11:05 AM; CLINSTONE, TROJAN PARK BASEBALL FIELD
“Is the victim female again?” Bo questioned as he climbed out of the passenger seat of Jensen’s car.
“It appears so. She’s on her stomach,” Skye said.
“All right. Has the head been removed again?” Bo asked. Jensen reached past him, shutting the door before crossing his arms over his chest.
“The head is removed, yes, but it’s with the body this time,” Skye explained.
“Huh,” Bo said quietly, adjusting the strap of his camera around his neck.
“What’s been taken from her?” Jacob asked as he walked up to Bo, Jensen, and Skye, a hand instinctively resting on his Glock.
“Well, uh, I think that’s for Bo to decide,” Skye said quietly. She cleared her throat. “I have a guess, but the body’s bloody, and I suggest just being prepared for anything,” she explained. The three men nodded, following Skye toward the body.
“Did she wash up on the field’s perimeter?” Bo questioned.
“Not that we can tell. She isn’t wet,” Skye said.
Bo nodded, twisting off his ring and dropping it into the palm of Jensen’s outstretched hand. Clearing his throat, Jensen tucked the ring into his pocket. “Who called in the body this time?” the blonde asked.
“A father and his son came to the field for batting practice. The boy found the body when he was running out to grab a ball, and the father’s the one who actually called it into dispatch. Anna and I were first on the scene,” Skye explained. “Anna questioned the father for most of the details and asked the boy just a few things to make sure everything checked out, but an officer came by to take them both to the station for further questioning by one of you two lovely gentlemen,” she added.
“Thanks, Ramirez,” Jacob said quietly. She nodded, holding a hand out toward the body as they neared the scene.
“If the killer didn’t toss the victim into the water, it gets rid of your original fame theory, doesn’t it?” Jensen questioned.
“Yes and no, I think,” Bo said, squatting down beside the body. He let his camera rest on his thigh, pulling on a pair of gloves. “At this point, it could just be about keeping the same dumping grounds, even if it means catching more attention than what may have been originally planned. I suppose the killer saw the news reports and figured they may as well lean into the media attention, even if it wasn’t something they were gunning for with the first killing. Of course, at the same time, it could just be that they do want fame for their killings.” He cleared his throat as he turned on his camera and took a picture of the victim’s back. “They just had an odd way of going about it after their first kill.”
“Well, what do you make of victim number two?” Jacob asked.
“She was alive when she was cut into,” Bo said. “The marks on the ankles and wrists indicate she was strapped down again, but there was no strap around the waist this time,” he explained as he took several more pictures of the body. In a nearly crouched position, he moved closer to her left hand and took a picture. “No wedding ring or tan line on her ring finger. Her nails haven’t been removed, so the killer must’ve learned their lesson after the first time, kept the victim from scratching them. I’ll still scrape the nails just in case there are any traces of anything, DNA or otherwise,” he said.
Bo cocked his head to the side, moving closer to the woman’s legs. “The backs of her knees and thighs are bruised. Like…”
“Like what?” Jacob asked.
“Like she was struck with something blunt, but based on the bruising, it was big and… presumably rather fast. Hell, it might even have been a car,” Bo said, snapping a picture before lifting his gaze to Jacob’s face.
“Was there bruising on the first victim?” Jensen questioned.
“No. If victim number one was, say, chased down by the killer on foot, it would make sense that the killer got scratched by the victim. If victim two was struck by a car, she wouldn’t have gotten much of a chance to scratch the killer,” Bo said.
“So how’s the killer choosing victims?” Skye asked.
“I’m not sure yet. It could just be whoever’s in reach, available, whoever they can get their grubby little hands on,” Bo said. He stood up, walking over to the victim’s head. Clearing his throat, he squatted down again. “There are marks near the temples. It could be assumed that the head was strapped down as well before she was cut into,” he said quietly. He took several more pictures before pushing himself to his feet once more. “The spine. The entire spine has been removed from the body, but as far as I can tell, all of the other bones have been left behind. Even the ribcage is… most definitely there, and that attaches to the spinal cord,” he said.
“I–I don’t get it,” Jensen said quietly. “The skull and now the spine? They… they really are a bone collector of some sort?”
“I think so,” Bo said, offering a shrug.
“But why the spine? It wouldn’t have been easy to remove, right?” Jensen asked.
“Not for most, no. But… life is fragile, and the killer took something that holds us together. It keeps us standing, helps us sit upright. It holds together the very fabric of our being, and the killer took it,” Bo said. “I’m unsure what the motivation is or what the point is, but I do know that our killer isn’t playing around. They mean business, I just have to figure out what kind.” He cleared his throat. “I’ll finish up with pictures, the coroner will come by and pronounce her dead, and then we’ll get her back to the morgue so I can do the external exam, if nothing else, before the husband of victim number one comes in from Ellepath.”
“I’d like to be present when he’s questioned, if that’s all right.”
“Of course,” Jacob said with a nod.
“And after that, I’ll do the autopsy on victim number two and do my damnedest to have a report on your desk before I leave for Chesterwick. Okay?” Bo asked.
The sergeant nodded again. “Sounds like a plan, Bo.”
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