Even though the group had been told the weapon had been found in the dumpster, an audible gasp went up as the figure on-screen threw his backpack inside. The video ended, and enhanced stills of the man appeared on-screen. Ava automatically leaned forward, trying to get a better look. The images were still fuzzy, but much clearer than what she’d seen yesterday. There were no good views of his face.
“There’s a good chance this is Shawn Braswell,” the sheriff said. “His height matches what’s listed on his driver’s license, and the weight appears to be about the same. The hair is the wrong color, but we all know that can be changed.”
“Priors?” asked someone.
“No record,” said the sheriff. “Neither he or Reuben have ever been in trouble with the law.”
The fact bothered Ava. How did someone go from a law-abiding life to murdering his brother and others?
The sheriff went on. “It’s believed his vehicle was seen at the home of his brother, Reuben Braswell, where we discovered the plans for the courthouse bombing.”
“Which were just to get us in place to be murdered,” mumbled a voice behind Ava. Murmurs of agreement trickled through the room.
“The relationship between the brothers was volatile,” continued the sheriff. “But it looks like they had hatred of law enforcement in common.”
“Assuming that’s him,” Ava stated.
The sheriff nodded at her. “Correct. This is only a theory. Either way, I want this guy found. We’ll be pulling some of the teams and moving them to the area around the church. We want more video. He walked down the street. Surely a home security system or doorbell camera caught a better image. We’ll be checking traffic cameras in the area too.”
“What about the car?” asked a woman from the back.
“Plates are stolen,” the sheriff said. “We’re still trying to figure out where the car came from. You’ve all got the information on the missing vehicles belonging to Shawn and Reuben Braswell. Keep an eye out for them as you search. New assignments are at the back of the room.”
Everyone started to stand, speaking quietly to the people around them.
“Two more things,” the sheriff said loudly. Everyone quieted, their attention back to the sheriff. “The weapon used at the courthouse has been traced to a shipment of weapons stolen from the ATF not long ago.”
An angry buzz of voices immediately filled the room.
The sheriff held up his hands in a calming motion. “I know, I know. Two ATF agents were murdered during that Nevada robbery. We don’t know whether or not this guy is tied to the theft or their deaths. But either way, those weapons might be back on the street again. We’ll find out when we catch him.”
Ava had researched the robbery. Hundreds of weapons had been stolen. A drop in the bucket when compared to the nearly four hundred million that were believed to be in the United States. But most of those belonged to responsible gun owners. The odds were good that the stolen weapons would not end up in the hands of that group.
The sheriff continued. “I think you all know there’s a memorial service tonight.”
The room suddenly went silent. A moment later there were nods and quiet affirmations.
“Good. I’ll see you all there.”
The families of the fallen officers had asked for private funerals but agreed to a public memorial service. The shooting was still national news, and Ava knew the families had been mobbed by journalists and the nosy public. She didn’t blame them for having wanted the funerals kept secret.
“I’ve got the motel video,” Zander said in a low voice.
“Good. Let’s go look at it out in the hall.”
He nodded and followed her out of the room, the two of them weaving their way among other task force members. Near a windowed alcove, they stopped, and Zander pulled his laptop out of his bag as Ava tried not to dance with impatience.
What are you up to, Jayne?
“Should we contact Brady?” Zander asked as he pulled up his email.
Ava considered. “Not yet.”
“Poor guy is probably wondering if she’s all right,” Zander pointed out.
“Well . . . we know she was all right a week ago,” Ava said. “We don’t know about right now.”
“I think you should say something to him.”
Ava remembered how distraught the young man had been. He truly cared about her twin even if Jayne didn’t seem to care about him. “I’ll tell him,” she agreed.
Zander turned his laptop so she could see. The indoor camera view showed a reception counter and the front door of the motel. The desk was crowded with stands of flyers and open snack and candy displays where customers could buy something for a dollar. Ava always wondered how many people helped themselves to a handful without paying. A middle-aged man worked behind the counter, and light glared off his balding head. He sat on a stool, his focus on an old computer, its deep monitor taking up a large portion of the counter.
