There was nothing like an ice-cold bottle of soda to quench
one's thirst on a hot humid
summer night at least that was what Deputy T. J. Abbott
thought as he sat at the counter of local diner. Abbott had
been deputy of the town of Sweetwater for less than a year
and he usual drew late night patrol. It was lonely work,
him all alone in his patrol car with nobody to talk to,
but to the rest of the police office over the radio. Which
was why Abbott enjoyed his break. He always made sure to
stop at the diner which was owned by an old high school
buddy of his and usually only charged him half price for a
soda and hamburger, ketchup only.
"Sure, I can't interest you in a piece of pecan pie?" asked
Oscar the owner.
Abbott looked at the slice of pie and debated whether to
have it. The pie looked good, but he had recently noticed
he had packed on a few extra pounds.
"No thanks Oscar I better get going," he said as he got up,
paid for his meal and left the diner. He got into is
patrol car and drove off down the road. Now Sweetwater is
a small-town, population usually around 1600 and some
nights Abbott would be the only one on patrol just like
tonight as he drove his car up and down the street looking
around for any sign of trouble. That's when he first
noticed it out of the corner of his eye. Some odd shape
down an alley tucked between two abandoned buildings in
the less the affluent part of town. Abbott stopped his car
and slowly backed up. He stopped, put the car in park, and
slowly got out of the car making sure he had his revolver
and flashlight with him. Abbott very carefully walked down
the alley, his flashlight shining on the object. As he got
closer he could see what it was, and he wished that it
wasn't. The body of a young girl, judging by her clothes,
laid face down dead. From what he could see somebody had
attacked her with a knife, a large knife judging by the
cuts. Abbott was half tempted to turn the body over, but he
remembers that you were never supposed to touch the body
he had to call this in.
It took only about fifteen minutes for the coroner to show
up followed soon by the chief of police, Chief Paul McCoy. He
slowly got out of his car, surveyed the scene. He was glad to
see that somebody had already put up the police tape as a large
group of curious onlookers had already gathered. He walked over
to the crime scene where could see the coroner already at work.
Standing off to the side was young Deputy Abbott looking a
little green around the gills. Chief McCoy could remember when
he was the young deputy on late night patrol and now at fifty-
five he was the chief. He stopped and looked down at the body.
"Well doc, what can you tell me?" he asked.
The coroner who was kneeling over the body looked up at the chief,
"Well, from a preliminary examination I say we have a young
girl cause of death exsanguination caused by deep lacerations
from by my guess a large hunting knife of some kind which seemed
to be concentrated in her back area."
"Any ID yet?" asked the Chief.
"No, I haven't even turned her over, yet deputy would you
mind helping me?"
Deputy Abbott took a deep breath and bent over to help the
coroner turn over the body when he saw the face of the girl he
"Oh my god it's Jessie May."
Jessie May Donaldson was sixteen years old a sophomore at
the local high school, and head cheerleader. She was well liked
by everyone. She was just a very good-natured kind girl and now
here she was lying dead in a dirty alley. The revelation of the
identity of the body sent a murmur through the crowd of
onlookers. Who would have the nerve to kill somebody so beloved?
Certainly not a local. Chief McCoy looked at the coroner and
asked, "Anything else you can tell me?"
"Yes," she said and held up a broken purse strap. "Whoever
did it also stole her purse."
"So, robbery could be a motive," said the Chief. He then
added, "How long as she been dead?"
"Hold on let me check the liver temperature," she said as
she checked the thermometer.
"I would say a little under an hour."
"That means the killer could still be nearby," said the
Chief as he looked at Deputy Abbott
"Abbott, I want you start to patrol the area look for
anything strange and if you see someone you don't know bring
them in for questioning you got that?"
"Yes Chief," said Abbott as he walked over and jumped into
his patrol car and drove off.
Abbott drove down the road now more than ever determined to
catch the killer. He knew Jessie May. He was friends with her
older brother in high school, they had both been on the
football team. She was dead killed by some sick bastard who she
probably did nothing to. Abbott could only pray that the killer
did nothing else to violate her body. Abbott turned right
trying to figure out if he was the killer which way he would go
north, which would take you to the industrial area of town such
as the feed and saw mill that was usually closed this late at
night with plenty of places to hide. South would take you to the
river, across the bridge to the next town over. East would take
you to the residential area that carried the risk of being seen
by someone, so he probably wouldn't go that way but then Abbott
thought he would only know that if he lived here and whoever
killed Jessie May probably didn't, so he could go that way.
