“No. My father and Mr. Bennett are at the medical examiner’s office. They’re trying to get Gloria’s body released.”
“If you don’t want to talk to us, we understand,” Kate said in a soft voice. “We know this is a terrible time. I’ve lost a parent, and I understand how painful all this can be.”
“You lost a parent?” She slid her hands into her pockets. The gesture signaled she was closing off.
“My father,” she said. “He was also shot to death.”
“I was younger than you. Seventeen. We were in a parking lot, and a guy came out of nowhere and shot him. It’s tough. Tore my family apart.”
Kate’s tone was almost friendly. There was empathy behind the words but not the softness he’d seen when she spoke to Alyssa.
Tears welled in the girl’s eyes. “I don’t know what I’d do if I’d seen it. I think I’d go insane.”
Kate didn’t speak, but she’d moved a half step closer to her as if trying to forge an invisible bond by simply creating closer proximity between them.
Isabella swiped a tear away as she glanced around. “Look, my father and Mr. Bennett aren’t here so come inside. It’s not like I’ve anything to give away.”
“Thanks,” Kate said.
Mazur allowed Kate to go first, and he trailed behind, happy to let her take over the line of questioning. She didn’t appear as stiff and controlled as she had in front of the cameras, and some of the tension had melted from her shoulders. Still, she was wound tight.
They sat in the spacious living room, Isabella on the couch with Kate close by. He settled in the chair across from them to give them space.
“Isabella, I hate to ask questions.” Kate absently touched the worn bracelet on her wrist. “But I have to.”
“Ask,” the girl said, shifting her body toward Kate.
“I was reading your father and stepmother’s financial statements. Nearly all their money is gone. Did either of them talk to you about money troubles?”
“Gloria ran the money show. A couple of times I asked her about it, but she said I shouldn’t worry. She said she had a talent for making money grow.”
“But kids hear things,” Kate said. “Surely Gloria and your father discussed money.”
“I heard them arguing when I was home over summer break. Dad wanted to pull out some cash but said their joint account was almost empty. She wanted to know why he needed the money right now, and he said he shouldn’t have to clear purchases with her. She told him he would have to wait a few weeks.”
“Do you have any thoughts on what was happening?”
“I don’t know. Gloria and Dad’s relationship had been kind of cool this year. They seemed to annoy each other. Nothing big. Just lots of little things. I asked Dad, and he said not to worry. It was regular couple stuff.”
“Was there anyone hanging around your father or stepmother who bothered you?” Mazur asked. “Anyone who would want to hurt them?”
“Not that I knew, but like I said, they always kept me separate from the business. I wanted to work in the dealership during summer breaks when I was in high school, but Gloria never would let me. She wanted me taking a class. Said my brain was my best asset.”
“What about the trips to Laredo to see her mother?” Kate asked. “Your stepmother was driving down to check in on her mother weekly, correct?”
“Gloria was going to Laredo? That’s weird.”
“What’s weird about it?”
“Gloria was always good about paying for Nina’s nursing home, but she didn’t visit her often.”
“Did they have a falling out?” Kate asked.
“Gloria never talked about it except once about five years ago. She’d had too much to drink and said Nina never approved of her marriage to my father.”
“Why was that?”
“My mom had only been dead about eight months when they got married. And Dad is fifteen years older than Gloria. Gloria said Nina thought it was a cursed match.”
“Nina said cursed?” Kate asked.