A Different Blue Page 2

When Officer Moody finally made it home at eight o'clock that night, he felt no better than he had earlier, and they still hadn't made an identification of the woman found dead with nothing with the clothes on her back to guide the investigation. Moody had a bad feeling about the whole thing, and he didn't think it had anything to do with the burritos.

AUGUST 6, 1993

“Any luck making an ID?” Officer Moody hadn't been able to get the woman out of his head. It bothered him all night. It wasn't his case. Patrolmen didn't head investigations. But Martinez was his supervisor and was willing to share, especially when the case seemed to be coming to a rapid close.

“Coroner rolled her prints,” Detective Martinez offered.

“Oh, yeah? Any luck?”

“Yep. She's got a few priors, mostly drug related. Got a name, an old address. Just turned nineteen. August 3 was her birthday, actually.” Detective Martinez winced.

“You mean she died on her birthday?”

“That's what the coroner says, yeah.”

“Drug overdose?” Officer Moody didn't know if he'd get an answer on this one. Detective Martinez could be pretty close-mouthed.

“That's what we thought. But when the coroner rolled her, the back of her head was bashed in.”

“Ah, hell,” Officer Moody groaned. Now they were looking for a murderer, too.

“We don't know if it was the drugs or the head wound that finished her off, but someone tried to do the job. It looked like she'd taken a little bit of everything from some of the paraphernalia at the scene. She probably had enough crap in her system to down an entire cheer leading squad,” Martinez was forthcoming.

“Cheer-leading squad?” Moody laughed a little.

“Yeah. She was a cheerleader at a little school in Southern Utah . It was in the police report. She apparently shared some Ecstasy with her teammates and was caught and charged with possession. Only reason she wasn't locked up was because she was a minor and it was her first offense. And she was sharing, not selling. We've touched base with local authorities there. They're going to notify the family.”

“You get anything off the surveillance tape?”

“Yep. Just as plain as can be. We have her walking into the lobby about midnight and climbing through the reception window, over the front desk, right into the office area. Desk clerk claims she usually locks everything up when she has to step away from the desk, but she had the stomach flu and rushed to the bathroom without buttoning things up.” Officer Moody thought briefly of his bout with the burritos as Martinez continued.

“Camera shows the girl rifling around and grabbing a key. They still use the actual keys, you know. No modern key cards for the Stowaway. Desk clerk says the key had been pulled and set aside because of the air conditioning problems. There was a work order with the key. Girl wasn't a dummy. She took the key knowing she could probably hang out in the room for the night and nobody would know. And that's not all. The camera shows her car coming into the motel with her in it and leaving an hour later with a man at the wheel. We've got an APB out on that car.”

“That's great. Looks like you got it just about locked down then,” Moody sighed, relieved.

“Yep. Looks like we'll be able to put this one to bed pretty soon,” Detective Martinez agreed.

AUGUST 7, 1993

“All right. Listen up.” Detective Martinez lifted his hands and waved everyone quiet for morning briefing. “We just got word from the authorities in Southern Utah that the woman found dead at the Stowaway last Friday, August 5 is reported to have a two-year-old child. You have a description and a picture of the woman on the flyer in front of you. At this point, we have had no indication that a child was with her in the hours leading up to her death. There was no sign of a child in the surveillance video nor any sign that a child had ever been in the motel room. The family of the deceased had not seen the woman or child in over a year, so we have no way of knowing at what point the woman and her child parted company.”

“Media has been contacted. We have also notified the appropriate agencies as well as inputing this information in NCIS. We need to start canvasing the area again with the flyer. Let's get this woman's picture out as fast as we can. See if anyone remembers seeing this woman and whether or not she had a child with her. We have no current pictures of the toddler, but the grandmother gave us a basic description. Child is believed to have dark hair and blue eyes. Ethnicity: Native American, although the father of the child is believed to be white, which may account for the blue eyes. The mother has been dead now for five days, and we all know how transient the clientele at the Stowaway is. We've lost some precious time and need to work fast. Let's get on it, people.”

Chapter One

SEPTEMBER 2010

The bell had rung ten minutes ago, but I wasn't too worried. Actually, the truth was I didn't care, so why would I worry? The first day of school was useless anyway. Most of the teachers didn't mark tardies on the first day or yell at you in front of the class. It was the last period of the day, and my mind had already left the building and fled out over the desert and into the hills in search of shapes and silhouettes. Already, I could feel the wood beneath my hands. Reluctantly, I forced my mind back to my body and straightened my shoulders so I could make an impression as I walked into class, which was usually my goal. Partly because I enjoyed the attention but mostly because I knew if people were intimidated by me they would leave me alone. Teachers left me alone, overly friendly girls who wanted to be BFF's left me alone, but the guys were usually at my beck and call if and when I wanted one of them.

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