Section I, Next Section
Posted on Thursday, 14 June 2001
In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories:
Central Park. Sunday, February 14.
The pretty, dark-haired young woman watched her six-year-old daughter from a distance, but with a close eye. Although they came to this section of the park often, and she knew all of the children and their parents, this was New York City, and one could never be too careful.
Right at the moment, her daughter, Megan, was playing a game of catch with two of the boys from the neighborhood, and the sight did the woman proud. Not for her feisty daughter the girlish games and gender-restricted lifestyle that she herself had had.
One of the boys threw the ball into some bushes, and immediately, the woman was on her feet. She didn't like for Megan to be out of her sight, even if it would only be for a few seconds to get a ball. She didn't feel the other mothers would appreciate it if she asked one of their children to get the ball, however, so she would get it herself.
Megan, fearless child that she was, bounded after the ball before her mother could stop her.
"Megan! Megan, wait! Don't go get that!"
Megan disappeared behind the bushes, and a second later, her piercing scream was heard throughout the park.
"MEGAN!" the woman shouted, running toward the bushes where her daughter had disappeared, terrified that something dreadful had happened to her. She nearly cried when she saw Megan run out of them and back toward her.
"Mommy!" Megan cried, throwing her arms around her mother's legs. The woman picked her up and squeezed her so tight that Megan asked to be let go.
"Are you all right, sweetie? Did someone try to hurt you?"
"Behind the trees," Megan said with a sob. "Behind the trees is a man, Mommy."
The woman didn't want to have to leave her daughter behind, but she wanted to confront the man who had clearly scared her daughter. She was torn, because she didn't want Megan to have to face that pervert again. She set Megan on the ground and told her to go stand by one of the boys' mothers, then went to see who was lurking in the bushes.
"Ma'am? Is something the matter?" An officer had arrived, his youthful face full of concern. A wave of relief rushed through the woman. Help was here. Her daughter was safe.
"Some disgusting pervert scared my daughter. He's behind those bushes," she said. "She screamed so loud that she probably scared him away."
Officer Jon Langley crept cautiously towards the area in question, his heart racing. He'd only been with the New York City Police Department for six weeks and this was the first time he'd had any sense of real danger. Oh, there was danger in every aspect of the job, especially when you walked a beat, but he had a funny feeling about this one...
He stepped behind the bushes and nearly passed out from what he found there.
There was a man behind the bushes, but the woman would have little reason to fear that he might hurt her child. He was dead.
With shaking hands, Officer Langley reached for his radio and called it in.
At every crime scene, there is a procedure that must be strictly followed, and this one was no different. The Crime Scene Unit was taking their time to insure that every possible piece of evidence was collected. The medical examiner was looking at the body, although the cause of death in this case was fairly obvious. They were merely waiting CSU to finish up so they could take the body away to be autopsied. The cause of death was obvious, but the man's body was going to tell the tale of his last hours of life, which would hopefully lead police to finding out who killed him.
The two detectives who'd caught this case were standing at opposite ends of the crime scene, trying to keep out of the way. They'd already talked to several of the witnesses, including young Megan and her mother. Megan had little to say, her mother even less as she hadn't looked at the body.
"We moved here from Jersey," the woman said. "My husband said it would make it easier to get to work, and New York had so many more opportunities for our daughter."
The detective interviewing her, a tall, dark-haired man in his late thirties or perhaps early forties, looked at the young girl standing beside her mother. If he thought it a bit odd that the woman would talk about opportunities for a six-year-old child, he betrayed nothing. It wasn't his problem, anyway. The dead man behind the bushes was.
"Mrs. Tilney. Catherine Tilney."
"Yes. Is there anything else you can remember about the time before Megan found the body? Did you hear gunshots or anything like that? Did you see anyone?"
Catherine Tilney shook her head. "No. I wish I could be of more help, Detective Logan." She sighed in frustration. "I guess this means I'll need to find a safer place for Megan and her friends to play."
"Good luck," Detective Mike Logan grumbled, only the slightest hint of sarcasm in his voice. The woman was oblivious anyway, and wandered off. Logan walked over to the other side of the crime scene, where the ME was talking to his partner, Detective Lennie Briscoe. "Lennie, all I got is a bunch of kids and their mothers who saw nothing."
"Same here. The ME thinks the body's been here since early this morning, so there's not gonna be much in the witness department," Briscoe replied. "How is Officer Langley?"
"Last I saw, in a different bush losing lunch. Who do we have here?"
A man from CSU handed Logan the man's wallet. Logan opened it up to reveal a New York State driver's license. There were no credit cards and no cash in the wallet.
"Looks like a robbery," Logan said. "Henry J. Crawford, 1121 West End Avenue, Apartment 1B."
"Maybe, maybe not," Briscoe replied. "Whoever shot him got him twice below the belt in addition to the nasty hold they left in his chest. That doesn't smack of robbery to me."
"So we're looking for a ticked-off ex-wife, a hooker he stiffed on the bill, or a thief with a strange sense of humor."
"A killer whichever way," Briscoe said as the body was being placed in a bag. The detectives stepped away from the scene to let the others complete their crucial tasks.
27th Precinct. Sunday, February 14.
The young woman in the chair was still shaking. She couldn't get the image of her brother lying dead in the morgue out of her head.
