Followers of a Carpenter
*** Summary *** A serial killer moved to Chicago and followed his normal MO, but this time, he bit off a little more than he could chew.
*** Spoilers *** Season two of Criminal Minds. Book eight of the Dresden books, with great artistic license taken.
*** Disclaimer *** I'm playing with someone else's toys. No Copyright infringement intended. No money made. Hopefully everyone will treat this like a plug for Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. Very much worth reading, buying, or in our case-gifting.
*** Warning *** Little language. Somehow I managed to keep this rather PG-rated.
*** Distribution *** The Nook
In time of test, family is best. ~Burmese Proverb
The BAU had chased this particular serial killer across four states, so when they walked into the Chicago Police Department uninvited, they had a victim and the killer's profile ready. They had the Chief and the Mayor gather all the officers possible to communicate the information.
"…The victims are large families, six or more children. They are often church going, but not necessarily. They are, however, the salt of the earth," Gideon started.
Hotchner continued. "These families are normally middle class –though one was at the poverty level and one was richer- and while they have a few secrets, nothing that would be outside their known character. These are the people who would bring a dish of food to an ailing neighbor, mow their lawn or shovel their driveway to clear away snow in the winter."
He noticed as the tiny blonde female in the back had already palmed her cell phone and was trying a number. Obviously, she knew people who fit the description. As her phone continued to ring, she got visually agitated. She nudged the men around her and quietly told them to try other numbers. The men obeyed with no hesitation or grimace. Though her stripes said otherwise, this was a woman used to leading and the men were used to following her.
Reid picked up his slack and spoke. "Each family is lead by a strong father figure. This father might be absent a lot of the time. The mother is more than capable of taking care of things in his absence."
One by one, the police around the blonde shook their heads. No answer. One did get an answer and was talking quietly into his phone, but his face grew even grimmer. This family was supposed to be home but wasn't answering their phone. He whispered to the blonde. She quietly ordered one man to stay and take notes about the profiles and the others to come with her.
Hotchner followed them out the door and had to jog to catch them at their cars. He moved one of the men out of the passenger's seat and sat next to the blonde. She glared at him but didn't tell him anything. She flipped on the lights and sirens and led the way to the family's house.
"I'm Agent Aaron Hotchner."
"Where are we going?" Hotchner asked.
"The Carpenter's. Michael and Charity and their seven kids. Molly's the oldest at nineteen, Harry is the youngest and is just learning to walk."
"They should be home and aren't answering the phone?" Hotchner guessed.
Murphy nodded once, decisively.
"Michael used to do work for the church and was often gone. Six months ago he was helping a friend and ended up with several bullets in the chest. He's currently bedridden, but improving." Murphy breathed deep. "I don't know if there's another family in the world as loving and caring and…."
Murphy slammed on the brakes in front of a suburban home and jumped out with her gun drawn. Hotchner and the others followed suit. The door was opened slightly. There was a blood trail leading out and sounds of movement inside.
"Charity?" the detective called. "It's Karrin Murphy."
There was a pause and a child sniffled. Then a woman answered. "Prove it."
"The last time one of your kids was kidnapped. You, me, Harry and Thomas got her back."
The door swung open and an attractive, middle-aged Nordic blonde stood there. With a sharp broadsword dripping blood. Charity Carpenter speared Hotchner with her eyes. "Who are you?"
"Agent Aaron Hotchner of the FBI."
Charity looked worried. "Michael got one of them."
Hotchner was surprised. "Dead?"
"No, sir. But he is pinned against the wall and he is hurt."
The FBI agent pointed to the blood trail. "The second one was injured."
Charity nodded. "I got him and made him drop Harry. He'll have a two inch cut in his right bicep." Charity grinned slightly. "He was right-handed."
"So there were two of them?" That was not in the profile. It was odd for serial killers to work together, but not unheard of.
"There were three. One got clean away."
"Did they take any of your children?"
As expected, tears filled the mother's eyes. "Three are gone."
"Molly?" Murphy asked.
"Do they know they have Molly?"
Charity shrugged and shook her head maybe.
Hotchner looked from one woman to the other. "Why wouldn't they know?"
The answer came from an unexpected place. A tiny hand tugged on Hotchner's slacks. A little girl in pigtails looked up at him. "Molly hides real good. She hid me and they couldn't see me. No one can see Molly if she doesn't want them too," she bragged seriously.
Hotchner smiled at the pride the child had for her older sister.
Murphy took charge and ordered the other men to secure the scene. She also was on the phone calling for back-up and several ambulances. She hung up and looked at Hotchner. "Your team is coming too." Then she turned to Charity. "Father Forthill is already on the way. You can stay at the church until they're done processing the scene."
Charity nodded. "They cut our phone line and electricity before."
"That's part of their ritual, ma'am." Hotchner tried to explain.
Charity turned to Murphy confused. "Regular humans?"
"How could humans do this to another?"
"There's nothing regular about these humans," Hotchner disagreed.
