Holmesly, it appeared, had also been a CPS worker. Both he and Miss Mattel had been dispatched to check upon the children who were now laying dead in the morgue. Their father, a mean alcoholic, had been convicted of nearly beating his wife to death a year before and had been given just a slap on the wrist. He had turned around and committed his wife to the mental hospital shortly afterward, thus leaving him alone with the children. This had alarmed the State and they had sent Mattel and Holmesly.
Reilly had found the file folder in a locked briefcase at the scene. It, too, had been discarded like the purse. Almost as if the murderer didn’t care. Perhaps he was drunk. But, then, maybe not. Maybe he was just being cocky.
Sherice and Matthew Stockwell were the children’s names. Toby Stockwell had once been a good man. He’d worked at the docks until Katrina. A sailor and fisherman, Stockwell had lost it all. His nice home, his fishing vessel, his livelihood, and his will to go on.
Mattie Stockwell, his wife, was a beautiful woman and strong willed. When he began spiraling down into the bottle, she picked up the slack. Though he worked at the docks, he soon lost what work he had. No one wanted a drunk working for them. He was a liability. A danger to everyone else, especially on those days he arrived drunk or hungover.
From there, it got worse. He began stealing to get his booze, and twice caused Mattie to lose her job as well. Then he began beating her. Several times, the police were called to their apartment. And she was removed by ambulance. But she always went back.
And now, this. Michael put his head in his hands. Toby must’ve been a desperate man to do this. After all, it was his fingerprints and DNA all over those ropes. And those ropes had been made out of sheets.
He looked up at Justin. “Did Reilly and Danforth go to arrest Stockwell?”
Justin nodded. “Oui. They waitin’ fo’ you, Mon ami.”
Michael got up. “Then, let’s go.”
Misty was enjoying Bern. She only hoped that they could possibly plan a time to go back to Switzerland to go skiing. She would love to see the Alps in the wintertime. She imagined that they would be beautiful.
At the moment, though, she was enjoying the fussing being made over her by a Swiss designer and her assistant. Although she knew nothing of French, she loved hearing the language spoken. And the Swiss spoke French. And German. And Italian.
“Madame,” the designer was saying, “Do not move. It is-how you say, difficult?-to get proper measurements when you move around.”
“Sorry,” Misty said sweetly sincere, “I will try to remain as still as I can. I appreciate all that you are doing for me.”
“Is nothing, Madame,” came the reply, “Jus’ allow us to get your measurements quickly and we will be done. And then we will be able to make your beautiful suit, non?”
She nodded. From that point on, she remained still and silent. She couldn’t wait to see the resulting dress. She smiled. Morgan would be surprised. It was to be her dinner dress.
In the next room, another designer hovered around Morgan. He was having a new dinner suit designed. It had been a requirement for this particular business meeting. Why, he had no clue. These Swiss could be strange birds to deal with in business. they had their own ideas on prim and proper. And their own ideas on meeting requirements.
Michael and Justin arrived back in the projects. Reilly and Danforth waited in the parking lot for them. Parking, the two detectives got out of Michael’s car and went over to where the two officers stood.
Michael looked over at his friends. “What’s the hold-up?”
Reilly looked toward the apartment complex. “We were waiting on backup. Backup is here, so now we can proceed. Not sure whether our man will be armed and dangerous or drunk off his ass. Either way, best to have help.”
Justin grinned. “Dat is true.”
Michael eased up. “Let’s go, then.” He pulled his gun from its holster, as did Justin and the two officers.
Toby Stockwell took in the sight of the four police officers approaching. They had found his handiwork. He frowned drunkenly and embittered. Let ’em come. They would be too late.
Damn kids anyway. Always ran to school and told on him. His beating them did no good. They still went and told.
And then those two CPS workers added to the problems. He had been doing just fine without their help. They had come to meddle. To take the children away. He knew how their kind worked. Always preyed upon the poor and the morally just. Never on those who deserved to have things taken away.
So he had dealt with them. And the children. Now, no one would get those brats. And those officers who were coming for him would be too late. He walked over to the broken desk and yanked the drawer as hard as he could. As it slid open, the pistol slid to the front.
Taking it out, he flipped the cylinder out and checked to make sure there were bullets in it, then replaced the cylinder. Cocking the gun, he raised it to his head. Soon, all his troubles would be over. Soon.
The four officers stood just outside the door as the gun went off. Michael kicked in the door to find Toby on the floor. He bent down and checked for a pulse. None.
“Damn.” He shook his head.
“Looks like he had this all planned,” Danforth observed.
“Oui,” came Justin’s affirmation as he picked up the tablet from the desk, “He even scribbled out his confession to the killin’s we came to clean up yesterday.” He passed the notebook to Michael.
Michael looked down at the scribbled message. Flipping back, page after page, he saw the paranoid ravings of the drunken sailor. He shook his head. Who, in their right mind, accused innocent children for something their own actions had caused? And who was Toby to think that the CPS workers had been there of their own accord? He shook his head sadly.