In December 2013, the once great Behavioural Analysis Unit, first of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and then of its replacement, the Foederatio Borealis Indigatores Imperiale (FBII), was reformed and reduced in size due to damning implications found in the controversial Milner Report. The Report alleged that the BAU's methods had caused unethical practices that corrupted law enforcement operation as a whole across North America, and thus recommended its disbandment. The BAU counters that it has always "followed the rules" and misapplication by lower level officers was really the culprit. Thus, the cases from its last year of operation are presented here, so that the readers may decide for themselves the validity of the BAU's assertion.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
“Social networking is one of the greatest paradoxes of all time. On its surface, it promises privacy, but at its core it provides none.”- Edwin Falmuth, creator of Meme Network, 2012 blog entry
Summer of Rap Festival, Bangor City Forest, Bangor, Maine
“This is so awesome!” 16-year-old Aggie Mildred said to her best friend, Ellie Simpson, also 16, as the pair stood right against the gate that guarded the stage.
“I know,” concurred excitedly the blonde-haired Simpson to her auburn-haired friend, “Smoove Operator is amazing live...I can’t believe how much sexier he is in person!” The girls then swooned as Smoove Operator, a Caucasian male whose real name was Kyle Simpkins, took off his shirt to reveal his muscular build and his sixpack as he sung one of his first major hits, “Dirty Girl”.
A few moments later, the girls- who got into the festival with forged identification- ordered drinks from the bar, which they drank as Simpkins sung his set. They happily swayed along, drinking non-stop and enjoying the time of their lives.
Then, Simpkins got to “Fuzzy Boundaries”, a song blasted by feminists that makes no secret that it is about exploiting women. The bass-heavy uptempo song, though made the girls instinctively start gyrating their hips, swinging their buttocks back and forth and dancing very suggestively.
So immersed were the girls in the song that when two men, both wearing dark sunglasses, came in from behind, grabbed them and pulled their dancing bodies up against their own bodies, the girls hardly noticed. Their kind of dancing, grinding, was meant to have a male right behind them, since the swinging of the buttocks was supposed to arouse the male genitals.
Simpson, though, was especially aroused herself dancing with her man, getting more into the dance and laying her backside right against the man, leaning into him. The man determined this was a good time to take things up a step, first putting his hands on her exposed belly and rubbing upwards until he got his hands on her breasts, which he played with to Simpson’s delight. Then, he went for Simpson’s exposed legs, rubbing upwards underneath her short skirt and eventually into her genitals, where he started fingering her. Simpson was extremely aroused by this, bending her head back and tilting it so that she could start kissing the man as he serviced her.
Mildred responded to the dance by glancing momentarily at Ellie before bending over forward and pressing her buttocks right against her man’s crotch and wiggling it around, which practically inserted the man’s penis inside her butt (as both of their clothes got in the way). Mildred excited the man in this way for quite some time until he climaxed in his pants, which caused her to turn around and start passionately making out with him. The man, while kissing her, managed to take off Mildred’s shirt, allowing him to hold the braless Mildred topless as he was kissing her. Mildred was only too happy to oblige, holding the man tightly against her body as she happily placed her doffed shirt in her pocket.
In between sets, the two men offered to take the two girls to a more secluded area of the festival, of which the aroused girls were more than happy to comply with. Once they were there- an area behind the porta potties lined with numerous trees that was deserted- the four of them got more involved with sex acts. Unbeknownst to the girls, another man was photographing them through his cell phone camera inside one of the porta potties, of which he carved a small hole in the mesh windows at the top so that the camera’s view would not be obscured.
As the man was happily taking pictures, Mildred happily performed oral sex on her man, while Simpson, with her skirt lifted, mounted her man (who was lying down) and performed regular sexual intercourse on him. The men made sure they had the angles right so that their faces would be obscured but the extent of the girls’ acts- and their faces- would be in full view. The photographer hence got several salacious photos, which he would later use to masturbate himself.
Once the men were satisfied with the sex they received- which was easy given how attracted they were to the girls- they obtained the girls’ contact information, which included their Facebook profiles and their cell phone information. After the show, the pair excitedly recounted their stories as they began the walk towards the bus that would take them home.
“Oh man!” Mildred said, “what a night!”
“Those guys,” said Simpson, “they were so cute!” She then stumbled to a park bench, practically falling over the railing, which elicited a laugh from her and her friend. Mildred, in her drunken state, tried to simply walk her way over to Simpson, but she hit a crack on the sidewalk that made her stumble and fall on top of Simpson, who laughed at the situation and instinctively hugged her friend.
Then, in what could only be described as the influence of alcohol, the pair started to passionately make out with each other. The two longtime friends then held each other tightly on the bench before kissing again in glee.
“Aggie,” said Simpson, overcome with emotion after the event, “don’t ever leave me. You’re the best friend ever.”
“I won’t Ellie,” said Aggie, tears starting to flow down her face, which got Simpson to well up as well. “I won’t Ellie. I promise!” The pair hugged again before kissing a third time, after which they decided to go to the Terminal to catch their bus home.
“I’m thinking this is a dead end,” said Brampton Police Chief Tobias Gregson as his colleagues, detectives James Watson, Sherlock Holmes and Joseph Bell, combed the home of Martin Foyer’s brother, George. “There’s no murder weapon...the house is impeccably clean, George has a stable job...heck, in fact, all of his pictures with his brother suggest a happy relationship. There’s nothing to suggest that he’s a murderer.”
“Something is here, I know it,” said Watson.
“Well, this was your idea, Watson,” said Holmes dismissively. “If I had my way we’d still be looking at his wife.”
“His wife’s alibi checked out, remember?” Watson said, “and you, Sherlock, said it was family that killed Martin. George is the only one in his family that we haven’t looked at yet.”
“Guys,” said Bell, gesturing towards a bookcase, “I found something.”
There, on the top shelf, was a finished coffee cup from Jimmy Cochrane’s, with the lip lifted to reveal a “Please Play Again” message indicating that the cup was not a prize winner. The cup seemed out of place in the clean room, as the coffee residue was caked onto the cup, having been on the shelf for a long time.
“He kept the cup?” Watson said, shocked.
“It’s odd behaviour, yes,” said Gregson, “but it won’t connect him to the crime.”
“Well, this is about jealousy,” said Bell, “and the cup represents his failure to win the prize that Martin won.”
“...and,” said Watson, bringing over George’s high school yearbook, “you will notice that, right here, a coffee cup stain perfectly circles a picture of Martin’s wife, complete with Julia’s signature of George’s yearbook.”
“Dear George,” said Holmes, reading the message out loud. “You have been a light in the darkness that has been my life. Thank you for always being there for me, Julia xoxo.”
“Now, we match the DNA from that cup to that stain and we got him,” said Bell.
“Okay,” said Gregson, “that means he’s got motive, but it’s still not enough to connect him to the crime.”
Holmes then stood still, looking around the room, analyzing, before it hit her.
“Take a look at it this way,” she started. “Look at this room. Pristine. Not a book out of order, not a piece of furniture out of place, not a speck of dirt to be found…except in the yearbook and on that dirty coffee cup. See, George Foyer put that stuff there knowing that we’d be here to look into him.”
“That’s great,” said Gregson, frustrated, “but we still don’t have any evidence!”
Holmes continued to prattle on, choosing to ignore Gregson’s frustrations. “You see, George put all those things out of place and referred them back to Julia to tell us that something is out of place with Julia. George isn’t fanatically in love with Julia- it’s quite the opposite. At some point during his life, he dated Julia and, while he loved her, he knew something was ‘off’ about her. Martin chose to ignore those signs and married her anyway, much to George’s protestations.”
Gregson shook his hands, pleading. “Sherlock, get to the point.”
“So George finds Martin, pulls a gun on him and orders him to drive to Professor’s Lake. The two of them have an argument- for what I surmise is the umpteenth time- about Julia’s treatment of Martin. George knows this, so he purposely drives Martin over the edge, forcing him to commit suicide in the lake. Why does he do this? Because George believes that Martin is too far in over his head that the only way he can be saved from Julia is if he is excised from existence. Hence the drive into the lake.”
Gregson lowered his head and grabbed his nose right between his eyes, shaking his head. “That’s great Sherlcok, but once again we have no evidence.”
“That’s because the evidence isn’t here- it’s at Julia’s house. George, thinking that his ploy would make us think of Julia, deliberately planted it at the farm as a form of misdirection.”
The team let his words sink in before a thought occurred to Watson. “Sherlock, we combed the Foyers’ house already,” he said, concerned. “We found nothing.”
“That is true,” said Holmes, “but Julia helps out with her sister at her horse farm in Snelgrove. We’re going to find our stuff there.”
“Maybe,” said Bell, “or maybe Julia is the killer after all. You can’t just conclude ‘misdirection’ and leave it at that- if George made signs that point to Julia then maybe they do point to Julia.”
“You see Bell,” said Holmes, quick to respond. “You would think that is the natural conclusion, but even you would admit that it is far too simplistic. This entire scene, cleaned too well, was orchestrated to get us to look at Julia, as if George was practically begging us to go over there and leave him alone. That reeks of desperation, and that leaves the only conclusion that George is trying to frame Julia, and, once again, we’ll have our proof in Snelgrove.”
Sure enough, the team drove to Snelgrove and, hidden in the walls of Julia’s office were the boots George Foyer used on the day he drove Martin to suicide. Footprint analysis confirmed that the boots produced the same footprints found at the scene, and, given that those boots were rare, it was easy to pinpoint them back to George, firmly placing him at the scene of the crime. The team formally arrested George, who confessed under interrogation, and officially charged him with Martin’s murder.
The case seemed closed, but after formally bringing George into custody, Watson couldn’t help but think something didn’t seem right.
“I can’t quite put my finger on it,” he said to Holmes when the two of them returned home to Holmes’ brownstone apartment, “but something doesn’t seem right about this case. I feel like we’re missing something.”
“Watson,” said Holmes, “I want to tell you that you’re wrong, but I would be remiss to say that. I somehow don’t think this is the end of the story.”
07:54 local time, Espen Knutsen Public High School, Newport, Maine
“Hey!” hollered a boy down the hall as Mildred walked down, instinctively starting to hide behind her books which she clutched tightly against her chest. “It’s one of the Maine girls!”
“Slut!” said another boy. “How’d that man’s cum taste?” Mildred started to increase her walking pace and tried her best to ignore the boys’ taunts, but as the boys got louder her urge to start crying only increased.
“So if you sucked that guy’s d*ck,” said the first boy, “why can’t you suck mine?”
“Yeah, Aggie! Suck my d*ck! You suck everyone else’s!” hollered the second boy. By this point, Mildred started to run from the boys, crying her eyes out and covering her face with her books.
She tried to beeline her way to the bathroom, but before she got there, another boy pushed her hard into the wall, shouting “whore” as he did so. As soon as she righted herself, a girl walking by her stuck out her leg and kicked out Mildred’s foot from under her, causing her to fall and drop all of her books. Mildred decided against picking them up, deciding that getting to the bathroom was a better idea.
Unfortunately for Mildred, both of the bathroom stalls were occupied, causing her to bang the walls in frustration. Although her cries were audible, neither of the girls inside the stalls seemed to care, minding their own business. After 15 agonizing minutes, a stall did open up for Mildred, but before she could occupy it, the departing girl spat in her face. That made Mildred’s decision easy.
As soon as she locked the stall, she pulled out a small blade. She felt her arm for her radial artery and sharply and deeply injected the blade into her arm, cutting right into the vessel. She yelped at the first instance of pain, but as the blood flowed out of her body she felt a sense of calming as she became drowsier. No longer was the pain she felt from the abuse she received today going to affect her- as the blood flowed out of her, her suffering seemed to go with it. In a few minutes, her body would go into severe hypovolemic shock, and she was dead an hour later.
The girl in the stall next to her had her headphones on and didn’t notice anything was remiss until Mildred’s blood managed to stain her shoes. The girl, though, didn’t seem concerned at all that Mildred was dying- rather, she was upset that her favourite shoes were now soiled in her blood.The hooker had it coming, she thought, casually changing her shoes before strolling to her next class. For Mildred, the girl’s indifference was her only chance at survival, as no one else would use it for until lunchtime, many hours later.
FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia
“Girl you leave my mind so fuzzy,” sang quietly Behavioural Analysis Unit media liaison Jenna Jayme “JJ” Cooke, her headphones blaring, as she strolled to the photocopier, “but that just leaves me buzzin’.” Her teammate, Zoe Parkes, couldn’t help but overhear her.
