The lights in the boardroom of the Baltimore City Police Department were turned down as the final changes were made to the memorandum of understanding or MOU. An MOU is a document that outlines not only the purpose of an inter-agency task force but the roles and requirements for each of the organizations involved. Anthony and the FBI had insisted on the inclusion of not only the Langley Police Department but the Baltimore County Police Department, who had offered additional manpower as required. The Baltimore County Sheriff’s department was also included, offering Their role was vague, but what it really did was give the taskforce permission to operate in the county department’s jurisdiction without needing to ask permission or be escorted.
“That about covers it,” Anthony said as one of his agents finished typing the notes on the screen. The most important things to Anthony were that the command structure of the task force had been established. The official name had been changed to Operation Timberwolf. None of the Turquoise Taskforce nonsense that sounded like something out of a Disney cartoon. The FBI was placed in charge, which meant that Anthony had operational control and would not need to ask permission to do his job or consult other participants in how to move forward. There would be by-weekly meetings of a control board to whom he would make reports on progress, but such meetings and presentations came with the territory.
“Again – if you need anything, our facilities are at your disposal. If HQ is too busy, we can use one of the other precincts, and we can pull in more uniformed officers at any time,” Commissioner Harris said firmly.
“Any resources required from the Baltimore Field Office will also be made available,” SAC Arthur Roberts added. “I’ve been instructed by the Assistant Director to make all our resources available should they be required. The national press this has received along with the rather sensational nature of the crimes makes it in everyone’s best interests to bring this to a speedy conclusion.”
Anthony nodded. “That’s great,” he said. “I’m going to keep things relatively small for now, though, while my team ascertains exactly what we’re dealing with, and while we decide what additional resources will be required – if any. The sixteen from BCPD, combined with the two from Langley, and the eight from the FBI will be more than enough at this time. County will provide personnel if it’s required later.”
“I think you’re going to need more men,” Roberts said.
Anthony shook his head. “Respectfully, more boots on the ground can sometimes just lead to more toes being stepped on. I’m comfortable that everyone involved will support the operation, and that we can rely on you when we need.”
“It’s settled then,” Harris said, leaning back in his chair. “We’ll leave things in your capable hands. As I’ve said, BCPD will leave you to choose your personnel. Major Ross has a starting list he will provide you. Ross, you’ll afford Special Agent Williams every courtesy and see to it that the operation has access to whatever they need.”
Anthony turned to look at Ross, who nodded and smiled. He was a shorter man, about five-foot-six, heavyset, and balding with a bushy moustache. The major reminded Anthony of Dennis Franz, who had played Sergeant Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue. He even spoke with an accent like Franz.
“We’ve got you set up with two conference rooms in Homicide,” Ross said as the two stepped off the elevator. “Just let me know if you need more space, and I’ll get you set up.”
Anthony looked at two rooms, knowing at once that the space was inadequate. His IT people were setting up in one of the conference rooms, and with the tables and computers, it was already nearly full. Anthony kept a neutral expression as he turned back to Ross.
“You’ll have Captain Driscoll here as your point of contact as requested,” he said, indicating an attractive woman in her mid-thirties. She extended a hand, and Anthony shook it with a smile.
“Nice to meet you, Captain.”
She nodded, looking back to Ross, who continued. “Anything you need, you just let me know,” he said. “Oh, and uh, these are personnel briefs on who we’re recommending for your task force.”
Anthony took the folder, thumbing it open. “How many?”
“Sixteen like you asked for, but if you need additional manpower – detectives or even just patrol guys, you just say the word.”
Anthony scanned down the page. “Which one was the detective in charge of the investigation to date?”
“Oh, that’s Lieutenant Holt, but he’s not in the list, we’re reassigning him,” Ross said, glancing at Driscoll.
Anthony frowned, looking from one to the other, then shook his head. “No, I’d like to keep him on board for now. He should be the most knowledgeable person about the case.”
“Holt is a decent cop,” Ross said, “but just between us, I think things have dragged on because he’s not ready for an investigation of this scope and scale. We’ve decided on his reassignment to [special investigations]—”
“You can reassign him when we’re through if you like,” Anthony said, taking a pen from his inner jacket pocket. “For now, I’d prefer to keep him in place with the new task force. It’ll create continuity, and I’ll have him on hand if I have any questions. You said his name was Holt?”
“Mhm, Jake Holt,” Driscoll said, watching as Anthony wrote the name onto the top sheet of the personnel file.
“Good – I guess that makes it seventeen from BPD, unless there’s someone you want to remove. If you can have him report to me, that would be great.”
The major looked uncomfortable at that and Anthony could tell he wanted to argue further, but after a moment’s hesitation, the man nodded. “Of course! Whatever you need.”
“Thank you, Major. We’ll start getting the rest of our things brought in, and if I need anything from you, I’ll let you know.”
“Great. We’re all looking forward to working with you, Agent Williams.”
“Special Agent,” Anthony said as he turned to a shorter man with glasses.
“Timberman, there is some more equipment being delivered from the field office. We’ll start bringing everything into room one,” he said.
The Major looked between them for a moment, then turned, moving back down the hallway towards the elevator.
