CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FIFTY-EIGHT
Friday midday — 12:45 p.m.
“Damn,” Ferguson, the head of the Denver Police Crime Scene Unit. “It’s dark.”
They had just stepped into the hallway to the area of the Castle with unopened apartments. The two younger people with Ferguson stood just inside the door. They both looked terrified.
“Uh, sorry,” Jacob said. “The power is active here but I keep the breaker off because the electrical here hasn’t been redone.”
“Ah, sketchy electrical,” Ferguson said. “It’s okay. We have lights.”
“I can turn them on,” Jacob said.
“I was just surprised, I guess,” Ferguson said.
Jacob turned to look at him. Ava and her team stopped to look at them. The two young people who worked for Ferguson hadn’t moved from their position near the door.
“Not everyone has a museum in their house,” Ferguson said. “This wall paper is straight out of the 1950s.”
“You should have seen it when we started,” Jacob said. “We have a photo album if you’d like to see it.”
“That’s a hard no. I had the pleasure of coming here when I was just starting out.” Ferguson gave a dramatic shiver. “You’ve done a great job.”
“Just turn down the hallway,” Jacob said.
Delphie came in the door, surprising the younger people.
“Oh, excuse me,” Delphie said.
She walked passed them to Jacob.
“Where are we going?” Delphie asked.
“104,” Jacob said.
“Ah,” Delphie said.
“Ah? What’s that mean?” Ferguson asked.
“We had some ghost issues there,” Delphie said.
“Huh,” Ferguson said. “I’ve been in some haunted places. Are the ghosts still there?”
Delphie looked at Jacob, and he shrugged.
“The short answer is ‘No,’” Delphie said. “Jacob hates ghosts.”
“I don’t hate them!” Jacob said. “I just think that they’re a waste of time.”
“Look at how they could help today,” Delphie said in a prim reprimand.
“You don’t need them,” Jacob said.
“Jacob!” Ava called from down the hall. “I hate to interrupt, but unless you want us to break this down, we need the key!”
“Excuse me,” Jacob said with a sniff.
Grinning, Delphie let him pass.
“It’s an ongoing argument,” Delphie said. “Come on! Come on! This should be fun. From what I remember there were four specters. All about the same age — old teenagers or young adults.”
“Write this down,” Ferguson said to one of the young people.
The man held out his phone which showed that he was recording.
“Huh,” Ferguson said with a sniff.
The young man grinned at the young woman but she was too terrified to respond.
“Your phone won’t work in a minute,” Delphie said. “Ghosts disrupt cellphone.”
The young woman shivered and Delphie turned to her.
“Why don’t you head on, Captain Ferguson?” Delphie asked. “I wanted to speak with this young woman.”
Ferguson and the young man went down the hallway and turned down the separate hallway.
“You don’t have to be here,” Delphie said, kindly. “You can hang out with Val and Sami in the kitchen. I think my friend Joan is there.”
“I. . .” the young woman said.
“I know,” Delphie said. “Would you like me to tell Ferguson?”
The young woman nodded. Delphie walked her out to the kitchen. Joan was chopping tomatoes with Samantha. Valerie was putting together a new pot of tomatoes.
“I brought you some help,” Delphie said.
“Great!” Valerie said at the same time Joan said, “Welcome!”
“Val’s the head of the kitchen during Harvest Week,” Delphie said. “She’ll find you something to do.”
The young woman nodded. Delphie gave her a kind smile and left to return to the hallway. When she got back to the hallway, she found Ferguson waiting for her.
“Where’s my technician?” Ferguson asked in an accusing tone.
“She’s a little overwhelmed,” Delphie said. She looked up at the burly man. “You know that her mother was killed here.”
“You forgot?” Delphie asked.
“I forgot,” Ferguson said. “We talked about it before she came here. I asked her if she wanted to come because it was her mother’s case! Then, I forgot.”
“She’s okay,” Delphie said. “She’s a huge fan of Valerie’s. You know, Val.”
“She’ll take care of everything,” Delphie said.
