Murder 3

The morning of John Boyle's funeral dawned overcast and rainy, a definite reflection of the Reagan family mood. As soon as the murder had made the news, the entire family had been hounded by reporters from all the local and national outlets. They had staked out Nikki, Jack and Sean at their schools, camped around One Police Plaza, the D.A.'s office, and the precincts where Danny and Jamie worked.

As a result, the family had adopted a sort of "siege mentality". Frank had already turned down a request from the mayor to take personal time, saying that an act like that would make him look guilty. Danny was taking his boys to school, and he and Jamie were taking different routes to and from work. Frank was taking Nikki to school and Erin to work in the Batmobile (the Reagan nickname for his detail's van). Linda and Hank were holed up, putting off errands to stay out of the eyes of the press. When they weren't working, the family gathered at Frank's house. Frank knew he and the rest of the adults in the family could handle the pressure, but he worried about his grandchildren – especially Nikki.

He needn't have worried – Nikki turned out to be the only one of them that could handle the press. Leaving the church after the funeral, Frank looked up and saw a group of reporters racing toward them from across the parking lot.

"Commissioner, want can you tell us about the murder of your son-in-law?"

"Has everyone in your family been cleared of any wrong-doing?"

"Did you kill your son-in-law?"

Instinctively, Frank turned away from them and started to wrap his arms around Nikki, but she pulled away from him and faced the group of reporters full on. "You should go away!" Nikki yelled. "No one in my family could have killed my father! If you had any brains, you'd know that! Leave us ALONE!"

As Nikki climbed into the back of the car, Frank looked over her to Erin and winked at her. He knew that her outburst would be the lead story for the day, but he had never been prouder of her than he was at that very moment. Nikki is gonna make a helluva cop…

A few days later, Detective Beckett stood in her squad room gazing at the whiteboard everyone called the "murder board". All the facts they had gathered so far on the murder of attorney John Boyle was up on that board, but the facts weren't enough to solve this "hot potato" case.

"Here's what we have so far," Beckett said to the squad gathered around. "First, the M.E. has narrowed down the T.O.D. to ninety minutes around 10 p.m…secondly, the Reagan family – including the Commissioner – have all been cleared. RTCC cameras caught Danny Reagan driving in the Bronx at the time of the murder. There's no way he could have gotten to Soho in that time. Jameson Reagan was the closest to the site, but his apartment building has security cameras all over the building. They caught him coming in and not going out again until leaving for Mass in the morning. If he had tried to sneak out, one of those cameras would have caught him…Erin Reagan – Boyle was in her apartment, and the cameras and doorman there said she never left until the a.m." She took a breath. "Plus, none of them had any marks of beating someone on their hands.

"What about our favorite Top Cop?" Esposito said, as Ryan shot him a disbelieving look.

"When John Boyle was being beaten to death, Commissioner Reagan and his granddaughter were seen at Junior's, enjoying the turtle cheesecake. He has the credit card receipt to back himself up. "

Castle looked around. "Junior's does have the best cheesecake in town." He cocked his head, thinking. "The turtle is good, but I really must recommend the cherry."

"What about the ex-chief, Henry Reagan?" Ryan said.

"He's too old, and not tall enough," Beckett said. "Our killer has to be at least six feet tall, and strong enough to do the kind of damage this guy did. Henry Reagan could not have done this…And his DNA wasn't a match. We have DNA samples on all the adults in the family, and there's not a match anywhere…and I don't think one of the Reagan children pulled this off."

"Besides," Castle added, "the Reagan house has its own security system that would have to be engaged if Henry Reagan left the house. The company said it wasn't."

"So we're back at square one…" Beckett looked around. "We've got search warrants now so let's talk to everyone in Boyle's office…apartment building…favorite restaurant…shake the trees and maybe something – or someone will fall out…"

Ryan and Esposito spoke to John Boyle's secretary first thing the next morning. She was a leggy, dark-haired woman, but she was a lightweight, meant to look pretty and say nothing of value. She gave them his files but not before she slowly…VERY…slowly read every word of the search warrant.

