"I'm looking for Agent Prentiss?"
The desk sergeant directs the detective back to the room the BAU is using. He knocks on the door. Rossi gets up to answer it.
"Can I help you?" the agent asks.
"I hope we can help each other. I'm Detective Dave LaRoue from Slidell. I've got a couple murders sitting cold on my desk that I think may relate to the ones y'all are investigating. Any chance I can get y'all to take a look?"
Rossi nods. "No problem." He extends his hand. "Dave Rossi."
LaRoue smiles. "Well, I should remember your name."
Rossi chuckles. "Hopefully." He lets LaRoue into the room. "This is our unit chief, Aaron Hotchner. These are SSA's Emily Prentiss and Dr. Spencer Reid."
The detective nods to each of them. "Good to meet yall. I've got two boxes of evidence in my car." He gives them a small grin. "Didn't want to lug them in here in case y'all told me to take a swim in a gator pond."
Rossi laughs. "I understand. Dr Reid loves carrying things in the heat. He'll be glad to help you bring them in."
Emily and Hotch laugh at the dirty look Reid gives Rossi. But the young genius follows the detective out to his car. Hotch pulls out his phone and calls Garcia.
"Garcia, got a detective from Slidell, LA here with 2 like cases. Any idea why they didn't pop in your search?"
"Well, sir, so many police departments down there are still trying to completely recover from Katrina. Could be they aren't linked up yet or just haven't taken the time to get them into the NCIC database yet. If they had been there, I'd have found them."
Hotch nods. "Damn. Any idea how many towns along the Gulf are in the same boat?"
Garcia sighs. "No, sir. The database can find what's there, not what's missing."
"Good point. Do you have time to call around to the other parish police stations and see if they have like crimes?"
"Can do, sir. Not sure how long it will take."
"Take as much time as you need…but hurry. Thanks, Garcia."
"No problem, sir. Oh, and let Morgan know I've finished the backgrounds on Sweeney's immediate and extended family members. No one red flags. Still working on his school mates."
"Okay. Good work, Garcia."
"Thank you, sir."
Reid and LaRoue walk in with the files. LaRoue pulls out the summary files of the two cases.
"First case was a man found tied with Para cord to his bed. A gopher stake was the murder weapon."
Reid frowns. "What exactly is a gopher stake?"
"Its official name is a Sonic Mole Chaser. It's got a spike you punch down into the ground and then hit a button that sends sonic waves through the ground. It drives moles away from gardens and such. You can place mole traps at the mounds and kill some of the critters as they try to escape the waves." He shows them a picture. "Killer used the traps on the victims fingers. They got 4 fang-like spikes that snap down on the critter when it enters the trap, killing it."
Emily pales. "That's disgusting."
"Yeah. Spike to the heart killed the guy fairly quickly but the murderer went ahead turned the sonic waves on. He'd have been horribly uncomfortable for the 3 minutes it took him to die."
He pulls out the next folder. "This was the second guy found. A trash spike was speared into his throat as he was tied to his bed. As he slowly choked to death the killer spread trash all over him. Once he was dead, he used the spike to actually drive some of the trash into the vic's body."
Emily runs a hand over her face. They now had at least 9 victims of this killer. And they had no idea who they were looking for. She feels her blood pressure start to race in frustration. Hotch is studying her.
"Prentiss," he simply says.
She nods. "Need to step out a second, sir."
He nods as she walks out, heading outside to get some air. Morgan and JJ are leaving the interrogation room and see her go. Seeing the stiff way she's walking they know something is wrong. Morgan looks at JJ.
"I'll tell Hotch you're checking on her," he tells her.
JJ nods and hurries after her wife. She finds her outside on a bench, elbows on her knees, face in her hands.
"Em?" JJ says quietly.
Emily looks up, her face pale. "Hey. How'd the interrogation go?"
JJ sits beside her. "He's clean. But what's with you?"
Emily sighs and tells about the 2 new cases. She shakes her head. "It wasn't the scenes that got to me, Jen. It was the frustration of not even being close to a profile. Who the hell is this guy?"
JJ sighs. "I don't know, honey." She lifts Emily's wrist. Her pulse is accelerated. "Baby, you had a late night and I'm sure you've had a frustrating morning with the tip lines."
