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Paper DollBorn 1949, M, from Colorado Springs, CO, United States
An avionics firm in Colorado Springs, CO is plagued by the theft of highly classified stealth software. Spencer and his partner McGuire find themselves confronted by bodies from one end of Colorado Springs to the other: bodies, bodies everywhere and no answers.
Snow fell in a fine powder over the Sheriff Deputy cars, paramedic vehicles, fire engines, and cars in a blanket of white late that night. Flashing blue and red lights reflected off the snow in a surrealistic pattern of colors. The house on the back road stood open to the weather.
Carl Spencer, Agent with the Office of Federal Investigation (OFI) walked through ankle deep snow toward the house light up against the night and falling snow. Among the cluster of emergency and Sheriff cars he saw the one 4x4 he hoped was there, “Good, Steve’s here.” It was easy to pick-out Patrick’s truck despite the snow, with its flashing solid blue Federal light bar and small forest of antenna.
He passed several El Paso County, Colorado deputies standing in the driveway watching with relief that he had arrived at the ranch house on the edge of the eastern ranching town of Calhan, despite Patrick being there, to take charge of the scene. A paramedic ambulance, and fire trucks crowded the narrow street with the sheriff cars, the reds and blues flashing in the night their eerie warning, ‘this is important business.’
Carl stepped in to the house the heater working overtime against the cold, the front door had stood open since the sheriff deputies and paramedics arrived at the house an hour ago. The murmuring and talking suddenly ceased as he picked out Tom Ward, Chief Sheriff’s Detective for El Paso County and Steven Patrick. He picked Patrick out among the crowd. As far as he was concerned the case was in good hands with Steven there to handle things.
He wondered, not for the first time since Burger called from Denver what the deputies found that would warrant his getting involved in this.
He pulled his badge from the belt clip showing Ward, Steven merely allowed a brief smile that vanished as fast it creased his lips. Ward nodded his head and led Carl to a bed room.
They entered the room; the first thing Spencer spotted was the telephone receiver still lying on the floor amid a pool of blood. The weapon, a 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol lay nearby, three 9mm casings lay on the floor.
“He just managed to call nine-one-one before dying,” Patrick explained. “It was a home invasion or B and E, we’re still not sure. The guy, Patrick Murphy had a gun and shot the intruder – as far we can tell three times. The suspect of course got away. We’re checking with Memorial and Penrose and HMO’s for anybody seeking treatment of gunshot wounds.”
“What did you find when you got here – besides the body?” Carl asked shoving his hands into the gray-green Army helicopter pilot’s jacket. Of course, he was still wondering why he got dragged out in the middle of one of Colorado’s worse snow storms for something the county deputies or OFI’s partners the FBI could just as easily have taken care of?
So much for the Greenhouse Effect the news media was yammering about.
Steven Patrick reached down for a thick FedEx envelope under a night stand. Spencer looked at the envelope in Patrick’s hand. Thinking, he wondered what that had to do with anything. The missing NSA files maybe?
“This is what somebody apparently wanted,” said Ward as Spencer took the envelope from Patrick and pulled out several sheets of paper marked with a red classification stamp top and bottom of each page and the words Code Name: Night Flight. “You have any idea what it is?”
Ward and Spencer looked at Patrick being aware of his extensive background. He had heard about it but said nothing.
Spencer looked at the neat columns of numbers, words – verbs, symbols and more numbers. “Yeah, a computer program, or part of a larger document.”
That was two days ago.
Day light was slicing through the partially open shades of Carl’s office when his secretary Carolyn nudged him awake. “If there were windows to open I’d open them.” She said fanning the air with her hands. “When was the last time you were home?”
Spencer sat up, his feet slipping off the desk to the floor with a thud. “Good question. God I am sore, as hell.”
She set the controls for the ceiling air exchangers to take the stall air out of his office. “Any progress on the Murphy Case?”
“None.” The phone rang. “Shit.”
“I’ll get it,” said Carolyn picking up the phone on Carl’s desk. “My job. Spencer’s office, Carolyn speaking.”
Spencer leaned on the desk his head in his hands. He wasn’t certain if he really had a headache or imagined it. He vaguely recalled the day after Murphy’s murder sitting in the den of an old Army friend of his as Scott Harrison read the documents. His daughter Anne-Marie sat on the corner of the desk reading the paper over his shoulder. He was glad Scott, who was a quality assurance and compliance specialist for Luthron Avionics knew what he was looking at, because he sure didn’t.
Scott laid the papers aside on the work station sitting back, clasping his hands behind his head, he asked with a slight laugh: “You know what you have here?”
“No. That’s why I came to you to tell me.”
Scott laughed and sat up. Anne picked the pages up to read the pages. “Part of or as in computer language it’s called: A new build and edition for an existing program. Probably the second build. There’s more to this than what you have here. A good portion is missing. But, from my point of view, this is slick. Either it’s on CD, the main part seems to be here on paper. But a hacker could get into the system and obtain the rest of the program.”
Carl felt a chill slid down his back: “The fifty-thousand-dollar question, Scott – for my piece of mind, what’s it used for?”
Scott looked his old war time comrade in the eye. He said firmly: “Radar against Stealth aircraft.”
