Chapter Two

Chapter Two


The flashes of the ME’s camera felt intrusive in the cold, dark environment, almost like they were disturbing some secret tomb, which was somewhat fitting.

“Well, that must have been a rude awakening,” DCI Agent Evan Wyatt remarked as he took stock of the crime scene a few paces away. “Is the driver able to be questioned?”

County Investigator Jenny Greebler was barely recognizable as a woman in her Carhart snowsuit. She held up her smart phone with her gloved hand. “The driver’s name is Ian Bacwell. He’s a minor, sixteen. His father is with him at the hospital.”

Evan grimaced. “Is he hurt bad?”

Jenny shrugged. “He broke his arm, and he’s pretty shook up.”

“I’ll head over there after we’re done here.” He looked over to the medical examiner. Because she was a multiple county medical examiner with a higher pay grade, Dr. Melonie Hildigaard’s outdoor gear was more North Face and less Carharts. Of course, that just made her look like a pricier well-dressed snowball, especially as she bent over the corpse to take numerous photos. Evan couldn’t help but observe the quilted expanse of insulated fabric and ponder the preferential proclivities of men referred to as “chubby chasers.” Bernice was certainly no waif, but he would never consider her size described as more than “curvy.”

Dr. Hildigaard stood up with her camera and trudged over to the investigators. “There’s probably going to be some damage to the body, once the sled blades are extracted. And the body is too frozen to probe for an internal body temp. I did observe, however, that she was suffering quite the nasty gut wound when she ended up here.”

“It’s a woman then?” Jenny confirmed.

“The body fell in such a way as to expose a bra strap, and her shape would re-enforce my conclusion. I won’t swear by it until the actual autopsy, but I’d say it’s a fair bet.” Melonie relayed this information as she thumbed through the shots on her digital camera, and leaving them to analyze the information.

“Well, whatever the gender, it doesn’t explain how the body ended up here.” Evan looked around them. “Other than the snowmobile tracks and the driver’s movements in the snow, I see no other signs of vehicle or human.”

“Could she have been dumped here from a snowmobile? Maybe the kid uses this field enough to leave a path?” Jenny suggested.

“Quite unlikely, or the body would have been found sooner,” Evan pointed out, scowling at the desolate landscape. “Besides, this would be a very weird place to dump a body to begin with, all out in the open like this. The question of discovery is too random for a dump. No, I think somehow the victim ended up here on her own steam.” He shook his head as he drew the conclusion. “There’s just no way to determine it in this dark. Maybe we can hunt down some tracks in the morning.”

“When do you want me here?” Jenny asked automatically.

Evan looked to the younger officer. She seemed a bit too eager for his taste, but he detected none of the infatuation that he usually dreaded when working with female co-workers. Perhaps he was finally reaching an age where that wasn’t going to be such a problem anymore. The thought made him more irritated than it should have. Nevertheless, “My CA will be here in the morning. That way I don’t have to drain your county’s budget running up your overtime. However, I’d be happy to meet up with you at Mel’s office when she calls.”

Jenny nodded, and her demeanor stayed the same. Evan released a breath of relief. Then he thought of something. “Would you mind going with me to talk to the driver? He might be more responsive with local law enforcement.”

Jenny nodded again. “Are we done here? I can meet you over there.”

“Yeah, we’re done.” He whistled to the ME and waved. She managed a quick wave back, but she was busy dictating to the two young deputies kneeling around the front of the snowmobile. It looked like they were in the process of removing the blades from the sled, rather than the blades from the body. Evan guessed the ME felt more comfortable with that particular process in the well-lit and heated environment of her morgue.

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