Roger Stelljes. Smashwords Edition

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What are we looking for?”


7:54 AM

Mac, Lich, Riley, and Rock were joined by a half dozen other detectives milling around in a conference room, mixing coffee, and talking the case. Burton and his crew, along with Duffy, joined them with a quick exchange of pleasantries and introductions.

The map of the area around the café was tacked to the left side of a bulletin board. Pictures of the scene and a sketch of the woman suspected of signaling the kidnappers were pinned up on the right. The St. Paul cops and FBI agents discussed the situation that was less than sixteen hours old. A couple of hours of sleep and contemplation provided no answers, only more questions.

Peters walked in and called everyone together.

I’ve got two things,” he announced through a yawn. “First, this is a list compiled by Hisle of former clients that he thinks might have the ability to pull this off.”

What’s the second think?” Rock asked.

Peters turned and into the room came men with boxes on dollies.

We’ve got boxes and boxes of Hisle’s old criminal files coming, stuff from his firm and an off-site storage place. We need to start digging through it all.”

What are we looking for?” someone asked.

You’re the cops, you tell me,” Peters replied edgily. He was sleep deprived, all of them were. He stopped, took a deep breath, and said, “Sorry, it’s been a long night. What you’re looking for, it’s a little bit of you-know-it-when-you-see-it. These guys yesterday set up and executed a complicated plan. In looking through the client files, does anyone strike you as having the ability to develop and execute such a plan? It wouldn’t necessarily have to be a kidnapping. Lyman’s represented jewel thieves, break-in artists, confidence guys, and the leaders of some crews who specialized in high-end crimes. Not to mention all the white-collar criminals he’s represented. So, if you run across anyone who has pulled off or was accused of pulling off an elaborate, well-planned crime, let’s take a look at them.”

It also could be someone who wasn’t a client,” someone else noted.

That’s right,” Peters said. “This is just one avenue to pursue. We’re looking at other angles as well. We’re talking to Hisle’s family, her roommates, her friends to see if anyone unusual was hanging around, any strange phone calls, angry ex-boyfriends, etc.”

Anything from the café or over in River Falls?” someone asked.

Not yet,” was Peters’ response. “BCA and FBI are going through it all, but our sense is, don’t hold your breath.”

How about from the Clearwater phone?”

Ditto,” Peters replied.

These guys know what they’re doing and probably have a pretty good idea of what we’ll be doing,” Mac added. “So we’re not just looking for someone who would have something against Lyman. We’re looking for someone who has something against Lyman and the mental acuity to pull it off without a trace.”

Mental acuity?” Lich whispered mockingly. “What the fuck’s mental acuity?”

Something you don’t have, knuckle-dragger,” Mac snickered back, though Lich possessed plenty of it.

One other thing,” Captain Peters added, pointing to four other people who entered the room. “These are lawyers from Hisle’s office. They’re in a…” the captain struggled for the right works. “…a difficult spot. There are some attorney-client issues related to our reviewing the files. These lawyers will help with that.”

How will they help?” Lich asked.

By helping us work through the files. They have clearance from the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board for us to access the files. But at the same time, we don’t know if anyone in these files is even involved with this. So there needs to be some sensitivity to that.”

So what’s going to happen?” Double Frank asked. “Are they going to read it first and tell us if something’s relevant? What we think matters and what they think matters could be entirely different.”

Summer Plantagenate, one of the Hisle’s lawyers, spoke up.

We’re not going to pre-screen for you. You can look at everything. We’re more concerned with where the information goes after you review it, especially for people you conclude are not involved. My firm needs to protect those folks, so that’s where we could have issues. But you can access everything and we’ll go from there.”

That answer satisfied everyone. Coats were jettisoned, more coffee was brewed and poured – and boxes were opened. Mac sidled up to Summer, who he’d know since law school, they’re time at William Mitchell overlapping. She had recently been named a partner at Lyman’s firm and was viewed by many as his protégé. Always immaculately dressed, Summer was a cool customer, and an attractive woman with icy blonde hair and a cool demeanor to match. That demeanor caused some to call her “Winter.” But at the moment, it wasn’t hard to see the anguish on her face. Not only was Lyman like a father to her, she also knew Shannon Hisle well.

So you guys get to work the other side of a case, huh?” Mac asked.

Yes, we have to,” was her short reply. The attorneys were there to help, but also ethically bound to protect their clients’ interests. Letting the police rifle through clients’ files created an ethical quandary for any attorney.

So what do we have here?”

All of Lyman’s criminal files, both from the office and from off-site storage,” Summer replied.

How about his civil stuff?” Mac asked, taking a sip of his coffee. Burton walked up as Summer answered.

