“All throughout time humanity has looked to cure every disease imagineable. Unfortunately, their greatest disease is themselves.” -Pontus Silvius, 16th century Roman philosopher
Jack’s Steakhouse, Lorton, VA
“I’m glad you could see me today,” said Special Agent Derek Morgan of the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit, sitting across a patio table from CIA Agent Gina Sanchez, whom Morgan met in May 2006 when he had to investigate a mole in the Central Intelligence Agency. It was an unseasonably warm day in Virginia, the climate very spring-like.
“It only took you six and a half years to call me,” deadpanned Sanchez with a snarky tone. The two were having lunch outdoors at the diner halfway between the CIA’s office in McLean, Virginia and Morgan’s workplace at Quantico.
Morgan chuckled then turned on his suave charm. “Better late than never, as they say. My mother used to tell me to never pass up on a good thing.”
“So how’d you know I was still single?” Sanchez continued with her snarky tone, as she knew Morgan was allured by it.
“Just took a guess. You work for the government, just like I do. We hardly have personal lives…we live for our work.”
Sanchez chuckled. “You got that right. I just have one thing to ask.” Sanchez gave Morgan an inquisitive look.
“Why would a guy like you, someone who could have a hundred women every night, decide to call someone they met and presumably discarded many years ago? You’re not one for pining, Derek.”
Morgan sensed she was looking for signs of vulnerability from him, and didn’t want to give Sanchez a sense that she could get the upper hand on him. He paused before responding, calmly but playfully. “If I gave away all of my secrets, what would there be to discover?”
Sanchez smiled smugly. “You forget Derek, that I know where you live and what your dog looks like.”
Morgan continued, playfully. “Are you trying to get into my head?”
Sanchez just smiled, giving off a playful vibe.
“You forget Gina, I know all the tricks.”
“Yes Derek…but we both know all the moves.” At this point, the two of them had moved closer, and began to kiss.
The Elevator at the FBI Headquarters Parking Garage, Quantico, VA
Dr. Spencer Reid stared at the ceiling, taking animated breaths to calm his nerves. He was going down from the main building to the parking garage to meet someone at their car, though he wondered why he couldn’t just meet them elsewhere.
As he stepped out of the elevator into the garage, he saw immediately the car he had to go to. It was a nice, black Fiat Coupe, with a license plate that strangely said “ILuvReid” on it. Thinking he was meeting a stalker, he drew out his gun.
“I’m not going any further!” shouted Reid at the vehicle. “If you try anything, I will shoot!” Reid stared with intense intent at the car, breathing heavily.
As if in slow motion, a blonde hair beauty stepped out of the car, her sultry blue eyes locking with Reid’s astonished ones. She was wearing a long, silky backless black dress that had a slit favourably right up both legs, complimented with diamond-studded black high heeled shoes.
“Lila?” exclaimed Reid, in shock. In front of him was Lila Archer, the famous TV actress whom Reid met when he became involved in a stalker case in Los Angeles in late 2005. Archer and Reid shared a special kiss inside Archer’s pool when Reid was at her house to protect her from her stalker, former manager Maggie Lowe, whom Reid later apprehended after successfully wrestling away Lowe’s gun without firing his own. He met Archer two weeks before he started going out with media liaison Jennifer Jareau, but the show Criminal Minds re-arranged the chronology thinking that story fit better for the February sweep period.
Reid stood there, with his mouth open, still in shock, slowly putting away his gun but fixated with Archer’s stare. Archer, for her part, kept seductively pacing towards him and, without skipping a beat, planted a passionate kiss into Reid’s open mouth, which Reid responded to in kind.
After a long sequence, Reid and Archer held each other in each other’s arms, needing a moment to catch their breaths.
“I…I wasn’t expecting you here,” stammered Reid, by now looking into Archer’s eyes while the two of them still held each other. “Why the license plate? You had me scared.”
Archer continued in her sultry voice. “I did that on purpose to get you going. You’re so cute when you’re nervous. Do you want to know when you’re even cuter?”
“When you’re my hero.” The two of them began another round of kissing. When it stopped, Reid spoke up again.
“So you drove all this way just to kiss me?”
Archer responded by grabbing Reid’s rear with conviction and pressing it against her groin, rubbing it slightly against Reid’s excited body. “I was also hoping I’d get to see your gun.”
Reid stammered again, speaking quickly as he was nervous. “I can’t pull it out again…I’ll need to write a report, in fact, I’ll probably need to-”
Archer put her finger on Reid’s mouth to silence him. “I’m not talking about that gun.” Archer then unlocked her car and took Reid by the hand into it.
As soon as the doors were closed, Archer undid Reid’s pants and slid them off, along with his undergarments, and pleasured him with her mouth. Reid gushed with joy, which ended with extreme euphoria. When Archer was finished, she licked her lips and swallowed, her thirst quenched. After Reid started to relax from his giddiness, a thought occurred to him.
“That was great,” said Reid, with joy, “but something tells me you didn’t come up to Virginia to have oral sex with me.”
Archer laughed. “I did miss you, and I wondered why you never called,” Archer replied, caressing Reid’s face with her left hand.
“I was scared. I thought you were some big time movie star and that you’d never fall for a guy like me…my friend Morgan always tells me not to beat myself up, but I can’t help it…I mean, you’re Lila Archer and I’m just…” Reid’s voice trailed off, depressingly. “I’m just Spencer Reid.”
“Spencer…” Archer continued to stroke Reid’s face, lovingly and looked right into his eyes. “That has nothing to do with that.” She shook her head softly then continued. “I know, you’re afraid of rejection…I’m an actress, I know how that feels; but I also know I’ll get nowhere if I didn’t just ‘hit and hope’.”
“I know…but…it just didn’t make sense…you’re you and I’m me…”
“I’m not like other actresses…you know that…you profiled me, remember?”
“Yeah, I knew you weren’t narcissistic and that you were genuinely caring and that you had a thing for oddballs…I guess I just let my insecurities get in the way.”
“Here’s your opportunity. I really wanted a second chance,” said Archer with a warm smile.
“So you waited seven years for me?”
“No, I dated a few in between, got married twice, but you know Hollywood marriages never last. Made me realize that of all the people I’ve met, you were the only one who was interested in me for me, not because ‘it would look great if you were dating Lila Archer’.”
Reid laughed, having read about instances like that all the time in the papers.
“Spencer, do you want to go for a ride? There was a great place down the road.”
“I should get back to work. I’m willing to give you a second chance, okay?” Reid kissed her on the lips softly and then grabbed the door handle before Archer stopped him.
“Spencer…I came here because a story I read disturbed me. A fan wrote to me that two of her best friends committed suicide because they were teased at school for having ‘shaved beaver disease.’ As soon as I heard it I knew you could help me.”
“How far is the diner?”
“About half a mile.”
“Okay, I’ll help you. Let me call Morgan and see if he can meet us there.”
Morgan's house, Chesapeake Beach, MD
“Reid...this better be good,” said Morgan on the phone to Reid. He was lying in bed with Sanchez after the pair had just finished having sex. “Okay...I'm on my way.”
“Where are you going mister?” said Sanchez, still lying in bed. Morgan was now putting on his clothes.
“Sorry Gina, gotta go...duty calls. I'll call ya.” Morgan then planted a kiss on Sanchez's lips.
Sanchez replied sarcastically. “When? Six years from now?”
“I'll call ya tonight once I figure out what this is all about. Reid's my best friend, I don't want to leave him hanging.”
Sanchez accepted Morgan's explanation and left Morgan's house and drove back home. Morgan drove to Quantico, finding Reid and Archer at a small cafe at the outskirts of town.
“Morgan, you remember Lila?” said Reid.
“Yes I do,” said Morgan, taking a seat and firmly shaking Archer's hand. “Let's get down to business. I understand you have two friends who committed suicide strangely?”
“They're not my friends,” replied Archer. “It's a fan of mine...she lost two friends to suicide after kids in her school taunted her for having a sexually transmitted disease.”
“Which one?” Morgan inquired.
“Shaved beaver disease...I don't think SBD exists except as an urban legend that's gained a lot of traction on the Internet...apparently boys use it to shun girls whom they feel wronged them,” responded Archer.
“How so?” Morgan asked with interest.
“Details are fuzzy,” piped in Reid, “but apparently if you have intercourse with someone with SBD, it can cause itching in the scrotum and may even cause the penis to atrophy, though no one has ever reported the latter happening.”
“Atrophy? You mean…” Morgan asked with a shocked look.
“Yep…fall off,” replied Reid without skipping a beat. Morgan winced at the thought.
“Reportedly a sign of SBD- but, again, not all sufferers display it- is hair loss,” continued Reid.
“Okay, okay, okay,” interrupted Morgan, trying to stop Reid from getting carried away. “What does SBD do in the first place? I know 'beaver' is slang for women's pubic hair…does this mean it causes women to lose their pubic hair?”
“As well as cause scarring,” stated Reid. “There's one picture floating around the Web that purports to be the result of the disease that's quite gruesome to look at.”
“Lila, you mentioned it was an ‘urban legend’…I’m guessing you found no credible sources on the disease?” asked Morgan.
“Yes,” replied Archer. “I looked it up on Google...couldn’t find a single credible source discussing the disease. In fact, most of what I did find are message board postings by guys warning other guys about girls who have the disease.”
“Okay, so we have a 'disease' that's primarily a function of malicious gossip, since no credible medical journal has documented it,” stated Morgan.
“Correct,” said Reid.
“So, Lila, what do you know about the fans?” Morgan asked.
“I haven't had much time to really dig,” said Archer. “I just read this really touching letter...broke my heart. I wrote back to her and she provided some more details...unfortunately my computer crashed so I don't have the letters.”
“It's okay,” said Morgan assuredly, “Garcia can restore them.”
“So you guys can help me?” asked a concerned Archer.
“We can help,” said Morgan, “when we have an answer we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.” Morgan and Reid got up to drive back to their headquarters in Quantico, and Archer got up to drive back to her hotel. They walked outside of the diner and got to the point where they were in between the cars and the diner’s exterior wall. Seeing no one else around, she then grabbed Reid’s face and stroked it.
“Call me tonight, okay?” said Archer, kissing Reid softly on the lips. The two went their separate ways.
Inside the car, Morgan couldn’t help but ask Reid about the kiss.
“So, should I start calling you ‘the Doctor of Love’?” teased Morgan affectionately.
Reid laughed. “I know…I’ve had more dates in the past year than I’ve had in the past few years…not even I can grasp it,” replied Reid.
“So where does this leave Hawkes and JJ?”
“I don’t know yet…I’ve never been in this situation before. I’d rather focus my attention on one girl and that’s it…I still have feelings for Zoe…and JJ.”
“Well, have you told any of them that you’ve ‘made it official’?”
“I told Lila I’d give her a second chance…that was it.”
“That’s different from saying you’ll jump into a relationship with her…which is smart. You hardly know them. I think you should play things cool and see which one bears fruit…and try not to tell one about the other, or you’ll just wind up losing both.”
“That will be hard with Lila.”
“Let’s hope that no one took a picture of you and Lila together…which makes me ask…why the diner? It’s out in the open.”
“Lila seeks validation…it’s why she got into acting. She would want the world to know that she found me again and that she’s happy, and, aside from the kiss, there was nothing really that conspicuous about our meeting…plus it happened in an area where no one could view it. So the most anyone could see was the three of us together.”
“Good point.” Morgan then shifted the conversation to the case. “So what do you make of this strange disease? It sounds like a hoax to me.”
“I think it is. I’ve never come across anything in any medical journal discussing a disease matching its description, plus you’d think that someone who lost their penis would have reported it…it’d be quite the news story.”
Morgan replied with a hint of sarcasm. “Of course, those propagating the myth would say that a government conspiracy would cover up all those reports.”
Reid chuckled, acknowledging as true Morgan’s statement, having read that too many times about a lot of urban legends.
“First thing we gotta do is explore this urban legend, see what could drive those women to suicide, as well as make sure this legend isn’t bigger than it already is, though I have a bad feeling about that.”
