“There isn’t much I can tell you,” the school principal informed them,
studying the small photo Green had provided. “Amanda Grayson transferred to our
school from the
“When did the mother call?” Briscoe asked.
“Right after I arrived at my office Monday morning.”
“Did she say where they had moved to?”
The woman turned to a filing cabinet and pulled out a manila folder. After looking at it for a moment, she answered, “Not specifically, but it looks like we mailed everything over to P.S. 74 on Wednesday.”
“What were the parents’ names? Green asked.
“When I said we sent everything, I meant we sent everything in the file. I don’t have any of that information. And when she called, the woman introduced herself as ‘Mrs. Grayson’. She didn’t use a first name.”
“So you’re saying that anyone can call up posing as a parent, tell you they’ve moved, and you send the child’s records wherever they say?” Briscoe asked.
The woman smiled patiently. “Not exactly. We need a request from the new school and we require a signed statement from the parent or guardian. The signature on the statement has to match what we have on record. Mrs. Grayson faxed over everything Monday afternoon.”
“Do you have a copy of her statement in the file?”
She handed a piece of paper across the desk. “This is what she sent.”
After scanning the paper, Green said, “There’s no originating phone number or anything on this. Do you have the cover sheet that came with it?”
“We don’t save things like that. The statement is all we’re required to keep.”
They were interrupted by a knock on the door. “You wanted to see me, Mrs. Carlisle?” another woman asked as she entered the office.
“Yes,” the principal responded. “These men are detectives from the police department. They’re looking for some information about Amanda Grayson and her family. They have some questions to ask them.” She gestured to the woman. “This is Ms. Garrett, Amanda’s former teacher.”
After nodding ‘hello’, Green explained, “We’d like to know anything you can tell us about the Graysons: first names, current or former addresses, or if they had other children.”
The teacher frowned thoughtfully. “I don’t know if I can be of much help. Amanda was here for such a short time, I didn't really learn much about her. On the first day she was in class, I introduced her to the other students and had her tell us a little about herself. I do know that she had an older brother and sister, but neither of them attended this school. She said her father worked at an insurance company and her mother worked in a doctor’s office. Any other information would be found in her file.”
“Which is in transit to P.S. 74 as we speak,” the principal informed her. “We were hoping you could tell us at least what Mrs. Grayson’s first name is.”
“I don’t remember. She always signed Amanda’s weekly work folder as ‘Mrs. Grayson’. I noticed because it seemed a little formal. Most of the parents sign a first and last name. She did come to pick Amanda up early one Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago for a dental appointment. She would’ve had to sign in and show I.D. at the front desk in order to take the child.”
“I can have the secretary pull the log and see if she wrote down a first name then,” the principal offered.
“That would be helpful,” Green said.
As she left the room, Briscoe asked, “Did Amanda have many friends? Maybe some of the other students would know something more about her."
The teacher shrugged. “She was quiet and very shy, which is fairly normal for a seven year old girl. The only child I saw her spend much time with was Samantha Reed. She and Amanda sat together in class and at lunch. You might talk with her.”
Briscoe held up his hand. “About this tall, short brown hair, big blue eyes, with an older brother that goes to this school?”
“That’s her,” the teacher nodded.
“We’ve already spoken to her and the other kids that rode the bus with Amanda. That’s what led us here.”
“You know, now that I think about it, I might have the Grayson’s home phone number in my classroom,” the teacher said. “I called once about a field trip we were taking. I never got an answer, but I may have placed the number in my personal files. I’ll go check.”
The principal returned with a clipboard a few moments later. Flipping through sheets, she found the desired day and ran her finger down the column of names. “Here it is. Sorry; she only wrote down ‘Mrs. Grayson’.”
Green handed a business card across her desk. “If you think of anything else, please give us a call.”
The teacher returned and handed Briscoe a note. “This is the home phone number we had on file for the Graysons. I hope it helps. And if you’re able to get a message to Amanda, tell her that Samantha really misses her. Maybe she could write a letter or come for a visit sometime.”
Thanking her, Briscoe handed her a card and left her with the same instructions given the principal.
Once they were out of the building, Green dialed the given number on his cell phone. After a second, he said, “No longer in service. I guess our next stop will be the phone company.”
***“Well at least we know for sure the Graysons did live in that house,” Briscoe said as they pulled from the parking lot of the phone company.
“Since we have their full names and previous address now, maybe we
should drive over to the
“We could do that, but I think the quickest way to track these people
down is through Amanda. P.S. 74 is a lot closer than the
Green’s cell phone rang and he pulled it out of his pocket and tossed it to Briscoe. After a brief conversation, Briscoe laid it on the seat and said, “That was Van Buren. Rodgers finished the autopsy and has a preliminary report for us.”
