Self Evident Dec10


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Self Evident

Libby was sure that the outcome would be self evident.  But it was what it was and difficult to nail down.  She would need to study the clues and see if they had more going on than she understood at first.

This being a female Detective had turned out to be more difficult than she figured when she left the Police Academy to strike out on her own.  Some thought she was crazy to quit so close to her graduation, when that Academy diploma would have gotten her a life time job with a pension in many Cities around the Country.

It was partly because a job with a well known Detective Service had been offered to her  so in reality she was far from alone and it was just a little bit that she was at odds with the latest class instructor, who took a dim view of female Detectives and did his best to discourage any that came his way.  The Management seemed to take the view that anyone who could be discouraged should leave this difficult profession, male or female, as it was too dangerous to be done by the half-hearted, thus  Professor Fredricks won out when she left.

So here she was,  in over her head in clues to a murder that were leading her nowhere. They were all bits and pieces that might one day add up, but Libby did not see it yet.  Knowing that she had been partly intimidated into leaving the Academy, she was determined to carry this case on to a conclusion.

So she sat alone at her desk looking over the facts.

A young woman had died at the hands of someone, while apparently alone on the street taking her regular path home from work.  Her body had been taken to a nearby wooded area and left in a grave of leaves which were soon disturbed by roving animals.  The coroner was in possession of the body now and his report lay on her desk.  Why she had been killed was not apparent, as she was not molested in any way and her clothes were only ripped by animals.  The clues that were found in the shallow ditch could have been there first, as some were under the body and the others were in her purse which was also under her.  Many of these things Libby had not seen, but only read in the various Police Reports.  The coroner reported her cell phone was gripped fast in her right hand, but no messages had been sent.

If she was taken by a rapist, he had not succeeded.  Did he run out of time?

If she had tried to phone for help, she had failed, but clung to her phone in desperation.

The young lady had an address book in her purse with the names and addresses of several men who were not relatives.  If it was one of them, why had he not taken the little book?  If it was a stranger not in her book, well, that was wide open to the entire City!

So Libby began to question other women of her age who took that same route home.  Maybe they had been approached in the past and managed to brush off this same person.  So far she had four who said being approached by a man was common, but they usually turned into the next building as if they lived there and waited until he had moved on.  The trouble was, the descriptions were all so different. No identity stood out.  All of the men in the address book has been questioned by the Police and cleared.

Their report also sat on her desk with the list of items she carried in that little purse.  All seemed to be her personal makeup and matched what she was wearing except one,  a short black men’s comb with a few hairs attached… not hers.  Why was that in her purse?  Did she put it there as a clue, when her abductor dropped it, or did she simply find it on the path and pick it up herself. Perhaps a friend or relative had left it in her home and she planned to return it. Thus making all of the clues suspect… if nothing else.

Some leaves and rocks from the pit she lay in were disregarded as having worked their way onto the purse as the animals scratched at her.  She was also low on blood.  Probably she had bled quite a bit dying and those same critters had lapped it up.

Only when she had located and nailed down the person responsible for her death might one or the other clue become suddenly useful.  The list of things the Police found under her were a men’s handkerchief, a card from a nearby restaurant, a pen that had a Company name on it, but didn’t they all?  They were given out by the dozens by everyone in town  Maybe she was in the wrong business.  The Personalized Pen Business looked lucrative.

A different lipstick, not her color. But half melted by the sun probably before it was covered by the girl thrown in the trench. Still it was too melted to contain DNA from the user, even if it was from a murderess.

She had looked at the area herself and had walked in each direction looking for anything that might have been missed by the Police.  Within kicking distance she found a golf ball and a golf score card all filled out with the name of the player and the Course faded off with time.  Libby added them both to her collection, just in case.  Then just as she was leaving, a branch of a bush caught her arm and as she worked loose she saw yarn from a pink wool sweater tangled above her own silk blouse snag. It took an extra moment, but she removed that too.  Although a pink sweater was not mentioned with the victims clothing.  Nothing was too small if it fit somewhere in the event eventually.

Lots of things to contemplate…  not much to prove a thing.

Back home she was fixing a sandwich for lunch when the telephone rang and she was suddenly back at the case.  It was an Officer, Albert Evans, who was actually more officially on the case by the Police Department than Libby, but she would not admit that to him.