"Why?" she sobbed. "Who would kill Hal? Why?"
"That's what we're going to try and find out, Miss Crawford," Briscoe said quietly. "How close were you to your brother?"
"Please, call me Mary," she said with a sniffle. Clearing her throat, she replied, "Hal and I...our mother said we could've been twins, we were so close. Fifteen months separated us."
"Are your parents still alive?" Logan asked.
Mary shook her head. "My mother died of breast cancer when we were children and my father in a car wreck four years ago. There's just Hal and I and our older sister...but she lives in Canada with her family."
"Did your brother tend to go walking in Central Park alone at night?" Briscoe asked.
"No. He preferred going to health clubs where he could get what he called a 'proper workout.' Walking didn't do it for him. I'm sorry for asking, but what does any of this have to do with his murder?"
"You'd be surprised how often the little details of a person's life matter," Logan said. "Do you know what your brother did yesterday?"
"Uh, no, not really. I run a flower shop and I was busy yesterday with Valentine's Day today and everything. I didn't really get a chance to talk to him. He picked up the flowers he'd ordered for Faith and asked if I had any extras. I sold him a bouquet of petunias and asked him why he needed extra flowers. He said...this doesn't make any sense, but he said there was trouble with Faith. It seemed a little hard for me to believe, because Faith is the sweetest girl in the world and would never give anyone trouble, but-"
"Who is Faith?" Logan asked.
"Faith Price. She's his fiancée. Well, she should've been. He was going to ask her to marry him last night. Maybe that's what he meant by trouble, because it was going to be a surprise."
Briscoe took out his notebook. "Where can we find her?"
"She lives with her aunt and uncle. Thomas and Margaret Bertram. They live somewhere on East 85th, although I couldn't give you the exact address." She sniffled. "She probably doesn't know what he was up to, though. Like I said, the proposal was to be a surprise."
Briscoe and Logan exchanged a look. Pricey real estate in that section of New York, not to mention the name of the relatives. Thomas Bertram was well-known for his political aspirations and his rumored shady deals.
"Is there anyone who would know for certain what he did yesterday?" Logan asked.
"You might try Jack Yates. He's Hal's best friend, next to me. Or Maria Rushworth. They were good friends." Mary's eyes welled up with tears. "They were. I wish I'd known that yesterday afternoon was going to be the last time I was going to see him. I would've said...I just don't understand! My brother was a wonderful man! He was the best brother a girl could've had. He founded a scholarship at Columbia for actors and artists. He did charity work at homeless shelters. Who would've wanted him dead?"
The detectives looked on helplessly as she cried.
Jack Yates' apartment. 432 Canal Street. Monday, February 15.
The redheaded man ran a hand through his already tousled hair and let out a shaky breath. "Are you sure it's him?"
Briscoe nodded. "His sister Mary identified him."
Jack Yates swore under his breath. "I wish she hadn't had to do that. Mary's always been so protective of Hal, y'know? Seeing him like that...she's probably going nuts right about now."
"She didn't seem to be taking it well when we talked to her yesterday. She said that you might know what Mr. Crawford was doing Saturday." Logan whipped out his small notebook and prepared to write down whatever Jack told them.
"Yeah, I do. He spent all morning at work with me, doing inventory until one-thirty."
"Yeah. He owns a bar-Crawfordites." Jack smiled wistfully. "He thought the name was a fine joke. He inherited a boatload of money from his father after the car accident. It paid for his college education with plenty to spare, so he bought the bar. I work there when I'm between acting gigs. During the afternoon, he went to his sister's shop to pick up the flowers for Faith."
"That would be Faith Price, his girlfriend?" Logan asked.
"Yeah. They've been together for about a year. He had everything planned for Saturday night-her favorite Broadway show, dinner at Lutece, all the works. Capped off by a walk through Central Park and asking her to marry him."
"Central Park? Are you sure about that?" Briscoe asked.
Jack nodded. "Something went wrong, though. He was supposed to meet Faith at her uncle's house at six and be gone with her through the night, but he showed up at Crawfordites at seven, looking like someone had blown a hole..." He swallowed heavily. "I'm sorry. That was in terrible taste. But he looked shell shocked. I asked him if Faith was all right. All he said was that she was going to her brother's in Albany. She said she never wanted to see him again. That was all I could get out of him. He sat at the bar and downed beers like they were water. He tried calling her throughout the evening at her brother's with no luck. And then he got a call on his cell phone around two, just as we were getting ready to close up. He didn't say who it was, but he looked excited. I figured it was Faith, wanting to kiss and make up. He told me to lock the bar and left. It was the last time I saw him."
"You aren't sure if it was the girlfriend?"
Jack shook his head, then looked at the two detectives. "You don't think Faith had something to do with this, do you? I mean, you must've talked to her."
The detectives had been unable to find Faith Price. The housekeeper had informed them that Miss Price had gone to visit her brother in Albany.
"We're just trying to talk to everyone," Briscoe said.
"Well, I can tell you with absolute certainty that it wasn't Faith. Even if he'd done something terrible, she's just not the type to do anything like this."
"They never are," Logan replied, closing his notebook.
Office of the Medical Examiner. Tuesday, February 16.
"This is going to come as a shock to you, I'm sure, but your victim died of a gunshot wound to the chest," Dr. Rogers said as she flipped through the folder on Henry J. Crawford.
