Ray felt exhausted as he drifted through the lab, his destination set for the break room. The case had not particularly been too taxing, the scenes in comparison to many he had processed before hadn't taken nearly as long but the case itself appeared to be going nowhere now that Evan Morris had lawyered up.
Ray sighed and took a seat on the couch, thinking back to a time where work seemed regular. No early morning call outs. No dead bodies. No overtime. Proper vacation days. At one point during his career he'd considered going back to the university but then he realised how much of a difference he was making, the satisfaction he got every time they caught the guy. Fitting in with the team had not been easy, they had already been an established team, and they were also still grieving at the loss of one of their friends as well as their supervisor. Things got easier for him though and although he sometimes felt he distanced himself apart from them, he knew they still respected him and could count on him.
"You know I've got some pills for that," a voice from behind him spoke causing Ray to jump slightly, realising he must have dozed off. He turned around and saw that it was Hodges.
"No thank you Hodges, I was just taking some time to mull over my thoughts," Ray replied.
"You know, that's the sort of thing that Grissom used to do. There'd just be times where he would blank out and completely lose himself into his imagination, enter a world of his own. You know I always wondered what was going through his head during those moments. I guess it would be on the lines of 'people really are extraordinary creatures, how our very nature is derived from the activities of insects' or maybe he hears classical music going round his head, or maybe he was thinking 'why am I paying Sanders so much these days'..."
"Is there something you wanted to tell me, Hodges?" Ray interrupted, having ignored Hodges' ramblings, something he had gotten accustomed to doing.
"Actually, Mandy sent me here; she said she's got the results of your dressing room prints."
"Okay, thanks Hodges." With a little bit of self-determination, Ray got himself onto his feet and headed for Mandy's lab. As he traipsed along the corridors he got the feeling that someone else was following him.
"So what type of music do you like, Doctor Langston?"
"Hodges, I'm working," Ray said wearily. Hodges, finally getting the picture that Ray wanted to be left alone scuttled off to look at the same fragment of porcelain he had identified two hours earlier. Ray spotted Mandy, he asked, "so what did you find in the dressing room then."
"Oh, hi Ray," she looked up from the computer screen and retrieved a file from her left. Opening it she reported, "I found three different fingerprint donors in the victim's dressing room. The first was Lorna McAlman, the victim, who's also the donor of the odd set of hand prints which Sara noted. The second set of prints belonged to a Stacy Fillipio, it says in her file she now works there as a make-up artist and hairdresser."
"How come she's in the system?"
"Used to be a showgirl, they all get put in, unlike most however, she's actually updated her information. Only two of your prints came back as hers, both found on the vanity tables."
"Okay, so I reckon it's safe to rule her out."
"Right, which brings us to our last person, brace yourself for it, a Mr Quinz Martinez Algora Risetti."
"The Stage Manager? Surely he shouldn't be in her dressing room."
"Yes, and he's got a pretty dodgy record to go with his dodgy name too." Mandy passed over the file for Ray to read.
"Let's see, we have assault, trespassing and numerous counts of sexual harassment. Thank you Mandy, I'll get Brass on to this guy."
For the second time that morning, Frank LeTorneau had been disturbed by knocking at the door, cursing under his breath he reluctantly abandoned his breakfast, walked through his hallway and opened the door to find the two CSIs standing there, only this time they appeared to be joined by a police escort, a tow truck and their kits.
"Oh well if it isn't Knuckles and Nash," he grunted, annoyed at being interrupted from his daily routine, "I though' I told you, you ain't steppin' a foot in my house."
Greg held up a piece of paper in his hand and said, "well, we have an invitation," after which he passed the warrant to a furious LeTorneau and he walked into the house, deliberately emphasising his first step into it.
Nick followed suit adding to LeTorneau on his way in, "also, we're taking the truck with us." He gave a whistle to the driver of the tow, gesturing him to take LeTorneau's truck away. "So, you gonna give us a tour?"
Nick chuckled to himself as he walked into the hallway, closely followed by a watchful and enraged LeTorneau. Nick was surprised by how well-kept the place was, the floor looked freshly vacuumed, the room smelled of various fragrances, the paintings mounted on the walls, were all neatly aligned and projected an air of sophistication which appeared to clash with the personality of Frank LeTorneau. Nick remembered speaking to him the year before; he had recently lost his wife, a rather prosperous entrepreneur, to cancer. 'I guess he wanted to keep her presence in the home with him, the sophistication was a part of her,' he thought to himself.
Nick followed Greg into a room which appeared to resemble an art gallery of sorts. On the far side, there was a row of exquisite paintings like those mounted in the hallway. A sculpture of an angel carrying a baby aloft decorated the right hand side of the room and a grand piano was located near the entrance of the room.