FBI Headquarters, Quantico, VA
Morgan’s and Reid’s next job was to brief the team on their case. They likely wouldn’t need the rest of them until much later in the process, but, given that they needed to submit a case report, they had to go back to the office. Reid was photocopying the submission report when he noticed teammate Zoe Hawkes passing by.
“Hey Zoe,” said Reid, cheerfully. Hawkes ignored him, zeroing in right to her desk.
Reid thought something was wrong, so he sat down in front of her. She didn’t even flinch.
“Are you okay?” asked Reid, concerned.
Hawkes didn’t lift her head.
Reid started to fumble his words, worried he set her off. “Did I…was it…uh…something I did?”
Hawkes got up, still refusing to acknowledge Reid, and stormed off to the photocopier.
Reid got up and followed her.
Hawkes turned around, wagged her finger at him and snapped. “Do not follow me.”
“Zoe…yesterday we were laughing and talking…you have me perplexed at your behavior.”
Hawkes replied coldly. “You need to sit your prying ass back down and get back to your case.”
“Okay…” Reid went away meekly, not wanting to cause a fight.
Their colleague, David Rossi, overheard the exchange and asked Hawkes about it.
“What was that all about?” asked Rossi.
“Oh it’s this case I’m working on,” replied Hawkes. “It’s really unnerving and Reid is the last person I want to deal with right now.”
“This doesn’t sound like it’s about a case. Can we talk in my office?” The two of them walked into Rossi’s office and closed the door.
Hawkes shook her head in disgust as Rossi sat on his chair, leaned back and rested his legs on the top of his desk.
“Do you really think that’s going to make me want to open up to you?” said Hawkes sardonically.
“No,” said Rossi, who expected Hawkes’ response, “but I do know that since you first met Reid, you’ve never called him ‘Reid’ except when you’re mad at him. So I know this is about him.” He was hoping to rattle her by appearing like he wasn’t taking things seriously when he was.
Hawkes continued to be defiant. “I know all your tricks…it won’t work with me. You’re hoping that by being casual it will relax me but I know it won’t work.”
Rossi put his feet back down on the floor, clasped his hands together, put his arms extended slightly onto his desk and leaned forward. “I’m not playing a trick, Zoe. I care about you, and I’m worried that something’s wrong, especially something that could affect this team. I don’t want Hotch to find out about this and reprimand the both of you…you’re both too valuable to this team to see anything happen to you.”
Hawkes read Rossi’s concern and sat down, her defiance having cooled off. “I saw a picture of Reid with Lila Archer at a diner just down the street. I know he was with Morgan as well but I can’t get it out of my head that Reid’s getting back together with this woman…someone who I don’t think he even fits with.”
“So you feel rejected. It happens, I understand. Do you know if Reid has actually gotten back together with Lila, though?”
“It’s hard to tell…I only caught one picture online and Reid and Archer didn’t seem to be doing anything…but…you know I like Reid. It’s hard for me to see him with anyone else.”
“Zoe…you guys had one night. I grant that it was a special night but it meant nothing. You guys aren’t yet in a relationship…he’s a free man, he can see other women, just like you can see other men. You know Reid…he’s not a player, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s in just as much shock about things as you are.” Rossi laughed a little and continued. “He doesn’t know how to date…he’s probably confused about how to deal with this situation…you and I…we both know better. I think you shouldn’t take it too personally and apologize to Mr. Reid…he sure didn’t mean to hurt you. Now all you have to do is get yourself into the dating game and, prove yourself to him.”
Hawkes chuckled, relieved. “Okay.”
She left Rossi’s office and zeroed in on Reid, walking purposefully towards him. She then leaned on to him, extended her arms around him and gave him a hug, resting her head on his shoulder. The surprised Reid didn’t move until he realized what was happening, and then slowly reciprocated the hug.
“I’m sorry Spencer,” said Hawkes, “I didn’t mean to flip out at you.”
“It’s okay,” said Reid, reassuringly. “I guess you know about Lila.”
“Yeah…I saw a picture…freaked out…then Dave told me I shouldn’t take it so personally, because you didn’t mean any harm.”
“Zoe, I’m just as confused as you are about all this…the truth is, Lila threw herself at me…it was kind of unsettling…you know me, I like to be in control.”
“So…does that mean I’m in the lead?”
“Zoe.” Reid leaned back slightly so he was face to face with Hawkes, though their bodies were still close to each other, and held her head and looked her in the eyes. “I don’t know what any of this means. I wish I could give you a clearer answer, but please…let’s not ruin our friendship over it.”
“Okay.” The two hugged again and then went their separate ways.
“What was that all about?” asked colleague Emily Prentiss, who caught the exchange from a distance with Rossi.
“Young love,” replied Rossi.
“Love,” replied Prentiss wistfully. “The one thing you can’t control.”
Rossi chuckled. “You got that right.”
“Okay…I think we have a case,” said team leader Agent Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner to Morgan, both of them sitting in Hotchner’s office. Morgan was in to brief Hotchner about the SBD case.
“Thanks Hotch,” said Morgan appreciatively. “Whoever did this was one sick puppy.”
“You do understand that this case isn’t time-sensitive and that if another one pops up that is more important you’ll be needed there.”
“I understand fully.”
“Good. I’m going to assign just you and Reid to the case for now…I don’t think we’ll need everyone for this.”
“I’d like to have Hawkes join me. We need a female perspective on this case.”
The road trip to Trenton, NJ
Hawkes slapped at Morgan's hand as he reached for the radio dial in her car. Hawkes, Morgan and Reid were on a road trip to discuss the case with Dr. Gregory House to meet with his acclaimed staff about the disease.
“Uh-uh...don't you ever touch a lady's radio tough guy,” said Hawkes playfully but firmly.
“Come on, man, I can't listen to this stuff,” said Morgan, irritated by the power pop song, The Veronicas' "Untouched", playing on the radio.
“I kind of like it,” said Reid, sitting in the back.
“Says the man who listens to Dream Theater,” replied Morgan huffily, referring to the progressive rock band.
“It's catchy,” replied Reid, defensively.
“I give up,” said Morgan, admitting defeat.
“We seem pretty convinced that this is not a real disease,” noted Hawkes, shifting the conversation, “just to play Devil’s Advocate, what if it’s not? Then what do we do?”
“If it’s a real disease,” said Morgan, “we’d have to hand it to the proper authorities. We have the investigation of the suicides of Lila Archer’s fans. Those are suspicious enough to merit our involvement regardless of how this turns out.”
“I would agree with that,” replied Hawkes. “We need to make sure this isn’t something bigger than it already is first.”
“I have a feeling it already is,” said Reid. “Lila Archer isn’t the first person to report knowing someone taunted with SBD…Jasmine Bryar, a blogger for the New York Islanders hockey team, has seen quite a few comments on her blog suggesting that she has the disease, mostly by men who are clearly perturbed by the sight of a woman providing insights on a male-dominated sport.”
“Okay,” said Morgan, taking charge, “we’re in the area. After we speak to Dr. House, we’ll see if we can meet with Ms. Bryar and see how far those comments have gone and how they started. We need to make sure we’re not dealing with just two suicides. Later today, Garcia should have the results of her research into the phenomenon…once we know where it started we can see how many more victims there are.”
“Even if we do catch this guy,” noted Reid, “it probably won’t stop the effects…stuff like this has a life of its own.”
“Yes, but even if we dispel this myth just slightly, it will at least stunt its forward progress,” said Morgan firmly. “As long as we’ve helped one person get out of this mess, we’ve done our job.”
Penelope Garcia's War Room, FBI Headquarters, Quantico, VA
The BAU's Technical Analyst, Penelope Garcia stared frustratingly at her computer screen. She'd been digging all morning for the source of SBD and had no luck. The letters were easy to restore but something about them struck her that she’d need Morgan for. Her boyfriend, Kevin Lynch, a Technical Analyst in another department, walked in with a coffee.
“Hey,” he said, leaning in to kiss the seated Garcia, “I thought you could use this.”
“Could I ever,” said Garcia, somewhat relieved by the coffee. She continued with playful animation. “This SBD thing is so annoying...just when you think you've found the beginning something else pops up.”
Lynch chuckled, then spoke calmly, hoping to be of help. “Well, what have you found so far?”
Garcia calmed down and adopted a serious tone. “Seems like there's five different names for it dating back to 2007, although there's a reference in 2004 for some reason. There's even a guy who claims to be a doctor and gave it some strange scientific name in an attempt to make it 'real'. He doesn't appear to be a real doctor, so I doubt how valid his claim is.”
Lynch took a seat in the chair next to Garcia. “I heard about in high school actually. Some strange rumblings about the cheerleader at our school...I believed it at the time but looking back, those claims were pretty dubious.”
“Was it just at your high school?”
“No, a couple of schools in the district knew it. In fact, my uncle from Santa Monica knew of it too, and he was on the other side of the country. We didn't call it 'SBD' though- we called it the Minx Disease, a reference to another slang term for female genitals.”
“Was the picture around back then?”
“Thankfully, no picture...but we knew of it.”
“So the picture is likely a new interpretation of an older urban legend. Now we just have to figure out where it started.”
“I'll leave you to it.”
Garcia got playful for a brief moment. “Where do you think you're going, Mister? If we work on this together, we'll have the answer in no time.”
“Let me see what my team needs...I was working on something. I promise I'll give you some time, okay sweetie?”
Garcia smiled and received the goodbye kiss from Lynch and got back to work.
Dr. House's Office, Princeton-Plansboro Teaching Hospital, Trenton, NJ
“Hello Dr. House,” started Morgan, greeting Dr. House with a firm handshake. “I'm sure you remember us, I'm Agent Morgan and my colleagues Dr. Reid and Agent Hawkes.”
“How could I not?” House replied with a smug smile. Morgan then introduced the team to House's gynecologist, Dr. Cynthia Moore. “Glad you guys caught the guy with CLF...that was annoying. So, Dr. Reid, I guess you've graduated multiplication.”
“Actually,” said Reid with a laugh, “I've graduated from advanced calculus to upper echelon combinatorics.” Morgan reacted with a confused look on his face, not knowing what combinatorics are.
“You're starting to sound a lot like that Charlie Epps guy,” noted House, before moving to the task at hand. “I understand you have something for us.”
“That's correct Drs House and Moore,” said Morgan. “We have this gruesome picture of what purports to be 'shaved beaver disease' and we need to know if you've come across anything like it.” He then handed the picture to Moore.
“This isn't a real disease,” said Moore convincingly. “There is no condition that would cause anything like this.”
“More to the point,” jumped in House, examining the picture, “these cuts were applied post-mortem.”
“We have a dead body?” Reid exclaimed with shock.
“Yes, that's what 'post-mortem' means,” replied House curtly. “In fact, it's not just one, but two.”
“Two?” Hawkes said with shock. “This is getting weirder by the minute.”
“Yes,” replied House. “You need an eagle eye to spot it, but it's clearly Photoshopped. I've never seen any discolouration of the skin resembling anything like this, and I've seen everything.”
“You can tell the difference between real cuts and fake ones?” Morgan asked.
“Unless the person has a Hollywood studio in their homes,” said House definitively, “and even then they can't catch the subtleties...the decomposition of the cuts appear the way they do only if they're real.”
“Any sign of rape?” asked Hawkes.
“Not from what I can tell,” replied Moore, “but we’d need the actual body. It’s possible that the injuries are internal and we can’t see them. Outwardly, it looks like there’s no sign of rape, but I qualify that cautiously.”
“Anything else unusual about the skin?” asked Morgan.
“The hair follicles were carefully removed,” said House, continuing with a dramatic flair. “Before death.” The agents grimaced at the thought of the poor torture the women suffered.
“What can you tell about the age of the victims?” Hawkes asked.
“The sexual organs, from what I can tell, appear functional,” said Moore, “but they're not that advanced. Also, the skin tone and muscle definition doesn't appear to be that old. So they're likely teens.”
“Thank you, Doctors,” said Hawkes.
“We gotta call Hotch,” said Morgan with a heightened sense of urgency. “This case has taken on a whole new level of importance.”
