Chapter 1: "New Monday"
Detective Scott Smith arrived at his desk at 7:30 Monday morning, there finding the note from Detective Thompson inquiring of any progress on the Tina Santos homicide. Smith had been on with the Washington State Police for only 13 months. But he had 10 years with the Seattle city force before that, and he didn't think of himself as green, and he knew that Thompson's case was far out of the ordinary, he thought to himself. The Santos case, an axe murder, was interesting unto itself, and remained unsolved. But his colleague Thompson's current task had become fringy and sheer; bona fide supernatural. Thompson's case was a messy one that would probably never be squared away, and Smith quietly admitted to himself that he was glad it wasn't his.
Thompson had liaised sexually with Tina Santos last week, incidental to his investigation of the October 11 homicide cluster and its bizarre developments. And last week turned out to be Santos' last week alive. Thompson's relations with the woman was in large part why the case was assigned to Smith. On Saturday, Thompson had recommended that he keep an eye on the regular crowd where Santos' musical outfit was the house band; they were a jazz group. Santos was a sax player and former Forest Ranger, and she was killed with her own axe in her apartment by a single, well-angled, edge-end blow into the top of her head. About 56 hours ago, the bass player found the body. Santos was a pretty lady, about five-feet-six-inches tall with neck-length, almost-black, straight hair. She had not been assaulted sexually, according to the Pierce County Coroner's report.
Smith had met with all of Santos' band mates Saturday, and he spent Saturday evening watching them at the hotel lounge. He could tell it was an exceedingly difficult emotional time for them. They showed an innate compulsion to remain ship-shape and keep on. It served them as a coping mechanism; though emotionally stout, it gave them something to do with their hands while they suffered through the shock of the bad news. And they probably could not afford to miss any gigs in the first place, Smith thought, so the band played on. They clearly recognized him, as he had deposed all of them thoroughly that afternoon. They knew he was there to parse the crowd for suspects.
He sat in there from about 11:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. There were mainly business class on one-night layovers and intermittent traffic from the strip-club from across the block. He didn't see any loners in the corners. Mostly Smith was the only one in there by himself, although towards the end of the night a couple of unescorted prostitutes occupied the bar.
The next afternoon, Sunday, Smith contacted the couple, a lead he got from Santos' bandmates. A girl and guy who had been in an intermittent tryst with the victim. They were career-student disc-golf types, fair-weather friends of Ms. Santos with an address at a bungalow downtown. The woman answered the door holding a broom, and looked down at Smith's badge, which hung around his neck on a lanyard. She held out her hand.
“Hello. May I help you sir?” politely she queried.
“My name is Scott Smith, and I'm with the State Police, Tacoma local office. Tina Santos was killed Friday night, and I'm investigating her death as a homicide,” he answered. He looked into her eyes, and they widened for a moment. With one foot she stepped back lightly, her handshake not met.
“I'm sorry about the loss of your friend. But since you were friends of Ms. Santos, I need to ask you some questions,” he continued.
She was visibly shaken, though she briskly invited him in. She introduced herself as Daisy Wilson as she caught her breath. Her housemate's name was Skip Foster, she said, Professor Skip Foster, but he wasn't there right now, having gone to his campus office. Ms. Wilson offered tea, and she and the detective sat on the couch in the couple's sunlit den. Daisy Wilson explained about her and Mr. Foster's friendship with Tina. Three years ago, they had all met on campus, where Skip is an adjunct professor, when Daisy was still a student, she said. The three were wine buddies. Daisy teared up a bit as she talked, several times. Like the victim's band mates, Ms. Wilson made a statement that she was not able to think of who or why anyone would kill Tina Santos. And Thompson had pointed out (though he had only known her a short time) that Santos was an upright, pleasant, intelligent woman thereby suffering no antagonists. After about a half hour, Smith finished taking the woman's statement, whom had by then stopped crying. He thanked her for her time.
So far, the consensus from the people who knew Santos was evident and consistent. The bewilderment of the victim's friends and colleagues seemed genuine. If a criminal, bridge dweller or addict is murdered with an axe, it doesn't shock the conscience. It is far less likely for normal people to be killed with an axe, and Santos was clean, so her murder was out of hat.
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