Murders in Progress

Setting of the Crime

The Only Law Within 50 Miles

(Episode 8)

Leland was heading out the door when Ruth caught him.  He had a list of known sex offenders he intended to question first, and then the farmers who lived round the area where the decapitated corpse was found.  The body and physical evidence found at the scene had been sent off to the county lab, and he was still awaiting the results on that, which he wasn’t too optimistic about.  The county corner was an elected position.  And theirs was also Mayor, Postman, Building and Roads Inspector, and was promoting his wife for State Representative to boot; an over-achieving quadruple dipper.  So that if Leland got back an autopsy with a finding with more than cause of death as, “corpse is missing head”, he would be greatly surprised.  If anybody was going to stop the dead bodies from popping up around here, it was not going to be their coroner.

“Ramey, the Dentist, called again,” Ruth said.

“You mean our “only one within fifty miles as the crow flies”?”  Leland stopped in the doorway to stand for a moment with his eyelids shut.

“That would be the one.  And he sounds pretty broken up, this time Leland.  All blubbery and crying, I think, from what it sounded like over the phone.   He’s a mess, it sounds like.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.  You might want to have a talk with him.”

“I would, but he’s called at an awkward time,” Leland nodded.  “Tell him that I’m tied up at the moment with someone out there who is not extracting teeth…  he’s extracting whole heads.  And as the “only the practicing dentist within fifty miles as the crow flies”, he should appreciate the severity of that.  So tell Ramey that the only law within fifty miles as the crow flies is out trying to nail this asshole – and will talk to Ramey when he gets back!  Maybe!”

Leland let the door slam as he left.

“Gotcha,” Ruth answered.

Leland had already questioned two former sex offenders by mid-morning, and he was on his way to the third when he passed the fancy Mercedes left parked on the highway side.  It was a nice day and there were lots of flowers roadside, so Leland hadn’t thought much of it until he’d trolled past moving slowly and noticed that both front headlights were broken.

Instead, he had been mulling over the two interviews he’d just given.  He’d ask all the appropriate questions and written down their alibis and answers, which they had signed off on.  But what he’d really been looking for was evidence that they had a buddy or access to a pickup truck, and neither had.  In fact, both appeared to be broke, jobless, all alone, and depressed, not even having enough energy to argue.  In fact, it had been all Leland could do to get the second one to speak at all.  And then, once he’d started, the unshaven guy had just gushed and tried to bribe him with some ”right-out-of-the-oven brownies” not to leave, chasing him right down the steps and back into his patrol car with a hot pad and a pan.

Physical evidence can sometimes come as a relief; especially the kind with that soft leather interior you can smell, Leland noted.  So, it was with some relief that Leland turned the car around and headed back to question the Mercedes.

‘Well, usually,’ he amended that thought, when he saw the crows hovering above the trees somewhere off in the woods.  He walked over to the Mercedes and immediately got a bad feeling.  “Oh shit,” he mouthed silently to himself and undid the snap to his holster.

The headlights were not just broken.  They had been shot out.  Drawing his pistol he followed an obvious trail through the undergrowth and trees for about thirty yards until he came upon the scene of what was obviously another crime.  Dried blood was everywhere.  And Leland put away his pistol.  All that was left were the pickings…

He taped off the scene, called his friend the local Vet, and made it back to the car, but found it locked.  He scanned the car’s interior.  Nothing seemed amiss.   It look Leland another ten or fifteen minutes to pop the locks and have a look inside.  Nothing still seemed amiss.  He checked the trunk.   Nothing was strewn all over.  The dash box and other storage slots were all shut.  Neat as a pin.  Leland soon found the registration and had a look at it:  ‘Nancy Loomis’.  The name gave Leland a chill; then a raging anger which tore right up through him.

“Ruth!”  Leland growled on the phone.  “When was it that Ramey left me that first message?”

“I don’t know exactly.  I can look it up.  But it was a couple days ago.”

“Do that.  And call Ramey.  Tell him I’d love to see him to have a chat, and soon!  Ask him to drop by the office, if he would?”

“Gotcha Chief.”  Ruth always called Leland,  Chief or Boss! when he was in that mood.  And today, as much as she was able, she even tried to enunciate the capital letters.

“You know what?  Wait on that,” Sheriff Leland said, feeling another surge of anger.  “I’ll call him.”

“Sure, Boss.  Sure,” Ruth said, clicking off and removing her headset as if it were a hot potato.

Photo by Carl Nelson

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