Archive for the ‘Deadroot Murder House’ Category


5: August 2 – I think I really stepped in it this time.  I keep telling myself I’ve got to play the game if I want to make detective, but I don’t like the rules of the game in this town.  So I keep breaking them.  This time I don’t think I knew I was breaking them.  Maybe I did, though.  Probably I did.  Anyway. . .

The Amancia Bailey case.  It’s like a sore tooth you can’t stop playing with.  The prosecution is painting this portrait of her being this cold-blooded killer who thought she could get at Starling’s fortune.  But as nice as that house looked, I don’t get the impression that Starling had much.  And I’ve been spending my down time in the neighborhood where Bailey and her family live.  The media might be lapping up the story that she was some ruthless psycho, but you wouldn’t know it in her neck of the woods.  Every other block there’s flyers for some community potluck fundraiser or another to raise money for her defense.  I’ve been to enough of them now I can tell you who makes the best callaloo (Mrs. Baptiste) and who makes the worst macaroni pie (also Mrs. Baptiste).  I can also tell you that to a person, her friends, family and neighbors would swear on their life she was innocent.

Not that that means anything.  I’ve already seen my share of murderers who were the nicest people.  But in this case, I think Amancia’s supporters are right.  Besides, if she did do it, how the hell did she do it?  Whatever happened to Chellick Starling. . .I want to say it wasn’t natural, but what the hell does that even mean, especially in Gargoyle Park?  The prosecution is definitely ignoring that particular detail, and I know it’s bugging the hell out of Captain Knot because he’s in a worse mood than usual.  If I were Shorely, I’d be making that the key to her defense, but Shorely’s the proverbial screen door on a submarine.  I hope all that potluck money is going toward a new lawyer.

So here’s where I stepped in it.  I visited Amancia Bailey at Stone Key.  I don’t exactly know why.  It’s not like there’s anything I can do about it.  For all intents and purposes, the case is closed.  I guess I just needed to see her for myself, get the lay of the land, so to speak.  Maybe just by seeing her again I’d be able to see she was guilty and I could start getting some sleep again.

I’m actually surprised they let me see her.  She’s not technically under suicide watch; from what I hear Warden Blur doesn’t believe in it.  Thinks that a suicide is a good way to save on taxpayer dollars.  But she’s still on tight 24-hour surveillance regardless.  They didn’t bring her to the main visitor area.  They had her all shackled up and had us meet in the cafeteria.  Two guards with shotguns watching us the whole time.  Overkill.  As soon as I saw her shuffle in, I knew she didn’t do it.

Looks like she’s lost 20 or 30 pounds and probably hasn’t slept more than 30 minutes at a time.  She’s drowning in that jumpsuit.  The look on her face is this mix of exhaustion, resignation and profound sadness.  I’m pretty good at spotting when someone’s putting on a show, and that’s not what this was.  Amancia Bailey looks like someone who knows they’re being marched toward a cliff and there’s nothing they can do about it.

She doesn’t recognize me, not that I thought she would.  I’m out of uniform for one, and for another, I doubt she was taking in many details the night we found her over Starling’s body.  As soon as she sits down I realize this was a huge mistake.  I don’t know what the hell I thought I was going to accomplish by meeting with her and for several seconds I’m just a deer in headlights.  Not that she noticed.  She just sits and keeps her eyes down.  She doesn’t look at me the whole time I’m talking to her.  Not until the end.

I don’t even remember exactly what I said.  Just babbling, really.  Told her about how all her friends and neighbors are pulling for her.  How I was one of the cops who was first on the scene and that this whole case seems very strange.  She doesn’t acknowledge any of it.

When I got to work that night, Watch Commander Phillips is waiting for me.  He tears me a new one.  He got a call from the DA about one of his cops poking his nose where it don’t belong.  Desk duty for 2 weeks.  I’m not surprised and I should have known better.  It’s interesting, though, that I didn’t get the riot act read to me until after I saw Amancia.  My name was on the visitor list.  They knew I was coming.  I’m wondering if they were hoping I might get something out of her that no one else has.  But that doesn’t make sense if they’re pushing for a conviction.  And 2 weeks desk duty also seems a little light considering they’re basically accusing me of trying to tamper with the DA’s case.

I’m thinking about all these things at my newly appointed desk when I feel a big hand clap me on the shoulder for just a second.  I look up and it’s Captain Knot heading out for the night.  For a second I’m wondering if I imagined it, but then he looks back for one sec and gives me a wink.

So maybe at least one person’s on my side.  And I was pretty much ready to just let it go.  Except Amancia Bailey did say one thing to me.  After I was done running at the mouth and not getting anything from her, I was getting up to leave, and I said off-handedly that maybe I’d swing by the Starling house, just to see if there might be something we may have missed, something that might help.  I don’t even know if I actually meant it.  I was just trying to untangle myself from this painfully awkward conversation I’d tied myself into.

Amancia looked like she got an electric shock.  Her head snaps up and she looks straight at me with what was anger or fear or both or maybe something else entirely and she says “You stay away from that house, boy.”

