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Detective MacArthur and Dectective Sergeant Miller looked up from their papers and at each other uneasily. A homicide had not occurred in Cranford in over four years. Neither of them had worked on that previous one: the Reed investigation. The alleged killer in that case served no time due to two hung juries. Budget cuts in the district attorney's office barred further prosecutions. The detectives were determined not to let such a thing happen again.
"I guess you heard about the missing persons report?" Sergeant Miller was stating a fact more than inquiring.
"Yeah. Bob Varnes was telling me." Detective Varnes often worked closely with MacArthur. "At least the vic's parents had the good sense to file a report as soon as they got worried. Her name is..." he paused as he pushed around soime papers on his desk. "Juliann Boyle. I got an address here, too."
"So what's your plan of attack, Mark?" asked Sergeant Miller, while looking at a police report of the crime scene.
"Well, Sarge," the detective began, "as you can probably tell from that report, we don't have many leads to follow up on." MacArthur reached for his own copy of the report. "We've sent the rounds to ballistics, but the odds of them matching up with any that we found in the past are slim. As far as that goes, we just have to hope the murder weapon falls in our lap." A person stopped for a traffic violation or drunk driving can give police probable cause to search their car; evidence of another crime sometimes can turn up. This is similar to the way in which Timothy McVeigh was caught. "The only other real lead we have is the silver brooch around the vic's neck."
"Right. I'll get Bob to run a check on that with the jewelers in this county. Let's hope it's a local buy." replied Miller. "In the meantime, I don't want this investigation trial to run cold. You know the forty-eight hour rule - if we can't solve a murder case by then, we probably will never be able to."
MacArthur nodded. "I'll go interview the victim's family, see if she's got any boyfriends, jealous lovers, outstanding debts..." With that, he reached for his overcoat, picked up his notepad off his desk, and walked outside to the parking lot.
"Mrs. Boyle, do you think I might have a few minutes of your time?"
Detective MacArthur stood on the front porch of the house that Juliann Boyle used to live in before her untimely demise. White picket fences, cheerful flowers, and vibrant green lawn gave no indication of the mourning and anguish that her family was going through. The woman on the other side of the front door sighed and opened it for the detective.
MacArthur entered the house and waited for the older woman to lead him through her pristine kitchen into the living room, on his left.
"Can I offer you a drink, Detective? Perhaps some coffee?" she said, beckoning him to sit on the plush sofa.
"No, thank you, Mrs. Boyle. I just have a few questions I'd like to ask about your daughter, if that's all right."
The woman wiped away a tear and sat down on a chair across from him. On a hand-crafted coffee table between them sat a beautifully framed picture of Julie, smiling broadly. Boyle noticed the detective looking at it.
"She was a lovely girl. She was so... alive." A depressed smile came to the proud mother's face. "She was going to be a doctor."
"Where was she going to school?"
"Oh, she took a year off. After graduating from the University of Arizona, she wanted to go to medical school, but with all her student loans from college we just couldn't afford it. For the past year, she's been living at home and working as a receptionist downtown at the clinic both to gain experience and save for next year." Again, Mrs. Boyle tried unsuccessfully to stop tears from flowing. "I guess there's not going to be a next year."
"Did she have any brothers or sisters, Mrs. Boyle?"
The woman was on the verge of breaking down. "She was my only baby!" MacArthur was silent as Boyle tried, with a modest degree of success, to compose herself. "All of our family are back East. We moved out here six years ago for my husband's health. The doctor said the air out here was better. He died three years back... Now I have no one."
"I'm truly sorry, Mrs. Boyle, I have just one or two more questions." Consulting his notepad, MacArthur asked what sometimes turned out to be one of the most important questions. "Was your daughter seeing anyone?"
"Well, there was this one boy, John. I think his name was John Turner, actually. Nice fellow. They were seeing each other for close to nine months now. About three months ago, he bought her a silver brooch. She wore it constantly. I have no idea where he lives, or anything like that."
MacArthur nodded. "Who were your daughter's friends, Mrs. Boyle? What kind of things was she involved in?"
The woman got more emotional. "She was such a nice girl..." Talking through the sobs, she continued. "My Juliann loved politics. She worked on a campaign last November - Assemblyman Richards'."
"One final question. When was the last time you saw your daughter?"
Boyle reached for a tissue and wiped her eyes. "It was three days before the... before she passed on. She had gone to work, and never came home. I called there, and her supervisor, Debbie Arnold, said that she had left just like always, on time. When she didn't come home the second night, I called the police..."
Jotting down those last important facts, MacArthur rose from the couch. He reached into his front pocket and pulled out a business card. "If you remember anything else, or think of anything else that might be important to us, please don't hesitate to call. My partner, Detective Varnes, will be by later today to look through your daughter's room to see if there's anything there that might give us a clue as to who did this. Oh, by the way, do you think I might be able to take that picture of Juliann for idenficiation purposes?"
Mrs. Boyle nodded, got up, removed the picture from the frame, and handed it to him, She then accompanied him to the door. MacArthur knew how hard sessions like these were on the immediate families of victims, but he had learned a lot of important information.
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Graphical bars used with permission and taken from the CD-ROM accompanying the Que Corporation book Using HTML by Tom Savola.
The kitchen picture and music are used with permission and taken from the Americana CD-ROM.