"The one upstairs is bleeding like any other," responded the woman.
"May I see him?"
Charity looked at Murphy for her opinion before agreeing. Murphy nodded once and then picked up the little girl and led the way inside. Hotchner followed Charity upstairs and realized just how capable and strong she was: she was still carrying the sword and it was not wavering. It would mess up the blood trail for the forensics, but Hotchner was not about to disarm her.
"Why a sword?" he finally asked.
"Before my husband…." Charity trailed off. "He and I used to spar. It was our thing." She opened the bedroom door.
The first thing Hotchner noticed was the pale man on the bed. He was leaning up and he was in pain. A boy of fifteen or so was trying to keep him from getting too agitated. A table full of minor household repairs yet-to-be-made stood off to the side.
They both had a sword at their side.
Michael looked at Hotchner questioningly.
"He's FBI. He came with Karrin," Charity supplied.
Michael held out his hand to shake. Hotchner obliged. "Agent Aaron Hotchner, sir."
"Michael Carpenter." He had steady, sad eyes, broad shoulders and a semi-strong grip for someone in his circumstances. It wasn't hard to image this man wielding a sword.
"Isn't that nice." A man was trying to be sarcastic, but ended on a breathy, pain-filled moan.
Hotchner turned. He didn't know what he had been expecting. This was not it. A man of Hotchner's build was 'crucified' to the wall. Michael had thrown the sword at his attacker and had managed to send the weapon through the man and into the wall behind him. Then they had taken a wire hanger, used wire cutters to procure the correct length and had pinned the man's hands out away from the body.
The boy seemed embarrassingly aware of its appearance. "That's where the studs are," he explained. He handed Hotchner the wire cutters. "You'll need that to get him down. I hammered the wires into the studs. He kept grabbing at the sword."
This family was even trying to keep their intruder alive. They had a chair supporting the hilt end of the sword and they had packed the wound with gauze like experts of first aid.
No family had ever fought the UNSUBs like this before.
None had even come this close to being successful.
The UNSUBs liked playing head games with the children, trying to get them to kill each other or, more often, get them to sacrifice themselves for their siblings. The Carpenter children and parents had worked together to injure two, capture one and deny the group over half of their prey. If Murphy's suspicions were correct, the oldest was merely biding her time until she could free the other two.
All the surveillance the UNSUBs had done on this family had left them woefully unprepared. These victims didn't act like victims.
Murphy came rushing in the room, her phone next to her ear as she was taking notes. She grinned at the parents. "Molly is one smart cookie. She contacted Ivy and had Ivy call us with their location." The police officer finished writing down the address and asked, "Did I get it right? Thanks, Ivy." A pause and Murphy rolled her eyes. "Now's not the time, Kincaid." She hung up on 'Kincaid' and turned back down the stairs at a run.
Hotchner dropped the wire cutters and ran after her. They were both stopped by Gideon and Morgan in the front door. Hotchner grabbed Morgan's arm and started pulling. He yelled to Gideon as they reached the car. "One UNSUB upstairs, injured and restrained. Three children missing. Presumably two UNSUBs at a known location with them."
Morgan jumped into the back of Murphy's car and started handing Hotchner a bullet proof vest and other protection. Then he handed Hotchner a second vest, this one smaller in size. While Murphy was driving, Hotchner wrapped her in the vest as much as possible. Murphy hadn't turned on her lights and sirens which warned Hotchner that the missing children and UNSUBs were near.
"Why call Ivy and not you?" Hotchner asked.
Murphy kept her eyes trained on the road. "Ivy's a very, very… very smart little girl. She would have known who to contact first and which phone lines to try in which order. Molly would have only had to make one call and let Ivy take it from there."
Murphy stopped across the street from an 'empty warehouse.' The lights were on in the abandoned office area and Hotchner could see the shadows of two men arguing. One was holding his arm as if it was injured. Murphy and the FBI agents filed out of the car silently and crept up on the warehouse that was common to the UNSUBs MO.
They lined up outside the office door and counted off: One, two…
"Murph?" a girl whispered.
Derrik Morgan jumped a foot and whirled around to face a teen and two little kids. "Jesus!" he whispered emphatically.
"You're not supposed to say that," the middle one chided him.
"Unless you're praying," added the youngest. "Are you praying?"
Hotchner smirked at the byplay.
"Kids, you are quiet," Morgan proclaimed.
"That's Molly's fault," said the middle child.
Murphy tossed her car keys to Molly. "Good job. It feels good to be able to save the day without him in town, doesn't it?"
Molly grinned in the dark. She was just as pretty as her mother and she had the height of her father. And she had the steel nerves inherited from both of them. She herded her younger siblings to the car.
Ten minutes later, without a single shot fired; they had captured the other two men responsible for the butchering of nine families, from Missouri to Indiana.
It was a good day for the BAU.
So why did it feel like Hotchner and the team had missed something, or several somethings?
"Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves." The Bible, Matthew 10:16