Abbott was so deep in thought trying to figure out where the
killer might be going that he almost missed the man he stopped
the car and saw him just walking down the road Abbott rolled
down his window and yelled out, "You there stop right where you
The man stopped and did not move as Abbott put his car in
park, got out, gun drawn, and held it on the man as he got
closer. Abbott could see he was well built, a little over six
feet tall. He was wearing sneakers, blue jeans, a plain black
shirt, and slung over one arm he was carrying a blue jean
jacket. Abbott approached him carefully getting a good look at
him and the man was a stranger. "Okay you over by the car put
your hands on the hood."
The man looked at Deputy Abbott. "Look officer if you would
just "the man started to say.
"Didn't you hear me I said over by the car and put your
hands on the hood," said Abbott in a more authoritative voice.
The man walked over to the patrol car and put his hands on
"Okay now spread your legs I'm going to search you." The
man did so and Abbott keeping one hand on his gun used his
other hand to search the suspect. He found a wallet, and some
lose cash in his blue jeans remembering that Jessie May had
been robbed, he made note of the money he then pulled out his
handcuffs and cuffed the man.
"Okay you're going with me to see the chief," said Abbott.
The sun was beginning to peak out from the east as Abbott
pulled into his designated parking space at the police station.
Once he was parked, he escorted the man into the station. When
he got inside he could that Sgt. Reynolds was working the phones
in the front area.
"Hey Sarge, is the chief in?"
"Yes, he is. Who is this?" asked Reynolds indicating the man.
Suddenly the door to the chief's office open and McCoy
looked across the room, "Abbott, you and that man want to come
into my office."
Abbott escorted the man into the chief's office and made
him sit in a chair.
"Chief, I found this man walking down the street close to the
crime area I found money on him and I brought him here for
Chief McCoy looked the man over he seemed like a perfectly
ordinary man but then again killers hardly looked like killers.
"What's your name?" he asked the man.
The man looked at the chief and answered, "Todd Cassidy."
Next McCoy looked at Deputy Abbott, "Deputy don't you have
something else you can be doing?"
Taking the hint Deputy Abbott left the chief's office
closing the door behind. The chief then returned his attention
back to the man.
"Okay Mr. Cassidy, why don't you just tell me
why you did it. I'm sure you will feel much better about it."
Cassidy looked confused. "Did what?"
"Killed that girl."
A look of shock and disgust appeared on Cassidy's face, "I did not kill anybody."
"Oh, don't not give me that. You were found walking down
the road not too far from where the killing took place, the
victim was robbed, and you have money on you, so it looks like
you are it as far as suspects go."
Cassidy starred at the chief before responding, "Did it
ever occur to you that the money could be mine?"
The chief thought this over. "Okay, but how do you explain
what you were doing out walking not too far from the body and
what are you even doing in this town?"
"I'm on vacation from work. I stopped here on my way to a
fishing lodge. I'm checked into the Baymont motel. You can
check this, but I found myself unable to sleep so I decided to
take a walk, hoping it would tire me out."
"And why were you carrying a jacket on such a hot night?"
asked the chief
"I'm a firm believer on the saying better to have it and
not need it then need it and not have it."
"So, what you are saying is that you are just an innocent
victim of circumstance," said the Chief.
"Yes, I am," replied Cassidy.
The chief thought this over he then picked up his phone and
dialed the front desk. "Reynolds here chief," said the voice on
the other end.
"Reynolds, I want you call up the Baymont and ask them if a
Todd Cassidy is staying there and then let me know."
"I'll get right on it chief," said Reynolds, who then hung up the phone.
McCoy looked at Cassidy, "You know this doesn't prove
anything. You could have stopped in town and decided to kill the
"Why would I kill a stranger?" asked Cassidy.
"I don't know. Maybe you saw her walking down the street
and decided you just had to kill her."
"And how did I kill her if I may ask."
"You may not."
Cassidy was suddenly filled with anger he stood up, "Look
chief I did not kill any girl. I'm only here in your small town
to take a short break before continuing on with my vacation and
as for the money I have on me, I earned that my money working
seven days a week just like everybody else."
"Okay you, just sit down."
Cassidy returned to his seat, a look of simmering anger on
his face. Chief McCoy took a deep breath to calm himself before
continuing his questioning he decided to try a different
"Where are you from Cassidy? Judging by the way you sound
you are not from around here."
"Well if you must know I'm from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania."
