“Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake” Chapter Sixteen

“Sarah let’s talk for a second before Glanville Vance and Parker Knowles show up for the interview.”
“Too late Max, they are seated quite comfortably in interview room 2,” Sarah said. “So what did you find in your night of dumpster diving?
Max nodded towards a less noisy corner in the detective’s room. Sarah and Max moved over to a corner. Sarah leaned against the wall and crossed her arms.
“Shoot partner, what do we have?”
“I found two black garbage bags. Both were about half way down in the two dumpsters. Each dumpster had one of the bags. I would bet my bottom dollar that Parker picked up a few of those nasty bags and shoved them underneath the other garbage. In the first bag, I found bloody towels that match the set we found on the towel rack at the Knowles House.”
“Oh, that’s good news. This is the break we have been looking for.”
“Rolled up in the towels I found a hammer. It had fragments of tissue as well as hair stuck to the hammerhead. No doubt we have the murder weapon.” Max said.
“Did you find anything else in the bag?”
“Yes, in the rolled up towels with the hammer, I found a pair of men’s leather work gloves. The kind you see on the shelves in any hardware store. There appeared to be some blood and DNA potential on those gloves. The lab says they will look on the inside for any skin cells. My guess is we will find proof that Parker wore those gloves when he strangled Hallie. He probably thought by wearing gloves he could cover up fingerprints or any DNA transfer on Hallie’s neck.” Max said.
“What did you find in the second dumpster?” Sarah asked.
“Again about half way down in the can I found the same type of black plastic bag. In that bag, I found Hallie’s purse.”
“Car keys?”
“No, none.”
“Was her wallet there, any cash or credit cards missing?” Sarah asked.
“This was no robbery, the purse, and its contents were all inside. It was plainly dumped.” Max said.
“Hmm, why would Parker get rid of her purse but not her keys? Sarah whispered.
“I’ll bet you he panicked, and once he got her loaded up in the car, he grabbed her purse and keys and just got her the hell out of there. It never dawned on him he would have to drive home,” Max said.
“Did we get a DNA test on Parker?” Sarah asked.
“Yes, Parker surrendered his DNA before Vance showed up. Victoria also gave us permission to take her DNA.”
“After this interview, we need Parker to take a lie detector test,” Sarah said.
“If Vance allows it, yes. We probably should have done it earlier,” Max added.

