“Bobby, we know that a cloak was stolen from wardrobe on this movie set, and worn by the killer who attacked Virginia Rockford,” Jude said.
Bobby stared back at him, a flash of confusion in his eyes. “Yeah—it was worn by Angus Avery. I thought that was what you all figured.” He sat up suddenly. “They don’t include details on the news. Were the other women—the women killed last night—all chopped up?”
Jude didn’t answer. “Bobby, do you realize that if you know anything at all, you could be charged as an accessory to murder? And if you can help us and you don’t, other people can still die.”
Bobby’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t know a damn thing. And if another woman is murdered, it’s because you’re inept.” He stood. “Catch me if you can—isn’t that what Jack the Ripper wrote when the London police couldn’t find a bull’s-eye ten feet in front of them? If a cloak was missing, and it was found with Angus’s DNA or whatever, you’ve got your answer. Oh, but wait—Angus didn’t kill anybody last night, did he?”
“Where were you last night, Bobby?” Jude asked him.
“On set until seven—and my limo driver took me home. My doorman saw me go in, and I promise you, he didn’t see me go out,” Bobby said.
“So, you were home alone?”
“What do you think? I was with a young lady. And if you want me to say more, you’ll have to speak to my attorney. I don’t kiss and tell. Why the hell would you suspect me? I’m a star!” he said, shaking his head. “May I change out of my costume now? It’s been a long day!”
“Here’s a reference to the Cult of Satan,” Andrew said, bringing a book over to the desk where Whitney was sitting.
Jake and Hannah were busy at the computer. Since it was awkward for them all to stare at the screen—and Hannah and Jake were experts, and she was not— Whitney determined to let Andrew delve through his collection of books on New York history and tell her more about New York’s past.
He produced a book. “I just read through this earlier. I’d heard rumor the Cult of Satan had a secret sign, see there—it was the emblem of Gilles de Rais.”
“The serial killer who abused and murdered children—hundreds of them—in fifteenth-century France,” Whitney said. “Yes, we’ve actually tossed his name around a few times since this all began.”
Andrew nodded. “That’s his coat of arms, with the blue edge and the fleur-de-lis. It was used as an emblem by the Cult of Satan. They would embroider it somewhere on their clothing, and show it to one another, because they didn’t want their beliefs known. That book is on the cult. I guess it’s not shocking. Life in Five Points must have been miserable, and poverty always breeds violence in one way or another. I suspect that the House of Spiritualism began as a place for tarot card readers and spiritualists, but Jonathan Black did move in and take over. Well, you’ve found the women he sacrificed. After I talked to you on the phone I looked up what I could find on the place, but there really wasn’t much more. Except that I thought you might find this interesting. Satanists also valued reliquaries.”
“Many religious tenets respect reliquaries,” Whitney said. “I’ve thought about that as well—that a modern killer might be worshipping the body—or fragment—in a locket or a reliquary of some kind.”
“Exactly. I think you were on the right track all along, and this may help you. In this book I discovered that Jonathan Black was rumored to have had an exceptionally ‘holy’ relic, if you will. He had a finger bone that had belonged to none other than Gilles de Rais.”
Whitney stared at him. “And our killer knew, after more than three centuries, that he had the finger bone of Gilles de Rais?”
Andrew smiled. “Irish and Catholic here, Whitney. We believe in our relics, no matter how many years have passed. We cherish splinters of what we believe to be the true holy cross. It wouldn’t be that different for a Satanist.”
“I know, I know. We’ve talked about that, but I hadn’t imagined anything so specific.”
“We still don’t know anything—it’s a theory.”
Whitney was thoughtful. She let out a sigh. “A good one. Jonathan Black was supposedly killed and buried at the site when he scared even his own followers? I wonder if they saw all those women die—and began to wonder if they might be next.”
Hannah came rushing into the office. “Guess what we found out?” she demanded.
“What?” Whitney asked.
“Dr. Wallace Fullbright has often been consulted for films and television. And, tada! He’s worked as an extra in seven movies in the last ten years!” Hannah said.
“And,” Jake said, coming in behind her, “we missed something in the records the other day. We didn’t go back far enough. Ellis Sayer worked as a vet’s assistant during his high school years. He could have assisted at many a surgery. Mammalian anatomy is pretty similar, when you’re talking mainly cats and dogs. Not to mention the fact that the man has attended dozens of autopsy operations.”