Emily thinks about the woman insisting on an exorcism of the tools. "You have no idea."
JJ grins. "Head back to the hotel for the rest of the morning. Get a good lunch. Come back this afternoon if your b.p. is down." She rubs her hand over Rocky. "Do it for our girl."
Emily smiles and places her hand over JJ's. "Our girl…I love the sound of that."
JJ grins. "Me, too." She looks down at Emily's stomach. "Now, Rocky, let your mother get a good nap in, okay? And no weird fishy cravings since you'll be in the hotel room, okay?" JJ looks up at Emily. "She says okay."
Emily laughs. "Sure she does. And then I'll see the seafood selections on the room service menu and she'll change her mind."
JJ grins. "Be safe…just order the comfort special. No need to look at the menu for that. And then our room won't smell like the docks."
Emily nods, smiling. "Deal, Mrs. Prentiss." Emily squeezes her hand. "I love you, Jen."
JJ kisses her temple. "I love you, too. Go on. I'll tell Hotch."
"I need to come in and grab my purse and keys to the Tahoe. Hotch drove this morning."
Twenty five minutes later Emily is dropping the thermostat in the hotel room as low as it will go. JJ will probably hate it later but Emily just can't cool down. Once her lunch arrives she strips down to her bra and panties to eat. Once done she lays down on the cool sheets to rest. She rubs her stomach.
"Rocky, there was a time when I could be sick as a dog and I wouldn't walk away from a case. You have changed me so much. Hopefully all for the better. I love you, sweetheart."
She smiles as she gets a kick as if in response.
"I hope that means 'I love you, too' and not 'Shove off, Mama'," she jokes as she closes her eyes to take a brief nap.
Back in the conference room, JJ and Reid are hanging up the information on the Slidell cases on their murder boards. Reid smiles at JJ.
"Remember 2 years ago when Emily had the flu, a fever of 101 and the shakes?"
JJ grins. "And she refused to stay in the hotel room or the conference room. Insisted she was just fine."
"Yep. Even after she nearly passed out," he says chuckling. "Did you ever think anything would make her walk away from a case to take a nap?"
JJ shakes her head, laughing. "Nope. And I have to admit, I was pretty scared she'd be just as hard-headed when pregnant. Sometimes it's good to be wrong."
Reid nods as they finish getting things put up. When they step back, they turn to the others.
"These are the ones we know of in chronological order. There is a healthy gap between Hattiesburg and Slidell," he points out. "We'll need to wait for Garcia to finish her search."
LaRoue nods. "You know, that's a lot of small towns a'tween here and there."
Hotch nods. "He's right. Reid, Rossi, get with Garcia and find out what towns you can take off her hands."
JJ is staring at the boards. "Reid, how far is Hattiesburg from Mobile?"
Reid scans a map in his head. "Approximately 2 hours. Why?"
"I need to see a map and a background report," JJ mutters.
She searches through the suspect files and pulls out the one on Chloe Baker. Garcia's trace had put her as raised in Citronelle, AL. JJ pulls out her new iPhone and maps the distance between Citronelle and Mobile.
"52 minutes," she mumbles and writes it down on the print out in her hand. She then maps Citronelle to Hattiesburg. "An hour and 39 minutes. Not too far at all," she observes as she writes down that time.
Hotch moves to her. "What have you got?"
JJ shrugs. "Just a hunch. Maybe nothing." She looks at the guys in the room. "I know you're pretty sure the unsub is a man. But what if you're wrong?" She looks at Hotch. "I know I'm new to profiling but can I have a little leeway to check some stuff out?"
Hotch nods. "JJ, I trust your judgment. And as I told you before, you've been profiling for years. Run with your hunch."
JJ nods. "Thanks, Hotch." She calls Garcia. "Pen, as soon as you get some towns passed off to Rossi and Reid, can you double check for strange, unsolved deaths in Citronelle, Alabama? It's a small town so may need a call. If that's the case, let me know and I'll make it."
"Whatever you say, my profiling queen."
JJ grins. "Better not let Em hear you dub me that."
"She's been Princess since she showed up. She won't care."