It’ll be here soon,” Summer answered. “Agent Burton and the chief think this is coming from the criminal side, and I tend to agree with them, but the civil files are coming just the same. We’ll get them over here by early afternoon.”

Mac nodded, recalling the conversation from the night before, and began to survey the mass of files, running a hand through his hair.

You’ve worked for him for awhile.” He asked, “Does anyone come to mind that would have the ability to pull this off?”

I’ve been wracking my brain on this, but no,” she replied. “But some of these files go back long before my time, so there are names I’m not familiar with. I mean, there are files that have old dittos with the yellow and pink carbons.”

Mac and Lich flipped the top off a box and started working a file. The folders had notes, photos, statements, news clippings, and listings of evidence. For the next four hours, the group worked through the file folders, reading through cases and names, some of which were familiar to the cops in the room. Detectives made frequent comments on the file notes and the lawyer’s written evaluations of the detectives involved in the case. A few inspired snide comments directed at the attorneys in the room.

Possible suspects went into a pile so that current whereabouts could be determined. Detectives, vice cops, uniforms in plain clothes, and local FBI were already out of the streets, interviewing potentials. If something didn’t seem right, the cops or agents were to bring the potentials in for further questioning. It was tedious work, reading through case notes, getting a feel for Lyman’s clients, their families and witnesses in the case. Problem was, everyone was a potential suspect, whether a client, witness, or victim.

Mac was reading through a file when he ran across the name Bobby Jacobs. The name rang a bell.

I remember this guy,” he said to himself. Bobby Jacobs was the debonair leader of a clever crew that the chief, a detective back then, had busted after a jewelry store heist. It was suspected that Jacobs had been involved in many high-end robberies: a bank, an armored car, and even homes, but the chief had no evidence to tie Jacobs to any of the others. None that was, until the chief busted a fence, who, in an effort to avoid a long prison stretch, spilled the beans about fencing for the Jacobs crew. Jacobs ended up with a much longer sentence, even though he’d been represented by Lyman. That might be motive.



You remember Bobby Jacobs?”

Hell yes,” Riles said with a smile. “One of the best damn crews I ever saw. Best the chief ever saw. They were damn good.”

He had fourteen years in the can; he’d be out by now wouldn’t he?”

Yeah he would, except….”

Except what?”

He’s dead.”

No shit?”

Yeah, he died of cancer a few years ago while still serving the tail end of his sentence out at Stillwater.”

How about the rest of that crew?”

Riles looked skeptical.

Jacobs was the brains of that operation. The other guys made for a good crew, had good skills and all, but Bobby ran the show. But you know what?” Pat added, “Bobby Jacobs and people like him are what we should be looking at.”

Mac kept at it. He was looking through a file covering a builder who defrauded a loan company when Peters burst into the room, white as a ghost, shock on his face.

What is it?” Riles asked, seeing the fear in Peter’s face. “Is it Shannon?”

Peters shook his head. “No. It’s worse than that. There’s been another abduction.”

Who?” Mac asked, getting out of his chair and grabbing his suit coat.

Carrie,” Peters responded. “Carrie Flanagan.”

That stopped everyone in their tracks, the room falling deathly silent.

Flanagan? Any relation to the chief?” Burton cautiously asked Peters, who nodded slowly, responding in almost a croak.

It’s his daughter.”


People see parts but not the whole thing.”

The crime scene was Fairview Avenue between Summit and Grand avenues on St. Paul’s far west side. Half a dozen squads were already on the scene, concentrated around the entrance to a parking lot of a natural foods store at the northeast corner of Fairview and Grand avenues. Another cluster of cops worked the entrance to an alley on the opposite side of the street. The abduction had taken place in the midst of a commercial area bounded by the natural foods store, a small bank across Fairview, and a couple of restaurants across Grand.

Patrol was holding everyone, asking questions, taking notes, talking on radios. Sirens signaled more units were on the way, flooding the area around the crime scene. The whole of Fairview Avenue between Summit and Grand was already taped off. Any van within the area was being pulled over. A helicopter hovered overhead. The media, on alert since yesterday for any breaking news, was already on the scene, filming the action. With the noon hour just minutes away, they’d be reporting live on the news shows. Dozens of onlookers were gathering around despite the weather, already ninety-two degrees with matching humidity.

Mac and the others climbed out of the Explorer, walked under the crime scene tape and took in the scene. Outside his truck only thirty seconds, Mac could feel the sweat beading on his brow, his sunglasses fighting to keep the glare of the day out. He checked his watch, 11:57 AM, the sun directly overhead now, the heat of the day rising.

A uniform cop named D.B. Skrypek ran up with a notepad.

Whatcha ya got, Pecker?” Mac asked, using the patrolman’s well-worn nickname.