FBI Headquarters, Quantico, VA
“He was living in despair,” started Rossi, analyzing with conviction. “He was running, running for his life, metaphorically and, at the end, physically. There was no way out so he went to the only place that he knew. He found refuge at the bottom of a beer can and drowned in his sorrows.” Rossi paused and took another analytical look, fishing an empty beer can with a dead mouse inside of it from behind his file cabinet in his office. Rossi finished wistfully. “That's why Jerry died inside the beer can...because he was running from Tom.”
“I guess you're getting nowhere with that Calgary case,” said Hotchner, walking into his office.
“We have the worst janitor here,” said Rossi with a hint of anger. “I come in to my office after lunch to the most repugnant of smells...I get him to look after it and he just decides to fall asleep in my chair. So I got his supervisor to send him home. I had to look for it myself and...there it is. I'm getting forensics to look at it...I believe it's got his fingerprints on it but I'm not sure. As for the case at the University of Calgary...I've got nothing.”
“Keep at it. Anyhow, we're needed in the war room- the case Morgan is looking after is bigger than we thought.”
Gathered in the war room was the rest of the team: Hotchner, Rossi and Prentiss. Their media liaison, Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, briefed them on what Morgan, Reid, Garcia and Hawkes had found thus far.
“So far,” said Jareau, “all we know is that we have two dead bodies and a few suspicious suicides. We have no ID's just yet and while we don't know if other violent activity has occurred, we can't rule it out either.”
“We all suspected it was an urban legend,” said Rossi. “All we have to figure out is why someone would want to use it maliciously.”
“Our first order of business is understanding the suicides, and Garcia’s on that as we speak” said Hotchner. “Then we would need to profile the type of person who would create this disease and see if it helps guide the investigation.” He then called Garcia. “Garcia, what have you found about SBD and the suicide letters?”
“SBD,” replied Garcia through the office speaker, “Kevin and I are working on it now…there’s so many false leads. As for the letters…I found something curious about them. They’re all anonymous letters, and two of them appear to be written by the same person but their IP addresses resolve to Karakorum in Mongolia and Denver, Colorado, with timestamps being a mere hour apart. The process repeats itself several times, and with several different cities. This guy’s going to be hard to track down.”
“Garcia, can I have a look at those letters?” asked Prentiss.
“Sure,” replied Garcia. “I’ve already told Morgan about them…the three of them will help you when they get back.”
“Okay,” said Hotchner. “I think we should all have a look at the letters and see what we can draw off all of them. How’s the missing person report, Garcia?”
“It’s a very extensive list,” responded Garcia. “Aside from having two white teenaged girls, there’s not a lot to narrow it down.”
“Keep working on resolving that IP and tracking down the source of the picture,” said Hotchner. “That will give us a lead on who those missing girls are.”
The drive back to Quantico
“The guy who created the picture has to be an artist of some kind,” said Reid. Morgan, Reid and Hawkes were spending the car ride back to Quantico- having asked to come back by Hotchner- trying to come up with their own profile of the offender.
“We can’t say for sure that’s their job,” said Hawkes. “Although it does take skill to create the picture that we saw, it’s still just one picture and we don’t know how much time was spent crafting it.”
“We know the victims are female,” said Morgan, “two white, teenaged girls. Dr. Moore was pretty adamant about that. Now, who would want to murder and mutilate females?”
“It’s a sexual sadist, that’s for sure” replied Reid. “Particularly appalling too.”
“It’s still obvious the killer hated the girls,” said Hawkes. “Why else would the killer mangle their genitalia like they did? Plus, how many guys want a ‘shaved beaver’ in the first place? I think this is about message sending.”
“Could we be dealing with a female UnSub?” asked Morgan.
“I think it’s possible,” said Reid. “This picture was created because of jealousy, especially of a sexual kind, as each time SBD manifests itself is when a girl is described as overtly promiscuous.”
“It’s okay Spencer, you can say ‘slut’,” said Hawkes. “I won’t be offended.”
Morgan chuckled acknowledging the comment then continued at the task at hand. “It could still be a male,” he said. “Jealousy could have come from a rejection.”
“I agree,” said Hawkes, “but I don’t think another guy would be telling guys that something they like having really could hurt them…plus, emasculation is erroneously held to be a goal of feminism, so I think the female angle holds some weight.”
“OK,” said Morgan, now playing Devil’s Advocate to keep the profile building process going. “How do we know the UnSub wanted to send a message in the first place? How do we know this picture wasn’t just stolen off the UnSub’s computer?”
“Given the amount of work that went into this picture and its subsequent usage it’s hard for me to think that this isn’t about a message,” said Reid.
“I also think it’s an odd trophy to keep,” said Hawkes. “I agree with Reid…the UnSub spent too much time making this to not show it to someone.”
“Do we think this is personal?” asked Morgan, trying to build on themes.
“Personal to the attacker, yes,” said Reid. “That much we already know. What’s more difficult is knowing if the UnSub knew the victims. The cuts weren’t very deep and though the pubic hair removal was deliberate and painstaking, it doesn’t add much. Also we can’t tell what the UnSub did to the rest of their bodies…judging from the picture, the perpetrator was going for shock value and likely has some kind of negative history with women, but unless we know how the victims looked like we can’t tell if the UnSub knew their victims.”
“Stabbings are usually a metaphor for sexual penetration,” noted Hawkes, “and I can’t help but think the UnSub got off on this, given the area of the body we’re looking at. That tends to skewer to the male side of things but given the subsequent usage of the picture it sounds more like a girl’s message than a boy’s, and it had to have been against a specific target, though who that is we don’t know. Also, given the amount of planning that went into the cuts and then the picture, this UnSub had to have above average intelligence. The fact that- so far- we know of no bodies matching the girls indicates that the killer has been smart about covering their tracks.”
“So we go back to the artist,” said Morgan.
“Or at least an affinity for art,” said Reid.
“I think you’re missing something guys. How do we know it’s the same person?” asked Hawkes. “Given what we’ve reasoned so far it does sound like there’s more than one person involved.”
“It could be two, you’re right,” said Reid. “They’ll have to have a connection to each other, though, because there’s no evidence two separate pictures have surfaced, meaning the killers met, combined the picture and released it.”
Morgan sat pensively and still wasn’t sure of that assessment. “We still can’t make that assumption,” said Morgan. “I think we should assume there’s a single killer until we find proof that there’s two of them.”
“What if one committed the crime and the other released the message?” said Reid. “There’s elements of both male and female attackers in this crime…it’s doubtful that they’re the same person.”
“Good point,” said Morgan.
“Okay, so let’s recap,” said Hawkes. “Let’s assume we’ve got a boy and girl team of sexual sadists here. We’ve got two UnSubs, one male and one female, between the ages of 15 and 25, given the age of the victims. The male likely committed the actual killing and mutilation, and the female put the picture together and distributed it. They are either artists or have an affinity for art, and have a personal connection to the victims, though whether or not it’s just a general issue with women or a more specific issue with two specific women is undetermined. It’s likely the picture was created to send a message. Can’t yet say for sure that there are other victims but, with sexual sadists, that’s highly likely. How does that sound?”
“I think we have it,” said Morgan.
When the trio arrived in the offices at Quantico, they were greeted by the rest of the team who commended them on their work. They came in with the picture super-imposed on a large green screen, the team taking a break from reading the letters and deciding that Reid should finish reading them, since he was the speed reader. They had a few other points to add to the profile.
“I think it’s obvious,” said Prentiss. “When you spend this much time and effort to make this kind of picture, you’re targeting it against someone, or at least you have someone in mind.”
“Yes, but the targets weren’t the victims that were killed,” said Rossi. “The target was someone who was alive, because the perpetrators wanted to send a message about them- a deviant, sexual message.”
“OK,” said Hawkes, “so you guys definitely don’t think the ones who were killed were random victims then.”
“They still could be,” replied Prentiss, “It’s possible that the perpetrator was delusional, believing that the pain inflicted on the individual is pain inflicted on the target.”
“I also think they weren’t just any kind of artist,” said Rossi. “They’re photographers.”
“Photographers,” pondered Morgan, intrigued by the insight.
“The staging of the picture is done only in such a way that a photographer would know,” said Rossi, motioning his hand around the picture to illustrate his point.
“Since this UnSub ‘created’ a disease, do they have medical experience?” pressed Hotchner.
“I don’t think they do,” said Morgan with conviction. “Drs. House and Moore didn’t think this was anything close to any disease they knew of, so I doubt they know much about anatomy or diseases- this was just about shock value.”
“I think this skewers it towards high school students, don’t you think?” said Rossi. “College students, on top of being able to craft a disease better, know better than to be shocked by something like this, and high school provides a wider sample of the population than any other place- great for shock value.”
“Also, if we’re surmising that this is a picture aimed at the UnSub’s peers, it would make sense that they’re in high school where the people are more impressionable,” noted Reid.
“Now that we’ve figured out the UnSub, we should profile the victims,” said Hotchner.
“It sounds like a great idea,” said Reid with hesitation, “but I don’t think we’ve got much here. These guys could be targeting anyone.”
“We should still try to narrow down the search,” said Hotchner firmly. “It’ll help when we look at the missing persons list.”
“Okay,” said Morgan, contemplatively. “It’s likely the girls were taken close to each other…I don’t think someone wanting to make a gruesome picture would wait that long to get his second victim.”
“So the victims were grabbed at the same time,” said Prentiss with certainty. “So we won't be looking for missing girls with too much of a gap in disappearance time. Okay, so who’s the target?”
“We’re looking at a lot of people, still,” said Reid, cupping his mouth pensively before continuing by holding his hands apart and finishing by putting them together. “Aside from it being a girl who is being bullied, there’s not much else to go on- anyone can be the target of bullying. The only thing we know is that both the girl and the boy knew the target.”
“If this is a girl’s message,” said Prentiss with conviction, “then the girl is the ringleader. I don’t think the team are boyfriend/girlfriend- these are two friends.”
“I think the boy likes the girl,” said Hawkes, “I can’t imagine a boy doing something this lurid for a girl unless he’s attracted to her.”
“We go back to the ‘personal’ part of the crime,” said Rossi. “How do they lure their victims? These aren’t blitz attacks- somebody would have reported them if they were.”
“Meaning the girls that are killed are at least acquaintances of one of the members of the team,” said Reid.
“…and, likely, the girl is promising the other girls as ‘toys’ for the boy,” said Morgan.
Garcia interrupted the discussion with a phone call.
“I traced the letters sent to Lila Archer,” said Garcia. “They’re all sent by the same guy, a Jude Robeson. He lives in Atlanta, where, coincidentally, two ‘suicides’ were reported the same day he started Emailing Lila…he also operates an Archer fan site, including a video where he simulates sex with Ms. Archer.”
“Garcia,” said Morgan with a smile, “you are the best.”
“You’re welcome my Justice League of Superheroes,” beamed Garcia.
Hotchner smiled briefly then regained his composure. “I’m going to call Atlanta PD and tell them to survey Mr. Robeson until we get there.” Hotchner looked at his watch and saw that it was past dinner time. “It’s late…everyone get home and get some sleep. Wheels up at 9AM tomorrow.” The team departed for their homes, with Morgan calling Sanchez to arrange a date potentially when he got home from Atlanta.
Atlanta Police Headquarters, Atlanta, GA
When the team landed in Atlanta, they were greeted by Atlanta Police Chief Peter Wickman, who handed each team member a case file to look at. Wickman told the team that they caught Robeson the night before having seen him drunk and disorderly, punching out a store window while on his bender.
“We still don’t have him on the girls,” said Wickman with an endearing Southern drawl. He was a hardened veteran, a man of 52 years with an impressive build and a menacing handlebar moustache, not dulled at all by his white, stress-laden hair. “We looked into the suicides when they happened and ruled them to be homicides in disguise since there were drugs in each girl’s system that were injected just prior to them being shot. There was no DNA on the bodies so the killer wore gloves. We also don’t know where the syringe is.”
“Thanks Chief Wickman,” said Hotchner. “We’ve got this. Prentiss, are you going to need anyone for the interrogation?”
