Randi had called the
two girls back down to the riverbank and off to the side of the scene.
She'd started them on their statements she knew Jamison and Bubba would
need. Years of practice had her statement done in quick time. After Bubba
released the two girls, Randi walked up and handed him all statements.
"Thank you very much." he said.
"Your Welcome." Randi gasped.
It was only then, Bubba realized how pale she was and how difficult it was
for her to breathe. Bubba's hand went to her shoulder as he asked if she
was OK. Randi told him she would be if she could get back up that hill and
to her vehicle. Bubba quickly deposited the statements in his hip pocket,
took Randi by the elbow and started toward the embankment. Half assisting
half carrying Randi, they made it up the embankment and to her vehicle.
Once seated in the drivers seat, Randi put her handgun back in the console
and reached for her inhaler. After several puffs her composure returned to
normal and her breathing calmed as well. Randi reached out and touched
Bubba's arm as he started to leave.
"Thank You." she said her eyes showing the sincerest gratitude.
"Randi, you know you don't have to mention it." Bubba gently scolded as he
placed his free hand on top of hers and squeezed.
Randi watched Bubba disappear down the embankment. Tears were streaming
down her face and she turned her vehicle around and headed for home. This
ordeal had zapped her strength physically and mentally. Her workout at the
Aquatic Center would have to wait another day.
Randi, awoke early Monday morning to a phone call from the Chief saying he
would like to see her at the PD as soon as possible. She dressed, drank
down a quick glass of juice and was out the door. At the PD she found the
Chief, Bubba, Sweet, Parker and Jamison in the conference room. At the
open door she stopped and knocked getting the Chief's attention.
"Child do come in, come in." he said continuing his briefing.
Randi took a position leaning against a table next to Bubba. Randi learned
there had been three teenage girls sexually assaulted over the weekend.
"Any suspects?" she asked.
"Nobodys talking." Lonnie replied.
Thinking out loud, Randi said "I'm going snooping around the school."
"Thats exactly what I'd hoped you would say, child. I'll let Mrs. Tibbs
and the principle know you'll be around.
Randi was out the door in an instant.
"Chief, I don't think she's up to it, healthwise."
"Bubba, I want her on the job all she can, give her something to fight for
and help get her mind off that horrible disease."
Mrs Tibbs greeted Randi warmly. At 26 and of Athletic build, Randi mingled
well with the High School crowd. After several hours at the school, one
name kept circulating amongst the little cliches. Corey DeLargo. Randi
stepped into Mrs. Tibbs office a little before last bell and inquired about
the DeLargo kid. Mrs. Tibbs told her, he and his family were from
Gulfport. That he'd had some aggression problems toward girlfriends there,
but nothing here that she knew of. Might be a hunch, especially since
Randi had overheard that he was seen leaving school on Friday with Misty
Peterson, the girl Randi dealt with on Saturday. Randi thanked Mrs. Tibbs
and excused herself as two students entered.
Randi was bushed when she entered the Chief's office and dropped onto the
couch. Randi relayed what she had learned to the Chief, who seemed
relieved at the information. Something he could tell the alligators on the
city council anyhow. He sent Peke and Jamison out to pick up the DeLargo
kid for questioning. After several minutes of rest and small talk, Randi
said her goodbyes for the evening and made her departure before they
arrived with DeLargo.
Tuesday morning found Randi very ill. She came to in the Emergency Room
with Tracy Boggs, Bubba's fiancee standing over her.
"What Happened?" Randi faintly asked.
"You had a bad spell." Tracy said quietly. "Your dad called 911 after you
went unconscious. You were brought in by ambulance."
Randi dammed the cancer as tears trickled down her face. She was released
from the hospital later that day.
The next morning Randi was at the Police Station early. She was going to
fight this cancer with all she had. Besides she wanted to know the latest
on the sexual assaults and the possibility of DeLargo being a suspect.
Walking into the Chief's office, Bubba gave her a worried look and she knew
Tracy had told him and he in-turn had told the Chief.
"I'm fine." she tried to reassure them both.
"What's the latest?" she said in attempt to change the subject.