“Should I go check. . .?” Ferguson asked.
“Yes,” Delphie said. “But get back here or you’ll miss the show.”
“Show?” Ferguson asked.
“Jake was never able to get rid of all those ghosts,” Delphie said, rubbing her hands together. “It’s going to be fun.”
Ferguson gave her a vague nod and left the hallway to check on his technician. Delphie waited for him to return before heading down the hallway.
“Hey,” Nelson called to Ferguson from the turn in the hallway. “Do you have the crime scene photos? It looks like no one’s done anything to this area after the incident. It’s not even cleaned up.”
“Yes,” Ferguson said. “It’s on the tablets. Didn’t the technician show you?”
Nelson rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“Ah, yes,” Ferguson said. He took a few long steps to where Nelson was standing. “Let’s show him how his tablet works.”
Grinning, Nelson let Ferguson pass. He looked at Delphie.
“You look happy,” Nelson said.
“I knew this day would come,” Delphie said. “It’s like a little present.”
“Even on Harvest Day?” Nelson asked.
“Even on Harvest Day,” Delphie said.
Nelson put his arm over Delphie’s shoulder, and they walked to the apartment. Delphie glanced at him and then went inside. Leslie and Fran were standing with their back against the wall. Ava was wandering from place to place in the apartment. Bob was standing in place, staring at the blood spatter on the ceiling. The young technician was standing in the middle of the room with his head down poking around his tablet.
Everyone stopped moving when Ferguson stood in the doorway.
“What the. . .” Ferguson looked around the room. “This is the crime scene.”
“Great blood spatter here,” Bob said. His nickname at the FBI was “Blood Spatter Bob.”
“Did you just close this up?” Ferguson asked Jacob.
“After arguing with ghosts,” Jacob said with disgust. “It’s why these apartments are just sitting here.”
There was a sound from the closet.
“And they’re back,” Jacob said. He swore.
“Now, now,” Ferguson said, looking around the room. “We’re here to figure out what went on here. That’s our job. If you want us to look at something, then make sure we know what it is you think we should see. Otherwise, we’re going to get about our business here.”
“No one cared before,” the young woman said in an angry other worldly voice.
“Is there a ghost in front of me?” Ferguson asked.
“She said that no one cared before,” Jacob said.
“Ah,” Ferguson said. “Yes, well, we’re here now.”
Ferguson gave a curt nod in the direction of where he thought there was a ghost.
“Let us get to work,” Ferguson said to the air. “You can complain when we’re done. In the meantime, let us know if we miss something.”
Ferguson nodded to the air. He glanced at Fran, who was trying not to laugh.
“Don’t,” Ferguson said, pointing at Fran. “These people lost their lives.”
Fran nodded to him and looked away to keep from laughing.
“What can we do?” Leslie asked.
“I want you to take on all of the closets,” Ferguson said. “You’re a smart girl.”
“Woman,” Leslie corrected.
“Woman,” Ferguson said without missing a beat. “Check the closets to see what’s going on there. If something was missed, it’s usually in the closets.”
“The ghost came out of that closet,” Jacob said, pointing.
“Do I need to worry?” Leslie asked. “I have three kids at home.”
“No,” Jacob said staring at a spot in the air. “She says that you should go into the closet on the left and to check the walls.”
“Robert?” Ferguson asked.
“Yeah,” Bob said, not breaking his gaze at the blood spatter on the wall.
“Anything you’d like to share?” Ferguson asked.
“Uh,” Bob looked at Ferguson and then back at the ceiling.
“Walk him through,” Ava said. “You can trust him. We need to know where to collect samples.”
“Fran,” Ava said, and gestured to the young technician.
Fran nodded. She went to the technician and took the tablet from him.
Bob went to the doorway.
“Okay,” Bob said. “From here, it looks like there were four or possibly as many as six people here.”
“The ghost just said that there were more than that originally,” Jacob said. “They left when the ‘action’ started. She specifically said the word ‘action.’”
“They were having a party,” Delphie said.
“That makes sense,” Bob said nodding to Jacob and Delphie. “It’s great to have you here.”
