Apex Predator Chapter Read
Manhattan, New York
a cool night, not quite cold, but just at the point where people were beginning
to think about wearing their scarves. Christmas season was just around the
corner and the streets of New York were packed with early Christmas shoppers.
Not that anyone would
be able to tell the difference, New York streets were always packed. People
here never needed a reason. Trinity was just beginning his stroll.
He always liked to
start at Central Park. He loved picking up the scents that so many people just
took for granted. The dewy grass, the perfume of any one of thousands of women
walking by, the mustard on the hot dog vendor’s cart, so many delights that it
could be overwhelming.
enough for the scent he truly craved, the one he actually allowed his nose to
hunt for. Children. Like everything else, children gave off a distinct smell
and Trinity could pick up that scent for miles.
Here at Central Park,
however, he never needed to wait too long to pick up the scent. The smell of
children’s shampoo, candy, ice cream smeared on a sweater, he could smell each
and every one almost immediately. During his evenings of indulgence he did not
like to stay around the park for long, lest someone get a clear look at his
That was another of
New York’s gifts to his purpose, no one looked at anyone else past a cursory
glance, and if they did it was more out of annoyance than curiosity.
Still, he wouldn’t
take the risk when it was so unnecessary. On nights like tonight, it would not
take him long to find what he was looking for. In fact, in the time it took for
him to form that thought, he found exactly what he was looking for.
A mom, walking along
with two children and a stroller, was just rounding a corner. And as if luck
was truly smiling down on him tonight, they were headed for the ice rink.
Marybeth Loomis had a
long day by any standard. After doing what early Christmas shopping she could
do, she ran errands that had been on her to-do list for over a week.
It was just bad luck
that the sitter had cancelled on her tonight, because she had planned on being
home by noon, making dinner and waiting for her husband to come home.
Christopher was also starting to get cranky.
She really couldn’t
blame him after three hours of sitting in a stroller. Tracy, all of six now,
wanted to stop at every window and tell her mother what she would be asking
Santa Claus for, but Bethany had shown remarkable restraint in the things she
had asked for the entire day.
So when the two girls
asked to go skating, even just for a little while, Marybeth could not bring
herself to say no. As usual, Bethany, unable to control her excitement, ran far
ahead to the rink in order to ‘pick the best skates.’
Marybeth did her best
to keep up, but pushing Chris along slowed her down. Trinity watched from
across the street and saw all the things he needed to see. He made note of
exactly what the mother was wearing, the names of the children, listening for
the names of the girls as she called after one of them when she was running
ahead. His van was not ideally parked, but it was hidden by a dumpster and near
an intersection, which would allow him to do what he needed to and to get out
of the area quickly.
As he watched, the
expected scenario unfolded in front of him almost exactly as he had predicted. Mom,
pushing Christopher and running and calling after Bethany, would glance back
every few minutes to make sure that Tracy was following along, which she was,
but at a farther and farther distance from her mother. She was stopping at
every other store window to look at dolls or toys.
The group crossed the
street to Trinity’s side and began making their way back toward the rink, still
in their disorganized procession. As mom rounded the corner, Bethany tripped
and cried out.
Her mother rushed to
catch up to her, leaving Tracy around the corner. Distracted by Bethany’s
skimmed knee and Chris’s crying, she did not realize Tracy was not with them.
Trinity made his move,
“Did you see how pretty that doll’s dress is when it lights up?”
Having been taught not
to talk to strangers, the six-year-old hesitated for all of half a second, “No,
Trinity now covered
her with his own form as he answered, “The one in the blue, like the one I have
in my van.”
suspicious, “You really have one like that in your van?”
He smiled a disarming
smile, “Yes, and many others with other dresses. Would you like to look at
them? The van’s just right there.”
Tracy had been warned
at school and by her parents about bad men, men who would hurt little children.
Like almost every child who heard the stories, Tracy thought of monster-like
creatures that would come and steal them in the night.