"Well we know DeLargo is our main suspect." Chief stated as LouAnn stepped
thru the doorway.
"Chief, we just got a call from Mrs. Peterson. Corey DeLargo just
kidnapped Misty at gunpoint and last seen headed toward highway 95." LouAnn
stated all in one breath.
"Lord have mercy." the Chief replied.
"Dee has Jamison and Sweet on it, Sir." LouAnn continued.
"Thank You LouAnn. Bubba you had better head on out that way. Randi ride
with Bubba. LouAnn drive me please."
"Jamison to Bubba"
"DeLargo's eastbound on Old 95. I'm think I'm going in behind him now.
He's not speeding up, but driving real nervous. The girls setting beside
"OK" Bubba's voice calm as ever "We'll intercept him on Old Mill Creek
Bridge before the turn off."
"Copy" came Lonnie's response.
"Chief you with us." Bubba said into the mic.
"Yea, Bubba we'll meet y'all there."
Bubba laid down the mic and glanced at Randi, who met his glance with the
Randi said " Old Mill Creeks coming up."
Just as Bubba said "There they are."
Bubba pulled the car into an evasive skid, stopping semi sideways at the
bridge. DeLargo stopped. All officer exited their vehicles with weapons
drawn. Chief had the bullhorn in hand.
"Corey DeLargo, we just want to talk to you. Son, this can all end with
anyone getting hurt."
DeLargo exited his vehicle, pulling Misty Peterson out with him.
"Leave us alone, Old Man. She loves me and we're going to be together
forever." DeLargo screamed back at the Chief.
"Son, we know you had trouble in Gulfport. We're being told you assaulted
those teens last weekend. We can get you some help. It doesn't have to
end like this."
For those fleeting minutes DeLargo was solely concentrated on the chief's
words and he had let go of Misty. Randi had motioned for her to come
toward her quickly and quietly. Misty was within inches of Randi when
DeLargo turned and realized what was happening. DeLargo turned and fired
toward his girlfriend just as Randi stepped out and pushed her to safety
behind a concrete culvert. Randi took the full blow of DeLargo's bullet
center chest. Randi heard two more shots instantaneous as Jamison and
Bubba took out DeLargo. Randi went to her knees and started to fall
backward when Bubba caught her. He put his arm around her supporting her
neck and shoulders. Using his knee to support her lower back. She looked
into his eyes.
"I didn't think it would end this way." Randi gasped as blood began
trickling at the corners of her mouth.
"Randi, don't you leave us." Bubba commanded.
Chief was at their side then saying an ambulance was on the way.
"Randi, helps on the way, just hand in there." Bubba said exchanging
knowing looks with the Chief.
"It's ok, Bubba." Randi said faintly, closing her eyes.
"The angels are coming." Were the last words Randi spoke.
"Lord Have Mercy." Bubba whispered as he hugged Randi's lifeless body to
Chief Gillespie placed his free hand on Bubba's shoulder, as he wiped his
own tears away with the other.
The following Monday was a beautiful fall day in Sparta, Mississippi.
Sunshine, crisp air and a few birds singing as the small crowd gathered at
Pleasent Hill Cemetary. Bubba, Jamison and Sweet along with three MSBI
agents served as pallbears. Taps and Amazing Grace on the bagpipes lowly
played in the background as Chief Gillespie gave the closing eulogy. As
the service concluded most officers lingered. Reflecting on Randi's life
and service. How it could have been any one of them lying there. Randi's
father approached Chief Gillespie, Bubba and Detective Tibbs.
"Bill, I want to thank you and the boys for all you've done today and
throughout the years for Miranda."
Echoes of "We wouldn't of had it any other way." resounded from all three
Jim McNamera turned to leave and stopped. Slowly he said "She wouldn't
have wanted to go any other way, least of all the way that cancer was
Chief Gillespie stepped forward then and put his arm across Jim's weary
shoulders, as he led him to the family car.
"She was a true soldier in our line of work!" Bubba said as he watched Jim
and the Chief walk away.
"I agree Bubba, I agree." Detective Tibbs stated.