“It’s an opportunity we might not get again, and Dr. Hayden is right,” Mazur said, looking to Palmer.
Palmer nodded her agreement. “This is our best play.”
“What if the killer turns out to be someone the victim knew?” the chief asked.
“We’re chasing that angle, too,” Mazur said.
“All right,” the chief said. “I’ll play along at your dog and pony show.” He rolled the notes into a tight cylinder and, clenching them in his fist, walked out into the room. Mazur, Palmer, and Hayden followed.
The chief stalked up to the podium and stared down the room of two dozen reporters.
Dr. Hayden stood next to Mazur and Palmer behind the chief. Her face was as unreadable as always. She didn’t sway, fidget, or shift her stance. If this bothered her, she gave no sign of it.
The chief cleared his voice and began the briefing. He named the victim and explained where she’d been shot. “There have been some media reports suggesting this case is linked to the I-35 killings, also known as the Samaritan killings. The San Antonio police are working closely with the FBI, specifically their profiler, Dr. Kate Hayden.” Several reporters called out, raised their hands. He pointed to a dark brunette in a blue suit.
“Do you know where Mrs. Sanchez stopped and how her car broke down?”
“We do,” the chief said. “But I won’t share those details at this time.”
The reporters fired more questions, all of which zeroed in on the details the chief would not confirm. Finally he held up his hands. “Let me turn the podium over to Dr. Hayden.”
She moved up to the microphone, thanked the chief, and looked at the reporters, never flinching from the bank of cameras. She adjusted the microphone, paused, and then ran through the stats of the cases along I-35 before focusing on the Gloria Sanchez case. “We have solid evidence linking Dr. Richardson to two of the five killings and expect to link him to the other three. At this time, we’re still trying to determine if or when this killer might have been in contact with Dr. Richardson. We have several leads regarding clandestine communication, but I can’t discuss them now.”
Mazur knew Kate’s last comments were meant to catch the killer’s attention. They didn’t have much on the killer at this stage, but no one outside of the investigating team knew that. He shifted his body forward a fraction toward Kate, but said nothing. He wanted her to understand that he had her back.
“Evidence suggests this case is connected to the others,” Kate said.
“How can you be sure?” another reporter asked.
“I can’t discuss the details now.” This new murderer was killing in the style of Richardson for a reason. “I can tell you that I believe this killer is a white male in his midthirties to midforties. I believe he either is underemployed or has no job at all. My guess is that he lives with family, or is very dependent on family money, and that he has no romantic interest in his life.”
“In Oklahoma, you said the killer might be impotent. Did that turn out to be true?” the brunette asked.
“Any physical description of this killer?” another reporter asked.
“So far, no.” She raised her gaze directly to the camera. “We have gas station footage of someone loitering around the victim’s car and are still analyzing facial images.” Not true, but the shooter didn’t know that.
A dozen hands went up, and she answered more questions, many a reiteration of what she’d already said. Over the rumble of questions, a loud, deep voice from the back shouted, “How did Richardson make contact with this apprentice?”
She shifted her gaze and stared at the tall, bulky man with dark hair and brown-rimmed glasses. For a moment she didn’t speak before she said, “Mr. North, you’ve been at this long enough to know I can’t share specifics.”
Mazur’s attention zeroed in on the man in the back. Mr. Taylor North was the reporter who had followed this case so closely. Nothing remarkable about him at first glance. A second look revealed an intense gaze locked on Dr. Hayden.
“Can you tell us more about what you saw in the gas station footage?” North asked.
“No comment,” she said.