The phone call from Wollie Wolmerans kept playing through Sara's mind as she waited at a traffic light on her way to the crime scene. Greg was chattering, but she had toned him out.
She parked the Denali just as David pulled up with the Coroner's van and Brass met them at the crime scene, looking rumpled and in a foul mood. It was the football field of the local High School with the body of a boy lying on the football field, under the goal posts. Sara had seen a fair share of gruesome crime scenes, but this one was bizarre. A quick glance showed her that the entire neck of the victim seemed to be missing, and there were some ribs exposed in the chest cavity. The look permanently fixed in the eyes of the boy showed something between disbelief and shock.
"His name is Vincent Greeves. 15. Caretaker found him and phoned it in. Paramedics just pronounced." Brass's face was shadowed and Sara could hear the strain in his voice. It was always so much harder whenever children were involved and if there was disfigurement, even more so. As Brass's phone rang and he moved away to answer it, Sara sat on her haunches to survey the scene. After taking some photos, David transferred the body to a waiting gurney. The head was literally hanging by a tread and Sara tried to clamp down on her almost visceral response as she took more photos of the scene.
She immediately picked out a sulphur like smell in the air and the grass around the post seemed trampled, but that didn't give them much. The ground around the other post looked the same and it was most likely due to normal activity, rather than nefarious acts. What was of interest was that the ground around where the body was found bore multiple scorch marks. She carefully took photos and lots of samples from the area, even going as far as to dig out a small soil sample from the center of one of the marks.
Sara became aware that some teenagers were arriving with their backpacks, sitting on the stands to gawk at them. Catching Greg's eye, they wandered over to them. Some of the kids slunk away, but a few seemed curious and Sara decided to head for those.
"Hi there," she greeted a group consisting of two girls and a boy. They didn't bother replying but motioned to the commotion.
"What happened?" one of the girls asked. "Did somebody die?"
Sara didn't miss the almost hungry look in the girls eyes as she surveyed the macabre scene. Strange conclusion to jump to. Let's see what her reaction is to the news.
"Yes. A boy named Vincent Greeves."
"Greeves? No way." The kids stared at the scene. David had already put the body in a body bag, and he and one of his assistants were loading it into the van. Sara watched with the kids.
"Did you guys know him?" Greg asked the group.
"Man, he was in history class with me," the boy answered. He seemed much more shocked than the first girl did.
"What happened?" He asked.
"That's what we're trying to figure out," Sara answered him. "You guys are at school pretty late. Was there a club meeting or something?"
"We were attending night school." The first girl answered, tossing her hair back in a self-important way. "It's for extra credits for early admission to college." She held Sara's eye it see if she was impressed.
"No kidding." Sara answered neutrally. "So you guys must be pretty smart."
The first girl got a superior smirk. Sara kept her face passive, inwardly shaking her head. Surely I was never this obnoxious? She glanced at the second girl who was still to speak and watching the scene with something between fascination and horror.
"So what do you think happened?" Greg asked.
"Vincent is like, a super jock. Who knows how he spends his time." The first girl answered with a sneer. "Not studying that's for sure." She finished off. "Listen, we have to go. I still have some homework to do."
"Yeah, sure thing." Greg said taking his notebook out of his pocket. "What's your names? If we need any more help or something."
After they had given their names, Sara and Greg watched them walk away.
"Were we ever that obnoxious in school?" Greg asked Sara echoing her earlier thoughts.
"I doubt it."
Greg raised an eyebrow and glanced at his notepad.
"That quiet girl's surname is Nieves." He pointed out.
"Ok, it that supposed to mean something?" Sara asked as they walked back to the Denali. The name sounded vaguely familiar but she couldn't place it.
"Well just that it's a pretty uncommon last name. There is an old Nieves family in Vegas. They go back to the mobster days. They still own a lot of the smaller hotels and casinos. I just wonder if there is a family connection."
Sara smiled. Greg's knowledge of old Vegas was legendary. Yet something kept niggling her mind, she knew she had heard or read that name mentioned before.
After dumping the soil and some of the grass samples with Hodges, both Sara and Greg made for the morgue, hoping that Hodges would be able to tell them what had caused the scorch marks. Sara was surprised to find both David and Doc Robbins with the body.
"It's not often I get in something I haven't seen before and you've pulled it off twice," Doc Robbins greeted them.
"Your boy here had his neck almost completely blown off, yet apart from his head he sustained no damage to the rest of his body."
"You mean like a bomb?" Greg asked incredulously.
"Well a very controlled explosion at least. Apart from the obvious, there isn't much wrong with him. He left a very fit corpse."
"Do you have any idea what might have caused it Doc?"
"What on earth were these kids doing?" Sara asked, frowning at the body.
"That's your job to find out," Doc Robbins replied with a smile.