“There’s nowhere near enough room in here,” Timberman said when he had gone.
“Yeah,” Anthony said simply. “Do they have a gymnasium?”
“I think so – downstairs. I saw a sign.”
“Okay, we’ll use that space,” Anthony said. “Davidson, speak to Colonel Marsden, he’s the chief of Criminal Investigation.”
“Ross’ commander? You really want to cut him out and ruffle his feathers this early?” Timberman asked with a grin.
“This guy’s an asshole. We’re going to have sixteen from his staff, eight of us, and two coming in from Langley, and we’re supposed to fit in these two rooms?”
“Guy’s making a power play,” Davidson nodded.
“Wants us to jerk him off for everything we need.” Anthony looked around at the other members of his team, who had assembled into a semi-circle. “We went over things pretty well last night, so you know what I expect. Let’s be professional, and none of that ‘FBI are in charge’ bullshit that we’re always portrayed as on TV.”
“Tell Marsden we’re going to be taking up most of the gymnasium,” he said, turning back to Davidson. “I want you to get in touch with Headquarters and see if we can get one of their climate-controlled field tents that we can get set up in the gym.”
“You getting fancy on us?” Davidson asked with a grin.
Anthony rolled his eyes. “Between all of the computers and those eighty-inch monitors, that gym’s gonna get hot. I also don’t want anyone to be able to walk in and freely see what’s going on. Davidson nodded. “If they don’t have one available, I know they have some down at Quantico.”
“Just as long as we can get it here today. I want everything to be set up this afternoon. Sherrington, you go through these personnel files and tell me if there are any red flags. If you see anything, highlight them. Get a duty roster ready pairing up one of ours with one of theirs as much as possible. We’re going to be conducting follow-up interviews with all the victim’s families getting to as many as we can this afternoon while the room is being prepared. Put me with Captain Driscoll – she’s the ranking officer, so we’ll get some face-time in.”
“She’s also got good bone structure,” Sherrington said, arching an eyebrow. She flipped her blonde hair, ever pulled back in a very professional-looking ponytail back over her shoulder.
“You know you’re the only woman for me. When we retire, we’re getting married,” Anthony said, not looking up from his notes.
Sherrington rolled her eyes.
“Timberman – you’re in charge of setting things up, borrow whoever you need. Make sure we have enough electrical power for the load we’ll be using and get desks, tables, and a whole lot of whiteboards set up. Let’s set up like in that warehouse we had down in Florida last year.”
“Sounds good, boss.”
“Walsh, I want you to give Timberman a hand, then start going through those file boxes of crime scene photos and start scanning them into the system once Porter has things set up,” he said, looking at each of the IT personnel in turn.
He finished assigning people to the various tasks that would need to be carried out to get things ready. Anthony prided himself on the professionalism of his team, and each knew his or her role well from the previous night’s meeting. He picked up one of the boxes from the table filled with cables and headed towards the elevator.
Driscoll led the way down to the gymnasium. She had been sent to locate Jake and to “gather the troops.” It was infuriating, and she was becoming more and more irritated by the minute. She wasn’t a gopher or an errand-runner. She had worked damned hard to become a captain. She oversaw a duty roster of homicide detectives and didn’t need to be sent to fetch anyone. What was worse, she didn’t even want to be part of the task force. She didn’t want anything to do with Turquoise or the FBI. Let the FBI take the case.
“Turquoise is ours,” Ross had said the previous day, and Colonel Marsden had agreed.
It was about ego. It was about their image. They didn’t want anyone to know the FBI had a bigger dick than Baltimore’s police department.
She scowled as she walked. “In walks Special Agent Anthony Williams who wants to throw his weight around – wants to have someone from BPD to be a figurehead. I’m not a fucking figurehead, I’m a cop.”
“Exciting day,” Jake said, drawing her back to the moment.
“That’s one way to put it.”
“You okay?” Jake asked.
“No, Jake, I’m not okay,” she said. She stopped walking, turning to him. “You need to tell your friend if he wants an errand girl, he can find someone else.”
“Don’t play coy with me,” she hissed, jabbing a finger into Jake’s chest. “I know you two are old army buddies.”
“Marines,” Jake said, wincing even as he spoke. “How did you—”
“I’ve read your file,” she growled, “and I googled his name yesterday and found an article that mentioned his service.”
“Look, whatever you’re thinking, it’s not like that.”
“I don’t give a shit,” she said. “I don’t want anything to do with Turquoise. We’ve got bigger problems in this city. Last year we had three-hundred forty-four homicides – nearly one for every day of the year. Our closing rate on solving them wasn’t so hot.”
Turquoise had killed eight people, sure, and his signature – the dyed heads – was attention-grabbing certainly, but there were a lot of other murders to solve. Her job was to oversee a team of detectives – highly professional individuals whose jobs were to close cases so that the surviving family members had some form of closure. It was important work, and she cared about it. If there was a cowboy who was willing to track down the serial killer, she thought it was best left to him. She’d run her division.
“It’s an important case,” Jake was saying. “It can make your career – will make your career.”
“Is that how they sold you on it?” She asked in an icy tone. “What am I supposed to tell Elena Vasquez?”
