Tell No OneHarlan Coben
Agent Carlson looked Hoyt Parker straight in the eye. "As you know, we recently found two bodies in the vicinity of Lake Charmaine. "
A cell phone chirped. Stone managed to hoist himself up and said "Excuse me" before lumbering into the kitchen. Hoyt turned back to Carlson and waited.
"We know the official account of your daughter's death," Carlson said. "She and her husband, David Beck, visited the lake for an annual ritual. They went swimming in the dark. KillRoy lay in wait. He assaulted Dr. Beck and kidnapped your daughter. End of story. "
"And you don't think that's what happened?"
"No, Hoyt - can I call you Hoyt?"
"No, Hoyt, we don't. "
"So how do you see it?"
"I think David Beck murdered your daughter and pinned it on a serial killer. "
Hoyt, a twenty-eight-year veteran of the NYPD, knew how to keep a straight face, but he still leaned back as though the words were jabs at his chin. "Let's hear it. "
"Okay, let's start from the beginning. Beck takes your daughter up to a secluded lake, right?"
"You've been there?"
"Many times. "
"We were all friends. Kim and I were close to David's parents. We used to visit all the time. "
"Then you know how secluded it is. "
"Dirt road, a sign that you'd only see if you knew to look for it. It's as hidden as hidden can be. No signs of life. "
"What's your point?"
"What are the odds of KillRoy pulling up that road?"
Hoyt raised his palms to the sky. "What are the odds of anyone meeting up with a serial killer?"
"True, okay, but in other cases, there was a logic to it. Kellerton abducted somebody off a city street, he car jacked a victim, even broke into a house. But think about it. He sees this dirt road and somehow decides to search for a victim up there? I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's highly unlikely. "
Hoyt said, "Go on. "
"You'll admit that there are plenty of logic holes in the accepted scenario. "
"All cases have logic holes. "
"Right, okay, but let me try an alternate theory on you. Let's just say that Dr. Beck wanted to kill your daughter. "
"For one thing, a two-hundred-thousand-dollar life insurance policy. "
"He doesn't need money. "
"Everyone needs money, Hoyt. You know that. "
"I don't buy it. "
"Look, we're still digging here. We don't know all the motivations yet. But let me just go through our scenario, okay?"
Hoyt gave him a suit-yourself shrug.
"We have evidence here that Dr. Beck beat her. "
"What evidence? You have some photographs. She told my wife she'd been in a car accident. "
"Come on, Hoyt. " Carlson swept his hand at the photographs. "Look at the expression on your daughter's face. That look like the face of a woman in a car accident?"
No, Hoyt thought, it didn't. "Where did you find these pictures?"
"I'll get to that in a second, but let's go back to my scenario, okay? Let's assume for the moment that Dr. Beck beat your daughter and that he had a hell of an inheritance coming his way. "
"Lot of assuming. "
"True, but stay with me. Think of the accepted scenario and all those holes. Now compare it with this one: Dr. Beck brings your daughter up to a secluded spot where he knows there will be no witnesses. He hires two thugs to grab her. He knows about KillRoy It's in all the papers. Plus your brother worked on the case. Did he ever discuss it with you or Beck?"
Hoyt sat still for a moment. "Go on. "
"The two hired thugs abduct and kill your daughter. Naturally, the first suspect will be the husband - always is in a case like this, right? But the two thugs brand her cheek with the letter K. Next thing we know, it's all blamed on KillRoy
"But Beck was assaulted. His head injury was real. "
"Sure, but we both know that's not inconsistent with him being behind it. How would Beck explain coming out of the abduction healthy? "Hi, guess what, someone kidnapped my wife, but I'm fine'? It'd never play. Getting whacked on the head gave his story credibility. "
"He took a hell of a shot. "
"He was dealing with thugs, Hoyt. They probably miscalculated. And what about his injury anyway? He tells some bizarre story about miraculously crawling out of the water and dialing 911. I gave several doctors Beck's old medical chart. They claim his account of what he did defies medical logic. It would have been pretty much impossible, given his injuries. "
Hoyt considered that. He had often wondered about that himself. How had Beck survived and called for help? "What else?" Hoyt said.