“Yes Hotch,” affirmed Prentiss. “I want Morgan and Reid in there, Morgan to play the ‘bad cop’ and Reid the ‘good cop’. He’s an imposing man and is very confrontational…we need him to feel pushed so hard that Reid is a ‘relief’ to him and thus will open up to him.”
“Okay,” said Hotchner. “The rest of us will look at the police reports of the victims.”
Robeson was indeed a big man. A former football linebacker, he stood a menacing 6’3”, 256lbs, and worked out to maintain his playing muscle. His head was shaved and he was decked in jeans and a T-Shirt. He also wore a monocle with a chain attached to his belt.
Morgan was the first one to greet him.
“I assume you’re aware of your rights,” snarled Morgan.
“...and I assume you know you’re a moron,” snarled Robeson back at Morgan.
Morgan took a seat in front of the table separating him from Robeson. Morgan leaned in, with a menacing scowl painted on his face. “Don’t play around with me tough guy. We have you Dead. To. Rights. Don’t try to cover up, you moron.”
Robeson leaned in, smugly. “Oh yeah? Do you have something the Atlanta PD doesn’t have?”
Morgan continued with his death glare, right into Robeson’s eyes. He didn’t reply.
Robeson leaned back and chuckled, satisfied. “I thought so. Now, let me use the bathroom…I gotta take a monster leak here.”
“Oh you’re not going anywhere. Not until you co-operate with me.”
“…and why would I want to co-operate with a degenerate black man like you? You’re nothing but scum, and I eat scums for breakfast.” Robeson was clearly in a fighting mood, reaching across the table to violently slap Morgan, before leaning back in his chair to gloat in his laugh.
Morgan got livid. “You think I’m playing punk? You think I’m playing?” He then violently tossed the table aside, got up from his chair, rolled up his sleeves and assumed a combat stance. “You wanna fight punk? Why don't you get up from your chair right now and we’ll go right here!” Robeson continued to be defiant and goaded Morgan into fighting him with his body language, but, seeing that Morgan was just as big as he was, he wasn’t sure if he liked his chances in a fight.
Reid saw the action as his cue to enter the room.
“Morgan, can I talk to you for a moment?” said Reid, armed with a file folder given to him by Hotchner. Morgan continued to look menacingly at Robeson. “Morgan, I know you’ve had a rough day but you can’t antagonize him. He has every right to be upset right now…he has a history with the police and you’re not helping.”
Morgan gave Robeson another stare. “I’m not finished with you,” he scowled as he left the room.
“I’m sorry Mr. Robeson,” said Reid, putting the table back down. “He’s had a long day…he doesn’t realize how long you’ve had it.”
“A lot of people don’t understand me,” said Robeson, who took a liking to Reid’s more soothing speech pattern. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Dr. Spencer Reid. I’m with the Behavioural Analysis Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. You already know why we’re here, which is why we need your help solving this case.”
“A lot of people are threatened by me, and for no reason…I couldn’t hurt anybody. I’m a protector, not a bruiser. I wished people would see that.”
“I do. I can see it in your posture.”
“Did you ever meet Lila Archer?”
Robeson changed his tone to one of derision, though not at Reid. “Lila…I hated her. I ran that fan site to please my wife, who knew nothing about computers, but I always wanted a chance to get back at her. When I heard about SBD, I had my chance.”
“Where did you hear about SBD?”
“Saw it on a Web Site, the Daily Pickle.”
“The shock site.”
Reid knew he’d have to get Garcia to verify Robeson’s story, so he pressed on with the interrogation. “Where do the two suicides factor in?”
“Rene Blackford and Jesse Crane?”
“Yes, those women.”
“I read about them in the news…it was tragic. I had nothing to do with that…I didn’t know them, but I decided to use that to scare Lila into knowing that her promiscuous life cost her the lives of two of her fans who repeated her lifestyle recklessly.”
Reid looked puzzled. “Rene and Jesse…you said you didn't know them…I read the letters and saw the pictures of the apartments before I got in here…the letters contained information only someone with an intimate knowledge of their apartment would know…Mr. Robeson, I’m trying to help you…lying isn’t going to do any good.”
“Okay.” Robeson admitted defeat. “I met them at a party. Saw them a few more times afterward. Things got a little hot and heavy, but I was ashamed…I’m a married man Dr. Reid. So I staged the killings as suicides, so my wife could never find out about my transgression.” Robeson then began to weep. Atlanta police came in to the room to lead Robeson back to his cell. Reid sat for a moment and swished his lips back and forth and cocked his eyebrows briefly, analyzing what he had just done, before getting up and leaving the room having done his job effectively.
“We’ve got enough to put him away for good,” said Hotchner to Reid as he exited the interrogation room. “Witness reports were conflicting, meaning we needed that confession. You did a great job.” In a rare moment, before he departed to join the rest of the team in an office break room, Hotchner patted Reid on the shoulder, which elicited a warm smile from the team’s resident genius. It took a lot for Reid, who never trusted himself to do interrogations correctly (even though he devised a whole technique to conduct one in his graduate program years at the California Institute of Technology) to muster the courage to get into the room, so hearing the appreciation from Hotchner really helped.
Reid then placed a call to Garcia.
“How can I help The Smartest Man In The World today?” beamed Garcia after picking up the phone.
Reid laughed, enjoying Garcia’s inherent happiness. “Garcia,” said Reid, “Jude Robeson said something about picking up the picture from the Daily Pickle…can you confirm that?”
“The Daily Pickle…ick.” Garcia typed away for a few moments and then answered. “Yes, Mr. Sicko did pick up the picture from the Pickle…he didn’t create it…which reminds me…I think I know where it started.”
“Oh do you?” Reid got excited at hearing that.
“Yes…the first time it ever shows up is as a comment on Kelly Shane’s MySpace page in 2003. It’s the most solid lead I have. Unfortunately, the person who posted the comment did so on a public library computer, and, to boot, made their account and its related E-Mail address at the same time without using them again…so he’ll be incredibly hard to trace.”
“Kelly Shane? We rescued her from Mason Turner’s pig farm three years ago.”
“That’s the one.”
“Okay…thanks!” Reid, giddy with excitement, accidentally hit the speaker button on his phone’s touch screen and placed it in his pocket without hanging up on Garcia, who decided to stay on the line for her amusement.
“Guys!” Reid said, practically jumping into the break room. “Garcia has a lead!”
“That’s right my loves!” beamed Garcia from Reid’s phone.
“Reid?” said Morgan, cracking a joke at Reid's expense. “You have Garcia in your pocket? I’m really impressed at your abilities.” The rest of the team had a loving laugh, knowing Reid was just excited.
Reid hung his head with embarrassment. “Oh, shoot,” said Reid, still redfaced. “Garcia, I gotta let you go,” he said quickly before hastily hanging up.
Morgan chuckled. “It’s okay kid. It’s been a long case,” said Morgan. “I hope we’re closer to finding this guy.”
“What did you find?” asked Hotchner, still composed.
“Garcia was able to successfully trace the origin of the picture to Kelly Shane’s MySpace account in 2003,” said Reid. “It came as a comment on her page…unfortunately, the person who created the comment posted it on a library computer, where he also created the account, and used it just the once.”
“So he goes to the library just to post one picture about a girl he hated, making sure to cover his tracks,” mused Rossi. “Smooth.”
“Dave,” said Hawkes, interjecting. “I think you mean ‘she’. It’s more likely a girl would harbor that kind of hatred against Shane, especially to go through all that trouble.”
“Now that we know the origin on the Internet, we need to start looking at who the possible victims may be,” said Hotchner. “I’ll get Garcia to look into that. For now, we’ll focus on Ms. Shane. Where does Ms. Shane live right now?”
“In Rockford, Illinois,” said Reid, “Garcia just texted me the information.”
“Let’s go,” said Hotchner.
Rick’s Auto Body Warehouse, Rockford, IL
Since being rescued by the BAU in May of 2009, Kelly Shane, 25, found a job as a forklift operator at a distribution warehouse, the lone female on the staff. She didn’t mind, though- since her days as a prostitute, she’d gotten used to dealing with men, so much so that she gained tomboyish tendencies. When she was rescued by the BAU, she decided against returning to her old life, calling up the only john who admired her- a man by the name of Rick Cartwright, who was a reluctant customer at the time. Cartwright owned an auto parts warehouse in Rockford, about 90 miles from Chicago and the main supplier of the local Fiat Auto plant, and took Shane into his home with his wife, which took some convincing. Shane got her start at the warehouse being an order picker, eventually learning to drive the forklift and, being the student that she was, becoming the staff’s best forklift driver.
Prentiss and Hawkes met up with her at work, and she was thrilled at the sight of seeing the agents that gave her new life.
“Hey,” said Shane warmly, shaking hands with Prentiss and Hawkes. She was covered in dust from moving so many boxes. “I owe you guys so much. I wish I was in a better state to see you but I'm happy you're here.”
“Thanks,” said Hawkes with a smile. “I'm happy we could have helped. Don't worry about your appearance...as my dad used to say,” Hawkes then briefly imitated her dad speaking, “'if you aren't gettin' dirty you're not working!'” Shane then had a cute laugh.
Prentiss smiled too before getting to business. “Ms. Shane,” said Prentiss, “we're here because we're investigating a picture posted on your MySpace page back in 2003...we believe it's the first iteration of 'shaved beaver disease'...what do you know about it?”
“Kelly...we know this is hard,” said Hawkes soothingly, “but we need your help. We're worried that you're not the only victim.”
Shane's mood soured thinking of the incident, but she kept her composure knowing she was doing a good thing. “I remember it well,” she started. “I was just having a normal day at high school...I was the head cheerleader at the school. I had a lot of friends, because I'm naturally bubbly and likeable. We'd just finished a practice when my mother confronted me with the post, which she printed out. I hadn't seen it all day...I checked MySpace maybe once or twice a week, if that, but I had a lot of friends and messages.” She teared up as she continued her story, but Hawkes was there to rub her arm in support. “She just looked at me with intense anger, like she suspected something about me all along and this was her confirmation. I had a confused look on my face...my mother had arrived...she had my things in the trunk.” She began to cry, “she was kicking me out.”
“It's okay,” said Hawkes, rubbing Shane's back as she was hunched over in sadness. “You're doing great.”
Shane regained her composure somewhat, but was still visibly shaken. “I tried to finish high school...went on welfare...but nothing worked. I had to become a prostitute just to make ends meet...I was 16...I should have been thinking about boys and homework...not hustling...you know I lost my virginity to a john...and he was so cold about it too...he just did his thing, slapped me, threw down the money and left in a huff. I cried afterward...it was so hard to muster the courage to move on, but I had to.”
“So this picture comes out of the blue,” said Prentiss, trying to understand what Shane had described, “and your mother used it against you for something you didn't know you did. Is that correct?”
“Yes,” said Shane with a nod.
“Have you always had problems with your mother?” Prentiss asked.
“Ever since I became a cheerleader,” said Shane. “She watched too many movies where cheerleaders are nothing but sex objects...funny how I had to become a slut because she called me one,” she finished, wistfully.
“Was there anyone else who might have something against you?” Hawkes asked. “A rival cheerleader, perhaps?”
“No,” said Shane convincingly. “Everyone loved me...okay, there were a few who I wasn't friends with, but there wasn't anyone I didn't get along with...I was very easy going.”
“Was it hard moving from Boston to Port Huron?” asked Hawkes, remembering the notes the team reviewed on their flight to Rockford. “I hate to bring up your father, but I know how you feel- I have issues with mine too.”
“I actually liked Port Huron better than Boston,” said Shane. “My mother hated my father…that’s why they divorced. I think she was hoping we’d develop some kind of ‘Gilmore Girls’ vibe or something because my mother really tried to bond with me after the move, but it just never worked…it’s why I picked up cheerleading, because I needed something to get away from my mother.”
“Why cheerleading?” asked Prentiss.
“Ever since I was a little girl I was into dancing,” reminisced Shane, “I remember Britney Spears’ first video and I thought it was so cool…of course, I didn’t know any better but for me that was enough to make the connection. I remember being always into sports, even in high school, and being the most vocal fan in the crowd…so a friend of mine told me about the cheerleading squad and the rest was history.”
