11 December 2009

Saturday: Part Two

Saturday brought a day of rest. That's what I believed. Honestly.

When I woke up, the blizzard said, "Good morning! If you had nuts, I'd freeze them off!"

I looked out my kitchen window wondering how in the hell the forecaster missed a blizzard. My coffee was warm in my cupped hands, so when I contemplated shoveling later, I hoped it didn't stop snowing for a very long time. I mean, hello, cold out! Montana could have some ruthless weather!

Though I didn't want to go out, my paper was still outside. I snagged the paper from the Trib box; I probably looked odd running out in my flannel pj bottoms, boots untied and overcoat. Didn't care. Weather like that always reminded me I needed to move the paper box closer to the house. Doubt the neighbors could see me anyway for all the blowing snow.

The front page was covered with the story from the parking garage:
Local Businessman Brutally Slain
read the headline. Brutally? Was there a word worse than 'brutally'? I continued reading: 'Local entrepeneur, Kirby Johnson, was found murdered Friday morning in the parking garage on the corner of 4th St and 1st Ave N. Detective Michael Timothy wouldn't give any details except that the horrific murder seemed to fit the pattern of the other three victims. Another officer on scene was quoted as saying, "This is total chaos and carnage. I can't believe someone could do this to someone else. If we don't get a lead soon, well, I don't know what'll happen. This is scary."

I'm not sure which officer got quoted but for his sake I hope Mike didn't either. The article continued on with warnings not to go alone, tell people where you planned to be, etc. Same warnings as for weather watches mostly. Except the extra blanket and food people were normally cautioned to bring.

I got another cup of coffee, turned my laptop on, grabbed my forest Hart sent and started reading through the fax again looking for thoughts and clues rather than just scanning over the information. Everything Hart told me was in the pages. The lack of ties to people, the atrocity in the dismemberment and the pattern of coming on abruptly and ending just as quickly. As I read through the extensive file, dredging through terrifying horrific photos I wondered at what type of copycats we were dealing with. I said we because like I mentioned before, mysteries were a hobby, sometimes dangerous, but usually nothing I couldn't handle.

The wind beat and howled against the house as the snow continued to pile in giant drifts outside. The radio made it clear that all roads were shut down except for emergency only. Darkened, freezing skies and bitter winds pushed the temperature well below zero and I turned the heat up, wondering if I ought to start a fire in the basement furnace as well.

My house was one of the first in Great Falls. Moved from its original location to the lot it stood on in the early 20's. It consisted of a partially finished basement; a small kitchen (as was the fashion of the time), dining room, den/office, and living room were on the main floor. A miniature bathroom and two bedrooms, as well as a makeshift gym room on made up the second floor. All in all it was a well built, older home. Though with its age and my lack of time to add new amenities, I tended to worry about heat. Unlike my neighbors, though, I had an advantage...the basement woodstove which, when lit, could keep the main floor toasty and if need be I'd just sleep on the sofa.

When I was reading through the fifth homicide in about the twentieth case in the file I noticed that all of the bodies had a mark on their torso above the navel. It matched none of the multitude of puncture wounds found on the dismembered parts. The mark tended to be two inches long, made by a blade rather than the ice pick type wounds everywhere else. The earliest cases didn't note too well so I didn't catch it right away. Some of the tears looked as if an animal were involved also. I learned that once in a while the police would make an arrest but the murders would continue or start up again if they'd stopped and the suspect would have to be released. To me that showed two things: the culprits weren't afraid of getting caught and they didn't want anyone else getting credit for their "work". Really sick and egotistical.

I tried to avoid the photographs of the bodies as much as I could but I still needed to see positions and placement of the bodies. The victims all stared back, the ones that still had eyes or whose skulls weren't crushed, they stared in post mortem terror. I knew, without a doubt, that these people would haunt my nightmares for a very long time.

I started wondering, though, how Hart put it all together. Other than the wounds, the tears and the dismemberment, how did he piece it together? The murders took place all over the country, some in Canada and Mexico also.