Falls Church, Virginia
Monday, September 29, 2003
0917 Hours (local)
Coates had summoned both Harm and Mac into the Admiral's office. When they entered, they were immediately told to sit. Detective West was already present.
Harm, Mac, and Detective West had interviewed Seaman Johnson's father, and Seaman Ellis's parents the previous week after their interviews with Mrs. Johnson and Jessica Crawford. Nobody had any additional useful information. It appeared that Ellis and Johnson had never crossed paths. Without any new information, the case appeared to be going nowhere.
"Commander, Colonel," the Admiral began, "there have been new developments is the Catacombs case. Detective West will explain."
Denise stepped forward. "I know we were all hoping for more information, but this wasn't what any of us wanted." The Admiral handed Mac a folder as Harm leaned over the arm of his chair to view the contents. "There was another murder on Saturday night, early Sunday morning."
Mac opened the folder and was greeted with the information on an Ensign Rebekah Bailey. The picture of the Ensign showed a smiling young woman with brown eyes and brown hair pulled back into the required bun. The information stated that she was 23 and was stationed at the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Mississippi, so she was probably in the area on leave like Ellis and Johnson. Under the initial information on Ensign Bailey were photos and information on the crime scene. Like the previous two murders, this one was done in the same corner. Bailey was slumped against the wall, blood pooled around her, her throat slit. She had been in a black dress that showed some signs of tearing, and her hair was pulled up into two buns on her head, one on each side, with small spikes of hair sticking out. Mac immediately noticed the two deviations in this case: she was commissioned and not stationed onboard a ship.
"Who found her?" Harm asked as he studied the pictures.
"Her friend that accompanied her to the club, Marcus Skylar."
"Have you spoken to him yet?" Mac asked.
"Other than the initial interview, no. I was hoping you guys would be able to accompany me."
"I have court today," Harm said, "but I could go tomorrow. What about you, Mac?"
"Tomorrow morning I'm free, but I do have a client meeting in the afternoon."
"We'll do it then," Denise decided. "I'll leave the folder with the new information with you." She nodded to the Admiral as she left.
"I want this case solved," the Admiral stated firmly.
"Yes, Sir," both Harm and Mac responded.
"Keep me updated. Dismissed."
Falls Church, Virginia
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
0906 Hours (local)
Mac and Denise were standing by the elevators waiting for Harm. He had gotten caught up talking to Bud and Sturgis about a case and promised them he would be there in a minute. That was five minutes ago. Denise and Mac had been tossing ideas back and forth about the case, but that only lasted so long. After a minute of silence, Mac tried to make small talk. "How long have you been in the area?"
"I grew up here. I love it here, so why leave? What about you? How long have you been here?"
"I'm a desert rat. Grew up in Arizona. I was transferred here about eight years ago to work on a case. Been here ever since."
"And how long have you known Harm?"
"I worked with him on my first case here."
"So it's been eight years?"
Mac nodded as she answered, "Yeah. So, why did you join the police force?"
"I love helping people. Always have. Public service was right up my ally. And I just had a knack for detective work. I like giving people closure in their lives when bad things happen."
"Why did you join the military? And why did you become a lawyer?" Denise asked with a smile, letting out a small chuckle.
"My uncle inspired me to join the Marine Corps. And one of my former COs suggested and recommended me for law school. I took the opportunity and here I am."
"Ever married?" Denise asked.
Mac looked at her feet for a moment before she answered. "Once," she paused again. "He was killed."
"No. Bad business," Mac responded, shaking her head, wanting to shift the conversation away from her marriage with Chris.
"What about Harm?"
"No, I mean, have you and him ever, you know…" she trailed off, smiling with a gleam in her eye.
Mac shook her head. "That is a very long story that I don't feel like telling." She paused for a moment. "You ever been married?"
Denise looked into the bullpen, waiting for Harm. "It's taking him long enough, isn't it?"
"I've gotten used to him being late."
"If he does this all the time, after eight years, I'd think you would be tired of it."
"It does get old. I've thought about changing all of his clocks so they run five minutes fast, and then he'd be on time, or closer to it, but I don't think he would take kindly to that action. He'd think I was insulting him."
Denise giggled. "Well you know men, they have no sense of time!"
"Isn't that the truth!" Mac agreed with a smile.
Harm came through the doors. "Ready?"
Mac glared at him, "We've been ready. We would already be on the road, but we've been waiting for you."
Denise rolled her eyes as she hit the down button for the elevator. "And they accuse us women of always being late."
"I know," Mac said. "They have obviously never met Harm."
Harm looked back and forth between the two of them. "Very funny guys, but you don't do cute very well."
Mac turned around and leveled her gaze at Harm. "Who said anything about trying to be cute?"
The elevator arrived and the three of them boarded it. "Okay, I'm sorry I was running late."