That was yesterday. The words still echoed in Carl’s mind as Carolyn handed him the phone. “Burger.”
“Wonderful. Just who I don’t need right now. Spencer…”
“Be nice to him.”
First order of business that morning was to go back to his apartment, shower, shave and think of what he would do next. He sat at the kitchen table sucking down a cup of coffee and a piece of toast: his mind blank.
A beeping sound jarred him. He identified the noise as coming from his cell phone.
“Carl, Mark… I think we found our boy.”
Mark McGuire was Carl’s partner and general man Friday. “Where you at?”
He was in Manitou Springs, west of Colorado Springs in forty-five minutes. Not much has changed in Manitou Springs since the streets were paved with cobblestone at the start of the 1890’s – and this was the Twenty-first Century.
The sight of the red and blues of the police cars, paramedics, fire equipment was getting to be an old habit with him. Placing a blue flashing light on the roof of his car he found a place to park among the helter-skelter parking of the emergency vehicles. He got out of the car dodging the snow banks of dirty snow to the front door.
Carl slipped his OFI badge on to his belt and walked up the snow packed side walk to the small neat house on the slope. He considered that everything in this area of the city was on a hill, “Uphill both ways.”
He passed the small group of news media: “Can’t have a decent murder without them around, I suppose.” He nodded to the policeman stationed by the door to keep other people out, paramedics and the coroner people passed as he showed him his ID and badge.
“Spencer?” A Manitou Springs police detective asked when he stepped in to the front room.
“That’s him.” Mark was standing in the middle of a group of policemen and paramedics who pointed to him.
“Yes,” Carl replied looking around. There wasn’t much for him to look at, not with a room full of people. All he could hope for was the evidence had not been tainted by all these people milling around.
Two paramedics were wheeling the body out on a black-sheet covered gurney. Carl stopped them, flipped the sheet back from the face.
“That’s him, huh?” He looked at the man a minute. “How do we know this is the one?”
Mark McGuire handed Carl a piece of paper. Carl looked from the man, middle age, thinning hair, around 5-7 or so, tending toward being heavy set to the paper. It said: Brian Wheeler.
“Wheeler?” he said looking at Mark with a question to the name. “Him?” He pointed to the
body. The name Wheeler came up in the conversation that morning with Burger. Somebody fingered a Brian Wheeler as the person of “interest.”
“Van Norstand,” the detective replied. “Who’s Wheeler?”
“Apparently a Brian Wheeler used to be at Luthron Aerospace.” Mark stuffed another stick of gum in his mouth.
“Connection?” Carl asked flipping the sheet back over the face.
“Van Norstand worked for Continental,” Mark replied stuffing the gum wrapper in a pocket. “Just what the connection is, we’re not sure right now.”
He had to admit, Mark was doing his homework for once.
Carl waved the paper at the detective: “Is this all the evidence you found?”
“So far,” the other replied. “Here…”
The detective led them to the back of the house. “This is where we found him – the name is Van Norstand by the way.”
They stopped at the open door of a room that had been turned over. Drawers were opened, a few lay on the floor the contents strewn about the room.
Spencer knelt for a closer look at the mess. “I don’t want anything touched in here – at least for at least for next seventy-two hours.”
Mark asked: “Do you know what you’re looking for?”
“Yeah the missing parts of that document the Sheriff’s detective gave me. An old friend of mine told me we’re missing a huge amount of the document. And now I know where to start my search.”
Spencer left the ramp from Colorado Boulevard behind as he sped north on Interstate 25 weaving in and out of the late morning traffic. He sometimes wished he knew the back streets and alleys as well as his predecessor did.
Mark held his breath as they passed a truck load of lumber. “Mind if I ask where we’re going? Besides my funeral – maybe.”
Mark hung on as they passed two slow moving semi’s. Glancing at the speedometer he broke in to a cold sweat. Carl was doing nearly seventy-five miles an hour. Carl reached the Briargate Interchange, slowed long enough to make a right hand turn and run two yellow lights, cleared the intersection on to Highway 83 north and continued until he reached the intersection with Federal Drive. Slowing he turned into the parking lot to a guest parking spot.
Parking in a Guest parking slot Carl got out for the long walk to the front door and the security zone. Opening the door with a shaking hand Mark finally heaved a sigh. He didn’t think he dared breath the whole way north. Getting out he followed Carl to the front entrance where they had to pass through three levels of security just to get in. The guards examined the note book Spencer was carrying; all this since word reached security of the possible compromise and breach.
Just inside the door to the lobby two tall men with two-way radios and a petit blonde woman in matching uniforms steered them to an inspection table. The Guard with epilates that stated Manager stood near the reception desk with two more guards watching security check over people, both Luthron and visitors. Spencer and Mark flashed their ID’s and badges at the guards. One looked back at the men behind them.
“Um. Bob…?” the guard said as Spencer held up his ID for the other to see.
The man named Bob looked at it then asked: “Yes?”
“Security, I take it?” Spencer asked clipping the badge to a jacket pocket.
Spencer introduced himself and Mark then asked: “Is there someplace we can talk?”
The others within hearing looked at the two investigators as Bob checked their ID’s.
