Chapter 1: The Case
When Jennifer Jareau told the rest of the BAU that a case had been assigned to them the team stood and entered the conference room as they always did, wondering what type of killer they'd be up against this time. After Emily's "reincarnation" and JJ's promotion the team finally felt whole again so they moved comfortably into their seats, preparing their minds for the worst but confident that they could catch whoever was committing the crimes.
Penelope Garcia sat near the screen with the remote in hand, waiting until everyone was seated before begging. "This next case is taking us all the way back to Sin City folks," she said as she turned in her chair slightly and clicked the remote simultaneously. Reid sat up a little straighter in his chair at these words, wondering what type of killer was stalking his hometown.
The screen was instantly filled with brutal images of women whose bodies had been cut in precise lines, the skin torn open easily by whatever blade the unsub had used. "In the past month two young women were found dead on the side of the road, their bodies sliced open approximately thirty times each and each woman was sexually assaulted. Also, the killer has been sending videos to the local police, sometimes hacking their systems and streaming live videos of his…attack."
Garcia cleared her throat at this as the team looked closely at the screen. "The first victim, Leah Carmichael, was found just outside the borders of Las Vegas on the side of highway fifteen. She had been reported missing by her family and her job a week prior to her body being found. She also had a puncture wound in the side of her neck. Paralyzing agents were found in her blood stream. The second victim, Ella Nichols, was also found along highway fifteen, closer to the city than Leah Carmichael. She had only been missing four days before her body was found."
"The first victim looks like she was his first. Restraint marks on her arms and ankles, cuts in the skin and sexually assaulted," Morgan said, eyeing up the images. "But the second victim looks like he was getting comfortable, she's more bruised and there is no puncture wound, he's confident in his ability to control them now."
"Has anyone else gone missing since these bodies were found?"
"Yes," Garcia said turning to the screen. She clicked again and a photo of another young woman appeared on the screen. "Dana Zerch was reported missing two days ago."
"All of these women are similar in build and appearance. Light brown hair, brown or hazel eyes, light skinned, he has a type," Emily said, her eyes flicking over the women's features.
"He has an ideal, a final target," Hotch said, standing up and moving closer to the screen. These women represent someone to the unsub; he's going to end his game with her. All of these women are simply a warm up for him. Wheels up in thirty minutes."
The team all nodded and broke away to grab their go bags and headed to the jet. They all sat down and began looking over their case file, each of them focusing on different aspects.
"All of these women are of mediocre means but in some position of power," Rossi began, flipping through his notes. "Leah Carmichael worked as a teacher, Ella Nichols as a social services worker and Dana Zerch as an owner of a local restaurant. These women all had power over people but weren't rich and by all accounts they were well liked. The unsub might have issues with people in power or, maybe, just with women in power."
"He hasn't progressed into any higher levels of authority, but if he has an ideal we can assume her status is higher level than these women. Dana Zerch is still missing, maybe we can find her and the unsub before he reaches the point of attacking his ideal target," JJ says as her eyes scan the pages in front of her.
"Have the local police found any evidence or witnesses pertaining to the victims?" Reid asked.
At that question Garcia spoke up from the other end of the speaker phone. "Some things have been recorded, yes. A couple saw Leah Carmichael leaving the school and walking down the street, she appeared to be heading to a local café where she met with a friend every Thursday for coffee, she never made it there. Ella Nichols left work to visit a foster family, she never made it to the house and her car was found on the side of the road with a blown out tire. Dana Zerch was last seen by her employees the night before she was reported missing as she was locking up the restaurant."
"All of these women were victims of opportunity. While Leah Carmichael was following a set pattern she was walking in a crowded area, the unsub must have some sort of ruse to get her to come to him. Ella Nichols' car broke down, another opportunity in a crowded area. And Dana Zerch must have fallen for a ruse after leaving work," Rossi said, looking at each of his team members in turn.
As the plane took them from Virginia to Las Vegas there wasn't much discussion beyond the case and only Prentiss asked Reid if he was planning to see his mother if they had time. Reid simply nodded in response to this inquiry and returned his attention to the case files.
When they landed in Las Vegas the team split up, Morgan and Prentiss going to the scene where they last body was found, Hotch and Rossi going to Dana Zerch's apartment and Reid and JJ went to the local police department to talk with the Chief of Police. When Reid and JJ entered the building JJ noticed Reid was looking around at all the officers, as if looking for someone.
"Reid, is everything okay?"
He nodded and began marking on the tacked up map where the victims lived and where their bodies were found. JJ let him work his geographical profile, not wanting to interrupt him as his profiles had always helped locate the killers in the past.
She couldn't help but notice how Reid checked his phone much more than he normally would and how his eyes skirted around the department, as if hoping for something, or someone, to appear.