*****

Sarah and Max opened the door to interview room 2. There in the metal chairs sat Parker Knowles and Attorney Glanville Vance. They stopped their whispering and stared stone-faced as both detectives sat down.
Max dropped two folders on the table, then rolled his chair up to the table and rested his arms over the files. He folded his hands. Sarah picked up the remote and started the recorder.
“This interview is being recorded,” Sarah said.
“Mr. Knowles, we canvased your neighborhood and found that no one knows you personally. We had a lengthy phone interview with Julian. We interviewed your employees, and we even asked Victoria’s employees if they knew you. Those that know you did not say anything bad about you at all. You seem to be a good guy. We gathered you pretty much are focused on your company and apparently on your wife. So the question remains, what happened to your wife?” Sarah asked.
“Look, detectives, I will say it again. I fell in love with Hallie. We got married. I had no idea she was pregnant until after our wedding when Julian called me and said go pick up Hallie, she is walking down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.”
“Why would she do that? I mean walk around a dusty road in the desert. She must have felt all alone.” Sarah said.
“We have been over this detective. Move on.” Glanville Vance said.
“You said that you came back from a business meeting and went straight to work Wednesday late afternoon and into the morning hours of Thursday. So your statement is you did not see Hallie on Wednesday afternoon or evening; is that correct?” Sarah asked.
“That’s right.”
“Have you ever driven Hallie’s Honda car?” Max asked.
Parker seemed confused for a couple of seconds. “Yes, we bought that car for her about a month before our wedding. Of course, I test drove it. I might have driven it once or twice–I don’t remember–but it was her car.”
“Silly question detectives, let’s get to the point here.” Glanville Vance said.
“Do you have your own set of keys for that car Mr. Knowles?” Max said.
“There are two sets of keys. I do not carry a set of the Honda keys with me if that is what you’re asking.”
“Do you know where the second set of keys are? I mean if Hallie accidently locked herself out of her car and she called you, you must know where these keys are?” Sarah asked.
“Yes, of course,” Parker added.
“Where would those keys be right now, sir?” Sarah asked more forcefully.
It was quiet for a few seconds. Max figured that Glanville Vance would intercede, but he said nothing.
“With the circumstances as they are right now, I couldn’t tell you where either set of keys are. That is the farthest thing from my mind right now. I have to bury my wife detectives, not worry about some damn keys.
“What’s the point of these questions anyway detectives?” Glanville Vance asked.
“We cannot find either set of keys,” Max said.
“Well that is a mystery now isn’t it? Vance said. “What other questions do you have for my client?”
Sarah said, “Do you own a pair of leather workman gloves?”
“Yes.”
“Where do you usually keep them?” She asked.
“They are in my toolbox. I only use them rarely, but they are there if I need them.” Parker said.
“Have you used them in the past, say in the last couple of weeks?” Sarah asked.
Parker looked befuddled, “Not that I recall.”
“Have you seen your gloves recently?” Sarah asked.
“No.”
“Do you own a hammer, like a claw hammer?” Max asked.
“Yes.”
“Would that be in your toolbox as well?”
“Yes.”
“When did you last use your hammer?” Max asked.
Parker shook his head, “I have no idea.”
“Do you know where your hammer is right now Mr. Knowles?” Max added.
“I assume it is in my toolbox where it belongs.”
“What drawer would we find that hammer in, sir?”
“I don’t know, probably the bottom drawer on the top section of the toolbox.”
Max moved on. “Are you familiar with your towels, say in the master bathroom?”
“Familiar?” Parker said.
“You know what color, how many different sets of towels you own, things like that,” Max said.
“I have no idea. That was Hallie’s department. Whatever she hung on the rack is what I used. Never gave our towels two thoughts.”
“Where are we going, Detectives?” Glanville Vance asked puuling up in his chair.
“We found several of these items in the dumpsters behind Knowles Imports last night.”
“What!” Parker said.
Glanville raised his arm and reached across Parker’s chest. “Parker, do not say another word.”
“Mr. Knowles, we found what we believe is Hallie’s blood on the workbench and on the floor of the garage near the toolbox. Someone attempted to clean up a large pool of blood. As we stated before, Hallie had blunt force trauma to her head, and she was strangled to death.” With that said, Max opened one of the two files and pulled out seven 8×10 colored photos of Hallie lying in the ditch. He fanned them out one by one like sizable playing cards. It was shocking and quite graphic even for a detective. Parker saw the pictures, and when it registered what he was looking at, he pushed his chair back and looked away.
Glanville Vance pulled the several pictures together and lightly tossed them back at Max.
“You did not have to do that to my client. That is a really unprofessional tactic detective.” Glanville Vance snarled in a low guttural voice.
“There is blood evidence in Hallie’s car, we are testing right now, but we believed that car moved Hallie to the dump site in the dairy country. Last night we found bloody towels that matched a set still hanging in the master bath. A hammer was wrapped up in those towels and found in the dumpster behind Mr. Knowles business. We found Hallie’s purse and Mr. Knowles leather gloves with blood on them. All of these items are in the lab right now. When the DNA comes back, we will be arresting Mr. Knowles for this horrific crime.”
“Bullshit, detective. None of this has anything to do with my client. You are fishing and pointing the finger at him with no proof. It is clear to me this is a setup to close this case and make you look good.” Vance hammered his index finger on the table to make his point.
“Can’t hide from DNA Mr. Vance. The lab will tell the story, and we are as sure as we can be that Mr. Knowles murdered his wife.” Sarah said.
“Are you arresting my client right now detectives?” Glanville Vance asked.
“No, not at this time, but soon,” Max said.
“Parker, we are leaving now. This is all circumstantial evidence, and because these fine detectives say they found all this evidence behind your business proves nothing. These two clowns are fishing, for all we know they planted it in those dumpsters. Let’s go.”
“Well when that DNA comes back, it will be our pleasure to cuff you sir,” Sarah said.
Glanville stood up and shimmied his pants up higher on his waist. Parker got up, and saying nothing more, they left.
Both Sarah McFadden and Max Drake sat there in silence thinking for a few seconds. The door to interview room 2 opened. The desk officer on duty walked in. “Detectives, there is a call for you from the lab.”