“Who?” Jake asked, his face showing his confusion.
“Liliana Vasquez was a twelve-year-old girl who was shot and killed last week outside of the convenience store on West Lexington. We have been trying to find out who killed her to bring her mother Elena some comfort – the closure I promised her. Now instead of doing my job, I get to babysit your friend.”
Jake understood. “Anthony doesn’t need babysitting,” he tried to assure her, but she was having none of it.
“Look, I’m sorry they were going to hang you out to dry. Ross is an asshole, but pulling me into this to set me up is a real bitch move.”
“Come on,” she said then and turned walking down the corridor towards the gym entrance.
Driscoll entered the gym, followed by Jake, who looked a little like he’d been beaten. The captain led the way over to the tables that were being set up off to one side.
“Not much of a space,” she said a little coldly.
Anthony eyed her for a moment before looking at Jake. “You must be Lieutenant Holt,” he said, holding out his hand.
“Jig’s up,” Jake said, taking Anthony’s hand anyway. “She’s onto us.”
Anthony showed genuine surprise at that, turning his eyes back to Captain Driscoll, who did her best to look impatient rather than satisfied. “I told everyone to meet here in the gym at eleven-fifteen, so you have ten minutes to figure out what you want to say.”
“I already know what I want to say,” Anthony said. He frowned, tilting his head, and narrowed his eyes a little in consideration. “I think you and I need to have a quick chat before the rest of the people show up.”
Jake began introducing himself to a woman and two men who appeared to be the tech people Anthony had spoken of the night before. Anthony, meanwhile, led Driscoll over to the other end of the gym.
“Captain Driscoll – I asked to have you added to the team because I want you to be the Liaison officer between my team and BPD,” Anthony said. She crossed her arms and frowned, saying nothing, so Anthony continued. “Some of your staff may be a little resentful of the Bureau’s involvement in this case. I want you to calm those feelings. I’m not here to boss your staff around—”
“No, you’re here to boss me around, and then I can boss my staff around and play the heavy so that you don’t have to.”
Anthony smiled. “Something like that,” he said. “In my experience, people react far better to one of their own telling them what to do than they do when it’s an outsider, so yeah. The upside is that when we catch this guy, you’re the one who will pull the credit for BPD instead of Ross.”
“I don’t care about who gets the credit. I want Turquoise off the street as much as anyone, but there are a lot of other people out there committing murders. There are gang members out there killing way more people than Turquoise.”
“I understand,” Anthony said reassuringly. “My goal is to bring this to a successful conclusion as quickly as possible so that you folks can get back to catching bad guys.”
“And in the meantime, I get to ‘rally the troops’ and fetch your coffee?” She asked angrily.
Anthony’s face showed genuine shock. “I would never even suggest that you get me or anyone else coffee,” he said, frowning. “Sandra—”
“Captain Driscoll,” she corrected.
“I requested you because Jake said you’re a good cop. I knew he wouldn’t fly past BPD brass as being in charge of your people – someone else needed to be added,” Anthony said. “When this is all over and done with, your department needs to be seen as having played a key role in bringing in the killer. It’s important that it not appear you couldn’t handle things, so I need someone from BPD that I can rely on during the investigation to position as the face of it all.”
“And you want that to be me?” She asked, surprised.
“Of course,” Anthony said. “I asked to have you here for that purpose so that Ross can’t be the one taking credit.”
“He will,” she said.
“Trust me,” Anthony smiled. Then he grew more serious. “If my asking you to bring your people together seemed like an insult, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any offence – it’s just they know you, and they’ll follow you. I hoped that if they saw you leading them, they would fall in line.”
His tone was sincere. She still didn’t trust him, but she nodded. “Okay, Special Agent Williams. I’ll forgive you this time.”
When the fifteen detectives began making their way into the gymnasium a few minutes later, one of the eighty-inch monitors had been set up, and a graphic on the screen read “Operation Timberwolf” emblazoned over an American flag.
“A bit much,” Anthony said to Walsh, who smiled.
“I’m not a graphic designer. You want pretty, you gotta call someone else.”
Chairs had been arranged in neat rows, and the seats were filled relatively quickly as the members of the task force, took their places. Anthony wasn’t surprised to see that the three groups sat together, grouped by their individual agencies. Things always began this way, and it would require some coaxing to break down the natural barriers between personnel who sported different badges. They were here, though, and that was the first step. He stood in front of the monitor and surveyed the group for a moment before he began.
“Good afternoon, everyone,” Anthony said after a moment’s pause. “My name is Special Agent Anthony Williams of the FBI. I head a unit called the Serial Offenders Apprehension Taskforce, or SOAT for short. I’m going to hold off on any of the usual interagency round-table introductions of who you are and where you’re from for today. This gymnasium will be the home of our investigation, but it is obviously not ready. We have equipment coming in from Washington and Virginia, and so I’ve decided we will jump into things today by getting out into the field.”