"Thanks for the update, Rogers. Anything interesting you can tell us?" Briscoe asked.
"Body temp at the time he was found indicated that he died sometime between three and four in the morning. I didn't find any signs that he might've struggled with the shooter-no skin under the nails, no bruised knuckles, no defensive wounds. From what I could tell, the chest wound came first, the other two later." Rogers handed the file over to Logan. "He never knew what hit him."
"Why shoot someone down there after they were gone? Usually they aim there first, then go for the jugular," Logan said, browsing through the folder.
"Speaking from experience?" Rogers asked, eyebrow raised.
Rogers shrugged. "The victim might've known his attacker, or he might not have. He had a blood alcohol level of .15. You don't react as quickly after a few beers."
"That lines up with what Yates told us," Briscoe said.
"He had a last meal of hot dogs and pretzels to go with the beer," Rogers said. "As for the bullets, forensics has them. The one I pulled from his chest ricocheted around pretty bad. It's all smashed up. Fortunately, your killer did fire two other shots, and those bullets we have."
"Just that it appears he was shot there in the park. That's pretty much it."
Briscoe sighed. "Well, I guess the means it's time to see if the girlfriend's returned from her supposed trip to Albany."
The home of Thomas and Margaret Bertram. 16 East 85th. Tuesday, February 16.
The housekeeper informed them that yes, Miss Price had returned, but had stepped out for the moment. She invited them to come back later, but they insisted on staying. While they waited, Briscoe and Logan looked around at the majestic surroundings they found themselves in. While Hal Crawford's home had been nothing to sneeze at, it was nothing compared to this veritable palace.
"Excuse me? Can I help you, gentlemen?"
The voice called from the direction of the stairs, where a beautiful brunette was descending with a small frown on her face. She was elegantly but seductively dressed, perfectly made up, and had a vaguely condescending look about her. She exuded a confident sensuality and a certain smugness that was hard to miss.
"I'm Detective Briscoe, and this is Detective Logan. Are you Faith Price?"
The brunette laughed. "Hardly. Faith is my cousin. I'm Maria Rushworth. What are you doing here?"
"We're investigating the murder of Henry Crawford." Logan looked closely at Maria and noticed the saddened look in her eyes.
"Yes, I...I heard about that. His sister Mary and I went to Vassar together, and this was a terrible blow to her. I'm afraid that I was the one who informed Faith of what happened. The poor girl didn't have a clue when she came home. She was grief-stricken. Practically ran out the door when I told her."
"We understand that she returned from a trip this morning," Logan said.
"Yes. She left Saturday afternoon to visit her brother. He lives in Albany with his fiancée."
"Mrs. Rushworth," Briscoe continued as though she hadn't spoken, "did you know Hal Crawford?"
Maria nodded. "I suppose I should show you into the parlor if you want to talk to me. This way." She led them into a large, airy room with a bay window. She offered them a seat by the bay window. "Would you like any coffee or tea?"
"No, thanks. I've had my fill of caffeine for the day," Briscoe replied.
She settled into an enormous chair, crossing her legs and leaning forward slightly. "I knew Hal very well. Mary probably told you that we were good friends. I brought her home from college one weekend and she invited her brother. We hit it off instantly."
"Just as friends or something more romantic than that?" Logan asked.
"As friends only. It might've become something more, but I met my husband Sam soon after that and...well, as they say, that was that. Sam and I were married and Hal and I stayed good friends."
"Did you introduce Hal to your cousin?"
Maria nodded. "Faith was in boarding school at first, then she went to Radcliffe and opted to stay there during the summer. Can't say I blame her, what with that battle-ax of an aunt we have. When she came home to stay last year, I introduced her to Hal."
"And they've been together ever since?"
"Yes. I didn't think they'd go well together, because Hal was never the type to settle down, but he surprised me. From day one, he was crazy about Faith. I think it's because she's not like the New York debs he was dating before."
"How was their relationship?"
Maria shrugged. "I'm a very busy woman, detective, and to be quite honest, Faith and I were never close. Even if we were, I doubt she'd tell me much about her relationship. As for Hal, like I said, he was bananas about her. It was like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers to see him around her. I guess it was okay. They looked happy."
Briscoe noted that although Maria had looked saddened about Hal's death, she didn't look overly upset. "When was the last time you saw Crawford?" he asked.
"Um...God, it's been a while. I think the last time we were all together was about a month ago. My sister's boyfriend, Jack Yates, had gotten a callback for a part in an off-Broadway show-his first big break-and we went out to celebrate." Maria's lips twisted into something resembling a smirk. "He didn't get the part, but I told Julia that she shouldn't be surprised. Jack's not all that good an actor."
"You never saw him around the house, picking up your cousin or anything?" Logan asked.
"I don't live here," Maria said. "That would make it kind of hard to bump into him. I was here over the weekend because my mother's been unwell and Faith was out of town. It was a terrible weekend. My mother wouldn't let me out of her sight, not even at night. Thank God Faith's back, because I'm sick of looking at the four walls in her parlor." Maria checked her watch and stood up. "Now, if that's all you have for me, I'm meeting a friend for lunch."
"If we have anything, we'll get in touch with you," Briscoe said, rising as well.
"Feel free to ask the housekeeper for anything if you wind up waiting long for Faith. You never know with her. She does the strangest things sometimes." With that, Maria breezed out of the room. A minute later, they heard the front door shut and she was gone.