Bob gestured for the other two to join him. Bob led them to a small side room behind the reception area. A large white table with a speaker-telephone surrounded by chairs occupied the room. Introductions made, Jim Hendricks was in charge of internal security and crisis management, and Cindy Spiro was security manager of the guards.
Bob motioned for them to sit down. “Now what can we help you … gentlemen with?”
“Does the name Brian Wheeler or Van Norstand mean anything to you?” Carl looked around the small group for a reaction.
“Yes.” Jim Hendricks replied. “I understand Wheeler was terminated from here about a month ago.”
Carl reasoned that answer was a start and possible reason for the breach Luthron suffered. “Under what conditions? Good, bad – downsizing?”
The three looked at each other. Then Cindy, the guard’s security manager spoke up: “We’d have to ask HR.”
Jim pulled the telephone toward him touched the numbers for the extension. The phone was eventually answered. “Yeah, Tom, Jim Hendricks, do you still have the personnel file on Brian Wheeler?” Pause. “Bring it to the lobby conference room behind the reception desk.”
There was a short wait then another man entered with a thick file. Jim reached for it as Tom took a seat. Opening it Jim went through the forms then found what he was looking for. He turned the forms to Spencer and McGuire. It was Wheeler’s annual performance report. Jim said: “I suppose that’s what you’re looking for?”
Bob asked: “What’s the reason?”
Carl shoved the report toward Mark. He said in a droll tone: “You seem to have a security leak among a few people. Brian right now is person of ‘interest’ in this case.”
“How bad?” Cindy asked.
“Pieces of documents have been found at a Patrick Murphy’s residence. And just today Wheeler and Van Norstand’s names have come up two different times so far.” Carl looked from one to the other. Then said: “That’s about all I can say at the moment.”
“That’s more than enough,” said Bob as he looked at the others for comment.
Carl was back on the Interstate a short time later, still not getting what he wanted. Wheeler was still an elusive figure in his mind.
“Where we going now?” Mark asked as Carl passed a couple semi’s, a utility van and
someone driving with a cellphone pasted to his face.
Mark swore his life flashed before his eyes as Carl tore through the construction zone at the Woodman Road overpass, zig-zagging through traffic.
“To see an old friend,” he said as he moved back to the right lane a moment.
A short time later he turned off the interstate on to South Academy Boulevard heading north then onto Bradley Road eastbound.
“I’m sure glad you know where we’re going,” said Mark sticking another wad of gum in his mouth. “`Cause I sure don’t…” Hanging on the car leaning to the left as Carl followed the off ramp around to Bradley Road.
They soon arrived at Scott’s house. Scott’s hulking GMC Jimmy occupied the driveway along with a Buick.
“He’s home,” said Carl parking in front of the tree shrouded house.
He picked up his notebook and the two walked up the side walk that had been cleared of snow to the door, rang the doorbell. Shortly the door was opened a crack by a blue eyed, blonde girl wearing dark rimmed glasses peered out at them.
“Yes?” she asked as she pushed the glasses back up the bridge of her nose.
Carl took a chance. “Your father home?”
“Who are you?” she asked with a trace of suspicion. She knew who he was but her father told her to still be wary of strangers.
Carl took another chance to show her his badge and ID. “Spencer with the Office of Federal Investigation to see your Dad on business.”
“Just a minute.” The door slammed shut and the girl yelled: “DADD-DDY!”
Mark quipped: “Yup, all teenager.”
Soon the door opened again, Scott looked out at them. “Yeah, Carl. Come on in.”
“Got a problem.” Carl said as they stepped in. Scott introduced his daughter Anne-Marie and gestured for them to sit down on the sofa. “How well do you know the people at Luthron?”
Scott took a seat opposite them; the girl sat on the arm of the chair. “Decently well. I know we’ve had a pretty heavy turnover recently, one project ending, another starting, and on top of that the security breach. Why?”
Carl took several sheets of paper from his notebook. “The name Brian Wheeler mean anything to you?”
He handed copies of the forms to Scott. Scott looked them over then read the performance review. Finished he looked up at Carl and Mark: “I might be wrong but it sounds like his manager was looking for an excuse to get rid of him.”
“Did you read the whole thing?”
Scott read on, the girl reading over his shoulder. She pointed to something on the report, her father agreeing with her. He shook his head. “How did George get this past Judy?”
“Judy? George?” Mark asked curious.
Scott said with a smile: “Yeah, Momma-moat-pit-dragon. Makes the Dragon Lady of China look good.” He said quietly: “George was Wheeler’s former department manager. Another apparent thing about this review, and I am surprised at the way George wrote this, it’s rather vague. As a matter of fact, I’m surprised Wheeler didn’t squawk wrongful termination?”
“Maybe that’s why that document turned up missing,” Mark commented.
Scott looked up. The girl picked up the papers to read them. He said: “Revenge.”
“Very well could have been,” Carl agreed then asked: “Did you know him?”
“A bit. We were in different programs.”
“What did you know about him?” Mark joined in.
“I don’t want to use the term slouchier, but he was good at passing his work to someone else and getting the credit for it. That explains why I got farmed out to the program to pick up the pieces after he left.”
