All the Lies (Page 12)
He’s watching us.
That’s how he knew Donny and I were being attacked.
That’s how he’s leaving these messages without being seen.
“I know it was the ghost of Evans. I watched that appear just this morning,” Burrows rambles on. “He left these,” he says, picking up a pack of small nails.
I hiss out a breath. “He left these? You’re a forensics scientist! You should know not to touch evidence,” I growl, grabbing a glove and an evidence bag.
He tosses them to the top of the microwave carelessly, scratching nervously at his arms. “Ghosts don’t leave prints,” he says, chewing endlessly on that gum.
“Tell us what you know about Robert Evans,” I say to the fidgeting scientist who is popping yet another piece of nicotine gum into his mouth.
I label the bag, and Leonard snaps a picture of it and the words over the doorway.
“Those are the exact same nails they used on him.”
A piece of the puzzle falls into place. “What?” I ask, confused.
I realize there are a mixture of nails in the bag, and not just the small ones. Longer ones like we found in the stomach of one victim are also in here.
“They fed him nails. Made him swallow them,” Burrows says, swallowing hard like he can taste the nails. “Sheriff Cannon shoved the nails into Robert’s mouth himself. Robert was crying, begging them to stop, still pleading his innocence. I tried,” he says quickly, looking me in the eyes. “I tried to stop them. One of his deputies pistol whipped me and left me bleeding in the corner.”
He swallows the gum, and he pops in two more pieces, chewing just as vigorously as Leonard slowly lowers himself to a chair.
“The nails sliced through his esophagus. He was spitting up blood and screaming in pain. They took out their batons and did terrible things to his backside then. They used the batons to rape him repeatedly, held his face against the table as he bled out from both ends. The sheriff then beat him the rest of the way to death once everyone had their turn at depravity.”
He chokes on his gum, and he spits it out into his hand, leaving a slobbery, sticky mess until he dumps it into the trash.
“I told the leading agent back then. Johnson was his name. Miller Johnson. He said it was small town justice, and he had real killers to track down.”
Leonard and I exchange a look, and fury creases his expression. This is what Miller has been covering.
“He knew,” Burrows goes on, biting his nails now as he shifts his weight from one foot to another and back again. “He knew before it happened. There was no surprise on his face when I told him. They came to me later that night, and they told me if I wanted to tell what I saw again, they’d repeat the performance on me. I left town, finished out my residency elsewhere, and moved into the field of forensics. Bugs are safer than people.”
Leonard blows out a long breath, and I suppress my urge to find Johnson and beat the actual fuck out of him.
“He was innocent, you know?” Burrows says, peering over at me again. “Evans, I mean. He didn’t kill those women. Couldn’t have. The serial killer was left handed, and Evans was right handed. His left hand was broken after a kid slammed his hand in a locker as a joke. Kyle Davenport, to be more specific.”
My blood chills more.
“Victoria Evans broke up with Kyle because of that. She yelled at him in front of the school. Three months later, Robert Evans was convicted of those murders. Quickest trial process in the history of murder cases. And two kills occurred the very week after his left hand was broken. He couldn’t have been the murderer. But that didn’t matter. They wouldn’t listen to the science. They only listened to that pompous prick Agent Johnson. Sheriff Cannon just wanted someone to persecute.”
He pops in a fresh piece of gum and wipes his hands on his wrinkly, smelly shirt.
“Who else would know about what happened to Evans?” I ask him.
“No one who would talk. Most of the deputies were involved. And Kyle Davenport, of course. He was there. I heard rumors he did basically the same thing to the kids, only he didn’t bring the nails for that night.”
Kyle Davenport seems to be at the root of every problem.
“Any chance he was left handed?”
“Kyle?” Burrows asks, his face paling. When I nod, he barely whispers, “Yes.”
Nineteen. Nineteen is just too young of an age to be so methodical as the original killer. Each kill was filled with rage, according to the reports. A temper tantrum could send a sociopath into a homicidal rage, if Lindy was right and not just abusing the word she used to describe him.
