“When did she move out her furniture?” Kate asked.
The guard stood by the door. “It was about two weeks ago, right after she sold this unit.”
“When did she put it up for sale?” Kate asked.
“About six weeks ago. The plan was to clean the place for the new occupants, who show up the first of December. The cleaning lady got sick on Sunday, so she never made it by. Mrs. Sanchez was scheduled to make the final walk-through with the new buyers on Monday morning. Of course, we all know what happened. Terrible.”
“We’ll let you know when we’re finished,” Mazur said.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll be at my desk.”
Kate moved to the large bank of windows that overlooked the city, its green parks below, and the Rio Grande River. “The view is stunning.”
“Agreed.” He moved into the kitchen and found a couple of bottles of champagne chilling, cheese, and a box of crackers. The cabinets were empty. The trash can in the pantry closet was filled with paper plates, takeout boxes, and bottles of wine.
“How often did she come down here?” Kate asked as she entered the kitchen.
“About two or three times a month.”
He opened a drawer to crackers and ketchup packets. “This is not the place of a woman committed to an area.”
“It was supposed to be cleaned. No one was supposed to see it this way,” she said. “Appearances were very important to her. The cleaning lady got sick according to the guard. We should be seeing a spotless place.” Kate pulled out the trash can.
“I’ll get local police to send a forensic team here.” His phone chimed with a text.
She moved into the bedroom, and Mazur followed. There was an air mattress on the floor, a few rumpled blankets, and small trash can. In the can were several empty pill bottles with another woman’s name on the prescription. “Oxy. She was taking some high doses of pain meds and deliberately keeping it off the radar.”
“We both figured a cancer like hers would be tough to manage.”
“Did Ryland find any record of cancer treatment?” she asked.
“She took pride in her appearance, and the chemo would’ve stripped her of her hair, health, and the ability to work,” Kate said.
“But she was spared all that when she was randomly killed by the Samaritan,” Mazur offered.
“I want to pay a visit to her mother’s nursing home.”
“According to my notes, it’s ten minutes from here.”
Less than half an hour later they were following the Lady of Lourdes facility manager, Sister Maria, toward the memory-care unit of the nursing home. The facility was clean and the staff friendly. Crucifixes hung on many of the walls.
“How long has Mrs. Hernandez been here?” Mazur asked.
“A couple of years.”
“How often did her daughter come to visit?” Kate asked.
“We haven’t seen her in over a month. And we heard the news of her death.” She made the sign of the cross. “Terrible.”
“Was Mrs. Sanchez current with her bills from you?” Mazur asked.
“Until three months ago she paid like clockwork. Then she wrote us a big check to cover the next five years. She said if her mother died before the five years to donate the money to someone else.”
“Did she say why she paid in advance?” Mazur asked.
“No.” She led them to the glass doors that overlooked the common area. “As I told you when you arrived, she doesn’t communicate.” She pointed, indicating a slender woman sitting in a chair staring sightlessly at her hands. Gray hair was pulled back into a neat bun, and she wore a pink housecoat with slippers.
When Kate looked at the woman, she hesitated as she stared at the lined, wrinkled face and the thick stock of hair. “I know her.”
Mazur looked at her. “How?”