The detective grunted. "Unfortunately for your aunt. This might not have happened if this guy was still doing time."
Clearly, Lt. Morrison believed he'd found his man. "You know, I've got some other questions about the money, Lieutenant. Why hasn't more of it been found? I mean, I was shocked to learn from the lawyer that the amount was twenty thousand dollars, and yet none of it has been recovered."
"I'm afraid not, Ms. Flynn. Only her empty purse was found, thrown into the bushes beside the trail."
"You know, that doesn't make sense." Kelly didn't bother to hide her skepticism. "This guy runs off with twenty thousand dollars. That's a lot of money scattered beside the river. Someone should have noticed and reported it, don't you think? Some honest citizen, perhaps?"
Morrison observed her in silence for a moment before answering. Kelly got the impression he was assessing her. "They're a lot of people that use that trail, Ms. Flynn. Particularly late at night. And some of them aren't exactly what you'd call 'honest citizens.' Their first instinct if they found a bunch of money lying under the bushes would be to grab it and run like hell. In fact, that's what we think happened. One or two guys found the cash, grabbed it, and caught a bus out of town. There's a midnight bus to Denver, you know. They're long gone by now, I'm afraid."
"How would they even see the money? It was nighttime, right?"
"There was a full moon that night and a slight breeze. If those bills started blowing across someone's path, believe me, they'd notice."
Kelly deliberately stared at the wall behind him as she considered what he'd said. It made sense. Why then did something nag at her inside?
"I know this whole idea comes as a shock to you, Ms. Flynn, but we deal with individuals like this all the time. Some money comes into their lives suddenly, they grab it and disappear. Go wherever they think it's safe. Drink it up, gamble it away, usually get the rest stolen from them. It's sad, I know."
She let out an exasperated sigh. "It's all too coincidental, that's what bothers me."
"Coincidental?" Bushy eyebrows argued with each other
"Yes. My aunt gets a loan from a sleazy lender even though we'd re-financed three years ago. Then goes to the bank and cashes the check for this huge amount of money. Huge to her, at least." Kelly let the frustration into her voice. "And then, the very night she has all this money in her purse, a vagrant just happens to walk in and robs her. And kills her!" She shakes her head. "I don't know, Lieutenant Morrison. Helen lived in that house for the last four years, and I never heard her complain about prowlers or fear of someone even peeking in her windows, let alone, robbing her. It's just all too. .too. ."
"Random?" Morrison supplied. "Crime often is, Ms. Flynn. I know that's no consolation, but I'm afraid it's all we've got to give you."
Kelly looked him in the eye. "Has this guy confessed yet?"
Morrison shook his head. "No. Claims he doesn't remember doing anything after he finished off the liquor. But that's exactly what he said last year after the other assault. I told you, he's fried his brain."
"Can you actually convict someone when they don't remember the crime? How does that work?"
"He'll get a fair trial, Ms. Flynn. Rest assured. Now, do you have any more questions?"
Not right now, Kelly thought to herself, but she knew when she was being dismissed. "I guess not, Lt. Morrison," she said as she started to stand up. Then she remembered something that had niggled in the back of her brain. "Oh yes, I was wondering if you'd discovered anything damaged or broken in the house when you, uh. .when you found her."
Morrison flipped open the file at last and scanned it. Kelly stared covetously at the folder.
"There was an overturned chair near the dining room table, but no furnishings seemed to be damaged," he said, scanning the report. "Victim was found face down on the living room carpet, about six feet from the table. Victim was still wearing rings and wristwatch. On the floor beside her was one broken knitting needle, another knitting needle with a single loop of purple yarn, and a bundle or skein, whatever you call it, of the same purple yarn. That's all we found near the body."
"A broken needle?" Kelly probed, her instinct buzzing. "Did you find the rest of what she was knitting? Knowing Helen, she was always knitting something."
"So we were told," he muttered as he turned the page and read. "We were curious as well, so we searched throughout the house and outside, but we never found any separate knitted item that matched the yarn."
"Now, that's strange, Lieutenant. Jewelry is left but Helen's knitting is stolen," Kelly sharpened her skeptical tone.
Morrison flipped through the pages before answering. "When a person commits a violent criminal act, sometimes they do strange things, Ms. Flynn."
"I've also discovered my aunt's heirloom quilt missing. It hung on the wall for over thirty years, and now it's gone. We can't find it anywhere. Why would the killer steal a quilt?"
"What makes you think it was stolen?" Morrison said. "She may have given it to someone."
"She wouldn't do that."
Morrison stared at her but made no reply, his skepticism obvious. Then, he placed the folder on the table and folded his arms. "Do you have any other questions?"
"Just one. Who was it that actually discovered my aunt's body? I think Officer Delahoy mentioned an off-duty policeman."
"Yes, two of our officers had just gotten a midnight meal from a nearby drive-thru and drove over to the driveway between your aunt's and the knitting shop to park and eat. They told me that driveway afforded them a good place to watch the shopping center across the street without being seen."
"And that's when they found her."
Morrison nodded. "Yes, they noticed the front door open and lights streaming out, and knew that was unusual. You see, our officers knew your aunt's habits, and they knew that open door wasn't normal for her. So, they went to investigate. It's a good thing they did, too, because it was while they were checking around outside in the yard that they spotted this guy crossing the golf course, heading toward the river." Morrison nodded in apparent satisfaction at his men's efficiency. "They called out to him, and he took off."
Kelly, however, picked up a detail. "Golf course? I was told he was seen near my aunt's house."
Morrison scowled. "The golf course borders your aunt's property, Ms. Flynn."
"It's a big golf course, Lieutenant, and it also borders two streets and Old Town. This guy could have been weaving his way toward the river," she challenged.
"We think not, Ms. Flynn. Why do you doubt our officer's account?"
Kelly grabbed her purse and skirted from behind the table, glad she was as tall as the detective. "I don't necessarily doubt it, Lieutenant. I'm just concerned. I'm sure you understand. I want to make sure that my aunt's killer is caught and punished. That's all."
"So do we, Ms. Flynn."
"That's very reassuring, Lieutenant," she said as she opened the door to leave. "Thank you so much for your time. I'll stay in touch."
© Maggie Sefton