“I want to begin by saying that I’ve reviewed some of the case files so far, and I’m very impressed with both the forensic work and the huge web of witness statements you’ve amassed. I’ve been in touch with our specialists at the Behavioural Analysis Unit at Quantico, and they are putting together a preliminary profile.” They should have something for us by tomorrow morning’s briefing. I’m hoping with fresh eyes looking at the information, we’ll start to get a better understanding of who Turquoise is.”
“Are we deciding for sure it’s a guy we’re looking for?” One of the detectives asked.
Anthony nodded. “Fair question, but one of the victims is noted to have weighed over two-hundred and seventy pounds. I certainly don’t want to generalize, but I think we’re fairly safe to make the assumption that our perpetrator is male, and probably between twenty-five and fifty years of age. I won’t go any further into it than that. The FBI has highly-trained professionals whose job is to profile offenders for a living.”
“As I said, we’re going to conduct follow-up interviews with our victims’ next of kin. I really want you all to focus on the victims. If there is one thing that I’ve taken from the case files thus far, it’s that this guy is organized. It’s highly unlikely that he selects his victims at random, so in some way that we haven’t yet ascertained, these victims are related. There is intersectionality at some point between their lives that links each of them, and if we can find that point, we’ll find Turquoise. I want to know where they’ve worked in the past – the companies, locations, time frames from when-to-when, what hospitals they were born in. I want to know what churches they’ve been affiliated with, where they were baptized, the grocery stores they shop at, and the pharmacies they use. I want you to speak to their best friends and find out their favourite restaurants. Get to know them intimately.”
“Captain Driscoll,” Anthony finished, gesturing to the Captain who rose and took a stack of papers from the table at the front.
“I have taken the liberty of pairing you all up into teams,” she said. “When I call your names, you can come and get your assignment.”
“Sir, how do we know they’re not random,” one of the detectives asked. “I still think this guy could just be some sick fuck with an old people fetish… Sir.”
The comment garnered laughter from the group, and Anthony smiled good-naturedly. “The killer murdered each of them while dying each of their heads the same colour, each time using freshly prepared dye. He scrubbed the bodies clean, removing ballistic evidence where applicable and placed each in a public, unobserved area, getting in and out without so much as a traffic camera catching anything suspicious. This is a person who plans every detail. He’s methodical and precise. There’s nothing to indicate anything sexual being done with the bodies, there aren’t even any significant signs of violence on them aside from the ones who suffered gunshot wounds before he perfected his current methods,” Anthony trailed off, staring away into space. He shook his head. “No detective, these aren’t random victims. Somehow, he knows them. We need to figure out how.”
The room was silent for a few moments as everyone took in what had been said, weighing it against their own suppositions, and Anthony was relieved to see the slow nods and thoughtful expressions.
“That’s it, people. I’ll call your names.” Captain Driscoll said and began handing out the assignments.
Most of the teams were comprised of an FBI agent with a detective from the BPD. Anthony had done this to make sure the agencies were integrated. More, each pair would have both eyes that had worked the case for some time and a new pair of eyes. Wherever possible, the BPD member was one who had met the families before. It was intended to ensure that the families saw a familiar face, reassuring them that although things had escalated, people familiar with the case were still working it.”
“That went well,” Jake said with a grin as people began pairing up into their teams.
Anthony smiled. “Glad you think so.”
“The inter-agency pairing was a nice touch too.”
Anthony nodded thoughtfully. “What’s up?”
“I noticed you paired me with agent Chavez. I thought maybe you and I would team up on this one,” Jake said.
“We will, but not today,” Anthony said. “I’ve sent you to meet Margaret Kroll’s family, who you interviewed previously. I’m going to meet Mrs. Ballard with Captain Driscoll.” Charles Ballard was the most recent victim. Mrs. Ballard had already spoken to a detective from Baltimore Police, but Anthony wanted to interview her personally.
Jake nodded. “I get it. I just still have it under my skin that she tried to pin this on me, and I’m a little raw about it, but there’s more to all this than me.”
Anthony nodded. “Listen, Jake, I kept you on this because I value your opinion, and I trust you to do your job. I’ve got your back, and if any heads roll over any of this, mine will be the first to hit the floor.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Jake said. “Driscoll’s made it to where she is by being cold. More than one cop has ended up in front of the bus with her.”
“Then it’s better to have her with me interviewing witnesses than fielding calls from city Hall in her office,” Anthony said as he took his jacket off the table and slid it on.
Jake smiled. “None of this intimidates you, does it?”
Anthony shrugged as he adjusted his collar. “Jake, for me, this is just a Tuesday. The first cases were a little intimidating, but eventually, you learn that there’s always a Ross. There’s always a Driscoll. Shit, sometimes there’s even a Jake Holt they’re looking to blame, and in one case, that guy was an asshole who was the problem. I’m not saying that’s you, but my job is to work with people and get people to work together. Driscoll doesn’t scare me, and Ross is just a guy.”
“Guess I gotta let some of the anger go,” Jake said.
“It’s probably not an easy thing to do, but your life will be better if you can manage it. Eventually, you reach a point where either you’re about the work, or you’re not. I’m not saying you’re there, but when this is all over, what do you do when it’s you and them?”
Jake nodded thoughtfully. “How do I ever trust them?”
