A Gathering of Secrets | Chapter 13 of 38 - Part: 1 of 4

Author: Linda Castillo | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 9133 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER 5

After leaving the Gingerich farm yesterday afternoon, I went to see Dr. Charles Gray—the dentist who’d X-rayed Daniel Gingerich’s teeth when he was thirteen years old. I let him know that Doc Coblentz would be forwarding him a set of dental X-rays for comparison and, as usual, we’re anxious for results.

It’s eight A.M. now, and I’m in my office, thinking about a third cup of coffee, when the call finally comes. I glance down at the display to see BRIGHT SMILE DENTISTRY, and I brace.

It’s Dr. Gray.

“I just compared the X-rays from my archive with the films Dr. Coblentz sent over,” he tells me. “They match. The victim in that barn is, indeed, Daniel Gingerich.”

“Damn,” I mutter.

“Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I figured you’d want to let the family know as soon as possible.”

Grabbing my keys, I head for reception, catch my first-shift dispatcher just as she’s finishing up a call. Lois Monroe is in her mid-fifties, a mother and grandmother, and a much-appreciated fixture in the department. She’s coolheaded and candid; I’ve seen her take more than one overly cocky young cop down a notch or two.

“Lois, I need you to dig up everything you can find on Daniel Gingerich. Check for warrants. Run him through LEADS. Family members, too. Parents, Gideon and Miriam. Girlfriend, Luane Raber. He’s got a teenaged sister, too. Fannie.” LEADS is the acronym for the Law Enforcement Automated Data System, which is a statewide criminal justice database administered by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“You got it.” Scribbling, she cocks her head. “I take it you confirmed the victim was him?”

I reach the door, turn to face her, and nod. “We don’t have manner or cause yet, but we’re treating his death as a homicide. I need you to get a tip line set up. We’re offering a five-hundred-dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. Get that out to all media outlets.” I have no idea how I’ll come up with the money, but I’ll figure something out.

“You got it.”

“I’m going to see the family. If you get any media inquiries about the fire or investigation, tell them we’ll be sending out a press release end of day.”

*   *   *

I call Sheriff Mike Rasmussen on my way to the Gingerich farm. “I suspect Doc Coblentz is going to rule the manner of death as a homicide.”

“Considering there was an accelerant present, I suspect that’ll jibe with the fire marshal’s report, too.” He pauses. “Kate, is there any way this was some kind of practical joke that got out of control?”

“I thought of that, Mike. Teenagers aren’t exactly the smartest of God’s creations. But I don’t think that was the case here, especially with the presence of gas.” I choose my next words with care. “Interestingly, the Amish church district here in Painters Mill doesn’t allow gasoline for their generators, just diesel fuel.”

“So whoever did this wasn’t Amish?”

“Gideon Gingerich told me he doesn’t keep gas anywhere on the farm. Whoever set the fire went to some trouble and brought the gas with them.”

“Sounds pretty goddamn premeditated.” He sighs. “Someone made sure that kid couldn’t get out, too. Kate, who the hell does something like that?”

The image of a young man trapped in a small room while smoke filled his lungs and fire slowly consumed him flashes unbidden through my brain, and I have to suppress a shiver. “Look, I’m on my way to talk to the family. I’ll run through some questions with them while I’m there and let you know if anything pops.”

*   *   *

I arrive at the Gingerich farm to find the investigator with the fire marshal’s office poking around inside the remains of the barn. I park behind a buggy and offer a wave as I head toward the house.

Gideon Gingerich comes to the door as I’m about to knock. Desperate for news, but dreading it. A sleepless night piled atop another. I see all of those things in his beleaguered expression, and my heart gives a quick, hard twist.

“Is it him?” he asks.

I nod. “I’m sorry, Gideon. I’m afraid so. The dental records from Dr. Gray match the X-rays taken by the coroner. I’m very sorry.”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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