The Body in the Pool
Book One of the Dismember Killer Series
Chapter Thirty Two
It took a bit of time to gather enough officers for a search with such extensive parameters. It was after three when they knocked on the Paulson front door.
“Arlene Paulson, I’m Detective Melanie Witlow. We have a warrant to search the premises.” Melanie tried to hand Mrs. Paulson the warrant, although she specifically did not mention the terms contained therein.
“Oh my. I can’t imagine what you could be looking for.” Arlene sounded like a woman confused and overwhelmed.
Spence didn’t sense any real emotion behind her tone though.
“The details are outlined in the warrant, ma’am,” Melanie continued and attempted to hand Mrs. Paulson the legal document once again.
Arlene Paulson took the paper and opened the door wider to admit the detectives and the officers accompanying them.
“Oh, Detective Thomas, I didn’t see you back there.” Mrs. Paulson smiled timidly at Spence.
“Mrs. Paulson.” Spence nodded a greeting. As the rest of the crew disbursed into the house Spence stayed with Mrs. Paulson. “Shall we make ourselves comfortable while we wait?” Spence gestured to the sitting room.
Mrs. Paulson nodded and followed him.
“Can you tell me what they are looking for?”
“The details of the search are outlined in the copy of the warrant Detective Witlow provided you.” Spence was under no obligation to explain it to her. The warrant outlined things very specifically.
Mrs. Paulson didn’t bother to look.
“Are you concerned?” Spence thought he might as well try a few toss out lines.
“It’s always concerning when the police come to your home, isn’t it?”
Spence considered this answer. “Never much worries me.” He smiled at her.
“But you are the police.” She did not smile back.
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about if you haven’t done anything illegal.”
“Me in particular?”
“People in general,” Spence replied wondering about her cageyness.
“There are so many things people like to hide despite them not being illegal or even immoral.”
“I suppose that could be true. Did you have an example in mind?” A little more chum for the water.
“Well, I don’t really know. It all depends upon your situation.”
“I’m not sure I know what you mean.”
“Take that detective, what was his name?” Arlene gave Spence a long look. “Oh yes, Harding. Take Detective Harding for example. He shared things with a woman he was presumably involved with. Lots of people do that. Share things with their significant other. Look how much trouble that’s gotten him into with the police.”
Spence considered his reply. Which one of them was baiting the other? “I believe the investigation is ongoing and therefore I can not comment on Detective Harding’s situation.”
Spence had the odd sensation he was a small woodland animal about to be swallowed by an anaconda. Totally out of place, out of his element, and unable to do anything about the danger sneaking up on him. He could hear the officers moving about the Paulson home. He hoped they would find evidence of a probative nature.
“How long were you married, Mrs. Paulson?”
“Not as long as I expected to be.” Her expression turned to one of sadness. “Twenty years.”
Spence nodded. “And what did you do before your marriage?”
Arlene took her time answering. “I was a chemist.”
“How fascinating. For a lab?”
“Did you enjoy your work?”
Spence didn’t believe this answer anymore than he believed she was sad about the death of her husband. She may have expected to be married longer, that rang true. She wasn’t grieving her husband. She was angry.
They sat in silence. Spence got up from the couch to move about the room. He looked at the pictures on the wall, all of Arlene in distant exotic locations. He took note of the expensive knick knacks that reflected the destinations in the pictures. He found himself staring at a small scrap of paper outside the burn area in the fireplace which was filled with ashes. Using the toe of his boot he manipulated the paper until it flipped over and he could see it once contained numbers. Pulling a rubber glove from his pocket he bent down and picked it up. It was clearly a portion of a financial document, an accounting sheet maybe.
“What did you burn in the fireplace recently Mrs. Paulson?” Spence held up the scrap for her to see.
“I haven’t burnt anything in the fireplace in weeks.”
Spence nodded, crossed to the hallway, and pulled an evidence bag from his kit where it rested on the floor by the entry. He labeled the bag and initialed the seal. He pulled out his phone and texted Melanie. Send a tech to the front room with supplies.
Spence returned to the front room and crossed to the fireplace. He dragged one finger dramatically across the mantle. “I find it hard to believe those ashes have sat in the fireplace for weeks.” He rubbed his thumb and forefinger together. “No dust.”
Arlene sat back against the couch. A small smiled played at the edges of her mouth.
Spence sat down on the couch across from her and waited.
Neither of them spoke until the tech appeared. “You rang?”
Spence broke off the staring contest and said, “Please collect the ashes in the fireplace for processing.”
The tech nodded shortly, clearly picking up on the tense vibe in the room.
Spence waited until the tech finished his work before continuing his fishing. “What did you burn in the fireplace?”
“I told you, I haven’t burned anything in weeks.”
“The evidence is going to disprove that, why not tell me now, explain things from your point of view?”
Arlene didn’t answer immediately. “Don’t you have to read me my rights and allow me to contact a lawyer prior to interrogation?”
Spence shook his head. “Are you feeling interrogated? This is simply a conversation. You aren’t under arrest.”
“Then I prefer not to have any further conversation with you at this time.”
Spence nodded. “That is your right, of course.”
They sat silently for the next two hours while the house was processed. Photographs were taken, computers packed up for further investigation by the tech boys, things were thoroughly searched ostensibly for evidence regarding embezzlement.
“Thank you for your cooperation, Mrs. Paulson.” Melanie was wrapping up the process.
“Did you find what you were looking for detective?”
Melanie smiled. “We’ll be in touch.” She stepped out the door behind Barnes and Spence.
Before the even reached their cars she was hissing to them. “Guest bedroom. Bed was completely stripped, a folded quilt sitting on the end. Checked the closet, no clothes. Drawers were all empty. Master bedroom closet, no clothes for Harold there either. We found them in the garage, bagged and tagged for donation.”
Spence looked back to the house. “She’s cold. We need to get into her.”