All the Lies (Page 10)
She should have been an actress and spread the same love and joy throughout the world with just her smile.
I used to want to be just like her.
Until they ruined me and turned me into this.
The mirror still shows the same eyes, but all else is different. It’s like seeing a different person. A person who has devoted her life to real justice.
“The film just stays focused on her. I can’t seem to get a view of the audience,” Logan says, interrupting my thoughts as he fast-forwards through the footage of my better memories.
“No one could look away from her,” I say to myself, wiping a tear from my eye.
He doesn’t hear me, and I hold back the inner plea for him to watch the entire thing, to see how incredible my mother was. To get a glimpse of who I might have been.
But I simply bite my tongue when he ejects the DVD and puts in a new one. My stomach roils when I see the footage of my father’s trial replacing the sweet memories of my mother on the screen.
As he watches, I return to the bedroom. It’s like I told Hadley—the mind is just too fragile for some visual stimulants, and I know my limits.
The secret to being a bore…is to tell everything.
“Where’s Craig?” Leonard asks, breaking the silence in the car.
“Conveniently, the director called him to aid in a media thing upstate. Johnson is currently handling all media for this case.”
He mutters something under his breath before adding, “It’s pissing me off how obvious it is what they’re doing, yet no one is helping us stop it.”
“We just need evidence. We also need the entire story.”
“It’d be a lot easier to piece together this puzzle if our killer would just spell it all out for us. It’s obvious he wants us to know the truth,” Leonard grumbles.
He’s been lost in thought for most of this trip.
“He wants us to figure out the truth for ourselves. He thinks we’ll be on his side, considering he’s been saving us.”
Leonard turns to face me. “Are you conflicted?”
I shake my head. “No. I understand what happened ten years ago was beyond fucked up, and I have no sympathy to the victims we’ve found so far, but playing judge, jury, and executioner is not excusable. I also know how these cases go. It starts off as revenge, individuals getting targeted. But it turns into a massacre when the unsub devolves rapidly, and anything at all that’s perceived as a threat is killed as collateral damage.”
He looks back out the window. He’s seen these cases too.
“What if this one was different?”
“What?” I ask, confused.
He faces me again. “There were rare cases where the revenge killers actually killed just those who had wronged them. No one else was caught in the crosshairs.”
“Very few,” I remind him. “And almost all end with a shootout between law enforcement and the unsub. Still can’t play judge, jury, and executioner, regardless.”
“Most all revenge seekers are seeking revenge for themselves. It’s what causes the psychotic break—being too close to the triggers when the emotions finally take over,” he goes on. “We profiled this unsub as being one to avenge for someone else. He could have separation and even be able to form attachments, unlike other revenge killers, since I doubt it’s a proxy killer who is suffering a delusional paradigm.”
I heave out a long, weary breath. “I get the confliction you’re dealing with. Especially in this case, given what we’ve already learned and now seen. But innocent people will die if we don’t stop him. No one has the right to take the law into their own hands,” I say calmly, even though a silent argument in my mind contests my own words.
He cuts his gaze away before replying, “They tried to get help. They tried to seek justice. They were denied.”
“They?” I ask curiously.
“The unsub,” he states flatly. “I don’t know if I should keep referring to the unsub as him, since you said you feel it was a woman.”
“You believe me?” No one else has.
“You saw Hollis. You saw Lana. What made you believe the unsub was a woman when you never saw a face? Men can be small as well, and I strongly believe in counter forensics in all cases with an unsub this organized. He or she could have easily masked their true size and weight with the right counter measures.”
I grow quiet, letting a chill creep in over me. No one at all has even considered believing me.
“Men can be small,” I say in agreement.
“How small are we talking?”
“Someone as short as Lana.”
He clears his throat. “That’s specific,” he says under his breath. “Still doesn’t explain why you think it’s a woman.”
My mind goes back to the blurry images of the small frame taking down Hollis, landing on top of him.
“I swear I heard a feminine laugh. It was cold and taunting, and almost enjoying the killing part.”
He shifts beside me, turning a little pale.
“This unsub may be somehow projecting obsessively onto Victoria or Marcus Evans, creating the illusion of either being them or being involved with them. It would make the most sense, considering we’ve ruled out the few friends they had in this town. So don’t rule out a proxy.”
“An unsub who can fight, kill, and meticulously plan murders with counter forensics is too organized to be killing as a proxy. Killing as a proxy would indicate a psychotic break,” Leonard argues. “And obviously he or she is still rational enough to show patience and control, which would immediately rule out any sort of psychotic break.”
I grow quiet, thinking of all the contradictions this unsub has left us with. It all fits, and none of it fits at the same time.
It’s as though he or she needs their own profile. Even considering it to be a woman is a direct confliction with a female serial killer profile because of the torture.
“Remember the case we worked in San Antonio six years ago?” Leonard finally asks, his tone thoughtful as he stares out the window.
I don’t even have to ask for details to refresh my mind. “The father who killed the five guys who raped his daughter at a frat party.”
He nods, still lost inside his own mind.
“He also went on to the campus police,” I remind him. “He killed two of them before we caught him.”
“The campus police never filed a report. When we interviewed them, they said poor girls get drunk and call rape all the time at frat parties, trying to get a settlement out of the rich guys,” Leonard says, his hands turning to fists. “I have a sister. Anytime something like this happens, I think of her.”
“Caroline can take care of herself,” I remind him. “She’d obliterate any guy who tried to touch her.”
“Which is why it was stupid to rule out a female killer based on the fact these were all fit men who were taken down physically. My sister has been in twenty different competitions and has won several of them. She could easily overpower any of these guys,” he says thoughtfully. “If a woman knew what she was going up against and had the forethought to prepare counter forensics, she’d know our profile would be sexist enough to rule out a female.”
My lips purse. I’d argue this if it wasn’t for the fact I saw our small unsub. I heard her feminine laughter.
“Lindy May Wheeler was in her kindergarten classes during some of the kill times,” he goes on. “I checked last night.”
Lindy May was too timid to be a calculated killer. I never even considered her.
“If someone had ever hurt Caroline like this, and she never saw justice, I don’t know that I’d be any better than the killer we’re trying to catch,” he says quietly. “Albert Rawlings let himself be killed when he’d finished. His gun was empty when he pointed it at the police who’d cornered him. He was done. He never planned on killing anyone else. And he forced the police to kill him because he had nothing left to do or live for.”
Blowing out a weary breath, I think back to that case. It was a rare instance where there was no massacre.
“Caroline learned how to use her smaller frame and weight to her advantage against a larger opponent, as well as all the weaknesses on a body she could exploit. She also learned a lot of control when learning various forms of martial arts,” Leonard goes on. “It’s not just a strengthening of the body; it’s also a strengthening of the mind. This unsub could have been training her body for the fight, but she might have also been training her mind against the impending psychotic break. It’s obvious she did all her research, so it makes sense.”
If that’s the case, this unsub is ten times more organized than we assumed.
“The two people missing right now—Kevin and Anthony—are probably already dead if the unsub is here with us,” he continues. “She started sprinting through the kills so she could be here with us when the time came.”
“Even left one alive to return to,” I add.
“So she has enough control to put a pin in her agenda just to join us in this town, possibly even watch over us.”