The door-to-door search wasn’t going well. Rick’s team concentrated on the area within the triangulation of the kennel, junk yard and church center. He felt that would be their best chance, but they weren’t having much luck. Two hours in, they’d already knocked on close to fifty doors, only to discover most of them were families. No lone loons, as one of the police officers had described it. People were friendly though, allowing them in to do quick searches. They’d had little to no resistance so far. Only one man had refused and it wasn’t because he didn’t want to let the police officers in; he had an ill daughter who’d just fallen asleep. He’d let them in the next day. They’d had a lot of no-answers, but that wasn’t unusual. People were probably at work and kids were still in school. Tomorrow, they’d come later in the day to those homes.
Rick leaned against his car, sipping a lukewarm coffee, and thumbing through his iPad. Although he hated the tablet, he’d been using it to coordinate with Trip, Troy, and Captain Jakes. They were still on radio-silence in case Kent Percy was smart enough to have a police scanner. Neither of the other two teams were having any luck either. This canvassing was a long shot. It always was in these cases. Simply put, unsubs just wouldn’t answer the door and how could you tell if it was their home or just some businessman’s home who was still at work?
Rick sighed as he remembered what his trainer at Langley had once said. “It’s not like they have a neon sign on their door stating that they are the unsub.”
It was true, but they had other ways to find out. They’d searched the alleys for cars and trashcans for evidence, too. Sometimes they’d get a break. Today was not one of those days though. This stretch of houses had a lot of attached garages with no windows. Percy could easily hide his car and van in one of them, and since it was not a trash pick-up day, there weren’t many trash cans out. They carried on though for another two and a half hours, and as the sun began to set, they stopped for the day. Captain Jakes put out an APB for the car and van, but since they had no license plate numbers and Trip had verified that there were no vehicles registered under Percy’s name, there was little chance that would bring in a lead. One fact had become clear, knowingly or unwittingly, Percy had an accomplice.
By the time Rick and Troy joined their team back at the Fairfax County Police Station, exhaustion had set in. Rick placed his briefcase on the table, took off his jacket and loosened his tie. Troy just sat down and hunched over the table.
“That bad?” Jenna asked as she placed a cup of coffee on the table in front of each of them.
Rick shook his head and plopped down in a chair. “Worse. I don’t think this is how we’re going to catch this guy.”
“Maybe not,” Troy said as he lifted the cup to his lips, “but what else do we have? Nothing. Not one damn clue.”
Rick glanced over at Rayne who was curled up in a chair in the corner of the room sleeping. That gave him some comfort and he smiled. He then turned his attention to Trip who was leaning back in his chair, rocking back and forth. “Any luck tracking down the VIN on that van?”
Trip sat upright and crinkled his face in frustration. “It’s off the grid. No one has registered it since Donny D’Arca reported it scrapped.”
“It’s possible that whoever owns the car is swapping plates with the van when Percy uses it.”
They all fell silent. Jenna re-examined every detail of the case on her iPad while Troy nursed his coffee. Rick tapped a pen on the table and was just about to suggest dinner when a police officer burst into the conference room with flustered cheeks and his mouth agape. His entrance startled Rayne awake and she sat up in the chair, pulling her knees up to her chin.
“What is it?” Troy asked the anxious officer.
“There’s a missing girl, sir. From that church mission. Her mother just called in. Said Miss Fallon would know who her daughter was.”
Rayne’s eyes grew wide and she fumbled in her jean pocket for the dog tag the little girl had given her. “He’s taken her,” she said as she held out the tag for everyone to see.
Rick sighed and stood up. “He said she was too young, but apparently, he’s gotten desperate. We’d better get over to the church.” He paused for a moment and turned his head toward Rayne. “I need you to come with us. Are you up to it?”
Rayne sat her feet down on the floor and rose from the chair. “I told that mother to keep an eye on her daughter. I could sense he would come back for her if we didn’t catch him.” She inhaled deeply. “I’d go even if I weren’t up to it.”
# # #
Maria Sanchez was in hysterics by the time they arrived at the church. Jenna and Rayne sat with her while Rick spoke to the pastor.
“I only lost sight of her for a minute. She was hungry, so I went to get her some cookies and milk. I remembered what you said, Miss Fallon, so I turned around to go back to her and she was gone. The police officer said it might be the man you’d been looking for, but Mia… she was terrified of him.”
“So, you knew this man?” Jenna asked.
“Oh yes, we all knew Arthur. That’s what he called himself. He hung around here all the time. Brought his dog with him. All the kids loved that dog. He was fairly nice then, but after a while, he stopped bringing the dog and began acting creepy.”
“Did he ever show up with anyone else besides the dog?”
Maria’s forehead puckered. “Come to think of it, a younger man came with him sometimes. He was a bit shy though. Always hung out by the door and never said much.”
“Do you think you could describe him to a sketch artist?”