Logan read through his notes. "Do you think we should've asked her for an alibi?" he asked.
"Why bother? She doesn't look like the type who would care enough to shoot someone," Briscoe said. "Cold as ice."
"I wonder if the cousin's anything like her."
"Well, Maria said she was different from Hal's usual type. If Maria was his former type, maybe she won't be."
"Think she'll confess to killing him and make our jobs easier?"
"Do we ever get that lucky?" Briscoe knew that nothing in life is ever that easy.
"Once or twice."
"I seem to remember that the last suspect to confess right off the bat nearly got a walk. I think I'd rather investigate and be sure."
The two of them had just settled into their chairs when they heard the door open. The housekeeper informed whoever it was at the door that there were two police officers waiting in the front parlor. Soft footsteps echoed in the hallway, then stopped. When the door opened, a tall, slim girl of about twenty-two walked into the room. She was the antithesis of the woman who had left a short while ago. She was blonde, with blue eyes that were red from crying. Her looks were average, certainly not what one would expect with a cousin who could stop traffic. She dressed in a simple white blouse and a black skirt that modestly covered her knees. Nothing about her screamed money or privilege. She seemed like the retiring type.
They rose to their feet yet again.
"Faith Price?" Logan asked.
"Yes, that's me," she replied softly.
"I'm Detective Logan. This is my partner, Detective Briscoe."
Faith looked at them for a moment, then said, "You're here about Hal."
"Yes, we are. Your cousin told us she informed you about it."
Faith nodded. "When I got home." Her chin quivered.
"We understand that you and Mr. Crawford had a fight Saturday night."
Faith sat down slowly. "Yes, we did."
"And what was it about?" Logan asked.
She looked reluctant to talk, but finally she sighed and said, "Saturday morning I received a package in the mail. It was postmarked New York City but there was no return address on it. When I opened it up...I found a videotape."
"Yes. There was also a note. It was...unsigned. The person said that they had heard I was about to get engaged to Hal and that they couldn't let it happen. It said, 'If you want to know the truth about Hal Crawford, watch this.' It was typed on a computer so I had no way of knowing who sent it."
"Do you still have the note?" Briscoe asked.
She shook her head. "I flushed it down the toilet after I watched the videotape. I was so sickened that..." She blinked several times, trying to hold back tears.
"What was on the tape?" Logan asked.
Faith took a few slow breaths and said, "It was Hal. He was with another woman...I mean, with her. They were..."
"Did you recognize the other woman?"
"No. I think it took place when we were first dating, because his nose was fine."
"Come again?" Briscoe asked.
"He broke his nose playing football six months ago. In the video, his nose was normal. But it was the idea that he was seeing someone else while all the time telling me that I was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with...I was so furious."
The detectives exchanged a look. Just how furious had she been?
"I waited for Hal to come get me for our date Saturday night, and then I let him have it. I showed him the videotape and dared him to deny having an affair. He said that the girl was someone he'd known at Columbia, and that it had happened a long time before me. He swore he'd been faithful, but I knew it was a lie." Tears dripped down her cheeks as she added, "I told him I never wanted to see him again. I already had a ticket to Albany to see my brother, so I left him there. I told him I hated him." Her voice thickened. "That was the last thing I ever said to him. I told him that I hated him, but it wasn't true. I loved him." She burst into loud sobs. "I loved him so much!"
"When did you arrive in Albany?" Logan asked. "And when did you come home?"
She sniffled. "I got there around nine Saturday night. I came home this morning. Why?"
"We just have to be sure."
Faith looked at them steadily, then stood up. "Excuse me for a moment," she said. "I'll be back with proof of where I was."
A minute later, she returned with her used train ticket, marked with her departure and arrival dates.
"And if you need further proof that I was in Albany Saturday night, call Gannon's Bar and Grill. I spent most of the evening there, hunched over the same margarita and bowl of pretzels until one-thirty, talking with my brother."
"We'll be sure to check on that," Briscoe said, but it was becoming clear that at the very least, Faith Price hadn't killed him. "By the way, do you still have the videotape?"
"I think so...yes. I don't know whether or not it survived being thrown against the opposite wall, though. I'll get it for you...and you don't need to give it back."
"Well, that's definitely Hal Crawford," Logan said as he and Briscoe watched the tape Faith had given them. It had managed to survive being hurled against a wall.
The young man leered into the camera, posed, then turned the camera towards the bed, where a young woman was waiting for him.
"Come join me, Hal," she murmured softly, seductively.
"Hey...I know her," Logan said, picking up his notepad and leafing back through it. "I interviewed her. She's...the woman whose daughter found the body. Megan...no, that's the daughter's name. Catherine! Catherine Tilney. She said she knew nothing about the man in the bushes. Didn't even know he was there until the girl found him."
Briscoe looked at the tape, where the couple on the bed were kissing passionately. "Not everyone is as direct as our Miss Price. Looks like we're going to have to invite Mrs. Tilney down here for a little chat."
27th Precinct. Thursday, February 18.
Catherine Tilney averted her eyes when Briscoe and Logan showed her the tape. A third person had joined them in the interrogation room they'd brought her to-a black woman of average height whom Catherine believed was the men's superior. Catherine wasn't sure whether or not a Detective was more important than a Lieutenant. She'd identified herself as Lt. Van Buren. To Catherine, she was just one more cop who wanted to dredge up a very embarrassing part of her past.