Mac turned and offered a smile to him. "Got what I wanted."
"So you're not mad?"
"Because you were late? Please, spare me, Harm. You may infuriate me sometimes, but because you are running five minutes late when we are going to go interview someone, not worth the effort. I'll save it for something bigger."
Denise shook her head and giggled again. "You guys sound like an old married couple."
The gazes she received from each said something different: Mac's was angry and Harm's was amused. And the conversation was officially silenced.
3758 Point of Woods Drive
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
0959 Hours (local)
They had found Marcus Skylar's house easy enough. It was a brick townhouse in a neighborhood near the center of Manassas. They knocked on the door and there was no response. Denise knocked again, a little harder. The door opened to reveal a man in his mid-twenties clad only in his bathrobe and boxer shorts. He was about six feet tall, heavy set, had green eyes, and short, light brown hair that was going in every direction. He was rubbing at one of his eyes and looked like the epitome of someone awakened in the middle of the night.
"Marcus Skylar?" Denise asked.
"I'm Detective West and this is Commander Rabb and Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie of the Judge Advocate General's Office. We'd like to ask you a few questions about the other night and Rebekah Bailey."
Marcus instantly looked more awake, and somber. "Yeah, come on in." He held open the screen door and allowed them entrance. Once inside, he led them to the living room and said, "Have a seat, if you want."
There was a couch and a love seat in the room, forming an L-shape. And in the corner closest to the doorway, near the couch, was a rocking chair. Harm took a seat in this and Denise and Mac sat on the couch.
Marcus regarded them closely, biting his lip. "I'm sorry. You guys woke me up," he said with a yawn. "Do you mind if I run upstairs real quick and put some clothes on?"
"Go ahead," Denise said. He wasn't a suspect and they didn't think he'd run away.
"Thanks," he said as he turned to go up the stairs.
The couch and the loveseat formed a sitting area focused on the television in the room against a wall. On the far wall, was a light-colored piano, the top of which was adorned with photos. After pulling a notepad from her purse, Mac rose from the couch, dropped the notepad and her purse on the floor, and moved towards the pictures. There was one that looked like Marcus in his younger days with his family, all of them smiling. He was probably fifteen in the picture. There was a picture of a smiling blonde woman with her arm over Marcus's shoulder. That picture was taken within the last few years. There was another one of a large group of people, all wearing black shirts and green aprons, and was probably a photograph of a group of people from work. Marcus and the blonde woman were both in the picture. There was another group photo, this one a lot less formal, and Marcus, the blonde woman, and Ensign Bailey were in this one with several other people. It looked like this one was at an amusement park of some kind.
Marcus reentered the room. "Can I get you guys anything to drink?" he asked politely.
All three declined.
Denise pulled the tape recorder out of her pocket. "Do you mind if I record this?" she asked.
Marcus shook his head. He looked at Mac as she studied the pictures. He crossed the room and joined her. Pointing to the informal group photo, he said, "That was taken last fall at King's Dominion. Bekah was home for a few days," he said sadly.
"And who is this?" Mac asked, indicating the blonde woman.
"That's Ally, my roommate. We met a couple of years ago at work, the coffee shop three blocks up. We both needed a place and a roommate and since we were friends anyway, it just worked."
"You still work there?"
"I do. Ally was in college at the time, so she's got a real job now."
Mac turned back to the couch. "You in college?"
"I take a class or two every semester. At this rate, it will be another few years before I graduate."
"How long have you known Rebekah, Mr. Skylar?" Denise asked.
"Marc, please. I've known Bekah since high school. She and I are best friends." He paused for a moment and looked down at his feet. "We were best friends." He walked and took a seat on the loveseat. "She was my rock. I needed her. For a while she was the only friend I had. She let me stay with her and her parents when my parents kicked me out in high school."
"Why did your parents kick you out?" Harm asked.
"Because I told them I was gay. They told me they didn't have a son."
"Do you ever speak to them?"
"Maybe twice a year. I think they have finally accepted the fact that I am not going to change. Being gay is who I am."
"And how long did you stay with Rebekah and her parents?" Mac asked.
"Until we graduated from high school. I had job during the last few years of high school, so I could afford a place with a roommate. I had hoped Bekah would join me, but she left to go to the Naval Academy. So I moved in with a few guys that I knew. That didn't last long and I bounced around for a while, spent some time on the streets."
"Why didn't you go back to Rebekah's parents?" Mac questioned.
"They had done enough for me. I guess I was too proud. I wanted to make it on my own. I moved in with a guy I was in a relationship with for about a year, but when we split, I needed somewhere to go. That's when Ally and I got this place. For a while another guy, Matt, from work stayed with us, but he eventually moved."
"How did you feel when Rebekah went to the Academy?" Denise asked.
