Officer Marlowe pulled up to the scene, coming to a sharp halt at the end of the driveway, stirring Sara from her doze. She'd decided to take advantage of the half hour journey across town to the house in Henderson, it had been almost eighteen hours since she had last slept and she realised that she'd have to skip breakfast as well. Nick was right, she was sick at having to pull a double every other night, especially seeing as Days have had a relatively quiet week, why couldn't they have got the scene.
'Oh well,' she thought to herself, 'the page mentioned it was a suspected suicide.' She hoped that if it was a suicide then maybe she'd be able to make an earlier bid for freedom. "Well that was a blessing in disguise."
"What was that?" The look which Officer Marlowe gave her suggested that she had been muttering her thoughts aloud again.
"Oh, it's nothing," she got out of the car and collected her case, thanking Officer Marlowe for the ride over. She quickly glanced at the house she was about to literally tear apart; it was the standard two-story house commonly found across Clark County, small, yet homely. She herself could see herself living here whilst Grissom was away in Peru, or Ecuador, or Guatemala or whatever exotic place he went to, instead of staying in his apartment in the middle of the city, alone, vulnerable.
Detective Vartann was waiting just inside the hallway, arms folded, alert and certainly far more awake than she was. She approached him asking where the body was to which he responded, "It's just in here," he led her to the bottom of the staircase and pointed upwards. "The victim's name is Melissa Wilcrow, she lives alone and works as a saleswoman at Globotics, it's a computer manufacturer. She must get quite a decent salary from that."
A female, probably in her early thirties was suspended in the air; the only thing supporting her was the bed-sheets tied around her neck which had been attached to the railing on the floor above. The woman's blonde hair had fallen forwards, obscuring her face and she was wearing nothing but a nightgown, a pair of slippers lay on the floor beneath her feet. Perhaps the most disturbing part was the fact that the body was still swinging left and right slowly, just a couple of centimetres, but enough to be noticeable.
"Who found the body?" Sara asked.
"The body was found by her friend, Andrea, she's gone downtown to give her statement. Apparently they were going out for a girly night out yesterday evening, she wasn't answering her calls, so she came round and that's when she found the body."
"How did she get in?"
"She has a spare key," Vartann replied and put on a mocking voice, "cos she's her BFF."
Sara smiled briefly but soon became transfixed by the body of Melissa Wilcrow, still swaying sinisterly. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left...
"Sara, are you alright?" Vartann asked her, sensing that she looked troubled at what she was seeing. "You don't look so good."
Sara snapped out of her trance, laughing to herself about how stupid she must have looked, "No, no I'm alright." She was lying; she wanted to be anywhere but here, "just reminds me of one of my first cases that I investigated when I came to Vegas."
"Okay, if you're sure."
'No, no, of course I'm not sure, I don't want to be here' her thoughts screamed to her but thankfully these ones remained inside her head. Sara walked up the stairs with her kit; she began taking some photographs of the scene. Same old photos. Same old crime scene. Same old dead bodies. She found several finger prints at the top of the railing, the pattern suggesting that someone had held on to it for support, possibly before a fall?
"Looks like she was having a few financial problems," Vartann called up the stairs, "she has piles of bills accumulating. Electric bill, final warning. Heating bill, final warning. Doctor's fees, final warning."
"Definitely motives for suicide," Sara called back, she wandered into the bedroom of the victim. She noted it had been left in pristine condition: the bed had been made, the trash had been emptied, and the floor had been vacuumed. She remembered a conversation she had had with Greg a few years earlier; about how she would always make sure she left her apartment spotless every time she left it.
There was just one thing out of place in the bedroom, a piece of paper situated on the bedside table. Sara picked it up and read:
I hear the wind a blow,
I hear the grass a grow,
And all that I know, I know,
But I will not speak, I will run away.
Sara bagged it, took it downstairs where she saw the coroners retrieving the body. It appeared that the day shift crew had come for it, so why on earth was she still up working her butt off? She felt a presence come up behind her and Vartann's voice spoke over her shoulder, "what have you got there?" Pointing at the note encased in the evidence bag.
She simply replied, "William Butler Yeats."
Nick found it strangely unusual to see the body of Joseph Huyt looking so normal, well, normal apart from the fact it had been stitched together again. As he was waiting for Doc Robbins to return from an errand, he thought about how awful it must be to be confined to the dark, depressing morgue, spending the entire day simply taking apart dead bodies with only Super-Dave for company. Then there was the smell too, that alone was enough to put Nick off even spending ten minutes in the place.