“Seriously JJ?” she said to her as she walked up to the photocopier. “How on Earth can you like such a misogynistic song?”
“I think it’s catchy,” replied Cooke, “it’s a fun party song…I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.”
“The guy had naked models liberally applied throughout the video,” said Parkes, who did not try to hide her contempt for Smoove Operator, “not only that, but he grabbed and groped them at will, as if they were mere toys for his pleasure…as a woman, I find that abhorrent…I want a man who seems me as a person, not as an object he can play with whenever he wants.”
“Please,” scoffed Cooke, “it just plays to male fantasies…it’s not advocating things like non-consent or violence…it’s just about a guy who finds a girl attractive and wants to have some fun with her…I see nothing wrong with that.”
“Besides,” said BAU teammate Dr. Pascal Yves, stepping into the conversation, “no one seems to complain about Christina Aguilera objectifying men in ‘Your Body’…or about Madonna when she did it, or Salt ‘N’ Pepa, or Lil’ Kim…I mean, the list goes on and on.”
“Of course you don’t complain about women getting objectified,” said Parkes, “‘cause it’s all about getting your rocks off, eh Pascal?”
“Not at all,” said Yves, “I don’t think anything excuses the objectification of women…I’m just saying that if we’re going to complain about objectifying women we should be equally horrified when men are objectified, and no one is.”
“Well,” said Parkes curtly, “be a member of a gender who has been historically viewed as the weaker gender, the one that has to ‘submit’ to a man, and tell me it’s right for society to continue promoting that role.”
“Pascal is right Zoe,” said Cooke, “if you’re going to complain about sexual objectification it should go both ways, not just one…I mean, men are humans too…we can’t condone actions against them just because they’ve been historically dominant…if we’re going to treat everyone equally, we need to treat men equally as well as women.”
“Besides,” interjected BAU teammate Oldrich James, “we all know that men are better than women anyway…I mean, physiology proves it…that’s why there are more men than women as firefighters, because men are naturally stronger than women.” Parkes heard James’ remark and was fuming, wanting to rebuke James badly, eliciting a laugh from James.
“You like being a troll don’t you?” replied Parkes, shaking her head once she realized the real reason behind James’ comment.
“You’re so easy to wind up,” said James with a smile, who gave a knowing nod to Yves who confided he thought Parkes was cute when she got neurotic.
“Easy now James,” said Cooke, “by your logic, men are dumber than women…let’s not forget who dominates the universities.”
“Yeah, but might makes right,” said James, flashing a wide smile.
“I think you guys are all missing the point,” said BAU teammate Zeke Coleman, who had his door open, as he emerged from his office and walked to the floor. “You see, Smoove Operator is just courting this controversy because he knows he can’t hold a candle to real rap talent.” He casually strolled towards the photocopier, gesturing strongly as he continued to speak.
“See, back in the late ‘80s and ‘90s,” explained Coleman, “the gangsta rappers sung from the heart…they were all real. They all came from the hood, they all got into some real s*it and they paid their dues. Biggie, Tupac, Dre, Snoop, Ice Cube, Talib Kweli…heck, right up to Eminem, when those guys talked about the hood and needing to fight their way out of it, that was real. These guys now? They copy that stuff because it ‘sells’, even though they know they wouldn’t survive in the real hood if they were dropped into it.”
“Yeah, but” said Yves, “shouldn’t a person’s background not matter when evaluating a song? I mean, the notes don’t physically change just because you change Snoop Dogg’s birthplace from Long Beach to San Jose.”
“I think it can mean a lot,” said James. “When someone writes something that’s real to them, you can feel it in the song. Plus, when you know the person actually experienced what they sing about, it gives it that much more immediacy…so I think Coleman is right.”
In the distance, towards the other end of the hallway, a man cleared his throat loudly.
“While I’m sure this subject is interesting,” said BAU Senior member Claudio Pucci, loudly addressing the crowd at the photocopier, “we do have something called work to do…and Fitch has a case for all of us…which is what we get paid for…not to decide if Tupac really was the baddest MC around.” The team begrudgingly admitted defeat and headed for the BAU war room, with Pucci pulling Coleman aside. “Besides,” said Pucci to Coleman, “don’t all those guys owe a debt to Schoolly D?”
“Oh I know,” said Coleman, “just don’t tell that to the kids…doubt they’d pick him out of a police lineup.” Pucci chuckled, acknowledging the point, before the two of them headed to the war room.
“Hello everybody,” said BAU Chief Aaron “Fitch” Fitchner at the head of the table as his team piled into the room, with BAU member Emily Proctor standing in front of the projector. “While you guys were busy discussing the merits of rap, Proctor received a distressing phone call from Newport, Maine. Proctor, take it away.”
“This,” said Proctor as she turned on the projector, “is Agatha Crystal Mildred, 16, of Newport, Maine. She was found dead this afternoon when school officials found her in the bathroom after she cut her left wrist and bled herself to death. Two days prior, she and her friend, Elizabeth Simpson, attended the ‘Summer of Rap’ festival when it made its stop in Bangor for the Labour Day weekend. They were present at the front row of the festival, right against the guardrail that separated the crowd from the stage, and were later seen dancing provocatively with two much older men. Aggie and Ellie were later photographed involved with the men in various sex acts during the festival, with those photos later appearing online.”
“I heard about that,” said Parkes, “The ‘Maine girls’ as they became called…the guys in the photos were inexplicably and inexcusably called ‘heroes’ while the Maine girls were slut-shamed...it’s pretty sad.”
“Reportedly, both Aggie and Ellie faced many derogatory remarks on social networks and in person upon their return to school,” explained Proctor, “which is what police believed caused Aggie to take her own life.”
“Okay,” said Coleman, “while that’s disgusting and vile, explain to me how this is a BAU case?”
“Right after the event,” said Proctor, “police explained to me that Mildred’s father, Todd, received a message that tried to blackmail him out of $1 million in exchange for not releasing the photos online. Since Todd refused, the photos appeared online that night, and caused a firestorm on Facebook and Twitter where users shared them at will, with the girls’ identities soon found.”
“The power of the Internet,” said Pucci with a sigh.
“As far as I know,” continued Proctor, “this is the first time an extortion attempt has been unsuccessful. I had Morales pull up bank records and see if there are other parents with unusual payments, and I’ve uncovered five other payments from families of probably victimized teenaged girls to unidentifiable bank accounts that total $2 million, although there may be other victims and the total could be higher. There are also pictures floating around of 17-year-old Rachel Person of Albuquerque performing sex acts with two teenaged boys that may be connected to this case, as her parents report that they got a call from another set of parents who said her picture was used to extort them in their blackmail attempt.”
“Looks like these guys know what they’re doing,” said James. “They’re wearing dark sunglasses making identification difficult…and, if the Person case is connected, we may have one UnSub, a photographer, who’s skilled at recruiting several different men to do his bidding.”
“Smoove Operator played at the Festival,” said Yves, “has he spoken out about the tragedy?”
“Aside from a generic statement of condolences,” said Cooke, “he seems to have said nothing.”
“What do we know about the messages?” Pucci asked.
“Each one was, predictably, sent from accounts traced back to public computers,” said Proctor, “and other than your generic ransom note, they didn’t say anything in particular...it seemed like all they did was ‘copy and paste’. Plus the team varied the gender and pictures used to send the messages, so no clear pattern exists.”
“So these guys,” said Coleman, “and I think this is a team since this seems to be a co-ordinated effort- these guys scout gatherings and find vulnerable girls to perform compromising acts, just so they can extort their families later with a huge payday.”
“So is Aggie’s suicide the only one that is connected to these extortions?” Pucci asked.
“As far as I understand,” said Proctor. “Morales is looking into it now.”
“What do the other victims look like?” Yves asked.
“Most of the families targeted were Caucasians,” said Proctor, “and red hair, like Aggie’s, seemed to be a common occurrence. That’s what allowed me to narrow down the list to five, although there are several other instances that fit the endgame of the MO but not the victimology so those five are far from an exhaustive list.”
“We’ll start in Maine and take it from there,” said Fitchner. “Coleman, you’re in charge on the field.”
“Me?” Coleman said, pleasantly surprised.
“Team dynamics have changed,” said Fitchner. “My responsibilities have changed, and so have everyone else’s, plus Coleman I think you’ve earned the right for more responsibility. So, everyone, if you have any questions about how to proceed with the case, go directly to Coleman. I will answer to Director Black and relay any information from him to you guys on the field. Wheels up in 45.”
Once on the plane, as much as Coleman wanted to bask in the glow of his promotion, he knew the team had little time for that, so he just got down to business.
“Okay, so here’s how it will work,” said Coleman. “Proctor and Parkes, I want you guys to go to Newport and talk with the Simpson family. JJ, Pucci, I want you guys to talk to the Mildred family. Yves, James- you’re with me. We’re going to the festival and have a look around.”
The Simpson household
“Aggie!” Simpson said, crying her eyes out as she lay on her bed, face down. “Why did you have to go? Why did you have to go?! OH WHY DID YOU HAVE TO GO?!” She cried some more, her sobbing reverberating through the whole house. “You promised me that we’d always be together...why did you lie to me? Why? WHY?!”
Simpson’s mother, Martha, couldn’t help but be taken by Ellie’s crying so she went in to her room to check up on her daughter.
“Ellie sweetie,” said Martha, walking in tentatively. “I’m so sorry, I wish I could bring her back.”
“Go away!” Ellie said, curling up into a ball and pressing herself against the wall.
Martha sighed, knowing this would happen.
“You have no business comforting me! It was your rules that got me in this mess in the first place.”
“Honey...you snuck out of the house and lied to your dad and I. Grounding you was the least we could have done.”
“Yeah, but had you not grounded me, Aggie would have slept over and not have walked to school alone- meaning I could have saved her from her humiliation.”
Martha stood in her room in silence, a pit developing in her stomach as she wrestled with coming up with the best possible answer. She knew in her heart that she did the right thing but seeing Ellie’s pain and knowing that her actions did cause it was agonizing.
Martha then closed the door and paced tentatively before answering.
“I wish I could bring Aggie back,” she said, sadness tinged in her voice. “However...if you didn’t talk to those guys, none of this would happen.”
“Oh yeah,” said Ellie, now incensed. “Blame me, huh? Just like the rest of those idiots!”
Ellie took a magazine and flung it forcefully at Martha, causing her mother to duck. While her mother was avoiding the fling, Ellie got up from her bed and hurried out the door, despite her mother’s best efforts to stop her. She was about to walk out of the house before she was stopped in her tracks.
“Going somewhere?” Parkes said, brandishing her badge in Ellie’s face.
“What do you want?” Ellie said, sneering. “I’ve already talked to the police...there’s nothing more I can add to you.”
Parkes extended her arm and tried to place her hand on Ellie’s shoulder but Ellie shied away. Parkes pulled her hand back and spoke softly.
“Listen Ellie,” she said, trying to calm the teenager down. “I know what you want to do. I can’t say I’ve been in the exact same situation as you but I too have lost people who were close to me. My dad left my mother when I was really young, forcing her to raise myself and my sister all by herself. She would often take out her frustrations on us, sometimes even blaming us for what he did. I can’t tell you how many times I wished my dad was there to help my mother and so that she would stop blaming us for his leaving but none of that can change reality. I felt like leaving many times, but I soon realized that it wouldn’t help my mother- it would only hurt her even more. You need your mother Ellie- as much as you hate her now, she’s the one that will help you get through this.”
Ellie, moved by Parkes’ words, began to cry and allowed Parkes to hug her, which she did, warmly.
“It’s going to be okay,” said Parkes, comforting Ellie, “I promise.” After a few minutes in the hug, Parkes asked Ellie if she could answer a few questions for her and Proctor, who had emerged on the scene after driving around trying to find a parking spot, which Ellie accepted.
“I don’t know why they have snow routes year round,” said Ellie to Proctor after Proctor explained her ordeal. “Hope you didn’t have to park too far.”
“Only in the school parking lot,” deadpanned Proctor.
“That’s not too bad. Hopefully the school deer won’t get at it.”
Shock overcame Proctor, who stood in stunned silence, not only worried that the car would get pummeled but also wondering what a school is doing letting a deer run amok in the first place. She then thought better about worrying, deciding the task at hand was more important and proceeded inside for the interview.
“Let me just start by saying that we’re not here to place any blame on you,” said Parkes softly to Ellie as the three of them gathered in the family room. “We know that you and Aggie didn’t do anything wrong- well, besides using fraudulent identification, but that’s beside the point.” Ellie, still sullen, chuckled at that last point, providing a brief respite for her as Parkes continued, “and we know that neither of you deserved any of the treatment you received from those men. The men are the ones at fault, not you. We can’t stress that enough.”