JJ laughs. "Right. Thanks, Garcia."
Emily gets back to the station just before 2. They team and the three detectives pour over case reports and faxes coming in from multiple towns between New Orleans and Hattiesburg, MS. Some they are able to dismiss, some end up in a possible file, others are definitely the work of the unsub.
Emily shakes her head as she tosses her last case on the table. "No way this one is connected. The cops better check with his ex-wife again."
"Why do you say that?" Rossi asks.
"The, uh, 'mutilation' she did was definitely in response to the fact that he beat and raped her on multiple occasions."
Rossi winces. "Ah. Right. She did a Bobbitt* on him."
Emily nods. "Oh, yeah. Big time. Shoved it down his throat when she was done."
Rossi shakes his head. "Sometimes I'm thankful my ex-wives were crazy in a normal way."
The others laugh at the thrice married man. JJ walks into the conference room. She had been using another room so she could follow up on her hunch without disturbing everyone as she paced in anticipation. She looks at Detectives Florence and LaRoue.
"All these towns along here, did they have a lot of construction jobs going on in the wake of Katrina, Ruth and other hurricanes?"
Florence nods. "Hell, it's a booming industry by the end of every hurricane season. Katrina made it worse around here but every year it's pretty bad."
JJ turns to Hotch. "We need to go back farther than a year. Chloe Baker has been doing construction jobs all along the Gulf for 5 years. Five years ago she left her hometown of Citronelle after her boyfriend was found killed by a pair of hedge clippers. Police suspected her but could never pin it on her. And since he was an abusive drunk they didn't really press it anyway."
"Small town cops swept it under the rug as a praiseworthy homicide," Morgan states.
JJ nods. "Yeah. Look, I know it's a thin connection but it just…feels right," JJ implores Hotch.
The unit chief considers what she's said. "You have Garcia running her work history?"
JJ nods. "Yes, sir. But if some jobs were under the table it may be hard to pin her to some of these cities."
Hotch looks at the murder boards, as well as the stack of linked crimes that had yet to be added. He nods.
"Keep running with your theory, JJ. But let's not bring Baker in until we can be sure she was in all these towns."
JJ nods. "Thank you, sir."
"No thanks needed. You did good, Jareau." He looks to Reid and Rossi. "Right now I don't plan to send you all to other states but at least head over to the other Louisianna parishes tomorrow to check out the linked and possibly linked cases. If the crime scenes are still secure check them out."
Reid nods. "Yes, sir. Should we show a picture of Baker around?"
Hotch thinks a moment then shakes his head. "Not yet. Last thing we need is a leak that the killer is a woman. If this doesn't pan out it will be a nightmare for Prentiss to get control of."
"Thank you, sir," Emily says with a grin.
He nods, smiling. "That said…I think JJ may be on the right path. Morgan, JJ, head back to ACE tomorrow to speak with the manager. Get her application if you can so Garcia can check it out. If she worked under the table anywhere she may have still listed it on her previous work history." He looks at LaRoue. "You are welcome to come back and help us tomorrow with chasing down more leads or we can contact you if an arrest seems imminent."
LaRoue nods. "Thank you. I'll talk to the sheriff tonight. If he doesn't mind, I'll stick here to help out. Man or woman, I want that sick fuck off the street." He looks to JJ and Emily. "Uh, excuse my language, ma'ams."
JJ grins. "Southern cops are so cute."
Reid grins. "That explains Will."
Everyone laughs as JJ blushes bright red. The team locks up and heads out for the night, stopping for dinner at a local restaurant. Emily stares at the menu.
"Uh, Jen…can I, um…"
JJ sighs. "Yes, you can have fish." She then points to everyone else. "But only Emily can have fish. Got it?"
"So, JJ, does this mean I have to marry you if I want to get the seafood platter, too?" Morgan teases.
JJ just glares at Morgan. "Of course not, Derek. You just need to get pregnant."
Everyone laughs as Emily happily orders the broiled seafood platter.
*refers to Lorena Bobbitt, who cut off her husband's penis. Law enforcement officers, especially in the Northern Virginia area now call similar crimes a Bobbitt. Twisted, I know, but such is life. :o)