Falls Church, Virginia
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
1103 Hours (local)
As Mac was stepping out of the car in the parking lot, her cell phone rang. She quickly answered it and stepped away from Harm and Denise. "MacKenzie," she answered.
"Colonel, it's Sergeant Mathis. I have a huge problem and I need to talk to you," he said quickly, sounding panicked.
"Sergeant, I'm not in my office at the moment, but I am just outside of the building. Let me call you right back. Are you at home?"
"Yes, Ma'am," he answered.
"Good. I'll call you back." She hung up and turned back to Harm and Denise. "If you'll excuse me, I have to go call this guy back before he flips out."
"Mathis?" Harm asked.
Mac nodded as she turned to walk away. Once in her office, she quickly calmed Sergeant Mathis down. His problem wasn't really a problem at all, for her. It would be for the prosecution, though, and Mac was starting to feel sorry for Sturgis. She sighed as she hung up her phone and looked out the window. She quickly regretted that action.
Down below, in the parking lot, Harm and Denise were still talking. He was smiling and she was laughing. And when Denise stepped closer to Harm, she knew what was going to happen. Mac quickly turned away, refusing to be a witness to Harm's betrayal of her heart. And in that moment, her good mood swiftly left her. She sat down promptly in her chair and put her head in her hands.
A few minutes later, Harm entered the bullpen. Mac glanced up at him, but hastily returned to flipping through the papers on her desk. A moment later, he was standing at her doorway.
"Mac, I was just talking to Denise about the case."
Mac looked up at him and regarded him angrily. "I'm listening."
Harm frowned at Mac's look. "Everything okay with your obsessive worrier?"
"Yes," she answered quickly. "What did you want?"
"Well, this third murder took place only two weeks after the second one. The time span between the first two was four months."
"A killer of opportunity."
"Exactly. We were thinking that he probably notices these women, thinks they're attractive, talk to them, finds out they are in the Navy, and then kills them."
"It would explain the differences in the time periods."
"And if that is the case, then we could put-"
Mac cut him off, "Someone in there undercover."
"You're finishing my sentences again."
"You're starting mine."
Harm grinned at her and she smiled back at him, she couldn't help it; he could be so hard to resist when they were on the same wavelength. "And when we send someone in, we'd be there as back up."
"We as in you and me or you and Denise?"
"Yes, or all three of us. The more eyes the better. Spread out, always have somebody keeping their eye on the corner."
"Okay, so we get the guy to talk to our plant. Then what? How do we nail him?"
"Our plant wears a wire. Get him talking, maybe he'll slip something up. Since he likes to target women in the Navy, we'll get him going on that, maybe get him fired up, talk about his past, and grab him."
"What happens if the plant gets hurt?"
"We'll hope that doesn't happen. But we'll be there, watching and listening, so he won't get very far."
"So, what do you think?"
"I think we should take it to the Admiral."
"Then let's go," Harm said as he walked out of her office.
Mac quickly rose to her feet to follow him. They stopped at Coates' desk outside the Admiral's office. Once they got the clearance to go in, Mac stepped forward while Harm lingered for a moment, looking at the Petty Officer.
"Something wrong, Sir?" she asked.
"No, sorry, I was just thinking," Harm said as he stepped into the Admiral's office. Coates got the door behind them.
The Admiral looked up at the pair expectantly. "Anything wrong?"
"No, Sir," Harm answered. "Quite the opposite."
"The Ensign that was murdered this past weekend at Catacombs was there with a friend. He was able to give us a partial description on someone who may be the guy we are looking for," Mac said.
The Admiral smiled, "Go on."
Harm began, "Apparently Ensign Bailey told her friend, Mr. Skylar, that she was going to go off with this guy for a few minutes. It was near closing time, so Mr. Skylar wasn't worried. When she didn't return at closing time, he got up to look for her and that's when he found her body."
"The Ensign introduced the guy to Mr. Skylar. He was able to give a partial description," Mac concluded.
The Admiral nodded. "Can he give us a sketch?"
"Unfortunately, no," Mac said. "And he doesn't really remember the guy's name, but he believes it began with an A. But we do have something now."
"The other thing," Harm said, "is that this murder occurred much closer to the second one than the second murder was to the first one. This makes us believe that we have a killer of opportunity."
The Admiral leaned back in his chair. "I appreciate the update."
"Sir," Harm began tentatively. "I was discussing this with Detective West, and Mac agrees with us, that perhaps sending in someone undercover would be an appropriate thing to do."
"Isn't that up to the Detective?"
"Well, technically, yes," Harm began, "but we would be in as back-up.
The Admiral nodded. "Makes sense. If that is the next step, you have my permission."
Harm and Mac smiled. "Thank you, Sir," Mac said.
"Is that all?"
"For the moment, Admiral," Harm stated.
Falls Church, Virginia
Thursday, October 2, 2003
1443 Hours (local)
Harm's phone was ringing as he stepped into his office. "Commander Rabb."
"Denise, what's up?"
"We are cleared for the undercover operation."
"Good. When do we start?"
"We'd like to start this weekend. We do have one problem, though."
"Okay…" Harm said as he sat down in his chair. "What's the problem?'
"We don't have anybody on the force available to do it right now. We need a younger female and none of them are available."
"Okay," Harm said, thinking he knew where this was going. "So you want to use one of ours?"
"It would also mean that they already know about the Navy, making the story more believable."
"I can check with the Admiral and see if he approves."
Do you have anybody?"
Harm nodded as he spoke, "I believe we do. I think Petty Officer Coates would work very well."
Denise was silent for a moment. She had met the Petty Officer when she had visited JAG. "Would she be willing?"
Harm smiled. The Petty Officer had been a pretty wild kid in her past and he was pretty sure she could pull off acting like one again. "I think she'll be willing."
"I'll check with Mac and the Admiral and get back to you."
"Okay," Denise agreed as she hung up.
Harm rose from his desk and walked over to Mac's. She was flipping through books, searching for something. "You got a minute?" he asked.
"Sure," she said, looking up. "What do you need?"
Harm sat down in one of the chairs in front of her desk. "Denise just called. They want to start the undercover op this weekend."
"But, they don't have anyone available, so they want to use some one from here. Plus, they would also be more informed on the Navy, making the story more believable."
Mac nodded. "Coates."
Harm raised an eyebrow. "Were you listening to me on the phone?"
Mac smiled. "No, but we are still thinking a lot alike." At least, some of the time, she thought.
"Shall we go talk to the Admiral?" Harm asked.
Mac rose to her feet. "Yes, we should."
Harm got to his feet as well and followed Mac out of her office. Coates sent them right in.
"What do you have?" the Admiral asked, without looking up.
"On the Catacombs case," Harm began, "the D.C. Police want to start an undercover operation this weekend. However, they don't have anyone available to do it."
Now, the Admiral looked up. "Have a seat." Both officers obeyed. "And you want to send someone from here in?"
Harm and Mac nodded.
The Admiral sighed heavily as he leaned back in his chair. "This changes things a little bit."
"We are aware of that, Sir," Harm spoke again.
"Would all three of you be there?'
"Yes, Sir," Mac spoke. "And she would be wearing a wire with another police officer outside the club listening in, somebody would always be watching the corner where the other murders have taken place. The club will be notified and prepared to provide any assistance that might be necessary."
"And who did you have in mind?" the Admiral asked.
"Petty Officer Coates," Harm answered.
The Admiral pondered this for a moment. He pressed a button on his phone and Coates was put on speakerphone. "Sir?" she said.
"Come in here for a minute," he requested.
"Right away, Sir," she said and a moment later, she joined them, standing at attention slightly behind and between Harm and Mac.
"At ease," he instructed. He looked over to the far side of his office. "Go grab that chair and have a seat with us," he said, indicating one of the chairs with wheels.
Coates did as she was instructed. "Sir?" She was curious as to what she was doing here.
"Petty Officer, have you heard about the murders at a club called Catacombs in D.C.?"
"Yes, Sir. Three women from the Navy have been murdered in the club in the last few months."
"Yes. The Commander and the Colonel have been working with the D.C. Police on the case and they now have a partial description and believe the man only kills when he has the opportunity. That means he may kill once, four months later, meet another woman in the Navy, kill her, and two weeks later, meet another one and kill her."
"Understood," Coates responded, still unsure of why she was there.
"The D.C. Police have authorized an undercover operation to send someone into the club to try and bait the killer into saying something."
"The only problem," the Admiral continued, "is that D.C. Police don't have anyone available, so they want to use one of our people."
Coates nodded again. She was getting the idea.
"The Commander and the Colonel felt that you might be the woman for the job. And I agree with them. You do not have to agree to do this. It is strictly voluntary and you have the right to turn it down."
"What would I have to do, Sir?" Coates asked.
"Commander, will you explain?"
Harm nodded. "All you have to do is dance with some people, meet a few guys. We have a partial description to help narrow down your selection field. We just want you to talk to these guys, see what they say, mention the fact that you are in the Navy, home on leave, and see where it goes. We believe our guy will be interested in the fact that you are in the Navy and this will incite some emotion in him. You'll be wearing a wire, you can walk away at any point if you feel uncomfortable. And the Colonel, Detective West, and myself will be there as back up. One of us will always have you within sight. All three murders have taken place in the same corner, so we will always be watching that corner."
Coates nodded. "I'll do it."
"You don't have to," the Admiral reminded her.
"I know. I want to. This needs to stop, Admiral, and if I can do something about it, I will."
The Admiral smiled. She had come a long way since they had first met her a few Christmases ago. He was now proud to have her serving under his command. "Good."
Harm looked to the Admiral as he said, "I guess we'll go call Detective West back and we'll arrange everything."
"I want a detailed plan written out and on my desk before you go in. I want to know what is going on."
"Yes, Sir," both Harm and Mac nodded.
"Dismissed," the Admiral said.
Harm, Mac, and Coates rose up out of their chairs and left the Admiral's office. Harm looked at Coates and said, "Come with me to my office. We'll call Detective West and see what needs to be done."
"Yes, Sir," Coates said as she followed him.
Harm smiled, "And while we are working on this, call me Harm. It wouldn't look very good to address me as 'Sir' in the club."
"No, Sir, I mean, Harm, it wouldn't look good," Coates said with an embarrassed smile.
"I think that goes for all of us," Mac said. "Just call me Mac."
"Yes, Ma… Mac. Sorry, force of habit."
Both Harm and Mac smiled, "That's okay. You'll get used to it."
Coates regarded both of them for a moment. "Then call me Jen."
Once inside Harm's office, Harm picked up the phone and quickly dialed Denise's number. She answered on the second ring. "Denise, I have both Mac and Petty Officer Coates, Jen, here. Is it all right if I put you on speakerphone?"
"Fine," Denise answered and a moment later, Mac and Jen could hear her as well.
"Denise, Jen is willing to go undercover for us."
"Great," Denise answered. "You know what is involved here, Jen?"
"Yes, Ma'am, it has been explained to me what is going on and what I need to do."
"Call me Denise. And you understand that if at an point in time you feel uncomfortable with this, you are free to back out?"
"Good. Have you ever been undercover before, Jen?"
"No, I haven't. But I was a pretty wild child and I used to sneak into clubs a lot in high school, so I am pretty sure I can act the part," Jen responded.
"Excellent," Denise replied, sounding very enthusiastic. "How about this? We get together tomorrow night, all four of us, and go over what needs to be done, how we are going to do it, and get everything set up."
Harm, Mac, and Jen all nodded. "Sounds good to us," Harm responded. "Where shall we meet?"
"How about there at JAG Headquarters, since we all know where it is?" Denise suggested.
Everybody agreed to that, so the plan was set.