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“A woman scorned,” said Ava. “Jeanine Fujioka described Sonja Parish as a seriously unbalanced woman who’d stalked her husband. Who knows what she was capable of? Jeanine said she and her husband wondered if this woman would show up again in their lives.”

“Maybe she did,” said Zander.

“Well, if she did, she’s been behaving herself for the last decade,” said Ava. “I have a hard time believing she flew here from Louisiana to get even.”

The three of them were silent for a moment, weighing the possibility. Ava tried to picture a woman carrying out the murders. She couldn’t see it, but she knew they couldn’t rule it out.

“Our smiley face fingerprint showed up on the Fujioka mask,” Nora stated. “But your fingerprint lab has burst our bubble of excitement on its origins.”

“Explain,” said Ava.

“It’s fake. Well, at one time it was on a real person. Turns out this print is available for purchase online. You know those latex gloves with fake fingerprints they sell?”

Ava nodded. She’d read about them. Marketed as novelty items to “impress your friends,” the mass-produced gloves were designed to screw with investigations. They weren’t illegal to sell and the prints were flagged in databanks around the country. She’d never heard of a case in which they’d shown up. Until now. “Someone sells happy-faced gloves?”

“Yes,” said Nora. “The lab figured it out this morning. Someone wanted to mess with us.”

“Are we looking into who sells it?” asked Ava.

“I assigned it to Henry.”

“Dammit. I’d really hoped that’d lead somewhere.” Someone was having a good laugh at their expense.

“Did you get the children’s names from the mentoring program yet?” Nora asked.

“No,” said Ava as she finished the last bite of her sandwich. “Scott Heuser has been out of the office and hasn’t returned any of my voice mails. The receptionist says those records are password-protected and that Scott hasn’t gotten back to her, either. I’m about ready to go down there and take their server.”

“What about Micah’s mother?” asked Zander with a thoughtful look on his face. “Are we ignoring her as a possible suspect? Remember how she flew off the handle when she first got here? She clearly has a thing for cops and we already know Micah was in the program. That’s three things we just talked about in a suspect.”

“Are you suggesting that’s how Micah knows so much about the murders? Because he was there helping his mother?” Nora sounded skeptical. “He’s still sitting in a holding cell downstairs. I’m having a DA figure out what else to charge him with so we can hold him longer.”

“Do we need to have Regina come back?” asked Zander. “We were so focused on Micah, maybe we need to take a closer look at Regina.”

“It can’t be Regina,” said Ava. “Jeanine Fujioka said her husband didn’t mentor Micah Zuch.”

“Just because Lucien didn’t mentor Micah doesn’t mean he didn’t encounter his mother,” argued Zander. “Maybe Regina attended some of the organization’s public events. She could have met Lucien there, or possibly she knows other mothers who crossed the line when it came to the mentors. It could be someone in her peer group.”

“I don’t think women discuss their cop conquests.” Ava rubbed her eyes. “Or do they? Oh, what if it’s like a private little club where they pass around the names of the cops who are willing to step over the ethical lines?”

“Seriously?” asked Nora. “I think that’s following a very weak tangent. This isn’t a soap opera. Women don’t do that.”

“You haven’t met my sister,” muttered Ava as Zander deliberately nodded.

Nora stared at them. “You’re both cracked. The chance that we’re dealing with a scorned woman who’s planned revenge on every cop who refused to sleep with her is minuscule.”

“I want to talk to Regina again,” said Zander. “I want her to get a look at her son in a pair of jail coveralls, too.”

“He’s not in coveralls,” said Nora.

“Find him some and tell him to put them on. I think it’ll be a good image for his mother to see.”

“There’s no way Micah is the muscle to go with his mother’s murdering rampage,” said Ava. “It doesn’t fit. Regina is the type who uses her tongue as a weapon, not a blade to the neck.”

“Maybe that’s how she wants you to view her,” said Zander.

“Quit messing with my head.” Ava glared at him as she silently questioned her perception of Micah’s mother. Had the woman completely fooled her? “You think she’d let her son sit in jail, possibly taking blame for the crimes she committed?”

“I’m not ruling it out.”

“Let’s get Regina Zuch back here,” said Nora, making a decision. “Zander and I will talk to her.” She looked at Ava. “Get a warrant for the Cops 4 Kidz server. Take a computer tech with you so the equipment is removed appropriately.”

“I filed a request for the warrant an hour ago,” Ava said, smiling. “It should be ready any minute.”

Nora’s eyes lit up. “Nice.”

What if we’re wasting too much time on Cops 4 Kidz?