Another Message from Parker Knowles

I wanted to thank everyone for taking a few minutes to read Willard Ceccarelli’s story, “Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake.” I am a main character in the story. Willard has not finished writing my story. I’m as curious as all of you to find out what happens to me next. Willard says, stay tuned Chapter Sixteen is coming.  Please go to Wilby’s Diner to find out what has happened already. See you at

https://wilbyswritersdiner.wordpress.com

A Message From Parker Knowles

Hello, my name is Parker Knowles, I am a character in a story entitled, “Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake.” The owner of Wilby’s Writer’s Diner invited me to say a few words from my perspective of the story I’m involved in.

I am in a lot of trouble and for the life of me, I cannot figure out how my life has twisted into a place where people are saying I have done something so horrible I frankly cannot even talk about it. I completely deny all of it. It worries me and at times, I have panic attacks.

If you are wondering about what I’m going through, please read the first fifteen chapters of “Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake.” Maybe you could see my point of view and put a good word in for me with Wilby.

Leave a message of support on my behalf for Wilby at https://wilbyswritersdiner.wordpress.com

Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake-Chapter Fifteen

“This is a long day.” Max glanced at the clock on the microwave. The time, 7:30 p.m. Detectives Max Drake and Sarah McFadden are still at the Knowles residence.
“How much longer do you think it will take to clear this house?” Sarah asked.
“It shouldn’t be much longer. We have been here for over 8 ½ hours already. The Crime Scene Investigators have literally combed over everything.”
“So let’s go over what we have already,” Sarah said.
“Let’s sit in the living room while CSI finishes. Besides my feet are killing me.” Max said.
Max plopped down on the couch, and Sarah sat in a soft chair facing him separated by a coffee table.
“Okay, we now have blood evidence on the workbench in the garage as well as a pretty good pool of blood Parker tried to clean up. If this blood is Hallie’s, and there is no way it is not…let’s run through what we believe happened on Wednesday. Hallie and Parker had a meeting at their home the night before their court date for the divorce. Something happened. Maybe Hallie decided 200K and the house were not enough, and she tried to get more, or Parker got upset when she said something about the baby. Whatever it was Hallie was hit on the head very hard. She fell to the floor and started to bleed. Parker panicked and strangled her to death. The evidence leads us that direction.” Max said.
“We lifted three blood droplets from the trunk of Hallie’s Honda before it was towed to our garage. We have the gravel or pebbles as you call them and dirt residue from the tires. The lab is matching that with samples taken at the dump site where Hallie’s body was found.” Sarah said.
Max pursed his lips, and his eyes darted back and forth. He was in deep thought, processing the information.
“We have some blood residue from the bathroom sink trap, which we have in evidence. That means Parker washed up. We cannot account for a missing hand towel that matches the other towels hanging in the bathroom.” Max said.
“Also, we are missing one complete set of towels in the cupboard. Most homes have at least two matching sets. No one but a guy like you has only one set of towels”, Sarah teased. “Parker used one of those sets of towels to clean up the garage floor is my guess.”
“And as you stated a few hours ago, where are Hallie’s purse and keys? They are not in this house or the car. Did Parker take them, and why?” Max said.
“One other thing we have to ask ourselves. If Hallie’s keys and purse are missing, how did Parker drive the car back to the garage? Max asked.
“That’s a question we need to ask Parker. Does he have a set of keys for that car?” Sarah said.
So we need to find the murder weapon, the car keys, and purse.” Max said. He pulled out his cellphone and opening his notepad he dialed a phone number.
“Mr. Knowles, Detective Drake. Yes, we were wondering if we could meet for a second interview say tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.” Max looked at Sarah and nodded. “Of course, your lawyer can be there.” Max mouthed, ‘shit’ to Sarah.
Max ended the call. “Well, we get another larger dose of Glanville Vance tomorrow. Parker has lawyered up. I was hoping to get him alone and rattle his cage a bit more before Attorney Vance shuts him up.” Max said.
“Look, I’m bone tired. I’m going home and getting a few hours rest. I’ll see you first thing in the morning at the job. We can go over everything before Parker gets there.” Sarah stood up and gathered up her folder, “Good night partner.”
“Good night, see you in the morning,” Max said.
Sarah left, and Max could still hear CSI in the master bathroom. He started running things through his mind.
“I know this was unplanned the evidence leads that direction. It in no way could it be a professional hit. Therefore, that says to me the next logical step is most people that commit murder snap. After the person is dead shock sets in and panic. They are sloppy. All they want to do is get through it, clean up and dump the body.” Max smiled, he had a hunch. Before going home, he was going to check it out. He hoped he wasn’t too late already.
Max left the Knowles residence and drove the few minutes to the Knowles Import business. The building lights flooded the back of the building and driveway. Max parked the car and switched off the ignition. Like the back of most businesses, he found the walled enclosure with two metal dumpsters. Both dumpsters were over full with garbage, which meant the dump truck could be there in the next few hours.
Standing there with his hands on his hips, he decided to call for police support. The job he had in mind was going to get nasty, if not beyond gross. Dumpster diving was not something he would ever get used to.

