The Case of the Missing Detective

Chapter 15

Jill Bradley pulled her vehicle in the parking lot at police headquarters. She now had permission to see her brother. It was not something she was looking forward to. She really didn't give a damn about him, but she would have to pretend that she did if she was to be successful and what she wanted.

She got out of the car, slammed the door shut and headed into the station. Jill walked up to the duty desk and said, "I am here to see my brother, Lawrence Bradley. I have been given permission to speak with him."

The officer at the duty desk looked down the list. "You are in luck, he has not been yet moved over to the main jail. Just one moment while I check on this." He left the duty desk and disappeared into the back room.

Jill looked around police headquarters. Officers were headed in every direction. She did not have much use for the police, but she would use whoever she had to to get what she wanted. Karen Bradley's death had presented a perfect opportunity. If she had lived, Jill had no doubt she would have talked her into getting control of Amy's money away from Larry. Karen had been fed up with Larry's obsession to get Amy out of the wheelchair. Although unexpected, her death had been a godsend.

The duty officer returned to the desk, followed by another officer. The officer was in uniform and addressed Jill. "Miss Bradley, if you will follow me, I will take you to see your brother."

"Thank you," she said with a smile that was less than sincere.

She was led into the visitors room. A glass separated the visitor from the prisoner. Jill Bradley sat down and waited for her brother to appear. Glancing to her right, there was a telephone. She supposed that was how she was going to communicate with Larry.

She kept going over in her mind how she wanted this conversation to go. She had to convince her brother to reverse his decision to allow Amy to stay with Ironside. She had thought she could wait until he was convicted of Karen's murder, but she wanted the money now.

The door to the prisoners' cell opened and Lawrence Bradley was led into the room. He saw his sister on the other side of the glass. He went and sat down. When he picked up the phone, Jill did the same.

Smiling at him, she said, "How are you holding up, Larry?"

Weary of why his sister had showed up at this particular time, he responded, "What are you doing here, Jill? You haven't spoken to me in years. So why are you here now?"

This was going to be harder than even she expected. However, she had every intention of succeeding. Once again she smiled at her brother and responded to his questions. "I know that we have been on the outs for years. That doesn't mean that I do not care about you and your well-being. I have been thinking about you constantly since you were charged with Karen's murder. I want you to know that I don't believe for one second that you did it. I just thought that this might be a good time for us to reconcile our differences. You know, agree to disagree. What do you think?"

"What do I think? I think you are after something. You have spent your entire life conniving to get what you want. I don't believe for one second as you put it, that you care about my well-being. You have never given a damn about anybody but yourself. You are strictly here to see if you can get your hands on Amy's grant money."

Jill made an extreme effort to control the anger and disgust she had for the man on the other side of the glass. She just couldn't wait until he was convicted of this crime, which she was certain that he would be. Well, not exactly certain because of his lawyer being Perry Mason. For that very reason, she had to get control of Amy's money now.

"You will never change, will you, Larry? I come here with my hat in hand and want to reconcile with you, and this is the way you treat me. I am sincere when I tell you that I still love you and want to help. I came here to ask you to reconsider your decision of having Amy stay with Robert Ironside. He is a complete stranger to her and what she needs right now is family. She needs some semblance of home life. I am her aunt, Larry, she belongs with me. I can give her the love that she needs. Ironside does not love her."

Lawrence Bradley just shook his head. He rubbed the bridge of his nose and looked up at his sister. "You don't give a damn about Amy. How can you provide love to her when you have never loved anyone in your life. If you were talking to a stranger, you might get away with this act. You are talking to me, dear sister. You are forgetting that I know you. So let's get this straight right now. You are not getting your hands on Amy's grant money. It will be spent on her alone. Nor am I reversing my decision as to where she will stay until I am acquitted. She stays with Chief Ironside. He can teach her so much. You could not teach her anything except how to connive."

"That's what I get for coming here to support you," she said, her tone extremely nasty.

Lawrence Bradley roared with laughter. "You never supported anybody in your life. Don't think I can't see through you. And I guarantee one thing, when I am acquitted, you will never ever see Amy again. I don't want her anywhere near you. You don't care about me or Amy. What you care about is the money."

"You son of a bitch! I am on the witness list for the prosecution and I intend to put that final nail in your coffin. You are going to be convicted, Larry. You are not going to get away with killing Karen."

"Now that is a fine example of why I don't believe a word you say. When you came in here you said you didn't believe for one second that I was guilty. Obviously you think I am, so you lied. You always lie, Jill. You lie to get whatever it is you want. I can't believe we came out of the same parents. Now get out of here and leave me alone. I want nothing further to do with you." Lawrence got up and walked back to the door where a police officer was standing.