“I know you may be blaming yourself,” said Proctor, calmly, “but don’t- those nasty men are to blame, because they took advantage of you and robbed you of your dignity. Don’t listen to anyonethat says you brought this upon yourself- no one deserves mistreatment, and remember, those men, they’re nothing but cowards who prey on the weak to make up for their own inadequacies as humans. The men that victimized you...they’re not heroes by any stretch...they’re weak and pathetic who need to prey on others to make up for a self-worth they’ll never attain.”
“You are a wonderful, wonderful person,” said Parkes. “Remember, they may have taken your virginity but they can never take away your soul.”
Ellie, who had been reduced to tears, felt momentarily uplifted by the agents’ words. “Thanks,” she said. “You guys are the first people to say those things to me. It really helps.”
“We have a lot of experience dealing with situations like yours,” said Proctor. “We can’t tell you how frustrating it is trying to combat victim blaming- a rape is never a woman’s fault, yet that seems to be the only defence a rapist has and it’s horrifying. The rape victim has already been through enough- they don’t need any more pain.”
“Listen,” said Parkes softly but warmly, “we hate to bring up the memories about the event but in order to catch these guys we need to ask you about it. Is that okay?” Ellie nodded yes which allowed the agents to proceed with the interview.
The Mildred household
“We don’t know why someone would want to do this,” said Todd Mildred, Aggie’s single father, sighing with incredulousness. “All I know is that my daughter is dead and the world seems happy about it.” Mildred then let out an audible scoff. “I don’t know where people get off on taking people down…Aggie didn’t ask for any of this…those men…they took advantage of her…they preyed on the weak…why do they get celebrated?”
“We don’t understand it either, Mr. Mildred,” said Pucci. “Despite all the strides society has made in recent years, we’re still a very ‘macho’ culture and men are still evaluated by their ‘sexual’ conquests. Unfortunately, teens like Aggie are seen as the ‘cream of the crop’ to ‘conquer’ because teens are seen as ‘pure’…I wish things were different, but attitudes are the hardest thing to change.”
“I get all that,” said Mildred, trying his best not to cry. “I still don’t understand…why Aggie? She didn’t deserve any of this…she’s a good girl, she just made a mistake, one that I’m sure she regrets. Yet she’s the one that all the vile gets pointed towards as if she somehow intended to corrupt those ‘poor men’. I mean…these people…they’re incredible.”
“Girls, unfortunately, tend to be held to higher personality standards than men,” explained Cooke. “We’re supposed to be the ‘fairer’ gender, the ones that are smarter and more restrained. Plus, girls know they’re the ones the boys pursue…that’s why, unfortunately, if a girl gets a chance to knock some competition down a peg, she’ll do it.”
“I know it’s a lot for you to comprehend,” said Pucci, “and we wish none of this had happened. We thank you for taking the time to help us out because that will allow us to find out who victimized your daughter.”
“What drew Aggie to Smoove Operator?” asked Cooke. “Is she a big fan of hip-hop or was that an anomaly?”
“I think it was all anomalies,” said Mildred with a chuckle. “I’m an ‘80s kid…I don’t understand music today…I grew up with Prince and New Order…you know, guys that actually tried in their music and didn’t rely on lewd stunts to get hits like these guys do.” Mildred sighed before continuing. “I didn’t really check up on her tastes…she had a job and she paid for her own music…so all I knew was what was coming out of her stereo when she’s doing homework or going on Facebook or whatever it is she did in her room.” He paused to think. “I think she did listen to a lot of hip-hop…if it wasn’t Smoove, then it was 50 Cent or Drake or…what’s that guy’s name that sings about dancing with your grandma?”
“Tyga?” said Pucci.
“You know the song?” said Mildred, surprised.
“I got it on my MP3 player…I love it,” said Pucci with a smile.
“So she listened to a lot of raunchy stuff,” said Cooke. “What was your opinion about it?”
“Well,” said Mildred. “It’s not my musical tastes…but I wasn’t going to tell her not to listen to it. From a very early age, I always tried explaining things to Aggie instead of sheltering her from them…she’s going to learn the bad words at some point, I figured I might as well explain to her about what they mean and how to use them properly. She’s a smart kid…she grasped things very easily so I knew that if I taught her how to be responsible, she could be responsible.”
“So you didn’t stop her from going to the festival,” said Cooke.
“Not at all,” said Mildred. “I trusted her…as long as she wasn’t going alone, which she wouldn’t be, then I saw no problem with her attendance there.”
“She still broke the law in order to attend,” said Pucci, matter-of-factly.
“I believed the law was archaic anyway,” said Mildred, who took a deep breath and wiped his face before continuing. “I’m a libertarian…I don’t think the government should have the right to tell its people how to raise their kids…Aggie might not have been physically old enough to attend a festival of that nature but mentally, she was…and I don’t see a problem with her attendance.” Mildred took another deep breath. “Look, Aggie respected me, so I treated her with respect. I know my methods are unorthodox…but I see no point babying her when she was almost an adult.”
“I’m sorry,” said Cooke. “We’re not here to pass judgment on your methods.”
“I was just merely pointing out it’s not very ‘responsible’ to advocate breaking the law,” said Pucci, who then sighed, “but…it won’t help, so I apologize.”
“I’m not asking this question as a means to justify what happened to her, because there is no way,” said Cooke, “but I do want to know if Aggie had a lot of boyfriends, just as a matter of building a victim profile.”
“No,” said Mildred. “I never saw her with a boy. Not that I would have stopped her…as I said, I taught her responsibility…if she wanted to have sex, or even lots of random sex, she could have done so. As long as she was using protection, then I would have been fine with it. You…you don’t think that because she was a virgin she was selected a victim, do you?”
“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” said Pucci. “Teens matching Aggie’s appearance appear in other cases, so we’re wondering if the UnSubs knew about her before the festival.”
Mildred wiped his face and scratched his eyes out of stress. “Give me a minute,” he said, getting up. “I need some water.” He then left the agents to go to the kitchen.
As he was in the kitchen collecting himself, the agents analyzed what they heard.
“He’s not a strict parent,” said Cooke.
“You’ve got that right,” said Pucci. “He’s got a cavalier attitude towards the rules.”
“You’d think it would rub off on Aggie though...without being controlled, she could pursue any inhibition she wanted.”
“Or...she’s been overexplained everything and that makes her tentative. Todd said that she spent a lot of time in her room...that doesn’t sound like a teenager who oozed confidence. It sounds more like a teen who’s overwhelmed by her adulthood and needed to be eased into it better.”
“He’s a single parent...he can only do so much. Plus he beat the odds...his wife died in childbirth and thus had to raise Aggie all by himself.”
“I know...Nickelback dedicated their ‘Lullaby’ video to him because his story was inspirational...but I think it only goes so far. At some point, your lack of parenting skills are going to come into play.”
“Speaking of parenting...Todd’s been gone for a while...we should check up on him.”
The agents got up from the living room couch and made their way to the kitchen.
“Oh dear no!” Cooke screamed in horror.
“Paramedics here, stat!” Pucci shouted into his phone after furiously dialing.
There lay Todd Mildred, unconscious on the floor after attempting to overdose on sleeping pills. The agents waited for the ambulance in stunned silence, hoping and praying that Todd would make it through.
The Simpson household
“So why don’t we start from the beginning,” said Proctor, beginning the interview with Ellie Simpson. “It’s August 30...you’re with Aggie at her house and that night you buy the tickets for the festival. Why then?”
Ellie struggled to keep her composure, but felt obligated to soldier on, so she did. “We’re both big fans of Smoove Operator,” she said. “I remember Aggie telling me that night her boss at work gave her a bonus for winning Employee of the Month, so we decided to celebrate by going to the Festival.”
“How’d you get the fake ID’s?” Parkes asked.
“Aggie has a friend,” said Ellie. “She pressed them for us...they’re virtually identical to the Maine license, she’s been doing it for years.”
“We’ve seen her handiwork,” said Proctor, acknowledging her point knowing the counterfieter had been arrested the day before. “She is good. It also helps that the Bostonian Empire doesn’t put a lot of funds into anti-counterfieting.”
“Were there other people your age or was everyone else older than you?” Parkes asked.
“I think there were a few others,” said Ellie, “but no one we knew.”
“Did you two drink?” Parkes continued.
“We had a lot,” said Ellie, chuckling sheepishly. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” said Parkes, rubbing Ellie’s hand. “Like I said, no blame.”
“Did you receive a lot of attention at the event?” Proctor asked.
“Lots of looks,” said Ellie. “There was this other guy I talked to...he was very nice, he didn’t touch me. Well, we did hug but that was it.” She then hung her head as she continued. “I tried to add him on Facebook but he never added me back,” she explained.
“We’re going to need that name,” said Proctor. “Don’t get too down about him though- if he was worth it you’d know.”
“You don’t think he was part of it, do you?” Ellie asked, worry tinged in her voice.
“That’s what we need to figure out,” said Proctor. “UnSubs like ours do tend to operate surreptitiously.”
“I don’t understand,” said Ellie.
“They’re clever about hiding their tracks,” said Parkes. “It’s likely the two men were with another individual who would act seemingly harmless just so he could ‘screen’ potential victims. The man you talked to could fit that bill.”
Ellie began to sulk. “I can’t believe I fell for that,” she said, sighing heavily.
“Hey,” Proctor said reassuringly, “no blame. Don’t forget that.”
“Was there anyone else you talked to besides the perpetrators?” Parkes asked.
“A couple of people made a few catcalls,” said Ellie. “Normal stuff...nothing that jumps out at me. Until...” She then began to cry, which prompted Parkes to put her arm around her in an effort to comfort her.
“You’re doing wonderful,” said Parkes, rubbing Ellie’s arm. “Your bravery is amazing...just stay strong.”
“Do you want us to come back another time?” Proctor asked.
“No,” said Ellie, fighting back the tears. “I need to be strong...for Aggie.” Parkes rejoined Proctor as Ellie pressed on.
“I remember,” said Ellie, “when ‘Fuzzy Boundaries’ came on that Aggie and I felt a rush of energy. It’s our favourite song.” Parkes smiled, wondering why Ellie would think of that song in that light, but decided against pressing that issue since it wouldn’t help. “You know...” Ellie continued through a quiver, “I hear that song a million times. It’s been No. 1 for what, 16 weeks now? Yet I never get sick of it.” She then sighed. “Until all this happened.”
“Remember,” said Proctor, “don’t blame yourself. Those men hurt you, you did nothing wrong.”
“The song makes us want to twerk,” said Ellie, “and grind with someone. I can’t explain why.”
“Twerk?” Proctor asked with a puzzled look.
“Twerking is simply shaking your booty by yourself,” said Parkes. “Grinding is something you do with someone else.”
“Oh,” said Proctor, understanding the explanation.
“So what happened,” said Parkes. “The men started to grind with you?”
“Yeah,” said Ellie. “As soon as I felt a guy behind me I just reacted, as if a switch had been flipped. I got so into it that I didn’t look at first to see who it was. After I deduced that he was cute I decided to keep on going.”
“At any point during the night,” said Proctor, ”did you get a good look at the perpetrators’ eyes? We know how else they look like, except that every picture we have of them have dark sunglasses on.”
“No,” said Ellie, “neither he nor Aggie’s man took them off...they were quite big too.”
“Oh okay, said Parkes, “Did Aggie react the same way you did when the man came from behind her.?”
“Aggie was always the more cautious one,” explained Ellie, “so she didn’t start to dance until she saw that I was dancing. I didn’t really pay much attention to what happened to her, except that I saw her at one point kissing the man with her shirt off.”
“What about your man,” said Parkes, “what did he do?”
“I don’t know why,” said Ellie with a sigh, “but I decided to lean up against him as I grinded with him...and...” Ellie’s voice trailed off as she continued. “He felt me up.”
“Remember,” said Parkes, “the man did this to you...it’s not your fault that he decided to take things where you didn’t want them to go. He should have controlled himself.”
“Well...I did...kinda...want him to do that,” said Ellie, sheepishly.
“...and that’s also fine,” asserted Proctor. “As long as you consented fully with the actions then you did nothing wrong- it’s the man’s fault for taking advantage of you. Listen, we don’t need the details unless you feel it’s necessary to provide them, but we would like to know how much of the sex acts you consented to.”
“Well, um...” Ellie said, trailing off before Parkes weighed in.
“If you have to think about it then we already know the answer,” said Parkes, assertively.
