01 Feb I’m a cop and I keep getting called to the same house Part 2
UPDATE: Thursday, August 9, 2018
I woke up this morning to a blaring ringing coming from my nightstand. I smacked my alarm clock, but it didn’t stop the noise. I finally realized, with half an eye open, that it’s my phone ringing.
I answer, “Hello?”
“Barkley. Wake the hell up. Chief wants to see you, NOW.”
Ugh, Sergeant Oakley is not the voice I wanted to hear at 0800 hours this morning. I rolled my ass out of bed and began to get ready to head into the station since I knew it was never a good sign when good old Chief Fox wants you in his office ASAP. Around 0900 hours I walked into the station, in uniform, and headed towards Chief Fox’s office. I knocked on his open door and poked my head around the corner. Chief said, “Barkley, come in and shut the door.” I shut the door and took a seat.
“Well Barkley, you shouldn’t be surprised why you’re here. You got dispatched to the same goddamn house four nights in a row and discover a dead body on the fourth night. Ha, and this body had been there for at least two of the previous nights! You really fucked up, Barkley. Now I have paperwork out the ass and you need to answer some questions.”
What the hell. How is he turning this thing on me? I did my job, I followed protocol, I followed my training, and I cleared the house as I was taught. “Okay Chief, what questions do you have?”
“Walk me through the first night. Did you check the windows? The doors?”
“Yes, I checked the windows which were all secured and the front door was locked. There are no other doors except the front door, it’s a very old and small farm house.”
“Alright. What about the second night? Windows? Door?”
“Chief, I checked the windows and as my report said, the second night the door was unlocked. I followed protocol and made entry.”
“And tell me about why you didn’t check the room in the basement.”
“Well, according to Maryland v. Buie, I conducted a ‘person sweep’ of the home to check for any persons on the premise since the property appeared abandoned. I looked in all areas that a person could potentially hide. When I got to that room, I saw the lock was rusted, corroded, and covered in cobwebs. There was no way anyone could have hidden in that room and locked themselves inside. I was not searching for a crime or illegal substances, I was only legally allowed to search for persons in that residence.”
“I know the fucking law, Barkley, thanks. Did you try the lock?”
“Well, no. I could see that it would not have opened.”
“Did you think to try to call one of your male officers to try to open the lock?”
“Chief, the reason I didn’t try to open it wasn’t because I thought I was too weak. I didn’t try to open it because I could tell it had not been touched in decades.”
“Well thanks to your expertise in locks and corrosion, this entire case is fucked up thanks to you. I’m gonna be keeping a close eye on you.”
“Chief Fox, I followed all of our departmental procedures and stayed within the law. If you feel I handled these calls improperly then please provide me the additional training and procedures that would guide me to how I should have handled it.”
“Nobody likes a smartass, Barkley. Go start your shift. You have a lot of follow ups to do now for this case and can’t be doing that shit at night.”
What an asshole. I knew from the day city counsel hired me that he hated me. Yeah, as I said, it’s a small town so the Chief tends to do what city counsel tells him to do. Lucky for me, city counsel was eager to hire another female officer, but I don’t think Fox was on board with their idea. I’m used to the sexism in these small towns, but I tolerate it since my fellow patrol officers for the most part don’t share the Chief’s criticism. I decided to follow up with the Medical Examiner’s office to see what information they had from the autopsy and the crime scene since we didn’t seem to have a copy of their report at our station.
I called the Chief Medical Examiner, “Hey, it’s Officer Barkley from the Patch Lane case. Did you guys finish up the autopsy report?”
“Oh okay, I didn’t see a copy here at the station. Can you send it over?”
“I’m pretty busy right now and plus, that’s my assistants job.”
“Alright, how about I just swing by and pick it up.”
“You can do whatever your little heart desires.”
The Chief Medical Examiner wasn’t exactly eager to help, but I grabbed my cruiser’s keys and headed on over to the lab. The assistant was a young girl, looked fresh out of college, and greeted me with a smile, “Hello Officer! How can I help you?” I asked her for a copy of the ME’s report from Patch Lane and she proceeded to enter some letters into her computer, then hit ‘print’. She handed me a three page document, and so I asked, “Aren’t there more pages?”
She responded, “Nope. That’s it.”
I found this very odd considering most medical autopsy reports for a homicide case are well over 20 or 30 pages. I took a seat to look over the report and I guess my confusion and anger showed on my face since the receptionist asked if there was a problem. As I reviewed the autopsy report I saw that for the hair color, which was clearly long and blonde, they listed ‘brunette’, and for eye color they listed ‘undetermined’. I wish this was the end of the shit show, but the entire report seemed to be either wrong or just incomplete. The manner of death was listed as ‘homicide’ but the cause of death was listed as ‘undetermined’. What the hell? Isn’t that their job to determined cause of death?
I marched over to the Chief Medical Examiner’s office and knocked twice before walking in. “Chief, is this just a skeleton report from the Patch lane incident?” I held up the three page document in my hands to show him. A skeleton report is just a basic report cops will fill out prior to end of shift and then the next day with fresh eyes they fill in the gaps. However, with a homicide case and being that this was now over 48 hours later I didn’t understand why they would only have a skeleton report.
“Nope. That’s the finished report, sweetheart.” I hate when old creepy men call me sweetheart.
“Well why is there no cause of death listed?”
“Because thanks to you, the body sat in a locked room for three days and left us barely any evidence to work with.” Why the hell is everyone blaming ME for this!?
“Then can you explain why the hair color was wrong and about half of these items are listed as ‘undetermined’?”
“If you think you can do better, go right ahead.”
I asked to go see the body and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just making shit up in my own head. Shockingly, he agreed and took me over to the freezer. Again, it’s a small town so the morgue only had about five bodies in the freezer. I found our Jane Doe from Patch Lane and zipped open the bag. I immediately noticed her blonde hair… I knew I wasn’t crazy. I grabbed some latex gloves and began to go through her pockets to look for identification since clearly the ME’s office decided it was “undetermined” if she had items in her pockets. I found a receipt from a gas station for 10 gallons of gas priced at $1.12 per gallon. I actually felt jealous of this dead woman wondering where she found to get gas that cheap. Then, I looked up to the top of the receipt and saw the date stamp of “10-20-1998.” Why the hell would she keep a receipt that old? I flipped the receipt over and saw there was some type of writing, like in pencil, on it but I couldn’t make it out. I put the receipt in a baggie and I decided I was going to send it out to the PA State lab for further testing to see if they could decipher what was written. The more I looked at her, I also noticed that she was wearing bleached jeans with a multi colored sweatshirt, like what my mom used to dress me in when I was younger.
I left the freezer since I could barely feel my own fingers and I asked the Chief Medical Examiner if he had copies of their attempts to identify the body i.e. dental moldings, fingerprints, DNA tests, etc. He handed me over a stack of some papers and said, “Good Luck.”
I asked, “Why are there only six fingerprints? Why didn’t you do all ten like normal?”
He responded, “Well why didn’t you check the lock on the door while you were there three days ago? I don’t tell you how to do your job so why the hell are you gonna try to tell me how to do mine?”
Asshole. I decided I was just going to redo her fingerprints since the ones he handed me looked shitty and weren’t even complete. He’s usually more thorough than this and I have no idea why it feels like I am the only one even trying to solve this case anymore. I finger printed all ten of our Jane Doe’s fingers and ran them through my mobile AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System). I was pleasantly surprised to see that I got a hit so I clicked “See more” and my screen read:
Date of Birth: 07/05/1972
Date of Death: 10/20/1998
What. The. Hell.