"Nick," Greg called him over and shone his flashlight at a particular item on display. A dagger, but it was more than just a bog-standard dagger, the hilt had been encrusted with jewels and gold. The blade itself reflected rays of sun creeping through the blinds so that it lit up the whole room.
"That's a nice dagger you got there," Nick looked round at LeTorneau who had followed them through the house.
"My father found that," LeTorneau commented, "from the body of a Jap he gunned down himself. Got every kind of jewel you can think of, emeralds, sapphires, rubies ..."
"And diamond?" Greg finished for him. "Funny, we found a fragment of diamond in Suzanne Hopkins' mouth."
LeTorneau simply nodded and kept calm until he noticed that Nick and Greg had opened their kits and had put on their latex gloves he began to panic, "you know that thing's real valuable to us; it's like our most prized possession."
Nick had already swabbed the blade, upon adding the hydrogen peroxide, the swab turned pink rapidly. "Well, this thing's real valuable to us too. It looks like this is our murder weapon."
The colour from LeTorneau's face began to rapidly diminish and he was beginning to get overcome by a sense of dread. "I um, cut my finger on it when was cleaning it."
"Okay," this time Greg began to talk, brandishing a bottle which looked like bleach, "we'll buy that, for now, well, until we try this out. You know what this is? It's luminal spray, any blood you've tried to scrub away will glow in the dark when you spray it with this. Nick honey, could you kill the light please?"
Nick completely shut the blinds plunging the room into near darkness. Greg then proceeded to spray the luminal around the room, initially there appeared to be no reaction before Greg noticed the rug in the centre of the room. Tossing it aside, he began to spray in the area covered by the rug and the wooden boards began to glow an eerie blue, encompassing an area about the size of a large dog.
"That must have been a pretty nasty cut," Greg remarked getting up with a satisfied smile. LeTorneau remained speechless.
"Book him, Mitch," Nick told the officer who silently stood on the sidelines, "Greg, if you stay here and process downstairs, I'll go back to the lab and see if I can get anything else from the truck."
"Come on sunshine, let's go," Officer Mitchell said to LeTorneau as he took the man through the hallway back towards the street.
Just as he was leaving, Nick heard footsteps running down the stairs at a rapidly; he instinctively reached for his gun holster but quickly retracted once he saw who it was.
"What's going on here?" A woman in her early twenties stood before him. Nick noticed her bright blue eyes were opened wide in alarm, she looked as if she was half-way through straightening her blonde bob and that she was wearing more make-up than Marilyn Manson, or another one of Greg's favourite musicians.
"I'm going to need you to step outside a minute, Miss LeTorneau, we're taking your dad to PD," The woman's eyes widened further, "I'll explain everything to you on the way."
"Charlie? Charlie? Are you there Charlie?" A woman called out to the empty crowd.
"Olivia," the man said weakly, "I've been looking all over for you; I knew you'd be there for me."
"Oh Charlie, I'd be there for you no matter what." The two came together and embraced passionately.
"We better go, we're going to miss the train," the man said hurriedly.
"Wait, we've just got time for this." The woman placed her arms around his neck, they mutually knew what it meant and the two of them began to move towards each other for the kiss...
"Stop! Stop! Stop!" A wheezy sounding voice echoed around the auditorium as the couple quickly broke away from their kiss abruptly. "You call that acting? Where's the passion? Where's the desire? Where's the lust? Come on I need to feel it, and so does your audience tonight, I've already lost two of my finest actors and seventy five percent of tonight's ticket sales! You need to bring it back and if you two can't get any chemistry this show will be shutting down! Now get back and..."
Risetti's words were cut off as he saw two people walking down the steps of the auditorium towards the stage. The man on the right was tall; he looked athletic and had a stern expression on his face. The man to his left was quite a bit shorter, a lot older and was beginning to show his age. He too, had an equally, if not more stern expression on his face. Risetti instantly recognised the man on the left and he began to panic, this was it, the show's over and he could only do what his instincts told him.
Jim Brass sighed and turned to his colleague, "go get him, Lou."
Lou Vartann did not even need to hesitate as he leapt into action, sprinting down the steps three, no, four at a time and in a matter of seconds he was on the main stage. He saw his target scuttle behind the curtains to the backstage area. Whilst Vartann had speed to his advantage, he had no sense of navigation as he negotiated along narrow corridors, up and down numerous staircases, occasionally looking right to check in the dressing rooms. He stopped to catch his breath for one moment, with the thought that somebody will be outside to catch him, until he heard a small crash, directly from the prop room.