“I wanted to grind with him,” said Ellie, sheepishly, “he just...took things too quickly. I mean, the next thing I know, he puts his hands on my legs and runs his hands up my thighs, and before I could say something, his hands were already fingering my vagina.”
“Listen, I know this is very sensitive,” said Proctor, “but we need to know certain details as it will help us identify your attacker.”
“Okay,” said Ellie, taking a deep breath.
“When you say that he took things too quickly,” asked Parkes, “do you mean that he rushed his hands physically?”
“No,” said Ellie, “he was smooth and composed the entire time.”
“Okay,” acknowledged Parkes, “when he touched you, how did he do it? Did it feel like he was doing so, say, in a warming way or in a possessive way, or coldly?”
“ ‘Warming?’ I don’t understand,” said Ellie, perplexed at Parkes’ word choice. “He violated me, right?”
“This isn’t about trying to make light of it or to mitigate what happened,” said Parkes. “What we’re trying to do is understand his motivations, because if we understand how he viewed you, we may be able to understand why he picked you as a victim and that helps us understand what kind of person we’re looking for.”
“Okay,” said Ellie, nodding her head. “It felt like...it felt like...” Ellie started to sob, recounting the horrors, but pressed on anyway. “It felt like he knew what he wanted and nothing was going to stop him, but he wasn’t rough...he was tender to the touch. He...” She hung her head down and started to cry again, soothed back into the interview by Parkes’ warm hands. “I feel so bad...he excited me real good...how could something so vile get me going...maybe I did want it...”
Parkes continued to rub her hands. “Ellie...the orgasm is a physiological response...all you need are the right kinds of sensations on your body and you’ll achieve it, whether you wanted those sensations or not.” Ellie still gave her a blank look. “Think about it this way- if you were to take a pen and drag it towards your eye, instinctively your eyelids close, whether or not you wanted them to. Orgasms are the same way- if he puts his hands in the right places and moves them in the right way he’ll cause you to orgasm because that’s how the body is wired. You can’t control that...so remember, just because you achieved orgasm does not mean that you wanted what happened to you- the organs react involuntarily.”
“Does that mean I should have stopped him before he put his hands up my skirt?” Ellie asked.
“Ellie, you were in the moment,” explained Parkes. “Like I said, arousal is involuntarily...sometimes you just can’t control it...and, unfortunately men do take advantage of that. Again, the man is at fault here.”
“I was so scared,” said Ellie, “I felt things I never felt before...I didn’t know how to handle them.”
“We understand that,” said Proctor reassuringly, “and likely the man knew of that too.”
“I just felt so much pressure,” explained Ellie. “Both Aggie and I...we have friends in high school who’ve already had sex and kept telling us about how much more ‘adult’ they were than us because of it...so when the man felt me up, I felt like I had no choice but to give in.”
“Ellie,” said Parkes, “you didn’t have to. Over half of American teens are still virgins...likely your ‘friends’ were just pulling your leg to marginalize you. You should never feel pressured into sex...remember that.”
“Be lucky you didn’t get a baby out of it,” said Proctor. “When I was 15, I was in love with this boy and he pressured me into sex...I had to get an abortion. From that day on I wasn’t going to let guys use sex as a bargaining chip.”
“I still don’t know, actually,” said Ellie, “I’m too ashamed to get tested, lest my mother find out.”
“We’ll drive you to the clinic,” said Parkes. “I’ll talk to your mother.”
Just then, Proctor received a phone call from Pucci.
“Proctor,” she said, leaving outside to answer. “What? Oh that’s awful...no, we’re still talking to Ellie...Pucci, she’s a rape victim, she needs a lot of comfort and that will take as long as it needs to...look, we need to get her to a clinic, she hasn’t tested herself for pregnancy and, as I suspect, for STDs…Pucci, we need to make do with what we have…Randy won’t be back home for a couple of hours, and we can wait for him…all right, bye.”
Proctor then hung up the phone and arranged for Ellie to go the clinic to get her tests with Parkes, while Proctor stayed to interview Martha.
Bangor City Forest, Bangor, Maine
“Ever been to a city with its own forest?” asked James with dry wit as he, Coleman and Yves hiked their way to the clearing in the Forest where the Summer of Rap Festival was held. Since the police only learned of the crime a day after the event took place, the Festival’s equipment had been taken down, leaving the field empty and the agents to rely on floor plans.
“Actually, a number of cities have their own forests,” answered Yves almost immediately. “They serve as an ecological equalizer combating against a urban area’s many different pollutants by detoxifying the air.”
“Umm…Commander Data?” said James, “can you repeat that in English?”
“He means that the forest helps clean up a city’s air,” said Coleman.
“Ah,” said James, “I see. Well, I know a lot of cities have forests…but most of those are ‘just for show’. This seems to actually be a forest.”
“There is a greater amount of biodiversity in Bangor than there are in other cities, I’ll give you that,” said Yves.
“Yeah,” said Coleman, “but how much more could it have if people actually followed the anti-poaching laws.”
“Good point,” said James with a sardonic chuckle.
“Okay,” said Coleman as the agents reached the massive clearing where the Festival was held. They proceeded to walk to the north end where the stage was. “So…we’ve got a field that’s roughly the size of a football field…here is where Ellie Simpson and Aggie Mildred enjoyed the show, and right in front of us would be the stage.”
“So if it took us five minutes to walk from one end of the field to the other,” said Yves, “I’m going to guess by the throng of people that would be present that our UnSubs would likely need ten to get to the front of the stage.”
“Ten minutes?” said James with an incredulous look. “You don’t get out much, do you Yves?”
“No, he doesn’t,” said Coleman with a sigh.
“In a concert of this size everyone crushes towards the front,” said James. “So, at best, we’re talking maybe 15-20 minutes to get from the south end to the north end…and that’s if everyone is polite…and that’s a big ‘if’.”
“Aren’t we jumping to conclusions that these guys were at the south end to begin with?” said Yves. “We don’t have any proof of that.”
“Well, based on the pictures,” said Coleman, “at the start of the Festival the UnSubs were nowhere near the front of the stage. They also can’t be seen in any pictures of Simpkins at the start of his set, but by the time he gets to ‘Fuzzy Boundaries’, you can already see the girls grinding with the UnSubs.”
“So they were at least at the midway point of the crowd,” said James, “and he was still seen with his shirt on until ‘Dirty Girl’ came on and that was two songs before he closed his set with an extended version of ‘Fuzzy Boundaries’.”
“Wait,” said Yves, “James, you said it would take 20 minutes to get from one end of the field to other…so, from, at least the midway point of the crowd, it would take at least ten minutes…and that’s precisely the amount of time that elapsed before the UnSubs met the girls…now, if these guys were simply scouting it would take them a lot longer than ten minutes to get to the stage…so they had to have had a sign.”
“Yves,” Coleman said, pulling up his phone, “look where Simpkins was when he played ‘Dirty Girl’.”
“He’s right in front of the girls, practically standing in front of them,” said Yves. “He gave the UnSubs a signal.”
“Didn’t he do that series of ‘Nasty Nubiles’ videos?” asked James, analyzing. “It would make sense that he would team up with these guys so they could score with some pubescents.”
“So while Simpkins is playing his set,” said Coleman, analyzing, “he’s scouting the crowd looking for girls that the UnSubs could hit on…and, by taking off his shirt and standing by where the girls are, the UnSubs know where to go.”
“The girls must have thought Simpkins was singing right to them,” said James with a concerned look on his face. “Little did they know…”
Coleman then walked towards the area of the stage. “Okay,” he said, analyzing, doing math in his head. He then stepped right to where the stage started and made some more notes before revealing what he found.
“Not only did Simpkins help out the UnSubs locate targets,” he said, “the stage was calculated in such a way that Simpkins had a perfect sightline towards the entire crowd. So, whoever set up the stage did so to help Simpkins pick the perfect targets.”
“So now we’re looking at the people who set up the stage,” said James.
The three agents then made their way to where the porta potties were, to examine the area the four had sex. Coleman then pulled up on his phone the festival floor plan and purposefully paced.
“Okay,” said Coleman, making occasional stops as he walked. “The porta potties were grouped in threes right here…here…here…and here.”
“They’re odd places for porta potties,” said Yves, walking to one of the porta potty spots. “The ground is sloped…so these had to have been bolted down.”
“This one is interesting,” said James, standing at the second group of porta potties, with the other two agents joining him. “According to the floor plan, the fourth one is set up just perfectly. Now, accounting for the height of the stand where the potty’s hole went and the time of day when the pictures were taken, you’ll notice that the sightlines are aligned perfectly so that our UnSubs’ faces are obscured but the girls’ faces are not. What this means is that Simpkins had to time his shirt removal so that the UnSubs knew exactly when to strike, meaning likely these guys were good enough at their seduction techniques that they could coerce the girls into sex within minutes, aided by the fact they were easily suggestible in the first place.”
“Do you know what else this means?” asked Coleman. “This means we’re also looking at not just the guy who set up the stage but the whole festival as well. I’m going to call Garc-” Coleman let out a huge sigh when he looked at his phone.
“Pucci,” said Coleman, annoyed, “for the last time, I’m not challenging you to a rap battle. It’s just not- oh…I see.” A sullen look overcame Coleman’s face as he continued. “Meet us back at Bangor Police Headquarters in an hour. Let’s see what we’ve got first.” As Coleman ended his call, James and Yves gave him concerned looks.
“Todd Mildred attempted suicide halfway through questioning,” said Coleman.
“Oh goodness,” said Yves. “That’s horrible.”
“Poor man’s been through a lot,” said James. “I hope he makes it. Was it something Pucci said?”
“I need to find out about that,” said Coleman. “I doubt it though…Pucci and JJ have been doing their thing for a long time…they wouldn’t deliberately send Todd over the edge. He likely got overwhelmed by everything and the questioning was the last straw.”
“How’s he doing now?” asked James.
“He’s in the hospital right now as I understand,” said Coleman. “Critical but stable condition. Let’s hope for the best.”
“Vanessa Georges,” deadpanned California Bureau of Investigation agent Kimball Lee as Georges opened the door. “Agent Lee, CBI and this is my colleague, Agent Rugby. We’re here to discuss the murder of Jenny Peacock…we need a few minutes of your time.”
“Oh…oh…okay,” said Georges tentatively. “Can this not wait? I’m cooking dinner for a friend.”
“No ma’am,” said Lee. “We need to do this now.”
Georges had a look of incredulousness on her face. “What,” she said, “do you think I have something to hide.”
“We’re not saying that,” said Rugby, “but we’re busy just like you are and we can’t afford to waste any time.”
Georges sighed before reluctantly letting the agents in. “If I burn my scallops I know who to blame,” said Georges as everyone walked inside.
“It smells good,” said Rugby once everyone reached the kitchen where Georges continued to cook.
“It’s my specialty dish,” explained Georges. “I’m hoping to open a restaurant one day…my friend, Jackie, is here to try out some of my stuff.”
“So you really enjoy cooking,” said Lee.
“Oh yeah,” said Georges. “I love it.”
“One more thing Jenny was better than you at,” said Rugby with a smirk.
Georges stopped stirring her scallops to respond to Rugby.
“Look,” said Georges. “Was it frustrating that Jenny beat me in everything? Yeah, it was…but I didn’t kill her.”
“Rita Johnson, her other rival,” said Rugby, “her alibi checked out. You…you don’t have an alibi for the night of Jenny’s murder. In fact, our records firmly place you in Malibu that night.”
“I like the Malibu beach,” said Georges. “The dark sand…the rocks…the waves…it’s where I go when I need time to myself. It’s very relaxing.”
“…and then you saw Jenny and you snapped, right?” said Lee.
“This is very unprofessional of you,” snapped Georges. “I’m surprised you guys can even hold on to your jobs…you’re not even giving me a chance to defend myself here…I thought you weren’t supposed to determine guilt before you’ve actually assessed someone.”
“Every sign points to you,” said Rugby, “so it’s your job to point them away from you.”
“Jenny Peacock was last seen alive at the Santa Monica Pier at 10:05PM,” said Lee, “where she picked up her barbecue that she won at the local Jimmy Cochrane’s. She was supposed to be on her way to a camping trip in Zzyzx but she never made it. At 6:29AM, the police received a tip that led them to Jenny’s body found at the Malibu Pier, which forensics put the time of death at 4:14AM. According to your credit card records, you stopped by a convenience store at 12:12AM nearby the pier, and at 4:49AM, you filled up your car with gas at the station just down the road from the pier. So, unless you saw who did it…there’s only one conclusion and it’s that you did it.”
