Occupation: Cold Case Detective
“Why’re you so bright eyed this morning?” I asked my partner as I dumped my tote bag on my desk in the cold case homicide office and struggled out of my winter coat.
Shane Reese leaned his athletic frame against the wall near the metal filing cabinets, crossing his arms. “I’m pleased because I have the suspect from the Learner case in the interview room right now.”
Pulling off my knit hat, I smoothed my sweaty blonde hair back from my forehead. “Then what are you doing in here?”
“Letting him enjoy a cigarette,” Reese responded. “And warming up for my grand finale, unless you want to talk to him first.”
I glanced at the clock, it was eight fifteen. “How long have you been here?”
He headed towards the door. “Patrol picked him up at the bus station at four this morning and called me.”
“Has he asked for a lawyer?”
Reese shook his head as he paused in the doorway. “Not yet. But I’m thinking he might once I ask for his DNA.”
“Let me get my stuff together and help you.” I quickly pulled my notes for the Learner case. Steven Leaner had been found beaten to death after a robbery in his apartment in the Black Rock section of Buffalo in 2001. William Westin had been a suspect back then, but the original detectives couldn’t shake his alibi. That alibi fell apart when Reese and I double checked it three days ago. His old girlfriend now stated she couldn’t be sure if he was with her on the night of the homicide or the night after. Now that she was clean and away from him she felt brave enough to finally tell the truth.
That was enough to try to bring Westin in for another interview. Only Westin had been ducking us for the last two days. We’d left notes at all his favorite haunts, all for naught. We put a BOLO out for him before we left work yesterday, in the hopes someone on patrol might come across him. Now Westin was sweating in the interview room.
Or not. When I checked the monitor in the camera room across the hall Westin was propped up on one arm, fast asleep. A lit cigarette was still clutched in his right hand. Reese walked in, startling him awake. “Grabbing some ZZZ’s, brother?”
Walking past the red warning light that signaled an interview was in progress, I entered the interview room. Steven looked up at me. “Who’re you?” Front tooth missing. The purple remnants of a black eye. Shaggy brown hair that hadn’t been washed in weeks. He had all the hallmarks of a junkie.
“This is my partner, Detective Lauren Riley.” Reese told him. I made no move to shake his hand because he was picking at a large, weeping open sore between his index and ring finger.
I sat in the open chair next to Reese, opposite of Westin. “You’re the best looking cop I’ve ever seen,” Westin said, looking me up and down.
“Seen a lot?” I asked, keeping the disgust out of my voice. In the interview room you caught more flies with honey. In Westin’s case, it might be actual flies.
He shrugged. “Some. But I ain’t never been accused of no murder before.”
“That’s good, right? So why don’t we clear this whole thing up.” Reese reached behind his back and almost magically produced a Swab kit.
Westin sat straight up now. “What’s that?”
“I just need you to open your mouth and I’ll swab your cheek. Doesn’t hurt a bit.”
Westin stubbed out his cigarette in the cheap metal ash tray on the table. The homicide squad had a whole stack of them in the back room so we could put a fresh one out for every suspect to collect abandoned DNA samples from cigarette butts they left behind.
“Nope. I’m not giving the cops my DNA. No way.” He crossed his arms over his chest.
Knowing the magic words ‘I want a lawyer’ could be next, Reese excused us and we left Westin to stew.
“Watch him while I go hit the head,” Reese told me. “He smoked four cigarettes. If he won’t give up his swab, we’ll just take those and lock him up on his outstanding warrants. By the time he’s ready to be released we’ll have the lab results back.”
Walking back into the camera room, I watched our suspect on the monitor. He picked at his scab. Stared at the file we had left on the table. Stuck his finger in his nose. Then…
“Son of a bitch,” I whispered, thankful the video was recording everything.
Reese knew me so well that when he returned from the can he could tell something was up. “What’s wrong?”
“Things just got a little more difficult.”
Looking baffled, he asked, “Why?”
Motioning to our suspect, I informed him: “He just ate all of his cigarette butts.”
“Son of a bitch.” Reese echoed, scanning the screen, looking for the smokes.
“It’s going to be one of those days,” I sighed.
You can read more about Lauren in A Cold Day in Hell, the first book in the NEW “Cold Case Investigation” mystery series.
Lauren Riley is an accomplished detective who has always been on the opposite side of the courtroom from her nemesis, slick defense attorney Frank Violanti. But now he’s begging to hire her as a private investigator to help clear his client of murder. At first Lauren refuses, wanting nothing to do with the media circus surrounding that case―until she meets the eighteen-year-old suspect.
To keep an innocent teen from life in prison, Lauren must unravel the conflicting evidence and changing stories to get at the buried facts. But the more she digs, the more she discovers that nothing is what it first appears to be. As Lauren puts her career and life in danger, doubt starts to lurk on every corner . . . and so does her stalker.
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Meet the author
Lissa Marie Redmond, a retired cold case homicide detective, lives and writes in Buffalo, New York with her husband, two daughters, and one ungrateful cat. Lissa loves to travel, read and drink coffee. She especially likes it when she can combine all three. You can find out more about Lissa by checking out her website at LissaMarieRedmond.com or following her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
All comments are welcomed.