The shooter’s camera jostled in time to the steady beat of footsteps as he walked toward the driver’s side window. Dashboard lights silhouetted Gloria Sanchez’s body as she held a cell phone to her ear.
“Are you all right?” the shooter asked. “Looks like a flat.”
She glared at her phone before looking up. The closed window muffled her voice. “I’m safe in my car and can wait until help arrives.”
“Want me to change the tire?” The footage ended. Neither spoke, but simply stared. Kate hit “Replay” and leaned in, scrutinizing every move the killer made. She listened to not only what he said, but also his tone of voice, accent, and inflections. She played it again. This time she closed her eyes.
“You’re not alone. I’m here for you.”
The voice jostled dark memories buried deep inside her, a connection she quickly dismissed as improbable. Whatever familiarity she felt must have likened back to the Richardson tapes.
“What were Richardson’s tapes like?” Mazur asked.
She opened her eyes; she realized he was staring at her. She cleared her throat. “Very much like this. However, in three of the five cases, there is no audio.”
“The cases that he can’t be linked to.”
“Correct.” She rewatched the footage. “On all the first five tapes, the shooter stayed with the victim until she died. I believe on some level Richardson was concerned about how the world saw him. He’s worried about his legacy.”
“Why no audio on three of the five tapes?”
“Could be intentional. Could be technical issues with the tapes. Only Richardson can say for sure, and he’s not talking.”
Mazur drew in a breath. “A few kind words are supposed to negate putting a slug in a woman’s chest?”
“We’re dealing with psychopaths. There’s often impairment in a psychopath’s amygdala, the almond-shaped portion of the brain that generates emotion. They don’t feel guilt as we do, and so they focus solely on what makes them feel good. Period. If looking like a knight in shining armor makes him feel better, that’s what he’ll do.”
He sat back and shook his head. “I know one of the videos with audio was leaked.”
The detective had done more digging than she’d realized. “To a reporter by the name of Taylor North.”
“That would have given this guy a blueprint.”
“And North has done a good job of unearthing a great many case details during his investigations. He’s visited all the jurisdictions and spoken to as many people as he can. He knows this case as well as law enforcement.”
“What’s his angle?” Mazur asked.
“Attention. Book deal. Movie deal. I’ve no idea.”
“This murder should be a boost to Taylor,” Mazur said. “The Samaritan case faded away after the Richardson arrest. Once the details of the Sanchez murder get out, he’ll be back in the spotlight again.”
“That makes sense,” she said.
“How much did you interface with Taylor?” Mazur asked.
“He was at each press conference ready with a question. He asked me for several interviews, but I declined them all.”
“Whoever committed this murder wants you involved. He’s calling you out. Could Taylor be involved?”
“He had solid alibis for the murders I’ve yet to link with Richardson.” She shook her head. “Maybe we’re all overthinking this. Maybe it’s as simple as Martin Sanchez ordering a hit on his wife. He wouldn’t be the first spouse to kill his wife and try to blame it on someone else.”
“Believe me, that idea is still in play.”
“I’ve spoken to all the other victims’ families. And an interview with Mr. Sanchez will help me to gauge his guilt or innocence.”