Through the Eyes of Madness—Part Fifteen
By: David K. Montoya

Detective Grayson Copeland stared hopelessly at the case file, when Larry Hoyles the medical examiner approached his desk cautiously. Without looking up, Grayson, asked, "What do you want Larry? I'm not in my normal cheery mood."

"So I've heard." Larry said under his breath. Grayson looked up from the papers with an intense expression of anger and rage. The Medical Examiner realized that he heard what was said, and felt his health was in jeopardy and changed the subject. "Another body was just brought in, from the Eastern district."

"I don't cover that area Larry, it's Martinez and Esselman," Grayson said and then looked back at the papers in front of him.

"I understand, Grayson, but it's like the others and there's a message for you," Larry said, timidly.

Again, Grayson looked up, his face twisted as he said, "A message?"

"The Killer left you a message," the Medical Examiner explained. There was a brief pause when he elaborated. "I wanted you to see this before I started the official examination."

"All right, let me get Tidwell," Grayson grumbled and stood up from his desk.

"No, no, Grayson," Larry retorted. "The message is for you."

Grayson's eyes widened in surprise.

"Oh," was all Grayson said. While he was noticeably shaken by what the medical examiner said, the young detective tried to assemble himself. After he adjusted his tie, which was followed by a harsh exhale, he looked at Larry and uttered, "Okay, Larry, lead the way."

"She's still in the back in the holding area, I've been so back logged that I haven't had a chance to ge—" Larry said as they walked away from Grayson's desk, but was interrupted mid–sentence.

"I'm not up to small talk, Larry," Grayson said blatantly.

"You really need to stop spending so much time with Tidwell," Larry said with a snarky smile. "You're starting to act just like him."

Grayson did not respond.

He held back the rage that was inside of him, the desire to grab Larry Hoyles by the throat and impale his large sweaty face with his own fists. But, in the back of his head, Grayson wondered how much of that joke was actually true.

Am I really, turning into a carbon copy of Tidwell, Grayson wondered to himself. I know that we spend a lot of time together—Hell, he's like family, but I had always set out to cheer him up.

"Just up here, Grayson," The Medical Examiner announced as they approached double doors.

"All right," Grayson answered, but continued to ponder, But is he, the one shaping me into the person that I am now?

The two turn off onto a corridor that led toward the holding area for the dead, that are brought into the police station straight from the crime scene. Before they are cleaned, groomed and their dignity restored so the public could find their murderer and retain some sort of respect as human beings.

#

Grayson and the Medical Examiner, Larry Hoyles, both walked passed the double doors into the holding area for the victims brought in from the streets. To the detective's surprise, there was no stinging smell of bleach, but rather an all too familiar aroma of death.

"Oh, right this way, Detective," Larry said as he stepped in front of Grayson to lead the way.

They passed several corpses that were atop gurneys and draped in off white (sometimes even blood stained) sheets. The entire area was barely illuminated with a low watt bulb, and appeared to be constructed with cinder blocks. They had a thin coat of sea foam green paint that pealed away in certain places. Minus the eerie background music it reminded Grayson of something straight out of a horror movie.

The two men walked over and stopped at a gurney near the back corner of the large room. Like many of the others, the dirty sheet was blood soaked and clung to the body with from the outline Grayson knew there was a woman underneath.

As Larry pulled back the sheet, he said, "This is Eliza Smith, she was found in the back of an apartment complex. The wounds are similar to the others, throat slit and organs removed, but was sexually assaulted before they were murdered."

"Wait. What? Like had sex with the victim before they were murdered," Grayson questioned.

"Correct. We've located semen stains on Nichols' body too," the Medical Examiner answered. "What? Why are you upset, Detective?"

"That doesn't match the perpetrator's M.O. at all," Grayson barked. "He doesn't remove organs or rape his victims before they die. Yes, he cuts their throats, but uses a blunt object to knock them unconscious, covers their faces then stabs them countless times—then, he mutilates there genitalia with the same knife he impaled them with."

"But, the message," Larry mumbled.

Grayson took a deep breath, and calmly asked, "Where is the message?"

"Well, I was about to sow her up and I saw the message," Larry explained, then pushed on the dead woman's rib cage to bring the chest together. It was there written in blood on the skin a message that read:

Nichols, Chapman are dead, but is Stride?
Eddows is next.
Catch me if you can Copeland.

Grayson stared down at the message for a few more moments, when he eventually said, "Wash it off."

"What?!" Larry challenged.

Grayson turned and looked the Medical Examiner in the eyes. His face red and fury flowed through his facial expression.

"This killer wants to make this a public ordeal," Grayson growled. "I have a wife and child who do not deserve to be dragged into this madness. If you want to mention it in your report go a head, even take a picture to accompany it. But, do not make this public or show anyone else."

"I understand, detective. I know we are not friends, but you are my brother of the shield," Larry said in sincerity. "Say no more."

"Thank you," Grayson said softly.

"What about the message," Larry asked. "Is he talking about the last body we found, Polly Nichols? And who is Chapman… And this woman is not mentioned at all, Smith."

"Stride," Grayson said as he looked over the body. His eyes grew big. "Oh, God…"

"What?"

"Betty's last name is Stride," Grayson explained. "He's asking me if he killed Betty or not."

#

Grayson returned to his desk and found his partner Detective Dean Tidwell, while he thumbed through the case files. He glance up and saw the younger cop, who appeared worn, perhaps defeated even. He knew that the mood needed to be lightened and joked, "That good of news partner?"

Grayson walked over to his desk and collapsed onto his chair. Frustrated, he rubbed his hands over his face and said, "Just found out that Peatos and Huntsman slipped a murder case into our stack. Which gives the profilers a wrong idea of who we are looking for."

"Bloody hell. Really," Tidwell groaned. "Do you know which one?"

"It came in over the weekend, her name was Polly Nichols," Grayson explained.

"Oh, like Jack the Ripper, Polly Nichols," Tidwell inquired his partner.

"What," Grayson sat up and leaned forward on his desk. "What about Jack the Ripper?"

"Well, her actual name was Mary Ann Nichols, but people knew her as Polly," Tidwell explained. "She was the first woman to be murdered in Whitechapel in the late eighteen eighties, by Jack the Ripper."

A wave of excitement blanketed Grayson as he asked his partner, "Okay, so if I say Nichols, Chapman, Stride and Eddowes, does that make sense to you?"

"Sure. Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes are four of the five victims," Tidwell answered. "What am I missing partner?"

Lost in thought Grayson did not answer Tidwell's question, but posed one of his own, "But how does Eliza Smith fit into all of this?"

"If I answer your question, will you tell me what the fuck is going on Grayson?" Tidwell snapped.

"Yes, of course," Grayson answered frantically. "So what's the connection?"

Annoyed Tidwell sighed.

"Eliza Smith is the birth name of Annie Chapman," Tidwell revealed. "She went by her middle name Ann or Annie. Chapman was her married name. Now you're turn."

"If that is true, then Betty is dead," Grayson mumbled.

"Come again?"

"Nichols came in Saturday. Eliza Smith came in today," Grayson processed. "Betty—"

Tidwell, interrupted as he said, "Oh my God. Betty is short for Elizabeth."

Grayson nodded.

"Betty's actual name is Elizabeth Stride," Tidwell concluded.

Again, Grayson nodded.

"There is something else, but you are going to get pissed." Grayson said.

"Try me."

"Larry came and got me, before he cleaned Smith's body there was a message written on it in her own blood," Grayson admitted. "I had him wash it off before anyone else could see it."

"For God's sake, son, why in the hell would you do something like that," Tidwell questioned as he jumped to his feet.

"Because I felt it could drag Lisa and Curt into this," the younger detective confessed. "I'm sorry partner—I didn't want them drug into what could be a media fiasco."

Tidwell nodded.

"I understand, son," Tidwell said. He walked over to his partner and placed both his hands on each of Grayson's shoulders. "I understand. Do you remember what the message said?"

"It was something like, Nichols, Chapman are dead, but what about Stride? Eddows is next, Grayson recited from memory. "But then concluded it with Catch me if you can Copeland."

"We have a Jack the Ripper copycat, and he's teasing you whether or not he killed Betty. But," Tidwell paused and looked down.

"What?"

"If the killer is moving on to Eddowes, Elizabeth Stride has to be already, dead." Tidwell answered.

Grayson dropped his chin to his chest and closed his eyes. Tidwell watched as his closest thing to a family member struggled with the possible murder of someone he cared deeply for. With his eyes still closed the young detective asked, "Who's the last person on the Ripper list?"

"Mary Kelly was Jack the Ripper's final victim," Tidwell awkwardly answered.

"All right," Grayson said passed his attempt to hold back his tears. "We need to capture this bastard before he gets to Mary Kelly."

"You take a breather, Gray, I got this," Tidwell said as he removed his hands from Grayson's shoulders and turned to face the station. "All right, listen up people! We just found out that we are dealing with a Jack the Ripper copycat. We need an APB on every Mary Kelly in and around the city!"

Tidwell, turned back toward his partner and said, "Will get this bastard, but in the process we cannot forget our original case."

Grayson walked over to his desk and sat down, it was no more than mere seconds had passed when his phone rang. He stared at the receiver as it echoed across his desk, with each earsplitting jingle, the detective felt his anger elevate. Eventually at his wits end he snatched up the phone and said with force, "What?!"

There was a pause.

"Speak now, or I'm hanging up!"

There was a sheepish giggle on the other line.

Furious, Grayson jumped to his feet and demanded, "Who is this?"

There was another chuckle before a soft and calm voice replied, "Aww. Is the Detective sad that his mistress is dead?"

Tidwell, saw the reaction of Grayson and jumped to his feet.

"Gray?"

Grayson nodded and pointed at the receiver.

"Someone get me a tracer, now," Tidwell announced to the others in the area.

"So this is the Jack the Ripper wannabe?" Grayson stalled.

"Ooh. Very good, Detective Copeland," The Calm voice said. "You want to find Catherine Eddowes' body?"

"So she's already dead," Grayson questioned, as he watched men attach a tracking device to his telephone.

"They all are, Detective."

Grayson stomach churned in sorrow.

"Did that one sting," the voice asked. "You know she never lost hope that you would be her knight in shining armor and rescue her."

Grayson gritted his teeth in anger.

"But, I told her that she was only your fuck buddy, that your heart belonged to Lisa."

That was too much to bare, Grayson exploded in anger and rage, "Enough you son of a bitch! I'm gonna find you and I will slit your throat myself! And I'm going to watch your useless carcass drain of life, and while your almost completely descended into Hell, I will piss on your face to cool you off!"

"Oh! I like it," the voice said now filled with excitement. "I will tell you what detective, I'm going send you half the Kidney I took from her."

Grayson went silent.

"I preserved it for you," He continued. "But the other piece, well, I fried and ate it."

"You Monster," a now teary eye Grayson growled.

"I must admit it was very nice," the voice on the other line said. "Now that I think about it, I may send you the bloody knife that I took it out with."

Grayson looked up at Tidwell and the others, but they signal his to keep talking while they attempted to trace the call.

"If you only would have waited a while longer, you would have found a single perfect fingerprint of yours truly, inside Smith's thigh." He giggled. "Catch me when you can Detective Copeland."

With a click, the line went dead.

Tidwell and Grayson looked at each other in the same moment and said, "Larry."

Without any farther notice the two detectives dashed away from their desks and headed toward the Medical Examiner's office. They burst inside and found Larry Hoyles while he relaxed watching television. Grayson walked over to the set and turned it off.

Larry leaned forward and exclaimed, "Hey!"

"Listen to me carefully, Larry, I need to know if you have washed Smith's body yet," Tidwell said as he stepped between him and the TV set.

The Medical Examiner shot Grayson a concerned look and mumbled, "I, uh, well…"

Grayson nodded in approval.

"I've been very busy and haven't had a chance yet," Larry replied.

"I need you to take us to the back, so we can see the body," Grayson said in an odd off placed voice.

"Okay," Larry said and got up from his chair. "Let's go."

#

The three walked up to the gurney where the remains of Eliza Smith rested. Larry removed the top sheet and exposed her mutilated body. He looked toward the two detectives and asked, "What are we looking for gentlemen?"

Tidwell removed a pair of medical grade surgical gloves from Hoyles' top shirt pocket and quickly put them on. As he begin to lift the left leg, Grayson answered the Medical Examiner's question.

"We got a call from who we believe to be the perpetrator," Grayson explained. Tidwell looked up from the left thigh and shook his head no. "He said that we would find one perfectly preserved fingerprint under Smith's thigh. So we ar—"

Tidwell interrupted as he said in a soft tone, "Gray?"

Grayson looked over at his partner as he held back the right leg of the victim to reveal one single bloody fingerprint.

"Bingo." Tidwell said.

To be continued…

-

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