CHAPTER 11

Matt was sitting in the recliner in the den watching the news. After questioning the men who had been at the river, the DA had offered them reduced sentences in return for their testimony: testimony that shed light on the methods that Paul Shackleford was using to get rid of the homeless people in the areas where he was buying up property. His reasons were twofold. First, the value of the property went up when there were no more homeless people in the area. Secondly, the reduction in homeless people made it look like Shackleford had given them jobs, thereby ending their problem of being homeless. It was a win-win situation for Shackleford; he was not only looking good in the eyes of the voters, but he was also making money hand over fist on all of the properties that he was acquiring.

As Shackleford was led away in handcuffs in front of the news cameras, Matt was sitting there still feeling sick to his stomach. The crime scene techs had been all over the chipper equipment. Evidently the men who operated the equipment for the disgraced politician weren't particularly fond of cleaning. DNA from fourteen different individuals had been found – so far. Chuck had called Matt a few minutes before and told him that the crime scene investigators were telling him that they might never know how many people had fallen victim to Shackleford – and he was refusing to talk.

CJ stood at the door to the den watching the news coverage and her husband. As tough as he was, Matt had a soft side and situations like this got to him. She walked in and climbed into his lap and he tilted the recliner back as he always did. Laying her head on his chest, she took his hand in hers and gave it a squeeze. "You helped a lot of people this week, Matt." He nodded but didn't say anything. She raised her head and looked at him. He had his eyes closed. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." Matt opened his eyes and raised his hand to her face, gently tracing the curve of her cheek with his thumb. "I just wonder how many others won't ever be identified. And you have to wonder if there is anybody out there who is looking for them in the first place."

She nodded. "You can only do so much, Matt." He closed his eyes again and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close.