“Any day now,” Ferguson said, irritably.
“Right,” Bob said. “Something happened at the door. It’s hard to tell what. Maybe some kind of skirmish or fight. You can see that the door was broken in.”
Bob looked at Jacob, who shook his head. He turned to Delphie.
“Doesn’t seem like anyone knows,” Delphie said. “Maybe it’s something that happened that no one thought was a big deal until the person started shooting.”
Ferguson threw down an incident cone in the doorway. Bob nodded and took a step into the room.
“I think that the door was broken previously,” Jacob said.
“Before this party,” Delphie said. “Do you think that’s how they got into this apartment?”
“Oh,” Jacob said with a nod. “Maybe.”
Turning to Ferguson, he said, “These apartments weren’t a part of the house then. This hallway was outside. The side across the hallway was another set of rooms. The doors opened to each other.”
“What’s happening there now?” Ferguson asked.
“I made them into rooms,” Jacob said. “One is an apartment that Tanesha’s family lives in. The rest went into the kitchen. The space where the table sits now and all of that space behind it belonged to those apartments.”
“You’re saying that these young people could have come to this apartment to party because it was open,” Ava said with a nod. “Because someone had previously kicked in the doorway.”
“That makes sense, too,” Fran said. “Part of the problem they had with this case was that no one was supposed to be here. The apartment wasn’t occupied at the time. The tenant had moved out a week before. The landlord had no idea who might have been here. They never identified three of the people. And none of them were connected to this place. So you’re right. They probably just came here to party because it was open.”
“It doesn’t mean that they didn’t live here,” Ferguson said. “They could have lived across the hallway.”
“Just a sec’,” Jacob said. “Okay, the female ghost — she’s standing next to Bob — she said that she lived across the hall. She said that she saw this apartment was open. When her friends called to invite her to party, she suggested this apartment. She didn’t want them in her apartment because her daughter was there. Her mother came to watch her daughter. She didn’t want to go far because the child had been sick.”
Jacob paused for a moment. He nodded.
“Her daughter is that girl in the kitchen,” Jacob said. “This ghost wants to be released from this apartment so that she can see her daughter.”
“But let her come back,” Delphie said. She touched Jacob’s arm. “Imagine how you’d feel if it were Katy.”
“Close your eyes,” Jacob said.
“She’s been stuck here so long that there’s bound to be a burst of light when Jacob releases her,” Delphie said.
When everyone’s eyes were close, Jacob did something that sound like he’d clapped his hands.
“Okay,” Jacob said. “You can open your eyes. She’s gone.”
“Robert?” Ferguson said. “You’re on again.”
“Leslie?” Bob asked.
Leslie was in the closet next to the door.
“What do you see in the closet?” Bob asked.
“It’s odd,” Leslie said. “I was just wondering what the crime scene photos show.”
“There was a body in the closet,” Fran said.
“Looks like a self-inflicted shot,” Bob said, scanning the walls and floor.
“Right,” Leslie said. “But look over here.”
Leslie pointed to the corner of the closet. There was crayon writing on the wall as well as a dried puddle of blood.
“Were there any children in this ‘action’?” Leslie asked. She turned to Ava. “That’s the word we’re using? Action?”
“I guess so,” Ava said with a shrug.
“No, Leslie,” Fran said. “Four adult bodies including one self-inflicted gunshot in the closet.”
“They note the blood and crayon but it looked older when they got here,” Ferguson’s young male technician said. “I’m Luther, by the way. Luther Gundy.”
“Nice to meet you,” Ava said. “I’m Ava. I had your job for a while.”
The young man gave her an embarrassed nod.
“The blond lady is Leslie,” Ferguson said. “Fran’s standing next to you. The pain in the ass is Doctor Robert Parrish.”
“Bob,” he said from the closet.
“You met Jake and Delphie,” Ferguson said. “Now that we all know each other’s names. . . Robert?”
“I agree with the original report,” Bob said. “This blood is older. There’s not enough of it for the wound to be critical. It’s distinct from this larger pool of blood. I think we should take samples of both. Photos everywhere.”