The man in front of
her was wearing a suit like her father wore, his hair was combed and he wore
glasses like her mother. She looked her mom’s way, but Trinity knew how to seal
the deal, “Don’t worry about your mom, she’s wearing that bright blue coat, so
we’ll be able to find her and we’ll be right along. Besides, she’s probably
just catching up to Bethany right now and you know how hard that is, pushing
your little brother along.”
Tracy smiled at that,
“Yeah, she gets really upset. Okay, but only for a minute.”
And in just a blink of
an eye they were lost in the New York bustle, walking to his van hand in hand.
He knew not to look hurried or nervous and instead looked down at Tracy as a
father might look at his daughter, with care and concern.
To anyone who might
have seen the two, it was simply a father and daughter out for a stroll. When
they got to the van, Trinity made sure no witnesses were around and opened the
back where there were indeed many different dolls with pretty dresses.
Tracy’s eyes lit up as
she saw the dolls, but Trinity stopped her, “Oh, honey, you have a runny
nose. Here, let me wipe it.” Completely unfamiliar with chemical
odors, Tracy never recognized the chloroform he used to put her to
sleep. The whole process had taken just under three minutes.
He looked around and,
seeing no one, put her in the van. He taped her ankles and wrists and
bound her mouth, although she shouldn’t be waking up for another few
minutes. Now that she was accommodated in the van, Trinity could take pleasure
in the fact that he could begin
working on his true
mandate, his calling, just like he had done time and time again.
Marybeth did not
notice Tracy was not behind her until she had caught up with Bethany. Expecting
to turn and see the bright red overcoat as always, enthralled, looking at
windows. Failing to find her sent off the first of many red flags in Marybeth’s
head. She hoped she had walked close to a window that had flagstone around it,
which was why she couldn’t see her.
Her next instinct was
to yell out her name several times to make sure she didn’t just happen to be
standing behind someone. In spite of having gone through these rituals like all
mothers who could not spot their child right away, Marybeth knew something was
seriously wrong. She had never lost sight of her little girl for this long, and
looking at the sea of people strolling the streets of New York, she felt a sense
The first thing she
did was to look for a policeman, luckily finding one at the far corner. “Excuse
me, excuse me, officer, but I can’t find my little girl!”
It was most definitely
not the first time Officer Allen heard this from a frantic mother, especially
at this time of year. Most of the time it turned out the little girl went into
a store or was with another relative, so Officer Allen remained calm and asked
all the pertinent questions. Was there another relative with them? Had she lost
her before? Was there a favorite place the little girl might want to go to
nearby, an ice cream stand, a toyshop?
Having gotten a
negative on all pertinent questions and seeing the true panic on the mother’s
face, Allen put out a “be on the lookout,” or BOLO, call on his radio for the
missing little girl, giving her physical description, her last known
whereabouts and her possible locations.
After two hours of not
locating the girl, an all-city bulletin went out over the police band turning
this from a lost girl into an actual missing person report with a possible
Every officer out
there looking for the little girl had the same thought, but none dared
speculate about it. There had been six other little girls, same description, same
M.O., that disappeared in the past three weeks, and although no one wanted to
think it, most were already counting her as number seven.
Trinity pulled his van
into his rented warehouse and workshop. He had been careful to rent it in an
industrial area where waste was dumped and processed at all hours of the night,
negating the need to soundproof his space or bother with the odor.
Walking into it, one
might think they were walking into a movie set. Behind plastic curtains was
what could almost be called an operating room, complete with IVs, surgical
instruments, an operating table of course and a cabinet full of drug vials.
Next to this was a
curtain that separated the “clinical” part of the space into what anyone seeing
it would describe as a typical little girl’s bedroom, a small bed with four
posts and a white frilly cover on the top, a dresser and two nightstands with
small lamps. Then the observer would most likely notice that there were dolls,
dozens of dolls, arranged all over the stands and the dresser in the middle.