Anthony shrugged. “You don’t,” he said, eyeing his friend. “I don’t trust my boss. I can say that he’s an okay guy, but I don’t trust that he’s gonna be cool with losing his job over mine… That’s just what it is.”
“But you’d give up yours to protect the people under you,” Jake said.
Anthony chuckled. “Yeah, but I’m an asshole.”
Just then, Captain Driscoll walked up. “Sorry, am I interrupting?” She asked, looking between the two.
“No,” Anthony said. “You ready to head out?”
“As ready as I’m gonna be,” she said.
They circled the unmarked Ford Taurus sedan, and Anthony moved to the passenger side, waiting for Driscoll to unlock the door. “I figured you for one of those masculine types who always wants to drive,” she said, squinting in the afternoon sunlight.
“Not me,” he said as he opened the door. Driscoll opened hers and sat down as Anthony continued. “This is your town, so you drive.”
She laughed, closing her door as Anthony fastened his seatbelt. “I guess I won’t be offended at you turning me into your chauffeur.”
“It’s a slow economy – lots of people have two jobs,” he bantered back, smiling. She started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot, accelerating down East Baltimore Street, then taking a left onto President Street. The ride was smooth, and the engine growled. “What they have in this?” He asked.
“I dunno,” she said. “An engine of some kind.”
Anthony laughed. She was still playing it cold, but that was okay. “You know, I kind of pictured you as more of a Crown Vic person when we met.”
“Oh yeah?” She asked, glancing at him, a hint of a grin. “Why is that?”
“You’re a hardass,” he said.
She actually laughed at that. “Jake, tell you that?”
“Naw,” Anthony said. “Jake actually spoke highly of you. Said you are wicked smart – his words.”
“That was nice of him. What else did he say?” She asked.
“Said you’re a good cop. Also, you were trustworthy – mostly.”
“Mostly?” She raised an eyebrow.
“He thinks you and Ross had it in for him from the start,” Anthony said.
“You didn’t?” Anthony asked.
“I told him not to take the job in the first place,” she said a little irritably. “I knew what that case was, and I told him exactly what Ross would do. I warned him – the case would make or break his career.”
Anthony nodded. “Famous if you win, fucked if you lose.”
“Exactly,” she said.
“Jake’s a good guy,” Anthony said. “He always did see the good in things, never the danger.”
“So, what’s your story then, Mr. FBI Special Agent?” She asked after a moment. “How did you end up hunting serial killers?”
Anthony thought for a moment before speaking. “It just kind of happened,” he said.
Driscoll laughed. “That doesn’t just happen.”
Anthony nodded, laughing himself. “It did,” he said. “After I left the Marines, I came home and took a few months to decompress. I did a lot of fishing – deep sea fishing – off Long Island where I grew up.”
“Thought you were a Yankee – though you have a southern thing,” she said.
“Pretty good. I was born in the south,” Anthony nodded, smiling. “I’m actually from just outside a little town called Wiggins, Mississippi, which is about an hour and a half northeast of New Orleans.”
“N’Orlens,” she corrected.
He nodded. “N’Orlens.”
“How old were you when you moved to New York?”
“About ten years old,” he said. Anthony wasn’t sure if she was asking questions just to pass the time or if she was interested, but it seemed like she was starting to lower her defences – a little at least – and that was good.
“Big move – what brought that on?” She asked.
Anthony hesitated, staring out the window for a moment.
“If it’s a touchy subject,” she began teasingly, but Anthony laughed.
“No, it’s alright,” he said. “My parents were killed in a car wreck,” he said.
“Oh my god.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I shouldn’t have… Jesus—”
“It’s all good, you didn’t know,” he said, smiling reassuringly. “It’s weird, I talk about it all so little that it almost took me a second to remember when and why I moved.”
He explained that his parents had died and that his surviving family included his paternal grandfather Christopher, uncle Elijah, and another man whom he had always called an Uncle whose name was Noah. The whole family had lived on his grandfather’s farm. After the accident, Anthony’s Papa Chris had insisted that he go to live with his maternal grandparents in New York. Anthony had been furious, not wanting to leave his childhood home. There had been no negotiations, however, and Anthony was packed up and sent on a plane. Neither his uncles nor grandfather had accompanied him on the trip.
“That must have been a really difficult time,” Driscoll said with sympathy Anthony thought was genuine.
Anthony nodded. “I hated it in New York. At first, anyway.”
“What about it?”
“Everything,” he laughed. “I hated the food, the weather, the people.”
“Were you bullied?” She asked.
He chuckled. “No, I was tall for my age, so no one really picked on me. I was even kind of ‘cool,’ being a mixed kid living in Great Neck in the early nineties. My grandparents were wealthy, and I was well provided for, but it just wasn’t home,” he said with a shrug. “Their house is basically a mansion… not quite Great Gatsby, but that kind of idea. Old stone house, with a huge yard that backed right onto Long Island Sound. They even had a housekeeper who cooked whatever I wanted for dinner, but it was just so different. Our house in Mississippi backed onto the DeSoto National Forest. I grew up hiking and exploring – even hunting. I mean, Great Neck wasn’t like living in Manhattan, but it was nothing like home. Eventually, I settled in. My grandparents’ place was on the water. They had a boat, and I spent a lot of time out on the Sound once I got a bit older.”