"I suppose you're here to find out what killed Mr Huyt," Doc Robbins walked through the door, notes being held in one hand whilst the other grasped both his cane and a banana. Nick wondered how he could eat so soon after disembowelling a corpse.
"Yes-iree," Nick responded in a sing-song like manner.
"Well I can tell you now, death was neither pretty nor swift," Doc Robbins opened the file and pinned various x-ray photos on the wall. "Well, someone obviously had it in for this guy, the x-rays show that your victim sustained multiple fractures of the ribs, it looks like someone tried to hack through them with a knife or a small blade."
"But, we only appear to have one incision..."
"I've got more for you. I noticed that the fractures were the same colour as the bone surrounding it, also I found that the fracture lines radiate away from the main break, which suggests these injuries were perimortem. Judging from the incision wounds in the bone, I determined it was a small blade, approximately five millimetres wide. I analysed the skin around the incision, wound tract is also five millimetres."
"Whoa, whoa, hold on a minute," Nick was not liking where this was going, "so you reckon this guy was cut open alive?"
"I'm afraid it seems to be that way," Doc Robbins replied sombrely. Nick was stunned. He'd been a CSI for almost fourteen years now and this was looking to be one of his most gruesome cases yet. Doc Robbins continued to report his findings, ignoring Nick's flabbergasted expression, "the wound was very shallow, the incision was precise to only really break open the skin. I'd say you were looking for a retractable blade, something like a boxcutter."
"So what's the official COD," Nick asked uneasily, dreading the answer to the question.
"COD was exsanguinations. Although little comfort to your victim, death was made quicker by the victim going into shock leading to the shutdown several vital organs. I found hardly any blood in his system and from what I've heard there was very little blood at the scene, that's definitely not your crime scene."
"Okay thanks Doc, although remind me to make sure I stay clear of this place an hour before and after eating," he laughed.
"Nick, I'm disappointed," he exclaimed, "I thought you had a much stronger stomach."
"Yeah, well you only have to remember my very first autopsy to know I can get a little queezy!"
"Oh yes," Doc recounted, "that required a lot of bleach. Oh and before you go, just one more thing, whilst David was prepping the body, he found adhesive residue on the victim's wrists and ankles."
"So that would say he was restrained, probably by some sort of duct tape. Well we found none at the scene, guess I best get ready for some dumpster diving."
Doc Robbins laughed at this, and placed the body of the Joseph Huyt into one of the available vaults, "you have fun doing that. I best be off, Mrs Robbins has invited her sister round for lunch, and although I'd rather be here, I'm not in the mood to face her wrath."
"I thought you still had to do an autopsy on Sara's vic?" Nick asked.
"David's going to be doing it, and I've maxed out on overtime this month and even if I had real legs I don't think I could work any longer. Enjoy your dumpster diving."
"Thanks," Nick chuckled, "enjoy your lunch."
Catherine walked down the corridors of the crime lab in search for Greg. Brass had just told her that the widow was letting them have a look around the house and she wanted to get there before perhaps someone else could. Just as she walked past Trace, she caught something out of the corner of her eye. She stepped backwards to see Hodges in the lab flailing his arms around to attract her attention. Catherine rolled her eyes and stepped into the lab to see what he wanted.
"What happened to paging?" She asked.
"Paging is time consuming," Hodges replied flatly, "anyway, I analysed the trace found in the victim's head wound."
"Wow, that was quick," Catherine remarked, genuinely impressed.
"Well, that's the results you can expect from Nevada's best Trace technician. Your sample came back a mixture of a variety of materials, some powdered pigment, egg yolk, toluene and extracts of linden."
Catherine felt the information going in one ear and out the other; she raised her eyebrows at Hodges, which he knew meant he ought to elaborate.
"Well the powdered pigment and egg yolk are both substances found in tempera, or as it's more commonly known, poster paint. Toluene is a chemical prominent in lacquer, a type of varnish or glazing, so, my guess is that your murder weapon is some kind of ornament or decoration, specifically made from the linden tree."
Catherine tried to cast her mind back to the office, trying to recall anything of that description. Her mind blanked; maybe the crime scene photos could help her. "Thanks very much, Nevada's best Trace technician."
Hodges put on a really cheesy grin at the sound of her words, "does that mean I can get a raise?"
"Well, it was worth a try," Hodges told himself, watching Catherine leave the Trace lab, tossing her hair as she turned around the corner.
Catherine found Greg examining the victim's clothing in the layout room; loud rock music was blasting out of a stereo, which was also positioned on the table.
