St. Paul Campus
Afternoon, March 17
A growing sense of unease gathered in the pit of Ann’s stomach as she walked to the lab from her office. The unease became an ache when she saw the padlock on the freezer. All of her locks had been the same model, and this wasn’t one of them. Her heart pounded as she double-checked to make sure it was the right freezer.
Carla pointed to the floor under the latch mechanism. “Dr. Hartman, look at this.” She bent and scraped up a sample of fine black powder from the floor. “It feels like metal filings.”
Ann examined the powder and rubbed it between her fingers. “Somebody used a hacksaw.” She glanced quickly at the floor around the freezer and under the lab benches. “See if you can find my padlock around here. I have a phone call to make.”
Ann stepped out of the lab and called Jason in his office. She needed his analytical, unemotional approach to problems.
He arrived five minutes later, shortly after Wendy found Ann’s padlock under a lab bench.
Jason considered the reasons he would cut a padlock off a freezer. “Maybe someone with samples in the freezer needed them,” he said. “If I needed to test samples and some son of a bitch put a lock on my freezer, I’d cut it off. Who else has samples in it?”
“I’ve checked.” Ann handed him a page, half covered with handwriting. “This looks like an informal inventory. It was in a folder taped to the side of the freezer.” She watched Jason scan the list. “There are samples from almost a dozen studies run by people in four research groups.”
Jason turned the page. “Some of these studies were done over ten years ago. Look,” he pointed to the paper, “there must be three shelves of samples from Don Shroop’s studies. He retired years ago. No wonder the department doesn’t have enough freezer space. Nobody ever throws anything away.”
“Maybe I should get a bolt cutter and return the favor,” Ann said.
“No one is following up on Shroop’s work, and Naga and Ahmed aren’t doing any more lab work on their study,” Jason pointed at two lines near the bottom of the page, “and these guys are writing papers on their work. Their lab work is done.” Jason paused and looked at Ann. “None of these people would have needed their samples in the last two days.”
Ann had reached the same conclusion. Her gut felt like a knot. “I better make another phone call.”
She called Bill at his home. He told her to sit tight while he called the dean and campus security.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish