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                           Prints of the City
                           by G. Daniel Flower
              Detective Greg Phillips looked at the body of the
         woman sprawled on the bedroom floor. Her nightgown was
         bunched around her waist, and her panties were in 
         tatters. Her face was battered and bruised.
              His new partner, Jim O'Meara, was busy being sick
         for the third time. He wondered how someone so young
         could be assigned to homicide, conveniently forgetting
         that he had only been two years older than O'Meara
         when he had been assigned to the squad. 
              The neighbors all claimed to have heard nothing 
         out of the ordinary, and reported seeing no strangers
         in the area. Evidently the victim's only friend in the
         apartment building was Jan Owings, the person who had
         discovered the body. She had expected the victim to
         give her a ride to work, and when she had failed to
         show up at the appointed time, Owings had gone up to
         check on her. 
              The only bright spot in the investigation so far
         was the fact that the knife the murderer had used had
         been left at the scene with two clear latents on it.
         Phillips popped a couple of antacid tablets as he
         watched the men from the coroner's office load the 
         body on the stretcher. O'Meara walked back into the
         room, his face pale and sweaty. 
              "You gonna be all right, kid?" Phillips asked.
              "Yes, sir. I think so."
              "Good, I'd hate to have to explain to the Chief
         how I could lose a partner on his very first case. By
         the way, don't call me sir. It makes me feel old. If
         you have to call me anything, my first name is Greg."
              "Yes, si..., I mean Greg. What do we do now?"
              "We go back to the squad room and fill out a 
         preliminary report. Then we look through the M.O.
         file to see if this is part of a series. Tell me what
         you think happened here."
              "Uh, it looks like a burglar entered the
         apartment, found Miss Reese in bed, had a little fun
         with her, and then killed her. After that he took any
         valuables he could find and then left."
              "Maybe, but I doubt it. There's no sign of forced
         entry, and nothing of value appears to be missing.
         There is also the evidence presented by the body.
         Don't wait for the coroner to give you all the
         answers. What was unique about the body?"
              "I don't follow you."
              "What was missing that should have been there?"
              "Her jewelry?"
              "No. Normally when a person is being knifed he
         will hold his hands up in an attempt to fend off the
         blows. This results in cuts to the hands and forearms.
         Reese was only stabbed in the chest, there were no
         cuts on her arms. She could have submitted timidly to
         rape, if she saw a weapon and she was scared enough,
         but she would have tried to defend herself as soon as
         she realized what the killer intended to do. The will
         to live is strong. So, what does that tell you?"
              "That she knew who killed her?"
              "Possibly, If that's the case he set the scene
         up to look like this in an attempt to put us on the
         wrong trail. Did you notice any personal letters
         around here?"
              "Yeah, her mail is over on the desk."
              "No, the mail on her desk are bills and junk
         mail. I mean letters from friends and relatives."
              "I didn't notice any. Does that mean anything?"
              "It could. Most people keep personal letters
         around for awhile. My wife still has every letter
         that I wrote to her while I was in the Navy. Maybe
         Reese was the type of person who threw personal
         letters away after she was through with them, but it
         is something to keep in mind. If she kept them
         somewhere, and we should be able to find out from her
         friends if she did or not, then they are missing.
         Maybe the murderer took them for some reason. Well,
         enough gabbing. Let's go to the squad room and get to
              After spending an almost sleepless night
         Detective Phillips arrived at the squad room the next
         day bleary eyed. O'Meara was all ready at his desk.
         Phillips briefly mourned his lost youth, then poured
         himself a cup of coffee.
              "Morning, Greg. Have a rough night?"
              "Yes, I did. Did you get in touch with Miss
         Owings yet?"
              O'Meara nodded and said "She's not going to work
         today and said we could stop by any time after ten."
              "Okay, any reports come in yet?"
              "Nope, haven't seen any."
              "How far have you gotten this morning?"
              "Well, I've looked through Reese's appointment
         book for the last six months and made a list of the
         names that were in it. The list is on your desk. I
         marked the names that showed up in her address book,
              "Good. Now tell me what we do next."
              "Well, we have to talk to the people she knew so
         we can find out why she was killed. We have to find
         out were the people on that list work so we can talk
         to them."
              "Okay, who do we talk to first?"
              "I don't know, I guess we start at the top and
         work our way down."
              "How can we do this without wasting a lot of
              "I don't know."
              "We all ready know who her best friend is,
              "So we start with her. Since she won't be
         available until after ten we can go down to the lab
         and see if they have any preliminary findings for us."
              After visiting the lab, the two detectives drove
         to the apartment building and took the elevator up to
         Owings' floor. Phillips knocked on the door and heard
         a muffled "hold on a sec". After a short wait the door
         opened to disclose a blood-shot eyed Jan Owings, with
         her blonde hair still wet from a recent shower. 
              "Good morning, detectives. Please come in."
              "Thank you, Miss Owings."
              They walked into an apartment which, with the
         exception of the furnishings, was a carbon copy of
         Miss Reese's. After entering the living room, Miss
         Owings indicated the couch and said "Could I get you
         gentlemen a cup of coffee?"
              "No, thank you." Phillips said.
              Miss Owings sat in an overstuffed chair and said
         "I hope you'll excuse my behavior yesterday. Ellen was
         one of my best friends." 
              "We understand, Miss Owings. We'd like to ask you
         some questions now, and some of them will be rather
         personal, but we need the answers in order to catch
         the killer." 
              "I'll do my best, Detective Phillips."
              "Good, that's all we can ask for. Tell me how you
         happened to find Miss Reese yesterday morning." 
              "Well, Ellen was supposed to give me a ride to
         work because my car is in the shop. When she hadn't
         come down to get me by 8:30 I went up to check on her.
         When she didn't answer the door I went in and found
         her like that." 
              "What time was she supposed to come and get you?"
              "Eight o'clock."
              "Was her door locked?"
              "Oh no, it was locked. We each had keys to each
         other's apartments."
              "Hold on, Jim did you make a note of the items in
         Miss Reese's purse like I asked you to?" 
              "Sure did."
              "Good. How many keys did she have?"
              "Let me check." O'Meara said as he flipped
         through his notebook. "A set of car keys, and the key
         to her apartment, that's it."
              "Miss Owings, did Miss Reese carry your apartment
         key with her?" 
              "Yes, she did."
              "Do you know where it is?"
              "No, I don't. I know she had it last Sunday."
              "Okay, how long have you known Miss Reese?"
              "For about eight years now. We went to college
              "Did she have a steady boy friend?"
              "No one you would really call steady. She saw a
         couple of guys off and on."
              "Had Miss Reese been having any trouble with
              "She told me that Mike had been pressuring her
         for awhile."
              "Mike who?"
              "Mike Townsend, her ex-husband. She said that he
         wanted to give the relationship another try and
         wouldn't give up."
              "How long has she been divorced?"
              "She left him about a year and a half ago, if I 
         remember right."
              "Do you know were he lives?"
              "No, but he owns a small public relations firm
         downtown somewhere."
              "Did she ever mention any threats that he might
         have made?"
              "Not to me. She just said he was being pig-headed
         about getting back together with her."
              "Is there anyone that you're aware of that wanted
         to harm her?" 
              "I can't think of anyone. She got along good with
         everybody she met. Ellen made friends easily."
              "Do you know if Miss Reese had a box or other
         container that she kept personal letters in?"
              "No, I never saw one."
              "We have a list here of people's names we found
         in her address book. Would you look at it and tell us
         if she ever mentioned any of them."
              He handed her the list and she looked at it for a
         few moments. "She mentioned a couple of these guys
         before, I think she dated them for awhile. The first
         four women are co-workers, but I can't remember her
         mentioning anything about any of the others."
              "Did Miss Reese ever mention having any fights or
         arguments with either of the two gentlemen on the
              "No, she didn't talk about them a whole lot. I
         don't think the relationships were that serious."
              "Did Miss Reese go out a lot?"
              "Well, Ellen liked to party, but she usually went
         out only on the weekends. She'd go out during the week
         for a special occasion." 
              "Did she have a favorite club that she went to?"
              "Let's see...she liked the 2000 Club, and the
         Galaxy, but she wasn't afraid to try something new."
              "Well, we've taken enough of your time, Miss
         Owings. I'm sure you'd like to rest after yesterdays
         ordeal. If you think of anything that might help,
         please don't hesitate to call. My numbers on the card
         I gave you yesterday."
              "Thank you, Detective Phillips. I'll be sure to
         call if I think of anything."
              She walked the detectives to the door and let
         them out. Phillips heard the dead bolt slide home
         after the door had closed. They rode in the elevator
         and walked to the car in silence. After O'Meara slid
         behind the wheel Phillips snapped his fingers and said
              O'Meara looked at him and said "Do you feel all
         right, Greg?"
              "I was trying to figure out what that smell was.
         It was hard to figure out with all that perfume she
         was wearing. So, what do we do next, hot shot?"
              "The obvious thing to do is to find Mike Townsend
         and question him. But first we should try to find out
         if he's got any kind of record. If he does, his prints
         can be compared to those found of the knife. If they
         match we'll save ourselves a trip." 
              "You're beginning to sound like a detective,
         except the first thing we're going to do is get
         something to eat. You like Chinese?"
              "Good, I know just the place. Take the next
         right. By the way, you're buying."
              After eating lunch they went back to the squad
         room. The preliminary lab results were waiting for
         them on Phillips' desk. He started to read through it
         while O'Meara went to check on Townsend's record.
              O'Meara came back to the squad room thirty
         minutes later and sat at his desk. "Well, this case
         is solved. Townsend was picked up once for DUI and we
         have his prints on file. They match the ones found on
         the knife."
              "Before you close the case I would suggest you
         read paragraph three on page two."
              O'Meara took the report and read the indicated
         section. He frowned and said "What does this mean:
         'prints found on weapon are suspect as to origin.
         Ridge pattern detail is weak and lacking in sweat
         pore detail. Adhesive residue was present around both
         prints found on the weapon.'"
              "I was hoping you would know. Without going into
         great detail, it is possible to transfer, intact,
         undeveloped latent prints from one smooth surface to
         another. What that report is saying is that is a
         strong possibility in this case."
              "Oh. So were does that leave us?"
              "Don't know yet. The report also says that three
         different sets of latents were lifted from the
         bedroom. One set belongs to Miss Reese; one matches
         the latents found on the knife; and the third set is
         unidentified at this time. Another thing, remember
         those blonde hairs found on the pillow and in the
              "Yeah, what about them?"
              "The lab says they came from the head and genital
         area of a female." 
              "What do we do now?"
              "Talk to Townsend and see what he has to say."
              The detectives found Townsend's office with ease,
         but were told that he was at lunch with a client and
         would be back shortly. Shortly turned out to be
         thirty-five minutes. When Townsend walked in, Phillips
         intercepted him before he reached his secretary's
         desk. "Excuse me, Mike Townsend?" 
              He extended his shield and said "My name is
         Detective Phillips, and this is my partner Detective
         O'Meara. We would like to ask you some questions about
         your ex-wife, Ellen Reese." 
              "Certainly. Come on in to my office. Cheryl, hold
         all of my calls for me." 
              "Yes, sir." his secretary said.
              Townsend preceded the detectives into the office
         and walked across to his desk. "Have a seat,
         gentlemen. I've been expecting you."
              "Why's that, Mr. Townsend?"
              "Isn't it normal to question the ex-husband of a
         woman who is murdered? I was beginning to wonder
         whether or not I should come down to headquarters."
              "Why didn't you?"
              "Because my business comes first, Detective
         Phillips. I figured that you would find me if you
         needed me. After all, I'm not a common criminal on
         the run."
              "In that case, would you mind telling me why your
         fingerprints were found on the weapon that was used to
         kill your ex-wife?" 
              Townsend blinked and stared at Phillips. "I'm a
         busy man, Detective. I don't have the time to waste
         listening to crude jokes."
              "Oh, I am quite serious. We pulled your prints
         from the file and they match."
              "Well, if that's the case, I'll answer no more
         questions until my lawyer is present."
              "Why is that, Mr. Townsend? Do you have something
         to hide?" 
              "That is a question, Detective Phillips. If you
         want it answered you'll have to take me down to
         headquarters and wait until my attorney is present.
         Until then, mum's the word."
              Phillips sighed and said "Have it your way, Mr.
         Townsend. Read him his rights, Jim."
              They waited for Townsend's lawyer for thirty
         minutes, and then another twenty while client and
         counsel conferred in the interrogation room. When the
         attorney indicated that he and his client were ready
         the detectives entered the room.
              Phillips identified himself to the attorney and
         said "Has your client briefed you on the situation?"
              "Yes, he has. I wish it noted that he will freely
         answer any questions." 
              "Very well. Do you object to a stenographer being
              "Under the circumstances I believe a stenographer
         is advisable." 
              "Go get the steno, Jim." he turned back to the
         attorney and asked "Would you or your client care for
         anything before we get started?"
              "No, thank you."
              Five minutes later O'Meara re-entered the room
         with the stenographer. After they all got settled
         Phillips said "Mr. Townsend, it is my duty to inform
         you for the record that you have the right to remain
         silent. If you give up the right to remain silent,
         anything you say can, and will, be used against you
         in a court of law. You have exercised your right to
         have an attorney present during this interrogation.
         You may stop this proceeding at any time by so
         indicating your desire to me. At that point you will,
         or will not as the situation warrants, be placed in 
         custody. Do you have any questions?"
              "Do you understand your rights as I have
         explained them to you?"
              "Yes, I understand them."
              "Good. Mr. Townsend, I ask you again; do you
         feel like you need an attorney present because you
         have something to hide?"
              Townsend's attorney said "Hold on, Detective
         Phillips. My client has exercised his right to have
         an attorney present during questioning. His reasons
         for doing so are immaterial to your investigation. I
         want that last question struck from the record."
              "Go ahead and leave that last question out,
         officer. Mr. Townsend, can you explain why your
         fingerprints were found on the weapon that killed your
              "No, I can't. All I know is that I didn't kill
              "Where were you on Tuesday night, between the
         hours of 6:30 and 9:30?"
              "I was with a client."
              "May we have the client's name, please?"
              "I would like to withhold her name at present. If
         I need an alibi for anything I will provide it. I am
         paid to bring good publicity to people, not bad." 
              "What was your relationship with your ex-wife?"
              "I saw her occasionally. We were still friends."
              "Did you want to get back together with her?"
              "Yes, I never thought we tried all that hard the
         first time."
              "Did you ever use threats as a means of getting
         her back?"
              "When was the last time you saw your ex-wife, Mr.
              "I took her to dinner Sunday night to help
         celebrate her birthday."
              "And what did you do after dinner?"
              "We went back to her apartment for a couple of
              "Did you go to bed with her?"
              "That's none of your damn business."
              "Let me rephrase the question, did you, at any
         time during the course of the evening, have cause to
         enter Miss Reese's bedroom?"
              "I don't see what that has to do with anything."
              "It has quite a lot to do with this case and I
         must insist on an answer. Otherwise, I will have to
         hold you as a material witness."
              "Yes, I did go to bed with her."
              "Do you know Jan Owings?"
              "Yes, she's Ellens's best friend. In a way, she
         was responsible for our divorce."
              "Why do you say that?"
              "She talked Ellen into it, or at least planted
         the idea in her head. She's some kind of female
              "How long did your ex-wife know Miss Owings?"
              "I don't know, I guess seven or eight years."
              "Do you know where they met?"