"Greg!" She shouted over the loud music, but she got his attention anyway as he switched the stereo off. "Find anything useful?"
"I found lots of blood on the victim's shirt," Greg said, "some of it could be the killers, I also got a handprint on his shirt, consisting of this white stuff, Hodges confirmed it to be flour, and I sent the prints to Mandy. Unfortunately, I got nothing from the trousers."
"Doc said the vic sustained a minor blow to the head and I found some blood on the side of the monitor, maybe he was pushed into it?"
"Okay good work, we're gonna have to go back to the scene, we found some trace in a head wound which Hodges identified as a wooden ornament of some sort, I reckon that's our murder weapon."
Greg's eyes suddenly lit up, he grabbed a file containing the crime scene photos on the opposite side of the table and started flicking through it furiously, "I reckon, that Roland Herriot, was killed with... a nesting doll." He instantaneously slammed his finger on the photo of the Russian dolls.
"We need to bring in those dolls," Catherine replied shuffling her papers on the table, "you go back to the crime scene, bring back the nesting dolls, actually no, bring back every piece of decoration. Oh and I want his computer too."
"No problem boss," he responded, adding cheekily, "and I suppose you're gonna make yourself a coffee, relax and put your feet up."
"If I could Greg, I would. I'm gonna have a snoop around the Herriot residence."
The two of them cleared away everything from the layout room and filed it away, heading for the locker room to get ready to head back into the field. Catherine heard a phone beeping, she checked to see it was hers, but hearing the voice behind her say "Sanders" confirmed it was not hers.
She slyly listened in on his phone conversation, although she wasn't expecting it to be particularly interesting. "Oh, hi mom... yes I'm doing alright... no I'm still at work, we've had a busy shift... yeah... oh..." It was at this point Catherine noticed that the tone of the conversation had changed, Greg had began talking slower, and the buzz of energy he usually had surrounding his presence was diminishing, she watched as the smile began to fade from his face and his eyes, usually bright with life had become shadows. "... yeah... okay... I'll try and get down as soon as I can... okay... love you."
He snapped the phone shut and let out a big sigh, stood up from the bench and wiped away his eyes, "Greg," Catherine stood beside him, "are you alright?"
"Yeah," he said wearily, "It's nothing, I'm fine." It was quite clear that he wasn't.
"Greg," she placed her hand gently on his back, "talk to me."
He let out another big sigh; Catherine could see his eyes were beginning to well up, "that was my mom calling," he said quietly, "yeah, she phoned to tell me that Papa Olaf died during the night."
"Oh Greg, I'm so sorry," she felt her stomach twang with sadness for her friend, pulling into an embrace. She felt him return the embrace, albeit with much less enthusiasm. "Take the rest of the day off Greg, I insist."
"No, no it's fine," he replied sadly, "I-I think I'll need a couple of days off, mom wants me to come back to LA for the funeral."
"Take the rest of the week off then."
"No, no, I need to be here for y..."
"Your family needs you at the moment more than we do," Catherine interrupted him, giving him a smile, "I'll call Ray and get him to come in, you should go."
Greg backed away from their hug, "I can't do that to Ray. He needs the time off."
"You need it too Greg," Catherine gave him a comforting smile, "you've accumulated over twenty vacation days this year, call me when you're coming back in."
Greg returned a small smile, although it was one which Catherine would have missed had she blinked, "thanks Catherine."
The two exchanged another quick hug and then Catherine left for the Herriot household. As she sat in her car she began thinking various thoughts. She never realised that Greg's Papa Olaf had actually still been alive at this point, she also felt a twinge of guilt as she realised she was going to have to get Ray to come in on his day off, and then there was a final thought, how she never had contemplated really, just how a few little words or actions could flip someone's life upside-down.
Brushing those thoughts aside, she got her phone out and dialled in a number, she let the phone ring for a moment and heard the person on the other side pick up, "Hey, it's Catherine..."
"Right David, tell me about Miss Wilcrow," Sara said, smiling sweetly at David who was nervously hovering around the body, having trouble finding words.
"Yes, errm, your victim's COD was the transection of the spinal cord and errm, traumatic spondylolysis of the C2 vertebrae," David looked up and returned Sara's smile which seemed highly out of place given the subject matter.
"So that's consistent with say, jumping off the second floor with a knot of bedsheets round your kneck?"
"That would be correct. She died instantly. I also found numerous scars on her wrists; it looks like she tried slitting them."
