The Medical Examiner Page 1


Inspector Richard Conklin was conducting what should have been a straightforward interview with a female victim. The woman was the only known witness to a homicide.

But Mrs. Joan Murphy, the subject, was not making Conklin’s job any easier. She was understandably distraught, traumatized, and possibly a bit squirrelly. As a result, she’d taken the interview straight off road, through the deep woods, and directly over a cliff.

She’d seen nothing. She couldn’t remember anything. And she didn’t understand why she was being interviewed by a cop in the first place.

“Why am I even here?”

The question made Conklin immediately wonder: What is she hiding?

They were in a hospital room at St. Francis Memorial. Mrs. Murphy was reclining in a bed with a sling around her right arm. She was in her mid-forties and was highly agitated. Her face was so tightly drawn that Conklin thought she might have had too much cosmetic surgery. Either that, or this was what the aftereffects of a near-death experience looked like.

Currently, Mrs. Murphy was shooting looks around the hospital room as if she were about to bolt through the window. It reminded Conklin of that viral video of the deer who’d wandered into a convenience store, then leapt over the cash register and the pretzel rack before finally crashing through the plate-glass windows.

“Mrs. Murphy,” he said.

“Call me Joan.”

A nurse came through the door, saying, “How are we feeling, Mrs. Murphy? Open up for me, please.” She stuck a thermometer under Mrs. Murphy’s tongue, and after a minute, she read the numbers and made a note on the chart.

“Everything’s normal,” she said, brightly.

Conklin thought, Easy for you to say.

He turned back to the woman in the bed and said, “Joan, it kills me to see you so upset. I fully comprehend that getting shot, especially under your conditions, would shake anyone up. That’s why I hope you understand that I have to find out what happened to you.”

Mrs. Murphy was not a suspect. She was not under arrest. Conklin had assured her that if she asked him to leave the room, he would do it. No problem.

But that wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted to understand the circumstances that had victimized this woman and had killed the man who had been found with her.

He had to figure out what kind of case it was so he could nab the culprit.

“Don’t worry. I’m not afraid of you, Richard,” Joan told him, looking past him and out the window. “It’s everything you’ve told me that’s upsetting me. I don’t remember having a dead body beside me. I don’t remember much of anything, but I do think I would remember that. Honestly, I don’t think it even happened.”

She shook her head desperately and the tears flew off her cheeks. She dropped her chin to her chest and her shoulders heaved with sobs.

Conklin reached for a box of tissues and offered them to his disconsolate subject, who was melting down in front of him.

He inched his chair closer to the bed and said, “Joan, please try to understand. It did happen. We have the body. Do you want to see him?”