“No,” Ava said, feeling exhausted. “Go get it done.” The woman paused, exchanged a glance with the other crime scene tech, and then left.
“Hello?” a female voice called from the front of the house. A dark-haired woman strode in carrying a black satchel. She smiled at Ava and the crime scene tech, and took a good look at the body on the floor. “Looks like I’m in the right place.” She held out a hand to Ava. “I’m Gianna Trask with the medical examiner’s office.”
Her smile was a little too sunny for Ava. “Special Agent Ava McLane.” Her vision tunneled as she looked at the medical examiner.
The smile faltered. “Maybe you should sit down, Agent McLane.” The doctor grabbed one of her arms while the tech grabbed the other, and they guided her into a dining room chair.
Ava lowered her head between her legs, anger flooding her. Dammit. Get a hold of yourself. She sucked in deep breaths.
The medical examiner squatted beside her. “Is it the blood?”
Ava choked out a laugh and lifted her head, looking into the woman’s concerned brown eyes. “No, the blood doesn’t bother me at all. It’s something not related to this.”
Gianna nodded, but she didn’t appear convinced. Ava’s vision finally seemed normal, so she stood, testing her legs. She noticed the medical examiner taking an assessing glance at her stomach.
“Not pregnant,” Ava said dryly.
The medical examiner grinned. “If it’s not a dead body, then pregnancy is usually my second guess.”
Her head felt like it was about to crack open, and she fought to keep her thoughts on the crime at hand. They had another murder to solve and her personal problems had no business getting in the way. She exhaled and turned to Dr. Trask. “I’m better. I believe we’re done taking pictures if you want to get started.”
Dr. Trask nodded and turned her attention to Lucien Fujioka, but Ava noticed she positioned herself to keep Ava in her peripheral vision. She thinks I might get light-headed again.
Ava was determined not to repeat the experience. She watched the medical examiner palpate Fujioka’s skull. “Is there a blow to the head?” Ava asked.
“Yes. I can feel it on the left side.”
“I think he realized he was about to be attacked and turned,” Ava commented. “Two of the others were hit squarely in the back of the head.”
“I assisted on Vance Weldon’s autopsy,” Dr. Trask said as she ran her hands down Lucien’s arms. “I went back and reviewed all our notes when I heard it might be tied to those other officers’ cases. I didn’t see anything to indicate it wasn’t a suicide.”
“He didn’t have the blow to the back of the head, right?” asked Ava.
“Correct. If it wasn’t suicide, I don’t know how he was subdued enough to be hanged.” Dr. Trask shook her head in frustration, and Ava felt bad for the medical examiner.
“Dr. Rutledge says sometimes mistakes are made in classifications.”
“They are. Doesn’t mean it won’t drive me batty and make me second-guess everything I saw.”
Ava studied Fujioka’s neck, the smooth cords of tendons and muscles, and mentally compared it with the slashed necks of two of the other cops. Weldon’s neck had also looked relatively intact. How did he get Weldon to cooperate? “Would a stun gun have left behind some evidence if it had been used on Weldon?” asked Ava.
“Pressed directly against his flesh? Depends on the type of weapon used. I’ve seen a few stun guns leave small bruises and some leave nothing.”
“I thought it left two little red marks.”
“A Taser definitely would. Those prongs can bite into the skin. Stun guns vary widely. I didn’t see any marks on Weldon that could be from a stun gun. But it doesn’t mean one wasn’t used.”
That’s not much help.
Ava looked back at the body. “This officer might have got in some blows on the suspect before he was shot,” said Ava. “Please be careful bagging his hands. Our killer’s DNA might be under his nails. No one else managed to lay a hand on their attacker, which might be why he was shot.”
“I’m always careful,” Dr. Trask said with a smile, and Ava felt a touch of embarrassment about telling her how to do her job.
Nora and Zander reappeared, their cheeks pinked from the chill of the night air. “We didn’t see him,” Nora said. “We both walked the crowd and didn’t see anyone who could remotely look like this guy.” She handed the camera to the tech who’d helped Ava sit down. “We showed it to a few of the officers holding the perimeter and no one said they’d seen him.”
“Well, he’s not a figment of my imagination,” stated Ava. “We have him on-screen.”
“Right,” said Zander. “But he decided to split. I bet he became aware of the filming when the tech was asked to come inside. What’s he hiding from?”
“I don’t know,” said Ava. “It makes no sense. I really think he’s trying to find Jayne. My best guess is that she owes someone money.”
“You don’t believe he’s related to this?” Nora pointed at the officer on the floor. “Because if not, we need to get to work.”
“I really don’t,” Ava stated as doubt crept up her spine. Nora held her gaze for a second and then introduced herself to the medical examiner. She and Zander started a discussion about the death with the ME.