CHAPTER 8

Matt rode with Hoyt over to the house at 79365 East 67th. On the way, Hoyt looked over at Matt. "So I'm going out on a limb here and guessing that you two lovebirds have had another argument about being careful?"

"Not really an argument. More like a conversation." Matt grinned at his friend. "Thanks for the vest by the way." It got quiet for a minute. "Did I tell you I've got one on the way?"

"Congratulations! I wondered when you would get the job done. Does Vince know yet?" Hoyt was all smiles.

Matt had a confused look on his face. "Uh, Michael, I meant a vest."

"Oh, sorry." Hoyt laughed. Neither man said anything for a minute. "Okay this is it." He turned off the engine and the lights. A light was on inside the home and the flicker from a TV could be seen through the front window. They got out of the car and walked back to the trunk to confer with the four other officers who were with them. "Fredericks, I want you, Samson, and Gutierrez to take the back – make sure he doesn't come out that way. I'll give you one minute to get into position. Solomon, you come with me and Houston to the front. We want to make this as smooth as possible – no shooting unless it's absolutely necessary, understand?" The four officers nodded and they split up, each team going to their assigned posts. Matt, Hoyt, and Solomon all drew their weapons and turned off the safety. They paused at the front door for a few additional seconds and then Hoyt knocked. "LAPD! Search warrant!" They heard running footsteps inside the house. "Open up!" More footsteps and then nothing. Hoyt looked over at Matt. "I'll go high, you go low. And Solomon, you go low too."

Matt looked up at Hoyt. He knew why the lieutenant wanted Solomon to go low: he felt guilty about the deaths of two other patrolmen not long ago when they were serving another search warrant. He spoke up. "Hoyt, that's not smart. Another one of us needs to go high, too. I'll do it." He traded places with a thoroughly confused Solomon.

"Remember your talk with CJ?" Hoyt was becoming angry.

"Yeah, I do. I also remember a conversation that your wife and I had a while back. I'm going high. Now let's go in and get this guy." He kicked in the door and the three of them moved in. They didn't see Rossi anywhere. Matt motioned to a closet just inside the living room and as Solomon covered them, Hoyt opened the door and Matt cleared the closet. He wasn't there. They went on through the house clearing it room by room. They didn't see him anywhere. Matt found a door at the far end of the kitchen and as he and Hoyt drew near, Matt mouthed the word "basement" to Hoyt who nodded. Matt opened the door and Hoyt pointed his weapon down the stairs. They found Rossi hanging from one of the floor joists. Just to be on the safe side, they cleared the rest of the basement, then sent Solomon to let the others know that it was over. Matt walked over and looked at the body of Rossi. He had what looked like a fresh wound on his face: a cut going from his temple all the way down to his chin. "Guess that's how he got the emergency appointment with Rutgers." They looked around the basement but didn't find anything that would indicate why the man had committed the murders. While they were waiting on the ME, they went back upstairs and started combing through the rest of the house. Matt found a desktop computer in the bedroom. He put on a pair of latex gloves and sat down in front of it. Going through the files on the computer, he found a journal. It had been started back in 2008. At the beginning, Rossi had talked about how much he liked his job as a surgical assistant. He was working at Buena Vista Hospital and wrote about how great things were going on the job and with his girlfriend Cindy. As Matt read further through the files, the pair had married and bought the house. Three years into the journal Rossi had been laid off from his job at the hospital and had taken a job in a department store – not making anywhere near the same amount of money. Times were hard and the couple was struggling. Then they started having marital problems. He found out that his wife had been cheating on him and was pregnant with the other man's baby. She left him and they were divorced. That's when the journal started taking on darker tones.

Rossi began blaming the other members of his class at med school for his failure to graduate. He thought that they had conspired against him. Closer to the end the once flowing journal became a ramble. Then Matt found the plan that Rossi had laid out for the murders. He had made a list of the members of the class that had graduated and one by one he was murdering them. Entries had been made detailing each murder and the man wrote of how he felt better each time one of them was killed. Matt read one of the last entries out loud to Hoyt.

"I told Belieu that I had come to collect. The bastard didn't even recognize me. Guess I wasn't important enough to be remembered by him. My satisfaction became complete when I pulled the trigger and the hole opened up on his forehead and blood began to drip down onto the floor."

Matt looked up at Hoyt. "So basically this guy's life fell apart because of the economy and he blamed it on the people that he had gone to school with. Evidently the stress of competition at med school washed him out."

Hoyt stood shaking his head. "It's sad really. Look at all of the lives that were destroyed."

After they were done at Rossi's house, Matt and Hoyt headed back to the police precinct. Matt dialed CJ's cell phone. "Hey, we're on the way back. Sorry I didn't call you sooner, I was looking through the guy's computer." He listened to his wife for a minute. "Yeah, we're all okay but he isn't. He hung himself in the basement." CJ said something else. "Love you, too. We'll be there in about fifteen minutes. 'Bye."

The pair rode along in silence. "You know, it makes you wonder Hoyt: how many other people across the country have done things like this because of the economy? You know it's got to be more than just one guy in California."

The lieutenant nodded. "Things are tough all over. There's no telling how many have done things like this over it." There was a pause. "Thanks by the way. You were right about me feeling guilty about Fuentes and Anderson."

"Hoyt, it's just part of the job. Not one that we like to think about, but it happens. Not just for cops but for folks like me, too. The best we can do is be as careful as we can and hope for the best. But you taking all the risk is not going to get it."

Hoyt nodded. They got back to his office and found CJ there stretched out on the couch taking a nap. Hoyt looked at Matt, who motioned him back out of the office. "Let me ask you a question. When Anne was pregnant, did she tend to sleep more?"

"Yep." Hoyt looked at him and grinned.

"I'm starting to wonder. That's not the first time I've caught her napping. And my lady is not a big nap taker." He gave a worried glance at CJ.

"Hey, take it easy there Matt. You don't know for sure. BUT – given what I know about CJ, I'd say you might be right. Just take care of her." He patted Matt on the back. They went back into the office and Matt gently woke up his sleeping wife.

"Hey, sleepyhead, you ready to go home?" He brushed her cheek with his thumb as she gave him a sleepy smile.

"Yep, I am. It's been a long day." She got up off of the couch and gave Michael a hug. "Say hello to Anne for me."

"I will. You two be careful on the way home. Good night." He watched as the pair headed out through the office hand in hand and then smiled. "Lord have mercy on us when they do have a kid. If it's as smart as her and as stubborn as him we're all going to be in trouble." He walked over to his desk and started in on the paperwork to close out the case.