"You lied to us, Mrs. Tilney," Logan said, his voice low, as though he were barely managing to control his temper. "You told us you knew nothing about the dead man, and now it turns out you knew him quite well."
"You never told me who he was," Catherine replied. "And I didn't find him, my daughter did. I had no idea it was Hal until I read his name in the papers."
"Why didn't you come back and mention it then?" Briscoe asked.
"What difference does it make? Hal and I had long since broken things off. I hadn't seen him since he graduated from Columbia-longer than that, actually. I had a brief relationship with him when we were in college, and it wasn't even much of one then. I have absolutely no information which would be of interest in the police. I didn't kill him, and I have no idea of who would have wanted him dead."
"We're old enough to figure out what's of interest to us, Mrs. Tilney, and right now, you're real interesting. We only have your word for it that your relationship with Hal Crawford was several years ago. His girlfriend thought it was more recent than that," Logan said.
Catherine sighed. "Look, that videotape was the last time we were together, nine years ago. I was a freshman in college and I was stupid. He talked me into it. I got freaked out by the fact that he taped it and told him it was over."
"So maybe you got scared that he might want to blackmail you. We hear your husband's a preacher."
"Why would Hal want to blackmail me? He had more money from his inheritance than Henry and I could make in five years. Blackmailing me would be pointless, because my husband knows everything about what happened between me and Hal. He even knows about the videotape." Catherine looked at the woman, thinking perhaps she would be the most sympathetic. "If I had killed him, I would hardly have brought my daughter to that area of the park. Megan's had bad dreams every night since then. She might even need therapy."
"It was dark outside when he died. Perhaps you forgot exactly where you killed him."
Catherine's eyes filled with tears. "I didn't do it. You can ask my husband. He'll tell you that I was at home all night. You can do what cops do and check our phones and all that stuff. I haven't had contact with Hal Crawford since he left Columbia." She looked at the TV screen again, where the video was still playing. "Could you turn that off, please? It's embarrassing enough to have to defend myself against murder accusations without having to watch that."
The lieutenant turned off the VCR and excused herself from the room, leaving Catherine alone with the detectives.
"Tell us more about your break up with Hal Crawford, Catherine," Briscoe said. His voice was much gentler. Catherine felt comforted by his presence. Perhaps that Logan believed she was guilty, but this man clearly didn't. She could tell from his eyes.
"Like I said, it happened a long time ago. We'd been dating for about six weeks when he suggested we do it. I...I wanted him to like me. No, I wanted him to love me. He had that kind of power over a woman. I thought that by going along with this taping thing that he would. So I did it. He told me what to say, what to do. I hated every minute of it. After it was over I knew I'd done the wrong thing. I told him that I didn't want to see him anymore and that he should get rid of my tape. He said..."
She paused, for the telling of this was rather painful. "He said not to worry, that I was such an amateur that it hadn't been worth the videotape. I always figured that he'd gotten rid of the tape. Or at the very least, he'd erased me from it. And until you made me see it today, I'd completely forgotten that it existed."
"That sounds a little hard to believe," Logan said coldly. "If I made a tape like that, I think I'd remember it quite well."
"Well, you're not me, are you?" Catherine refused to be cowed by the man. She didn't care how cute he was. "And if you're going to suspect me because I was stupid enough to be convinced to make a tape when I was only eighteen, then you're going to have to talk to every girl he dated. I doubt I'm the only girl he talked into doing something like that."
"Why do you think someone would send a videotape of you to Hal Crawford's girlfriend?" Briscoe asked.
Catherine shrugged. "I'm supposed to know what some psycho killer's thinking?"
Haven House. 115 Avenue C. Thursday, February 18.
Henry Tilney was exactly the sort of man who would've gone into the ministry-bright, articulate, gentle and warm-spirited. When the two police detectives asked him what he knew about Catherine's tape, they discovered that he was also honest.
"Yes, I knew all about that," he said quietly. "It was what brought Catherine into my life, although I'm sure that wasn't Hal Crawford's intention. Catherine got scared that he might tell someone what she'd done, not to mention feeling depressed about the incident. I was part of an outreach program on campus when we met. We talked about everything. I invited her to join my church, and a year later, we got married."
"It's a touching story," Logan said. "Catherine said she thought the tape was destroyed. Did you think that, too?"
A quick, quirky smile appeared. "I wish I could've, but I'm not as naïve as my wife. I know what Hal Crawford told her when she asked him to get rid of it and encouraged her to believe that as best she could, but...soon after Catherine and I started dating, a friend of mine mentioned that her ex-boyfriend had a collection. Some jerk-probably Crawford himself-jokingly called it a 'broad' collection in both senses of the word. The name stuck. The rumor was that every woman he'd been with had at least one encounter caught on tape. I didn't know it for a fact, but I figured that he didn't get rid of Catherine's tape just because she broke it off with him."
"Did you ever see any of those other tapes?"
"Hardly. Hal Crawford and I traveled in far different circles in college. He was a trust-fund kid while I was using every bit of financial aid I could get my hands on to pay for tuition."
"Where were you and your wife between three and five in the morning Sunday?"