"Lost. My best friend was gone. I'd see her when she came home, and we called each other and wrote letters, but she wasn't with me anymore. It was tough without her, but I was proud of her. She was always smart and wanted to do something with her life. I wasn't surprised that she did something like join the Navy. And family has always been important to her. Her grandfather died our senior year of high school. He was in the Navy and was a pilot in World War Two. I guess she kind of wanted to follow in his footsteps. She's not a pilot, but she does work with the planes."
"You miss her?" Mac asked softly.
"Oh yeah," Marc answered, looking down at his hands. When he looked up, he had tears in his eyes. "She was here just the other day. She sat on the couch and we watched a movie and laughed until we cried. We'll never be able to do that again. I'll never hug her, tell her I love her, go dancing with her, watch movies with her, go shopping and check out men with her, I'll never get to do any of that again." He turned away to gaze in the direction of the kitchen, a few tears falling.
"Sorry," Mac said quietly.
Marc shook his head. "No, don't be." He looked back at Mac. "I'll have to get used to it. She's not coming back. No matter how much I want her to."
Mac reached into her purse and pulled out a tissue. She handed it to Marc.
He smiled weakly at her. "Thanks." He turned to Harm and Denise. "Sorry, sometimes it just hits me all over again."
Denise nodded. "That's normal." She paused for a moment. "Can you tell us about Saturday night?"
Marc nodded. "She was home for a few days, so we got together. That's what we usually do. We'll go out dancing, go out for drinks, go to a movie, whatever we feel like doing. She has gone with me to the Gay-Nights at some of the clubs in D.C. and I'll go with her where she wants to go. She had heard about Catacombs from a friend and wanted to check it out. Saturday was the first time we had ever gone. And we were having fun. She went to talk to this guy and dance with him. It was getting close to closing time and I just sat back at one of the tables and waited for her. She knew where I was. When the lights came back on, I didn't see her. I wandered around through the crowd and that's when I saw her on the floor in the back corner. Her throat…" Marc turned away, unable to finish.
"That's okay," Harm said.
They all gave Marc another minute to collect himself. Mac handed him another tissue. "My apologies," he said as he turned back to the group.
"No problem," Denise assured him. "We understand that this is not an easy thing for you. However, any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated."
Marc nodded. "I know, and I'll do anything I can to help you find who did this to Bekah. I don't want it to happen to anybody else."
Denise nodded as she studied Marc. "Did you see the guy that Rebekah went off with?"
"It was dark in there, you know?"
They all nodded, but Denise spoke, "Anything you have would be helpful."
Marc nodded again. "He wasn't tall, shorter than me, maybe 5'9" or so. He had a ball chain necklace on. His hair was long, it came down to about his ears and it looked dark. I couldn't really see much of his face."
"Was he fat or skinny?" Denise asked.
"Skinnier than I am, not as muscular as you, Commander," Marc said, gesturing to Harm. "Medium build, I guess."
Denise nodded. "Would you be able to tell a sketch artist anything, maybe get a drawing?"
"No," he said, shaking his head sadly. "I couldn't really see his face."
Mac looked at Marc and asked, "Did Rebekah seem willing to go along with this guy?"
Marc nodded. "She was holding his hand and smiling. I figured she was just going to go make out with him. She's been known to do that. Hell, I've been known to do that. That's part of the fun of going out."
Harm closely scrutinized Marc as he asked, "Did she give you a name?"
Marc thought for a moment. "It was something with an A; Aaron, Alex, Adrian or something."
"About how long was she gone before you found her?" Denise asked.
"Fifteen, twenty minutes at most. And the last three or four minutes I was wandering through the crowd looking for her with the lights on."
"Can you think of anybody who would want to hurt Rebekah in any way?" Denise asked.
Marc shook his head. "She was so sweet and kind, I can't imagine why anybody would want to hurt her."
Harm, Mac, and Denise looked at each other. Denise rose to her feet and extended her business card. "If you can think of anything else, Marc, please call me."
He rose to his feet as well. "I will."
Harm and Mac got up as Denise picked up the recorder. Marc led them out of the house. Once in the car, Denise said, "Well, we got a partial description."
"He seemed genuinely upset," Mac stated.
"He did," Harm agreed. "He seemed like he really cared about Ensign Bailey."
"I think he did," Mac said. "Jessica Crawford may have been holding something back, but I think Marc was being honest."
Denise nodded. "We'll have to see what we can do with the information Marc gave us. But I think we are getting closer. Of course, this guy that Marc saw may not be the guy we are looking for."
"If he isn't, he may be able to help find the guy we are looking for. Maybe he saw him," Mac pointed out.
"True," Denise said.
"But I think this one is our guy," Harm said. "Ensign Bailey was only gone for maybe twenty minutes."
"I agree," Mac said.
"As do I," Denise added.
"It'll make the Admiral happy," Mac said as she leaned back in the seat. Maybe, they would be able to get this case figured out after all.