“Needed your space to get away,” Driscoll said, nodding. “So, you grew up there, and then went into the Marines?”
“Yeah, signed up after 9/11,” Anthony said.
Driscoll nodded. “Then you got involved with the FBI?”
“Yeah, well, like I said, I left the Marines and was bumming around. I was going to look for work locally as a cop up there. A lot of us were transitioning into law enforcement, and that’s when my father’s former partner Murray called me. Dad had been a town cop in Mississippi. Murray had left the illustrious Wiggins PD a little while after dad died, taking a job with the FBI,” Anthony said with a grin. “Anyway, at this time, oh eight or nine years ago, maybe, he had moved to Quantico where he was an instructor.”
“So, he recruited you.”
“Yeah – he knew the right people, and I sat an interview and the brought me in. I was working in DC when I ended up being caught up in this crazy investigation in California. Anyway, my boss, a guy named Scott, decided he was going to put this team together, and a few cases later, this is what we do.”
“Wow,” she said.
“Yeah… what about you?” He asked. “What’s your story?”
She pursed her lips as she drove. “I’m a Baltimore girl,” she said after a moment. “Grew up here – actually went to Woodlawn High School.”
“Oh, wow,” Anthony said. “So, you…”
“Yeah, I was a student there during all of that.”
“Did you know them?” Anthony asked.
“I knew of them,” she said. “We were in different circles, but I mean, everyone knew about it. It was all anyone talked about at the time.”
“Where do you stand on the whole thing?”
“I don’t,” she said. “I heard of the podcast and have never listened. It’s a situation for the courts – I don’t have an opinion that matters.”
“So that whole thing made you want to become a cop—”
“A homicide detective,” she corrected. “Then I got promoted, and then I got promoted again, and now I’m Captain Driscoll.”
“I feel like there’s more to this story,” he said.
“Yeah, well, it’ll have to wait for another day we’re almost here,” she said as they turned onto St. Alban’s Way. She bore right at a Y-intersection and passed a few more houses, then came to a stop in front of a sizeable stone-brick house. “This is it here,” she said.
“Quite a house,” he said, undoing his seatbelt.
“Did your husband always live in Baltimore, Mrs. Ballard?” Driscoll asked.
“Oh, yes,” she answered. “He attended Baltimore City College right here in town. Class of ’68,” she said with a smile. “He played on the football team and the basketball team… Oh, everything Charlie did. Four letters.”
“Four?” Anthony repeated with a warm smile.
“Oh, yes. Charlie was quite an athlete in those days. All the girls fawned over him,” she said, bringing a hand up to her cheek.
“But I’ll bet he only had eyes for you,” Anthony said.
Mrs. Ballard blushed, swatting the air at him.
They had rung the doorbell, and Nancy Ballard had answered right away. Her three children were there, supporting her in her time of need. Anthony and Driscoll had spoken to them all about the investigation and what the FBI involvement meant. The young Ballards were adults and married, and Driscoll was impressed by the way Anthony fielded the questions that the seven fired at him, patiently explaining procedure, and making sure they understood things. Washington and Baltimore both had told him to use whatever resources were necessary to bring Charles’ killer to justice. He called him Charles too – connecting for the family to their lost loved one.
Then he had turned the interview over to Driscoll, speaking only when he had a question about an answer that Mrs. Ballard had given. The children, two sons and a daughter, along with their three spouses, had left the room, comfortable that their mother wasn’t going to be badgered. Driscoll noticed that even though she was taking thorough notes on the interview sheets provided, agent Williams still had his own notepad out and would jot down notes of his own as Mrs. Ballard answered. It irritated her a little. It was like he didn’t trust her to do her job.
“You said that Charles went to NYU?” Driscoll asked.
“Yes, he did,” she answered. “He gave up the sports because he wanted to be a doctor. Ended up working as a psychiatrist because he said he said some of the worst wounds are emotional ones.”
“Very true,” Anthony said.
“Of course, psychiatry was still a little new back then. Psychiatrists weren’t always trusted, but he made a name for himself.”
“And his practice was always here in Baltimore?”
“Yes,” Mrs. Ballard nodded. “He started off working under a doctor Kenneth Martin, to begin with. His office was here in Baltimore, although in the beginning, he also spent a little time working in New York.”
“New York?” Anthony asked casually.
“Yes, for the first couple of years, he worked half of the week here and half of the week in Long Island. At Stony Brook it was. Dr. Martin had been a part-time professor at Stony Brook and had a local practice on Long Island where his second home was. Charles would stay there two or three nights a week and would be home the rest of the time,” she said.
“What years did he work there?” Anthony asked.
“Oh…” She paused, thinking. “Well, he graduated from NYU in 1972, then med school at Stony Brook from ’72-‘76. I was there during those years, he finally brought me up to live with him.”
Anthony smiled patiently, awaiting an answer.
“Well, he finished school in ‘76 and was hired by Dr. Martin then, so I would guess from ‘76 to ’80,” she said finally.
Anthony nodded, jotting notes on his pad.