Skrypek pointed to the entrance to the natural foods store. “A black van, panel type, came out of the grocery store parking lot and turned left. A guy – big guy – came out of the alley on the other side of the street behind the bank, scooped up Flanagan, and threw her into the van while it was on the move. The van then peeled off and turned right, headed west on Grand. Sounds like the same thing as yesterday.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.

Do we have a broadcast out on that? Black van, et cetera?” Mac asked, looking around the scene, using his hand to shade his eyes.

Yes,” Skrypek replied.

How long between their taking her and us getting it out on the air? How long before we were pulling over vans?”

The young patrolman’s shoulders slumped.

The witnesses,” he pointed toward a group of four people by his squad car, “seem to think it took us two or three minutes to get here. I asked a few questions and put it out. At best, it’s five, more likely six or seven minutes before we got it out.”

How do we know it was Carrie? Are we sure?” Riles asked.

A guy that Carrie works with at Lamonica’s Pizza over there was standing out front and sweeping the sidewalk,” Skrypek answered. “He heard a squealing of tires and looked up in time to see a brunette woman who looked like Flanagan get scooped up and thrown into the van. Her shift starts at 11:45 AM, after her class ends over at St. Thomas, just in time for the lunch rush.”

Carrie Flanagan was a summer student at the University of St. Thomas, which sat six blocks to the west. The campus was a classic, with old stone buildings and ivy-covered walls set on the north side of Summit Avenue.

The Lamonica’s guy told me Flanagan has an apartment a block further east on Grand,” Skrypek continued. She usually walks the five or six blocks over to the school and then walks back this way along Summit, then takes a right on Fairview and comes to the pizza joint. She hasn’t showed for her shift, so we’re pretty sure it was her.”

Before they could discuss matters further, Burton pulled up with his entourage. Riles gave him the rundown.

What’s the connection between Hisle and Flanagan?” Burton asked.

We don’t know,” Pat replied. “The chief and Lyman have been involved in a lot of cases over the years. Hell, we’ve all… crossed… paths with… Lyman… over the years. Shit. Are we all the targets?”

Shit,” Rock said, suddenly panicked. “My wife….”

I gotta call Dot,” Lich said, reaching for his cell phone.

Let’s get uniforms with spouses and kids,” Burton ordered.

Hold it! Hold it! HOLD IT!” Mac said, putting his hands up. “Calm the heck down and keep your heads, for cripes’ sake. They’re not taking everyone right this minute. We’ll get uniforms on our people and move them. But right now, we need to stay on Carrie. Let’s concentrate on these mother fuckers in the here and now.”

Everyone gave Mac a peeved look at first, but then quickly calmed, realizing he was right.

McRyan has a point,” Burton said. “Though just to be safe, I’ll put a man on arranging protection for your families.”

Everyone nodded appreciation. Riley quickly got back to the case.

Okay, so what do we know now?”

We’ve got to work this,” Mac said.

Lyman’s a criminal lawyer, and we got the chief,” Lich said. “That’s the connection, someone the chief busted and Lyman represented. The answer has to be in the criminal files.”

That’s the most logical connection, and we’re already fishing in that pond,” Burton agreed. “That should narrow things down considerably, especially once we start matching up against cases Flanagan’s worked. That’s where all our resources will go now. We were going to start into civil cases as well but now we need to focus on those criminal files.”

We got to get the chief and Lyman together,” Riles added. “Get them talking. If this is connected, which you’d think it has to be, then maybe there’s a name that will ring a bell to them.”

We’re going to see Flanagan,” Burton said, turning back to his black Suburban. “You guys run the scene here. If these were our guys, the chief’s apt to be getting a phone call and I want to be there.”

Burton,” Riles said, grabbing his arm, walking along with him. “You better have Rockford and I go with you. The chief’s going to need friendly faces.”

The other thing is, we need Hisle as well,” Burton said.

Agreed,” Riles answered, reaching for his pocket. “I’ll call Peters and ask him to bring Hisle in.”

Mac, you and Lich work this,” Riles said, the urgency in his voice clear. “You work this fuckin’ scene.”

* * * * *

For the next hour, Mac and Lich worked the witnesses, standing where they stood, going over what they saw in detail, walking through it again and again. Mac went so far as to put the witnesses back in their spots, trying to get a picture for the abduction. He had them close their eyes and describe it, wringing every last detail out of their memories. It was frustrating work – the witnesses all saw parts of things, but nobody saw the whole thing.

Carrie’s coworker saw a brunette, who he thought was Carrie, get picked up and thrown into the van. He took down the plate. The plate was reported stolen, but didn’t match up with a van.