"There's strong evidence that suggests the two thugs, not KillRoy, assaulted Beck. "
"Buried with the bodies, we found a baseball bat with blood on it. The full DNA match will take a while, but the preliminary results strongly suggest that the blood is Beck's. "
Agent Stone plodded back in the room and sat down hard. Hoyt once again said, "Go on. "
"The rest is pretty obvious. The two thugs do the job. They kill your daughter and pin it on KillRoy Then they come back to get the rest of their payment - or maybe they decide to extort more money from Dr. Beck. I don't know. Whatever, Beck has to get rid of them. He sets up a meet in the secluded woods near Lake Charmaine. The two thugs probably thought they were dealing with a wimpy doctor or maybe he caught them unprepared. Either way Beck shoots them and buries the bodies along with the baseball bat and whatever evidence might haunt him later on. The perfect crime now. Nothing to tie him with the murder. Let's face it. If we didn't get enormously lucky, the bodies would have never been found. "
Hoyt shook his head. "Hell of a theory. "
"There's more. "
Carlson looked at Stone. Stone pointed to his cell phone. "I just got a strange phone call from someone at Briggs Penitentiary," Stone said. "It seems your son-in-law called there today and demanded a meeting with KillRoy. "
Hoyt now looked openly stunned. "Why the hell would he do that?"
"You tell us," Stone responded. "But keep in mind that Beck knows we're onto him. All of a sudden, he has this overwhelming desire to visit the man he set up as your daughter's killer. "
"Hell of a coincidence," Carlson added.
"You think he's trying to cover his tracks?"
"You have a better explanation?"
Hoyt sat back and tried to let all of this settle. "You left something out. "
He pointed to the photographs on the table. "Who gave you those?"
"In a way," Carlson said, "I think your daughter did. "
Hoyt's face looked drained.
"More specifically, her alias did. One Sarah Goodhart. Your daughter's middle name and the name of this street. "
"I don't understand. "
"At the crime scene," Carlson said. "One of the two thugs - Melvin Bartola - had a small key in his shoe. " Carlson held up the key. Hoyt took it from his hand, peering at it as though it held some mystical answer. "See the UCB on the flip side?"
"That stands for United Central Bank. We finally traced this key down to their branch at 1772 Broadway in the city. The key opens Box 174, which is registered to one Sarah Goodhart. We got a search warrant for it. "
Hoyt looked up. "The photographs were in there?"
Carlson and Stone glanced at each other. They had already made the decision not to tell Hoyt everything about that box - not until all the tests came back and they knew for sure - but both men nodded now.
"Think about it, Hoyt. Your daughter kept these pictures hidden in a safety-deposit box. The reasons are obvious. Want more? We questioned Dr. Beck. He admitted knowing nothing abou
t the pictures. He'd never seen them before. Why would your daughter hide them from him?"
"You talked to Beck?"
"What else did he say?"
"Not much because he demanded a lawyer. " Carlson waited a beat. Then he leaned forward. "He not only lawyered up, he called Hester Crimstein. That sound like the act of an innocent man to you?"
Hoyt actually gripped the sides of the chair, trying to steady himself. "You can't prove any of this. "
"Not yet, no. But we know. That's half the battle sometimes. "
"So what are you going to do?"
"Only one thing we can do. " Carlson smiled at him. "Apply pressure until something breaks. "
Larry Gandle looked over the day's developments and mumbled to himself, "Not good. "
One, the FBI picks up Beck and questions him.
Two, Beck calls a photographer named Rebecca Schayes. He asks her about an old car accident involving his wife. Then he visits her studio.
A photographer no less.
Three, Beck calls Briggs Penitentiary and says he wants to meet Elroy Kellerton.
Fourth, Beck calls Peter Flannery's office.
All of this was puzzling. None of it was good.
Eric Wu hung up the phone and said, "You're not going to like this. "
"Our source with the FBI says that they suspect Beck killed his wife. "
Gandle nearly fell over. "Explain. "
"That's all the source knows. Somehow, they've tied the two dead bodies by the lake to Beck. "
"Let me see those emails again," Gandle said.
Eric Wu handed them to him. When Gandle thought about who could have sent them, the creeping feeling in the pit of his stomach started to claw and grow. He tried to add the pieces together. He'd always wondered how Beck had survived that night. Now he wondered something else.
Had anyone else survived it?
"What time is it?" Gandle asked.
"Beck still hasn't looked up that Bat-whatever address?"
"Bat Street. And no, he hasn't. "
"Anything more on Rebecca Schayes?"
"Just what we already know. Close friend of Elizabeth Parker's. They shared an apartment before Parker married Beck. I checked old phone records. Beck hasn't called her in years. "
"So why would he contact her now?"
Wu shrugged. "Ms. Schayes must know something. "
Griffin Scope had been very clear. Learn what you can, then bury it.
And use Wu.
"We need to have a chat with her," Gandle said.