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Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell

Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell

Author:Patricia Cornwell [Cornwell, Patricia]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER 21

AS I LISTEN TO all this,” says the CIA, “I’m wondering if she’s a hit staged to look like something else. That could explain why her hands were cut off and are missing. It sounds like someone settling a score, sending a message.”

“It could be the Russians thought she was becoming a problem, that it was time to eliminate her,” DARPA contemplates.

“Or her murder may have nothing to do with any of this,” Benton replies skeptically, and I have no doubt he’s thinking about the flattened penny.

That one small detail seems to cry out, and what it has to say flies in the face of a murder for hire. I envision the run-over coin on the rail, an oblong coppery wafer beaded with rainwater, and it’s important somehow. I don’t feel it’s contrived or random.

“Once we have an idea what’s on her computers, hopefully we’ll know what we’re dealing with,” Benton says, precipitating another flurry of questions.

“What about Gwen Hainey’s mobile phone?”

“It hasn’t been recovered. But we’re dealing with the provider,” my husband answers.

“The last call she made? What do the records say?”

“Friday afternoon,” he says. “She called the manager of Colonial Landing.”

Apparently, Gwen was expecting a FedEx. Benton elaborates on yet more information I’ve not heard before this moment. According to the tracking record, it was delivered to the management office at ten-thirty Friday morning, he says as I remember the package I saw on her kitchen counter. Later in the day, she called Cliff Sallow asking where it was.

“What time was it when she finally checked on the package?” Another question.

“Close to four P.M., not long before she died.” Benton looks at me. “Cliff Sallow told her no such package had been delivered. He’d not seen it.”

“Was a signature required?” I ask.

“Apparently, she never requested that when she had things sent to her, the packages usually left on the management office’s front porch,” Benton answers as I envision the unopened package.

“What was in it?” I ask.

“Three Mophie-type chargers.”

“If the package I saw on top of the kitchen counter inside Gwen’s townhome is the one she called the management office about,” I ask next, “then where was it after FedEx dropped it off on the porch at ten-thirty in the morning?”

“Exactly. Where was it, and who had it?” Benton says, causing more questions and comments, people talking on top of each other.

“And she didn’t call looking for it until some five or six hours after it was left on the porch?”

“Who finally dropped it off to her not long before she was attacked?”

“Could be anyone who picked up the package at the office, maybe off the front porch,” Benton suggests. “And the manager living there might not have been aware of it.”

“What about time of death?” General Gunner directs this at me.

“Early evening,” I estimate. “Possibly an hour or two after she called looking for the package.”

“The DNA will be interesting, whatever might be on the outside of the box,” says the FBI as if I might not have thought of it.



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