"Get me the hell out of here!" The officer led him away as Jill still sat on the other side of the window.

If he thought for one minute that she was not going to get custody of that little brat, he was wrong. As soon as he was convicted, she would file for permanent custody of Amy. Then she would stick her and some home where they take cripples. She was going to get that money and she would celebrate when that guilty verdict came about. Jill Bradley intended to help it along.

*

Later that evening, Perry and Della waited in his office for Robert Ironside to return. They did not have to wait long as they heard the loud boisterous voice of the detective as he entered the outer office.

"I will announce myself," Ironside told Gertie.

The door opened and Chief Ironside wheeled himself into his brother's office. Gertie followed close behind. She gave her boss that exasperated look.

"It's okay, Gertie," Mason soothed with a smile.

Gertie left the office. She was not happy as she knew that Mister Mason did not like people barging into his office without an appointment or being announced.

"Alright, Bob. What was so important that you could not allow Gertie to announce you?" Mason asked.

"I did not think I needed to be announced to my own brother. Now what have you found out?" Ironside responded.

Della only smiled as she knew Perry would not take it any further with his brother's unannounced entrance into his office. Even Paul knocked on the door before entering.

"Jill Bradley was having an affair," Perry informed him. We were able to get a description of him. Tall, blonde to light brown hair, blue eyes. She stayed with him at the Roadside Motel just out of town from the fifteenth to the eighteenth. Della showed the clerk a picture of Jill Bradley and he confirmed it was she."

"What about the man, did you get a name?" Ironside asked.

"Of course I did," Perry replied. "It is probably an alias, but the name he used was Jason Thorsen."

"You can be sure it was an alias. We need to find out who the man is."

"I will put Paul on it as soon as we see him," Perry assured him. "Now what did Lawrence Bradley tell you?"

"The book that was out of order had an envelope in it."

"What was in the envelope?" Perry inquired.

Ironside proceeded to tell Mason everything that Bradley had told him.

"Then someone knew where to look and took the envelope," Mason said.

"The question is who took it," Della spoke up.

"And why?" Ironside added.

"There had to be something in that envelope of value," Perry surmised.

"But what, Perry?" Della asked. "If it was a legal paper of some kind, then whoever took it could not do anything with it."

"Unless they changed and forged a signature," Ironside said.

Mason shook his head. "No, they could not do that. If it was registered with the courts, that would not do them any good. It might even get them in a lot of trouble."

"How do we know it was registered with the courts?" Ironside questioned. "It may have been something that he wanted Amy to have that he didn't think was important enough to go through the courts."

"Then why steal it?" Della wondered.

"That is a very good question, which leads me to believe that it was very important," Ironside said.

"Well, whatever it is, we have to find out, and we have to find out who Jay was in that picture on Karen Bradley's desk, as well as who the man was that Jill Bradley was having an affair with." Ironside wheeled over to the terrace window and looked out.

"I don't understand why the man Jill Bradley was having an affair with is so important," Della said.

"Right now, Della, we don't have much to go on. We have to check out all possibilities, even if we don't have a clue where they might lead," Perry told her.

"It doesn't look good at this point, Perry. We don't have a whole lot to go on," Ironside said.

"I know that, Bob. Right now, the only thing I can think about is food. I am hungry."

"Good, because you owe me a great big steak for dinner," Della told him. "You did not feed me all day."

"We are going out to dinner," Ironside informed them.

Mason stood up and walked over to the terrace window where his brother still sat. "Why Bob, are you taking us out to dinner?" He had a mischievous grin on his face.

"Our father called. We are picking them up to go to dinner. I made the reservation in your name, but I'll tell you what, I will flip you for who picks up the check." Ironside pulled a quarter out of his pocket. "Call it." He flipped the coin in the air and let it drop. Before it hit the floor, Mason made his call.

"Heads," the lawyer called out while the coin was still in the air. The coin spun around for a second or two and then laid flat on the floor beside Ironside's chair.

The detective looked down at the coin and grinned. "It's tails. You buy." He reached down, picked up the coin and put it back into his pocket.

"Now just a minute, Bob. I have heard you use a coin where both sides are the same. How do we know you did not do that? I want to see that coin that has both sides the same."

"Perry!" Della scolded.

"I want to see the coin, Della."

Ironside reached back into his pocket and fumbled for the coin. He pulled it out and showed Mason a coin that was the same on both sides, only it was a two-headed coin. "Do you think I would use a two-headed coin on my own brother?" The grin on his face was widening.