“Did you tell your dad about the cheerleading?” asked Hawkes.
“It was hard…my mother didn’t let me talk to him very much,” said Shane, downtrodden. “She always said it was about long distance but, looking back, it was all about control.”
“It seems like she had to rub it in your face too,” noted Hawkes, doing her best to contain her disgust for Shane’s mother. “Were you and your dad close?”
“As close as a father and daughter could be,” said Shane with a reminiscing smile. “She thought he loved me more than he loved her, so she blamed me for the divorce...yet wanted to be close to me, for some reason.”
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, I guess,” said Hawkes with a wry smile, with Shane nodding in agreement.
“Did something happen that morning that set your mother off?” asked Prentiss.
“We fought every morning…it’s hard to tell,” said Shane.
“Something must have set her off,” said Hawkes, trying to probe. “She wanted to control you…something different had to have happened that morning that made her think she couldn’t control you anymore, which is why she kicked you out.”
“Well,” said Shane, who let out a contemplative breath, “I did sneak in a call to my father the night before…she never caught me before that point.”
“…and then, later on, you got that post and your stuff in the back of her truck,” said Prentiss.
“That’s correct,” said Shane.
“Has your mother tried contacting you since you moved out?” asked Prentiss.
“We haven’t spoken since she kicked me out,” said Shane.
“I can't believe how cold your mother was,” said Hawkes with disgust. “We're going to do everything we can to bring her to justice.”
“Thank you Kelly,” said Prentiss, who stepped outside to call Hotchner at the Rockford Police Headquarters.
“You did a great job,” said Hawkes, firmly but warmly squeezing Shane's hand before leaving with Prentiss.
“Hotch?” Prentiss asked, “Any leads on the missing girls? Kelly Shane's mother really seems to have had it in for her...I'm thinking the Port Huron link is going to be extremely fruitful.”
“We'll need to talk to Doris Shane,” said Hotchner, referring to Kelly Shane's mother. “Right now, she's our most viable suspect, since she fits the profile in many ways- she's a caretaker at Edison Public High School in Port Huron and did the same at Winslow Public High School in Boston, so she has access to kids.”
On the plane ride to Port Huron, Reid was consigned to his seat, appearing like all hope was lost.
“Morgan,” said Reid, tapping Morgan on the shoulder.
“Yes Reid,” replied Morgan, removing his headphones.
“I just can't help myself but think there's not much we can do,” mused Reid. “We're dealing with over 100 suicides connected to this 'disease' and hundreds more who are missing, many are unrelated...we'll be at this forever.”
“I know.” Morgan felt the same way. “Also, no matter what we do, there will always be more...stuff like this takes on a life of its own. However, if we at least get to the bottom of this we can at least tell everyone afflicted by this ailment that we brought justice to the ultimate source of their suffering...that's the least we can do.”
Port Huron, MI
Doris Shane’s House
Having picked up a search warrant for her premises (due to Hotchner successfully arguing before a Michigan judge that her abandonment of Shane constituted child abuse), Hotchner, Rossi, Morgan and Reid headed to her house to collect evidence and Hawkes and Prentiss departed for Edison High to interview Doris while she was at work.
While Morgan and Reid were collecting physical evidence, Rossi and Hotchner were seated at the dining room table and examined missing person cases in Port Huron that could be tied to Doris.
“We’ve got about ten people that went missing in Port Huron in the month of November 2003 alone,” said Hotchner.
“That’s an unusually high number,” said Rossi, visibly perplexed. He then continued in a Eureka moment. “I think we have our two though.”
“Let me see,” said Hotchner, grabbing the documents from Rossi and analyzing them, his steely gaze never leaving the paper. “Jane Summers and Ricki Kennedy, members of Kelly Shane’s cheerleading squad…last seen getting into a truck that matches the one Doris is driving, though no one caught the license plate number rendering the chase pointless.”
Rossi because pointed. “Because everyone in Michigan has a Dodge Ram.”
Hotchner continued to look at the file, his gaze undeterred.
“You know,” piped Rossi, “we never accounted for the fact that maybe this ringleader did act alone, and that maybe she’s a lesbian or bisexual.”
Hotchner shook his head dismissively and deadpanned. “Dave, women don’t do things like this. Statistically speaking only men are capable of this kind of sadism.”
“Aaron.” Rossi raised his voice slightly to underscore how strongly he felt for his position. “The first thing we learn about statistics is that they can be wrong, and, other than the fact that their genitals were painstakingly mutilated, we have nothing else that suggests male involvement. Everything suggests a female, so we have to factor in the possibility that a woman operated alone, and exhibited signs of sexual sadism herself; and Doris Shane is clearly controlling and manipulative and gets off on that…she’s almost a textbook sadist.”
“Okay,” deadpanned Hotchner, “I’ll give you that, but we still don’t know if she was a photographer…that’s a big part of the profile.”
In the basement, Reid and Morgan came upon a locked door.
“We’ll need a key for this,” said Reid.
Morgan chuckled. “Reid, I think you forgot something,” he said, backing up and forcing the door open with a strong kick.
Reid laughed. “Yeah I did forget that.” What lay before them was another underground basement, presumably renovated into the house. It was a makeshift darkroom, and in the corner was a closet sealed with a word lock.
“Kid,” said Morgan, inspecting the lock. “Do you see a bolt cutter?”
“No,” said Reid, looking around the room, “but I think I know what words she used.” Reid bent down and undid the lock.
“Dawg,” said Morgan, looking up and seeing a shelf with an Eric Crouch bobblehead from his time with the Cleveland Browns. “I thought you weren’t a football fan,” noted Morgan to Reid.
“I enjoy a game here and there, actually,” said Reid, “Anyway, I remember the game in Washington that I attended with JJ. They were playing the Browns and their travelling supporter section was called ‘The Dawg Pound’. I initially didn’t know what it was until JJ pointed it out to me.”
“Nice work,” said Morgan, patting Reid on the back before getting up. Reid opened the closet to reveal two skeletons.
“So much for skeletons in the closet,” said Reid, shaking his head at the discovery. “What do you have there?”
“The jackpot,” said Morgan, holding a printout of the SBD picture hidden underneath a scanner that Morgan had gotten up and noticed.
“Looks like we got our UnSub,” said Reid, somewhat relieved.
“We’ll need the coroner to confirm the identity of the bodies,” said Morgan, inspecting the skeletons a little more. “Formaldehyde. She washed these.”
“Explains why there’s no decomposition stench,” said Reid. Reid pulled out his phone and called Hotchner. “Hotch, Morgan and I have found something. You need to see this.”
Moments later, Rossi and Hotchner were in the cellar, briefed on what Morgan and Reid found. Rossi placed a call with Hawkes, who was still interviewing Doris.
Edison High School Break Room
“Thanks Dave,” said Hawkes, ending her call with Rossi. She then asked Prentiss to come outside, briefing her on what the team had just found.
“So all this time about how she got the picture in Boston was a lie,” said Prentiss, smirking knowing they caught Doris’ fib. “We’ve got to work this angle.” They returned to the interview.
“Sorry Doris, we just had some administrative matters to take care of,” said Prentiss.
“That’s okay,” said Doris, who looked a lot like an older version of Kelly though with her face littered with stress-induced wrinkles.
“I just want to recap your story,” said Hawkes, adjusting her glasses and her posture. “You said that Kelly went away with her dad for a week-long vacation due to a court order...and because of that, you got angry, you scanned the picture and posted it on Kelly's MySpace page, correct?”
“Yeah, you got me to admit all that,” said Doris, who had lied throughout the interview and was caught several times by Hawkes and Prentiss.
“Then you said they were visiting relatives in Marquette, Michigan, correct?” Hawkes inquired, whose usual soft voice gained a purposeful tone.
“Yes,” replied Doris, with conviction.
Hawkes laughed slightly at the incredulousness of Doris' statement. “See, that's where you're wrong,” said Hawkes smugly. “They didn't go to Marquette, you did. They went to Jacksonville.”
“We have the flight ticket of Kelly and Bob,” said Prentiss authoritatively, “and it's known that June Summers and Ricki Kennedy went missing in Marquette a day after Kelly left. They were seen entering a vehicle resembling one you owned...and we have skeletons in your closet.”
Doris laughed uncomfortably, not sure how she was going to wiggle out of this one.
“We're going to give you another chance to tell us the truth here,” said Hawkes, leaning forward. “Where did you get the picture?”
“Okay,” said Doris, cornered. “I killed those girls...I followed her team for a while, especially those two. They were in Marquette with the school band, so I had an opportunity. I knew the same week Kelly left they were going to visit Ricki's uncle who was a mutal friend of the girls and drove the same truck that I did, and he was going to pick them up that night to drive them to Detroit. They were alone outside behind their hotel and I was in the parking lot, away from the cameras. I had a rule about cell phones in my car, so I took them as soon as they entered, and the last thing either of them texted was that their ride was here, without specifying who it was. Thus, I could pick them up and no one would suspect me, since all the signs would point to Ricki's uncle and I was right. So I drove them back to my place and locked them up in my darkroom, which Kelly never knew I had because I never told anyone about my photography. I killed them that week, but I felt so bad afterward that I kept the bodies. So I scanned the picture, put it on Kelly's MySpace page and kicked her out of the house so she could never find out what I did. I always knew she was talking to Bob behind my back...that was just my ruse to get her to leave, fearful that she would discover me.” Doris began sobbing uncontrollably.
Hawkes and Prentiss were unmoved, knowing they needn't shed a single tear for a woman whose personal vendetta wrecked her daughter's life almost irreparably.
“The picture...I did pick up in Boston,” said Doris definitively.
“We'll look into that,” said Prentiss. “In the meantime, I gotta do this.” She pulled out her handcuffs and formally arrested Doris.
When it was completed, Prentiss waited with Doris for the police to take her into formal custody. Hawkes called Rossi.
“Dave,” said Hawkes into the phone, “we got Doris...she tried spinning her web of lies but we got her tangled in it in the end. It was pretty easy.”
“That's my girl,” said Rossi, proud that his protégé was making measurable progress. “I guess now we go home and recuperate.”
“Not quite...she was adamant she got the picture in Boston. We need to look into that.”
“This thing is never going to end, is it?”
“I think we're close though. Since we know the picture didn't appear anywhere before 2003 it shouldn't be that hard to trace...Doris was the first one to post the picture and she couldn't have had it lying around...someone had to have given it to her. We just need to figure out how she got it and we'll have our answer.”
Winslow High, Boston, MA
“Thank you for meeting with us,” said Hotchner to Winslow High Principal Steven Harper. He then introduced his team to the principal
“No problem,” said Harper, a burly but muscular man of African origin, whose toughness was underscored by his shaved head and goatee. “This 'shaved beaver' thing has been haunting me for almost twelve years now.”
“So you've never heard the term before you saw the picture,” said Morgan.
“Exactly,” said Harper. “Believe me, I'm a high school principal- I've seen everything and this appalled me beyond words. I knew of Minx Disease, but it never came in picture form until I saw it manifest itself as SBD. I'm glad you guys are here to help.”
“We'll be more than happy to resolve the issue,” said Hotchner, as Harper bid him adieu for now so that he could organize his troops.
“Prentiss and Hawkes,” said Hotchner, who started delegating. “Interview Mr. Harper, I need you to understand the lengths that the school administration went to resolve this thing. Morgan and Reid, talk to Harry Senate- he's the one who discovered the picture. Maybe he knows who could have put it up. Dave and I will pour over missing person and student files and see which ones match our profile.”
“Sure is cold and dark in here,” noted Morgan, seated on the front desk as he and Reid were waiting for Senate in his classroom. “No wonder it's called 'The Dungeon'.”
“Actual dungeons didn't have any light,” said Reid. “So I'm not sure what I would call it.”
“No matter what it is, it's still Hell teaching in it,” said Senate, walking in and setting lesson notes down on his desk.
“You must be Mr. Senate,” said Morgan.
“The ladies call me 'Dirty' but we don't need to go there,” said Senate, in his usual playfully sarcastic tone.
