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Ava leaned closer and saw the patterns Nora described. “Fascinating.” She filed the new information away in her brain. She took a closer look at his hands. “He fought back!” she exclaimed. The victim had scrapes and abrasions on his knuckles. She squinted at his fingers, trying to see if he’d scratched the assailant and caught some skin under his nails.

“Yes,” said Nora. “Another difference in this case besides the gunshot. He saw him coming and put up a fight.”

“But the attacker was prepared with a gun. I wonder if he had a gun with him at the other murders.”

“He messed up here,” said Ava. “Somehow Officer Fujioka knew he was in trouble and forced the attacker to shoot. In the other attacks, they were subdued with a blow to the head and killed, and then the masks placed over their faces. Is there any evidence that the killer tried to subdue him first? Rope? A struggle somewhere?”

“The rest of the home is very neat,” said the female evidence technician with the camera. “I’ve taken shots in every room, and I didn’t see any sign of a struggle. I was about to move outside and shoot in the backyard, but I did a preliminary walk when I got here, nothing out there caught my eye. I’ve spent most of my time in this room.”

Nora nodded. “I noticed the same lack of struggle elsewhere. I think everything happened right here. Front door was unlocked so the attacker could have walked in or been let in. There was a pizza burning in the oven when we got here, so he was making something to eat. I turned off the oven.”

That explained the odor.

Their victim was barefoot, wearing jeans and an Oregon State sweatshirt. He’d been shot in the chest. Even on the dark wooden floor, the sight of the large pool of blood was overwhelming.

“A bullet hole leads into that lower cabinet,” said Zander. “It looks like he was leaning his back against it when he was shot. And then he slid down to the floor.”

“Cowering from someone?” Ava asked quietly. The change in the MO bothered her. Why had this one been handled so differently? Had their unsub been surprised when he entered the home, and panicked and shot? She wondered if they’d find a blow to the back of the officer’s head. That would explain his low position. But why the gun?

“Why did he use a gun?” Zander echoed her thought. “He had to know someone would hear.”

“Either he had no choice or it was what he wanted,” said Nora.

“He wanted the police to arrive at the scene sooner?” Ava asked.

“According to the neighbor, the wife isn’t due back for three days. There’s a good chance no one would have found him until then,” stated Nora. “He could have been here for days.”

“But why get us here early?” Ava’s brain tried to compute. “Did he want to watch us for some reason?”

An electric bolt struck her.

“What?” Zander asked sharply.

“Is someone filming the crowds out front?” she whispered.

“Yes,” said Nora. “Two people. One is filming and the other is taking stills.”

“I need to see them as soon as possible,” Ava said, as nausea threatened to bring up her wine. Nora headed to the front door.

“What is it?” Zander asked in a low voice.

“Twice I’ve run into a guy who’s asked me about Jayne,” Ava said. “He has to be following me somehow.”

“How can that be related to this?” Zander asked slowly. “You think he’s doing these murders?”

The error of her premise hit her. She covered her eyes. “I’m so stupid. No, there’s no way he’s done these crimes. When I wondered if someone was trying to manipulate us to a location so he could watch us, I was swamped by the thought of this guy. He seems to know where to find me.”

“You’re saying you have a stalker.” Zander eyed her seriously. “Have you reported this? Does Mason know? How often have you seen him?”

“Twice. But each time he’s asked for Jayne. He’s looking for her, not me.” She felt like a fool for bringing it up in the middle of a crime scene. “Forget I even mentioned it.”

Nora reappeared with a tech and a large camera. “Show her what you’ve filmed so far,” she ordered, with a gesture toward Ava.

“It’s not necessary,” Ava said as the tech placed her camera in Ava’s hands with video rolling on the large display. Ava watched as it slowly panned across the faces. The camera automatically adjusted for areas of poor lighting. “Nora, I’m sorry. I overreacted. This has nothing to do with these—”

She froze. “How do I pause this?”

The tech pressed a button. “Need me to back it up a bit?”

“Please.” Ava’s nerves twanged as if someone had plucked them. I saw him. I know it was him.

The video moved forward and Ava’s finger hovered over the PAUSE button. There.

She stopped the video and expanded the screen with two fingers, looking at the face of the man she knew as David.

“That’s him,” she said quietly. “That’s the guy who’s approached me twice about Jayne.”

Zander took the camera and studied the screen with Nora. “Stay here,” he ordered Ava. “Nora and I will go take a look.” They headed toward the front door, taking the camera and leaving Ava alone with the two technicians.

“Umm . . . do I need to wait, too?” asked the tech who’d been filming outside. “I have other stuff to do.”