Nothing strange about
dolls in a little girl’s bedroom, except these dolls were in various stages of
disassembly. Some had the eyes cut out, others had no arms, and yet others were
nothing but a torso with a head. Each had been carefully arranged to fit in
with other dolls in a similar state. The dolls with no eyes were all arranged
together, the ones with no arms likewise, and so on.
difference between this and any other little girl’s room was the handcuffs
attached to every one of the four posts, each pair having left bloodstains on
the part of the bed it was on and on the post it was attached to.
The final part of this
make-believe world was also divided, but by plastic curtains only. It could
only be described as a chamber of horrors.
In the corner of the
space near the entrance, there was an actual workshop with a table saw, various
tools hanging on the wall, and a carry pack with various forms of cutting
instruments as well as tools for machining fine parts.
Even the best crime
profilers in the business could not have imagined a more disparate and sick
He headed over to the
cabinet with all the drug vials, selected the appropriate vial and loaded a
syringe, not too much though, she must be compliant but not fully unconscious;
no sir, it would not do at all for her to pass out or worse, stop breathing,
like the one before her.
He already knew what
he would take, those eyes, those sparkling blue eyes now looking at him in
sheer horror. After he applied the injection, Tracy’s eyes took on a faraway
look and she stopped struggling.
Gently, he picked her
up from the van and placed her on the bed where he cuffed her hands and feet.
Tracy would indeed be the seventh, and although she didn’t know it yet, she
would leave this world in a haze of horror and fear that a six-year-old mind
would not be mature enough to comprehend.
Trinity walked over to
the van, lifted her from the floor and placed her on the operating table,
whispering, “It will all be over soon and you are being so good. I hope you
know how much you are helping me, helping us, really,” and with that he started
an IV line on her.
To anyone who knew
him, Donald Riche had been as average a child as there could be. He never
picked on other kids and he never did anything that might cause his mother to
be angry with him.
Had anyone been paying
close attention, they might have noticed that young Donald was too average. He never showed interest in
toys or comic books like other boys his age. What Donald did have an intense
interest in was small animals. He would catch them and then, as best he could,
he would take them apart using tools he found or knives from the kitchen. He
didn’t torture them, he simply wanted to see how they worked.
Donald knew he was not
like the other kids, knew he didn’t think the same way. He knew of adults who
took children and did things to them, but rather than fear, such thoughts
engendered curiosity in the young boy.
His mother had been
decent enough, but she’d met a man, had left Donald with relatives when he was
nine and had never returned for him.
His relatives gave him
as much love and support as they could, but never as much as they gave their
own children. Still, they encouraged him and showed him they were proud of his
small accomplishments. His childhood should have been filled with happy
memories of holidays and school events where he was treated like the other
children in the family, but it wasn’t.
Even in his early
childhood, he’d understood that his interests were not normal for his age and
that some of the things he did might attract unwanted attention; therefore, he
was always cautious and meticulous in everything he did. As he became an
adolescent and a young adult, his interests grew in intensity and he found that
he had to be even more careful now that he was an adult.
Through high school,
he participated in some student organization, never in a leadership role, but
just as a member, a fly on the wall. He began to recognize that the more he
adhered to the rules and the more he did what was expected, the less attention
he was likely to draw to himself.
When he went away to
college, he took his required course work, but he also always took electives in
physiology, anatomy, biology and anything else that could assist him in his activities.
He began to dress
better and take better care in his appearance. He bought stylish clothes and
glasses and began grooming himself with more care. He also began to realize
that there were people out there who had nothing and no one to care for them or
to even know they were alive.
neighborhoods where he found such people simply lying on the street or against
a doorway. It had not been too difficult for him to lure them with the promise
of a meal or more alcohol. He was, as always, very careful not to go to the
same place more than once, and he never did anything near where he lived.
Never curious about
religion, he was nevertheless interested in the concept of the Holy Trinity.
One individual, but three entities, he found it fascinating and decided that he
too was a Trinity, one made up of intelligence, purpose and destiny.
By the time he
graduated from Wisconsin University, Donald Riche had made more than 18 people
disappear. He was never considered a suspect nor even questioned.