"So, you're from the north?"
Suddenly the chief's phone rang he picked it up to answer,
"Yes, what is it?"
"Reynolds here chief I checked with the Baymont and they
told me a Todd Cassidy is registered there. Should I send
somebody over to check out his room?"
"I'll let you know," said the chief who then hung up the
phone. McCoy looked at Cassidy who was looking at him with
"Was that call about me?"
"Yes, it was it confirmed the part of your story about
staying at the Baymont, but it doesn't clear you of murder."
"Look chief I don't know how to make this any clearer. I
did not kill any girl. People in my line of work usually don't
go around killing innocent people."
"And what is your line of work if I may ask?"
"I'm a police officer."
With that he reached into an inner pocket of his jacket and
pulled out a small leather wallet and tossed it onto the
chief's desk. The chief proceeded to open it looking inside he
could see a police badge for the city of Philadelphia and an ID
stating that Todd Cassidy is a detective sergeant with the 5th
district. McCoy got up from his desk went to the door opened it
and yelled out. "Abbott get in here right now."
A few moments later Deputy Abbott stepped into the room.
"You wanted to see me chief?"
"Yes, I do, Abbott when you found Mr. Cassidy did you
"I did chief."
"Well you must have not a done a very good job if you
missed this." He handed over Cassidy's police ID to him Abbott
looked at it then back at the chief. "So, as you can see you
must have not done a very good job of searching him if you miss
Deputy Abbott looked down, ashamed that he made such a
boneheaded mistake like forgetting to check the suspects jacket.
"Look chief I'm sorry."
"Sorry doesn't fix this. We may have wasted valuable time
on this man here while the real killer is getting away."
Abbott did not know what to say to this.
"Now why don't you take Cassidy out to the waiting area
while I check to see if his ID is the real thing."
Cassidy stood up from his chair, "May I suggest you call my
lieutenant to confirm my identity."
"I'll do that."
Abbott escorted Cassidy to the waiting area and had him sit
down at that that moment the police photographer came in.
"Hey deputy is the chief in I got these photos of the crime scene."
He's busy I'll take them."
The photographer handed over the pictures to Deputy Abbott and
left the station.
"May I see the girl I was to suppose to have killed?" asked
Abbott thought it over for a moment if this guy was a cop then
what would be the harm of showing him the photos.
"I guess you can." He said handing over the pictures.
Cassidy took the photos and started going through them when the
door to the chief's office opened.
"Okay, I talked to your lieutenant. She confirmed your
identity so deputy you can take those handcuffs off Mr. Cassidy
here." Once the cuffs were off the chief motioned for Cassidy
to come back to his office, when he was back inside the chief
handed him the phone.
"Yes, ma'am I'm sorry for what happened." A brief pause.
No, I don't think they'll want my help." Another pause, "Okay."
He handed the phone back to the chief.
"My lieutenant wants to talk to you." Handing the phone back to the chief
"Chief McCoy here, oh you don't say. Worked homicide and is
now working robbery, yes I'll consider it." He hung up the
phone. "Your lieutenant thinks you might be able to help us
with this crime."
"Why do you need my help can't you and your illustrious
staff solve this murder?"
"Murder isn't something we usually deal with. So, will you
please help us?"
Cassidy thought it over before answering,
"Okay I'll do it but not for you, but for the girl that was killed so I guess the first thing to do is to look at the body."
"She should be at the coroner's office by now."
"That should be fine." With that they both walked out of
the chief's office, out the building, and over to the morgue
which was housed in a separate building.
As they entered the building, "I'll assume you've seen an
"Good maybe you'll lend us some of your expertise on the
"I'll do my best."
Once they got inside the morgue they could the coroner was
just finishing up. She looked up at the chief and Cassidy and
pulled down her surgical mask.
"Hey chief who this with you?"
"Well he was initially a suspect but now he's help from out
The coroner walked over to Cassidy taking her surgical
gloves off as she did so. She stopped and held out her hand.
"Dr. Sarah Breck"
Cassidy took her hand and shook. "Sgt. Todd Cassidy."
"Well, Mr. Cassidy I welcome any help you can give us."
"Yeah, I heard you lot are a little inexperience with murders."
Dr. Breck shrugged her shoulders and let go of Cassidy's
hand. "Yeah, the last murder here was three years ago and that
was just straightforward bar room brawl."
The chief walked over to them. "Well Doc anything you can tell us?"
