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Part One: Elmer Fudd?
April 20, 2006
Nigel gazed down. "Well, that's certainly…." His brow creased. "Certainly…."
"Yeah," Jordan nodded, taking a deep breath. "It is."
Nigel clucked. "No more hopping down the Bunny Trail for this young lady."
Jordan threw a glance his way and then knelt to peer more closely at the corpse. She sighed. She tilted her head.
"Rigor? Any obvious sign of cause of death?" Nigel's voice was hopeful.
She looked up at him. "Are you serious? Nige, she's in a giant bunny suit!"
"Which is something you don't see every day."
"Thank God," Jordan muttered.
"Nigel. Jordan." Woody walked toward them with an easy gait that belied his internal discomfort. "Anything you can tell me?"
Jordan stood up. Her face was impassive, her eyes, blank. "Yeah, start looking for a short, bald guy with a grudge against 'wascally wabbits.'"
"Not funny, Jordan," the detective admonished.
She gave him a brittle grin. "Wasn't really trying, Woody." She stood up and turned her attention to Nigel. "Let's get the scene processed so we can get her back to the morgue. I'm not going to be able to tell anything this way."
A knock on her door made Jordan look up. She massaged her temples to tamp down the increasingly bad headache and then acknowledged the sound with a terse "Come in." She smothered a grimace when Woody walked in. She injected a polite, casual tone into her voice. "What can I do for you, Detective?"
Woody reined in his own frown at her use of his title. He bit back the "Particularly bad day, Jordan?" comment that came to mind. If she was in a combative mood, he wasn't up for it and the times when she would have responded to his gentle teasing with ripostes of her own were long behind them. "Wondering if you had anything on the Bowen case?"
The M.E. sighed and rubbed her temples again. "It's in my report – just the preliminaries though. I was about to send it over." She picked it up from her desk and held it out. Woody took it and skimmed it. "Anything else, Detective?"
"Did I do something, Jordan?" He felt like an idiot the minute he said it. Oh, let's see, Detective. How about using her trust, flaunting another woman in her face whenever you could and, the biggie, telling her, basically, that by the time she decided you weren't going to break her heart and she let you in, you broke her heart because you didn't like her timing.
To her credit, Jordan shook her head. "Sorry, long day." She gestured to the chair on the other side of her desk. "What do you want to know?"
He sat. "I know the facts are in here, but…." He shrugged. "I wanted to know what you thought."
Her eyebrows rose at that. "Since when?"
"Jordan, come on, you know-"
"Eliza Bowmen, age twenty-three. Healthy, no physical abnormalities, although later in life those implants of hers probably would have caused back problems. She was a little thin."
"She was a model. Or wanted to be," Woody interjected.
Jordan nodded. "That explains her cup size and her jean size. No sign of a struggle – nothing under her finger nails, no ligature marks anywhere, no sexual assault. Based on lack of rigor, beginning of decomp and other factors that probably only interest Nigel or Bug, she'd probably been dead three to five days."
"How'd she die?"
"We're working on that. Based on the bluish tinge of her nail beds and around her lips, as well as some specific internal damage, she was probably poisoned. We're running stomach contents and a tox screen." Jordan picked up a pen and tapped it against her desk "The weirdest thing?"
"The bunny suit?"
Jordan rolled her eyes. "Well, aside from the bunny suit…the other weird thing. Her hair was dyed."
"She was a model, Jordan. How weird is that?"
Woody's eyes widened. "Oh." He pursed his lips. "Okay, yeah, that is a little odd." He paused. "How can you tell?"
"Well, for one thing, the dye wasn't very high quality – Nigel is working on figuring out brand and color, if possible – and some of it bled onto the inside of the bunny suit. There was also no trace of growth after the color job. And Woody?"
"It was an all-over dye job."
He made a moue of distaste. "Some days I really wish there were things I didn't need to know."
"I hear you."
"What do you make of that?"
Jordan shrugged. "You're the cop."
"And that stopped you when?"
She almost told him that in the last eight months or so, it had stopped her plenty of times. Instead, she gave herself a moment to pretend she was considering it. She cleared her throat. "I'd guess the killer wanted her to look like someone else. Though why that extended to a bunny suit is anyone's guess."
"Nothing from the suit itself?"
"So far, no. If there's anything, we'll find it, but it looks like this was one carefully thought out crime, at least from the forensics standpoint."
Woody nodded. "From all angles, I think. The roommate was out of town. No one in the building noticed anything, heard anything, but from what several of the tenants said, both girls were in and out at odd hours, so that wasn't unusual."
"Sounds like Elmer might not have simply hunted his wascally wabbit. He may have stalked her."
"Great," Woody replied dryly. "I'll put out an APB on a two foot tall, bald guy with a speed impediment until you guys can maybe give me something more."
Jordan was re-examining the body of Eliza Bowen while Nigel continued to run a variety of tests. "Oh, wait a minute! Hold on to your headgear, I think I have something!" Nigel exclaimed.
Jordan turned. "What've you got?"
"The stomach contents."
"What about them? It was pretty basic."
"Carrots, Jordan. Carrots!"
"What? Nigel, what are- Oh! A tie in with the bunny suit?"
He nodded enthusiastically. "But more than that! Our bunny girl ate her carrots steamed."
Jordan nodded and gave Nigel a skeptical look. "So?"
"I analyzed the carrots." Nigel grinned. "Traces of Aniline."
He nodded slowly, his face wise and stern. "How would Aniline get into carrots? And a trace amount shouldn't have killed her"
"Steamed carrots. Steamed."
Jordan's eyes widened. She nodded, her mouth curving down into a frown – an impressed frown. "Now that is pretty clever." She arched her back, stretching out the kinks. "And it tells us a bit about our killer."
"Like Miss Bowen probably knew him – or her."
"Right. Because you wouldn't be likely to invite in a complete stranger who knocks at your door and offers to cook you a meal."
Nigel chuckled. "Beware cartoon characters bearing gifts?"
She shook her head at him, but grinned anyway. Gallows humor. She turned back to the body. "Let's see if there are any other symptoms of Aniline poisoning."
"Aniline poisoning?" Woody's voice rose as his eyebrows reached for his hairline. "What's that?"
Jordan's face took on that avid, eager look she often wore when hot on the trail of a deviant. If she hadn't been so concerned about getting justice for the victims who passed through her care, it might have disturbed Woody a bit. "Aniline is a substance found in making inks and paints, mostly." She gathered steam. "Printing. Cloth making or dying. Some paints or paint removers. Nigel found traces of it in the stomach contents. I re-examined the body with that in mind and the symptoms are all consistent. Red pinprick spots on the organs, kidney damage as well as damage to the liver and spleen. Methemoglobin."
"Chocolate colored blood." She shrugged at his grimace of distaste.
"And she ate this?"
Jordan shook her head. "The traces in her stomach were actually in carrots she'd eaten. Steamed carrots."
"Someone – what? – steamed carrots in this stuff, and that was enough to kill her."
Another headshake. "The amount in the carrots might have made her sick, but it was inhaling the vapors that killed her."
"Nice." Woody's lip curled in disgust. "How would this – uh – chef avoid the effects himself?"
"That, Detective, is your job to find out. But now you know a little more."
"Yeah. She had to know her killer. Would you let a stranger in to your house and stand around while they cooked your last supper?"
He shook his head. "Thanks. Hopefully it will help."
It didn't however. The Bunny Trail murder remained unsolved.
END Part One