“Oh?” Carl was interested. “Just curious, why?”
“It was a mess. Luthron damned near lost the contract thanks to him. The manager George Fry and I and a couple of his people spent three days behind closed doors in a mini-conference room fixing what he messed up.”
Anne-Marie nodded her head to confirm what her father said. “Long hours too.”
“Okay,” Carl went on as Scott passed the review back to him. “Question two then:
How would he – fired as you say – get the forms out of the building?”
“Easy,” said Scott. “Same way I do – stick them in a brief case and walk out with them – or, you want to be real slick, toss them in the recycle bin – you need a co-conspirator with you – have him pull the documents from the bin, and leave the documents in a hidden place down stairs in the warehouse, collect them afterward and walk out with them. No one will know the difference.”
Carl and Mark looked as if the wind had been knocked out of them.
“That easy?” Carl was astounded.
The two left Scott and were headed back north. Mark said taking out another stick of gum to stuff in his mouth: “I smell smoke.”
“I’m thinking about what Scott told us.”
“Yeah,” Mark admitted, “I didn’t like the last part.”
“Neither did I.” Then Carl hit the steering wheel. “The Janitors!”
“Yeah, Scott all but told us.” Carl quickly looked over at Mark. “Think about it. Everything has to go outside sooner or later. Trash, recycle, the whole thing.”
“I follow you on this, but that still leaves the question where’s Wheeler?”
“Find the janitor, find Wheeler.”
Late day saw Carl and Mark were back at Luthron. This time they were standing in the Janitorial Manager’s office with the guards’ security manager and security behind them. The woman Manager was scared when Carl and Mark showed her their badges and ID’s, and wanted some details on which shift picked up the recycle and on what days and who was responsible for engineering.
“For this building I think it’s a girl by the name of Angela.”
“Think?” said Carl leaning on the desk with balled fists spinning the personnel roster around so he could read the form. “You mean to tell me you don’t know where your people are during the day? I need the exact person who is responsible for that area. And at what time they’re supposed to be in the area.”
The others were getting the idea Carl was no one to fool with now.
Mark stood back letting Carl do the talking.
“Um, it’s gotta be Angela.” Scared, confronted by the federal agent she still did not sound positive.
“Where is she? This Angela?”
“She’ll be getting off shortly.”
Carl could see the manager visibly breaking sweat, his dark eyes boring into her.
‘Good thing she never met my predecessor, he could be worse. He had no sense of humor for this stuff.’
A few minutes later a short, dark haired woman walked in to the office past the security people to punch out. She seemed confused by all the people, especially security crowded in to the small office.
“Angela,” the manager said quietly, her voice quaking, “these men are Federal Agents; they need to talk to you.” She turned to Carl, still scared: “This is Angela Sinton.”
The door was closed behind them as Carl introduced himself and Mark then asked: “Are you responsible for the trash and recycle from the Night Flight Program?”
“Yes, Yes, sir,” she answered timidly. “Why?”
“That’s what I need to know.” He took a card from an inner pocket. “By law I have to read you your rights first.”
“But – but why?” she was scared as she sat heavily in a chair. Carl read her her rights. Angela cried: “I – I didn’t do anything…”
Carl tried to ignore her crying as he asked: “Are you familiar with a Brian Wheeler who used to work here?”
Angela held her face in her hands nodding. The girl could feel all eyes bearing
down on her at the same time. She answered the next few questions as she cried.
“Did Wheeler ask you or have you bring some documents down stairs in the trash for him?”
Bob spoke up: “The so-called warehouse is more of a junk collection room than a warehouse.”
“I need to see it anyway.”
“This way,” said Jim as he opened the door.
People passing in the corridor steered clear of the agents leading a crying Angela toward the warehouse.
Angela’s co-workers were standing in the hallway anxious to clock out and next shift clock in. They were confused by the security and guards led by Carl and Mark with Angela, between them her head bowed walked out. They looked at her puzzled as to what happened.
Jim led them down to the warehouse badging through to the room, as Bob pointed out, a cluttered mess.
“Where did you put the documents for Wheeler?” Carl asked as he looked around then the girl pointed to a neat stack of boxes labeled for fluorescent light tubes on shelves and an equipment cart to their right.
“Here under the lights.”
Bob said: “That’s Phil’s lights.”
“Who’s Phil?” Mark asked.
“One of the electricians in facility. Among other things he takes care of the lighting around the four Luthron buildings,” Bob replied.
Carl asked Angela: “This is the only thing you did for Wheeler?”
She nodded her head: “Yes – yes, sir.”
Carl looked over the boxes of fluorescent light tubes. “Okay, in other words you brought the documents down here, placed them under the boxes here, of course hoping this Phil person didn’t find them first. Wheeler, sometime later that day came down here, retrieved the documents and exited.”
“If Phil did find them, he would know enough to turn them in to us. He had a Top Secret in the Army and did this for twenty years,” said Bob, “His information is on file with Luthron.”
“And he does this for a living now?” said Carl surprised. “That’s good to know.”
Mark said thinking about what the girl had told them, “Question is, where does this Murphy and Van Norstand fit in to this?”