He moved to New York
where he worked as a runner for a Wall Street firm, was well liked by his
coworkers, had a nice apartment, which he kept in meticulous order, and he
dressed the part to perfection.
After he began taking
care of himself, he became not a bad-looking man. His suit and his poise
attracted a fair share of female attention, but he had no sexual inclination
He had gone on a
couple of dates, but more out of curiosity than because of any real sexual
desire. He wanted to learn, to study, to see if he got the same sense from
grown women that he got from the girls. In his mind, he believed women and
adults were too far gone, too imperfect and could not be corrected, but still
he wanted to test his theory for himself.
Both dates had been
pleasant enough. After dinner they had gone for a nice stroll to let their food
settle, and as they approached Donald’s van, he had made sure no one was on the
street and overpowered them with the chloroform.
During one of these
episodes, Donald had come dangerously close to being spotted, when a young
couple happened to be walking by as he held the woman’s arm around his neck and
pulled her to the van.
But it was New York,
and when the couple looked, he simply said, “She couldn’t hold her Chardonnay…”
The couple smiled and kept on their way, as they could relate to having a bit
much at a wine tasting.
Donald went through
his process. He took the women to his workshop and did his work, and as he
suspected, it was not the same; they were too far gone, too far into a life of
excess and waste and worry.
There was none of the
innocence and purity that a child had, none of the opportunity to fix what had
been done wrong.
The two women had
never told anyone who they were going on a date with, and Donald had been
careful enough to use a false name in any case.
They had both come
from completely different parts of town and from different online dating
services, so Donald thought they would most likely be added to the long list of
women who disappeared from the streets of New York without a trace. He had been
correct in that assumption and had never been questioned about either woman.
Steven Loomis had a
long day. Meeting after meeting kept him from returning calls or emails all day
long. As he walked out of the building, he saw he had eight missed calls from
his wife. He would call her back as soon as he got into a cab, which during
that time of year in New York at that hour could be quite a while.
Steven worked as a risk consultant for one of
the largest security firms in the world. His job often took him to distant
locations, where he would assess the risk situation of any number of companies
or foreign government organizations before putting together a proposal on how
to best address those risks.
It was a perfect fit
for him after having spent 20 years in the Navy, the last 10 as a Navy SEAL.
His travel now did not compare to those long tours of duty he would have to go
on where he wouldn’t see his family for months. Now he would be gone for two
weeks at the most, and while it still felt like a long time to be away from his
wife, girls and his little boy, he considered himself lucky to have a job he
loved and which he was exceedingly good at.
He was 48 years old
and had dark brown hair, cut neatly and peppered with slight spots of grey. He
had bright hazel eyes that reflected calm and intelligence, even from a young
age. He was six feet tall and carried a solid 195 pounds of well-toned muscle
on his frame.
He had played football
in high school and received several offers to attend good universities, not
because of his size but because of his speed and ability to come up with the
big plays when he needed to. He had chosen Annapolis. His dream had been to
become a Navy pilot, but a knee injury playing football kept him from that.
So instead, he had
decided to go into the investigative branch of the Navy, where he spent his
first 10 years in the military police and eventually moving into the sensitive
investigations unit, often liaising with the better-known NCIS.
Longing for something
more adventurous and which would test him in a more rigorous way, he applied
for the Navy SEALs. He’d been old by SEAL standards, 31, but he was in supreme
shape and he had honed his mental toughness during his time at the
investigative group. He made it through the infamous SEAL training program with
no problem at all.
Within his first year
he was assigned to the Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) team, one of
the most elite units in the program. SEAL Team Six, as it had been commonly
called, was the team called when the missions were critical and difficult. Most
people would be surprised to find that SEAL Team Six was made up of men in
their mid- to late thirties. No one could be considered for the team without
years of experience in the field.
In spite of exemplary
evaluations throughout his career, Loomis had only risen to the rank of
lieutenant commander. He knew that higher rank meant more likelihood of having
to sit behind a desk, and that was not something he’d signed up for. He enjoyed
the camaraderie and sense of accomplishment that came with being an operator.
