Truman looked at Mercy.

“Jennifer Sanders.”

Lucas nodded and vanished.

“I don’t know a Sanders family in town yet. Do they still live here?” Truman asked.

Mercy raised a brow at him.

“Oh, right. You haven’t been around lately. We’ll know soon enough. Lucas doesn’t know the entire town the way Ina did, but he’s trying hard to catch up.”

A man knocked lightly on the jamb of Truman’s open door. “Hey, Chief, you got a minute?”

Mercy looked over her shoulder. Her gaze landed on the man’s clerical collar and then climbed to his face. He wore a heavy leather jacket and faded jeans with a sports cap pulled low on his face. Her brain couldn’t connect the collar with the face. Something was off.

“What can I do for you, David?”

David nodded at Mercy with a polite smile and then turned to Truman. “I was looking—”

He stopped, and his gaze shot back to Mercy. Confusion raced over his features, and Mercy silently sighed. This is getting old. She stood and held out her hand. “Mercy Kilpatrick.”

David’s mouth opened, but no noise came out as he shook her hand.

Then she recognized him. David Aguirre had been a close buddy of her brother Owen. No wonder her brain wouldn’t connect the collar with the face; David had been a wild hell-raiser in his youth. She was stunned that he now worked behind a pulpit instead of living behind bars.

“Mercy? Holy cow. I haven’t seen you in ages.” A wide grin crossed his face.

“Nice to see you, David.” She nodded at his collar. “I see you’ve left behind your hellfire ways.”

“Absolutely. God got a hold of me before I dug my own grave.” A pious look crossed his face and his tone lowered, his gaze becoming concerned. “And how are you?”

Her faith was no business of his. To Mercy he’d always be the asshole who’d shot BBs at her chickens and landed her brother in jail for underage drinking. She didn’t care who he was now.

“Very well, thank you. You were about to ask the chief something?”

“Uh . . . yeah . . . did you find out who keeps ticketing the cars parked on the south side of the church?”

“I did. And I looked it over, David. The sign at the far end of the block clearly says no parking. You’ll need to tell people not to park by the yellow curb. Even on Sundays. No exceptions. It’s a safety issue.”

Annoyance flashed in David’s eyes, triggering several memories for Mercy. He’d had a quick temper in the past, often striking out with his fists before thinking. Apparently he still had the temper but had learned a semblance of control.

Praise God.

“Got it,” David said. He looked back to Mercy. “You in town for long?” His enthusiasm at seeing her had waned. Mercy wondered if he’d remembered the time she’d kicked him in the groin for fighting with her brother.

“Not long. Good seeing you.”

He touched the brim of his cap and vanished.

She turned to find Truman looking expectantly at her. “He was best friends with Owen,” she said.

“Still is, I believe. You know more people in town than I do.” His brown eyes studied her, curiosity hovering.

“The files?” she reminded him.

Lucas appeared and held out a sticky note. “Here’s the case number, the box number, and which shelf you’ll find it on. I saw Jennifer Sanders was cross-referenced with another woman’s name, Gwen Vargas. Her file is in the same box if you need it.”

“Perfect. Thanks, Lucas.” She took the note.

Truman came around to the front of the desk and deftly plucked the yellow piece of paper from her fingers. “Let’s take a look.”

Truman immediately noticed that someone had cleaned up the records and evidence storage room. Lucas. He made a mental note to buy him a latte. Ina Smythe had always kept the room well organized, but someone had swept out all the dust bunnies and spiderwebs that’d formed. His department didn’t collect a lot of evidence; mostly they handed out tickets and took the role of a cool head in disputes. Truman figured he hadn’t set foot in the evidence and file room in over a month. The file box was exactly where Lucas had indicated it would be. The large room was packed with rows of ceiling-to-floor shelves stuffed full with boxes and evidence. They found the box in the second-to-last row, right at eye level. Truman grabbed the entire box. Mercy stopped him with a hand on his arm, eyeing the label on the front.

“According to this, there are six different cases assigned to this single box.”

Truman looked. “And?”

“Two of these are murder cases and that’s all the evidence and case notes?”

“Maybe the other cases are shoplifting. Skinny files. We store the bulky evidence somewhere else. There could be a reference inside the box to other storage.”

Mercy looked resigned. “Maybe.”

Truman understood. Two women had been murdered. A person would expect to find tons of evidence and notes on the case. Something that showed the police had exhausted every lead. A single box that held six cases didn’t give confidence.

He directed her down a hall to the small room he’d offered for their investigation. Neither she nor Special Agent Peterson had made use of the room yet, and Truman figured it was time. He’d already learned that Jennifer Sanders’s and Gwen Vargas’s murders had been handled solely by the Eagle’s Nest PD. Truman was slightly stunned. Why didn’t the chief ask the state or county for help?


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