"Deep sleep, detectives, with my wife snuggled beside me. I wish for Catherine's sake that it were a better alibi, but it's all I have."
Hal Crawford's apartment. 1121 West End Avenue. Thursday, February 18.
Briscoe and Logan found the tapes in a locked compartment underneath his entertainment center. The door had been unlocked during the police's search of the place the day Hal Crawford had died, but the tapes, each one affixed with a label, had been considered harmless.
"If Henry Tilney's right, we're about to uncover a whole bunch of new suspects," Briscoe said, looking at the hidden cache.
"Look at the titles of these, Lennie. This guy had a weird sense of humor. 'The Preacher's Wife.' 'Wild Things.' "All About Eve.'" Logan sighed. "You're right about suspects, though. Makes me wish the girlfriend had confessed."
Briscoe noticed something and frowned. "Maybe, maybe not. It looks like there's a movie missing, here in the middle. And all of these movies have labels on them, but the one sent to Faith Price didn't have one, not even one that had been torn off. 'The Preacher's Wife' might be Catherine Tilney. If it is, then there's another movie missing."
"So you gotta figure it's someone who didn't want us knowing who she was."
"Yeah, not to mention someone who had access to this place. The girlfriend, maybe."
"Or it's possible that whoever killed him stole his keys-they weren't found anywhere near the body."
"Could be. We'd better get someone down here to get fingerprints. Maybe we'll get lucky and our killer will have left some. In the meantime, we get to see who got caught on Crawford's version of Candid Camera."
27th Precinct. Friday, February 19.
Lieutenant Van Buren looked up from the paperwork on her desk as Briscoe and Logan walked into her office. "I heard a rumor that I'm not going to be happy about the Crawford case," she said.
"When are we ever happy around here?" Logan asked. "We went through forty videotapes, all forty starring the victim and at least one woman, all of them different. The names vary from the intellectual set at Columbia, where he attended college, to some of New York's elite."
"What about the woman whose daughter found the body?"
"Hers was in there," Briscoe replied. "Looks like she might be in the clear, because there's another tape missing. We had the entertainment center dusted for prints and got two that didn't belong to the victim inside the case where the tapes were kept. So far, they're not ringing any bells with priors."
"Are we sure that they belong to the perp? It could be that he let a friend borrow a tape," Van Buren suggested.
"We went to Jack Yates and asked what he knew about the collection. He was rather reluctant to admit that he knew about them, but made a point of telling us that no one was allowed to touch the tapes except Crawford. He said that Crawford wanted the legend of the collection to be known without showing it off to many people."
"Had he seen any of the tapes?"
"One or two, according to him. His prints didn't match the ones found inside the case."
"What about the phone call that was made to Crawford's cell phone-the one Yates thought might be from the girlfriend? Has anyone been able to track that down?"
"We got Profaci checking that for us now," Logan said. "We've pulled LUDs from his cell phone, the Bertram home, and Faith Price's brother in Albany. Hopefully something will match up."
The door to Van Buren's office opened and a stocky, dark-haired detective stuck his head inside. "Just got through the phone records from the vic's phone and the others you asked for. He received just the one phone call the night he was murdered, but he made several to a William Price, never lasting more than a few seconds, like he'd reached voice mail. The phone call he got at two a.m. was from a private number registered to Margaret Bertram, which lasted for three minutes."
"Wonder who was calling him so late at night from there," Briscoe said. "If the girlfriend wasn't around to do it, then who?"
"Well, here's where it gets interesting. Right after that phone call was made, someone called the Albany number again and talked for ten minutes. And at four-fifteen, another phone call to that number, lasting three minutes."
"Thanks, Profaci," Logan said. When the man had left the room, he turned back to the others. "Anyone else think Faith Price arranged for someone to kill him?"
"Someone in her family?" Briscoe added.
"Who do we know was there at the time?" Van Buren asked.
"We don't know. We didn't think to ask at the time."
"Interview Faith Price again, and see what you get in the way of an alibi from Maria Rushworth. She said she'd been staying at the house because Faith wasn't there, but she might've been lying to us."
"The rich and famous, lying to the police? Say it isn't so," Logan said with a chuckle.
The house of Thomas Bertram. 16 East 85th. Friday, February 19.
The brunette who answered the door looked much like the young woman who had talked to the detectives the other day; however, she didn't have the other woman's sensuality. She exuded a prettiness that was hard to deny, with her long, curly brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, clean features and smiling gray eyes, but she wasn't beautiful like her sister. She dressed casually in jeans and a white blouse with a green suede vest.
"Hello," she said cheerfully. "Can I help you?"
Logan showed her his badge. "Detective Logan. This is my partner, Detective Briscoe. We're here to see Faith Price."
"Ah, well, she's skipped out for a little while to visit my brother Edmund. Didn't she talk to you already about Hal?"
"She did. We just have a few more questions," Logan replied. "And you are..."
"Julia Bertram," she said, extending her hand. "I would normally say nice to meet you, but the circumstances aren't appropriate. Please come in."
Julia led them to the same room her sister had invited them into previously, taking the same chair and inviting them to sit in the same place. Logan felt a sense of déjà vu, only the younger version was livelier than her sister.
"Jack's absolutely devastated about Hal," Julia said. "They'd been best friends since their Columbia days. Jack dated Hal's sister for a while, before we met."