“So let me understand,” said Prentiss to Harper. “Mr. Senate reported seeing the picture on Patti Spector’s locker but didn't take it down.”
“That's correct,” said Harper. “He was following protocol…you have to remember, at that time there were no cell phone cameras, so in order to show me, I had to see it.”
“It’s out of character for him,” noted Hawkes, adjusting her glasses and reviewing her notes. “He doesn’t get involved in other people’s cases…Patti Spector was never in any of his classes…usually he would defend the perpetrators in some way, but this time it was different.”
“Patti became the most popular student at school,” Senate explained. “Even a crusty guy like myself took a liking to her…she always smiled, especially given what happened to her. She was an inspiration for a lot of us…of course, she wasn’t that much different than a lot of students, especially ones in my class…I’m the troubled one so I’m the one that gets the troubled ones, so I’ve seen more than my fair share of students trying to press on, and Patti was no different. She wasn’t exceptionally popular, but nobody hated her.” Senate then developed a pit in his stomach then braved his way forward.
“She was a cancer patient,” said Prentiss, gaping widely and letting out a heavy breath. She made no attempt to hide her horror that the target was Spector. “How could they?” Hawkes expressed similar disgust.
Harper leaned back in his chair and shared the same expression. “You should have seen how we took it,” said Harper. “Saying we were all crushed was an understatement…she tragically took her own life a month later after the students turned on her because of the picture.”
“Okay,” said Prentiss, trying to regain her composure. “Let’s backtrack for a second…Patti Spector was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2001…went through chemotherapy over the summer and thus couldn’t hide her condition any longer…when she came back she felt ashamed…cancer patients usually do, because it’s such a helpless disease.”
“So she got back to school, worried at what her fellow students would think only to find out that summer, they rallied around her,” said Morgan, summarizing what he had just heard from Senate.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Senate. “It was easy to see why…a girl like that, who went through so much yet didn’t let any of it get to her…you didn’t want her to go through anything else…you didn’t want it to get worse.”
“So you saw the picture on the locker,” said Reid. “Did you see anything else?”
“It’s hard to remember,” said Senate, trying to think. “It was so long ago…all I can recall was that it was an October day. It just came out of the blue. I normally passed by Patti’s locker every day- it’s right next to the Dungeon, and I’m the only teacher that passes by that area. I remember seeing Patti at her locker, crying, so I went in for a closer look just to understand what was going on. When I saw the picture, I had to go straight to Stephen, even though I’d be late for my class- usually I arrive ten minutes before class just to anger Vice-Principal Scott Guber and it held true that day because I’m just too used to doing it. In fact, Scotty was away that weekend and wouldn’t have been back until Monday…usually he does the rounds making sure everyone goes to class but he wouldn’t be there.”
“Talk about meticulousness,” said Reid. “The UnSub had to have known that Patti- and, by extension, the rest of the school- would see the picture before anyone of authority could come by to take it down.”
“You got that one right,” said Senate. “When I came back with Stephen, there were a crowd of students surrounding the locker…some were taking pictures. Others were laughing…only a few, sadly, seemed disgusted by it…though I guess I should have known, since teens are incredibly fickle.”
“Where was Patti?” asked Morgan.
“She had left,” said Senate. “Stephen went on a tour of the school trying to find her, eventually locating her in a corner on the top floor, still crying I’m told.” Morgan shook his head in disgust.
“Was there anything else strange about the locker’s appearance?” inquired Reid. “Couldn’t you just take the picture down and show it to Principal Harper?”
“Now I remember,” said Senate, “there were a few blood stains on the locker, including on the printout of the picture. Police at the time said it wasn’t even real blood.”
“So Doris Shane was called in to clean up Patti’s locker,” said Morgan, re-examining the picture and seeing that the lower half of the printout looked like it was cut off with scissors, “and cut out the bloodstains.”
“Some of that picture is missing, actually,” said Senate, pointing to the printout. “On the abdomen, right above the genitals, it said ‘Patti Cakes’ and it looked to be carved in blood, and below the picture was a message written in pen…‘shaved beaver disease- proof Patti is a whore’. That was the first time any of us had heard the term being used.”
“This was planned right to the very end,” said Morgan, with disgust at the attacker.
“I didn’t study it in much detail,” said Harper. “I just glanced at it, got disgusted and ordered Doris to clean it up.”
“When did she get to taking down the picture?” Hawkes asked.
“Came down right before the second bell,” Harper said. “I saw her take it down. She did seem like she took her time taking down the picture.”
“Something must have clicked for her,” said Hawkes, “so she must have fished it out of her garbage can just to use later on her own daughter…this is one sordid tale.”
“Do you think Doris was in on the plan?” asked Prentiss.
“She reacted like she never saw the picture before,” said Harper. “As I shook my head in disgust at the picture I could overhear her muttering about how great the artwork was.”
“I didn’t think she thought you could hear her,” said Hawkes. “She tried hiding it but didn’t do a good job of it, so I think she’s telling the truth about how she liked the artwork.”
Harper had a bit of a laugh. “I should have known you guys would have picked up on her lying tendencies…and I don’t think I need to tell you I thought she was crazy,” he said.
“We deal with so many crazy people it all just blurs in,” said Hawkes. “I do want to know what took her so long to get to the picture. Where does she start her daily rounds?”
“She usually starts at the top floor,” said Harper. “She doesn’t get to the Dungeon until after the second bell…this is a big school, so I didn’t think too much about it.”
“The UnSub had to have known that,” said Hawkes, who paused and then let out a heavy sigh. “This whole case hits home for me, though, because of its message- it’s disgusting to denigrate women like this. Now all we need to do is figure out who would want to send that kind of message.”
“We profiled the UnSubs as a team of sexual sadists,” said Morgan, “led by a girl who harboured resentment towards Patti. The girl likely recruited the boy to help her out to perform the ‘dirty work’, perhaps as a way for the boy to gain ‘access’ to the ringleader, and the boy may have used the girls he killed as sexual playthings. They’d also be into photography because of the staging of the picture and the obvious skills with Photoshop.”
“This wasn’t Photoshop,” said Senate, taking the picture from Morgan. “This is IrfanView…I taught the kids in the Dungeon the program…the feathering techniques are unique to the program. I brought it in because I liked the program and it was freeware, meaning most of my students could afford it. I was the only one in school using it.”
“So at least one of the UnSubs came from this class,” said Reid, “or, perhaps, 'the' UnSub since this could be the act of a bisexual or homosexual female, although I'm doubtful that someone jealous of Patti's popularity would be in a remedial class.”
“No, she didn't,” said Senate definitively. “I know who Patti's rival was- it was a lady by the name of Kate Sanders.”
“Ms. Sanders was the student council president in her senior year,” said Hawkes. “She was as popular as she could get.”
“I remember when Patti had her groundswell of support I suggested to Kate to have a fundraiser for her family,” said Harper. “She was in total support of it- I never knew she could be involved in this.”
“You never suspected it at all?” Prentiss asked, finding the statement curious.
“Okay, Mr. Senate came to me and asked me to investigate, which we did,” said Harper. “I only heard it from Patti and her friends, and Kate never actually did or say anything specific to Patti- so I had nothing to go on, all I had were rumours. ‘He said she said’ isn't something you can convict someone on, so my hands were tied.”
“When was the fundraiser?” Prentiss asked.
“The Friday before three weeks before the picture went up,” said Harper.
“So it was September 21, 2001,” said Hawkes, checking against her notes.
“Yes,” said Harper. “The whole school went to the fundraiser…it was phenomenal. They didn’t have to…the students did this because they all loved Patti and wanted to chip in whatever they could.”
“So that’s when the boy met the girl,” said Reid, analytically.
“I presume so,” said Senate. “I never saw Kate come close to the Dungeon until the week after the fundraiser, although she was hardly around so I was the only one who actually thought they were together.”
“So she just made some brief cameos,” said Reid, stroking his chin pensively at Senate’s last statement.
“Yeah,” said Senate. “They never did anything except walk and talk, you would never suspect a thing if you saw them together…but for me, knowing that I’d never seen Kate by the Dungeon before, I knew something was up, and it began at the fundraiser.”
“What happened at the fundraiser?” asked Morgan.
“It was a school dance,” said Senate. “I had to chaperone.”
“So you saw who Kate danced with,” said Morgan.
“She got freaky with an old student of mine, James Irving,” said Senate. “Thankfully Harper wasn’t there or else he would have pulled them apart…I decided against doing anything since I think it’s just harmless fun, and I think kids are going to do what they do anyway…Harper was very pragmatic about a lot of things, except sex…he had this preconceived notion that teens shouldn’t be having sex, which is why we didn’t have sex ed until Ronnie Cook came around a year later. I always held that we needed it, being in the Dungeon I’ve seen more than my fair share of students whose lives have been ruined because of irresponsibility towards sex. I tried to teach what I could myself because I believe it’s better to teach responsibility, but those nosy bureaucrats got in the way.”
“That explains why Kate could produce the picture that she did,” said Reid. “Most of the school really didn’t know any better, and I think she knew that.”
“James Irving was the first person I suspected about the picture,” said Harper. “Harry gave me that lead…I never noticed him with Kate until it was pointed out to me…I see so many students, everything can be a blur.”
“We understand,” said Prentiss. “Did you interview James first?”
“We talked to his classmates and his friends first,” said Harper. “We needed to understand what they knew first so that when we talked to James we could balance out the stories. No one we talked to saw James put the picture up…so all we were left with were suspicions. So when we talked to James and Kate, they were easily able to deny it. In fact, Kate simply called James a friend, and, seeing how I never saw Kate do anything with James except talk to him, it was another reason not to suspect she had much of an involvement in any of this.”
“What about the teachers?” asked Hawkes. “Certainly someone had to have let the two of them in, even if no one passed by Patti’s locker.”
“Kate actually has a key to the school,” explained Harper. “Since she’s student council president and one of the most trusted students in the school, no one batted an eye at the idea.”
“So she snuck in and did this,” said Prentiss, “does Doris work on the weekends?”
“No, she doesn’t,” said Harper, “That weekend, nobody did. In fact, Vice-Principal Guber was at a 9/11 Memorial that weekend and wasn’t going to come back until the Tuesday so the school was empty.” Harper paused, then continued. “So you think that because this happened on a Monday morning Kate came in on the weekend?”
“Looks to be what happened,” said Hawkes, “especially if Doris never saw the picture before.”
Meanwhile, as the interviews were happening, Rossi and Hotchner were receiving tips from texts from the team.
“Here’s something,” said Rossi to Hotchner, handing over a case file.
“Two girls reported missing five days after the fundraiser,” said Hotchner, examining each file.
“They’re the best fits,” said Rossi with conviction. “We don’t have anyone reported missing earlier…plus, their truancy records and poor grades meant no one would notice their absence that quickly.”
“They also come from broken homes,” said Hotchner. “Police reports indicate that their parents never knew where the girls were most of the time, so they never noticed them missing.”
“It’s incredible, isn’t it?” said Rossi, visibly angry. “Parents can be this neglectful about their own children…it’s disgusting.”
“We have to be sure they were the victims,” said Hotchner. “So far we have nothing that ties them to our UnSubs.”
“Kate Sanders is a meticulous planner,” said Rossi with purpose. “She would find targets with the least likeliest chance of being reported missing and these fit the best.”
“I agree with you on that,” said Hotchner, “however that alone isn’t enough to separate them from the other missings.” Hotchner handed Rossi two more files.
“These weren’t even reported until January,” said Rossi, who didn’t try to hide his incredulousness. “They can’t be connected to the case!”
“Dave, Kate was meticulous,” said Hotchner, calmly. “We have to be just as meticulous to catch her.”
“Mr. Senate,” asked Morgan, receiving the text from Rossi. “What do you know about Julia Metcalf, Tayna Reddick and Maria and Jessenia Marquez?”
“I saw them leaving the fundraiser with James,” said Senate in a Eureka moment. “They were all friends of James…not very good friends, though. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but given what we know…” A look of horror came upon Senate’s face, realizing what this meant.