"So do you have a two-tailed coin, also?" Mason demanded.

Della began laughing. "Let's go to dinner, gentlemen, I'm hungry."

She headed for the door. Ironside turned his chair around and followed her. Mason stopped the forward progress of his chair and said, "So do you?"

"Do I what?"

"Have a coin with tails on both sides?" Mason demanded.

Ironside only grinned. "You will never know." He put both hands on each side of the door and pulled his chair out of Mason's office.

They decided to take the van as everyone would fit in it. When they arrived at the Mason home, they were already exiting the house. Amy wheeled her chair up to the street and sat there waiting for Mister Mason to help her over the curb. As the elder Mason walked over and took hold of the handles on the chair, Ironside stopped him.

"Let her do it herself," he shouted.

"But I can't," Amy protested. I can't get down from that curb."

"Yes you can. Watch me. Ironside headed for the curb picking up speed. When he reached it, the chair went off the curb and landed on the wheels. Ironside turned his chair around. "Okay, now you try it."

Amy looked up at William Mason. He smiled and nodded at her. He could see the fear in her eyes. Perry walked over to the end of the curb to step in if Amy did not stay upright.

The little girl began wheeling towards the curb, moving faster as she went just as Ironside had done. She flew off the curb. When the chair seemed to be tipping forward, she threw her weight to the back of the chair, forcing it upright again. She landed on both wheels. A big grin spread across her face. "I did it!"

"Of course you did," Ironside said. "Now let's get into the van. I am hungry."

Della looked over at Perry and smiled. "He's good for her."

"She is about the only one he's good for," Mason grumbled. "I still think he used a coin that had both sides the same.

"Della laughed. "Get over it, Perry. You are picking up the check."

"Why does he never lose when it comes to picking up the check?" Mason asked her.

Della just smiled. "Let's go, counselor."

*

Perry Mason and Della Street walked up the stairs to the court house. They were lined with reporters shouting questions at the attorney. Mason just smiled and continued to move Della through the crowd, holding on to her elbow.

As they reach the top of the stairs, Perry opened the door and the couple entered. There were more reporters waiting on the inside for the famous lawyer. Pushing and shoving, they stuck microphones in his face and blocked their path.

"Come on, Mister Mason. Talk to us. How do you feel about your chances in this case. Hamilton Burger believes he has a slam-dunk winner with this one," a reporter shouted at him.

Mason could see that he was not going to make any progress into the courtroom unless he threw them a bone. "All due respect to my esteemed colleague, he always thinks he has a slam dunk winner. We will let justice take its course. I am confident that my client will be exonerated of the charges. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to be in court."

Mason once again began pushing his way through the crowd of reporters. When he reached the doors of the courtroom, he opened them and allowed Della to enter in front of him. They went to the front of the room and through the gates that separated the spectators from the lawyers. Lawrence Bradley was already at the defense table. He stood up and shook his attorney's hand as reporters around the room snapped pictures of the two men. Mason took his place on the isle at the table. His client sat beside him and Della Street sat next to him.

Hamilton Burger entered the room to almost as much attention as Mason himself got. He walked over to the prosecution's table and set his briefcase down. Glancing over at Mason, he decided to make one last offer. He left his seat and headed directly for the defense attorney.

"Perry, if you are interested, we will be more than willing to plea down to second-degree murder and not ask for the death penalty."

Mason shook his head. "No thank you, Hamilton. I would not be doing my client any favors in having him plead guilty to a murder he did not commit."

With a surprised look on his face, Berger said, "You must be kidding! You have seen the evidence. Your client is guilty as hell. I am trying to give you a break here. Plead to second-degree murder and there will be no death penalty. If you persist on going with this hearing and trial, I will ask for the death penalty."

"There will be no death penalty. My client is innocent and it will be proven in this hearing." Mason, of course was not as confident as he sounded. He knew they did not have anything in the way of acquitting Bradley of his wife's murder, but with his brother's help, they were going to find it.

Burger just shook his head. He wondered how Mason could be so stubborn. He was offering him a way out, and he was rejecting it out of hand. He had warned him, he would ask for the death penalty with a clear conscience. Burger turned around and went back to the prosecution's table.

The bailiff walked into the room and announced, "All rise. Superior Court is now in session. Judge Leo Donovan presiding."

Everyone in the courtroom got to their feet as Judge Donovan entered and took his place on the bench. "Please be seated. In the case of the people of California versus Lawrence Bradley, is the prosecution ready?"