After showing his
mettle once and again and participating in hair-raising operations, it was time
for Steven to retire. He had a fulfilling career where he made lifelong friends
and learned more than he had ever imagined.
He raised a family
along the way and understood that his priorities had changed. He could no
longer go charging into whatever a situation demanded without regard for his
safety. He now had people who depended on him, people he loved more than life
That’s when Lieutenant
Commander Steven Loomis knew it was time to hang it up. After leaving the Navy,
he’d dedicated himself to helping veterans coming home from ‘the sandbox’ of
Afghanistan and Iraq, men and women who came home injured or depressed, most
suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.
He procured exercise
equipment and therapy from a number of companies wanting to help and had taken
a few men under his wing to help them to get back into a normal life. He’d also
helped organize events to raise money for wounded veterans.
It was during one of
these events that he had caught the attention of the CEO of an international
security and intelligence firm. After their first meeting, Steven knew he’d
found a place and the CEO knew he’d found the man that would eventually take
over for him.
The air felt cold but
good on his face. After sitting in meetings all day, it was good to feel the
fresh air. It was early Christmas season, just after Thanksgiving, and getting
a cab at that hour was going to be a nightmare. He stood on the corner of
Madison and 52nd waiting for 20 minutes, allowing an older woman to take a car
that had stopped for him along the way.
Finally he saw a
couple coming out of a cab and ran before anyone else could snag it. He entered
the cab, gave the cabbie his address and shook off the cold. Now in the comfort
of the cab and with the noise significantly reduced, he could finally call his
He dialed the number
and she picked up immediately, she was hysterical and Steven knew instantly
that something was wrong. “Why the hell haven’t you been answering your phone?”
He tried to calm her,
“Beth, Beth, calm down, what’s the matter, what’s wrong?”
Beth had to take a
couple of breaths before she could answer, “Tracy, it’s Tracy, she’s gone, I
can’t find her! She was right with me and now she’s gone!”
Steven took this in
and had his mind racing to think of possible answers to where Tracy could be,
“Maybe a cop found her and she’s at some station or maybe someone else found
her and they’re taking her there.”
But she could not be
consoled, “Steven, she’s been gone for hours. The police have an alert out,
they’ve checked with every precinct, every hospital, she’s just gone!” Beth was
sobbing on the other end of the phone.
He could tell she was
barely functional and knew he had to get to her immediately, “Beth, where are
At that point Beth
continued to sob and could not speak or answer Steven’s questions, “Beth, if
there is a police officer around, let me talk to him, pass him the phone,
On the other end
Steven could hear the phone rustling and then a male voice came on, “This is
Detective Mullins, Mr. Loomis. We’re here with your wife and your other
children. They’re fine. We’re at the precinct closest to Central Park. It’s
Steven interrupted, “I
know where it is. Where is my daughter?”
“Well, that’s what we’re trying to find out. We have all units notified of a
missing child and we have the missing persons unit notified already. There are
three detectives at the park interviewing people and retracing your wife’s
steps. We’re doing about as much as we can right now, Mr. Loomis. I would
suggest you come and pick up your wife and your children. We will stay on this
and let you know as soon as we have something.”
After hanging up with
the policeman, Steven gave the cab driver the new destination.
When he got there,
Steven Loomis could see that this was indeed a serious situation. The level of
activity, the number of people on the phones with copies of a picture his wife
had given them told him this was not a simple lost girl situation, something
else was going on.
He looked around for
his wife and his children and found them sitting on a wooden bench in the
middle of the precinct. Marybeth was a total mess, her face streaked with
makeup, her eyes still full of tears.
As soon as she saw
Steven, she launched into his arms and began weeping, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,
it’s my fault! But she was right with me and we were going skating, and she was
gone, just gone!”