Probably the worst thing she could have said.

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July 24 – Couldn’t stop thinking about Jelkis all last night.  Didn’t get any sleep.  Part of it was me feeling bad for the guy, but there was something else that I couldn’t put my finger on.  I think I was dozing off around 4 this morning when I remembered.  The night of the Starling murder.  Me and Jelkis were securing the rest of the house.  We were upstairs, walking down a hallway, Jelkis is cracking wise about what an ugly house it is, probably they’ll bulldoze it and good riddance, that kind of thing, just keeps yammering away because that’s Jelkis.  Not known for his stealth.  Anyway, he’s blabbing away when all of a sudden he lets out this yelp.  Damn near shot him, scared the hell out of me.  He’s looking down at his leg and there’s this big wood splinter jutting out of his calf.  Tore right through his pants leg.  I asked him what the hell happened, tell him he needs to be more careful.  He blows me off, yanks the splinter out and tosses it down the hall and keeps yappin’ away.  I honestly don’t know how he could have gotten that piece of wood stuck in his leg in the first place.  I was right beside him and it was a wide hall, wasn’t anything to bump into.  Didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now. . .I want to ask him if the leg they cut off is the same one he got that wood stuck in but probably not the best time. . .

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July 23 – They had to amputate Jelkis’ leg today. Craziest damn thing. He got some kind of infection in it, doctors claim they’ve got no idea what could have caused it but they said if they didn’t cut it off it was going to spread through his whole body. Craziest damn thing.

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July 19 – For laughs I went to Amancia’s arraignment.  Murder in the first.  Still don’t see how they’re going to get a conviction, but maybe the detectives know something I don’t.  That would be new.  But the DA seems to have a mad-on for a conviction.  She pled not guilty but they saddled her with Shorely as public defender and Judge Dune is assigned to the trial so…

Didn’t even give her bail. Doubt she’d have been able to afford it anyway, but they’re arguing she’s a flight risk because she’s originally from Trinidad (guess I was wrong about Jamaica).  Seems a stretch.  She’s got a big family.  Husband, two daughters and a son, plus what looked to be all of Trinidad were there to support her.  All of them had the same look of shock that Amancia’s got.  I don’t blame them.  Something feels really off about this whole thing.

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July 18 – Responded to an emergency call with several other units tonight, and it was a weird one.  Even for Gargoyle Park, if that gives you an idea.  I just can’t shake this one off, and not quite sure why. . .

We pull up on this old house in the Deadroot neighborhood, and I was expecting we were going to be dealing with another OD or something.  It’s Deadroot, after all.  But this is a nice house.  Too nice for Deadroot for sure.  Surprised I haven’t noticed it before.  Don’t know much about architecture, but it looks like the kind of house that good old Mordecai Gargoyle would have designed.  Not as fancy, but still, really nice.

The front door’s wide open.  Ellard and I go in first, guns out, just in case.  Larmore, Jelkis and Francis come up behind.  House is as nice inside as out.  Spotless.  Kinda house you would expect to be full of antique furniture, but this place was pretty sparsely decorated.  Right through the front door is a big. . .grand entryway maybe you call it?

Anyway, there in the middle of the floor is this lady on her knees, covered in blood, screaming and wailing over what looks like a bunch of raw meat shoved into a housecoat.

The raw meat turns out to be the guy who owns the house, Chellick Starling.  Larmore has the decency to make it outside before he pukes.  I remember my rookie days.  

We don’t get much out of the lady.  Not much you would call coherent, anyway.  Like I said, she’s covered in blood.  I’d guess she’s in her mid-50’s.  She’s black, and by her accent I’d peg her as Jamaican.  She’s a sturdy gal, looks like she’s used to hard work.  She’s Starling’s caregiver.  Was his caregiver.  She keeps saying she knew this was going to happen, why did he have to be so stubborn, if he would have just listened to her.  I’d say she seems genuinely broken up about the guy, but I guess they always do.

Speaking of broken up, this Starling guy.  He kind of looks like he got picked up by a giant pair of hands who crushed him and then kind of rolled him around between their palms for a little bit.  Closest I’ve seen to something like this was that homeless guy that fell asleep in a car at Demos’ Demolition and ended up in the car crusher.

But even though the lady. . .she’s got a name, Amancia Bailey. . .Even though Amancia’s covered in blood, there’s not much blood on or around Starling.  If you would have told me that Amancia had scrubbed him and the floor, I’d have almost believed you.

Jelkis and I check out the rest of the house, while the other guys wait for the usual crew to bat clean-up.  Nice house.  Creepy.  Quiet.  Sparse.  But as far as Jelkis and I can tell, there’s no one else there.  Just Amancia and a hundred-some pounds of meat that used to be Chellick Starling.

Word is they’re charging Bailey with murder.  Good luck with that.  She’s a strong gal, but I have no idea what she did to Starling to leave him looking like that and as far as I know, they haven’t found a murder weapon.  Really damn weird, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

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