Instinctively, he headed towards the source of the noise, round tight bends not once to take in anything he might have passed until he reached the prop room. Various items were strewed all other the floor: hats, coats, various stools and even a grandfather clock. Across the room he heard a knocking from an adjacent room. Thinking the suspect might now be armed; Vartann extracted his pistol from his holster and darted into the room. There was nobody inside but the sound of knocking grew louder. Various papers had been brushed on the floor and the room had been left a mess.
Knock. Knock. Across the room there was another door, but this lead to a staircase and Vartann could clearly see that at the top of the stairs was his prey, his escape ironically hindered by a pair of locked emergency exit doors. "Don't do anything weird," he called out to Risetti as he got closer to him to cuff him.
As he reached out his hand however, Risetti tried one more last means of escape, lunging out of the way of Vartann. Somewhere along the way, he had misjudged his footing and the man let out a piercing yelp as he tumbled down the staircase coming to an abrupt rest on the concrete floor, nose face first.
Trying to hold back a laugh, Vartann sighed and casually walked down the stairs and quickly cuffed Risetti. He said quietly into Risetti's ear, "one day. One day, I'll say those words and they'll just put their hands up and let me do my job."
"Okay, Mr Risetti," Brass said disgruntled, "now I'm all for keeping fit, but I'm not as athletic as I used to be and as far as I know innocent men don't run."
Mr Risetti opened his mouth to talk but was interrupted by the man on his right, "Mr Risetti, I advise you to remain silent throughout this interrogation. Tell me Captain Brass, what evidence do you have which puts my client at the scene of the crime? Because six hundred people saw a Mr Martin Salisbury shoot the victim..."
"The actual crime in this instance was not the shooting, but the replacement of a prop pistol with a loaded Glock 19. As Production Stage Manager, you have access to the prop room, to Evan Morris' office; it's possible that your client could have done the act himself."
"Evan is sloppy, he's always leaving his stuff lying around," Risetti piped up.
"Also," the attorney spoke, " you have no evidence which puts the gun in my client's hand."
Brass took a deep sigh, "No, we don't. But there is something we want to know from your client. The autopsy identified Lorna McAlman showed signs of recent sexual activity, and we found your prints all over her dressing room. Can you explain why you were in her dressing room?"
Risetti grinned and said, "I'm sure I'm not the only one who's been inside that dressing room..."
"No, you're not actually. We also found Stacy Fillipio's prints, you know, her hairdresser, I think she's got a good reason to be there."
"Well, maybe she preferred fooling around with the ladies," Risetti retorted. The room was silent for a moment as Brass and even Risetti's lawyer gave him a look of intense disapproval. "Alright, alright, I admit, I had sex with Lorna, but she agreed!"
"Mr Risetti, I strongly recommend you remain quiet..."
"No, no, Arthur, I've got this," Risetti held his hands up to which Arthur groaned quietly and sunk his head into his hands, "I had sex with Lorna, I didn't kill her though. She was going to be leaving the show after our time in LA and I didn't want her to, the show has been a phenomenal success and that was mainly down to Lorna. She's become a star. We were planning on touring the East Coast next year and I couldn't have Lorna leaving the production."
"So you had sex with her to convince her to stay, that sounds like a great deal," Brass said sarcastically, laughing to himself about the prospect that someone would willingly offer themselves to the guy.
"No, she agreed and came onto me. Said she hadn't been loved for a long time..."
"That's because you keep dragging her away from her husband."
"Husband?" It was Risetti's turn to laugh now, "Lorna never married, in fact the only family she had was her brother and niece, they lived in Sacramento."
The more he talked to the guy, the more he doubted that the guy actually had any motive to kill the woman. Sure, he was a slimeball but it didn't seem to make sense for him to do it.
"Captain Brass, let me put this into perspective. Tonight's show was fully booked, all six hundred and twenty-three seats occupied. Figures this morning showed that now I ain't even got a hundred and fifty, and even less for tomorrow's show. I am facing the prospect of having to cancel this show all together. What would I benefit from killing Lorna?"
Brass took a deep breath. What the guy said made perfectly logical sense and realistically Brass had nothing to hold him on, there was no evidence to imply he was ultimately responsible, "okay, Mr Risetti, you're free to go. But, I highly recommend you don't go sleeping round with your subordinates, it's not very good at making you friends."
Risetti gave him a smug smirk before slowly getting up and leaving the room, escorted by the accompanying officer. Arthur sighed, rolled his eyes and shortly followed suit, although Brass knew that it wasn't aimed at him. He himself scratched his head momentarily before leaving the room to be met by Ray who had been watching from the observation room. "Sorry Ray, we had nothing else to hold him on."
"I understand," Ray added meekly. "This has been one frustrating case."
"Tell me about it, few leads, all have gone nowhere and hardly any useful evidence. Even if we do find a guy we've got barely anything for court, and I have pretty much all my detectives still interpreting eyewitness accounts. The Ecklie's gonna roast us."