*****

Sarah McFadden checked her watch. It was 9:10 a.m. when her phone rang.
“Yeah,” Sarah said.
“Detective McFadden, Glanville Vance. I understand you would like to speak with Parker Knowles this morning. I am sorry, but there is a conflict in my schedule, we cannot be there until at least 1 p.m.”
“Sure Mr. Vance, that sounds like a lawyer. Put off today what you can do tomorrow. We have a murder investigation going on here Sir. Your client is a prime suspect, and we need to interview him. Since this is short notice, I expect you here at 1 p.m. sharp. No bullshit sir, 1 p.m.” Sarah said.
“We will be on time. Sorry for the delay Detective McFadden.”
“Bullshit, just be here.” Sarah slammed the phone receiver down.
Sitting at her desk, she fumed then grabbed the phone and called Max’s cell. It rang three times.
“Hello.”
“Max, your asshole friend, Glanville Vance has put off the interview until 1 p.m. today. Where the hell are you anyway? You were supposed to be here already. We were to circle the wagons before interviewing Parker Knowles.”
“I’m on my way home right now.”
“Why home, what’s going on?” Sarah asked.
“I found more evidence, and we need that extra time to get it tested. I’m heading home right now.”
“You haven’t been home since last night?”
“No, I need a shower and a change of clothes. I was about to call you to get started with the interview, and I would be in as soon as I could.”
“What did you find?”
“I had a hunch last night and drove to Knowles Imports. I went out back and found two dumpsters full of garbage. I couldn’t resist so I did what any good detective would do. I spent the night digging through a mountain of crap. I’ll take a shower, grab a couple of hours sleep and I’ll be in before the one o’clock interview. We will leave them in the interview room sitting on their thumbs while I fill you in.”
“Ok, anything I need to do before then?”
“Not that I can think of right now,” Max said.
“Good work. You should have called me. When did you get a hair up your butt to dumpster dive?” Sarah added.
“Not long after you left. I started thinking like a person that snapped and probably accidently killed his wife. We both know killers panic and get sloppy. They just want the nightmare to be over and deal with their guilt afterward.”
“Yeah, seen that a million times.”
“So I drove over there and saw the two dumpsters full of garbage. I was afraid that the dump truck would be there in the morning since they were so full. I had no choice but to dig. I didn’t want to lose the opportunity.”
“Good work Max, but it pisses me off that you didn’t call me. I could have helped you into the dumpster and stood there and kept you positive as you dug through that stuff.”
“I thought about it, but decided if you got a couple hours of sleep you would be fresh and could handle our friend Glanville in the morning.”
“Okay, anything else?” Sarah asked.
“Just one thing, I think we have enough to arrest Parker Knowles.”

Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake-Chapter Fourteen

By 10:45 a.m. on Friday morning after only five hours of sleep, Detectives Max Drake and Sarah McFadden had a full search warrant for Hallie and Parker’s home.
While driving to the Knowles residence, Max turned to Sarah, “The later it got last night the more agitated Parker got. You were pushing pretty hard on him.” Max said.
“I’m convinced he killed his wife. He stood to lose a lot to a woman who lied to him and cheated on him. I’ll bet they had a meeting before the divorce was final. It’s possible the conversation led to an argument, and Parker snapped. I also believe he is done talking to us without a lawyer after last night.” Sarah added.
“I let Victoria go home around 11:30 p.m. I watched you work Parker over until…what time was it anyway?”
“About 1:30 a.m.”
Within a few minutes, the detectives pulled up to the curb at Hallie and Parker’s home. Parker stood on the front porch with another man in a Z Zegna wool suit and tie; from the car, it looked expensive. When Max and Sarah reached the porch neither said a word.
“Detectives, this is my lawyer,” Parker said folding his hands and leaning back slightly closer to the front door.
“Detectives, my name is Glanville Vance. I am Parker Knowles personal attorney. I assume you have a search warrant to enter this residence.”
Glanville Vance, a six-foot-three-inch African-American man, had graduated Harvard Law twenty-two years before. He worked his way through a law firm then decided to start his own. One high profile case won, and Glanville Vance could afford his expensive suits. Max had run into him several years before. Vance was the defense attorney in a case he had no chance to win for his client. Max testified for two days in that trial, and Attorney Vance gutted him like a fish. One oversite lets a murderer go free. That trial still stuck in Max’s throat when he thought about it. So today, Max stands in front of Glanville Vance again looking up at him to the attorney’s perch on the front porch. If Vance recognized him, he did not act like it.
“I have the search warrant right here,” Max said rather snidely.
Max held the paperwork out for him. Vance stepped forward two steps and took the papers. Their eyes met for just a second. Max said a silent ‘fuck you, Glanville Vance.’ For the next two full minutes, no one said a thing while Vance read the warrant.
“I see everything is in place. I would ask that you not completely toss Mr. Knowles home like he was some kind of a drug dealer.” Vance said stone-faced.
Sarah started to say something, but Max nudged her in the ribs slightly. Sarah got the message.
“You have been served, Attorney Vance and Mr. Knowles. Time for you both to go and let us do our job.” Max stuck his thumb out and pointed it over his shoulder towards the street. “No use wasting any more of your valuable time,” Max said pointedly.
“I am convinced you will be here a long time so waste away Detectives,” Glanville said.
“Have either of you entered the home?” Sarah asked.
“With your police officer sitting out there watching? No, my client has not entered the residence,” Vance said.
“Where is Victoria?” Sarah asked.
“She’s at the Hiatt Hotel where we rented a room last night, since being kicked out of her house,” Parker said in an insulting, forceful voice.
“Okay, everything is in order so we are leaving now. Have a beautiful day detectives.” Glanville Vance said. He reached around Parker’s back and gently guided him past both Max and Sarah.
Max watched as Parker and Glanville Vance got into Vance’s S-Class Mercedes Coupe and sped off.
“I first ran into Glanville Vance several years ago. We cannot make a single mistake and not completely trash this house. That guy is a shark and will extort any mishap we make.”
“Ah, he’s just another asshole defense attorney Max. We never make mistakes partner.” Sarah chuckled, but Max knew his partner well enough that she was in a serious mood and had nothing on her mind but finding out what happened to Hallie Cook-Knowles.