“I can do one better.” Maria stood up and went into a side room. Moments later, she returned and handed Jenna a photograph. “That’s from our Christmas party last year.” She pointed to a young, blonde-haired man standing off to the side of a table filled with food. “That’s him.”
Jenna examined the photo and then passed it to Rayne. “Do you recall his name?”
“Larry? No, Leo. That’s what Arthur called him. Do you really think he took my Mia?”
Jenna and Rayne exchanged glances and then Jenna cupped Maria’s hand with her own. “If he did, we’ll find him. Did you see Leo in here tonight?”
Maria nodded as tears streamed down her face. “Oh, Dios mío. He was. Mia would have gone off with him. They were friends.”
Jenna squeezed Maria’s hand. “You’ve helped us a lot. We’ll find them, all of them.”
Maria continued to weep. “Gracias, gracias,” she said repeatedly.
Jenna and Rayne stood up and walked toward the center’s front door. As they stood there waiting for Rick, Rayne stared at the photograph for a few minutes and then handed it to Jenna. She snapped a picture of it and sent it to Trip, hoping he could identify the man.
“Did you sense anything about Leo?” Jenna asked.
“A little. He’s scared.”
“I think so. Did you see the bruise on his arm in the photo?”
Jenna looked down at the photo. “I hadn’t noticed that.”
“I think he’s being abused. I can sense fear, shame and…” she trailed off because Rick joined them.
“Who’s that?” he said glancing down at the picture.
“Leo. He’s Percy’s accomplice,” Jenna informed him. “Rayne says he’s being abused by Percy, too.”
“That’s not surprising. Percy endured abuse as a child. Abused children sometimes become abusers themselves.”
Jenna grinned. “How’d you get to be so smart, Dr. Harris?”
“Been hanging around Martin too long, I guess,” he said with a wink.
Rayne leaned up against the doorframe and listened to Jenna and Rick’s banter. She suddenly felt Leo’s pain and realized she was standing where he usually stood. She moved a few steps to the left and cleared her throat. Finally, she asked, “What did the pastor have to say?”
“Not much. He said it was a typical evening. Lots of homeless in for a meal and some warm clothes.”
“Maria said Leo was here tonight and Mia would have wandered off with him.”
They walked out of the center and headed toward the car. Rick’s mind spun with possible scenarios. Kent Percy wasn’t a very attractive man and those scarred hands would have scared anyone, especially kids. But Leo… he was younger and attractive.
As they approached the car, Rick stopped and turned to Jenna and Rayne. “It all makes sense now. Leo does the ‘snatch and grab’ for Percy.”
“He must be in some twisted relationship with that creep to do that for him,” Rayne said as she opened the car door and got inside.
Rick nodded. He went around to the driver’s side, opened his door and got inside. “Undoubtedly. We had a case in Baltimore a few years back where a woman helped lure other women to her boyfriend so he could rape them. The woman had been physically and sexually abused by the guy for decades. She’d also been emotionally brainwashed into helping him.”
“We’ve had dozens of cases like that,” Jenna concurred as she slid into the car.
Rick settled behind the wheel and let out a long sigh before starting the engine. He turned in his seat and looked back at Rayne. “I’m really sorry that you’ve had to discover all of this, Rayne. Someone like you… well, you shouldn’t have to know all this ugliness in the world.”
Rayne smiled faintly at him while Jenna nudged him on the arm. “She’s stronger than she looks, Rick.” She winked at Rayne. “You are holding up remarkedly well.”
Rick nodded his head and shrugged. “Of course, she is. I’m just saying… I’m impressed, that’s all.” He turned back around and pulled out of the parking lot.
They’d only gotten a few blocks away when Rick’s cellphone rang. He motioned for Jenna to get it.
“Rick’s phone. Jenna here,” she said into the phone.
“Hey Jenna, it’s Trip. Put me on speaker.”
She did so.
“Guys, I got a hit on Leo. His full name is Leo Decker. In the system for male prostitution.”
“You wouldn’t have an address, too, would ya?” Rick asked.
“Not a helpful one. New York City. And get this, he has a register white Ford Fusion.”
“Are we ever that lucky? It’s registered in New York too.”
“Damn it,” Jenna muttered.
“We do have a license plate number though. Captain Jakes has added it to the APB.”
“Good work, Trip.”
“Thanks, Rick. See ya.”
The line went dead and Jenna turned the phone off. Rayne sighed and folded her hands in her lap. They were closing in on Kent Percy. She just hoped those girls would live long enough to be rescued. She leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes.
Seeing You (a working title) is the story of Rayne Fallon, a witch with the power to see into the past and future, although not always accurately. She gets tangled up with FBI’s SA Rick Harris and SA Jenna Styles as they search for an 8 year old missing girl, thought to have been kidnapped by a Serial Killer.
Seeing You ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.
In case you missed a part, click Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22
or jump ahead to Part 24
I am participating in NaNoWriMo. Each day I will try to write at least 1667 words for a total of 50,000 by the end of November. Today’s total: 1924 words. Total words so far: 38,851