The door swung open and Jayne walked in, pulling a small roller bag.
Ava caught her breath and leaned closer, her gaze raking over the image of her sister, whom she hadn’t seen since last fall. Jayne wore large sunglasses, an oversize sundress, and a perky straw hat with a wide brim. But Ava recognized her immediately.
“That her?” Zander asked uncertainly.
Jayne stopped at the counter and took off her sunglasses, but the hat hid her face from the camera. Shit. Ava ached to see her sister’s face. The hand motions and shoulder movements were definitely Jayne. The clerk was immediately attentive, running a self-conscious hand over his balding pate. Ava grimaced, wondering what Jayne had said to charm him.
“You move your hands like that when you talk,” said Zander.
“No, I don’t.” Ava scowled.
“Yes, you do. Exactly the same.”
Jayne continued an animated conversation with the clerk, and her hands continued to move, pointing to the front door and then holding them up in a “What do I do?” gesture. The clerk shifted on his stool and cocked his head a few times, reluctance in his posture.
Jayne opened her bag. Ava couldn’t see what she brought out but assumed it was cash. “She’s sweet-talking him.”
“She’s good at that.”
“She can be very persuasive,” agreed Ava, waiting to see if Jayne teased the clerk with a view of her cleavage.
It wasn’t necessary. The clerk nodded several times and took Jayne’s money. She received a key, and he pointed at something behind her, clearly giving directions to her room.
Through the silent video, Ava picked up on Jayne’s profuse thanks. Jayne moved out of the camera angle, and the clerk watched her leave as he wiped his forehead. He gave his head a little shake and turned his attention back to his monitor.
Ava straightened and sighed. At least I know she’s not dead.
But wondering about Jayne’s current goals was torture.
“There’s more,” Zander said, opening another attachment.
This angle was a long view of an outdoor walkway on the second level with a sliver of the parking lot below. Motel-room doors were visible at regular intervals. Jayne appeared at the far end, pulling her bag. She stopped and leaned over the railing, waving at something.
“She’s gesturing for someone to join her,” said Zander.
Ava was silent. Oh, Jayne. What have you done?
Jayne continued to a door closer to the camera and slid her card into the slot. She pushed open the door and waited, looking down the hall in the direction of the camera. Ava finally got a view of her face. She studied her twin, looking for changes.
No facial piercings.
Her hair was its natural dark brown like Ava’s and went just past her shoulders.
She looked healthy. No gaunt cheeks or sharp jawline, which had been common during her drug addiction.
Ava relaxed a degree. Maybe the time at the rehab clinic had done Jayne good.
But Ava knew better than to expect the change to last. There was one consistent thing about Jayne: she was predictable in her unpredictability.
The back of a man’s head and shoulders appeared in the camera view as he joined Jayne. His hair was dark and short, and he wore shorts and flip-flops.
Of course it’s a man.
“Is that Brady Shurr?” Zander asked.
Jayne stretched up to give him a kiss, and then he stepped back to allow her into the room first.
Ava caught her breath, unable to speak.
“Shit!” Zander gasped.
Jayne’s hand had stroked down her stomach to cup below the gentle curve.
She was pregnant.
Mason read the Coeur d’Alene police report on Reuben Braswell’s parents’ deaths, intently focused on every sentence, his temper simmering under his skin.
Reuben’s parents had come to a brutal end. Mason had dealt with murder-suicides before, and it made him furious every time. This case was no exception.
Heat built in his chest as he read the neighbor’s interview, which stated she had seen Olive Braswell with black eyes and bruises multiple times. Olive had brushed off the neighbor’s concerns, admitting that the injuries were from her husband but saying that it was normal.
Nothing is normal about a husband who beats his wife. Or his kids—which Mason had learned from Alan Lloyd. He agreed with Alan that it was doubtful Veronica had escaped her father’s wrath, but at least she hadn’t turned out bitter and angry like her brothers.