The note was handwritten in a mixture of block and lowercase lettering in a black thick-tipped marker. The handwriting appeared crude and at first glance matched the other Samaritan notes.
But Kate realized immediately that the writing style was slightly different than the other Samaritan notes she’d analyzed.
Your voice is always in my head. And all I hear are your lies. You are wrong about me. I am smarter than you. There will be more deths soon. I will show the world you aren’t an Angel of Mrcy.
“He said your voice was ‘in my head.’” Mazur’s gloved fingertips held up the edge of the plastic bag that contained the letter.
“The Samaritan isn’t the first killer to blame me for his actions.” His clear, bold handwriting suggested anger and resentment. None of what this killer had done was her fault. None of it. And yet the burden of his sins would rest heavily on her shoulders until she caught him.
“Guy spells like I do,” Palmer said.
Kate pulled out her phone and snapped pictures of the note. What was it about the letters that struck a familiar chord? “Don’t be fooled by the misspellings. In letters like this they’re often intentional. He spelled are correctly in one sentence and then incorrectly in the next. He wants us to think he’s uneducated.”
Palmer reread the letter. “He spelled Samaritan right. A word I find challenging without spell check.”
A queasiness washed over Kate as Palmer reread the letter again. “The words remind me of William Bauldry,” she said.
Calhoun photographed the envelope and letter. “I’ll dust it for prints and compare.”
“Who’s William Bauldry?” Palmer asked.
Kate had shaken off some of the initial shock she’d felt when she’d heard his name at the garage, so it was easier to keep her voice even as she explained again what he’d done. “If you find any prints on this letter, compare them to Bauldry’s.”
“Having his name certainly will make the comparison easy,” Calhoun said.
Kate snapped several more pictures of the letter. She turned from the group and studied the misspellings, the grammar, the phrasing, the word choices hinting of a neutral dialect. “Detective Mazur, would you read the letter out loud?”
“Sure, why?” he asked.
“It was written by a man.”
“How can you be sure?”
“It’s an educated guess based on the shape of the letters, which are very boxy. The pen was also pressed firmly against the paper.”
He read through the letter.
She closed her eyes and listened to the inflections and the nuances of his Chicago accent, which naturally seeped into the neutral language. “Gloria Sanchez’s shooter, who spoke briefly on the murder video, didn’t have a deep Texas drawl. And none of the phrasing in the note hints at a dialect. Bauldry’s parents were from California and he lived there until he was eight, so his accent was always neutral.”
“What else do you see?” Mazur asked.
“All the positive statements are not contracted, but the one negative statement is contracted.”
“What does that mean?” Palmer asked.
“It’s an unconscious pattern that he might not be aware of,” Kate said.
“How do these compare to the other Samaritan letters?” Mazur asked.
“They’re almost identical. But Mr. North got a hold of two letters and published them. Anyone could replicate them.”
“How did North get the letters?” Mazur asked.
“He said he bribed a forensic tech in Minnesota.”
“Or Mr. North knew more about what Richardson was doing. Maybe he had an inside track with Richardson,” Palmer said. “From what you’ve said, he seems to have a lot of intimate knowledge of the case.”