"Yes, I can tell you that my preliminary thoughts were
correct. The killer came up from behind Ms. Donaldson and
stabbed her repeatedly with a large hunting knife."
"Yes, judging by the angle of the wounds your killer was
probably left handed."
Chief McCoy looked at Cassidy, "Anything you want to ask,
or do you want to look at the body?"
"No, you covered anything I would ask."
"Then let me show you the crime scene."
They left the morgue and got into the chief's car. It was
around six am when they got to the crime scene. The sun was now
higher in the sky promising a hot summer day. Chief McCoy was
glad to see the police tape was still up around the crime scene
and the forensics crew, small as it was, going over the scene.
As he stopped the car and he and Cassidy got out, he noticed
that Cassidy wasn't focused on the crime scene, he was more
interested in the surrounding area.
"Excuse me Mr. Cassidy, but the crime scene is right there," he said while pointing.
"Yes, I can see that but the killer whoever he was didn't
stay in one spot so I'm looking over the whole area."
"Well let me know what you find."
"Will do chief." Cassidy walked in a circular pattern
around the crime scene keeping his eyes on the ground.
Occasionally he would bend down to get a closer look at the
ground, picking at the dirt with his hands. When the chief
walked over he stood up.
"Well, Mr. Expert found anything yet?"
"I may have."
"Alright, tell me what you know."
"First let me ask you two questions. When was the body
found and how long had she been dead?"
"Well, Deputy Abbott called it in around about 5:32 AM and
the coroner determined she had been dead for about an hour."
"So, she probably died around 4:32 AM."
"Yes, now will you tell me what you see."
"It's what I don't see that interest me."
"Can you make that a little clearer?"
"Well, from my observation, I don't see any evidence that
the killer used a car. Except for your deputy's car all the tire
marks here are rather old so that tells me the killer is
probably on foot which is very risky. That tells me that the
killer maybe in dire financial straits."
Chief McCoy was impressed. He had no idea you could tell
how old tire marks were by looking at them. Just then a patrol
car pulled up and Deputy Martin, who had day patrol, got out of
the car and walked over to Chief McCoy.
"Hey Chief, T.J. told me what happened with Jessie May. He also
told me to let you know that they were able to trace her last
moments do you want to hear them?"
"Might as well," said the Chief.
"Well as far as he was able to gather, Jessie May was last
seen at an end of school start of summer vacation party at the
home of one of her friends. According to witnesses, she left
around 3:00 AM after that her whereabouts are unknown."
McCoy thought this over Deputy Abbott had found the body at
around 5:32 AM and the coroner stated she had been dead for an
hour which would put her death around 4:32 AM, so if she left
the house around 3:00 AM then that's an hour and a half
unaccounted for what happened to her during that time period.
The Chief looked over at Cassidy who was busy looking at
the ground using a flashlight.
"Found anything interesting?" he asked.
"I believe so, come look at this."
The Chief walked over to where Cassidy was standing and
looked down to where Cassidy was shining his flashlight. He
could see the outline of a shoe like somebody had stepped in
dirt and then onto the street.
"I think this is interesting. Anyway, it confirms my theory
of the killer being on foot," said Cassidy.
"If it's connected to the crime then I will have to agree with you." said the Chief.
"I believe when you catch the killer his shoes will match this print."
"Well, we will see, hey can I get some pictures of this
A police photographer came over and took pictures
of the print after that the Chief and Cassidy left the crime
scene and returned to the police station to discuss the case.
"Let's review what we know and what we think we know," said the Chief.
"Okay, what we know is that Jessie May Donaldson has been
killed, stabbed several times in the back by an unknown left-
handed assailant who, if the evidence is correct, maybe a person
lacking financial wealth thus the stolen purse."
Cassidy paused, "Has anyone found her purse yet?"
"No not yet."
"So, the killer may still have it?"
"So, if we find someone with the purse he maybe our killer."
"More than likely."
Cassidy thought it over, "Do you have a map of the town?"
The Chief nodded and walked over to his filing cabinet. He
reached behind and pull out a large rolled up poster, he
unfurled it and pinned it to the wall. Cassidy looked at the
"Can you mark the area where the girl was killed?"
The Chief did so Cassidy looked at the map.
"What are looking for?" asked the Chief.
Cassidy studied the map some more before responding,
"Chief, if you had just killed a woman and were on foot where
would you go?"
Chief McCoy thought this over he looked at the map looking
over the area where Jessie May was killed finally after much
thought he had an answer.