“ Mz. Libby?”  He began, “I was noticing you at the scene of the recent crime and wanted to talk to you about the items you picked up.”

“Yes sir, Officer Evans, if we are on the same case we should get together, My name is Libby James, so it’s either Mz. James or just Libby, but to tell the truth I prefer just plain Libb with two B’s.”

“Okay Libb, with two B’s,  How are you connected with my case?’

“ I was hired by the family of the victim, Debbie Davis, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Davis, Her Mom and Dad.  So if you’ve been assigned by the Police, then we are indeed on the same case, so I am available anytime to you and I hope it’s a two way street.”    But obviously Evans didn’t feel the same as he replied somewhat crisply.

“Tell me where or when can we get together?  But you must understand that I am not free to share Police information with anyone.”

“In other words you are saying it is not to my advantage to speak with you, so why should we meet?”

“Because if you found some clues at the scene, they are the property of the Police.”

“And if they are not?”

“I will decide that.”  Officer Evans announced.

“ Very well then, I have absolutely nothing connected to the death of Debbie, so I’ll see you around.”  Libb held the phone a little longer in case he had more to say.  Hearing nothing she hung up.  That should be the end of that with his bossy attitude.

But it wasn’t, for the doorbell rang at once and Evans was at her door.  This time he wore a forced smile.

“Good day, Libb, I phoned from my car.”  He pointed to the Police car in her driveway.  Libb forced her own smile.

“Please park your car on the street.  I don’t want the neighbors to think I am being arrested.”

“ Are you arrested that often?”

“Often enough.”  Which was never, but why should she share that with him?

She stood in the way, as he seemed to want to come in.”  Finally he admitted it by asking,

“May I come in, so we can talk?”

“After you move the Police car.”   Officer Evans frowned, but walked away to do that.  As she dashed off to tuck her lunch sandwich back into the frig and  do a couple of quick changes,

Libby smiled at herself, as a female Detective who was used to being put down by Officials, she had just won one.   When he returned from parking across the street, she opened the door wide and he walked briskly in.  The Officer was obviously young and had not had too many cases yet, but he was nice looking and she turned on the charm at once.

Libb had grabbed a couple of things from out the back door and made a few changes while he was gone.  The first being a small rock and leaf collection on her buffet, where her Davis Case clues had been assembled for her to consider.  They were nothing important enough to hide, she knew that.  But why should he scan them?  So she hid them anyway.

Evans tried to be more subtle, this time and simply told her,

“ I watched you picking up  some things yesterday near to the crime scene.”

“Oh those.  I was near,  but not actually in it. Here they are…  several very pretty unusual rocks and two nice leaves for my nature collection.  I am so often outside in places where I have no reason to go before, that I get excited by those odd rocks and tree leaves.  It was a very nice section of the woods, you know.  But I had no idea I was being watched or that you needed to know about these silly things.   Well here they are!  I wish I had found some good clues to poor Debbie’s murder, but these things are nice too in their own way… if one is interested in them.”

Evans started to touch a rock, but stopped and asked

“May pick it up?”

“Sure,  just don’t get finger prints all over it.  I just washed them.”   Libb was amused as he took out a handkerchief and picked a rock she had just grabbed from the ground in her back yard, so carefully in the clean white cloth.

“It is very nice.  Do you know the kind of rock it is?”  he asked too sincerely to be funny.

“I haven’t had time to check out the type.  The Debbie Davis case is too time consuming.”

“Yes, I know. “  He replaced the rock and picked up the leaf, it was a very large Sycamore leaf from her back door.  If he happened to look out there, she was dead.

“I know it’s only a Sycamore, but it is very big for its kind and just took my eye.”  She smiled.

“What do you do with them all?”

Oh my,  Libb was already tired of this subject and went toward the kitchen to offer him a cold drink as she cast off the question with a wave of her hand,

“Oh… I keep a few and throw out the others.  This house is too small to keep everything.  Would you like to have a cold coke or a hot coffee?  I have both.”  The charming smile returned.

He chose the hot coffee, black, and she had two mugs full in ten seconds.  They sat facing each other across the little kitchen table.

“I made cookies yesterday… wait a sec and I’ll put out a few to go with the coffee.”

