“What about his mother?”
“She died when he was seventeen. No reports of abuse, but she was arrested for prostitution several times. There appears to be no other family to interview,” Kate said.
Dr. Ryland probed his scalpel into eviscerated muscle until he located a flower-shaped slug. He dropped it into a stainless-steel pan for the detective to study.
“It’s a hollow point,” Mazur concurred. The slug had bloomed into razor-sharp petals, which on impact delivered all its kinetic energy to the target rather than punching cleanly through it. “It did its job. Ripped her apart.”
Kate frowned as she stared at the slug. “Disturbing.”
“You worried about your arrest now?” Mazur challenged.
She shook her head. “Richardson’s attorney, Mark Westin, will use this to his client’s advantage. Mr. Westin is always looking for an advantage when he bargains.”
It always sucked when the guilty walked. “Whoever is copying your guy is doing a good job,” Mazur said.
“Yes, he is,” she said.
When Dr. Ryland examined the patient’s uterus, he paused. “She had uterine cancer. The mass is significant and has metastasized. I don’t think major medical intervention would have saved her.”
“Is that a first?” Mazur asked.
“None of the other victims had cancer.” Kate studied the woman’s manicured hand. “They also didn’t come from money as she clearly did. How old was she?”
“Thirty-nine,” Mazur said.
“She looks older,” Kate noted.
“She might have hidden the effects of her illness with makeup, but that would’ve soon changed,” Dr. Ryland said. He studied the blue-green veins trailing her arms. “There’s no sign of needles used for chemo or scars from surgery.”
“Could the killer have known she was sick?” Mazur asked.
“I don’t know,” Kate said.
Dr. Ryland continued his examination of the subject’s remains. There were no indications of recent trauma to the body. An X-ray revealed an old break and damage to her right knee, likely some early arthritis. There was no indication of sexual assault; however, he did find traces of semen in her vaginal cavity. She’d had consensual sex within twenty-four hours of her death. The samples were sent off for DNA testing.
The doctor shook his head. “Sexual intercourse wouldn’t have been comfortable given the size of her cancerous tumor.”
“Research shows sex is an affirmation of life,” Kate said. “Run a toxicology screen. If she was as sick as you say, then she’d have needed heavy-duty meds to function. Dr. Ryland, will you call her doctor to see if she was under treatment?”
“Again, the victim’s medical history was not the motivator for Richardson. Her driving on the interstate was enough,” Kate said. “Again the ballistics report will be key.”
The doctor concluded the autopsy, repacked the organs, and sewed up the chest. The examination had taken over four hours. “I’ll keep you two posted.”
“Thanks,” Mazur said.
Mazur and Dr. Hayden moved to the outer locker room, stripped off their gowns, and met in the hallway. She dumped her surgical gown in the bin and reached for her backpack.