“Find Wheeler, we’ll have our answer.” Carl then turned to the girl. “Okay, you’re
free to go. But don’t go anywhere soon, this isn’t an open and shut case. From here it’s up to security and your manager what they want to do now.”
The girl unhappily nodded her head.
Mark waited until they exited the building to ask: “Now that we have that much, now what?”
“Take it back to the office. Tomorrow we concentrate on finding Wheeler – if he hasn’t skied up like most of them do.”
Carl stood at the windows of his office looking down on snow packed Cascade Avenue. In his mind ‘so much for spring time in the Rockies’ as Carolyn got the information on Brian Wheeler from DMV. The address they had from Luthron’s HR department turned out to be wrong.
“Different address, Carl,” she said as she walked into the office.
Carl muttered: “Why am I not surprised?”
Mark walked in at that moment passing Carolyn as she returned to her desk out front.
He said as he walked into Carl’s office: “You haven’t got the latest information this morning, have you?”
Carl looked back at him: “No. Why?”
“Wheeler was just found dead a few minutes ago at the Chieftain Motel on South Nevada.”
The phone rang. Carolyn answered it. She said: “Burger.”
Brian Wheeler had moved into a motel on the south end of South Nevada after being fired from Luthron.
Carl and Mark arrived at the scene a short time later as the body was being carried out by the coroner team. Carl stopped them long enough to check the body.
“Stabbed,” a detective told him.
“Wonderful. Back to square one.”
The case seemed at a standstill as Carl paced his office.
Mark was at the main police headquarters getting the rest of the details on Wheeler.
Carl said looking back at the Carolyn, “I don’t know why but my mind keeps coming back to this Angela.”
“You said she took the documents down stairs to the warehouse.” She thought a minute then said, “I hate to ask this, but was there a relationship between them? You know?”
Carl had to admit: “I don’t know. Good question.”
“Tell you what, let’s call it a day and pick up here tomorrow.”
“I’m almost inclined to think he wasn’t the one to take the documents out of the building,” said Mark placing another stick of gum in his mouth.
Carl stood with foot on the window ledge drinking a cup of luke warm coffee as he stared down on Cascade Avenue and the melting snow.
He said in a droll tone: “So am I. Too cozy of an alibi for her to come up with.” He turned to face Mark. “But what was her motive – or his for that matter?”
“More than that,” said Carl as he sat down. “What were they trying to accomplish and
for what purpose?”
“So, what are you going to tell Burger next time he calls?”
“Luthron has a security hole in it?” Carl looked at the forms so far that Carolyn had filled out on the case and forwarded to Burger in Denver. “What bothers me is that Wheeler would have to have timed it real close to go down to pick those papers up and get out of the building without somebody passing through the warehouse.”
“And the CD?” Mark asked.
“How do we know there’s a CD involved?” Carl asked in return.
“Just suppose. Okay, your friend Scott mentioned part of it’s on hard copy, we have that much and maybe the rest is on a CD somewhere – or another hard copy.”
Carl thought the situation through then said slowly: “Van Norstand. We haven’t really checked him out.”
“He worked for Continental, didn’t he?”
“Yes,” then Carl called to Carolyn: “Carolyn, put together a general area search
warrant on the Van Norstand place.” He added to Mark’s question: “Yes and we may be looking at an old fashion industrial espionage case here, especially with today’s economy and industrial competition is worse.”
They had the Federal Magistrate sign off on the warrant during a short recess in a bankruptcy court-hearings. They back tracked across Colorado Springs to Manitou Springs. Carl had to wrestle one of the policemen at the station house in Manitou Springs away from his cozy office to open up Van Norstand’s place.
“What are you looking for?” the police man asked as they walked outside to the cars.
“Either a CD or hard copy of a special computer program that may be missing from an avionics company.”
They drove up to the west side of the town to the house. The policeman signed off on the chain of custody form and Carl signed, then the policeman opened the door for them. They walked in to the living room the house barely heated against the cold. The three stood in the middle of the living room looking around.
Mark asked: “What should we look for first? Possibly a CD or hard copies?”
“My bet is on another hard copy.”
“Hope nothing was touched since the day before yesterday?”
The police officer considered himself merely a bystander in this as the two federal agents began a methodical search of the small house. After standing by the door for a few minutes he pulled up a chair to sit down. For the next half-hour the two went through the house room by room carefully looking in to everything.
Nearly an hour later Carl called out: “Got it!”
Mark followed by the policeman ran in to the room to see Carl sitting on the floor with a stack of porno magazines and other magazines lying in neat stacks around him.
“This is it,” he said waving the documents at the two.
After locking up the house and signing off on the chain of custody forms they headed back to Scott Harrison to assure they had the rest of the documents.
It was near supper time when they arrived at the Harrison house, Scott’s daughter was fixing supper, school books spread across the table. Scott said with a smile: “Good, you got the third part to this build – Build 2.5. You still need the first part.”
Carl looked up at him mildly surprised: “Third? And we still need the first part?”