                                                                                  *****
Max and Sarah started in the kitchen and worked their way through the house. Room by room they looked for anything that was out of place or odd. Every room seemed to be in order. Max examined the floor looking for scuff marks on the kitchen floor tile. They looked in all drawers and cupboards. Max even stuck the beam of his flashlight down the kitchen sink drain. They looked for anything obviously missing that could have been used as a murder weapon. The CSI investigators would be at the house in an hour and would spray Luminol wherever the detectives determined there could be the possibility of blood droplets or attempts to clean up a murder scene.
“Murderers think they are smarter than we are. They believe that they can clean up a crime scene.” Max said as he searched under the couch and under the cushions. “Sarah do you remember that case where that guy jackhammered up the concrete floor in his living room. He buried his wife there, poured new concrete and set the carpet back in place.”
“Yeah if it were not for the dog picking up that scent of the decomposing body and the one mistake he made. You could feel a slight variation in the floor leveling. I will admit it was a brilliant idea. I hope he is having a good day in his concrete cell for the rest of his life.” Sarah said.
“Maybe in the old days you could get away with a lot, but with DNA and science today, no way,” Sarah said from the master bathroom.
Max stood up. “Shit, Sarah this place is clean as far as I can see.”
“Hey, Max look at what I found,” Sarah called out.
“Max walked into the master bathroom, and Sarah with her gloved left hand on the medicine cabinet door stood there.”
“What do you have?”
Sarah reached into the medicine cabinet, “I found what has to be Hallie’s birth control pills.” Sarah picked up the package. She opened it. “About half the pills are missing.” She dropped the pill container it into a plastic bag and sealed it.
“I am really confused what Hallie was up to. She claims to be pregnant, blows out her marriage to a wealthy man. She sleeps with their best friend. Gets married to Parker without telling him she is knocked up by another guy. What is her motive here? All of this is a lie, and now we find that she is taking birth control. There has to be more to this story Sarah.” Max said.
“Whatever she was up to it got her murdered,” Sarah added.
“I’ve never seen something this complicated and surreal that did not have a logical beginning that led to this kind of a tragic end.”
“No shit partner. I’ve seen a lot of crazy people making dumb decisions. Hallie Knowles takes the cake. I have no idea what motivated her to walk on this path.”
“Let’s move to the garage next,” Max said.
They walked into the garage and Hallie’s Honda Civic was there. Both detectives walked around the garage and looked at everything. Sarah walked over to the workbench were a stackable toolbox stood next to the workbench.
“Hey, Max looks like we might have a spot of blood on the edge of this bench.”
Max walked over and bent down to investigate where she was pointing.
“Yeah, it looks like it to me.” Max stood up and stepped back from the bench, he crouched down and looked at the floor while Sarah opened different drawers in the toolbox.
“This concrete looks like it was cleaned here in this area,” Max said pointing in a circular motion.
“Sure does. This toolbox does not have a hammer in any of the drawers.” Sarah said.
“Is there one on the bench somewhere?” Max asked.
“Nope.”
Sarah walked over to the Honda and with her gloves on; she opened the drivers’ door.
“The front seat of this car is clean I don’t see anything or any blood.” Sarah pulled the latch for the trunk, which popped open. She walked to the back and opened the trunk all the way. She turned her flashlight on and bent down sweeping the light slowly through the carpeted area.
“Max looks like maybe a spot of blood or something dark like blood,” Sarah said.
Max walked over and looked where Sarah was pointing.
“CSI people will get a sample of that as well.” Max bent down and looked at both the back tires.
“There are a few small pebbles in these tire treads, and I see some kind of dirt or dried mud.” Max stood up. We need to take this car to the lab. “I got a feeling we may have found the car that transported Hallie’s body to the dump site. I remember the peel out marks in the gravel. I’ll bet you a dollar this car was used.” Max said.
“You know what, something just struck me. We went through the whole house and if Hallie was murdered here, where are her purse and keys? I didn’t see them anywhere.” Sarah said.

Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake-Chapter Thirteen

Parker Knowles sat in his chair and did not say a word for a few seconds. Detectives Max Drake and Sarah McFadden sat across from him in interview room 3 and waited for his response.
“Hallie wasn’t pregnant?” Parker said almost in a whisper.
“The ME is convinced that Miss Knowles was not pregnant at the time of her death. As far as the autopsy the examiner stated that she was close to 100 percent sure Hallie has never been pregnant either. ” Sarah reiterated.
“I’m completely dumbfounded here. I don’t know what to say.” Parker said.
“Is it possible Hallie had an abortion?” Sarah asked.
Parker shook his head, “No, I don’t believe she would ever make a choice to do that.”
“Maybe with the lack of support from her husband, boyfriend and family she made the hard decision to terminate the pregnancy. Or this Julian Hewitt could have persuaded her to do something out of the ordinary.” Max added.
“Max, can we step outside for a minute?” Sarah got up from the table.
Max shut the door to the interview room. “What are you thinking?”
“The ME is sure she never was pregnant, so now we need to find out why Hallie would go to this extreme and completely change the lives of so many people. Did that choice get her killed or is there no correlation to this so-called pregnancy and her murder? ” Sarah said.
“My gut tells me it has something to do with Hallie’s murder. We need to dig deep into this one Sarah.”
“The captain has four other detectives hitting the streets. They are talking with neighbors, co-workers, Parker’s employees, and of course Julian Hewitt and Hallie’s and Parker’s family. That should save us some footwork.” Sarah said.
“I’m going to leave you with Parker, and I will start on Victoria; she is in room 1.”
“You got it.” Sarah nodded and opened the door to interview room 3.

*****

Sarah walked back in, sat her phone on the table, and sat down. She turned on the microphone to start the recording.
“Mr. Knowles where were you on Wednesday between the hours of say 5 p.m. and into the evening hours?” Sarah asked.
“I was still working.”
“So you are not sure exactly where you were then.”
“I was coming back from an important meeting in Long Beach.”
“You can verify that?”
“Sure, The meeting was at 3 O’clock, lasted about an hour maybe a little more. You know afternoon traffic. I was on the road.”
“Where did you go after getting home?” Sarah asked.

*****

Max walked down the hallway two doors to interview room 1. He hesitated for a second then opened the door quickly.
He walked in and looked at Victoria Rutledge sitting in a similar cold metal folding chair. Max sat down in his chair and put his elbows on the table while folding his hands. He looked directly into Victoria’s eyes.
“Miss Rutledge, thank you for coming down so promptly. My name is Detective Max Drake.” He extended his hand across the table. She reached out and shook his hand. It was a weak handshake.
“Detective Drake, why did a policeman come to my restaurant and pull me out of my job in front of my employees and bring me down to the police station?” Victoria asked. Her voice remained calm.
“Miss Rutledge I must inform you that Hallie Cook-Knowles was found dead this morning.”
“What! Dead, Hallie is dead?” Victoria’s eyes filled with tears.
“She was murdered, Miss Rutledge.”
“Hallie? No, you must have made a mistake. Hallie didn’t have an enemy in the world.” Victoria started to cry.
Max slid a box of tissues over to Victoria. She pulled one out and dabbed at her eyes.
“Can you tell me about your relationship with Hallie?” Max asked.

*****

“Mr. Knowles, you came from Long Beach yesterday, on Wednesday. When you got home, or should I say to your girlfriend’s house, was anyone else there?” Sarah asked.
“Detective McFadden, that sounded presumptuous or at the very lease judgmental to me. I don’t think you have the right to judge other people for their personal choices in life. To answer your question, I went straight to the office, no use going home if Victoria wasn’t there.
“Mr. Knowles,”
“Look, call me Parker.”
“Parker, do you know the whereabouts of Victoria on Wednesday evening?”
“I assume she was at work.”
“Did you have any contact with her that evening? Say a text message, a phone call anything like that?” Sarah asked.
“No, she usually is kind of busy at work, and I normally wouldn’t bother her while she is there?” Parker said.
“What time did go home?”
“About 1:30 in the morning.”
“What time did Victoria come home?”