“Well,” said Jackie Morrison, a triathlete, walking into the kitchen, “your forensics are wrong. She didn’t die at 4:14…it doesn’t take that long to burn someone. She had to have died, at the very latest, 2AM.”
“Which,” said Lee, pulling out a sheet of paper, “is precisely what forensics actually found. Surprised you knew that right on the button.”
“Actually,” said Rugby, dryly, “it was 2:03AM, wasn’t it?”
“Jackie,” said Georges, “you did it?” Georges then widened her eyes and gave her head a shake before continuing with a surprised stare at Morrison.
“What are you guys talking about?” said Morrison. “I couldn’t kill anyone.”
“How else do you explain that you got the time of death precisely at the moment forensics got it?” said Lee. “Besides, we concluded a strong person was needed to subdue Jenny…you’re strong enough. Vanessa? No offence, but I don’t think Vanessa’s physically capable of that.”
“Besides,” said Rugby, “we know you stole Vanessa’s credit card that night…and you casually wrote on Jenny’s Facebook Wall reminding her that the coffee you bought for her won her the barbecue.”
Morrison licked her lips nervously, then took a few deep breaths. “This is entrapment,” she stammered, nervously. “This won’t hold up in court.”
“Lee,” said Rugby smugly. “Did we force her to talk? She came up here on her on free will, did she not?”
“Yeah,” said Lee, dryly. “She chose to come up here and interrupt our conversation with Vanessa…she didn’t even apologize for being rude.”
“So this is voluntary, right?”
“As voluntary as it gets.”
“Besides, we needed to catch you before you leave in about,” Rugby stopped to check his watch, “ten minutes before you fly off to Zimbabwe on an impromptu trip. Nothing against Zimbabwe…but an innocent person doesn’t schedule a flight two days after we contact them regarding an investigation.”
Morrison hung her head and admitted defeat. A few minutes later, Lee’s and Rugby’s teammates, Grace van Damme and team leader Teresa Gibson, emerged to formally arrest Morrison. Back at the station, Gibson took some time to congratulate her team on their work.
“Nice sleuthing there van Damme,” said Gibson. “If you didn’t check up on our interviewees we could have lost Morrison forever.”
“I just had that inkling,” van Damme said, relaxing in her chair. “As soon as Rita Johnson checked out we knew that Jenny’s real killer would panic believing we were on to them…and I was right. Plus, since she forgot she turned on her GPS…”
“So who wants to go to Vanessa’s once it opens?” said Rugby with a smirk.
“I don’t know…those scallops weren’t so hot,” deadpanned Lee. “Eddie’s doesn’t sound like a bad idea though.”
“All right,” said Gibson. “Let’s go. I think we’ve earned it.”
St. Clement’s Hospital, Bangor, Maine
“Vital signs are good,” said Doctor Stan Burke, the lead physician looking over Todd Mildred, “but I wonder for how long- the drugs are still doing quite a number on his heart. The digestion has complicated his blood flow.”
“How much longer do you think he’ll be in here for?” Pucci asked.
“It could be another few days,” said Burke. “We need to make sure that all the toxins are gone before we can release him.”
Pucci nodded in acknowledgment as the doctor went away to tend to Mildred.
Coming down the hallway was a man, recognizing Pucci right away, with a concerned look on his face. It was Randy Simpson.
“How’s he doing?” Simpson said after greeting Pucci.
“He OD’ed pretty badly,” said Pucci. “The drugs he took reacted negatively in his stomach so that’s given him a few complications.”
Simpson sighed. “Todd is a good man,” he said, “he raised Aggie all by himself. I’d hate for these guys to take them both.”
“Aggie was all he had to live for...I’m guessing he tried his hardest to move on from her death but he couldn’t do it. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose your wife in childbirth and then to lose your only memory of your wife later.”
“Linda had a lower back tattoo and decided to get an epidural...at first the doctor blamed the tattoo for her death but we later found out the hospital didn’t santize the catheter properly...so Todd sued and won a settlement of millions. I’m told the doctor still resents him for that.”
“The doctor lost his license, right?”
“Instantaneously. Moved out of the Bostonian Empire entirely almost immediately but he kept sending Todd threatening letters...he even suggested to him once that Aggie was actually his daughter, not Todd’s...I couldn’t believe some of the things he wrote.”
“Did he keep the letters?”
“I’m not sure...might have to ask the police for that.”
Just then, Coleman appeared on the scene.
“How’s he doing?” Coleman asked.
“Prognosis is still up in the air,” said Pucci with a sigh.
“Pucci,” Coleman said assuredly, “I know what happened...don’t feel too bad about it. There was nothing you could do.”
“It still sucks,” Pucci responded with a sigh, a notion Coleman agreed with.
Coleman then turned to Simpson. “Mr. Simpson,” said Coleman, greeting Simpson. “Zeke Coleman, FBII. Do you have the letter you received regarding Ellie?”
“I deleted it right away without a second thought,” said Simpson. “I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t let someone else tell me what to do, so I wasn’t going to fall for a ransom attempt. I also thought this was some kind of sick Internet prank so I avoided it...but, unfortunately, I miscalculated badly.”
“When did you know the pictures had come online?” Coleman asked.
“I received the message on Facebook...and the guys must have been online because an hour after I deleted the E-Mail I suddenly got this post on my Facebook News Feed that purported to be a video of the ‘Maine Girls’. I was curious so I opened it up...only to be horrified at what I saw. I went to confront Ellie about it only to find her in front of her computer crying incessantly. I looked and I saw one of her ‘friends’ put her down on her wall for her behaviour. That was only the beginning. Apparently on Read It or something some guy posted all of our contact information, so that night and into the day we kept receiving phone calls, E-Mails, texts...you name it...about the incident. We were all rattled.”
“Reddit is what I think you were referring to...that site...those guys like to do all kinds of different things.” Coleman sighed before continuing. “What do you remember about the letter? Even the littlest detail can help us out.”
“Okay...” Simpson paused to think deeply. “Well, I don’t remember the letter much...but the Facebook account...it was a picture of a fisherman, out on Moosehead Lake, where Ellie and I like to go on ‘father-daughter’ trips. I thought it was odd that the picture they used was that...it can’t be a coincidence.”
“That’s what we need to figure out. Something is connecting all of these girls together...we just need to know what.”
“Okay,” said Proctor to Parkes after the two of them returned Ellie Simpson back home from the clinic. She then started the car and began to drive off. “So according to Coleman, one of the guys helped co-ordinate the placement of the equipment at the festival, since everything was aligned just so the pictures could be easily taken. We also know Kyle Simpkins helped them out.”
“I knew Smoove Operator had to be involved in this,” said Parkes with a scowl. “He’s too much of a scumbag not to be. So our next step is to question him and the festival co-ordinator, right?”
“Simpkins is using his lawyers to avoid speaking to us...and more than one person helped out with the layout.”
“Well, all those guys could be part of the team.”
“I suppose...though, as I pointed out to Coleman, it’s the stage manager’s job to make sure the stage is positioned in such a way that Simpkins can see the crowd in the first place...and anyone working at the festival could have moved the porta potties. So we’re almost back at square one.”
“Almost...what we do know is that Ellie said her attacker was tender to the touch...he was controlling, but he was caring.”
“Controlling but caring...he sounds like a father.”
“Or a boyfriend.”
“I think the age difference is too great for the man not to see Ellie as anything other than a surrogate daughter.”
“Unless Ellie reminded him of a young love...I find it odd that, if he was fatherly, his sole objective was sex...if he were fatherly, the sex would have been a corollary...instead, sex was the goal. It points to a young love to me.”
The pair stopped the car momentarily having come to a stop sign, although it didn’t slow their conversation. “So in being controlling the attacker is saying that he does not want to lose his love again.”
“Hmmnnn...I think that works.”
Just then, a loud bang could be heard outside of the car. Proctor let out some obscenities in disgust and went out to take a look with Parkes. Proctor then let out some more cussing.
“I think the deer got your car,” said Parkes with a sardonic chuckle.
“Fitch is going to be so mad,” said Proctor, wiping her face with stress before calling a tow truck.
Billings District Court, Billings, Montana
“Your Honour,” said Fitchner to Billings District Judge Kenneth Baylor, “we are not suggesting that by bringing him in for questioning that Mr. Simpkins is a suspect. He is a witness to an incident subject to a Continental investigation and we merely want to understand what he saw.”
“Agent Fitchner,” said Simpkins’ attorney, Frederick Gregaros, “if he is simply a witness, then why are you compelling him to talk? A witness has a right not to come forward, and Mr. Simpkins is simply exercising his right.”
“We find it odd that as soon as we ask him to come in for questioning he throws up a legal roadblock...that tells us that he has something to hide.”
“If he does have something to hide, it’s his right to hide it. You forget, Agent, that the Montanan Empire is not a member of the North American Union and you have no jurisdiction there.”
“However, since the incident did occur in Union territory, we do have a right to issue a subpoena.”
“...and we have the right to contest that subpoena. Agent, unless he’s committed a serious crime, we cannot compel him to release him your custody. We just can’t. Montanan law is very clear about that.”
“We have proof that he aided the crime in question. The stage in Bangor was structured in such a way to give him a view of the crowd, not to mention he moved to the section of the stage where the victims were located and removed his shirt mere moments before the UnSubs attacked them.”
“Coincidences...you still have no physical proof he was involved.”
“Agent Fitchner,” said Baylor, interjecting authoritatively. “Mr. Gregaros is right. Unless you’ve actually got proof that he’s committed a serious crime we cannot discuss extradition. I’m denying the motion.” Baylor then loudly struck his gavel and adjourned the hearing.
Fitchner then placed a purposeful call outside of the courtroom.
“Morales,” said Fitchner to his Technical Analyst Andi Morales.
“Yes Captain America?” Morales said in a perky tone while taking a sip out of her fountain pop.
Fitchner let out a sigh knowing he needed to talk to Morales about decorum, though now wasn’t the right time. “Morales, I need you to look into Kyle Simpkins. I can’t get his involvement in the case without finding proof that he’s committed a serious crime so dig, and dig deep. Even if we can uncover an outstanding arrest warrant it would be good enough.”
“Aye aye Captain! I’ll be right on that!”
Bangor Police Headquarters, Bangor, Maine
“Okay,” said Coleman, as the team gathered in a conference room, “I spoke with the festival organizers…no one knows who exactly set up the porta potties the way they were…which means our UnSub did it at night when no one was looking, and probably right at the end of the shift so no one could suspect what he was doing. So, we’ve got one option left…let’s work the profile.”
“We know the photographer is an experienced guy,” said James, “because he got the sightlines from the porta potties perfectly.”
“So that probably means our photographer is at least in his mid-thirties,” said Pucci. “That gives him the time to develop his skills.”
“He’d likely also be friends with the other two UnSubs,” said Yves, “as their plan worked out extremely well.”
“They’ve also got some kind of tie with Simpkins,” said Proctor. “To what extent we don’t know- it’s too early to tell, especially if he’s not going to talk with us.”
“Do we assume that the photographer is the ringleader?” Parkes asked. “I think since everything is set up entirely for him then he’s got to be the one calling the shots.”
“I don’t know about ‘ringleader’,” said Pucci. “Simpkins seemed to be the one who led the men to the girls...I think of the photographer as more the ‘brains’ behind the operation.”
“That still makes him a leader of some kind,” said Coleman, “since the other two UnSubs- and even Simpkins- listened to his directions.”
“Do we look at him as the ‘controlling’ type?” Parkes asked.
“He seemed to let his partners do what they liked,” said Coleman. “From what we understand about the attacks on Aggie and Ellie, the men seemed very willing to go after them- if the photographer was controlling, the men might have been tentative in their approach, and they were not.”
“He also wasn’t in any of the pictures,” said Proctor. “Witness reports and what pictures we do have from this attack and others tell us that the attackers were always the same, and that the attackers communicated very little with the photographer, if at all- no one saw the three of them conversing, just the two attackers. If he was controlling, I think the photographer would have wanted to be a part of the action at some point, not just a distant spectator.”
“Perhaps, also,” said Yves as a thought came to him, “he didn’t get in on the action because he did not feel his looks were good enough to be in the action to begin with. The attackers were described as ‘cute’ by Ellie...I’m sure if she saw the photographer she wouldn’t call him cute.”
“Also,” said Coleman, “if the photographer is the ‘director’ then he’s also likely the one who has the connection with Simpkins. Meaning we’ve got to look at festival photographers who have done work with celebrities.”
“In that case, do we surmise that the photographer works professionally?” Yves asked.
“Probably,” said James, “but only as a freelance photographer. He likely works in festival setup.”
“He could just be a volunteer,” said Parkes.
