The Body in the Pool
Book One of the Dismember Killer Series
Chapter Forty Four
Spence caught twenty winks on the couch in the lunch room. It wasn’t comfortable; marginally better than staying up all night. His cell phone alarm woke him at six. He wanted to be on the front steps haunting clerks by half past. Cup of coffee in hand, he ran the gauntlet. Up and down the halls, sticking his head into every judge’s chambers with an unlocked door.
“I got your message. The judge isn’t in until two today.”
“I got your message. The judge is on vacation until Monday.”
“I got your message. Historically, the judge refuses to sign warrants based on the testimony of a minor.”
“I got your message. The judge will be in at eight. Come back after that.”
“I got your message. Stop calling me in the middle of the night.”
Spence got the message. His emergency was not anyone else’s. Part of him wondered if he said this was to arrest the Dismember Killer, would they suddenly be much more cooperative? Seventeen minutes after seven, he could have walked the dog after all.
At eight on the dot he was back in the chambers. The clerk nodded wearily. “She’s in. I’m warning you now, she probably won’t sign this for you.”
“That’s part of it.”
Spence cursed to himself. There was little to be done. He pulled open the dark walnut stained door. Every judge had law books as far as the eye could see, lining their inner chamber, this one was no different. It always made Spence feel claustrophobic. One misstep and it would all topple over and crush him.
“Good morning, ma’am.”
“Where’s the district attorney on this case?” the judge asked.
“I don’t have one assigned yet ma’am.”
“You’ve requested a warrant for a capital crime without the district attorney?”
“We are in a bit of a hurry, ma’am. The suspect is fleeing the country today.”
“You cannot rush justice, detective. The wheels turn slowly for a reason.”
“And what reason is that?” Spence asked wearily.
“Warrant request denied. I suggest you follow proper procedure next time.”
“Thank you for your time.” Spence ground out his response. There would be a next time with this judge. He needed to salvage as much as he could. He forced himself to walk calmly out of her office and not slam the door.
The clerk gave him a sympathetic smile. “If you come back, I’ll get you in front of her again as fast as possible.”
In the hallway, Spence could stop pretending although he had to keep it quiet, the act of silently screaming at the ceiling helped release some of his pent up tension. He needed a DA. If he waited for assignment through normal channels it would be next week already before they acted. The personal touch it would need to be once again.
He called Melanie. “Morning. I need you to gather all the bits we have against Arlene and meet me at the DA’s office. I can’t get a judge to sign as it is. We need backing.”
“Got it. I can be there in ninety.”
Spence groaned, he knew traffic was the time killer. “Got it.”
He ran up the stairs one level, to W400. He badged the receptionist. “Look I know I’m flirting with the line here, I need an ADA this morning.”
“Do you know how long the line would be out that door if we let people walk all over the process?”
“I have a murderer who is leaving the country in eight hours. Eight.” Spence leaned heavily on the three quarter wall in front of her desk.
“I have a really strong desire to say lack of forethought on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”
Eschewing a verbal response Spence crumpled his head onto the wall.
“But I won’t. Let me see who’s around this morning.”
Spence bit his tongue to keep from mentioning the hundred plus attorneys who worked for the county district court system on the prosecutors’ side of the house. He flashed a grimace that almost passed for a smile instead.
Though it took more time than Spence wanted, eventually the receptionist beckoned him down the hall. He followed her around to a small office.
“Joanna Southby, Assistant District Attorney. How can I help you this morning, detective?”
“I’m trying to get a warrant for a suspect who is fleeing the country in a few hours. Judge won’t sign off because I don’t have backing from this office.”
“Is it a capital case?”
“What do you have for me?”
“Harold Paulson killed last Thursday. Body mutilated and dumped in the pool of Whispering Evergreen Academy. I have motive and means and opportunity on the wife.”
“I thought Paulson was a Dismember case?”
“That was the initial thought.”
“Why did you change your mind?”
“The husband was having an affair, he planned to leave his wife, told his wife in fact. The victim was drugged and then smothered. Dismember overpowers his victims.”
“I have a witness statement that Arlene Paulson negotiated the purchase of Rohypnol.” Spence extended the file.
“A seventeen year old boy is your witness?” Southby closed the file and shook her head.
“Washington state prosecutes sixteen and seventeen year olds as adults in serious crimes but their word isn’t as good as an adult’s in a witness statement?”
Southby tapped her fingers on her desk for a few beats. “You don’t have enough for murder. I’ll convert this to a request for an arrest warrant on the drug purchase and you’ll have to squeeze her for the rest.”
“Fair enough.” Spence sighed heavily.
Southby typed the amendment into the system. “Who have you seen?”
“You went to ‘wheels of justice’ without an ADA? You’re not too bright are you? I’ll walk this down for you.” She hit enter and swiveled away from her desk. “Let’s go, cowboy.”
Spence followed her, texting Melanie. Get a car over to the Paulson house to sit on it. Warrant coming. I don’t want her leaving.