The Body in the Pool
Book One of the Dismember Killer Series
Chapter Forty Six
The pale gray walls and sparse furnishings gave the room a cold, clammy feel, as though it were wrapped in heavy fog no matter how bright the day outside. Not that the room had a window. It was like a casino in that matter, no way for the suspect to gauge the passage of time, only them and you and the gray walls, flat and homogeneous. Spence had Arlene brought up from the women’s holding cells immediately after intake processing. There was no point in giving her time to stew. This was a well thought out and well executed murder. The surprise of being caught would do the most good work towards getting his confession. He watched her through the video feed for a few minutes before entering the room. Her brows knit together and her mouth pursed up but only for a few seconds before she shook her head almost imperceptibly. Then her eyes widened and her mouth went soft. Again only for a few seconds before she shook her head. Then her eyes welled up with tears and she nodded very gently, very small in motion, to herself.
Spence turned to Melanie but before he could speak, she said, “She’s figuring out how to play it. While waiting to be interviewed.”
Spence nodded. “She didn’t think she’d get caught. She didn’t work this part out ahead of time.”
“She thinks she’s smarter than you, than all of us. If you hit her hard with all the evidence fast before she can think it out, you might get an opening, a crack in her defenses.”
Spence nodded. “Not give her time to to weigh how circumstantial it is.”
“Go, we’re wasting our advantage right now.” Melanie shoved Spence excitedly.
Spence laughed then grabbed the file folder containing their evidence, or what they planned to show Arlene anyway, from where he had laid it down on top of the monitor. He checked his fly, confirmed his shirt was well tucked in, and rubbed his teeth to make sure nothing was trapped between them. It was the little things that worked in your favor. Giving your opponent no niche to find fault with you and therefore strengthen their own position made the difference between a confession and a long, drawn out mess. A lot depended on the person you wanted to interview. Arlene Paulson thought she had it all sewn up. She thought she knew every angle and how to play it. He needed to be bulletproof to catch her off guard. On impulse he grabbed a box of tissue from a colleague’s desk before he entered the room.
He gave Arlene a sad, conciliatory smile and placed the box of tissue in front of her. She grabbed for one and cried into it.
“I can imagine how distressing it must be for you to end up here.” He waited, letting the bait hang.
After a few more sniffles, Arlene replied, “Can you? You’ve had your husband brutally murdered, been harassed by the police, and then been arrested on a ridiculous charge?”
Spence decided not to engage on that particular vein. “It must be so frustrating to see all your hard work come to nothing.”
Arlene turned her head, bringing her chin down to her left shoulder and covering her face with a tissue.
“Years of careful effort to marry well. To marry rich. Then to discover he was leaving you for a woman half your age.”
She slammed the hand containing the tissue onto the table and whipped her eyes around to meet him. “You.” She paused and modulated her tone. “Don’t know what you are talking about.”
She tilted her chin up this time and over her right shoulder.
“Were you aware Harold was embezzling money from all his clients?”
“That is an outrageous accusation. I refuse to believe any such thing.”
Spence fanned out spreadsheets and documents from the bean counters. Then he leaned back in the chair and waited. He could do this all day, he was trained for it. Arlene Paulson was an amateur, she’d crack. It took about ninety seconds. Longer than he initially guessed it would but then she was probably thinking about what to say. Most people spoke under the pressure of silence and they said whatever came to mind. If Arlene was considering her comments, Spence’s job got that much harder.
Arlene pushed the folder of documents slightly away from her on the table. “Whatever you may think, you are wrong. Harold moved money around a lot to ensure the best return on investment he could find at any given time. People with money know that money makes money, officer.”
Spence cleared his throat and tried not to laugh. “I see. Well, thank you for the advice.” Spence opened the next folder in his stack. “You weren’t planning on visiting the Trident Trust Company, Queensgate Bank and Trust Company, or Sackville Bank and Trust company next week.”
“I don’t even know what those are.” Arlene kept her chin over her right shoulder as though she were pretending Spence was not in the room.
“You have appointments with all three. Trident on Monday at one, Queensgate Tuesday at nine, and Sackville Tuesday at three.”