“Money seems to be motivating the group to continue doing what they’re doing,” said Proctor, “so they’re likely not rich to begin with. Full-time photographers, especially ones with celebrity links, don’t need ransom money.”
“What about the two attackers?” Coleman said, changing the focus of the conversation.
“We don’t have much except that they’re white males in their thirties,” said Proctor. “We can’t even gauge their hair colour or facial hair style since they keep changing them. All we know is that the pictoral evidence suggests that each set of attackers were a pair and that this pair shared the same facial structure which tells us they were the same in each attack but that’s all we know.”
“If they’re quite skilled at changing their appearances,” said Yves, “then perhaps they have experience in fields that deal with changing appearances- and since we’ve deduced the ringleader is an avid photographer, and, we presume, they’re not using makeup, they’ve worked in costume design or fashion design.”
“Which doesn’t narrow it down too much,” said Coleman. “As we all know, despite popular belief, there are many male fashion designers who are not gay.”
“I think the sex acts are the answer,” said Pucci. “The one that attacked Aggie had her give him fellatio, while the one that attacked Ellie wanted sex. Although forcing someone into sex is still a selfish act, the actual act itself requires both partners to participate to get something out of it, plus sex itself can provide gratification for both parties. Fellatio, no matter how you look at it, is a selfish act, since only the man is getting serviced and the woman is doing all the work. This jibes with what we already know, meaning Ellie’s attacker was certainly reminiscing about a lost love while Aggie’s attacker was all about control and dominance.”
“Yeah, but the acts were not consensual,” cautioned Parkes.
“Realistically and technically,” said Pucci, “yeah you’re right...but these were not your stereotypical ‘forced’ rapes. Neither were beaten or threatened with a gun or a knife, nor were they drugged by the UnSubs...these were, at the time, ‘willing’ acts, in that the men only proceeded with the acts once the girls actually said ‘yes’ to them. That those ‘yesses’ were engineered is immaterial in this analysis- in the UnSubs’ minds, those girls actually did say ‘yes’, even though we all know better about that. That holds the key about who the attackers were.”
“Proctor,” said Yves, “were the other attacks similar to this? We can’t make generalizations based on one incident.”
“Not all of the other sex acts were recorded,” said Proctor. “The other victims refused to share their experiences with the police, perhaps out of embarrassment. All we’ve got are witness reports, and they’re pretty sketchy...although the only confirmed acts we have suggest that Ellie was the first one to have vaginal intercourse with the attackers.”
“So Ellie was special,” said Pucci, “because our UnSub wanted to ‘share’ something with her, whereas with the other girls it was all about servicing him.”
“What do we make about Aggie?” asked Coleman. “Girls like her seem to be the most consistent target…and Aggie was controlled.”
“Both attackers seemed to have targeted Aggie-like people,” said Proctor. “This means that they both know a girl like Aggie…and they both sought to control her.”
“Schoolteachers, perhaps?” said James. “That might be the only explanation for how two different people could have issues with the same teenage girl- they’d have to both have regular interaction with her, and the only way to do that is at a school.”
“They could be family friends,” said Pucci, “whose families thus interact on a regular basis.”
“Yeah,” said Yves with a disagreeing look, “but usually family friends don’t seek to control another person’s family members…they stick to their own. It may still be possible, but schoolteacher would be the easiest explanation.”
“Plus being a schoolteacher allows them to work summer festivals,” said Coleman.
“…and since they were quite proficient with the Internet,” said Pucci, “we can assume that one of them teaches computer science.”
“Another question,” said Parkes, “do we assume that they live here, in Bangor, because that was their ‘final’ stop on the festival circuit?”
“Normally I would say yes,” said Yves, “but I think if they were locals, they’d be recognized by someone, plus Ellie and Aggie would likely know them. The Festival also ended at such a point that would allow them to fly home.”
“So we’ve got to search flight records and see which schoolteachers flew out of town on Labour Day,” said Coleman. “I’ll get Morales in on that.”
FBII Academy, Quantico, Virginia
“Hey pretty lady,” said Technical Analyst Kevin Finch, walking in on his girlfriend, Morales, a coffee firmly in his hand.”
“My goodness!” said Morales, startled by Finch. “You don’t knock?”
“I can’t pay my girlfriend a visit and give her a coffee?” said Finch with a warm smile.
“You got me a coffee?” said Morales, taken by Finch’s kindness. “Right when I needed one? Aww…you’re so sweet.”
She then got up and kissed Finch and looked at him lovingly into his eyes before a thought came to her.
“Wait,” she said, concerned. “What did you do now?”
“What?” said Finch, perplexed. “I didn’t do anything.”
“You never bring me a coffee…therefore, something’s gotta be up.” Morales then folded her arms and glared intently at Finch, who started to get nervous.
“What? Can’t a guy get his girlfriend a coffee without it meaning anything else?” The intensity of Morales’s glaring soon got to Finch, who panted heavily.
“Honey…you forget…I work with profilers. Nothing gets by me.”
Finch began to stutter. “I…I…uh…swear I didn’t do anything…um…I promise!”
“You forgot to take out the garbage.”
Finch’s panting got heavier. “Oh come on…I had to get to work for 5AM today…I…you…I mean…you know I couldn’t do it…”
“I know.” Morales let a chuckle, smiled and kissed him again, which relieved his stress. “You keep forgetting I love seeing you squirm…it makes you so cute…and you fall for it every time.”
“I gotta work on that…” Finch soon regained his composure and then turned his attention to Morales’s screens.
“What are you working on there, babe?” said Finch, staring intently at the screens.
“Kyle Simpkins,” said Morales. “Fitch is having difficulties just getting him to agree to questioning, so I have to dig into his background and see if there something we can use to extradite him.”
Finch was surprised to hear that. “Extradite him? Seems extreme…can’t we just issue him a subpoena and he has to testify?”
“It’s not so easy…Simpkins is from Billings…so he’s outside of our jurisdiction. Remember, the Montanan Empire is not part of the North American Union.”
“Right…oh that is a quagmire. How do you know he doesn’t have a clean criminal record?”
“Come on…the guy sings about girls as if they’re nothing but sex toys. Guys like that are notclean.”
“Doesn’t he have a wife and three kids? How can you say he treats women poorly? Besides, don’t you know all those guys sing those songs just to generate controversy?”
“ ‘Dirty Girl’ contains a reference to flunitrazepam…how could he not have been up to something before?”
“Ohhhh! Okay…yeah…he seems like a creep.”
“Thing is, he keeps on burying all of his crimes in all this red tape…court cases against him get caught up in a mess of procedural motions and other delaying tactics that ultimately lead to the prosecutors just deciding to give up…and a judge in 2011 signed an order clearing his record, burying his past even more.”
“Well, he did get sued a lot for ‘Nasty Nubiles’, didn’t he?”
“Red tape…red tape…red tape…though all I’ve seen so far have ultimately been thrown out, since Simpkins digs up the contract each of the girls are asked to sign and judges see that they consented, so the cases get thrown out. Except for this one case…” Morales clicked through the links on her screen some more, digging deeper into the motions. “A girl by the name of James Doe didn’t have her case resolved…the prosecution just gave up after Simpkins’ motions and I need to get to the bottom of it.”
“Why not just search for James Doe in the database? Her name has to get connected with the court documents, even if they don’t release it.”
“Usually, though, I can just search for the name via the court record number and her ID shows up…however, in this case, Simpkins’ motions prevented even that from happening, so all I’ve been getting is roadblocks.”
“It’s tied to a police record, no?”
“Wait…you’re right…why didn’t I think of that?”
“Because you’re frazzled…sometimes fresh eyes is all that’s needed.”
Morales then clicked away for the police records and celebrated.
“Ha!” she said, excited, kissing Finch. “It worked. Thanks honey.” She then focused back on to her screen. “Okay…so what’s the name?” Her focus then turned to shock, then disgust. “Oh goodness…I can’t believe this man.”
Finch saw the name and also shook his head in disbelief. “Couldn’t have said it better myself,” he said, also sharing the same disgust.
The next day, Bangor Police Headquarters, Bangor, Maine
“You thought you could get away, didn’t you?” Coleman said to Simpkins in the interrogation room, sneering at him with disgust. “You’re looking at a long time behind bars for producing child pornography.”
Simpkins, his brown hair tightly woven into cornrows and wearing an oversized T-Shirt that quoted N.W.A.’s classic, “F*** Tha Police”, chuckled at Coleman sardonically.
“Oh you think this is some kind of game don’t you?” Coleman continued. “What, do you think it would be ‘cool’ to go to prison, just so you can enhance your ‘street cred’? Well let me tell you something- prison ain’t no game, and they don’t take kindly to child predators like yourself.”
“That’s because you don’t know the tricks I do,” sneered Simpkins in his Montanan drawl. “I’ll be just like the other rap stars who claim they’ve been to jail and only be there for but a day...and no longer will anyone say that I’m a joke.”
Coleman scowled in his reply and started to pace around the room, looking at Simpkins the entire time. “Your whole personna is a joke. Just by you even thinking that you can use prison for your own benefit shows what kind of a person you really are. Did you really think that Calvin Brodaus enjoyed going to jail all those times for selling cocaine? Or do you think Eric Wright enjoyed having to sell drugs just so no one would murder him in the projects?”
Simpkins looked at Coleman with a confused look. “Eric Wright? Calvin who?”
Coleman chuckled and shook his head and continued his pacing. “Wow...you can’t even recognize Eazy-E and Snoop Dogg...and you call yourself a gangster. How pathetic of you.”
“I don’t need to know people to be a real gangsta. I went through some tough s***. I paid my dues.”
“Really? Was it tough being a straight A student at the Richfield Private Academy, where it’s known you were suspended a few times for being a bully? Not very gangster of you there, picking on people who are weaker than you. Was it really tough growing up in The Foothills of Boise, where your parents had a house that even many of the wealthy could only dream of? Was it really that tough getting not just a Hummer for your 16th birthday, but a Porsche as well? All on daddy’s dime too...must be nice being a spoiled little brat.”
Simpkins responded angrily while beginning to quiver. “I resent that! I...I...”
“Got no answer for that do you?” Coleman couldn’t help but smile smugly. He chuckled before continuing. “Oh yeah...I forgot...you were on The Y Factor too. Not just that, but you were the judges’ pick right from the beginning, and audiences loved you. You hardly broke a sweat...and you only signed up on a whim. You didn’t spend years struggling in the underground, like real rappers do.”
“Hey man...it ain’t ma fault if I got talent! All those other n**** are just jealous of my mad skills, yo...and you are too...you just don’t like it when a cracka shows you people up.”
Coleman chuckled and simply shook his head, knowing what Simpkins was trying to do.
Simpkins was surprised by Coleman’s lack of action and did his best to hide the fact he was rattled by it. “What? You’re just going to sit there and take it? I thought you’s was a real gangsta.”
“I don’t fall for cowardly acts. Trying to anger me into hurting you just so the courts can throw out whatever confession you give is cowardly- because you won’t fight fair.”
“A’ight...Imma take a leak. I’ll see you later.” Simpkins got up from his chair and proceeded to the door, where Coleman stopped him.
“No no no tough guy,” said Coleman, who stood in the way of the door. “You don’t get to take a leak without me coming with you.”
“I don’t need no n****’s supervision! What, you can’t trust me?” Simpkins then reached for the door before Coleman caught his hand and propelled it away, which caused Simpkins to use his other hand and try to punch Coleman in the face.
Coleman reacted quickly, dodging the punch deftly and grabbing Simpkins by the scruff of shirt collar and slammed him against the wall. Coleman then spoke menacingly. “You don’t even think of trying that again. Or I’ll show you how a real gangster deals with losers like you.”
Outside of the room, Yves and Parkes watched intently.
“I can’t believe Simpkins used Rachel Person’s video for ‘Nasty Nubiles’ against her,” said Parkes, shaking her head with disgust.
“It’s a sad tale,” said Yves. “Commiting suicide after the prosecution dropped her case, believing that even justice let her down...it’s why we need to get this guy.”
“I never thought you’d be this invested in taking down Simpkins. I guess it has something to do with Alexa Gibson.”
“Bullies hit a nerve...and Simpkins is the biggest one I’ve seen.”
Parkes continued, analyzing. “So Simpkins videotapes Person and some of her guy friends, all of whom are minors, and Person sues to get the videotape destroyed and tells the prosecutor she wants to press charges against Simpkins. Simpkins, using his lawyers, sues the prosecutors for harassment and wins a gag order on the Person proceedings, delaying the process of pressing charges against him and extorts the Person family into dropping the charges by threatening to release the video. Even though the Person family complied, one of Simpkins’ cronies leaked it online anyway, and since no one could trace the source...the prosecution drops its case.”