Jude and Jackson met up with the team and Hannah at the house at around seven; he was tired and hungry.
He listened to Jake and Hannah’s new evidence. “No, we can let Ellis off the hook,” Jude said, leaning back on the sofa, closing his eyes and gratefully taking a long swallow of his beer.
“Look, Jude, I know you work with the man—” Jake began.
Jude opened his eyes and looked at Jake, grimacing. “I don’t deny that anyone can wear a mask, that we only think we really know people. But Ellis showed up too quickly on the scene to have carried out the last murders, at least, those which were carried out while Angus Avery was locked up. Ellis was with the first body last night when we found the second. The killer works with amazing speed, but Ellis couldn’t have been where he was that fast. And I don’t want to shoot down any theories, but Fullbright was at the morgue until he was called to the scene. I saw him arrive in the morgue vehicle. Hell, Fullbright is so excited about this rather than appalled, it has chilled my bones. But he’s an M.E., and really good at what he does, and a body is a challenging puzzle to him.”
“Jake, you’ve got to realize that what you’re saying is true—and not true. Ellis Sayer had a right to be there with the body. Fullbright would have had the opportunity to destroy trace evidence on the body.”
“I say it’s one of the actors on the movie,” Jude said.
“I don’t think you’re being fair!” Hannah said.
They all looked at her.
“My boyfriend has been an extra on movies. And he’s the nicest guy in the world. You’re being cruel to actors,” Hannah said.
“Hannah, actors are fine people. Many are nice. Some may be crazy,” Jude said patiently. He sighed deeply. “Okay, I don’t believe the timing would have allowed Fullbright or Ellis Sayer to have been involved. But I’m close to the two of them, and I don’t want it to be either one of them. I suspect an actor. Hannah is seeing an actor, so she doesn’t want it to be an actor. We’ll take the personal out of it. I’ve replayed the scenarios over and over in my head since I spoke with you, Whitney, and realized that yes, it could be someone really close,” Jude said.
“I still say that Bobby Walden or Sherry Blanco are involved,” Hannah insisted.
“Dr. Wallace Fullbright,” Whitney said.
“One of the above. Or one of the other cops on the task force,” Jude said wearily. “Or half the city of New York.”
Will Chan was thoughtful. “Actors convince you that what isn’t real is real. They have a talent to evoke emotion,” he said.
“And magicians work off sleight of hand, convincing you that you’re seeing what you’re not,” Whitney said. “A good magician can make you believe just about anything. Now you see it—now you don’t.”
“True. And it’s a subtle talent. Bobby Walden might be a screen star, a personality,” Jude said, “but a great actor he isn’t. “
“Sherry Blanco won’t be taking away any awards, either,” Whitney agreed.
“We should have them all to dinner,” Jackson suggested quietly.
Whitney grinned at him. “Jackson, neither Sherry Blanco nor Bobby Walden would accept an invitation to come to dinner here,” Whitney said.
Jude looked at Jackson. “But, hey, we do take whatever we can get. The more people you eliminate, the better the focus on other suspects.”
“The rest of the millions of people in Manhattan,” Whitney said.
But Jude shook his head. “We know the killer. I honestly believe that—it’s someone who is close to us, or someone we’ve had an interest in. And the killer—the second killer, because I don’t believe that Angus Avery is innocent, just that we’re supposed to think that—is high on his success regarding the last two kills. He feels that he is invincible. We’ve talked to and interviewed the killer, or he’s someone we see every day. As far as wearing a costume and mask through his day-to-day life, he’s doing that beautifully. But we know him, and he knows us, and that’s how it’s so easy for him to be a step ahead.”
“And you really think we should ask Ellis Sayer and Fullbright to dinner?” Whitney asked.
“We are bound by the law. We’ve arrested Angus Avery because we had the evidence with which to arrest and charge the man. Our evidence trail is going nowhere. We have to trip this person up before they kill again.”
“But what if we’re wrong? What if it isn’t Ellis or Fullbright?”
“And we may not learn the truth from a dinner. But at this point—what the hell? The two of them will accept an invitation. Let’s go for it.”
It was Whitney’s turn to cook.
She’d decided on some down-home cooking and though she really should have had a lot more simmer time, she decided to throw together a jambalaya. Jude came into the kitchen while she was stirring her spicy mixture together. He slipped his arms around her waist and leaned low, inhaling the scent of her hair.