The River: Part Fifteen

This is the fifteenth part of a fiction serial, in 1030 words.

Liam Doherty had always wanted to be a cop. He joined the State Police as soon as he was old enough, and excelled in the Training School, getting the award for Outstanding Student. For a few years after that, he did the regular duties. Traffic patrol, searches, breaking up fights in Renton, and arresting people wanted on warrants. He played it by the book, and earned a reputation as a straight-up guy.

But there was something about him. He didn’t make friends at work, lived alone, and had an unhealthy obsession with small details. He was often described as ‘picky’, and didn’t hesitate to criticise a colleague if he thought they were doing wrong. After some solid work on a kidnapping case, he got approval to apply to be a detective, qualifying almost three years earlier than was usual. When he moved upstairs, the old hands avoided him, embarrassed by his efficiency and success rate. He couldn’t keep a partner for too long either, as he didn’t appear to work well as part of a team.

When he approached the Captain and asked if he could work on unsolved cases, it came as a relief to the rest of the squad. They gave him his own small office, and delivered stacks of case files that soon lined the walls.

When he solved a fifteen year-old abduction and murder of a teenage girl all by himself, the Captain started to wonder if he had done the right thing. A retired cop was disgraced because of it, and there was a lot of resentment from the others who had worked on that case, and were still around. It was something nobody in the department had ever dealt with before. A detective who was just too good. It didn’t seem natural.

But Liam was oblivious to all the whispering behind his back, as well as being completely unconcerned about his own popularity. Most days he was in the office for at least twelve hours, sometimes more. Or he would be out driving around examining former crime scenes, talking to witnesses who had all but forgotten what happened, and slowly piecing together those old cases like a simple jigsaw. His mind was beyond analytical, it was as if he could look back into the past, and actually see what had happened.

Then one day some of the other cops decided to play a prank on him. They waited until he was out, and delivered almost two hundred case files to his office, stacking them in piles on top of his desk and chair. None of those cases were unsolved, they were all closed and settled. When he asked why they had been allocated to him, Sergeant Rogers smiled. “Well it’s like this, Doherty. Those files are supposedly closed, cases solved. But most of them didn’t seem right to us, so we thought you might like to run your eye over them. No rush, let us know what you think”.

If they thought that was going to upset him, they were very wrong.

Those new cases were just the sort of thing that Liam liked to get his teeth into. To the dismay of the Captain, who hadn’t been in on the supposed joke, four of the first ten cases examined by Doherty had to be re-opened. He had found serious discrepancies, everything from no written record of someone reading a perp their rights, down to some tainted evidence that should never have been presented in court. The squad received a stern warning not to do anything similar again.

But Liam had already started looking at the eleventh file.

More than a quarter of a century after the murders in Riverdale, Liam had to catch his breath at how shoddy the investigation had been. With the first suspect being one of the boys, which from the description of his condition, and the fact that his parents had fled with him to Canada seemed likely. Then they had abandoned that idea after the supposedly incontrovertible evidence had been found at the Henderson house, and focused on the old man. As far as he was concerned, Liam could see no good reason why someone who had killed two girls, and had sexually molested one of them, would be so stupid as to carry their swimsuits back to the house, leaving them in plain sight to be discovered. Especially as he would have had time to dispose of them before the cops ever showed up.

If Henderson had still been alive, Liam would have been advising him to sue his incompetent trial lawyer. And he had also lost the appeal, mainly because everyone had been concentrating too much on that one incident of exposing himself some fifty years earlier. There had been no careful scrutiny of any fingerprints, and no conclusive examination of the bodies of the girls, other than to establish a cause of death. The boys involved had been brought in to give a short statement, then allowed home without being properly interrogated. No effort had been made to substantiate any of their accounts of what had happened that day, and as soon as Henderson was charged, the reports were filed away. Shaking his head, Liam started to make some notes. This was a travesty of justice, as far as he could tell.

More detailed reading late into the night revealed something that interested him a great deal. One of the boys involved had later become a deputy sheriff in the same town, Riverdale. Now he was the actual Sheriff, part of the expanded County Police. His name was Clayton Farlowe. It was easy to get the number, so Liam called him the next day, hoping he would have his own theories on what had happened to the girls. He would arrange to drive down and see him, stop over in a local hotel if necessary.

He expected Sheriff Farlowe to be excited to get the call. But he didn’t seem that interested. Then again, he could hardly refuse to meet with a State Police detective when asked to do so.

Liam was looking forward to next Friday.

23 thoughts on “The River: Part Fifteen

  1. (1) Since Liam Doherty excelled in Training School, maybe he’ll visit the railroad bridge where Donna’s body was found. He might be able to track down a clue there.
    (2) I had a hunch Liam would be a straight-up guy.
    (3) Clay, who once worked at a lumber yard, would like to remind Liam that a jigsaw is not used to piece things together. It’s used to cut things apart.
    (4) “Those new cases were just the sort of thing that Liam liked to get his teeth into.” Put some doggy treats under the Christmas tree near the travel cases, and you won’t have this problem.
    (5) Old Man Henderson was as easy to convict as it is to shoot a fish in a barrelβ€”or a swimsuit in a rusty oil drum.
    (6) Clay can’t refuse Liam Doherty’s visit. Unfortunately, the state police detective has him over a barrel.
    (7) But at least they will agree on something: this is one closed case that is not as tight as a drum.
    (8) After all these years, Clay is still haunted by the murders. Maybe he needs a ghostbuster more than he does a crimebuster?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ups, I obviously have a lot to catch up here, looking forward to reading the whole story when we are back from the reserve. Wonderful sunshine in Norfolk today, you must be all smiles, Pete. πŸ™‚ Give Ollie a big pat from us. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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