“Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake” Chapter Seventeen

Sarah McFadden and Max Drake glanced at each other while standing up and hurrying out of interview room 2. They walked back to their desks and sat down. Sarah picked up the receiver on the phone.
“Detective McFadden.” She said
“Detective, this is Robin at the lab. I have finished the DNA swabs from a Parker Knowles, and a Victoria Rutledge. Of course, I already have the victim, Hallie Knowles.”
“Okay, and what do you have for me?”
“I can confirm Hallie Knowles blood is in fact found on the splatter on the workbench and on the floor swabs. I confirm Miss Knowles DNA is in the Honda trunk and the drop on the console in the car also belongs to her.”
“I can probably guess, but what about all the other evidence?” Sarah asked.
“I found Miss Knowles DNA on the outside of the gloves. Found her DNA on the towels, and hammer as well.” Robin said.
“Any chance there is any other person’s DNA on any of this evidence? Sarah asked.
“There is no mixture of anybody’s DNA on any of the evidence so far,” Robin said.
“What about the inside of those workmen’s gloves anything there?” Sarah said.
“Working on that as we speak, but I wanted to update and confirm what we have so far,” Robin said.
“The inside of those gloves may provide us with a kill shot on the person that committed this murder,” Sarah said.
“If there are skin cells inside those gloves I will find it, detective,” Robin said.
“Call me as soon as finish with the gloves. “Detective McFadden hung up the phone and looked over at her partner.
“We need some DNA on the inside of those gloves,” Sarah said.
“You know if Parker ever used those gloves his skin cells are probably inside them. That will be a problem in proving he killed Hallie. Glanville Vance has probably already worked on that theory for the preliminary hearing. So far, our evidence is circumstantial at best. Hopefully, we can get to a Grand Jury Indictment.” Max said.
“We need more proof. Where are we going to get it? If all we have is Parker’s gloves, Vance will turn this into an O.J. Simpson glove case.” Sarah said.
“Okay let’s go over what we have right now. First, we have Hallie Cook-Knowles telling her best friends and her ‘husband’ she is pregnant. The father magically gets a contract with the Italian Government. It appears Julian and Hallie had the DNA test to prove he was the father. Did we check where they had the DNA test done? Moreover, the bigger question is, how did Hallie convince Julian he was a father when she was not even pregnant. Somehow Julian promises to start paying her money for support.” Max said.
“Let’s call Julian again and ask him where the DNA test took place,” Sarah said.

*****

Max hung up the phone, “As you heard Julian was not happy. It was midnight in Italy, and I woke him up. He did say that on the way to have the DNA test He and Hallie got into an argument, and she made him pull over the car and let her out. She walked away down some dirt road. He said he did not know what to do so he called Parker and told him to go pick her up.”
“So there never was a DNA test.” Sarah nodded.
“Makes sense Max, there was no way Hallie could go through with the test she wasn’t pregnant. She manipulated the situation. She managed to get Julian to pay her fifteen hundred bucks a month without even a DNA test. Is it possible that Julian found that out and had someone else kill her for lying? We know he was in Italy, that’s verified, but it doesn’t negate the fact he could have had her killed.” Sarah said.
“I’m ruling that out, Sarah. Julian doesn’t fit that type or mold of vindictiveness. We need to look another direction. The day before Hallie is to finalize her divorce from Parker she winds up in a ditch with her head bashed in and strangled to death. She’s killed at home; we can prove that we have blood evidence from the garage, the master bathroom sink drain and in her car. We soon will have the evidence that the gravel and dirt on the Honda’s tires are from the dumpsite where Hallie’s body was discovered. We also have all of this evidence found in two dumpsters behind Knowles Imports.” Max stopped, and both Sarah and Max stared at each other.
“What are we missing?” Sarah said.
“Crime Investigators found no evidence at Victoria Rutledge’s home. We have an alibi for Victoria; she was at work on Wednesday afternoon and late evening. We only have Parker’s word he was at his office at that same time. We have checked cell records, and it appears Parker’s cell was pinging off the tower closest to his business until approximately 1 a.m. as he stated.” Max added.
“True maybe he left the cell at the office. Perhaps he and Hallie met at the house, or he surprised her and showed up,” Sarah said.
“We checked Hallie’s and Parker’s cellphones. We cannot find any text messages or calls between them that afternoon or evening,” Sarah said.
Max reached for Hallie’s cell records from one of the stacked files on his desk. He opened the file up and with a pen looked at each line.
“Sarah there is one call to Victoria from Hallie’s phone at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.”
“What! Are you kidding me?” Sarah said as Max handed her the report.
“How the hell did we miss that?” Sarah sat the report down.
Max shook his head back and forth. “I have no idea. There it is in plain sight.”
“Did Victoria say anything about talking with Hallie at her interview?” Sarah asked.
Max reached for his notes. “I asked her late in the interview that night if she had any contact with Hallie on Wednesday. She said she did not recall any communication either text or calls.”
“How long was that call from Hallie to Victoria’s office phone?” Sarah asked.
“Just a few seconds short of two minutes.” Max looked up at Sarah.
“You’d think Victoria would have remembered a two-minute call from someone that was a best friend, wouldn’t you?” Sarah said.
“You would think so,” Max said.
“I believe we should back up our investigation slightly and see if we missed anything. Let’s go back and re-interview Victoria’s employees about last Wednesday.” Sarah said.
“What time is it?” Max asked.
“3:30.”
“If we hurry we could catch the employees before the restaurant gets busy,” Max said.