She set the plate overfilled with cookies in front of him.  They should keep his mind on his stomach for a little longer. But how could she get him to talk about his end of the case?

“How long have you been working the Davis Case?”   she asked, as if she really didn’t know or care.

“I was handed the case this morning… probably because it was kind of stalled in a dead end.  I was hoping you might have something to get it moving again.  These are very good cookies.  Did you say you made them?”

“Yesterday.  I like to have them in the house in case of company.   So you have nothing new even if you could tell me about it.  Too bad.  I’m stalled too.  What can the two of us do to get passed that?”

“ Shall we walk the area together right now and see if we missed anything?”

Libb took a slow sip of her coffee and watched as he tried a different cookie.  Then he answered.

“No hurry, but two sets of eyes are better than one.“

“Must I take out my own car?”   Libb asked trying to make it sound like a lot of trouble.

“We’ll go in the Police car…  if that won’t frighten the neighbors.”

“Just don’t cuff me.”  Libby smiled.

“Of course not!”  But he kept sipping his coffee and eating cookies until the coffee mug was empty.  She suspected that he had missed lunch too.

Libby offered to refill it and was relieved when he declined and stood to go.

She slowed him down as she carefully chose a jacket from her front closet. Most of those hanging there were casual for pants.  Today she wore a light blue wool skirt and silk blouse with high heels, so she was searching for her short navy jacket with the brass buttons.

Evans had forgotten where he tossed his hat and finally found it sitting on the back of the couch in the living room.  She found the navy jacket, so they walked out together and got into the Police car.
“Thank you,  Officer.”  Libby said as he opened the passenger door next to him.

“Just, Al, “  he explained, Albert Evans.

Now at last Libby felt sure she had the upper hand.

They probably wouldn’t find anything new, but if they did, she would know about it.

Officer Evans turned on the siren and sped to the scene, which was a new thrill for Libb.  But when he parked the car and they got out to begin to stroll the area on foot, things were suddenly very different.  Her high heeled shoes were making the uneven path through the woods impossible and finally she spotted a comfortable looking old tree trunk and sat on the long log to see if her heel was really broken or just felt like it.  Al continued to walk the nearby area as she sat looking over her troublesome shoe.

Just then she spotted another heel, not hers, lying deep next to the log.  Another woman had broken her heel in this same place and had not recovered it.  Libby took a Kleenex and lifted it up.  It was black patent leather.  Hers were beige.  The shiny black in her hand was covered with obvious finger prints as only black patent leather can do.  Al came by and reached for it…  with seeing if he could fix her shoe for her,  in mind.

Libby held it back. And explained,

“This heel was lying next to the log.  What kind of shoes did Debbie have on?”

“None,  I don’t think she was wearing shoes at all.”

“See if you can find the rest of this one.”  She held the tissue so he could take the heel in it and explained to him.

“ Perhaps she was walking through here and broke her shoe. Then not finding this heel under the log,  she tossed them both away.”

“Are you saying she was still alive and on her own two feet when they came here?”

“Only that someone was.  It could have been her or the murderer… or anybody!”

“That is a new and different angle.”  Al remarked.  “At the Station they seemed to think she was a dead body when dumped here. Now if she was walking here, that is something to consider.  Who might have brought her here to walk in the woods in these shoes?”    Al turned the heel, musing.

Libby said aloud.

“Someone sat here.  Right where I am sitting and took off her broken shoe and probably the other good one also.  Since she did not find this heel, it was almost tucked under the log.  She may have gotten angry and just tossed them both as far as she could into the woods.

Libby removed both of her shoes and began to walk in the opposite direction from Al as he hunted for black patent shoes.   She searched also. Then they circled back toward each other without finding any shoe parts.

Suddenly, Al spotted one black spot in a bush and was himself tangled and stung by rough branches as he waded in to reach it.  He held it high.  It was a whole black shoe.  The bush didn’t give up anymore.

The heels matched so they were onto something.  Did it have to do with Debbie? neither knew.  Then the Officer mentioned that the little purse found under her body was black patent leather.  They were very likely looking for the dead woman’s matching shoes. A  serious hunt followed.

Assuming whoever had thrown the first had thrown both, they searched the bushes, trees and ground with care.  The broken shoe was two feet away from the log… as if just dropped in disgust.