"This would be Jack Yates, right?"
Julia nodded. "It'll be two years next month."
"Congratulations. How well did you know Hal Crawford?" Briscoe asked.
Julia looked a bit sheepish. "Very well. I must admit, when we first met, I had a bit of a crush on him. I was a kid so he never took any notice of me, especially when Maria was around."
"She told us they were never romantically involved."
"She never got involved with him. I suspect that he carried a torch for her until he met Faith. Faith changed everything for him, and he was good for her, too. Faith is...well, how can I put this? She's too good for her own good, you know? My aunt and mother treated her like an unpaid servant until my father realized what was going on and insisted on sending her to boarding school to get her away from them. He wouldn't have known except I made mention of it one day. Faith wouldn't say anything to disrupt things. She hates change." She smiled. "Sorry. I tend to rant a bit when it comes to Faith. She's more than a cousin to me. She's like a little sister. I'm a lot closer to her than I am to Maria."
"How long has she lived with you?" Logan asked.
"Since her parents died when she was eleven. Her brother went into the navy, so Faith came to live with us."
"So, what can you tell us about Hal Crawford?"
Julia thought on this. "He was a little arrogant. He had money, so I guess it came naturally to him."
"You have money. You don't seem all that arrogant," Logan said.
Julia laughed. "I'm what everyone calls the changeling child of the Bertram family. My oldest brother Tommy is the workaholic, Edmund is the pious philanthropist, my older sister Maria is the pampered society darling and as for me...I'm a bohemian. I'm passionate about music and art and the stage and all sorts of things Bertrams should only appreciate from the audience. As long as I don't make too big a cake of myself, I'm free to do as I wish."
"Do you still live here at home?" Logan asked.
"No. To my mother's horror, I live on my own, without a man, in TriBeCa."
"Nice part of town," Briscoe noted.
"I do have money."
"Did you know what sort of problems Hal was having with Faith?"
"Not really. I was here Saturday afternoon when Hal came to get her. I could hear her yelling at him, which surprised me because Faith almost never raises her voice. She was saying something about 'how could you do this to me' and Hal saying he hadn't done anything. I heard something hit the wall, and I heard her slap him. She yelled that she never wanted to see him again and that if he showed up, she'd..." Julia broke off, her face going red. "I know she didn't mean this, but she said she'd kill him. Faith wouldn't hurt a flea, really she wouldn't. She was just upset about something. And anyway, she was in Albany when it happened."
"Who else was in the house who might've heard more?" Briscoe asked.
"Um...I doubt they heard anything, except maybe my mother. But she rarely pays attention to anything unpleasant. She's like that."
"Is she sick a lot? Your sister told us that she stayed with her over the weekend because she was ill."
"My mother's problem is that she's agoraphobic, combined with a very dependent personality. She hates paying calls on people, so she has them come to her. She swears she can't stay in the house alone, and needs someone to take care of her. My father stopped doing it long ago, so the job originally fell to my Aunt Norris, then to Faith. Mother hates change more than Faith does, meaning that even when Faith went on a date with Hal, someone had to be with her. When Faith left, Maria agreed to stay with her. I offered to help, but Maria refused. She seemed mad at me, but I couldn't figure out why. She insisted that she could do it alone, although I doubted it. My mother is very demanding. I don't know how Faith puts up with it anymore."
"So who would've been in the house Saturday night?"
"These are just routine questions we need answered, Julia."
"Uh...well, I guess just my mother and father, my sister and her husband, the housekeeper, Mrs. Soames, and Aunt Norris."
"Who is that?" Briscoe asked.
"Kate Norris. We call her by her surname because...well, she would prefer it if we called her Mrs. Norris, but Mother said that was too harsh for children. She has a suite of rooms in the west wing."
"Why does she live here?"
"Her husband died a year or so after they were married, and she's been here for as long as I can remember. My father, I think, would like nothing more than to ship her off to Abu Dhabi, but he's never been able to resist my mother when she wants something." Julia frowned. "Why would this be routine? It's not like anyone here killed Hal."
"We're just tying up a few loose ends. Someone from this house called Hal Crawford's cell phone around two the morning he was killed. It was the last time anyone saw him alive."
"You think someone from here arranged to meet him and kill him? That's nonsense. We had no idea why Faith was upset. I asked her before she left, but she refused to tell me, if you think that was a motive."
"Did you know anything about Hal's video collection?" Briscoe asked.
"Hal preferred the theater to movies."
"Julia?" Faith Price had returned and walked into the room. Once again, she seemed incongruous to the surroundings she was in. She, like her cousin, wore a white blouse and jeans, but when the two young women stood next to each other it was clear that Julia Bertram's outfit cost a good deal of money. Faith quickly noticed the detectives. "Hello, Mr. Briscoe and...Mr. Logan? Do you have more questions for me?"
"Yes, we do," Logan said. "If you would excuse us, Miss Bertram."
"Absolutely not. I think someone should stay here and protect Faith's interests."
"I'll be all right," Faith told her cousin. "Go on. Aunt Norris is looking for you."
Julia gave the detectives one last glare before leaving. Faith timidly sat down where Julia had been sitting. "I'm sorry about Julia," Faith said. "She's always been protective of me." She crossed her legs at the ankle and awaited their questions.
