01 Feb I’m a cop and I keep getting called to the same house Part 3
UPDATE: Monday, August 13, 2018
I woke up Friday evening, groggy with a pounding headache. I’m beginning to think the bottle of wine I finished Thursday night wasn’t such a great idea. That’s the thing with cops, when we come across horrible scenes that we can’t rationalize or explain (whether it be murdered children, abusive husbands, finding a 20 year dead body…) we turn to alcohol. Me personally, I turn to a nice dark merlot. I couldn’t stop wondering how the hell that body could have died 20 years ago? It was fresh; I could still smell it. It made absolutely no sense.
I grabbed my keys with my left hand as I wedged my right hand fingers between my duty belt and uniform belt to get my last belt keeper snapped in place before running out the door to make it to roll call on time. While driving to the station, all I could think about was how there was no way my mobile AFIS was correct. I decided that as soon as roll call ended, I was going to grab a different mobile AFIS from the Bat Cave (the not-so-creative name we call the room with all of our tools, gadgets, and weapons) and scan my Jane Doe’s fingerprints again.
As soon as roll call was over, I ran upstairs and grabbed Jane Doe’s fingerprints from the case file. Next, I grabbed one of the newer mobile AFIS devices and scanned Jane Doe’s fingerprints. It was running slow, but seemed to be thinking. The screen read:
Then after what felt like eternity (but in reality was maybe 3 minutes) I got the message, “System has timed out. Failed attempt.”
Weird. This has NEVER happened to me before. I decided to try it again. This time I can actually feel my heart start to thud louder and louder as I waited for the results.
No Results Found.
What the hell? Are you fucking kidding me? This is the response I am used to seeing when I scan a suspect’s fingerprints who has never before been arrested. I didn’t tell anyone about my previous “Michelle Kline” results because it didn’t make any sense to me. I worried something exactly like this would happen, and I would look like the crazy one. Before I could jump on one of the computers to start to do some digging, I heard the tone drop. The “tone” is the loud, high pitched, screaming tone that makes every cop’s heart skip a beat.
“Dispatch to all available units, we just received a call for gunshots fired near the McDonalds. The caller is unsure where the shooting occurred but heard three gunshots followed by screeching tires and someone yelling.”
I ran to my cruiser, flipped the switch to turn on my lights and siren and raced to the scene. We circulated the area for over an hour with no results. Finally, dispatch got back on the air.
“Dispatch to all units. We just received a call from the Hospital that they have a gunshot wound patient and would like an officer to respond.”
Sergeant Oakley was kind enough to offer the Rookie’s assistance, and just like that I spent the entire rest of my night sitting at the hospital waiting for the victim to come out of surgery so that I could question him.
I spent all Friday night thinking about our Jane Doe case and trying to find answers, but the more I thought about the case the more questions I had. When I returned to work Saturday, I decided I wanted to return to Patch Lane and try to get some closure to some of my unanswered questions.
After everything that happened. I realized it would be best for me to not go alone. I texted my friend, Tim (he is badge number 1045 who responded last time with me), and asked if he would be willing to head back over to Patch Lane with me under the radar. He agreed and we both advised dispatch to hold us out doing foot patrol around the park.This is an area we had a lot of problems at night with underage drinking and smoking. I rolled my cruiser to a stop and shut off the engine. Tim slowly forced himself out of his cruiser, muttering about his bad back.
“Barkley, what are we even looking for back here?”
“Anything, Tim. I just don’t think the ME’s Office processed the scene properly based on how they handled the body.”
“What are you talking about?”
Shit. I didn’t tell him about my little visit to the ME’s Office… “Nothing. Let’s start out and do a full sweep of the perimeter.”
