Home > The Last Move(11)

The Last Move(11)
Author: Mary Burton

“You don’t have to.”

Jesus, he hoped she was not one of those hard-assed feminists. “This is Texas.”

“You’re from Chicago.”

“Accent gave it away?”


“When in Rome.” That seemed explanation enough for her, and she allowed him to take the suitcase. He guided her through the busy airport and toward ground transportation and the parking deck. The November sun was already high in the sky, and the weatherman was promising another warm day.

“Different than Virginia, I imagine.”

“I haven’t been home in six weeks. Utah was my last stop. But I understand the leaves are changing in Virginia.”

The hints of warmth he’d seen as she’d spoken to the old woman were gone. The pleasantry was spoken almost as an afterthought, as if she’d memorized the phrases from an FBI handbook on conversation. Her small stature belied her stiff tone. And if he wasn’t off the mark on his action heroes, she also wore a Wonder Woman bracelet.

But warm and fuzzy wasn’t what he was looking for just now. He needed this case solved.

She had to move quickly to match his pace, and he slowed as they crossed the large parking lot. He clicked the lock open to a black SUV, raised the back hatch, and loaded her bags inside. She slid into the passenger seat, gazing again at her phone. As he settled behind the steering wheel, she typed a quick response, then fastened her seat belt.

“I understand the evidence you have on Richardson for two of the Samaritan murders is solid. Anything in his background to suggest an accomplice?”

“My profile of Dr. Richardson suggests that he’s a loner despite appearing gregarious and outgoing. Outside of work-related activities, he mixes with no one. No wife, no girlfriend, no buddies. A forensic sweep of his computers revealed no other contacts. If he’d not texted me from his secretary’s phone, I’m not sure when we would have caught him.”

“Maybe he has fans?”

“Possibly. Likely, even.” Absently, she touched the Wonder Woman bracelet on her wrist.

She tossed him a practiced smile and glanced out the window as he drove toward town. “The area has changed a lot in the last five years.”

“I hear the growth has been good for the city.”

She looked at him. “I’m not good at polite conversation.”

“Really?” He appreciated the honesty, even if it was ham-fisted.

“I’ll warn you now that I’m painfully honest at times. Abrupt, rude, and bitch have all been adjectives attached to me before.”

“I’ll take a straight shooter any day.”

“Remember that when I become annoying, because that moment always arrives.”

For a Fed, she was okay. “Noted.”

“Do you know why she was going to Laredo?”

“There’s no other reason than to visit her mother, who’s in a nursing home. The company owned a dealership down there but sold it last summer. She visited her mother just last weekend.”

“Was she having an affair?”

“Her husband says they had a good marriage.”

“Do you believe him?”

He shook his head. “If they didn’t he was likely the last to know.”

“Why she was traveling on I-35 doesn’t really matter. What would have mattered to someone who thinks of himself as the Samaritan is that she was driving alone on his own personal hunting ground.”

“Samaritan. Hell of a nickname. When did the press start calling him Samaritan?”

“After the second killing,” she said. “An eyewitness later said she passed a disabled motorist who was being helped by another man. When she slowed, the man waved her off and gave her the thumbs up as if he had the situation under control.”

“If I remember my Bible, the Samaritans were outcasts and considered the unclean.”

“That’s correct,” she said.

“Richardson sees himself as an outcast. I get that. But what is good about what he does?”

She shrugged. “Somewhere in his mind, he’s a positive force to be reckoned with.”

“How so? Do any of the victims have a history of abuse or trouble? Does he feel the need to end their suffering?”

She tilted her head and rubbed the side of her neck. “Two of the victims were divorced, but there was no history of domestic abuse. Another victim had some credit card debt but hardly crushing. Another had a son in juvenile detention. They had issues in their lives but nothing that was overwhelming enough to draw the notice of an outsider.”

“You said they were in the service industries. Was there a common client?”

“None that I found. All the victims lived in different cities that were hundreds of miles apart.”

“The final killing was last year?”

“That’s correct. And Richardson was arrested six months ago.”

Mazur took Loop 410 onto Babcock Road and wound his way toward the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s office located in the University of Texas Health Science Center. He parked and they got out. The three-story building was constructed of plain reddish stone with smoked glass windows. Like most law enforcement offices, it could easily be overlooked by anyone driving by.

“I’ll need my backpack,” she said.

“Sure.” As she reached for it, he was tempted to offer to carry it, but sensed that despite her small stature she was not the type to accept help gladly. As she slung the bag onto her shoulder, he wondered why he’d put so much thought into a simple exchange.

“Are there vending machines in the building or a place where I could grab a sandwich?” she asked.

“There is a small café on the third floor. You can get the basics there.”

She checked her watch. “I shouldn’t hold you up long.”

“Better you eat. Five minutes here or there won’t matter. Let’s get inside.”

He escorted her to the café, where she ordered a coffee and a bagel. When she paid and turned away, he couldn’t help but ask, “That’s it?”

“It’ll get me through.”

He ordered and paid for a cup of coffee. “Okay.”

She sipped her coffee as they sat down at a table. “I would like to also see the crime scene and examine the victim’s car. I noticed from the photos you sent me that the victim had bought coffee and chocolate. Do you know where she stopped?”

“A purchase receipt in the car was doused in blood and hard to read. I’ve got uniforms checking the nearby exits.”

“The caliber of the Samaritan’s gun, what the shooter was wearing, the way he disabled the cars were all posted on the Internet. So anyone could have copied him.”

“Have you had copycat killings?”

“There was one man in Kansas City who attempted it. He shot and killed his wife. Tracing his cell phone GPS put him at the crime scene and the shooting. And he stood to inherit a lot of money if his wife died. He thought he was clever, but he was sloppy.”

“Getting away with murder isn’t as easy as it looks.”

“No.” She finished off her bagel and sipped her coffee.

“So I’ve an imposter on my hands?”

“I don’t know. We’ll first need to dig deep into the victim’s past. Is there anyone who wants her dead?”

“I plan to look into that as soon as this exam is over.”

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