If he’d been ten to twenty years older, he’d fit the profile perfectly.
“We need to find a way to speak with Kyle Davenport,” Leonard says grimly.
“Right now,” I add.
“I’ll call that medium on the way back to Delaney Grove,” he says as we head toward the door. “And I’ll send Hadley over here to see if she can pull anything from the house,” I say on a sigh, closing the door to Burrows’s home behind me.
“Doubtful. Our unsub never leaves any trace.”
“Is that all?” Burrow shouts from behind us, and I turn to see his head poking through the door.
“Can I get a hotel room? I don’t feel safe right now.”
Since I don’t feel like making a scientist see a ghost story as ridiculous, I just nod.
Leonard seems distant, thoughtful even.
“What?” I ask him as we get into the car.
I don’t crank it, because I lift my iPad, bringing up pictures from the previous crime scenes.
He turns to face me. “We haven’t know we were coming here for too long. Our unsub would have had to hit sometime between our decision and our arrival at the home today.”
I nod slowly. “I thought I had something figured out, but apparently that was wrong, because now it’s impossible,” he sighs.
“What?” I ask, curious, my fingers hovering over the screen.
“Nothing that sounds sane anymore. Guess it was all just in my head. What are you looking for?” He gestures toward my iPad.
“The unsub knew Donny and I were being attacked. The unsub knew we were coming today. The unsub has known every move of his or her victims. This unsub is a watcher. There are eyes on us somewhere, and—”
My words cut out when I notice the small holes. I barely remembered them because they seemed so unimportant.
“Each house has these in almost every room,” I tell Leonard. “Except for some of the later kills the unsub sprinted through.” I gesture toward the small holes the size of a nail head.
“Too small to be a camera,” he says.
“We’ve already suspected the unsub of a much higher intelligence. What if she has this sort of technology? It’d explain how she managed to save me in time last night.”
“You’re just saying she now,” he notes.
“Everything in me is saying it was a woman.”
“I believe you,” he says absently.
“You lack the conviction in your tone that you had on the way down here.”
I put the car in drive and push my iPad away. Knowing the unsub is watching us is actually a good thing. Hadley can tap into the video stream if she can find the signal, and possibly even back-hack the unsub to find her.
“Like I said,” Leonard mumbles under his breath, “thought I knew something else.”
There are truths which are not for all men, nor for all times.
Two deputies block us the second we step up on the front porch of Kyle Davenport’s home.
“Sorry, Agents, but no one is going in without the sheriff’s permission,” the one in front of me says.
Chad Briggs. I remember him.
I just smirk.
“Unless you guys want me calling more of my guys in because you’re impeding a federal investigation, I suggest you step out of the way.”
Briggs takes a step toward me, a dark challenge in his eyes. “SSA Johnson is the lead on your end. If he wants to come chat with Kyle, I’ll step down. But we’re taking the threat on his life seriously, and you’re not stepping—”
His words end on a grunt when I grab his wrist and twist, sending him face first into the side of the house. Leonard pulls his gun when the other deputy stupidly tries to make a grab for his own weapon.
“Let me be very clear here,” I say to Briggs, wrenching his arm tighter behind him and making him cry out. “I’ll speak to whoever the fuck I want to speak to, considering your guys tried to take me out last night. And if you’re smart, you’ll keep your mouth shut until I’m gone. Or I’ll call in every fucking favor I’m owed inside the FBI to get an entire army of agents in this town, telling them about how the corrupt little fuckwad county deputies are trying to take down a federal agent. Now, do you want to back down, or should I start making all those phone calls.”
He stops struggling, and I feel him go rigid.
“Yeah. Think about what you’d do if one of your guys was targeted by an outsider. I have friends like that too, Deputy.”
He curses, and the other guy turns and heads inside, calling for Kyle as Leonard holsters his weapon.