              "No, I don't."
              "Did your ex-wife keep personal letters she had
         received in a box or something similar?"
              "Yes, I believe she did. I don't know if she did
         after she left me."
              "Do you know anyone who would want your ex-wife
              The door to the interrogation room opened and a
         uniformed officer stuck his head in the room, "Excuse
         me, Detective Phillips. You have a call on line two
         from the coroner's office. They said it's important."
              "If you gentlemen will excuse me."
              The group waited in uncomfortable silence for
         ten minutes. When Phillips returned he said "Mr.
         Townsend, evidence has been uncovered that removes
         you, for the time being, as a suspect. I would like
         to ask you a couple more questions if you don't
              "What evidence?"
              "I'm not at liberty to say."
              "Go ahead."
              "Thank you. Do you know if your ex-wife was in
         the habit of going out frequently?"
              "As far as I know she only went out on weekends."
              "Do you know anything about any boyfriends that
         she may have had?"
              "No, I never discussed that with her."
              "Okay, thank you for your cooperation Mr.
         Townsend. I regret any inconvenience this may have
         caused you."
              "I'll forgive you if you catch Ellen's murderer."
              "You've got a deal."
              After the detectives were back at their desk 
         O'Meara said "Okay, Greg. What did the coroner say?"
              "Well, it seems we don't have the murder weapon
         after all."
              "That's right. The coroner ran every test he
         could. The knife found at the scene is similar to the
         one that caused the wounds, but there are enough
         differences to rule it out as the murder weapon."
              "Why did the murderer even bother to leave a
         weapon at the scene?"
              "In order to frame Townsend, which seems to be
         the only explanation for it. A weapon found at the
         scene with his prints on it would be convincing to
         any jury in the country. The murderer didn't want to
         mess the transferred prints up, so he used a different
         knife to commit the crime. I guess he didn't know that
         a knife wound could be matched to the knife that
         caused it with so much accuracy." 
              "Then we're back to the beginning?"
              "No, we aren't that far behind the eight ball.
         We'll find out tomorrow."
              Phillips didn't make it in until nine o'clock
         the next morning. O'Meara was waiting for him. "It's
         about time you showed up. What's our next step?"
              "Calm down, mom. I have to make a phone call
         before we decide. I thought of something last night
         that I want to check on."
              He sat down at his desk, and after referring to
         a number in his notebook, picked up the phone and
         dialed a local number. "Mr. Townsend please...
         Detective Phillips...yes, I'll hold." O'Meara started
         to say something, but Phillips cut him off by raising
         his hand. "Good morning, Mr. Townsend. This is
         Detective, we haven't solved the case
         yet, I've got another question for you if you don't, I can ask it on the phone, what college
         did your ex-wife attend?...uh-huh...good, and do you
         know what she studied...what about Miss Owings, do you
         know what she studied?...I see, thank you Mr.
         Townsend. You've been most helpful."
              "What'd he say?"
              "You sure are impatient today, Jim. If you're
         not careful you'll end up with an ulcer like me. He
         said they both went to Montrose College over on Third
         street. According to him Miss Owings minored in
         criminology. Do you get the picture now?"
              "I think I'm beginning to. Let me see if I've
         got it right."
              "Go for it."
              "Okay, we know that Miss Reese knew her killer,
         or at least it is highly likely she did. Blonde hair
         was found on the pillow and in the bed, and an un-
         identified set of prints was found in the bedroom.
         The knife at the scene had latent prints on it that
         were forged. A box of letters might be missing, but
         we can't be sure. Again, it is a good possibility.
         Miss Owings has a background in criminology, it can
         be supposed that she has the knowledge needed to
         transfer fingerprints. I would say we should check
         Miss Owings fingerprints against the unidentified
         set. One will get you ten they match."
              "I say they'll match, too. Let's go get a search
              They finally got the warrant after waiting for
         an hour. As they got in the car O'Meara said "Why
         didn't we get an arrest warrant, too?"