*****

A few minutes later Max Drake and Sarah McFadden pulled into the parking lot of Blue Moon Restaurant. Max checked his watch it as 3:52 p.m. Both detectives walked in the front door, and a young woman walked up and met them. Her white button shirt was crisp. She had the long sleeves unbuttoned and rolled up almost to her elbows. She wore jet-black pants. Her black hair pulled back in a ponytail.
“Welcome to Blue Moon, my name is Teresa we are not quite open yet, but how may I help you?”
“Teresa you probably don’t remember us,” Max pulled his jacket back revealing his detective badge clipped to his belt. “This is my partner Detective Sarah McFadden.”
“Yeah you were here a few days ago about Victoria’s friend that was murdered,” Teresa said.
“That’s correct. We have a few more questions for the staff we met with the other day. How many of them are here this afternoon?” Sarah asked.
Teresa’s eyes darted back and forth while thinking, “Elba is here and of course Mickie is here, he’s our head chef.” Teresa smiled.
“Is Victoria here now?” Max asked.
“No we don’t expect her probably until about 5 or 6 p.m. Two more wait staff will be here at about the same time, but I don’t think they were here on Wednesday’s shift.”
“We would like to ask a couple of questions do you think Elba would have a few seconds as well as you to talk. We sure would appreciate it.” Max smiled.
Teresa looked around, “We are kind of busy getting ready for the rush in about an hour. However, I guess we can give you a few quick minutes. Can you just sit over there and I’ll let Elba know you are here?” Teresa pointed to a booth past the cash register and in the corner.
Max and Sarah walked over and sat on one of the bench seats. In a minute, Teresa showed up and sat down. She folded her hands.
“So how can I help you?” Teresa’s smile looked genuine. It reminded Max when he met Hallie Knowles just over a week ago. Teresa was attractive, and her demeanor resembled Hallie’s.
“Teresa, the other day when we were here we asked you if Victoria was here on Wednesday afternoon and through the evening. You said that she was. Please think really hard. Do you remember seeing her every once and awhile through that time frame?” Max asked.
Teresa thought for a moment. “I remember talking with her about linens while she worked in her office upstairs.”
“Do you remember if you saw her say every hour or with customers that evening?” Max asked.
Teresa raised her eyes and in deep thought lasting a few seconds she said, “I’m sure I did, but thinking about it I do not remember talking with her, and I cannot say for certain that I actually saw her. We were so busy that night I literally was running.” Teresa gently shook her head up and down and smiled. “You want to ask Elba that question she is the bartender.”
“One last question, can you remember if Victoria was here late at night say before you closed the restaurant?” Sarah asked.
“Yes, she was here I remember that for sure.”
“Thank you, Teresa, for your time. Can you ask Elba if she could spare us a couple of minutes?” Max asked.
“Sure.” Teresa got up and turned away then stopped. “Detectives you don’t think Victoria had anything to do with this horrible murder do you?” She asked.
“No, this is just a routine visit. We always circle back on our interviews. Sometimes people remember things they didn’t think about the first time.” Max smiled.
In another minute, Max looked up and saw Elba walking towards them. Max guessed Elba was pushing close to thirty years old. A tall black woman with a 1960’s afro she walked towards them with confidence. Her dark eyes matched her hair and skin. It was obvious she spent time in the gym. Her fit body looked like a suit of armor. She wore the same white shirt and black pants, as Teresa did. Elba slid into the booth. She did not smile, but Max sensed her natural seductiveness. She looked first at Max than Sarah.
“Detectives I know why you are here, and I have something I want to say,” Elba said.

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