The bedroom was full of police. Plainclothes detectives examined the crime scene. Uniformed cops were helping a couple of crime-scene techs carry bagged evidence away. A female photographer snapped photos from every possible angle. Another woman was lifting fingerprints from every surface in the room: the crystal glasses on the night tables on each side of the bed, all of the furniture, doorknobs, windows and sills, and the light-switch plates near the doors.
Two detectives were focused on the body. Jackson McGill. Billionaire philanthropist and playboy. A bloody mess at the moment. He lay on his back, his arms crossed over his abdomen as if he had been holding onto his belly. His eyes were wide open; savage wounds covered most of his naked body. Blood everywhere.
I whispered to Harry, “Whoever cut up McGill was an amateur. Or wanted him to suffer. There's too much blood for a quick death, which is how a pro would have done it. Quickly.”
“You don't have to whisper. They don't know we're here.”
“Can't help myself.”
I stepped closer to the body and listened to a gray-haired man from the Medical Examiner's Office point out to the detectives a particularly ugly wound on McGill's neck: “See this? I think that's the fatal wound. The others are slashing cuts. This one's deep stab―then a sawing motion to make sure it was lethal.”
Harry pointed at a whipcord-thin woman detective and said, “Renee Luker.” Then he gestured toward her partner, a short Hispanic and said, “Miguel Islas.”
A crime scene tech handed Luker a plastic evidence bag containing a very bloody, very slender blade with an ornate handle. The tech said, “Looks like a Renaissance stiletto. Not sure if it's Italian or French. If it's a genuine antique, it probably costs about two thousand bucks. There's tons of Renaissance era silverware on shelves in the living room, and an empty knife stand.”
“Two thousand bucks? For one ancient knife?” Islas asked.
“Antique,” Luker corrected. She looked at the guy from the Medical Examiner's office, “Could the killer have used this to cut through the carotid?”
“Definitely. Death would have been quick after that. The bleeding stopped when the heart stopped. If I'm right, this was the last wound. All of the others were to make the victim suffer.”
The detective waved her hand at the rumpled, blood-soaked bedding, “What do you think, Miguel? Maybe an unsatisfied lover? Could someone get that pissed off over a Viagra malfunction?”
Islas asked as if genuinely interested, “Is Viagra the one with the people in bath tubs on TV?”
“No, that's Cialis,” Luker replied.
“Renee, you are a font of useless info. What the hell are the bathtubs for? And why are the man and woman in separate tubs? Isn't the point of the drug to make sure you can get it on when you get it together?”
“Who knows?” Luker pointed at the sheets again, “Do you think McGill's lover could have done this?”
The medical examiner shook his head, “Hard to tell. McGill was a big, healthy, active man. Hard to imagine a woman could inflict this much pain and still pin him down. On the other hand, if he had enough alcohol and/or drugs in his system, the killer would have had an easy time of it.”
“If he was drunk or drugged, why are the eyes open?”
“Maybe the pain from the early cuts brought him to consciousness―just in time to have his carotid cut.”
“Charming,” said Islas. He glanced at his partner, “There were no signs of forced entry, no signs anyone was here besides McGill and his lover, right?”
“Right. No live-in staff. Before I came up here, I reviewed the security tapes for this evening. McGill walked in with a brunette a few minutes after midnight. The woman was five foot three or four, thick, dark hair to her shoulders. Couldn't tell the color of the eyes; couldn't see any distinguishing marks. But a very curvy lady―exactly who you'd expect given McGill's reputation.”
I shifted my attention to Harry and raised my eyebrows in a question. He nodded.
Islas asked, “Anyone else come up here?”
“There's no video of anyone else being here. But a woman in a wide-brimmed hat left around the probably time of death. Couldn't see her face, but approximately the same height and similar coat as the woman who entered with McGill.”
“Interesting. How good is the security set-up? Could someone else have slipped in and out?”
“Damn near impossible,” Luker said. “There are two security cameras covering the lobby from different angles. Then there's another in the elevator. There are cameras on the outside and inside of the service entrance on the southern edge of the building. The service entrance is a plain steel door, hinges on the inside, opens to the inside but there are anti-pry plates on top and sides. Four sliding bars lock the door: top, bottom, and both sides. The freight elevator, which is inside the service entrance to the building, also has a camera. All the cameras feed into a computer at the lobby desk and simultaneously from there to a private security service called Celtic Dragon, which is jointly owned venture of McGill's company, Cú Chulainn and a Chinese firm called SHK Dragon. There are also sensors on the front and service doors―all entrances and exits are logged into the same system and synched with the video. The entrance logs also go to Celtic Dragon. It's damn close to air-tight.”
“What about the roof? Any access there?”
Luker shook her head, “This building is taller than its neighbors; you can't climb down to the roof. And there are more cameras up there, and the log for the roof shows no one going through the door in the last seventy-two hours. Before you ask, yes, McGill's apartment is also secure. There are two cameras covering the twenty-fifth floor foyer―those cameras also feed direct to Celtic Dragon. Both the front and service doors are steel; both have sliding bars to lock from the inside. Once Mr. McGill was inside, he was a safe guy.”
“Unless he brought his killer with him.”
“Yeah, well, it's always something.”
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