              "We don't have all the evidence we need yet. A
         search warrant will do the job for now."
              "I still say we should arrest her."
              "Okay, hotshot, when you're in charge you can.
         Now let's go search that apartment."
              They stopped outside Owings' apartment and
         O'Meara knocked on the door. He was ready to knock
         again when a muffled voice said "Who is it?"
              "Detectives O'Meara and Phillips, Miss Owings.
         We have some more questions for you."
              She opened the door and said "Please come in."
              O'Meara said "Miss Owings, we have a warrant to
         search these premises for evidence in connection with
         the murder of Ellen Reese."
              Owings' mouth opened and closed a number of
         times. "My apartment? Why would you want to search my
              O'Meara shrugged his shoulders and said "All the
         evidence points to you, Miss Owings. If you will
         accompany us throughout the search, please. Where do
         we start, Greg?"
              "In the bedroom."
              The trio walked down the hallway to the bedroom,
         Miss Owings sandwiched between the two detectives.
         Phillips said "Search the closet first, Jim. I'll
         watch Miss Owings."
              O'Meara opened the closet door and pushed the
         clothes aside. Numerous boxes were stacked on the
         floor. He started to go through them, being careful
         not to disturb any useful prints. After a twenty 
         minute search he found what they were looking for.
         The box was full of letters, and a bloody knife lay
         on top. Jan Owings fainted.
              Phillips carried the box to the car and O'Meara
         walked behind him, his face dark with rage. He got in
         the passenger seat and said "I still don't see why we
         didn't take her into custody. Now she's gonna
         hightail it."
              "She's not going anywhere, Jim. You heard what
         she said, and saw how she reacted to the box. Do you
         really think she did it?"
              "Yes, I think she deserves an Oscar for that
              "I've been in this business for awhile now. I'd
         stake my career on the fact that she's innocent of
         murder. If you calmed down for a few minutes you might
         be able to figure it out."
              "Where are we going now?"
              "To pick up the murderer of Ellen Reese."
              When he stopped the car in front of the Townsend
         Public Relations office building, O'Meara looked at
         him. "Is this your idea of a joke?"
              "No, just listen and learn."
              Phillips rushed past the secretary's desk and
         threw Townsend's door open. Townsend stood up and
         said "What is the meaning of this?"
              "Mr. Townsend, how long did you know that your
         ex-wife was having an affair with Jan Owings?"
              Townsend's face muscles tightened and he said
         "You're crazy, I don't know what you're talking
              "Yes, you do. I know that you killed your
         ex-wife and tried to frame Miss Owings for it. You
         made me suspicious when you were able to tell me what
         college Owings went to, and what she minored in. Why
         would you need to know that after eight years?"
              "You're talking out your ass, Detective
         Phillips. There is nothing to connect me with the
         murder of Ellen."
              "That's what you hope, Mr. Townsend. We'll
         get you even if we don't get your prints off the box
         of letters you planted in Owings apartment. Did you
         get rid of Owings' apartment key that you took from
         your ex-wife's purse? You can be sure that you left a
         trail, and with you in custody as a material witness
         we will find it."
              "I want my attorney."
              "I bet you do, Mr. Townsend, I just bet you do.
         Read him his rights, Jim."
              The detectives were sitting in the squad room
         sipping coffee. O'Meara said "I still don't get it.
         What motive did he have?"
              "He wanted to get back together with Miss Reese
         more than anything. We'll never know for sure, because
         I don't think he'll talk, but I suspect that she
         finally told him that there was no possible way for a
         reconciliation. She'd found someone that cared for
         her as he never had and she wasn't going to go back
         to him. I guess he figured if he couldn't have her,
         no one could. I don't think he had an alibi for that
         night, either. He knew that the differences in the
         knives would be spotted and he gave us that "client"
         bit as a stall."
              "Why did he try to frame Miss Owings?"
              "He wanted to ruin her life like she'd ruined
         his. She was who Reese left him for."
         Copyright 1987 by G. Daniel Flower, All rights

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