“Is that important?”
Anthony gave that warm smile again. “I don’t know,” he said, “but I like to be thorough. I’ve sometimes found a lot of the little details when added up can make a big difference.”
Anthony stood then and took Mrs. Ballard’s hand as she rose to her feet. “Nancy, may I call you Nancy?”
She nodded, “oh, yes, of course!”
“I wish we could have met under better circumstances, but I want you to know that I’m going to do everything in my power to see right done by your husband. We’ll be in touch with news as it’s available.”
“Thank you,” she said with her left palm to her cheek as she shook both their hands.
As they walked down the front walkway towards the car, Driscoll paused. “Do you always take duplicate notes? Been a while since I was in the academy, but I’m pretty sure I still know how to write.”
Anthony frowned, squinting off into the distance for a moment. She was about to repeat the question when he looked at her. “I always take my own notes from interviews. Not of everything, but just of points, I want to highlight. I think a lot at night, and having things jotted down saves me the time of reading through everything later, I can just jump back to the most interesting points.”
She nodded, satisfied that there had been no insult.
“Look. If you and I are going to work together on this, you need to work with me. I’m an open book – there’s no secret plan. We’re going to catch this guy.”
“You’re saying I can put down my sword and shield,” she said, tucking her hair back behind her ear.
“We’ll get along better, and things will go easier for both of us if you do. Catching people who do these things is what I do. I’m the FBI’s best monster hunter, and I was sent here to help, not step on toes or ruin anyone else’s life.”
Driscoll eyed him. “Truce?” She asked, finally.
“Don’t call me ma’am, and we’ll get along splendidly,” she said then, walking past him towards the car.
“Yes, Captain Driscoll.”
She smiled, and he smiled back. He was doing that calming thing again. It was disarming, and it made her a little nervous that he could have an effect on her with little more than a look and a demeanour. She’d fought long and hard to become the first female Captain in homicide. As a general rule, it was her practice to trust no one, but agent Williams engendered trust with his calm, reassuring way. She could see herself working with him without being constantly buttoned up. That thought was refreshing, and that made her nervous.
“You think the Stony Brook thing might be a connection?” She asked as they reached the car.
“I’m not sure,” he answered honestly. “The obvious connection so far is that everyone lives in Baltimore, but that feels too shallow somehow. Call me Nancy Drew, but I feel like there’s a deeper mystery here to be solved, or I think your department would have figured it out by now.”
“First, no way in hell I’m going to call you Nancy Drew,” she said with a grin. “And thank you for the vote of confidence.”
They got in the car, and she paused, looking at him. “You know, I don’t mind for today, but if we’re going to keep working together, I’m not going to be your permanent chauffeur.”
Anthony shrugged, smiling. “Like I said, it’s your city. I don’t even have a car.”
“You don’t have a car?”
“Sold it. I’m on the road nine or ten months out of the year, and most places I have to fly to. It didn’t make sense to keep a car in D.C., or an apartment for that matter.”
“You’re homeless?” She asked, her eyebrows raising.
He grinned. “Nah, I’ve got a great room at the Hyatt,” he said. “And I’m sincere about your department. Some cases I come into; the police work is just bad. You find that in little towns. The police force is smaller, and the resources aren’t what they need to be to handle these kinds of investigations. Others, like my latest one in Chicago, are troubled by one or two peoples’ ineptitude. Your division is one of the better ones I’ve been to. Everyone knows his place and his job. Notes are thorough, and the forensics look clean. With these I’ve found often, it’s just the fresh set of eyes that breaks the case. Often there’s a kind of blending of perspectives that just works out. Other times we just get lucky because the perpetrator screws up.”
“I’m just glad you don’t go on and on calling him an unsub,” she said.
“I’m not a fan of the word,” Anthony grinned. “That show’s brutal, am I right?”
“Became cliché in the first episode.”
They smiled at each other, and Driscoll decided that against her better judgement, she genuinely liked Anthony Williams. She even thought she trusted him. She pushed the engine button and put the vehicle in gear.
“Look, where are the guys going to play ball?” Ross said.
“There’s a community centre less than a two-minute walk from here,” Jake replied. “There’s no way we could fit everyone in those two conference rooms.”
Driscoll and Williams arrived back at the station and saw the large moving truck with its back door open and ramp down. Then they saw Major Ross walking around, his mouth agape, and his face red. Agents Russell and Davidson were standing back, watching the other two speak, then when he saw Anthony and Driscoll, Davidson to the back of the truck, speaking to the movers.
“This doesn’t look good,” Driscoll said as she pulled into a spot beside the truck.
Anthony had no more stepped out of the car when Ross was on him.
“Why wasn’t I made aware of any of this?” Ross asked, pointing at the moving truck.
“I’m sorry?” Anthony said.
“I’m going to need to run this up the chain of command to the information technology director for permission to access our network,” he said. “These things need to go through the IT department. I also need to get clearance for sectioning an area of the precinct for your little tent. I need to be consulted about allocating additional space for you and your men.”