“If you already knew that, why did you bother to ask me?”
Spence laughed. “I suppose I want you to be aware of the full extent of our knowledge. You’ve got quite a motive to kill your husband. When he left you, you would have very little. Your legitimate banking accounts show almost no assets. And once he ‘retired’ to a country with no extradition–no alimony for you.”
“You have no proof Harold planned to leave me. Harold loved me.”
“I have your own behavior. Why would you spit on a random woman at your husband’s funeral?”
“I refuse to entertain these ridiculous assertions a minute longer.”
“Let’s talk about means then.”
Her chin rose another millimeter.
“We have witness testimony that you arranged for the purchase of Rohypnol, which was found in your husband’s system after death.”
Arlene sniffed. “I don’t believe you.”
Spence slid a photograph out of the folder and across the table in front of Arlene.
Her chin to shoulder stance did not waver.
“Look at it.”
With a large sigh that felt to Spence like fake martyrdom, Arlene looked down at the picture. She snorted, “I don’t even know what that is.”
“It is a bit of a Rorschach test,” Spence agreed placidly.
A broad beam of satisfaction stretched across Arlene’s face.
Spence slid another sheet out of the folder. “However, this is a ten print card they took when you were booked this afternoon. Lovely fingerprints. Lots of whirls.” Spence waited patiently. “This here is a close up a a hundred dollar bill, with a fingerprint on it. Your fingerprint we have now confirmed.” He could feel it coming, the explosion of emotional anger when someone who thinks they are too smart for the world is shown, they aren’t all that bright.
Arlene’s hand came flying up from her lap and the photographs and financial documents in front of her went sailing through the air, sent by a hard slap, Spence thought might have been for him in her fantasy.
“Then of course there is always moving the body. That part was a stickler, your husband was rather a big man. And then we got a copy of this purchase receipt, your autograph on the bottom line to sign for the credit card purchase.” Spence smiled. Then laid a picture of the wheelbarrow planter on the table. “I know its a bit thin. But what you don’t know is that you were seen by a student at the Academy that night with your wheelbarrow and it didn’t have a fern in it.”
“All those years of putting up with him, putting up with him taking off his smelly socks and leaving them under the covers at the bottom of the bed. I had to change the sheets every day. Every day for twenty years of marriage. Cooking his disgusting sausage and grits for breakfast every day. Every day. That’s why when I read about what the Dismember Killer was doing to those men, I knew it was the perfect coup d’ gras. His little useless sausage on the grill. Day in and day out, boring, boring sex with a man who kept getting less attractive and he was never that hot to start. But he had money. He was supposed to keep me in a style that befits me. But he was going to run off with that hussy and leave me here to take the blame for his embezzlement. I don’t think so. Lose everything. Be alienated by society. All so he can lay on a beach in South America with a twinkie like her. Not in this lifetime. I upheld my end of the bargain, he should have upheld his. I cooked him sausage, one last time.” Arlene finally ran down, her tirade trailing off into exhaustion.
Spence nodded as she finally met his eyes. “Are you ready to make a full confession then?”
Arlene swallowed hard and nodded.
Spence slid a notepad in front of her. “Write it out for me. Start at the beginning and take me through each step.”
Her hand was shaking as she reached out for the pen and pad.
“I’ll get you a water.” Spence got up from the table and exited the room. He went around the corner to observation, where Melanie and Barnes were watching the interrogation through the glass.
Melanie gleefully lifted her hand for a high five from Spence. He obliged her with less glee.
“That was a thing of beauty,” Melanie squealed.
Spence shook his head. “You realize what this means, don’t you?”
“We caught a killer with sufficient evidence to induce a full confession?” Melanie narrowed her eyes. “I don’t know, the DA will buy us all beers?”
“We have to go back to tracking our serial killer on the move.”
“You can’t even take five minutes to enjoy this victory?” Melanie complained.
Spence looked at her with one eyebrow raised for a long four seconds before he shrugged, grimaced a smile, raised his hands in the air, and said “yay” while turning in a little circle.
“That was pitiful,” Barnes said.
This elicited an actual laugh from Spence. “I better get back in there with her water.”