Home > Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(12)

Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(12)
Author: Melinda Leigh

“Any idea how she died?”

“Yes.” Frank read from his clipboard, then set it down and returned to the table. He pointed to a U-shaped bone below the skull on the sheet. “The hyoid bone is fractured.”

The hyoid bone was located in the middle of the neck between the chin and the thyroid.

“She was strangled,” Lance said.

“Most likely.” Frank nodded. “We’re lucky. That only happens in approximately one-third of strangulation deaths.”

She wasn’t lucky.

Lance stared at the tiny, meaningful bone. “So she was dead when she was put in the trunk?”

“It’s possible to survive a fractured hyoid, but I hope she didn’t.” Frank frowned.

“Me too.” Lance shuddered. Being strangled would have been bad enough, but he couldn’t imagine the alternative.

“Do you remember anyone who meets her description in your father’s life? Did your father have any female coworkers or friends that he was close with?” Frank was circling around the topic, but his line of thinking was obvious: infidelity.

“I don’t know.” Lance did not want to think about his father cheating, but he searched his memories. “No. My parents had some friends, but they were all about the same age as my parents, in their midthirties in 1994.”

“If you think of anyone this could be”—Frank waved a gloved hand over the skeleton—“please call me.”

“I will,” Lance said.

Frank stripped off his gloves. “If she was a local and someone filled out a missing person report, I should be able to identify her. If nothing pans out, I’ll bring in a forensic anthropologist.”

“Good luck.” Lance left the autopsy suite. He tossed his PPEs in the appropriate bins on the way out. As he walked across the parking lot toward his Jeep, his gut knotted.

Where was his father?

Chapter Nine

The wind whipped at Morgan’s face as she crossed the parking lot from the diner to her minivan, where Mac was leaning into the open door of his SUV.

“Thanks, Mac.” She rolled the top of the brown bag down. Inside were her blood-soaked, now-crusty jeans. Mac had brought her a clean pair.

“You’re welcome.” Mac had transferred the girls’ safety seats to his SUV and was securing them in the back seat. “It’s a little tight, but we’ll manage. What are you going to do with the van?”

“I called a tow truck.” There was no way she was sitting in a pool of blood to drive it to a garage. Besides, she wanted a mechanic to give the van a thorough once-over in case some other damage had been done.

“Whoever broke into your vehicle damaged the locks.” Mac tugged on a child safety seat.

Morgan pressed a hand to her forehead. “I didn’t notice when I opened the van.”

Seemingly satisfied with the car seat’s fit, Mac stepped away from the open SUV door. “That’s because your fob still chirps when you press the button, but the locks don’t work.”

Sophie tugged on Morgan’s hand. “Can we go soon?”

Morgan squatted to her level. “Yes. I just need to talk to the deputy for a couple of minutes. Stay right here with Mac.”

“OK.” Head low, Sophie turned back to Mac’s car. She’d awoken early this morning and would fall asleep as soon as the vehicle was in motion.

Morgan approached the deputy typing up the incident report in the front seat of his patrol car. He pointed with his pen toward the Rapid Stain Identification Kit sitting on a clipboard in the passenger seat. Only one red line appeared in the test window. “It’s not human blood.”

“Some sort of animal blood, then.” She glanced back at her van. Animal blood was less disturbing than human blood, but still creepy.

The deputy got out of the car.

“Were you able to get the feed from the security cameras?” she asked.

“No, ma’am.” The deputy pointed toward the camera mounted on a street lamp. “The camera is covered in foam. From the smell of it, I suspect it’s hornet spray.”

Morgan walked to the pole and squinted up at the camera. She sniffed, catching the whiff of insecticide. “Clever. You can shoot that from twenty feet away.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the deputy said. “It sticks real well too, so it completely covered the lens. Maybe we’ll get a hit on the fingerprints I took from your van.”

Morgan expected the prints he’d found to be hers. Anyone smart enough to cover a surveillance camera with hornet foam wouldn’t leave fingerprints.

“You’ll check on Tyler Green’s whereabouts?” she asked.

“I spoke to Sheriff King,” the deputy answered. “He said he’ll bring Tyler in for a talk. A copy of the incident report will be available in a few days.” The deputy handed her a business card.

“Thank you.” Morgan stowed the card in her tote and turned back to her family. The kids were hanging on Mac. Her sister had gotten lucky with him. He was a good man.

The tow truck pulled into the lot, and she stopped to issue the driver instructions. Then she checked the van for personal belongings before getting into Mac’s SUV.

Exhausted from the morning, she nearly fell asleep on the drive home. Once the kids were settled in the kitchen with Mac, Morgan took a shower and dressed in a suit. She needed to visit the courthouse later. But not even a hot shower and fresh clothes could completely wipe away the skeevy feeling. She took her handgun from its safe and fastened it to her belt before heading toward the office in her grandfather’s Lincoln Town Car.

What kind of person would pour animal blood in her van?

She reminded herself that Tyler Green had beaten his wife, hidden from process servers, and tried to strangle Morgan. Filling her car seat with blood was hardly a stretch for him.

A donut shop on Third Street caught her attention as she drove past. Thanks to her stalker, a simple visit to the cemetery had consumed her entire morning. It was almost lunchtime. Her crappy morning and a dull headache called for a sugar-and-caffeine fix. She went through the drive-through, then continued on to the office. Juggling her coffee, the bakery bag, and her tote, she unlocked the front door of Sharp Investigations. After the emotional storm of the morning, the quiet building was bliss. A general weariness nagged at her muscles.

She went into her office, dropping off her briefcase and coat, before checking out the kitchen. Empty. She settled behind her desk with her coffee at her elbow and opened the bakery bag. The scent of warm glazed donuts wafted to her nose. She sighed and ate the first one in three bites, washing it down with coffee. Fortified, she checked her e-mail and took her time with her second donut.

Footsteps in the hallway announced Sharp’s arrival. He appeared in her doorway. Taking one look at him, she couldn’t argue with the all-organic, mostly plant-based diet he attempted to foist on everyone around him. At fifty-three, the only signs of Sharp’s age were his short salt-and-pepper hair and the crow’s-feet gathered around his seen-it-all gray eyes. His lean runner’s body wore jeans and an oxford shirt better than most men half his age.

He glanced at the white bag on her desk. “I’m not even going to ask what you ate today.”

“That’s probably best.” Morgan licked the sugar from her fingertips.

“You eat enough sugar to give an elephant diabetes.” His gaze lingered on her face, which was probably red and puffy. “Is everything all right?”

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