Hamilton Burger stood up and addressed his remarks to the bench. "Yes your honor."

"Is the defense ready?"

Mason stood up and said, "the defense is ready, your honor."

"Mr. prosecutor, would you like to make an opening statement?"

"I would." For the next ten minutes Hamilton Burger told the court how he intended to prove that a murder had been committed and that there was reasonable evidence to show that Lawrence Bradley had committed the murder. The judge then ask Perry Mason if he wanted to make an opening statement. Mason declined, stating that he would make his opening statement when the defense put on their case.

"Then Mister Burger, call your first witness," the judge ordered.

"The people call David McPherson to the stand."

After being sworn in McPherson took his place on the witness stand. Hamilton Burger glanced over at Perry Mason and then walked up to the witness. "Please state your name and occupation for the record."

"Doctor David McPherson, I work in the medical examiner's office."

Did you do the autopsy on Karen Bradley?" Burger asked.

"I did."

"And what were your findings?"

"She died of a blow to the back of the head, causing massive bleeding and a crushed scull."

Burger walked over to the evidence table and picked up a bookend. Bringing it back to the witness, he handed it to him. "Considering the size and shape of the area caved in on the back of the head, would you say that this could be the murder weapon?"

Mason stood up. "Objection! That bookend has not been proven to be the murder weapon."

"Sustained," Judge Donovan ruled.

Burger looked back at Mason. "Alright, we will come back to that." Turning back to the doctor, he said, "Doctor McPherson, did you establish a time of death?"

"I did. Based on rigor mortis and the temperature of the body, Karen Bradley died between one o'clock and two-thirty in the afternoon."

"Thank you, Doctor." He turned around and headed back to the prosecution's table. "Your witness, Mister Mason."

Mason stood up. "Doctor, was there more than one indentation on Karen Bradley's head?" Perry asked, suspecting that there was.

"Yes. There was a smaller contusion slightly higher up on the back of the head."

Mason suspicions had been correct based on what Lawrence Bradley had told him. "So that there is no misunderstanding, a contusion is caused by a blow to the head causing a collection of blood, but does not break the skin. Is that correct?"

"It is. It is basically a collection of blood under the skin, a bruise, if you will."

"Could the contusion have caused her death?" Mason inquired.

"Oh heavens no."

"Which blow was inflicted first?"

"Objection," Hamilton Burger called out. "The question is incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial. The doctor has already stated the blow to the head that caused the scull to cave in was the fatal blow."

The judge looked over at the defense attorney. "Mister Mason?"

"Your Honor, it is very relevant, it the two blows were committed by two different people," Perry argued.

That is ridiculous!" Burger shouted. "The defendant was the only one seen leaving the house at the time of the murder. If two blows were stuck, he did both."

"A fact that is not in evidence," Mason complained. "So far there is nothing tying the defendant to the crime."

"Mister Burger, I am going to allow this line of questioning. After all, this is only a hearing. If there is evidence that someone else could have committed the murder, we should hear it."

Burger sat down showing his frustration with the judge. He sometimes wished that he could keep his cool as well as Mason did. He rarely showed emotion at all in court unless he was going after a witness, then he could be relentless.

"Doctor, once again I asked you, which blow was inflicted upon the deceased first?"

"Based on the medical evidence, it is my opinion that the blow that caused the contusion was the first one. It was then followed by the fatal blow."

"And what do you base that on?" Mason asked.

"Due to its location, if it had been inflicted after the fatal blow, the blood to the area would have completely concealed it. Since it was just a small contusion, it had to be inflicted first. Otherwise, you wouldn't have even been able to spot it"

Mason's smiled. He had gotten the answer he had wanted. It would not clear his client, but the impact of the judge was what was important. He could tell from the look on his face that it had had such an impact.

"Now doctor, you stated that the deceased died between one o'clock and two-thirty in the afternoon. Is that correct?"

"It is."

"In other words, it could have been committed right at one o'clock, is that right?"

"It is possible," Doctor McPherson said.

Then she could have been struck by some unknown assailant causing her to lose consciousness, and then someone else could have used a blunt instrument and struck the fatal blow. Isn't that right?

"Objection!" Hamilton Burger called out from the prosecution table. "Improper opinion, calls for a conclusion of the witness."

Sustained," the judge ruled.

Mason turned back to the defense table as he said, "No further questions." He'd gotten out of the doctor what he wanted.

Burger stood up and called out, "The prosecution calls Lieutenant Arthur Tragg to the stand." After Tragg was sworn in, he took the stand and waited for Burger to begin.