“Since it’s nearly , what do you say we stop for lunch before we go see her?” Green suggested. “I’m starving and visiting the morgue always kills my appetite.”
***“You already know the cause of death,” Rodgers noted. “That big butcher knife was hard to miss. From the fingerprints found on it and the angle of entry, I’d say a woman using both hands, standing beside the bed did it. She hit it just right; the knife severed the aorta. Death was instantaneous. The guy probably didn’t even wake up.”
“Can you narrow down the time of death?” Green asked.
“It happened Sunday night sometime between and . It was long enough after dinner for almost all of the stomach contents to be digested. His last meal was most likely at home.”
Briscoe looked up from the report. “How do you know that?”
“He had corn, green beans, and meatloaf,” Rodgers answered. “Not exactly a gourmet meal.”
“So a guy can’t go out for meatloaf? I happen to know a little diner that serves the best meatloaf you’ve ever put in your mouth. I go there at least once a week,” Briscoe countered.
“Figures,” Rodgers grinned. “But I’m sticking by my home cooking call.
The meatloaf this man ate had breadcrumbs, ketchup, and onion soup mix in it.
Every housewife in
“Mmm. Ann Landers sounds like my kind of woman. You wouldn’t happen to have her phone number, would you?” Briscoe asked.
“No, and it wouldn’t do you any good. You’re on the wrong coast.”
“Darn,” Briscoe said, shaking his head. Then eyeing Rodgers, he asked, “So how’s your meatloaf?”
“I married a guy who’s a chef,” she answered with a smile. “I don’t have to cook, and we never have meatloaf.”
As Briscoe chuckled, Green asked, “Anything else you can tell us about the victim?”
“His hands were clean; there was no dirt or grease under the nails. You can probably rule out mechanic as a profession. He also didn’t have any calluses, but he did have the beginnings of carpal tunnel syndrome. Probably worked at a keyboard. He didn’t smoke and I didn’t find needle marks or anything else to indicate that he was a drug user. Once we get all the blood work and toxicology reports, I’ll let you know if something shows up there. In any case, I’ll send over the full report when I’m done.”
“Thanks, Rodgers,” Briscoe said over his shoulder as they headed for the door.
“Stay away from the meatloaf, Lennie,” she called. “It’ll clog your arteries.”
As the detectives reached the car, Green checked his watch. “School is already out for the day. I don’t think there’s any point in driving over to P.S. 74 now.”
“Probably not,” Briscoe agreed. “We’ll have to make that trip on Monday. Why don’t we go over to the DMV and see if we can get a picture for Mr. or Mrs. Grayson off of the microfilm they keep of driver’s license photos? It might help to know what the people we’re looking for look like.”
“Sounds like a good way to kill the rest of the afternoon,” Green said.
“Do you still have that photo of John Doe with you?”
“You mean the disgusting one taken of him after he had been dead for three days? Yeah, why? You want to take me up on my street corner idea?”
Briscoe shook his head. “I want to be sure and take it in with us when we look at photos.”
“You think John Doe and Mr. Grayson might be one and the same?”
“A man killed by a woman in his own bed? Stranger things have happened,” Briscoe noted.
***“I couldn’t find a driver’s license for a Sara Grayson with the crime scene address or their former, anywhere in the system,” Briscoe said, coming to a stop behind Green. “How are you coming with Mr. Grayson?”
Green studied the screen in front of him. “Nothing for the crime scene address. I’m searching now for their former address. Should have something in a minute.” After a brief wait, he said, “Here it is. Mitchell Grayson: 5’11, 185 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes, 42 years old.”
“Enlarge the photo,” Briscoe suggested.
After doing so, Green held the picture of the victim up to the screen. “I don’t know. What do you think, Lennie?”
“Two bad photos. Hard to say.”
“Well I guess John Doe will have to remain John Doe through the weekend,” Green noted, printing out a copy of the driver’s license photo. “Let’s get out of here before we’re locked in.”
“Any big plans for the weekend?” Briscoe asked as they walked to the car.
“Not really. Sasha has the weekend off too, so she I are just going to hang out, maybe catch a movie or something.”
“Well, whatever you do, don’t let her drag you into any hardware stores.”
“Hardware stores?” Green asked, confused.
“Hardware stores; where they make keys,” Briscoe explained.
Green shook his head. “You missed your calling, Lennie. You should’ve been a comedian.”