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.
“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.