*****

Victoria continued to dry up her tears with the fourth tissue. Max watched her mannerisms, and it appeared to him they were genuine.
“What happened to Hallie, I mean how did she die or was murdered, as you said?”
“She was killed, and her body was dumped in a ditch out in the dairy country. She was killed by blunt force trauma.” Max said while struggling to not become emotional in any way.
“What does that mean, blunt force trauma?”
“She was hit really hard in the back of the head.” He purposely left out the strangulation part that probably killed her. Max moved on to his questions.
“Miss Rutledge, please tell me about your relationship with Hallie Knowles?”
“We are best friends, well we were best friends. Hallie made a decision to cheat on me, and my soon to be fiancé, Julian Hewitt. To make it worse, she got pregnant by Julian. That put a strain on our relationship.”
“Were you upset with her?”
“Sure, wouldn’t you be? She not only cheated on me and broke up my relationship with Julian. Hallie chose to go ahead with her wedding to Parker knowing she was pregnant by Julian.”

*****

“If I were going to be accurate, Victoria got home around 2 maybe 2:30 a.m. I was asleep, but I did hear her creep around in the bathroom and take a shower.”
“Does Victoria close every night?” Sarah asked.
“Most nights yes, at least that I know of. I’ve only been living at her house for around two months.”
“Parker, tell me about your relationship with Victoria.”
“I said earlier our relationship is our private business, I’d rather not talk about it.”
“Parker, we are passed a point of personal issues here. A woman, your wife, was murdered, and I need to understand how that happened to her and who committed it. For me to rule you out, I need to know everything about her life and yours.” Sarah looked stern.
Parker let out a deep breath before saying, “Victoria and I have drawn closer together since I left Hallie. It’s true we are sleeping together, but it didn’t start out like that at all. I was angry at Hallie and Julian and so was Victoria. Julian packed his things and left the Country. Julian and Hallie abandoned both of us. Victoria and I only had each other, and that drew us together.”
“That’s what I needed to know?”

*****

“Detective Drake, Julian and I did not attend Hallie and Parker’s wedding. That morning Julian decided to tell me he had sex one time with Hallie, and she got pregnant. I was devastated. I was so sick to my stomach I could not move. I managed to call Hallie and told her I knew about the pregnancy and that I would not be attending the wedding.”
“What happened next?” Max asked.
“She didn’t seem to care. She said she was sorry, but that she loved Parker, it was a mistake, and she wanted to go on with the wedding.”
“What happened next?”
“I asked if Parker knew and she said not yet, she would tell him in a couple of days.”
“That upset me; I thought Hallie was joking with me, but she wasn’t. I told her she should call off the wedding immediately. It wasn’t right what she was doing.”
“What did she say to you when you told her that?” Max asked.
“She told me to stay out of her business. She said she was sorry, but Parker could be convinced it was his baby.”
“Where were you on Wednesday between say 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.?”
“I was at work. It is my restaurant after all.” Victoria said.
Both interviews went on for several more hours. The metal chairs took the toll on both Parker and Victoria. Both were exhausted from all the questions.
“One last thing Victoria, you and Parker cannot go home tonight. You cannot go to your house or Parker’s. We are getting warrants to search for evidence at both places. You will need to stay away until we are finished.” Max said.
“Can we at least stop and pick up a few things?”
“Yes there is an officer there, but you will be escorted in one at a time.”
“You make it sound like we are guilty.”
“No Ma’am we are just following procedure. I’m sure we will not find anything linking you or Parker to this murder, but we have to rule you both out.” Max lied.