So where do you look for a professional killer?
On Saturday, the whole team got together in HQ to read what the databases we had access to had on him, and figure out the best way to tackle the issue.
We weren’t all there all day, but Daniel, Travis, and Jaclyn came in the morning. Daniel was there at ten when I came in. Jaclyn and Travis came in while we were talking.
By noon, we’d read everything they had, and by one everyone had arrived to talk about it.
Jaclyn had read everything as fast as it appeared on the screen, and had time to think about it, so she got to brief us.
She stood between the big screen and the table where we sat.
“What surprised me more than anything else was that people didn’t know. Ray and his people had apartments in Chicago under their own names, but they didn’t use them. The neighbors barely ever saw them which means that they lived somewhere else most of the time, but no one knows where.
“Even assuming they took a few weeks to plan each series of killings, they still had most of the year free. They must have been training during some of it, but for the rest, I don’t know. Maybe they were on vacation, but if they were, they could take long vacations.”
She frowned. “This doesn’t give us anything. They never found out where they stayed in the places where they killed people. They’ve never found where they kept their equipment except for the cottage they blew up in December. The Feds don’t see any patterns except that they kill everybody connected with the target first, and even then there are exceptions.”
“Really?” I hadn’t heard of any.
“Ever heard of a team called Sorcerers’ Circle?” She searched our faces. “I hadn’t either, but the Executioners killed them all. They didn’t go after their relatives. They drugged the group of them all at once and executed them in an old warehouse.”
“Whoa,” Vaughn said. “How’d they know it was all at once? They have cameras?”
Jaclyn shook her head. “No. The FBI found them a few days later. The forensics report guessed it based the state of decomposition and the species of bugs… eating them.”
Marcus looked up from the computer screen. “They’re a bunch of psychos.”
“Right,” Travis said, “and we need to take them down.”
By the end of the meeting, we’d come up with a task list. We’d create a list of rented houses, rented cottages, foreclosures, hotels, and empty commercial buildings, and then we’d go down the list.
We’d have people call the hotels, the rentals, and divide up the rest for personal visits.
Over the next few days, we discovered that detective work was quite possibly the most boring job in existence — at least when you didn’t have any reason to narrow down the possibilities.
That the hotels hadn’t rented to anyone looking like Ray or his people wasn’t a surprise. The Feds had blanketed the area with warnings. Even if they hadn’t, the local TV and radio stations still covered his escape, Sean’s father’s killing, and regularly mentioned the possibility that he might be in Grand Lake.
We kept calling.
On Thursday morning, Daniel called a guy named Martin Vander Kodde, a landlord who owned seven houses on the southeast side of the city. When he got off the phone, he said, “I’ve got something.” Then he played it back.
Haley and I stopped and listened.
Martin picked up the phone on the second ring. “Vander Kodde Properties, Martin here.”
“Hello, Mr. Vander Kodde,” Daniel said, his voice lower thanks to technology Grandpa built into the phones. “I’m Detective John Baker of the Grand Lake Police Department, and I’ve got some questions for you.”
Then he described Ray’s team, and asked, “Has anyone matching those descriptions rented from you within the past two weeks?”
“No, I didn’t rent to them, but I did rent to four other people a little over two weeks ago, and now I’m wondering if I should have.”
“And why is that?”
“When I first talked to them they seemed nice enough, but last Thursday night they came back with another van full of people, all of them loud and cursing. The other van cleared out the next morning but my other renters called to complain. It’s a big house, and I rent out the upstairs and downstairs separate.”
“Could you describe them?”
“Four big guys. Almost look like they might be brothers.”
Daniel stopped the recording. “It doesn’t go much of anywhere from there, but you know what they’ve got to be? Prime’s reserves.”