The girl wiped her hands on a kitchen towel. Looking through the copies she said, “Daddy, this is missing some pages.” Anne pointed to the page numbers at the top of the documents
Scott and Carl looked at the pages. Scott turned to his daughter kissing her on the fore head. “That’s my girl.” Anne blushed as Carl and Mark checked the pages. Scott nodded. “That has the code, maybe a couple hundred to a thousand items and within each code maybe another hundred items, called the language that tells the computer, the hardware part what to do and not do to make this work with the rest of it. Otherwise it’s no good, it’ll just sit there and look at you.”
Anne agreeing with her father. Carl and Mark now thinking they were no further along on this case then when they started.
Carl paced his office muttering: “Bodies -- Bodies everywhere; no suspects but a girl and all she was is a co-conspirator -- Maybe.”
Mark sat across from the empty desk cleaning his finger nails as Carl paced the office. Mark considered one of these days Carl would wear a rut in the carpet with his pacing.
Mark said in a droll tone, “My bet is still on the girl.”
Carl stopped to place a foot on the window ledge looking out over the city in twilight. Street lights and neon signs were turning on. The famous strip of Tejon Avenue and its myriad of clubs and bars were already awash in varied colored light as people began to converge on the bars for their “happy hour.”
He said softly to the window: “I’m almost afraid you’re right on this one, Mark.”
Mid-morning the next day Carl and Mark pulled up in front of a small two room house on Prairie Road. They looked it over a moment before getting out of the car. They got out and walked to the door, rang the doorbell twice before the door was answered.
A woman answered the door. “Yes?”
Carl and Mark produced their badges and ID’s, Carl said: “Angela Sinton?”
“No, I haven’t seen her since the day before yesterday. She hasn’t been home since.”
They thanked her and returned to the car.
As Carl pulled away from the curb Mark asked: “What’d do you think?”
“She’s either left town, hiding or the old lady is covering for her.”
Mark unwrapped another stick of gum said: “The last two.”
Later Carolyn sent an all-points bulletin out through the law enforcement channels for Angela Sinton, person of interest wanted for further questioning in what now becoming known as the Luthron Case.
Carl and Mark were reviewing the papers from a recent case of less renown when the phone rang in the outer office. Carolyn answered with her officious tone then called:
Carl picked up the phone: “Inspector Spencer…”
An anonymous voice said: “Angela is at 3536 West Dale at Monument Street.” The phone immediately went dead.
Carl touched the cut-off switch and called the CSPD headquarters. “I think we got her,” and told them the address. “Come on, Mark – this maybe it – I hope.”
The drive to West Dale and the address seemed to take forever as they hit nearly every traffic light there was on Uinta then to Monument Street. Not far behind were a small fleet of CSPD sedans and SWAT team vans led by Steven Patrick in his copper and white 4x4 Blazer descending on Dale street and the address.
Carl and Mark waited a few minutes until the police had deployed themselves around the house. People who were outside suddenly scrambled to get back inside and under cover as policemen rushed to cover all sides of the house.
With two policemen and Patrick, their hands poised at the butts of their side arms followed Carl and Mark to the front door. Carl pressed the doorbell once the door opened a man looked out:
“You’re here to get her I suppose?” he asked looking around then stepped back. “Angie?”
Carl swore the voice sounded familiar.
The girl, Carl and Mark talked too briefly at Luthron peered out from the back.
“I – I didn’t do anything,” she said timidly scared, near tears.
“That will be determined when we get downtown,” Carl told her moving to the side as she stiffly approached them.
The girl was read her rights. They were silent as she was led in handcuffs out to a police cruiser parked in front of the house.
A short time later they arrived at the Police Headquarters on East Rio Grande and South Nevada Avenues. The cruiser pulled in to the covered enclosure as Carl parked in the visitor’s parking area. Carl soon joined the Chief Detective and Steven Patrick in an interrogation room.
Carl sat opposite Angela in an interrogation room to read the sobbing girl her rights a second time for the record. “Okay, Angela, from the top. Brian Wheeler, were you given money to take those papers out of his area to Luthron’s warehouse for him?”
“I’m not sure,” she sniffed avoiding eye contact with Carl.
“Why aren’t you sure or certain?” he asked, trying to keep his voice calm, watching the girl closely.
“He promised me but I haven’t seen any of the money.”
“Okay that aside what was Wheeler’s motive in wanting you to help him get the hard copies out of the building?”
Angela drew in a deep breath to stop crying. “Partly revenge for being terminated and partly a price for the program that he helped build.”
Mark leaned against the wall behind Carl. A smirk crossed his face and the mention of the money. “Was it worth getting fired over?”
The girl shook her head lowering her eyes to the table.
Carl waited until they were outside the police building. “She was used, now she doesn’t have anything to show for what she did.”
The two walked to the parking lot. Carl looked at his watch. “Two o’clock.”
They got in the car and left driving out to South Nevada Avenue. Carl was about to make a right hand turn then jerked the wheel left.
“Now what?” Mark asked watching Carl cut across traffic to the south bound lanes.
Carl sped through the downtown traffic to the motel. When he got out of the car he saw the yellow plastic tape and notices were still stapled to the room door.
“For once I hope they didn’t do a thorough job of searching the place,” said Carl as he pulled his cell phone out to call back to the police station. “Yeah, Captain I need you or somebody down here at the Chief Motel to sign off on the Chain of Custody form. The piece to this puzzle may be here.”
