7:38 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, MORGUE
“Are you sure you want to do this, Rick?” Bo asked, his gloved hands tucked behind his back.
“Stop worrying about me, Bo. I can handle a corpse,” Rick murmured. Eleven years ago, Rick had arrived at a crime scene to find the headless body of his four-year-old son. He knew seeing Serena’s corpse was something that would stir up bad memories, but he wasn’t willing to chicken out of the case. He had requested that his boss send him to Clinstone for the case. He wouldn’t back out now. “Pull back the sheet, Bo. Please.”
“Of course, sir,” Bo said softly. He reached out with his right hand, folding the white sheet down to the victim’s chest. Rick closed his eyes, turning his head away from Serena’s body. Bo remained silent, allowing his right hand to move behind his back once more. He wrapped the fingers of his left hand around his right wrist, straightening out his posture as he waited for Rick to recover.
The older officer cleared his throat, forcing his eyes open. Slowly, he turned back to the corpse. “You said i–it was done with a bonesaw?” Rick questioned.
Rick nodded. “Least it wasn’t an ax,” he said quietly. Bo nodded, but he didn’t respond. He had seen the crime scene photos for Logan Downs’s homicide. He had seen the basement where Logan had been trapped and tied to a pole before the killer took an ax to the young boy’s skull. The killer had decapitated the boy after his death, swinging the ax into his neck thrice before successfully severing the spinal cord.
“Can I ask you something… unrelated to this scene?” Rick asked.
“Have you seen the photos of my boy?”
“All of them?”
“Yes, sir,” Bo confirmed.
“I never got the full truth on anything revolving around him. I want you to be honest, all right?” Bo nodded. “Did he suffer?”
“No, sir,” Bo said softly. “He would’ve felt… shock for a split second. After that, it was all over.” Bo bowed his head for a moment before looking up to meet Rick’s gaze again. “I give you my word.”
“Thank you,” Rick whispered. Again, the blonde nodded. Rick cleared his throat, shoving his hands into the pockets of his dress pants. “Did she…?”
“She was alive when the bonesaw first made contact with her throat,” Bo said.
“Do you know how long she was alive?”
“I haven’t run any kind of dummy tests to know that for certain, but I would offer seven to ten seconds as a safe bet,” Bo said.
“Jesus Christ,” Rick whispered. He shook his head. “Her husband won’t be here until tomorrow at least. He’s on a business trip, and I could only get ahold of his secretary.”
“So… he doesn’t know his wife’s dead?” Bo asked. Rick shook his head. “Damn. That… is going to be rough,” he said quietly.
“I know. I’ll do my best to soften the blow. He… lives two houses down from me. I’ll do the talking when I manage to get ahold of him,” Rick said. He cocked his head to the side. “Why in God’s name did your killer bring their victim from Ellepath to Clinstone?”
“Well, Clinstone’s pretty much right on the Minnesota-Iowa border. In reality, the killer could be from Iowa, only killing and dumping the body in Clinstone to avoid being caught back home. In the same sense, they could’ve kidnapped the woman from Ellepath, driven her back to Clinstone. They would’ve presumably believed that Clinstone wouldn’t find out about the woman’s disappearance. It’s also possible they assumed the body wouldn’t be found right away or ever. No matter where they’re from, I just think their plan was to do get found out,” Bo explained.
Rick nodded. “Her nails?” he asked.
Bo reached out with his right again, pulling the sheet up on Rick’s side so that he could get a better look at Serena’s hand. “Again, this was done post-mortem in an attempt to, presumably, remove traces of the killer’s DNA,” he said.
Rick lifted his brown eyes to Bo’s face. “Think it’s their first time killing?”
“It’s… possible, but i would say it’s not likely. There don’t appear to be any hesitation marks, only…” Bo cleared his throat. “The only true marks on the body are those of the saw blade on the throat. If it’s a first kill, there was no hesitation,” he said quietly.
“Should be looking for other… headless killer cases?” Rick asked.
“Possibly, but it’s hard to say. Just because it’s not their first kill doesn’t mean that their previous kills have also been people,” Bo said.
“Which means what, exactly?” Rick asked.
“The killer could’ve started with animals and moved onto people,” Bo said. “I’ve seen it before, once in Thanatos and several times elsewhere. They kill animals and when it no longer gives them the satisfaction or thrill they crave, they start tracking down human victims instead,” he said.
“Lovely,” Rick muttered.
“I know. Neither option in this case is a pleasant one,” Bo agreed. “But I’ll do what I can, start the slight outline of a profile on our killer. It’s hard to do without any hard evidence against the killer, but I’ll see what happens, and I’ll make sure to keep you updated.” He reached out, pulling the sheet back over Serena’s body.
“Thank you, Bo.”
The blonde nodded tersely. “You’re welcome, Rick.”
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