"Miss Price, you said that all you said to Henry Crawford was that you never wanted to see him again, but your cousin said you threatened to kill him if he arrived back here," Logan said.
Faith hesitated. "I was very upset. He'd hurt me very much and...I wasn't thinking. I certainly didn't mean it. I could never have killed him."
"Who from this house called you at two a.m. the night he was killed?" Briscoe asked.
Faith looked at him, surprised. "How did you know about that?" she asked.
"We have ways of finding these things out," he replied.
"Oh, of course you would. Well, it was nothing sinister. We'd just gotten home when the phone rang. I thought it was Hal and didn't want to talk to him, but it turned out to be my Aunt Norris. She was upset because I wasn't there."
"She wasn't informed that you weren't going to be home?" Logan asked.
"No, she knew where I was. She was upset because I'd left, meaning that Maria was supposed to take care of Aunt Margaret. Naturally, when Maria went missing, it was my fault for not being dutiful and staying home. Aunt Norris is good at assigning blame." A hardened edge tinged her voice. She blinked several times. "I shouldn't be so hard on her. She's had it rough, and she was right. I should've asked Julia to stay. My Aunt Margaret requires a lot of patience, which is something Maria lacks."
Logan leafed back through his notebook, came across something, and frowned. "You mean Maria wasn't there when your aunt called you?"
"No. Someone prank called my aunt's number and woke her up. When Maria wasn't there, Aunt Margaret panicked and woke the house up. I told them that she probably got tired of hearing my aunt snore and found a private room of her own, but they'd already checked. She was gone. I told them that I had no idea where she was and asked them to call me back when she returned."
"Which was around four-fifteen?"
"Do you have any idea where your cousin might've gone?"
"Of course not. Why?"
The detectives exchanged a look. Faith frowned. "You don't think Maria did it, do you?"
"What do you think?"
"What possible reason could she have for killing Hal? Julia, maybe, if she thought Hal had hurt me bad enough. But Maria was one of Hal's best friends. She might've married him if she hadn't met Sam and decided that being a lawyer's wife was preferable to Hal's lack of ambition in life."
The detectives exchanged another look, causing Faith to look more worried. She babbled on. "Even if Maria were going to do something like this, which she wouldn't, she would never shoot someone in cold blood. She hates guns. She thinks they're tacky. She made Sam give up hunting after they were married because she wouldn't have one in her house. As far as I know, the last time she set foot in Uncle Thomas' trophy room was to help me inventory things for an exhibition."
"Trophy room?" Logan asked quickly.
"That's what he calls it. He's got his..." She fell silent.
"His what? Gun collection?"
She refused to speak.
"Miss Price, whether or not you tell us or we have to get a warrant and look ourselves, we're going to find out what's in that room."
"You're going to have to get a warrant, then, but I don't think there's any reason to do that. Maria didn't kill him."
Briscoe and Logan stepped outside to make the call to the D.A.'s office. While waiting to speak to Claire Kincaid, Logan said, "Wanna bet there's a thirty-two in there that's been fired recently?"
"Wanna bet whose fingerprints we'll find on it?" Briscoe added. He looked up at the window they'd been sitting in front of moments earlier. Faith Price stood there, looking at them with a worried expression on her face. "Think we've got enough for a search warrant?"
"Between the lie she told about being home all night when he was killed, turning up missing-and found-in the time frame the ME thinks he was killed, and the fact that someone from this house called him just before he was murdered...I think we could squeak by. Who's on warrants today?"
"Judge Shreck, I think."
Logan grimaced. "There's gotta be someone else. Hello, Ms. Kincaid. We're in need of a search warrant for the Bertram residence."
"While we're at it, we ought to take a look at the Rushworth house, too," Briscoe said. "We might find the missing videotape there."
The home of Maria and Sam Rushworth. Four hours later.
Hunting through a drawer of videotapes, Logan glanced at the titles with a sharp, suspicious eye. All of the labels had neat handwriting on them.
"I still think Mrs. Rushworth should be here," the housekeeper said with a furious look on her face. She was loyal to her employer and angry that the law allowed her things to be searched without her being present. It was downright indecent in her opinion.
"Yes, ma'am. The law says as long as we serve the warrant on Mr. Rushworth, which we have, we're free to look." Logan shut the drawer and opened the next one to it. The third tape from the back had a label coming loose. He noticed that it had hastily been stuck on top of another label and marked 'Mansfield Park.' When he peeled the label off, he saw a different title-and different handwriting. Writing that looked much like Hal Crawford's. "Lennie, over here."
Briscoe walked over. "Yeah, Mike?"
Logan held the tape up so he could see the title. "Think this handwriting matches the ones at Crawford's?"
"Pretty close. 'Sister Act,' huh? Somehow I get the feeling we're not gonna find any singing nuns on that tape."
"Excuse me! What the hell are you doing here, going through my things and invading my privacy?" Maria Rushworth had returned home at last, followed by her red-faced and confused husband.
"We have a warrant, Mrs. Rushworth. And it looks like you have some explaining to do." Logan held up the videotape.
Maria turned pale and asked, "What's that?"
"You tell us," Briscoe said.
For the first time, a spark of fear shadowed Maria's eyes. "I don't think I want to tell you anything until I speak to a lawyer."
"What a shock," Logan muttered under his breath, putting the tape in an evidence bag. "Tell him to meet you at the 27th Precinct."