“Plus, since Simpkins himself didn’t release the video all we had were whispers, with no evidence being shed because Simpkins skillfully hid it all…and, thus, he could get out of it with plausible deniability.” Yves continued as something clicked in his mind. “So that means…” Yves walked into the interrogation room and pulled out Coleman.
“Coleman,” said Yves, “Kyle Simpkins is extorting one of his teammates.”
“Yves,” said Coleman, calmly but sternly, “let’s not jump to conclusions. I know you don’t like this guy, and I don’t either, but we don’t have any evidence of that.”
“Think about it Coleman,” said Parkes, “the Rachel Person photos didn’t come out because Simpkins himself released them…one of his cronies did. So Simpkins has to be extorting his crony in some way to keep the crony’s identity hidden.”
“Simpkins isn’t acting in all of this like he’s the leader of all this,” said Coleman after a brief pause. “He’s acting like a willing participant…as if, at the very least, the crony that leaked the video and him are working together. So, at the very least, they’re both extorting each other in some way.”
“In a team dynamic, usually one half of the partnership is the weaker partner,” said Yves, “judging by his actions, throwing up all these roadblocks, it seems like Simpkins lacks the confidence to tackle problems head on.”
“Or,” said Coleman, “Simpkins is crafty, knowing all the tricks and how to best apply them. Simpkins was confident enough to try a trick on me…that’s not someone who is weak.”
“So we’re not going to get him via a direct interrogation,” opined Yves. “We need to get the two attackers, who probably are the weak ones…then we can nail Simpkins and the photographer.”
“Babygirl,” said Coleman, giving Morales a call. He spoke with anticipation in his voice. “Tell me you’re going to make daddy proud.”
“Oh right, the schoolteachers,” said Morales, fighting off a yawn. “It’s been a long day…here’s the thing.”
“Morales, we don’t got time for excuses man.”
“Right…right.” Morales took a deep breath and a sip from her coffee before continuing. “See, on Labour Day there were seven schoolteachers that flew out of Bangor, five of whom went to Summer of Rap…and they’re all over the country…I can give you the information but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
“How many of them teach computer science?”
“There was only one…his name is Randy Mark Traverse…lives in Minneapolis…and facial analysis shows that he’s essentially a match to one of the attackers in the photo. Unfortunately I couldn’t match the other one.”
“That’s okay. As long as we got one…we can get the other. Get Minneapolis PD to send him to us.”
19:09 local time, Bangor Police Headquarters, Bangor, Maine
“Parkes,” said Coleman as the police brought in the plane-weary Traverse into the interrogation room. “I want you to start the interrogation. You’ve got red hair, just like their main victims, and that could trigger a few things in him.”
“Will do,” said Parkes, nodding her head confidently and walking into the interrogation room.
“Randy, Randy, Randy,” said Parkes as she walked in. “What is it with you and red hair?”
Traverse, as predicted, saw Parkes’ own auburn locks and was fixated by them. “Red hair is beautiful,” he said, still in shock at the turn of events for him. “However, I still don’t understand why I’m here.”
Parkes took a seat from the table on the side opposite Traverse. “Randy.” She paused to touch his arm. “I understand you’re confused right now...maybe even a bit angry...but remember, I’m not here to bury you...I’m on your side...I’m here to help.”
“You’re...you’re with the police though...how can you be here to help?”
“Because we’re both after the same thing...justice. Contrary to popular belief, the police isn’t always out to destroy people...all we want is the truth, and we’ve only brought you in here because we think you can help us find the truth.”
“You’ve formally arrested me...you must think I’m some kind of a bad man.” Traverse sighed before continuing. “I may have made mistakes but we all do.”
Parkes grabbed his hand and held it, feigning warmth. She sensed that she had him right where she wanted him. “Randy...even good people do bad things. I’m sure you meant well.”
Traverse began to cry. “I didn’t mean to hold her down...but Oldrich and I...we had no choice.”
“Who? Who are you talking about?”
“Jenny...Jenny Marquis...she was a redhead just like you. Always a troublemaker...I had her in my Grade 10 class...she was either talking to her friends, loudly, talking back to me and frequently uploaded porn to the school servers, just to get a rise out of us. I remember one day I was talking to her after class and she was chewing bubblegum which she loudly snapped, which was the last straw for me. I took her outside of the class and Oldrich just happened to walk by...so we took her to the school’s boiler room, held her down, put on condoms and took turns raping her...then Oldrich put on some latex gloves and strangled her to death. We then just left her there. Fortunately for us, one of the school’s maintenance people came by and checked her pulse, pinning her murder on him.” He started to rub his face with stress, wiping away tears fruitlessly as they still fell down his face. “I can’t believe I admitted all that...I just...couldn’t keep it any longer.”
“So you two worked together?”
“Yeah, yeah we did. Oldrich said he saw her write a message on the school’s bulletin board denigrating Tabitha, my high school sweetheart, who died two years ago...from that point on, we had it in for her.”
“Oldrich...is he in photography?”
“No...no he isn’t. He teaches math.” Traverse took a loud, audible gulp before continuing. “I remember Oldrich met this guy...Jack Norris...he works in the Minneapolis nightclub scene...always takes pictures of the nightlife and festivals...even works with celebrities sometimes. I remember telling Oldrich that I didn’t like killing Jenny but loved the rape...but we didn’t have the opportunity or know-how not to get caught...until we met Jack...and Jack taught us how to coerce girls to do our bidding...Oldrich and I, we felt like kings.”
“So Ellie reminded you of Tabitha...that’s why you had sex with her instead of just fellatio.”
“Yeah...Tabitha had this Debbie Harry vibe about her...and so did Ellie. So I wanted to make love to Tabitha one last time.”
“...and what’s Oldrich’s last name?”
“Silvers. Oldrich Silvers.”
“Thanks.” Parkes flashed him a warm smile. “You did a great job.” She then walked out of the interrogation, all smiles getting congratulated by her teammates.
“That was pretty easy,” said Coleman.
“I figured I’d go soft with him to see if he was the one who was the romantic,” said Parkes. “I figured his partner, Oldrich, was the more aggressive one and would likely not be capable of compassion...whereas Randy would be.”
“I guess this means all we have to do is get the police to round everyone up and our jobs are finished,” said Yves, patting Parkes on the back.
“I’m ready for a burger,” said Coleman, putting his arm around both of his teammates. “How about you guys?” The other two nodded in agreement as they headed out.
22:12 local time, Bangor Hotel, Bangor, Maine
“Man,” said Parkes to Proctor, James and Pucci as the four of them walked to their rooms, “Coleman sure knows how to eat.”
“Coleman’s always been a big eater,” said Proctor after a chuckle. “It’s why he works out so much...so that he can enjoy foods like that.”
“Oh, the joys of youth,” said Pucci sarcastically. “Man, if I ate one of those Double Pound Burgers, I think I’d clog all of my arteries.”
“Oh come on Pucci,” said James, playfully tapping his shoulder, “you’re still pretty fit...you could have at least one pound.”
“Heh,” said Pucci, “you go first.”
The three laughed at Pucci’s reply. After a brief pause, Pucci got poignant.
“Hey, Zoe,” he said, “good work kiddo.”
“Thanks Claude,” she said, with a sheepish smile.
“Silvers was just picked up and now they’re working on Norris,” said Proctor. “All thanks to your work Parkes. You’re really coming to your own as an agent. We’re proud of you.”
“Because of you, now Ellie has some closure,” said James.
“Closure...” Parkes said quietly, her face stricken with worry. “Wait...something’s not right.”
“Parkes, what is it?” James asked, as now the other three got concerned.
“I don’t know,” said Parkes, starting to get petrified, “but as soon as Pucci brought up closure something clicked in my head.”
James stood pensively while Pucci and Proctor gave each other concerned looks. After a few moments, it finally dawned on James.
“I think I know what it is,” said James. “You said at the restaurant that Traverse wanted to ‘make love to Tabitha one last time’...we all knew that was an odd statement...but now we know why.”
“He’s gonna...he’s gonna,” said Parkes, starting to breathe heavily. “Oh no...” She then slumped against the wall, taking a seat, fear taking over her body.
“Zoe,” said Pucci, putting his hand on her shoulder. “Relax. Let’s not jump to conclusions. Traverse’s statement could mean many different things.”
“Why,” said Parkes, hyperventilating, “why was there a finality to his statement? He spoke like he wasn’t going to get Ellie again…why would he said that if…oh goodness…I held that girl…” Parkes lowered her head and folded her legs against her, sobbing uncontrollably.
A few seconds later, Coleman emerged from his room.
“Guys,” said Coleman, with a strong sense of urgency.
“Let me guess,” said James, “Jack Norris wasn’t in Minneapolis today.”
“How’d you know?” Coleman asked, with a quizzical look.
“Parkes just deduced the same thing you probably are,” said James, “that Ellie Simpson is in trouble.”
“Well, I didn’t think of that,” said Coleman. “I just know that Morales called me and said that Norris manipulated the database…Minneapolis PD picked up the wrong person because the address was wrong. What makes you guys think that Ellie is in trouble?”
“Randy Traverse said in his interrogation that he wanted to make love to Tabitha (represented by Ellie) ‘one last time’,” said Proctor, “leading, as I think, Parkes to conclude that Norris is going to kill her.”
“Why, though?” said a groggy Yves, emerging from his room, awoken by Parkes’ sobbing. “Norris found a way to control all the girls without killing them…he doesn’t need to kill them.”
“Yves, think about it,” said James. “Three girls stood up to him- Rachel Person, Aggie Mildred and Ellie. Two of them are dead. One is still alive. I think the dots connect themselves.”
The agents were interrupted by a loud voice down the hall.
“Hey bozos!” screamed a portly man, dressed in nothing but a nightcap and his underwear, barely visible due to his overhanging gut. “I don’t care who’s in trouble! I need to get some sleep!”
“Sir,” said Coleman, approaching him. “We’re sorry to have awaken you, but right now we have a delicate situation and we couldn’t avoid this situation.”
“I have a 4AM flight tomorrow morning!” yelled the man. “I don’t care what your situation is!”
“I wonder where he’s going,” said James to Pucci with a smirk, “the Cheesecake Factory?” The rest of the agents, even Parkes, couldn’t help but laugh.
“Oh, you think you’re funny, eh?” said the man, walking menacingly towards James while brandishing his fist. James didn’t flinch at all. “I’ll show you a thing or two, stick man!”
“Oooh, ‘stick man’,” said James, feigning offence, “you really hurt me there. Of course, it’ll be nothing like your arteries and the angioplasty you’ll have to go through in a couple of years.”
“At least I’m proud of what I eat! This took years of hard work!”
“Hard work? Looks like you didn’t exercise anything other than your jawbones…I doubt that blubbery mass you call a body couldn’t walk two more feet without you passing out due to exhaustion. Oh, and, uh, once you’ve hit nine months of pregnancy, isn’t the baby supposed to get born?”
“That’s it” The man now aggressively pointed his finger into James’ chest multiple times. “You’ve done it now!” The man then clenched his fist and prepared to strike at James, but before he could, his feet got kicked out from underneath it. The man lay there on the ground, face first and taking a lot of deep breaths, trying to recover his composure.
James could only smirk. “First thing I learned in the FBII’s self-defence program: bigger men have low centres of gravity. Especially when it’s all concentrated in the middle.”
Ellie Simpson’s house, Newport, Maine
Jack Norris stared at Simpson’s house with intent. He was slender man who bore more muscles than his appearance let on, slicking his prematurely greyed hair back into a ponytail. The 39-year-old wore all black today, contrasting with his pale white skin with his T-Shirt and jeans ensemble making him slimmer- and, he hoped, less dangerous- than he actually was. As he smoked his third cigarette from his pack, he mapped out his plan for attack, and once he figured out how he was going to approach the Simpson house, he finished his cigarette and walked up to it with purpose.
He walked up to the back of the house, scouting for possible openings until he found one, as the entrance to the basement had been left unlocked. He found the telephone line and cut it, and pulled out his cell phone jammer and activated it. He then carefully opened the door to the basement, ignoring the sign that said the house was protected by a home security system- this one was connected to the phone, and without the phone, the system wouldn’t work.
He fumbled around for a bit in his pocket, feeling his way for two syringes. Each one was meant for Ellie’s parents, who Norris figured he needed to get out of the way if he wanted to have his “fun” with Ellie. Each syringe had enough ketamine to tranquillize ten horses and thus would kill each parent almost instantly.