I wasn’t really sure what I was even expecting. There was still police tape across the front door with a fire red sticker on the seal of the doorway stamped “Do Not Enter.” I leaned in to check the door handle to make sure it was locked. As I reached down I heard a loud, shrill, scream come from immediately behind me. I jumped up, turned around, and shined my flash light straight ahead. Nobody was there. I heard a much softer, quieter, squeal come from ground level. I redirected my light downward, and sitting in front of me was a Halloween black cat.
“Jesus Christ cat. What the hell are you screaming at me for?”
Now that she had my attention, she came up to me and wrapped her body around my leg, purring. I proceeded to check the rest of the windows and worked my way to the rear of the house, towards Tim. Hallie (yes, I named her) followed me and began frantically meowing at me the closer I got to the rear of the house. Her screaming got so bad I had to throw her some crackers from my pocket just to distract her, it worked. I noticed a shadow in the upper level window but couldn’t make out what it was. I began taking steps backward to get a better look through the upper level window, all while shining my flashlight upward. By about my 7th or 8th step back I felt something hard and sharp whack into the back of my ankle and brought me to my knees. Tim came running over since this time I was the one doing the yelling and not Hallie. He shined his light down to make sure I was okay, and thank God there was no blood and I seemed to be fine. I bent over to see what it was that I felt go into my ankle and I felt a rusted, sharp chunk of metal. It was an old root cellar door handle. Root cellars are not uncommon on these old farms. It was a way for farmers to store their harvest over the long winter months when refrigeration was nonexistent.
“What the hell is that?” Tim asked.
“It’s a root cellar door…” I told him. “We need to see what’s down there.”
We opened the door and I used my ASP baton to wrap all of the spider webs around it and clear a path for us.
“Barkley, you’re fucking going first.”
I shined my light down, and began going down one step at a time. I went slowly so as to not fall through one of these old, wooden, stairs. We walked down what could only be described as a tunnel for only about 10 seconds before we reached a small set of stairs. There were about four steps up that led to a smaller hatch, almost like an attic door. One that you must crawl through without a ladder. I reached up and opened the hatch. I popped my head up and shined my light around. There was a large rug over the hatch opening. Tim helped me push it out of the way. Once we could finally see in the room, I recognized it. It was the room we found Jane Doe.
Tim grabbed my arm and convinced me we needed to leave because this house was still an active crime scene and we couldn’t go walking around inside. We finally figured out how the body got in that room. I KNEW I wasn’t crazy, there was no way anyone had touched the lock on the outside. We turned around and retraced our steps, careful not to disturb anything. Along the way, I tried to look for evidence but it was too dark. It was an area that would be better examined during daylight.
We returned to our cruisers and calmed our nerves over a long smoke break, despite the fact that I’m not even a smoker.
I got home, passed out, and went back in to work on Sunday. One thing I love about working weekends is that there is no brass at the station when I go in to work. However, this day was different. As soon as I walked in to the station I overheard my coworkers talking about some suits that were up in the Chief’s office. Sergeant Oakley saw me and immediately snapped his fingers at me, “Barkley. Get over here. Chief got called in today because of a surprise visit from some suits. He wants you in his office immediately.”
I headed upstairs to the Chief’s office, a little surprised that the feds were getting involved in this case. I began to wonder if the FBI got involved because of a potential serial killer. My thoughts were quickly interrupted by Chief Fox, “BARKLEY. Get your ass in here.” Oh, the wonderful sound of his voice.
“Hello, Chief. How can I help?”
“Barkley, the Marshals got called in to help with this case.”
…The U.S. Marshals? They usually go after fugitives. Do they think a fugitive did this to our Jane Doe? Do they think our Jane Doe IS a fugitive? My mind is going a hundred miles per minute. Chief Fox then told me I had to sit down with them and answer any and all questions that they had. I took a seat and walked them through my past week explaining the 911 hang ups and finding the body. I wasn’t planning to give them any details about the fingerprints, Michelle Kline, or the secret door, but they asked me something that sparked my interest.
“Officer Barkley, are you familiar with the U.S. Marshals Witness Protection Program?”