Steven tried to calm
his wife down in order to get a more cohesive story, but it became clear to him
that he was going to need to take his wife to an emergency room to be sedated
because she was on the verge of a complete breakdown.
breathe, just relax, baby, and breathe. That’s it, slowly, just calm down and
breathe, honey, that’s it.” Slowly Beth began to calm down.
Steven spoke softly to
her, “I spoke to the police, honey, and they are doing everything they can.”
Beth looked up at him
and began crying again, “But it’s my fault, she was with me and…and I let her
out of my sight…it was just a minute…Bethany fell…”
She couldn’t finish
her sentence before she broke down again. “Honey, it’s nobody’s fault, it
happens, children break away from their parents all the time. Let’s not think
the worst yet. She is probably somewhere with someone who is trying to get her
back to us.”
Beth looked up again,
“You really think so?”
Steven kept his
composure and answered his wife with a lie, “Sure I do, honey. Now just relax
and make sure Bethany and Chris are okay. They must be scared.”
Feeling a bit calmer,
Beth went back to the bench and started comforting her other two children. But
Steven Loomis was certain there was something else going on, something serious.
His business was security and risk assessment, and he spent 20 years in the
Navy doing nothing but investigating and learning how to notice things other
people did not notice, and something was going on here, something he intended
to get to the bottom of.
He asked around and
finally found Mark Mullins, the policeman he had spoken to on the phone.
“Detective Mullins? I’m Steven Loomis. We spoke on the phone.”
They shook hands and
Mullins told Loomis, “I sure am sorry about this. I have two girls of my own
and I can’t imagine what you are going through.”
Steven appreciated the
man’s sentiments, but at the moment he just wanted to get as much information
as he could, “I appreciate it, detective. It is incredibly difficult. I’m still
trying to process everything.”
Mullins nodded in
understanding, “So what can I do for you?”
Steven needed to be
careful how he approached this if he wanted to get as much information as
possible, “Well, I wanted to get an update on what’s going on with my
without much preamble, “Nothing new to report. We have had a couple of
sightings we followed up on, which unfortunately turned out to be dead ends.
Every patrolman has a physical description of Tracy and we have detectives
building a file.”
Loomis listened to
Mullins telling him all of this, all of which he already knew, but he also knew
there was more. “See, that’s the thing, detective, I was an investigator in the
Navy and I work in security now, and I can’t help but notice that there is a
lot of activity for a child that’s been missing for a few hours.”
got defensive, “Listen, Mr. Loomis, we take missing persons very seriously,
especially when it is children. Actually I’m surprised. Most people never think
we are doing enough. I’ve never had someone complain that we are doing too
Steven raised his
hands trying to appease the officer, “I apologize, I didn’t mean to come across
as complaining. I just noticed that for the time she has been missing there is
a lot of activity. It seems as though a case has been already developed and
like it’s much further along than I would think if it was just a missing girl
at Central Park.”
Mullins looked at
Steven’s eyes and could tell the man was not lying; he had the look of a cop,
of an investigator. He knew if he lied to him he would see through it, and
having the parent of a missing child not trusting the police during an
investigation was no way to investigate anything.
Mullins considered it
for a moment and then told Steven, “Alright, you did not get this from me. It
could mean my job, do you understand?” Steven nodded.
Mullins went on, “You
need to speak with Detective Grady, Robert Grady. He’s on the floor above. He
should be able to give you more information.”
Steven looked back at
his wife and kids and once he made sure they were okay began to make his way to
the floor where Grady was. After a few inquiries, he was asked to wait until
Detective Grady could see him. Steven sat down and again observed a lot more
activity than he would expect for a case like this.
After 20 minutes, a
short and stocky man came out to talk to him, “Can I help you?”
Steven stood up, “Yes,
I’m looking for Detective Grady and I was told he worked on this floor.”
The man looked him up
and down and responded, “I’m Grady, what can I do for you Mr. …?”
Steven stuck out his
hand, “Loomis, Steven Loomis.”
As they were shaking
hands, Steven saw a sign of recognition in Grady, who became extremely
uncomfortable at the same time.