Ryan thought she had just watched too many cop shows on television as he asked, "Can you tell us if Mr. Boyle had a beef with any of his clients?"

"John was a defense attorney…most of his clients were not in the best of moods any time he saw them…besides, he met most of his clients out of the office…Rikers Island mostly…"

"Okay, but does anyone stand out…say over the last few weeks?" Esposito asked.

She motioned to the top three files. "If you're looking for John's killer, take a close look at those three guys," she said, as she raised her hand and raised one finger at a time. "I think all three of them had the means, motive and opportunity."

Esposito took the files and nodded to her. "Thanks for your help."

Back at the precinct, Ryan and Esposito told Beckett about the secretary. "She says the top three files are our best bet," Esposito said, "but I don't know…"

"What's the problem with her?" Beckett asked.

Ryan shook his head. "She may be onto something, but I just think she's like all of those people who watch too many episodes of CSI."

Beckett nodded. "I understand that, but we're under a magnifying glass right now. We need to do this by the book, but close this case fast." She picked up the files from Boyle's office, added them to the higher stack she had gotten from the courts, and began to divide them up among the team. "Let's get to work."

Beckett and her team worked through the night, fueled by gallons of coffee and Chinese take-out. By the time the sun rose over the city, they had narrowed down the possible suspects to a more manageable half-dozen or so. Most of the names from the courts were either still in prison, out of state or had solid alibis for the night of the murder.

As it turned out, and to the surprise of Ryan and Esposito, Boyle's secretary appeared to be as knowledgeable as she had been pretty. Of the three files she had recommended to Esposito and Ryan, two of the men involved had been Boyle's clients, and they had both done serious time when Boyle, their defense attorney, had lost the case. Both were now out on parole, and their alibis would have to be checked out.

The last man, a guy by the name of Teddie Cobb, had actually threatened to kill Boyle in front of witnesses during a confrontation at a restaurant in midtown a few months before. The manager had called 911, but by the time the responding officers arrived Cobb had disappeared.

"Teddie Cobb…" Beckett muttered. "Why does that name sound familiar?"

"Beckett, you are kidding, aren't you?" Castle said. It was now very early in the morning, and they were all feeling a little punch drunk from a long night of checking the files. "Teddie Cobb was the best running back to ever come out of Notre Dame, and then he played several years for the New Orleans Saints before being traded to the Giants." He looked at her for what seemed like a very long time, studying her like he wasn't sure he even really knew her. "You DO like football, right?"

Beckett nodded her head emphatically. "Of course, I do…I'm a Giants fan…" She paused. "What can I say? I like Eli Manning…I think he's…cute…"

Beckett looked across the table at Esposito, who had a puzzled look on his face. "What's up?" She asked him.

"Cobb played for the New Orleans Saints the year they won the Super Bowl…"

"Did he?"

"I'm sure of it…" He started going through the case file. "Wasn't there something about Boyle having marks of some kind on his face? Like a ring…?"

Castle's eyes widened. "Maybe like a Super Bowl ring?"

Beckett pulled out Dr. Kaufman's report. "The ME says, 'There are contusions consistent with a heavy metal object worn on the hand, such as a large ring. Faint impressions show something akin to a fleurs-de-lis.' That sounds like something that might be on a Super Bowl ring won by a team from New Orleans to me."

"We can get a look at one online." Esposito turned to his computer as adrenalin kicked in throughout the squad. It worked better than coffee.

"Ryan, start looking into Teddie Cobb. I want to know everything he has ever done and how it connects to our vic."

"You got it, Boss!" Ryan stopped as Esposito called out, "Here it is!"

He turned his monitor around so everyone could see the diamond encrusted ring and there in the middle of it…

"A fleur-de-lis!" Castle's voice was filled with awe.