As soon as he found the syringes, he made his way, purposefully but quietly, up the stairs into the Simpson parents’ bedrooms. As he suspected, they were fast asleep, allowing him to easily inject both. In five quick minutes both were knocked out cold by the ketamine, and in another five, they would be dead. Ellie, alone in her room listening to her music through her headphones, was left.
“Hey!” Ellie said, shouting at Norris after he cut the cord of her headphones. “Those were-” Before Ellie had a chance to finish, Norris had pulled out his knife.
“The rules here are very simple,” said Norris to Ellie, ominously. “You do as I say and you won’t get hurt.” Ellie, gripped with fear, nodded her head in agreement, allowing him to bind her wrists together behind her back with rope and to affix a scarf that served as a cleave gag upon her mouth. He then grabbed her arm and instructed her to come with him. He then walked down the stairs and purposefully opened the door and walked out of the house with Ellie, still clutching to her arm.
“Let go of the girl!” Coleman hollered at Norris as he came upon the house and drew out his gun. “This is Zeke Coleman of the FBII! Let go of the girl!”
“Oh,” said Norris, chuckling, pulling Ellie towards him and placing his knife right against her jugular vein. “You’re with the FBII, eh? So I guess I’m famous now. Heh.” By now the rest of the team joined Coleman and drew out their guns as well.
“We’re not playing around, Jack,” hollered Proctor. “Let go of Ellie.”
“Or, what?” Norris snickered. “You’ll shoot? I mean, seriously...do you think I’m worried? Ellie’s got no one left...I took them from her...and since you won’t let Randy have her...then I will. I’m all she’s got.” Ellie turned to look at Norris with her face gripped with fear, wondering what Norris meant by his statement.
“All right,” said Coleman. “You want to be in control? Okay...you’re in control.” The team instinctively lowered their guns.
Norris could only laugh. “Do you think I’m going to fall for that?” Norris said, snickering. “I know you guys have a sniper in one of these houses with his gun trained at me...I’ve seen way too many documentaries and cop shows for that to work.”
“Well what do you want Jack?” Pucci asked, pleading with him. “We care about Ellie just as much as you do...we’re here to help in any way that we can.”
“Well...you can start by letting Ellie and I go to...enjoy ourselves,” Norris said with a smirk.
“I’m afraid that’s just not going to happen,” said James, raising his gun just like the rest of the team. “You didn’t even think to ask Ellie if she wanted to come along, did you?”
“She wants me,” Norris cackled, “she just doesn’t know it yet.”
“Jack,” said Parkes sternly. “I know you have a wife and three kids...they don’t deserve this. You have a life to go back to...don’t do this to yourself.”
“I don’t have a life to go back to!” Norris said defiantly, taking his knife and slashing Ellie across the throat, dropping her to the ground and causing the agents to shoot him dead.
Ellie quickly lost consciousness, although she didn’t realize it. In the distance, high above her as the hail of bullets whizzed by her and the din of the agents’ voices overwhelmed an otherwise peaceful night, was Aggie, whose face took over the entire night sky.
“Aggie!” Ellie said, excitedly. She was ready to get up before Aggie spoke.
“No, no, don’t get up,” she said. “You’ll need your energy.”
“Are...are we going somewhere?” Ellie was taken by the sight of her friend, as tears started to flow from her eyes.
“I am...but you’re not. It’s too soon for us to reunite.”
“...but...but Aggie...you said we’d never be apart. Why did you leave me Aggie? Why can’t you take me with you?”
By now Aggie had descended from the sky to appear as a human, sitting down next to Ellie, who was still lying on the ground. “I understand how you’re feeling Ellie, and I know that no amount of apologies can make up for what I did...but, Ellie...you know me...I’m not strong like you are...I wished you could have been there to help me, but, as always, your parents got in the way.”
Ellie spoke through her tears. “I know...they always do. They always sheltered me...never let me do what I want and let me learn on my own.”
“They never liked my father...it may be why it was so difficult for us to hang out lately...why you’ve always had to sneak out just to see me...gosh Ellie, I wish things were different.”
“I wish things were different too. I wish I could have held you one last time. I wish we could just erase what happened at that festival and go back to the way we were, talking about boys and 50 Cent. I wish you were here Aggie...oh gosh, how I wish you were here!” Ellie then began to cry uncontrollably, unleashing a torrent of tears that only stopped when she experienced a sharp pain in her chest.
“Ellie...I know all that...but you need to know that death isn’t the answer.”
Ellie by this point had gone into random convulsions while still laying down. “Aggie...if I die then we’re back together and we can have those memories again.”
“Death isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I have a lot of sins to atone, so much so that I may be in Purgatory forever. Plus, there’s so many things in life that I never got to experience...college...being a mother...having a real boyfriend...living on my own...these are all things you will get to experience.”
“...but it will be a life without you...and I don’t want that.”
“That’s not true. Put your hand in your right pocket and dig out your keys.”
“Yes?” Ellie dug out her keys and leafed through them, but she was still confused about what Aggie was referring to.
“See the green rock keychain?”
Ellie gasped with excitement. “That’s the emerald you gave me for my 14th birthday! How did I forget about it?”
“That’s because you didn’t...because I wasn’t going to let you forget. Now you know that I meant what I said, that we’ll always be together...not even death can keep us apart. All you need to do now is just hold on. Stay strong Ellie, stay strong...stay strong.”
Aggie’s voice would soon fade as Ellie woke up from her trance to hear the voice of Yves saying the exact same thing Aggie was saying.
“Stay strong Ellie,” Yves pleaded, “stay strong. Come on...you can do this...come on!” Yves, shirtless, lowered his head and knelt down behind Ellie’s bed, cradling his head in his hands as the nurses fought to completely revive Ellie. After a few short moments, Ellie had firmly awoken from her daze, the nurses’ efforts fruitful, to find Yves’s shirt around her neck, as Yves used it as a tourniquet, as well as some empty blood sacks attached to her arm that had replenished her blood.
“Where,” said Ellie, still confused. “Where am I?”
Yves let out a huge sigh of relief, as did Parkes, clutching Yves’s hand right beside him. “Ellie, you’re safe now,” said Parkes. “You’re recovering in the hospital...if it wasn’t for Yves’s quick thinking you wouldn’t be alive right now. I’m so glad you held on.”
“Well,” said Ellie, “Aggie paid me a visit and guided me through it. Now I know, we’ll always be together.”
Parkes started to cry tears of joy. “Never forget that,” she said, through the tears, as Ellie grabbed her hand and squeezed it, thanking her for her help.
The next day, Bangor Hotel, Bangor, Maine
“Well,” said Coleman to Yves as he packed their suitcases into their car for the drive to the airport. “Ellie is going to make it...she’s still in critical condition but she’s improving. I just wished we could have saved Todd Mildred and Ellie’s parents.”
“Nothing we could do about that,” said Yves. “Todd had his mind made up that day. At least we brought him some closure, so that he and his daughter can rest in peace. As for the Simpsons...Norris was quick. Fortunately we got to him before he got Ellie.”
“That was some quick thinking kid. You saved her life.”
Yves hung his head sheepishly while smiling. “Thanks.” He then raised his head and continued in his normal tone. “Do we know what she will do from here?”
“Her grandfather is taking her with him to Buffalo, as I understand. Whether or not she stays there we don’t know...she’s mentioned a desire to travel the world, but right now it’s more ‘pie in the sky’ than doable for her. We’ll see though.”
Coleman’s phone started to ring. It was Fitchner.
“Hey Coleman,” said Fitchner. “How’s it going?”
“Well, we had some hiccups...and a lot of twists,” said Coleman with a sigh, “but...we got the job done.”
Fitchner smiled. “Yes you did. Just heard the reviews...you did a great job out there. Keep it up.”
Coleman smiled. “Thanks Fitch. That means a lot.” The two then said their goodbyes and ended the call.
Yves, for his part, couldn’t help but be taken in by a note left on his side of the windshield. Worried about what it could be, Yves picked it up to read it. He muttered a few choice words and angrily crumpled up the sheet of paper and threw it to the ground. Coleman couldn’t help but notice Yves’s frustration and unfurled the sheet of paper.
“You lose?” Coleman said, perplexed. “What’s this about?”
“It’s James, being a pain,” said Yves, angrily shaking his head. “He told me about this mind game simply called ‘The Game’ where the only rule is that you can’t think about it, and once you do...well, ‘you lose’. Those playing The Game can induce others to think about it with suggestive notes...like the one I just got.” Yves let out a frustrated sigh.
Coleman chuckled and put his hand on Yves’s back. “I understand how it’s torture for you, someone who forgets nothing.”
“...and I was doing so well too...would have been two weeks tomorrow that I hadn’t thought of The Game.”
“Don’t worry kid...we’ll get him back. He needs to remember who he’s messing with.”
“Nick Stoltz, CSI,” said Stoltz to Remy Morris as Morris opened the door to Stoltz and his partner Warrick Farr. “This is my partner, Warrick Farr...We’re here investigating the death of your friend...do you have a few minutes?”
“Well,” said Morris, a mellow older gentleman, “I was just watching Law & Order...but okay.”
“Which Law & Order?” Farr asked.
“The regular one...I couldn’t get into any of those remakes,” said Morris in a slow drawl. “Especially that
SVU one...too many weird ones there.”
“Elliott Stabler was a good man though,” said Stoltz, as the agents and Morris walked into the living room.
“So where were you on the night of Michael Carmichael’s death?” Stoltz asked right off the bat.
“Oh,” said Morris softly. “I was tending to things...I think I went to the post office that night...it was mundane...I hardly remember the details...until I heard what happened to Michael.”
“What were you doing when you heard about the death?” Farr asked.
“I was roused from bed,” Morris explained. “I’m a welder...I work early mornings...so I had been fast asleep.”
As Stoltz asked the next question, Farr couldn’t help but hear a mosquito buzzing around him. The mosquito didn’t seem at all interested in Farr, but seemed to think it could fly right through him. After fruitlessly swatting away at it, Farr managed to cup it with his hand, and, noticing it wasn’t biting him, decided to bag it, alive.
“You like them ‘skeeters?” Morris said, quizzically.
“Yeah,” said Farr, “I collect them.”
“Oh,” sheepishly said Morris, satisfied.
“Listen Remy,” said Farr, “I need the bathroom…where is it?”
“Down the hall to your right,” said Morris.
As Farr walked nonchalantly down the hall, right after turning the corner, he couldn’t help but notice a hole in the wall. Pulling out his flashlight, he peered into the hole, which had a little crack indicating that the wall itself had been opened. Caulking had seemed to be applied on the crack, indicating that the wall was ripped open further than it initially appeared. Also, while Farr couldn’t quite say for sure, it did look like the hole on the wall seemed to have knuckle marks on it, as if it was first created via a fist.
Peering into the hole with the flashlight gave Farr the answer: “Tsov Ntxhuav”. Written on the brass knuckle buried into the wall (and unquestionably the source of the hole), the rare brand of brass knuckle was the “smoking gun” piece of evidence the CSIs needed to make their arrest. He texted the picture of the knuckle to Stoltz before going back to the living room.
“Remy Morris,” said Farr, “we need you to come with us.”
“What?” said Morris, his eyes wide with surprise. “What did I do? I’m…I’m telling the truth.”
“The brass knuckle you tried to hide in the wall was the exact same brand used in the death of Michael,” said Stoltz authoritatively. “Since it’s only sold in China, it’s rare to find it here in Alberta…which puts you entirely in suspicion.”
“No!” shouted Morris defiantly. “I’m innocent!” He then flipped the coffee table at Stoltz, throwing it as if it was nothing, forcing Stoltz to duck. Stoltz didn’t waste any time, tackling Morris onto the couch Morris had just gotten up from.
“No wonder you needed a brass knuckle to kill Michael,” sneered Stoltz as he arrested Morris. “Because you can’t fight fair.”
Testing would later reveal the truth: DNA recovered from the mosquito was matched to sweat on the knuckle, proving conclusively that it was Morris’. DNA from Morris would also be recovered from Michael Carmichael’s body, especially around the bruising from the knuckle. Morris, though offered a plea bargain that would spare him the death penalty, decided to contest the charges, although with Alberta’s trial laws that only called for evaluations of written reports on both sides with little chance for testimony, Morris’ fight wouldn’t likely be a long one. It was here that Simms received a phone call.
“Even in the face of great losses, you never forget that you’ve got something left…and that something is all you need to fight back.”- Nerva II, writing about the Fifty Years’ Struggle after finally evicting the Lombards from the City of Rome that they had been so close to taking years prior, A.D. 760