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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chapter Twenty Six

            For years, Billy had been arranging his files into neatly organized folders and he programmed quick links so that all David had to do was click on the name of the victim or a link to a particular website.

            David typed in “Robert Cosworth” and the search came back with over one million possible references. The assistant helped David refine his search to “Robert Cosworth, Virginia Beach,” and sixteen articles emerged that discussed the man’s testimony in the Richland case. David continued to scroll downwards until the third page where he clicked on a headline that reported the death of Hailey Cosworth.

            Hailey Cosworth, age fourteen, washed up on the shore in Virginia Beach nine years ago. Hailey had gone with a group of girlfriends to a local carnival where they met up with some high school boys, and she became separated from her friends and disappeared. The other girls assumed that Hailey had chosen to leave the carnival with Blake Levin, a sixteen-year-old local boy that Hailey had been flirting with, but according to authorities, Blake denied ever leaving the carnival with Hailey and his friends confirmed his alibi. 

            The Virginia Beach authorities investigated the case and reported, as required by law, the death to One Week Window. The producers highly considered her death for their next show but the producers knew from experience that a victim emerged in salt water made for ugly television and the quality of the evidence was usually poor. One Week Window never viewed the case and the investigation went into the dungeons and the already crowded unsolved case files of the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Beach Police.

            The investigative report was accessible online and David spent five hours reviewing every piece of evidence collected and every laboratory report. His conclusion was the same as the police’s: there was not enough hard evidence to bring charges against Blake Levin or anyone else.

            David was about to shut his computer when, on a wild hunch, he typed in the name Blake Levin. He stopped himself and refined his search to read “Blake Levin, death.”  The web disgorged six articles that reported on the suicide of the only strong suspect in Hailey Cosworth’s disappearance. Young Mr. Levin, the articles reported, experimented with drugs and alcohol, and investigators found large quantities of anti-depressants and alcohol in his system when they fished him out of the ocean eight months after Hailey’s death. No concrete evidence was ever found that linked the two deaths.

            The words “oh shit!” escaped from David’s mouth although he didn’t realize it at the time. The sheer panic on David Armstrong’s face caused Robin Cuddyer to assume he was having a heart attack or worse. She went running down the hallway to Chief Matthew’s office since she really didn’t know what you do when someone of David’s stature looks like he is going to fall violently ill.

            Luckily, John Matthews was in his office and he moved followed quickly behind Robin to the cubicle where David was working. He kneeled down in front of David to get a look into his eyes. Odd noises were coming from his mouth and David’s hands were over his eyes. John couldn’t tell if he was laughing, crying, or screaming in terror, or all three at once.

            “David, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

            Armstrong didn’t answer. He merely rocked in his chair with his hands over his eyes while the strange noises continued to expel from his mouth.

            “David, you’re scaring everyone. You’re scaring me. What’s going on?  I need to know.”

            After another twenty seconds, David uncovered his eyes and composed himself. He stood up, grasped John Matthew’s shoulders and told him, “They’re being killed.”

            “Who’s being killed, David?”

            “The people who are committing crimes and not being prosecuted are being killed.”

            “What are you talking about?  Let’s go to my office.  Everyone else get back to work.”

            He practically peeled David out of his chair and herded him down the hallway. The two men settled themselves in John Matthew’s office after the chief had made sure that the soundproof door was tightly shut.

            “Who’s killing whom, David? What are you talking about?”

            “I don’t know. I just know that a lot of people are showing up dead that One Week Window never investigated or failed to convict.”

            “That is a long shot.”

            “I know, but don’t you see how we can’t ignore this? This is big, Chief!”

            “How are you going to prove any of it?”

            “I’m going to look up the prime suspect in most of my cases and see if he or she is alive or dead.”

            John got up from his chair and checked the door one more time. “This is troublesome, David. You can’t just announce to the world that there is some vigilante group or groups of citizens who are killing suspects, you would cause panic. We need to keep this under wraps until we can sort it out. What resources do you need to investigate this conspiracy and how long do you think it will take?”

            “Three week, tops.”

            The chief nodded, “Alright. Write me up a list of what you need, but for Christsake, you need to keep your mouth shut about this until we get evidence. Do you understand? No more freak outs like the one you just had.”

            “I understand.”


            David returned home to his apartment more excited than he could remember.  He finally was starting to understand the coincidental situations that had been occurring and, if his suspicions were correct, he could begin to have some sense in his world again.

            His mood was dampened as he sat down at Greta’s table for dinner. He had elatedly shared with her what he believed was going on, despite the chief’s adamant warnings, and he went on to tell her how he was going to investigate the matter.

Just when he was getting into the meat of the matter, Greta surprised him when she interrupted him after his ten minutes of non-stop speech, which was a first for her, “David…David…David!”  Greta started quietly and by the third David her voice registered her insistence and determination to be heard

“Huh? What?”  David asked, completely flustered.

“David, I have known you for ten years. I respect your dedication and your passion for your work, but you need to open your eyes. The death of some many people who were suspected of violent crimes or worse could not have gone unnoticed by the police or the independent investigative teams. You are being irrational and you are going to get yourself hurt if you just go around shouting out wild accusations from the rooftops.”

This was the second time in a week that David had been told to open his eyes and this time, he wasn’t willing to be patient. David stormed from Greta’s apartment without so much as a goodbye. He retreated to his apartment on the fourth floor to cool off and reflect on what had transpired at police headquarters and at Greta’s.

The dizzy spells began almost immediately upon entering his apartment. Faces, old and new, circled around his head in bright colors with splashes of red. Amy Schultz’s face melded with John Slocumb’s and Lauren Jamison’s face spun circles around Robert Cosworth’s. And then the many faces parted to show a face that David hadn’t seen or thought about for many years.


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