He leaned on the open car door staring at the room thinking. Mark got out looking around a minute. A car pulled in with a man and a young woman. The driver pulled in to the slot beside the other room. Carl and Mark watched the two for a minute as they got out, the woman giggling, a broad smile on the man’s face.
Mark asked quietly as the man opened the door. “You thinking what I am thinking?”
“Witnesses. Let’s go.”
The door closed as they crossed the parking lot to the room. Carl rapped on the door. There was a gasp and a curse.
“Spoiled their fun already.” Mark popped a wad of gum into his mouth.
The door opened slightly, the man peered out at them. Carl and Mark held their badges up for the other to see them. The man’s jaw sagged open.
“Federal Agents with the OFI.” Carl snapped his ID case closed.
“I – I, we didn’t do anything,” the man said weakly.
“I didn’t say you did. Need some information on that room next to you.” Carl indicated the other room. “Did you have this room the evening or night before last?”
“Uh, you – you’re not going to tell my wife, are you?”
Mark could just make out the woman. She was sitting on the edge of the bed the skirt on the floor with her blouse partly open, scared staring at the two federal officers.
“No, besides,” said Carl, “we could care less. There was a man murdered in there that night. A suspect of great interest to us.”
The other sighed in relief glancing back at the woman. “Yeah, now that you mention it yeah.”
“Noise of some kind?” Mark asked.
“An argument,” the woman replied visibly relieved. “Possibly a man and woman. It disturbed us but we didn’t complain.”
“How long did it go on for?” Carl asked.
“Oh, probably a good half hour.” The man shrugged.
The woman said, “Near the end of the argument we heard a noise, a shout, there was a grunt, it ceased, and a thump and that was it.”
“The second person, not to put ideas into your heads, but was the woman, was she young, middle age maybe, or older?”
“Oh, young sounding,” the woman replied. “Like a teenager maybe.”
“Bingo,” said Mark with a laugh. “Angela.”
They thanked the two and left to go meet the policemen.
Carl said in a hushed tone, “Problem is some wise ass attorney can claim circumstantial evidence or hear-say.”
Another car pulled into the lot. Carl thanked the two and followed the police officer in as he opened the door and signed off on the chain of custody forms.
Carl and Mark stood just inside the open door with the police detective.
“Think like Wheeler would think. Where would you put those papers in a room like this?” Carl looked the single room over with a critical eye.
Mark walked over to the table looking it over for foot prints then examined the ceiling. Solid except for the air vents.
Carl carefully walked around the room stopping at the bathroom. He knelt studying the sink and plumbing. He felt the large nut securing the P-trap to the upper pipe.
“Loose.” He loosened the nut and carefully took the pieces apart. He felt inside the pipes taking the pipes apart. Checking the lower pipe, he thought he felt paper. “I bet…”
Using a pen knife, he began slipping papers out of the pipe until he had a neat pile on the floor. Mark turned to notice a CD player beside the bed. Popping the cover open Mark took a CD out labeled Jazz.
“I’ll bet there’s jazz on here.” Mark spun the CD on a forefinger.
They could make out the noise in the next room.
“Walls must be thin as cardboard,” said Carl as they walked out, the police officer smiling at the noise signed off on the form.
A short time later they pulled up in front of the house in Security.
“Watch this,” said Carl as they got out.
Carl started to knock on the door when he heard Anna’s voice: “Dadd-dddy, they’re back-k!”
“What did I tell you?” said Carl as Scott Harrison answered the door.
“Come on in, guys. You found something, right?”
They sat down and Carl produced the rolled-up documents. “Yeah, but where you’d least expect to find them.”
Scott looked over the documents. “I hate to ask – but where?”
“Motel bathroom sink plumbing.”
“Now that’s original.”
“Is that everything?” Mark asked around a wad of chewing gum.
“Don’t know. I’d have to see all the documents to be sure.”
Mark took the CD from his valise and spun it around on a forefinger. “This?”
Scott took the CD looked at it then handed it to Anna. “Put it in the CD drawer and let’s take a look.”
Anna took the CD and a few minutes later called from the den. “Hey, guys, take a look at this…”
The three walked in to the den to look at the display screen.
“How many pages, Hone?” Scott asked the girl.
“One hundred and fifty-five.”
Scott and Carl checked the pages.
“One hundred and forty,” said Carl. “Tell you what; tomorrow can you come down to the office in the Holly Sugar building?”
The next morning Scott with his daughter had all the documents spread out on Carl’s desk. His daughter helped look the documents over matching the pages. Carl and Mark sat back on the other side of the desk watching the two as they put the pieces together.
“I’m glad he knows what he’s doing,” said Mark as he popped another wad of gum in his mouth.
“Look top and bottom of the page,” said Scott as he shuffled two more pages in the stack. “Easy.”
“For you it is,” Mark said with a laugh.
“Just about got it, plus the CD,” said Scott shuffling the remainder of the pages together. “And you said this girl Angela had `em, eh?”
“Yeah, what Luthron Security and the department this belongs to wants to know, is it compromised and who saw the codes?”