Jake braced himself for the confrontation that he knew would come. In the service, Anthony Williams had always been a bit of a hard-ass. A challenged like this in front of everyone was going to set him off. Instead of shouting, Anthony leaned against the hood of the truck like he didn’t have a care in the world. He looked at Ross, and then he smiled as if the whole situation were amusing.
“Hey, Agent Russell. What were the words that Commissioner Harris used when describing what we would receive from his police department?”
“The full cooperation of the Baltimore Police Department,” Agent Russell said a little smugly.
“The full cooperation,” Anthony repeated smoothly, nodding as he eyed Ross levelly. “And what did the Deputy Commissioner say?”
“Full cooperation of the—”
“Full cooperation of the Baltimore Police Department,” Anthony said, still nodding. “And what about Colonel Marsden, Chief of the Criminal Investigation Division, and Lieutenant Colonel Henry, the head of the Detectives Division?”
“Full cooperation Agent Williams,” Agent Russell said with a little smile.
“Full cooperation… Russell, would you say that Major Ross is giving us his full cooperation, or that he is impeding the efforts of our investigation?”
“Well sir, I’d say—”
“Okay, okay, I get the point,” Ross interrupted.
“Naw, I don’t think you do Captain Ross,” Anthony said as he looked at the captain, who stiffened a visibly. “After this latest killing and body dump, your Turquoise Killer crossed state lines. Assistant Director Scott, my boss, spoke to your commissioner and offered our assistance, which your commissioner accepted. We offered to run the investigation out of our own Baltimore Field Office, and your commissioner said there was no need – that the task force we were setting up would be accommodated in every way possible.”
“And we’ve cleared out two of our conference rooms, and I’ve allocated a large portion of my homicide unit to—”
“Let me be clear to you,” Anthony cut into Ross’ words smoothly, his voice quiet and calm. He stepped away from the truck, closing the space between himself and Ross, lowering his voice ever so slightly. “Major Ross, I didn’t come in from D.C. to measure dicks with you. I’m not here to argue or to fight. Your department is participating in a joint operation that I am in charge of, but I don’t report to you. I’m not going to play any games, and I’m not going to play office politics with you.”
“It’s simple,” Anthony spoke over him. “If you become an obstacle to me in any way, I’m going to inform the commissioner that we are relocating the task force to the FBI Field Office. Right now, if we catch this guy, your department gets the credit. Commissioner Harris wants that credit, so whose side of this little power struggle do you think he’ll come down on?”
Jake could see the big vein standing out on the side of Major Ross’ neck, and he was half convinced the captain was going to take a swing at Williams, but instead, Ross simply said, “Your side.”
“My side,” Williams nodded. “Do we have an understanding?”
“Good,” Anthony said, smiling happily and slapped Ross on the shoulder as he moved past him towards the back of the truck.
Ross watched him go, his face red with anger or embarrassment or both, then he stalked away, back towards the building.
“Jesus Anthony, you could have just shot him,” Russell said in a tone just loud enough that Jake could also hear as he fell in step with his supervisor. He was grinning broadly.
“Needed to squash his bullshit,” Anthony shrugged. Now that it was over, he was frowning, and Jake could see that a hint of the old Anthony, who might have resolved such an altercation physically, was still in there being just kept in check. “How are we on the setup?”
“We’ve got the tent in and set up – big son of a bitch. The setup is pretty extensive – even has three eight-by-eight-foot interview rooms,” Agent Davidson said.
“Interview rooms? How do we get them in the building?” Anthony asked.
“They’re modular,” Russell said with a grin.
“Like Lego. It all comes in pieces and then gets assembled,” Davidson said. “The movers work for the manufacturer, so they’re setting it up, but Walsh is overseeing it, and we’re lending a hand to speed things up. Everything’s laid out, but it’s going to take a couple more hours for everything to come together.”
Anthony looked at his watch. It was already 5pm. “Shit,” he said.
“Hey, why don’t you head on back to the hotel. We’ll give you the tour in the morning when everything’s set up,” Russell said.
“No, I should help,” Anthony said, and began shrugging out of his jacket, but Davidson placed a firm hand on his chest.
“Hey, after that ass whooping you just dished out—”
“You need to go cool off Champ,” Russell said with a grin, finishing Davidson’s sentence. “It’s cool – we’ve got this.”
“You sure?” Anthony asked.
“Absolutely,” they said together.
Anthony laughed. “You guys keep doing your Bobbsey Twins bit, and you can’t work together anymore.”
“Yeah, yeah – go get some rest and clear your head. Everything’s going to be assembled tomorrow, so you need to be ready.”
Anthony turned to Holt and Driscoll, who were both grinning at him.
“Look, I know you said you’d handle Ross, but shit,” Jake said. He slapped Anthony on the shoulder. “Hey, I’m gonna go give the guys a hand – the toys your FBI friends brought are insane.” He moved past Anthony and climbed into the back of the moving truck.
Anthony looked at Driscoll, who squinted at him. “I gotta admit,” she said. “That no-nonsense thing you just pulled was pretty impressive.”
Anthony shrugged, smiling. “Yeah, well. He started it.”
“Hey, you busy for the next little bit?” He asked.
“I don’t really have any plans for the night,” she said.
“How would you feel about coming with me to the morgue?”