Nick walked into the AV lab to find Archie pouring over a bunch of numbers, letters and complicated formulae on his computer screen, "I've extracted all the routes that he's put into his SatNav. Your guy has made seventy-two round trips to Parker, Arizona in the past eighteen months." Archie told Nick without averting his eyes.
"I presume each route is dated?" Nick asked to which Archie nodded, "Okay could you identify whether LeTorneau was in Vegas on July the second of last year?"
"I can try," Archie responded, tapping various things on his keyboard which looked like gibberish to Nick. "Here we go. I can confirm that he was indeed in Vegas that night, returned from Arizona that very morning actually."
"Okay, do we know whether we actually made those routes, just having the data alone won't stand up in court."
"Well, I compared the mileage covered by the vehicle and the SatNav. About ten miles out but that could be down to deviance from the route, I think it's pretty solid."
"Okay, thanks Archie," Nick left Archie to process and made his way over to PD but was aware of someone calling out behind him.
"Nick, Nick!" He turned around to see Hodges running towards him, "soil trace you found in the back of Frank LeTorneau's truck, exact match to the soil found on the cloth presumed to wrap up the victim in."
He handed Nick a file, and Nick patted him on the back, "Good work, Hodges," he tried for a second time to make his way over to interrogate LeTorneau only to bump into Greg, who had just returned from the scene.
"Nick," he began explaining rapidly as the two of them walked along the corridor, "one of the jewels encrusted on the dagger I saw was fractured, looks to be diamond. I managed to extract epithelials from the hilt and running them through DNA."
"Okay Greg, I need to get..."
"No, no wait there's more," the two of them paused for a moment. "I found some circular blood drops heading into the kitchen from the main crime scene, gravitational blood drops I reckon. We found a large patch of blood in the gallery; I presume that's where Suzanna Hopkins died, so these drops could suggest that the killer got injured as well."
"Did you get any DNA from it?"
"Sadly, no, I couldn't see any visible dried blood and it looks like the remainder has been compromised. Did you get anything from LeTorneau?"
"I'm on his way to speak to him now."
Greg gave him a look of surprise, "nobody's talked to him yet?"
"It's just us two working the case. Pretty much every available detective is working that theatre shooting or Swing's triple homicide, cold cases always get lowest priority. You go and see if you can get anything from DNA, I need to chat to LeTorneau."
Greg nodded and walked off whilst Nick headed once more to PD. A smile began to emerge on his face, they were close to closing it he could feel it, but this particular case was more satisfactory knowing that although it had been a year yet they were still going to catch the guy.
"Okay Mr LeTorneau, this is what we've got," Nick directly looked into the eyes of Suzanne's killer, it was his way of intimidating them, he could read the fear, the brutality within them, but Mr LeTorneau's eyes showed little of it, if anything, they showed remorse. "We have a girl who lives two doors down from you dead with a stab wound; we have blood all over your gallery floor. We found blood on your prized dagger." As he revealed each aspect of the case to LeTorneau, he slid across a crime scene photograph supporting each point. "And that's not all folks! We have a bloody sheet with trace of 'Miracle Lawns' fertiliser, you know, the stuff you transport, and we found that same stuff in the back of your truck. Oh and get this, the blood found on that sheet, is a match to Suzanne Hopkins, the victim and your daughter's best friend."
Throughout the entire interrogation, LeTorneau had remained silent. He made only slight movements, whether it be to scratch his head, stroke his goatee or to tap on the edge of the table. There was a long silence, a silence only broken by LeTorneau's attorney, who Nick had deliberately ignored, clearing his throat.
"I did it," LeTorneau croaked, breaking the silence. His attorney gave him a look of warning, begging him not to confess. Nick waited for him to elaborate his story, to explain his reasoning, his method, his true motives, but LeTorneau never said anything again, he averted his eyes down and said nothing.
Nick, about to order LeTorneau's arrest suddenly heard his phone ringing, "Stokes."
"Nick, it's Greg," the voice on the other side was talking at a very fast pace and expressed a sense of excitement, Nick knew too well that this meant there was something important, "I looked through the case file again, there was something we missed from autopsy, the vic had some skin under her nails and it was noted she had defensive wounds. Well I matched it to the epithelials found on the dagger."
"Okay good," Nick said uncertainly, he didn't like where this was going, he'd just got a confession and now it looked like the evidence was going to compromise that.
"There were two epithelial contributions on the dagger, one belonged to the vic and I got another, but Nick, they don't belong to Frank LeTorneau. It came back XX. Female. Now here's the cherry on the cake, I compared the DNA to Frank, her DNA shows her to have half of his alleles."
A/N - Thanks for reading everyone, the final part of this story will be up tomorrow! Hope you enjoyed Part 3. :)