They were finally ready to quit and go for the showers,  as they were scratched and bleeding on both arms and legs.  But they had two things they did not start out with… a live person in the woods and a shiny finger printed pair of black shoes and a loose heel.

Finger prints would prove both.  Al drove her home and took the shoe parts with him, promising to let her know if they were Debbie’s, and if possible whose finger prints they carried.

Libby made a note of their findings to add to her small clues collection. In her mind Debbie had been alone in the woods and so just as Al was ready to drive away, she mentioned that.  He stopped and looked at her to add,

“I was thinking the same thing and wondering how she got here… if she was alone.”

“Do you know what kind of car she drove?”  Libby asked.

“The report says she had a little Mini-Cooper, red. License number 40G 992.  It has not been found, but the tires left their marks across the street before the murderer drove off in it.”

“I see.”  Libb paused, thinking.  “And if Debbie drove herself there in it, then who drove it off?”

“A car thief? “  Al answered.  “I will check and see if the Police have sent the info out to the northern Port where car thieves take stolen cars for quick sale and transport out of the State.”

“Good Idea.  You sound as if you are thinking what I am.  That Debbie was not murdered at all, but had a terrible accident while in the woods by herself.”

“I thought that for a minute, but couldn’t figure why she would do that all by herself…so”   He shrugged.  “I dropped it.”

“Ask the Police if they did not find a message being sent on her cell phone, which she had in her hand,  did they look to see if she was taking pictures on it?”

“No but I will and let you know.”  Al drove off.

As Libby showered for as long as the hot water lasted, she pictured Debbie walking bare foot in the woods snapping shots of the lovely Fall scenery and slipping into a hidden trench looking level by the fill of autumn leaves and cracking her poor head on a boulder, then bleeding and dying alone in the ditch.

As she had been told small animals like Raccoons and Possum scratched and tore at her clothes and body.  They were her only molesters with maybe a skunk or two.  She tried to remember what sorts of wild life inhabited that area.   Some of those big black crows could be pretty nasty.  Anyway, that was why there were no suspects. There was no murder.

The next day Al called her with the Official answers that put it all together.  The red car with that license number was just being loaded for China when it was caught.

The fingerprints and the shoes were all Debbies.  She had driven herself to the woods and sadly spent her last hours picking up pretty rocks and leaves, photographing them and  dropping them into her purse.

Her Parents admitted that their daughter was fond of photographing the interesting items she found in lovely places.  Her room was full of beautifully framed photos of Mother Nature’s work.  How sad that doing her favorite hobby had such a tragic end.  Still both Parents were happy to learn that no one had purposely harmed Debbie.  If she had to go, it was better that she went doing her favorite things.  They believed that only God could know the reason for that.

Libb did things like that too.  So she had no trouble picturing the unfortunate accident.  Al was working on it.  He seemed to believe that their case would soon be closed as accidental death.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t get together, does it Libb?”

Libby was pleased at that too.  So she made a suggestion.

“I’ll make dinner while you write up our final report on the Davis Case.”  “She knew the Davis’s would be gratified if her bill contained a copy of the Official Closing Police Report.

“And then we’ll go to a Movie.”  Al added.

Libby was having a good day.  Al Evans was her first friend in the Department and having an in with the Police would help her a lot.  Libb was more than happy to cultivate that.

Her new career was looking good.  She pictured a long string of real crimes they might solve together.  Even if the first one was not a murder crime after all.

The world is full of people on the verge of committing a crime of some sort.  Her next case was brought to her by Al and she was soon hired by the Parents of a missing small child.   When little Wendy did not came home from school, the Police were called at once.   Parents always panicked like that and the Police have a policy of not starting a search until 24 hours had gone b y.  For it was their experience that missing children were rarely missing at all… just otherwise occupied.

The Police Department took a certain amount of information, then waited to be informed that the child had turned up…  and everyone was happy again.. as was nearly always the case.

If the child did not suddenly appear, then The Department was ready with a plan of action.

Meanwhile anxious Parents had usually called a Private Firm to go at once and find their missing kid!

Once on the job a Private Eye, like Libby, usually stayed until the precious baby was back in its Parents arms. So she cleaned off the Davis Case Clues and began the,  Find Wendy Clue Table.