“Are you going to be okay?” asked Morgan.
“Yeah,” said Senate, trying to fight back his tears.
“We can finish this another time,” said Reid.
“No, no,” said Senate, regaining his composure. “I had them in my class the year before…they ‘graduated’ out of remedial classes at the end of the 2000-01 school year …but the girls slipped back into their old ways…many of their teachers told me they were still cutting classes and it got to the point where they stopped coming…we just assumed they ran away. I know I’m not supposed to be attached to my students, but it’s hard not to feel for your students, especially my students.” Senate’s voice gained an angry tone. “You need to catch these guys.”
“These four women,” said Prentiss with urgency, “were all reported missing at different times…how come nobody noticed they were missing? How come you didn’t know they were missing?”
“They were truants,” said Harper, his gruff voice belying his level of concern for the victims. “They were constantly missing school…nobody noticed they weren’t there. Protocol told us to call the parents every day that they miss school but with those students…the parents always made stuff up, because they didn’t even care. They still made stuff up even after they’d actually gone missing…I reported it to the police because it was getting too strange…they told me they couldn’t actually investigate until they actually were reported missing, of which only their parents could do and they weren’t about to do it. Plus, they were frequent runaways…the police thought they’d be wasting their time ‘chasing after ghosts’. The Marquez sisters were reported missing only because their grandmother came to visit and couldn’t find them…the other two…” Harper let out a heavy sigh. “I’m told their parents took them that long to know they were missing.”
“Child services were never called on these kids,” said Rossi, examining their files again. “Don’t you find that odd, Aaron?”
“Maybe these kids were actually treated well at home,” said Hotchner.
“So their parents were just ‘free spirits’ with a rather cavalier attitude towards discipline, it seems,” said Rossi. “No wonder none of them could ever hold on to a job.”
“They live in the Empire of Boston,” deadpanned Hotchner, “with their generous welfare laws, who needed one?”
Rossi laughed sarcastically. “You got that one right. What I do find interesting is that, although they were suspended multiple times, they seemed to avoid major infractions…they were surprisingly able to avoid expulsion.”
“Probably because they respected Principal Harper,” said Hotchner. “Look at him, I think I would too.”
“James was actually investigated in their disappearances but not Kate,” noted Rossi. “Which figures…James was the only one seen with the girls, Kate was never around them so she never drew suspicion.”
“James said the girls ran off after being with him the night of the fundraiser,” said Hotchner. “He said they went to hitchhike, didn’t know where they were going…the police believed him since he didn’t have the bodies, and even searched his house…and they found nothing.”
“Of course they were going to find nothing,” said Rossi, as if what Hotchner said was obvious. “He didn’t kill them at his house- he killed them at Kate’s house.”
“Kate’s parents were on vacation,” said Hotchner, “so the both of them had the perfect opportunity.”
“…and Kate made sure that she wouldn’t be seen anywhere near the potential victims or even James’ car, allowing her to get away, unscathed…and since James likes the girl…he wasn’t about to ‘fess up’.”
“Thank you Mr. Harper,” said Prentiss, shaking Harper’s hand, as did Hawkes. “When we have something we’ll let you know.”
“Thank you,” said Harper with a sense of relief. “I’m glad that this is finally going to get resolved.”
“We won’t let you down,” said Hawkes with an encouraging smile.
In a break room, the team gathered to figure out what they knew.
“Kate Sanders wasn’t even investigated at all,” said Hotchner. “She planned this right to the very end and didn’t think she could get caught.”
“Do you blame her?” said Morgan. “She planned this very well…which she had to if she was going to get away with this for almost twelve years.”
“She made sure that James was the fall guy,” said Rossi. “They were his friends, after all, and he was the last one seen with any of the missing girls.”
“Kate never came up in that investigation?” inquired Prentiss, thinking that Hotchner and Rossi would have come up with something in the police files.
“No, she didn’t,” said Rossi, “so Aaron and I suspected she had to have planned her moves so as not to arouse suspicion and make people think that she and James were merely friends.”
“Harry Senate was the only one who believed the two of them were a couple,” said Morgan, definitively.
“He based this observation on the mere sight of Kate around the Dungeon,” said Reid, jumping in. “Usually it’s not enough to assume something but in this case, it’s rather telling…a lady of Kate’s stature wouldn’t be caught dead in the Dungeon, yet she didn’t even try to hide her appearances there.”
“‘Lady’, Spencer?” said Hawkes, bemoaning Reid’s choice of words. “She’s so disgusting…she hardly qualifies as anything other than a scumbag.”
Rossi smiled upon hearing Hawkes refer to Reid by his first name, indicating they’d patched things up.
“We should dig into the profile of Kate a little more,” said Prentiss. “We don’t have any physical evidence tying her to these crimes.”
Morgan paced around the room a bit, then raised his hand as if a thought came to him and stopped, slumping over a chair. “We can arrest her, but she’s going to invoke her right to a lawyer,” he said, sighing. “She’s too smart not to think about that.”
“Doris didn’t invoke as I understand,” said Reid.
“We still informed her of her rights at the beginning of the interview,” said Hawkes. “Of course, we didn’t think she’d invoke anyway because she’s the type who thinks she can outsmart policewomen, when she was way out of her depth. Kate could be that narcissistic, but she’s played it extremely safe to this point…it’d be out of character for her not to play it safe this time.”
“You didn’t have to inform her, though,” said Hotchner, “although I appreciate the thought. Since Doris wasn’t in formal custody she could be questioned without needing a lawyer, and her statements can be used against her in court. As long as we don’t arrest her then she can provide us an incriminating statement in questioning.”
“I’m thinking that’s how we should go,” said Hawkes. “If we’re casual with her and don’t specifically mention the details of the crime to her she won’t be able to suspect that we’re actually on to her…she’s planned it this well because she’s afraid of being found out, so we have to reassure her that we ‘haven’t’ found her.”
“Let her dig her own hole,” said Morgan. “I like it. More to the point, we shouldn’t even mention what crime we’re investigating, to throw her scent off even more. Furthermore...she's gotten away with it for this long...I think she might even indirectly brag about committing the crime, since she can't think anyone caught on now when they didn't back then.”
“Catch her on a lie,” said Hotchner. “That will work. We need to review how we got to her because therein lies the secret.”
“We found her based on the profile,” said Rossi, “so there has to be part of her plan that she messed up on…she thinks she created the perfect crime but if we can find her then she’s made a mistake somewhere…and we have to find it.”
“Welcome to Penelope Garcia’s Wonderful World of Useful and Useless Information!” beamed Garcia, picking up the phone from Morgan.
“Hello My Fair Lady,” said Morgan. “I need you to dig into the depths of the Princess’ Lair and come up with everything you can on Kate Sanders.”
“Yes, yes, My Fair Prince.” Garcia typed away and in a few moments, had what Morgan was looking for. “Okay…Kate Sanders still lives in Boston…in fact, she eloped with James Irving right out of high school, and he adopted her last name…she had rich parents and was a spoiled brat in high school, it seems. James, from what I can tell, never seemed to get a job, and the two of them never had kids…James seemed rooted to the house, he hardly used his credit card and didn’t have a cell phone, and Kate worked long hours as the President of Stranger Than Fiction Inc., a market research company.”
“When did they get married, Princess Penelope?”
“Right out of high school, it seems…I’m not sure what attracted her to him because he’s ugly, and she’s a drop dead blonde bombshell, but I guess appearances aren’t everything.”
“Is that it?”
“There’s quite a bit, I’m going to send them to your phones.”
“You’re welcome, Derek.”
“So you’re King Arthur now,” said Hotchner with a dry wit.
“Spur of the moment thing,” said Morgan, with a smile.
“Okay, so…” said Reid, staring at the information given to him on his phone, “Kate was a straight A student, allowing her to get into college virtually for free and her parents helped her with living costs.”
“James was still no looker,” said Prentiss, seeing an updated picture of James, “and they got married?!”
“Talk about your marriage of convenience,” cracked Rossi, dryly.
“Didn’t come into contact with any of his friends after high school,” said Hawkes, “meaning James likely viewed Kate as a way out of his troubled life…he spent four years in remedial classes before being able to graduate with Kate, his sixth year of high school.”
“That’s an awful long time to be in high school,” said Reid, “but Harry did mention something about James wanting to stay in his class because Harry was the only teacher who really spoke to him.”
“Okay,” said Morgan, analyzing. “James gets married with Kate…they elope because, likely, Kate’s parents wouldn’t approve of such a marriage…and then he drops his life and lives with Kate in her new home.”
“I don’t think it’s Kate’s parents James would be worried about,” said Reid, “it’s his friends…it’s likely Kate’s parents knew about the relationship with Kate considering it wasn’t Kate doing the disappearing but James…Kate likely told him to get rid of his friends, which he was more than willing to do because he was smitten…the best way to punctuate that is by eloping, so they wouldn’t even have a chance to crash the wedding and likely ruin it.”
“That’s the hitch in Katie’s plan,” said Morgan, getting up from his slouch and definitively wagging his finger. “James could squeal her out at any moment…we find James, we get Katie.”
Kate Sanders’ house, Rockport, MA
“Out of all these years, I never knew Kevin Federline could act,” said Kate Sanders, watching CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on TV. Being interested in police forensic techniques, she became a huge fan of CSI and its countless spinoffs (including the ill-fated Antarctic experiment).
Outside of her house, Reid was across the street with Morgan in an unmarked vehicle trying to peer in, holding binoculars to catch a glimpse of what she was doing.
“She’s watching CSI,” said Reid in his earpiece to Hotchner who was in another unmarked vehicle parked several feet down from where they were. “No sign of James, though, but the car is still in the driveway. Rossi and I can’t go in there…if she’s a fan of that kind of stuff she’ll know who we are. I don’t think she’ll know the rest of us, though.”
“Okay,” said Hotchner. “Morgan, since you also have a grasp of legal matters, you go in with Hawkes. We’ll all feed you tips into your earpieces. Make sure your wires are on.”
“Mrs. Sanders,” said Morgan to Sanders after she opened the door to greet him. “I’m Derek Morgan and this is Agent Zoe Hawkes. We’re with the FBI. We’re here because there’s a potential serial killer on the loose in Boston. Can we come in?”
“Sure,” said Sanders, turning on her charm as the three of them walked into her kitchen. “Boston sure can’t catch a break, huh? We get the Boston Strangler, then that Reaper guy…this sure isn’t the squeaky clean town of the 19th century, is it?”
“Ma’am,” said Morgan, sitting down on a counter, “for us that ship has long since sailed.”
“Mrs. Sanders,” said Hawkes, “we’re investigating an obscene Internet post that could be related in some way to your husband.”
“Is this about SBD?” said Sanders.
“How’d you know?” asked Hawkes.
“Everyone keeps asking me about it whenever they see the picture,” said Sanders, as she started washing some dishes. “I’m quite frankly surprised it’s even blown up like it has.”
“It’s a wonderful piece of art,” said Morgan. Both he and Hawkes were hoping that by buttering her up she’d reveal a bit more.
“Thank you,” said Sanders with an acknowledging smile, which didn’t go unnoticed by Morgan and Hawkes. “I prefer the ‘Patti Cakes’ version better though.”
“The ‘Patti Cakes’ version,” said Morgan, whose ears were piqued by the revelation.
“That version of the picture never made it online,” said Hawkes, whose voice got a hint of excitement. She was about to continue before Morgan pulled her aside.
“Zoe,” whispered Morgan, putting his hands on Hawkes' shoulders. “It's too early for that...I know you want to bury her but we need to do this right.”
“We have her,” whispered Hawkes, somewhat defiant. “She said she saw the 'Patti Cakes' version...there is no other version Morgan.”
“Yes there is,” whispered Morgan. “Originally the picture had 'Patti Cakes' carved in the girl's abdomen...that was the picture that went up on Patti Spector's locker...Kate can still claim that she saw the picture then and get away with it. We can still work with this but we need you, okay?”
Hawkes nodded 'yes'.
“OK,” said Morgan, with an appreciative pat on her shoulder.