“Don’t know. Considering how many hands it’s been through. It’s outside the classified environment of the department. And I know which one Wheeler was working for.”
“Well I’m okay, I’m cleared but…” he turned to his daughter. “You’re another case. Get you writing hand in shape. Jim will be handing you a stack of forms to fill out and sign.”
They discussed the problem and then Scott and his daughter left. Carl called the police to see if Angela had jumped bail and left town yet.
A half hour later Carl and Mark backed by two police officers went to the same house Angela tried to take refuge as before. The old gentleman answered the door.
“No,” he said looking from Carl and Mark to the uniformed police officers. “Not since she was taken down town a couple days ago.”
Carl turned to the uniformed officers. “APB on Angela. I’ll do a skip trace in the meantime.”
Finding Angela now, forty-eight hours later would be like finding the proverbial needle in a hay stack.
Carl stared at the monitor almost wishing it to give him some positive answers: Where was Angela? Carolyn walked in the office with the stack of mail when the phone rang.
“God, I know who that is without looking at the caller ID.” Carl muttered reaching for the phone.
Carolyn grabbed up the receiver before Carl had a chance to pick it up himself.
“I’ll get it,” she said. “Spencer …”
“Spencer there?” Burger demanded.
Carolyn handed him the phone. “Boss. Be nice to him.”
“He needs to be nice to me once in a while. Spencer …”
Spencer’s eyes went round with shock.
“…Got a call from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Angela is headed south to Mexico via Trinidad.”
“On what?” Carl asked, holding his breath.
“Train, what else – freight to be exact.”
Carl slammed the phone down and bolted for the outer office door. Carolyn watched him leave with concern.
Carl ran around the outer hallway of the building. Finding an empty office that was open, the custodians cleaning up after the last occupants, Carl ran to the windows facing the back of the building, he looked down on the Colorado Springs freight yard and the rail activity.
“Shit! How did I miss that?”
He watched as a Burlington Northern yard switcher was making up freight cars to go to the Denver Yard.
Carl walked back to the office leaving the custodian team looking after him as he walked out of the office. Carl was thinking, if – if Angela was on that train southbound, he needed a way to get to Trinidad ahead of her. Problem was, Burger never told him how long ago she left.
Running back to the office he grabbed up the phone on Carolyn’s desk, dialed 4-1-1.
“Yes, this is the Office of Federal Investigation. Gimme the Manager of the railroad freight yard in Colorado Springs, Colorado – Now! This is an emergency!” Carl stared at the ceiling for what seemed longer than it should have been before the phone rang. The Yard Master answered. “Office of Federal Investigation – Did any freight trains leave through Colorado Springs within the last hour at least?”
“Yeah, a half hour ago but he’s hung up at the East Las Vegas Avenue yard due to a loaded train with tactical vehicles out of Fort Carson that has priority.”
“Good! Hold `em there until I tell ya to let him go! There’s a fugitive on that train somewhere.”
Mark was on the other phone with CSPD needing back up. “All ya can spare …!”
Carl called, “Let’s go, Mark! Thank god for the Army.”
They took the express elevator down to the garage and the car. Carl had the solid blue federal lights going before he was out of the garage. He was southbound down Cascade Avenue turned left onto Rio Grande then right onto Nevada Avenue. They were quickly joined by a dozen CSPD cruisers with a bronze and white `78 4x4 K5 Jimmy converging on the East Las Vegas freight yard. Already the access road was crowded with Burlington Northern cars and utility trucks.
Carl pulled up into an access road into the yard as a trio of Burlington Northern engines was pulling the one hundred plus car train of Army equipment out of the yard. CSPD had the stopped south bound train surrounded in short order. Carl and Mark with Steven Patrick of the CSPD were running the length of the train toward a policeman who was pointing to an open double door boxcar. They ran up to it but remained on the blind side.
Carl and Mark stayed to the side, Carl called, “Angela?”
There was muttering. Carl called again. More muttering.
A weak girl’s voice, “Yeah?”
“Come on out, Angela. Shows over. You know who this is – Carl Spencer, OFI office.”
A soft shuffling of feet and a scared girl appeared. The heads of several men showed and quickly disappeared from view when they saw several policemen near the door.
That evening Scott Harris and his daughter Anne-Marie went through the hard copy with the computer program on the display screen assuring they had all the pages. The missing fifteen pages lay off to the side with a police affidavit attached to them for evidence.
Scott sat back. “That’s it. Those fifteen pages you now have the full Build and Coding for Edition three.”
Carl sat off to the side watching. “Whatever that means. Well we can nail Angela on either murder, stolen proprietary documents or both. She’ll get at least ten on the Federal charge alone.”
On the other hand, Anne-Marie was thrilled she was helping her father and the federal agents to solve the question of the missing hard copy of the third computer build program. The end of the week Anne-Marie received a letter of gratitude from the company’s president and vice-president for helping with the recovery of the missing sections to the new program.
They filled out the chain of custody forms. Everything would be turned over to the federal prosecutor’s office in the morning.
Carl stared at the documents a while longer before putting them in the safe. Picking up his jacket, turning out the lights, he closed and locked the doors and rode the elevator down to the parking garage. His week was over.
# # #