Page 42

Overall, the call had given Mason nothing except a desperate need to exercise his heterosexuality. He’d taken a break and dashed down the block to flirt with the baristas at Starbucks. Now back to work and sipping on a venti coffee, he felt cleansed.

Mason eyed a fax from a buddy, Special Agent Jeff Hines, at the Portland FBI office. He’d put in a request for some profiling help on their killer, but the office was backed up and terrorism was number one on their priority list. They couldn’t get anyone to him for a month or so.

Mason couldn’t wait that long.

As a favor, Jeff had taken a quick look at their two recent cases and gave a general categorization of their killer as “organized.” Meaning their killer was of good intelligence, socially competent, and planned the murders carefully. Jeff thought he was possibly highly intelligent with a masculine image. He was possibly charismatic, controlled his emotions during the crime, and probably had a high interest in the media response to the crime. This was in contrast to a “disorganized” serial killer who spontaneously carried out killings with sudden violence and a below-average intelligence.

This was supposed to help? Mason crumpled up the fax.

How about an address for the bastard?

Ray slid into his desk chair and laid his forehead on the closest stack of paperwork. His tie was shoved in a jacket pocket and his cuffs stained with ink. Apparently his search wasn’t going any smoother. Mason had given him the shit task of finding the people he hadn’t located right off the bat. It entailed a lot of online searching of public records and frustrating busywork, but Ray was more computer savvy than he was. Mason was lucky if he could check his e-mail.

“I can’t find his family.” Ray’s voice was muffled by the stack of arrest records.

“What do you mean?

“They seemed to have vanished out of Oregon and off the planet.” Ray lifted his head and Mason cringed at his bloodshot eyes. They looked like a road map. Too much time staring at the computer screen.

Mason thought on the family for a minute. “You checked death records?”

The look Ray shot him stated Mason was an idiot. “Of course. First thing. Why wouldn’t I?”

Mason shrugged. “Just checking.” He flipped to the copy of DeCosta’s birth certificate in his binder.

Dave DeCosta’s birth certificate was blank where the father’s name should be.

Mason was positive that DeCosta wasn’t the result of an immaculate conception.

The blank space usually meant the mother wasn’t sure who the father was, hated the jerk, or the bastard had cleared out before the birth. It created a big hole on the paternity side of Ray’s hunting list where uncles or grandparents would usually be. “The family’s got to be somewhere.”

“All dead on the mother’s side. She was an only child.” Ray raised a brow and said succinctly, “I found the death records of her parents.” Mason made no comment and Ray went on. “I’ve talked with some neighbors. They don’t remember much.”

“She probably remarried and changed her name.” Mason was grabbing at straws. The mother had been an insecure clinger who never looked anyone in the eye and mumbled when she talked. She had always clung to the arm of the closest cop. She’d driven the task force crazy. Mason doubted any man would decide to marry her. Unless a man wanted a woman who looked like the world had chewed her up, spit her out, and kicked out her teeth. All of them.

Lack of teeth was a big turnoff to him.

“If she remarried, she didn’t do it legally. I keep hitting dead ends in that area too.”

The relatives of Dave DeCosta didn’t even come close to the sketchy profile from the FBI. Charismatic? Socially confident?

Churning these facts in his mind, Mason unscrewed his pen, separated the pieces and then reassembled them. His fingers needed to keep moving. “What’d you find out about Suzanne Mills’s ring?”

Ray consulted his notebook of bird tracks. “Her mother says it definitely looks like Mills’s ring. She had no idea what happened to it after her daughter vanished. She never saw it again and had assumed Suzanne was wearing it at the time.” He flipped a page. “No fingerprints on the ring other than partials of Dr. Campbell’s. Oh, and Dr. Campbell says she can’t find her own ring from that championship year. She’s wondering if someone stole her ring out of her home.” Ray sighed. “Dr. Campbell has no idea when it could have disappeared. She hasn’t worn the ring in years.”

Mason rubbed the back of his neck. Two rings. What a mess.

Ray grabbed at his cell as it vibrated across his desk. “Lusco.” He paused. “You’re absolutely sure?” Ray flipped to a clean page in his notebook and covered the mouthpiece, looking at Mason through strained eyes.

“He’s killed another one.”

Police cars jam-packed Barrington Drive. No civilian cars had been allowed into the upscale neighborhood. He surveyed the scene, standing with the group of neighbors and reporters who crowded as close as possible to the yellow crime scene tape. A blue uniform dotted the tape every six feet. How many police did you need when the victim was already dead?

He tucked away his grin. It was the notoriety of the murder that was bringing cops out of the woodwork. Where were they when the victim screamed for two hours straight?

Only murder would keep spectators out on the street in this icy weather. He shivered. Occasional flurries dropped from the gray sky, but mainly the wind pelted and froze the crowd.