"I would head south."
"Why south Chief?" asked Cassidy.
"It heads into the less than affluent part of town lots of
abandon buildings lots of places for a person to hide."
"Do you think we should check it out?"
The Chief thought it over. "You know if I'm wrong I'll be
wasting valuable personnel looking for this person."
"But if you are right and we catch him you will be the big hero."
"Okay, let's check it out."
The Chief walked over to his office door and called out, "Martin."
The Deputy came into the office.
"Okay I'm going need you to call up Abbott and I'm going
need you both to gather up as
many people you can. We are going to search the area south of
the crime scene. We will be leaving in exactly fifteen
The Deputy nodded and left the office. The Chief walked
over to his gun rack and got down a shot gun and walked over to
Cassidy and handed the gun to him. "I would like you there with
us if we capture him."
They walked out of the office and met up with Martin,
Abbott, and the rest of the volunteer deputies out front of the
police station, got into the squad cars and headed to the south
area of town. Chief McCoy got on the two-way radio. "Okay
listen up all of you. When we get there, we will split up and do
a systematic search of the area. If anybody finds anything
suspicious mark it. If you come across a suspect I would very
much like him alive so just remember that if any of you think
about shooting first and asking questions later. Do you all
"Yes Chief," came the replies over the radio. Once they got
to the south area of town everyone got out and split up into
teams of two. Cassidy went with Chief McCoy searching one of
"I'll search upstairs, you search down here," said the Chief.
"Okay," said Cassidy, who moved off further into the
building while Chief McCoy went up the stairs.
Once he got up there McCoy began to search the building,
carefully walking through trying to minimize the sound of his
footsteps. The place was dusty and full of cobwebs. Several
times he had to stifle a sneeze. Suddenly from downstairs he
could hear Cassidy shouting, but it was too muffled to make out
clearly what he was saying. The talking stopped and what
followed was the loud blast of a shotgun going off. Chief McCoy
tore off running down the stairs. Once he got downstairs he
began searching while shouting out.
"Cassidy, where are you?"
"Over here." Chief McCoy rushed over to where he thought he
heard the voice come from. He spots Cassidy who was on his back
with his shotgun pointed at a man laying less than ten feet
from him with a gun wound in his chest. As the Chief got closer
he could see that the man was dressed rather shabbily, probably
homeless, he could also see that the man was holding in his
left hand a large hunting knife. Chief McCoy could tell the man
was dead he then slowly made his way back over to where Cassidy
was and helped him up.
"So, what happened?" he asked.
"I spotted him laying on that pile of rags over there, but
he heard me and came at me with that knife. I ordered him to
stop but he refused, and I had to use my gun."
The Chief thought this over. He would have liked to have
brought any suspect in alive, but he couldn't really fault
Cassidy for his actions. He was sure if he was in the same spot
he would make the same choice. From outside he could hear other
people approaching probably the deputies coming to investigate
the gunshot. "Are you okay to stay here while I talk to the
others and call this in."
"Yeah, I should be. It's just been a while since I had to
use a gun and kill a person."
Chief McCoy left the building and proceeded to explain what
had happened and pretty soon after he had called it in the area
was filled with reporters hungry for a news story Chief McCoy
gave a brief statement. After that the coroner came and removed
the body. Cassidy also gave a statement to the press and then
left with the Chief to make his report at the police station.
"Well I'm glad that this whole thing is over," said Chief
"Yeah, me too. I just hope the next vacation I take I won't
be accused of a crime I didn't commit," said Cassidy.
"Yeah, sorry about that."
"It's okay Chief, can I go now?"
"Yeah, you're free to go."
With that Cassidy said his goodbyes, left the police
station, and headed back to his motel. Once he got to his room
he leaned against the closed door and took a deep breath he
then walked over to his bed knelt down reached under the bed
and pulled out an ornate carved wood box about half an arm
length long. He opened it and looking down he counted nine long
sharp hunting knives he pulled one out and gave it a kiss.
"I'm so sorry I had to sacrifice one of your brothers, but
it was necessary to fool those idiot police they have here, but
don't worry even without him we will continue our work. The
only regret I have is that innocent homeless man had to die,
but sacrifices must be made for us to continue our work ridding
the world of undesirables and sinners. That girl, dressed like
she was, she was a sinner and deserved our justice."
With that he put the knife back into the box packed his
suitcase and loaded everything in his car and drove north back
to Philadelphia. Of course, he may make a few stops along the