A female pedestrian, who had just crossed Summit seventy-five yards or so back from Flanagan, noted that the guy who threw the girl into the van was large and muscular. He wore a baseball cap, a black long sleeve shirt, and blue jeans. That was the extent of her description.

An elderly woman had been putting groceries in her car. She noted the squealing of tires and saw the van pull out, slow down in front of the alley, and then pull away and turn right on Grand Avenue. She knew the van was a Chevy Express Cargo, just like her son drove.

A St. Thomas student in a football jersey said that the driver was wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses and had black gloves on his hands.

By the time Mac and Lich interviewed everyone, they thought they had a pretty good idea of what had happened. Carrie had been walking down the sidewalk on the west side of Fairview, going south, having left the St. Thomas campus on her way to work. The black van had been parked in the grocery store parking lot on the east side of Fairview, the perfect position to see her coming. The van probably signaled the man in the alley so that he could time it perfectly, coming to the alley opening just as Carrie reached it. When the man in the alley moved, the van pulled out of the grocery store parking lot, turned left, slowed long enough for the man from the alley to throw Flanagan inside, and then took a right on Grand Avenue.

From there it got a little sketchy. Mac looked at his notes. The van drove six blocks west to Cretin Avenue. One witness said he thought that the van turned right on Cretin Avenue, heading toward Interstate 94, a mile or so north. Another thought the van had turned left on Cretin, which takes you south toward Ford Parkway through a much more residential area. When Mac thought about it, he bet it was a right turn to the interstate, the quickest way out of the area.

Man, it’s like yesterday,” Lich said. “People see parts but not the whole thing.”

I hear ya,” Mac said, shaking his head. “The whole thing happens fast. Before anyone really realizes what happened, these guys are gone like that –” He snapped his fingers.

In broad daylight no less,” Lich said, shaking his head, chewing harder on his unlit cigar.

In the chief’s city, Dick. Not in Minneapolis. Not in some suburb. But in his own fuckin’ backyard.”

These guys are good,” Lich said. “They’re really good.”

They scouted this, Dick.” Mac agreed. “They knew she worked today. They knew when she would be coming and where she’d be coming from. They timed it perfectly. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t have someone watching her on campus and following her over here, over what, the six or seven blocks from campus.”

Lich looked at Mac closely.

Is anyone pulling surveillance footage on campus?”

Dick was right. Mac whistled to Odegard and Goth, two uniform cops who quickly came over.

Go over to St. Thomas. Find out what class Flanagan was in. Get campus security and get their surveillance footage. We think someone might have been giving these guys the eyeball.”

The two officers nodded and jogged away.

The two detectives stood with hands on hips for a few minutes, peering around, contemplating what happened and their next move. Mac took a white hanky out of his pocket and wiped his forehead. He could feel the sweat forming on his body. Lich broke the silence.

You don’t suppose,” he asked, “there’s something the chief and Lyman don’t want us to know, do you?”

What the fuck?” Mac growled, turning on Lich, getting in his face.

Easy partner, easy.” Lich replied, putting his hands up. “I know how close you are to the chief. But we got two girls missin’ here. So somebody ought to ask the hard question. Were the chief and Hisle up to something?”

No way,” Mac replied, shaking his head.

Well they sure as hell pissed someone off,” Lich replied.

They did, but no way. Not in a million years,” Mac answered coolly. He pulled his sunglasses off to look Lich in the eye.

After a minute, Dick backed down and shook his head.

I don’t think so either.”

Then why the fuckin’ question?” Mac asked.

Because your ability to detect bullshit is better than anyone’s I’ve ever seen,” Lich replied. “If you’re not thinking that, then I feel better, that’s all. But Mac,” Dick continued, “the question had to be asked and you know it. And I’ll tell you another thing: I’m not going to be the last one to ask it. You know King Burton and his pinstriped FBI court will be thinking it. And take a look at the frickin’ media. They’ll be taking connections, conspiracy theories, and scandals before 5:00 and they’ll be doing their own investigating on this, prying into the lives of the chief and Hisle.”

Mac nodded quietly, knowing his partner was probably right. He’d have probably asked the question himself but for the fact the chief was involved. But then something else occurred to him.

You know how I said last night this could be personal? That maybe it wasn’t just about money?”


Well I’m right. If you just want money, you don’t kidnap the chief of police’s daughter in his city.”

The chief has money, Mac,” Lich answered. “His wife’s family. The money from the logging up north. They’ve got millions.”

Sure, we’ll get a ransom demand,” Mac said, shaking his head, waving Lich off. “But there’s more in play here – a lot more.”

A uniform came running up.

Mac. They got an explosion over near Lake Street behind an old abandoned building. Black Chevy Express Cargo van.”

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