“Detective, to be
honest with you, what I’m trying to get at is what’s going on here. My daughter
is missing and I appreciate everything your department is doing, but I’m in the
business, in the security and intelligence gathering business, and there is
clearly something more going on than just my daughter missing.
“I just wanted to get
the full update, I’m sure you can understand this is my daughter we are talking
about and I want to know everything there is to know that is pertinent to my
Loomis. He could also tell the man wasn’t lying, he was in the business.
He also thought about
his own daughters and what he would do and what he would want if one of them
went missing, “Follow me.”
They went past the
rows of desks manned by investigators and other detectives and went into an
office at the far end of the floor. After they were both in the room, Grady
closed the door behind him, “Have a seat, please.” Steven sat down across from
Grady and waited for what the detective had to say.
“Mr. Loomis, I’m about
to share something with you that has not been released for public consumption
and I am going to trust that you will keep it that way. It is not something
that is easy for me to tell you, and I imagine it will be even more difficult
to hear it.”
Steven was now losing
his patience, “Can you just tell me what’s going on?”
Grady leaned back in
his chair and went on to tell Steven, “We have been working on a number of
missing person cases over the past three weeks. At first no connection was made
because the missing people came from completely different areas, but we are
fairly certain now that all of the cases are related.”
Steven was puzzled and
did not quite understand, “What does that have to do with my daughter?”
Grady was clearly
uncomfortable with what he had to say next, “Mr. Loomis, without going into too
many details, the reason we are fairly comfortable that the cases are related
is because all of the missing persons are little girls, between four and seven
“The M.O. is exactly
the same in every one of the cases, the little girls were there one minute and
gone the next, always with a parent nearby, always without a trace, no
witnesses and no clue as to where they went. We have a task force working on
this, but we have not yet gotten anything significant.”
Steven Loomis was
speechless, he thought there was something else going on, but he never imagined
that there might be a serial kidnapper or worse, a murderer, on the loose in
New York. “Let me get this straight. You guys have known there might be someone
out there snatching little girls off the streets and you’ve decided to keep it
from the public?’
Now it was Grady’s
turn to lose his patience, “What exactly would you have us do, Mr. Loomis? Huh?
Tell the public we have a serial kidnapper on the loose when we haven’t fully
developed a firm connection between the cases? Create a mass panic only to find
out that the cases are unrelated?
“So far, everything we
have is based on speculation, we do not have one single iota of physical
evidence to go on, and let’s not forget that we are still speculating about
these being kidnappings. Everything points to that being the case, but again,
we do not have a single shred of concrete evidence that someone took these kids.
So I ask you again, what would you have us do?”
Steven held his head
down as he listened. He knew the detective was right; they were doing the right
thing by keeping this an internal matter until they had something else. “How
many girls have gone missing?”
Grady answered, “Six
so far. We are scouring the system to see if there are any other cases
whatsoever that could be related. Nothing’s come up so far.”
With his hands
interlaced on the back of his neck, Steven asked, “And you think that my
daughter might be the seventh, is that it?”
Grady knew how hard
this must be for the man, so he tried to soften the blow, “We’re not counting
her as the seventh. Like you said, she has only been missing a few hours, so it
could be that it is completely unrelated.”
Steven looked up at
the detective with a knowing look, a look that said, ‘You think she’s the
seventh one and you think the rest of those girls are dead,’ but he didn’t say
anything. He stood up and thanked the detective for his time and for his
Grady tried to
reassure him, “I will keep you posted on anything we get as soon as we get it.
I’m really sorry about this, Mr. Loomis, I really am.”
Steven nodded and left
the office. On his way back down he had to decide whether this was something he
would share with Beth. He decided that if he did share it with her it would not
be until she was much calmer. Right then, she was teetering on the edge and he
knew something like this would just push her over.
He also had to decide
what he was going to do. He just couldn’t imagine himself going back to live
life as if nothing had happened with his little girl missing. For the time
being, he had his kids and his wife to take care of.