He held up the right wrist for Sara to see and there were visible healing scars at the wrist, perpendicular to the direction of the arm. "Well that supports a suicide theory."
"Or maybe self-mutilation," David quipped, "if she wanted to kill herself that way she should have slit them vertically along the main vein, slitting it horizontally just causes the blood to clot before you..."
"David," Sara interrupted, "why are you telling me this?"
"I thought it was relevant?" he said slowly, Sara shook her head at him, "well apart from the neck fracture, she was pretty healthy on the inside, despite her diet consisting of fizzy drinks and LuckyGoChicken."
"Did you get any trace, DNA, anything else from the body at all?"
"Nope, nothing at all."
"Okay, thanks David," she left the morgue and took a deep breath of fresh air, a necessity for her whenever she would have to go down there. After ditching her scrubs she wondered what was left to do, just a few prints to identify, oh and the bedsheets as well and hope that the case is closed as a suicide. Her stomach suddenly made a large growl and it was then that Sara realised she hadn't eaten for over ten hours, suddenly those procedures she originally planned to do had found themselves at the bottom of her priorities.
The morning dumpster diving had been unsuccessful, Nick knew that the duct tape was highly unlikely to be found and in hindsight, it seemed foolish even trying to look for it. Now he smelt awful which didn't help Nick's already foul mood.
"Hey Nick," he heard a voice as he was making his way over to the locker room showers, it belonged to Detective Vega, "I managed to get hold of the victim's girlfriend in Victorville, she reported him missing today after he went out for a morning run yesterday and never came back."
"So he was taken, or killed in Victorville, dumped in Vegas?" Nick asked, "we did find him in sports attire, I reckon he musta been abducted on his run."
"Well the girlfriend is making her way down here to collect the body, I'll see if I can get any more from her."
"Thanks Vega," the two parted ways. The smell was worse than he expected, noticing many colleagues' expressions change to looks of disgust as he walked past. He was just about to enter the locker room when he was intercepted by Hodges.
"Stokes!" He exclaimed, "I got the results from the blood drops you collected from the scene, not a match to the victim, but, I managed to get a hit in CODIS, a Mr Geoffrey Nugent, who happens to be from Victorville."
He passed the rap sheet over to Nick who scanned down the list of offenses, "drug possession, illegal dumping, no signs of violent behaviour and trust me, this murder was a messy job."
"But his blood was at the scene..."
"But the evidence is circumstantial, I'm gonna need more if I'm gonna bring him in."
"Fine! Fine!" Hodges said in an overly-dramatic fashion, "but don't expect me to help you when you come crawling back to me begging for me to process some blood, or some trace or some semen." He walked out of the room but then turned back and adding in a childish manner, "oh and by the way, you smell."
Nick rolled his eyes as he watched Hodges leave him in peace, Nick was not in the mood for his annoying remarks and his kiss-ass comments this morning. He sniffed under his armpit realising that Hodges was right, he really stank. He was about to make his way over to the showers when he was interrupted yet again by his pager. Nick growled with frustration as he read it, it was from Archie, requesting Nick to join him in the AV lab.
"I hope this is important Archie," Nick said walking into the AV lab, "I was just about to step into the shower," he added chuckling.
"I think you'll find it's – whoa!" Archie recoiled as Nick stepped closer, "you do smell bad, I better make this quick then."
"Alright, what have we got," Nick asked as Archie began clicking away at a piece of footage from what looked to be a traffic camera outside the scene.
"The shop owner claims the body wasn't there when she closed up shop at eleven, now you can't see the actual parking lot but you can see where cars can turn into it," he indicated to a car which was leaving the parking area, "so I checked the footage between eleven pm and seven am this morning and the only other car that turned into it was... this one." He paused the footage and focused on a silver Honda Civic which was indeed, turning into the parking lot.
"That was at two thirty-four am," Nick read off the timestamp.
"Yep, and they're seen leaving seven minutes later," Archie fast-forwarded the footage to two forty-one which showed the Civic leaving.
"Plenty of time to dump a body."
"Yep, I managed to catch the same guy at a red light two blocks down and ran his plates. Came back to a Mr Geoffrey Nugent..."
"Excellent work Archie," Nick's eyes lit up, "I gotta go", he tapped the lab rat on the shoulder and immediately took out his phone and dialled a number, "Hey, Vega... yeah, I've got a person of interest for you..."
A/N: Hope you enjoyed Part 2 of the story, Part 3 should be up sometime tomorrow. Please feel free to review and give me your feedback! Thanks for reading! :)