“Good morning, ma’am. This is Officer Duncan and Thatcher.” Lisa didn’t want the woman upset by the dog.
Eric checked the door for signs of forced entry. He tried the knob with a gloved hand. “Locked.”
“Does she go off on trips for business ever? Small vacations? Long weekends?” Lisa asked.
“Oh no. Not without asking me to collect her newspaper and mail. She’s a neat freak. Hates mess. Kelly works from home so I see her at least twice a day. But the last two days nothing. I knocked but nothing.” Mrs. Hill fidgeted with the key.
“And that’s the key to her apartment?” Eric nodded to her hand. “You haven’t gone in?”
She handed Eric the key. “I watch television, young man. I find a body in there and I’m a suspect. If it’s too late for Kelly, poor thing, it’s better you find her.” Mrs. Hill pointed an arthritic finger at him.
“Okay, well it’s not exactly like TV but you don’t want to disturb anything if you suspect a crime. Do you have any reason to believe someone wanted Kelly harmed or dead? Any enemies?” Lisa made a few notes.
“No. But she dated a lot. Poor thing was divorced,” Mrs. Hill whispered the last word. “Early forties. Trying so hard for that last chance at happiness. I told her she’d end up alone. Men die younger anyway. My Harold went three years ago.”
“I’m sorry for your loss, ma’am. We’ll have a look inside and see what we find. Do you know if she was on good terms with her ex?”
The old lady’s lips pressed together. “Moved to Florida with a younger woman. He’s got no reason to bother her. No alimony or anything.”
“And any of her boyfriends or recent dates give her any trouble? Ever hear any arguing or fighting from her place?”
“No. Nothing. I thought maybe she flew off with one of them spur of the moment like but when she wasn’t answering her cell phone and then her sister called…” Mrs. Hill shook her head.
“You did the right thing. We’ll just take a look. See if we can track her down.” Lisa put her notebook away and nodded to Eric.
He knocked loudly on the wood door. “Vegas PD, open up.”
The silence on the other side was expected. He put the key in the lock and opened the door. Thatcher was released first. They followed with guns drawn as a precaution.
After they’d cleared the two-bedroom apartment, they began to search for clues.
The phone messages were all from others looking for Kelly. She’d erased anything prior. Her laptop, television and jewelry were all there. No theft. No forced entry at any of the windows.
Lisa began at the computer desk and found five personal ads for Kelly with five different online agencies. All had the same photo. Kelly was indeed a neat-freak. She had a clean stack of men’s profiles printed out next to her laptop with handwritten notes. Nothing about what guy she’d seen when or if they’d even met. Lisa kept looking but had a bad feeling.
The date book in the desk drawer paid off. Three nights ago a note. Dinner with H on the Strip.
Nice and vague.
“Look at this,” she said.
Eric came in from the bedroom and took in the information. “You think one of her online dates went bad?”
“It’s dangerous.” She shook her head.
“A lot of people do it. Not everyone runs a background check before a dinner in a public place.”
She frowned. “It’s too easy. Her picture is out there. Who knows what info she gave out to perfect strangers.”
“Dating is hard enough.” His tone had an edge that Lisa caught.
“Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I get a lot better sense of someone in person. Look them in the eye and read their body language. Online it’s so easy to lie and you can’t even hear the tone.”
“That’s your cop instinct. We see the worst. There’s a whole stack here of men it looks like she dated. Odds are most are harmless. Maybe this one is good. She’s on a long weekend at some hotel.”
She looked him the eye and saw the glint. Eric was just playing devil’s advocate. “If it were good, she’d have called her sister and her neighbor. All you need is one bad one. Better alone than dead.” Lisa opened the laptop and went in search of the list of passwords. A woman as neat as Kelly would have a list. Opening one drawer, she found it.
“There’s no evidence to support your theory.” Eric folded his arms. “Many missing persons return safe on their own.”
He was a young officer. When a case reached a detective it was trouble. “And some don’t want to be found. Parking lot after dinner is my best guess right now. He didn’t want it to end. We’ll run down the ex, follow-up with the sister and check with her employer for emergency contacts. See if we can GPS Kelly’s cell phone. Check her bank accounts for unusual activity. But twenty years of police work says one of these dates went bad. We just need to identify Mr. H.”
He cleared his throat. “Let me show you what I found in the bedroom.”
Lisa followed into the neat master bedroom. Everything was in meticulous order except what Eric had pulled from a deep sweater drawer.
No sweaters in there.
A collection of sex toys bigger than Lisa had ever seen outside of an adult supply store. There were DVDs, cuffs and toys from strap-ons to cock rings.
“The drawer looks pretty full. My guess is she didn’t plan on going this far with H that night or else they’d have made it back here.”
“Maybe she’s a sex addict? All the guys and all the toys. Maybe she went too far this time. Went for a dangerous guy?” Eric searched the closet for more.
“Possibly that’s what drew them together. We’re still after the same theory. Wanting sex, kinky or not isn’t a crime. But she may have gotten one date she shouldn’t have trusted. Let’s see what we get calling around and looking on her computer.” Lisa took a last pass, taking in the variety of vibrators. Quite a collection!
“Final sweep?” Eric grabbed Thatcher’s leash.
“Yeah.” Lisa followed and they went over every inch for clues. “Nothing.”
Back in the hall, Lisa knew this wasn’t the answer Mrs. Hill wanted to hear. “We’re taking Kelly’s computer, some papers about her online dates and her date book. We’re going to hold on to her key if that’s okay with you.”
“Of course. She wasn’t in there?”
“No. No sign of any foul play. No one broke in. We’re going to investigate and if you could give me her sister’s home number and any other numbers you have for friends or her work, that’d be a big help.”
Mrs. Hill went inside and returned with her well-worn phone book. Lisa jotted down the numbers as Mrs. Hill read them off. Behind Lisa, Eric secured the door. Lisa had a bad feeling about Kelly’s date with H. He was suspect number one.