“You got anything for me?” Ferguson asked.
Jacob shook his head.
“The ghosts that are here don’t know anything about the man killing himself,” Jacob said.
“I think that they were dead before he shot himself,” Delphie said.
“Do the ghosts know the shooter?” Ferguson asked.
Jacob looked at three distinct spots in the room.
“No,” Jacob said. “They came over to party with the other ghost. They’d been friends since elementary school. They got together once a month or so and partied — pot, alcohol, music, dancing, talking all night. Nothing crazy.”
“This one,” Delphie pointed to the air. “He says that he heard that there was a party here. He didn’t know anyone here. He came from Aurora. Wanted to score some weed.”
“You know, son,” Delphie said. “We don’t know your name. You were unidentified by the police.”
They silently watched Delphie listen to the air for a long moment.
“Huh,” Delphie said.
Delphie looked up and realized that everyone was looking at her. Delphie blushed.
“What did you learn?” Ferguson asked.
“Oh, yes, sorry,” Delphie said. “I forget that not everyone can hear. Um. He told me his name, which I will give you; and his address. The other two ghosts are friends of the woman who invited everyone. They said that the rest of their friends ran out. That’s their last memory — their friends deserting them in their deaths.”
“Terrible,” Ava said. “They clearly didn’t come forward to identify people either.”
Ava looked out into the air.
“Is there a place where we can get DNA on the folks who were here?” Ava said. She gestured to her teammate, Fran, “Fran is a master at getting DNA from almost nothing.”
“Are you asking the ghosts?” Jacob asked.
“Yes,” Ava said.
“Bathroom,” Jacob said. “They did coke in the bathroom. The drugs are still there. Roaches? What’s a ‘roach’? Do I need the exterminator?”
“The small end of a marijuana cigarette,” Delphie said. “Hippy talk.”
Jacob gave her a pinched look and rubbed his forehead.
“I’ll take the bathroom,” Nelson said and walked into the bathroom.
“Someone did a great job here,” Ferguson said, sarcastically. He sighed. “Okay, Leslie, can you place evidence cones where you think they need to go? We’ll see if Bob has something else for us.”
“If I may,” Luther, the young technician, said. “Why do you keep going back to him?”
“This is ‘Blood Splatter Bob,’” Ferguson said with a gesture to Bob. “He basically developed the entire science of blood spatter. It’s his thing. Even though I give him shit, he’s the best at this. He can read the blood spatter and tell what happened here. He’s usually right. You can hear that even the ghosts aren’t sure what happened. It’s like magic.”
Ferguson nodded to Luther and then scowled at Bob.
“Moving on,” Bob said. He pointed to the ground about a foot from the south wall. “There’s a bunch of spillage here. Someone picked up the glass.”
“That would be me,” Jacob said. “There was a lot of glass from beer bottles, broken china, rotten food. The rats had been through it. It was very gross. Val wanted to get in these apartments. She loves going through the crap in these apartments. But she would freak out at the food and the mess. I was trying to clean it up a bit for her to go through the stuff left here. But the ghosts were on me and. . . I closed it up and walked away.”
“Makes sense,” Ferguson said. “Did you landfill the stuff or. . .?”
“Good question,” Jacob said. “I probably. . .”
Jacob looked around. There was a broom and a trashcan with a lid near the door. He pointed to the trashcan.
“If it’s anywhere, it’s there,” Jacob said.
Ferguson gave a cone to Luther and the young man walked over to place the cone on the trashcan.
“Use a mask,” Jacob said. “There’s likely rat feces.”
Ferguson nodded and pointed to Bob again.
“You can still see some of the glass and a stain here,” Bob said, pointing at the ground again. “I’d guess that this is food — like a snack table was turned over.”
Ferguson tossed a cone where Bob pointed.
“Okay,” Bob said. He looked at Jacob. “I think I know what happened here, but you’ll tell me if I’m wrong?”
“Sure,” Jacob said.
Denver Cereal continues next week...
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