“I'm sorry,” said Morgan, apologizing for interrupting. Kate wondered if something was up, then realized that they still didn't have anything on her so she stopped worrying. “We just had to tell our boss how we're doing...he's a real micromanager,” finished Morgan.
Kate laughed. “I know how that feels...I hate people like that...can’t even trust that you can do your own job,” she said.
Morgan chuckled. “I tell my boss that all the time,” he said with a smile, “but he hardly listens.” Morgan regained his composure and continued the interview. “So you saw it when it first went up.” Sanders nodded before Morgan continued further. “When did you see the picture?”
“I saw it at the end of the day,” Sanders said. “I was real busy that day but my friends told me about it so I checked it out...apparently Doris let someone in on the weekend who put it up.”
“Did you see who put it up?” Morgan asked.
“No,” replied Sanders. “I wasn't in that weekend, so I didn't get a chance to catch who it was. Rumour has it that it was those four girls as their parting gift to the school.”
“Four girls?” Hawkes asked, sounding curious.
“Yeah...James' friends, the ones that ran away,” said Sanders. “I spoke to one of them that Monday...one of the Spanish chicks...told me she really hated that Patti slut...I couldn't believe what I was hearing.”
“I know!” agreed Hawkes with awe. “The nerve…and who knows if they’ll ever get caught. This really was the perfect crime…they got away with it for twelve years.”
“I know,” said Sanders, loving the unexpected compliments. “You know.” Sanders sounded like she thought of something. “Those four girls...if somebody wanted to kill them no one would find out...they were just runaways after all.”
“It was very planned out, I agree,” said Morgan. “It's probably the best crime I've seen and with my experience, that says something. I helped catch The Reaper, did you know that?”
“I didn't know that, no,” said Sanders, in awe. “His fatal flaw was his inflated ego...me...I wouldn't do that...I know better than to bring attention to myself.”
“You've really been thinking about this for a while, haven't you?” Hawkes asked, intrigued by Sanders' words.
“I watch a lot of cop shows and documentaries,” replied Sanders, really enjoying the conversation. “How could I not think about creating the perfect crime? I don't think I could do better than SBD though, so I don't bother trying.”
“Where is James, by the way?” Hawkes asked.
“He's at the Rockport Country Club, visiting a friend,” replied Sanders.
“She mentioned the country club by name,” said Rossi to Hotchner, listening to the conversation in their truck. “It doesn't fit James' profile at all...why would he have friends at a country club? He was into every violent sport you could name...he wouldn't ditch his interests that quickly, could he?
“He would have immersed himself into her life, because of his transformation,” said Hotchner, “so I think it’s possible. Still, she didn’t say simply ‘the Country Club’, she mentioned it by name, so it must mean something to her. I'll inform Rockport PD. I'll tell them to bring dental records. If she mentioned it casually it had to have some meaning to her.”
“So you're into golf?” Hawkes asked.
“Big time,” said Sanders. “My family have been members for generations.”
“James goes often too?” Morgan asked.
“When he could,” said Sanders. “He didn’t have time to join or really participate…but we did get married at the club. They have a nice pond towards the back of the golf course that made for a wonderful setting. Most of my family and friends were there…it was nice.”
“OK, so…” said Rossi, reviewing the files. “Even though they eloped, records show they had another ceremony reaffirming their vows four years ago…but what is…the pond…the pond…”
“It’s the main water hazard,” said Hotchner.
“That’s where she’s hid the bodies,” realized Rossi. Hotchner directed the search team to the water hazard in question.
“Thanks,” said Hotchner, getting off the phone. “They found the bodies, five in total, dug up from the water hazard she mentioned.”
“Five?” Rossi asked, astonished.
“James was in there too,” said Hotchner.
“Well I'll be...” Rossi said, shaking his head.
“Kate Sanders,” said Morgan authoritatively, “you're under arrest.” Morgan uttered her Miranda Rights as Sanders slowly backed herself into a corner in the kitchen, bemused.
“This will not hold up in court!” Sanders said, defiant and forgetting her right to silence. “I was not informed of my rights from the outset of this interrogation.”
“It will hold up,” said Morgan, watching her fortuitously and wondering what she was doing but not sensing any danger. “At any moment during our questioning you could have politely asked us to leave and you didn't. You were not confined to an interrogation room nor were we positioned in such a way that you were confined. You spoke, and confessed, voluntarily and willingly.”
“I didn't confess!” Sanders said, defiantly.
“Your lies revealed everything,” said Hawkes, her voice filled with purpose, pulling out her handcuffs and starting to walk over to her. “The picture wasn't up at the end of the day, yet you could identify the only part of it that didn't come online. You mentioned that it went up on the weekend and that Doris let the perpetrator put it up on the weekend and Doris doesn't work weekends. You mentioned that James had a membership and he didn't...in fact, he wouldn't go near that Country Club, his interests are the furthest thing from that. Oh, and since you mentioned the Club by name...we knew it had significance to you and you helped us locate the bodies, bodies no one else could find. Only the person who committed the murder would have known that. The real kicker? James is dead...his body was found at the same site. Quite strange his own wife didn't even know that.”
Sanders, cornered, filled with anger and unsheathed a kitchen knife to attack Morgan and Hawkes, leading both to draw out their guns.
“Don’t do it!” hollered Morgan, drawing his gun while getting off the table. “If you even flinch with that knife I’m putting a bullet right through your brain.” Meanwhile Hawkes stood by, doing her best to maintain her composure despite her obvious nerves.
Sanders started to breathe heavily, trying to figure out her next move knowing Morgan wasn’t playing around. She picked up on Hawkes’ nerves though. “What’s the matter, Zoe? You got caught up in the excitement…and now you’re afraid of screwing up so badly that you will screw up.”
Hawkes stared at her with intent, doing her best not to fall into Sanders’ trap by shooting her.
“Go on,” mocked Sanders. “Shoot me. I’m evil, remember? My plan worked so well and you hate me for it.”
“I gotta go in there,” said Prentiss, sitting in the car with Hotchner.
“No!” said Hotchner. “If you go in there Kate will snap and you will put in our agents in danger.”
“Hotch, we’re losing them. She’s playing with Hawkes’ mind and I can’t just sit here and let her have her way with her.”
“She’s with Morgan, she’ll be fine.”
“No…Hawkes is cracking, I can tell.”
“Prentiss, if you go in there you will be kicked off this team. That’s an order.”
Rossi tried to restore order, speaking firmly but softly. “Emily,” he said, “if they get distracted it could blow this whole thing up and give Kate the time she needs to kill our agents. You don’t want to do that. Just sit tight…I know this is tough but this isn’t their first crime scene.”
“So if I put the knife down, you’ll put your guns away, right?” said Sanders. “OK then.” She then slowly put the knife down in the sink and extended her arms out to let the two of them know she didn’t have any more weapons. “Just put them on my head, right?”
“Don’t say it,” said Morgan forcefully. “Do it!”
“OK, okay,” said Sanders, who started putting her hands behind her head when, suddenly, she swiftly kicked out Hawkes’ feet from under her, knocking her to the ground. Morgan, however, didn’t miss a beat, grabbing Sanders and twisting her so that her face was pressed against the kitchen wall, forcefully pinning her there.
“Do you want to know what your fatal flaw is?” scowled Morgan, getting into her pressed face. “You never picked on anyone your own size.” He then formally arrested her right there and called for paramedics for Hawkes, who was dazed considerably by the hit.
“Are you okay?” said Reid, tending to Hawkes while she was sitting in the ambulance.
Hawkes was still disoriented. “Tell me we caught her,” said Hawkes.
“We did. From the tapes, Morgan acted bravely and quickly. It’s really a fitting end…her whole life she preyed on those who were weaker than her…when she met her match, she crumpled.”
“Spencer,” said Hawkes, slouching. “I cracked in there…I was very weak.”
“No you weren’t Zoe,” said Reid. “You outsmarted her…if it wasn’t for you then we wouldn’t have caught her. You were the one who pointed out this was a woman’s message, and you were right…and now, five families can have closure, if not countless more.”
“Hawkes,” said Morgan, approaching the ambulance. “Are you okay?”
“Thank you,” said Hawkes. “I wished you didn’t have to do that.”
“Hawkes,” replied Morgan poignantly. “I’ve already told Reid this…we’re a team. We complement each other. We can’t do everything on our own. Don’t beat yourself up over it…I’ll always be here to help.”
“I wish my emotions didn’t get the best of me,” said Hawkes, sniffling.
“Hawkes.” Morgan crouched down so he could be eye level with her and softly grabbing her hands. “We can’t be cool and controlled all the time…use your flaw to your advantage. If you didn’t get this emotionally involved in the crimes, would you invest as much energy as you do in solving them?”
Beachfront, Chesapeake Beach, MD
Hawkes sat at the beach, alone, pondering as she liked to do, especially given what happened to her yesterday. She enjoyed the calm ocean breeze against her face, and noticed the beauty of the twinkle of the stars on this night. It was peaceful and serene, the kind of feeling that allowed her to clear her head and just relax.
Walking up to her was Reid, who joined her on this trip and had a pensive walk of his own.
“Spencer?” Hawkes said, acknowledging Reid's presence. “Can you believe Kate? The lengths she went...and the fact she almost got away?”
“It's an interesting paradigm,” replied Reid, taking a seat next to her in the sand. “It manifests itself in that Kate seemed to view everybody as merely her playthings...she was charming enough to melt hearts and get people to play along...and when they didn't she knew what strings to pull until they did.”
Hawkes let out a warm chuckle and rested her head on Reid's shoulder. Reid responded by moving right behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist and cradling her as she leaned against him.
“Do you want to know what else is funny, Zoe? They found the original pictures in James' pocket, damaged because of time and water but they still told enough of the story.”
“He was going to rat on her and he got caught...wow...but wouldn't he have had printouts?”
“Tucked away in his coat pocket...the water could hardly get to them.”
“What's the saying? If you're good, you're lucky. Seems like her luck ran out.” Hawkes got reflective. “Spencer?”
“I don't want my luck to run out...you're the nicest, sweetest guy I've ever met. Let's always be friends no matter what. My mother always said to me to hold on to the ones who care and I never want to let go of you.”
Reid kissed the back of Hawkes' head. “Zoe, I understand what happened the other day...it's no big deal. These things happen.”
“How is Lila? I hope she's doing well, at least knowing the truth.”
“She's doing good...happy we caught the guy. Her and I, though...I told her I'm not sure where it's going...she smothers me, I told her that I need to breathe if this will work.”
“She's a go-getter...I understand where she's coming from. She's a nice girl though.”
“She's nice, and caring...just overwhelming sometimes. I sense that she's rather needy, and I don't like that.”
“Love’s a funny thing, isn’t it? We keep on looking for ‘the perfect match’ so we discard anyone that has the slightest imperfections.”
“Morgan once told me that there are some things not even my little brain can control…love is one of them.”
“Little brain, Spencer? I think your brain is hardly little.”
“I think it was a turn of phrase…I think he knows that too.”
“Speaking of Morgan…what’s he up to tonight?”
South Beach, Miami, earlier that day
“This,” said Morgan, lying on a beach lounge chair enjoying the tropical heat. “This is paradise.”
“You’re right about that,” said Tina Lopez, the fiery detective that helped the team capture Stephen Fitzgerald back in 2008, lying right next to him. “I’m glad you decided to take me up on my offer and come down.”
“As much as I enjoy Maryland…nothing could ever compare to South Beach.”
Lopez stroked Morgan’s chest with her forefinger. “Do you really think you can get away with playing all us women?”
Morgan chuckled. “I told Gina the same thing I’m telling you…right now, I’m weighing my options…I want to see which woman is right for me…just how you are seeing which man is right for you. If you aren’t dating someone else, that’s your prerogative, and I know the pratfalls of what I am doing…however, I’m at the stage of my life where I need to make some tough choices and if I play it safe, I might not get any reward. At least for now…can we enjoy the day?”
“Okay…but don’t you ever forget you have to prove yourself to me, mister.”
Morgan warmly chuckled, then rested his head back on his lounge chair and enjoyed the Sun.
“Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.” -Benjamin Disraeli