“He’s behind bars,” Palmer clarified.
“Yes.” Kate studied the wounds, noting that they were almost identical to the patterns of Carter’s three victims. “There is no way he could have done this.”
“You were the chief profiler on the case?” Mazur asked.
“Two murders in three days,” Palmer said. “And you worked on cases similar to both. This ain’t a coincidence, Agent Hayden.”
Kate stared at the body. Sadness and regret tried to breach her composure, but she wouldn’t allow it. Later, when she was alone, the emotions might get the better of her, but not here at the crime scene. “No, it’s not.”
Mazur nudged Kate. “We need to talk.”
She allowed him to guide her away from the body.
“What the hell is going on?” he asked. “I’ve spent the last two days following the trail on a case that appears to be a copycat of one of your cases, and now I’ve another killer impersonator?”
She tipped her head up to meet his gaze. “I can’t explain it except to say someone is following my cases.”
“Was Carter working with anyone?”
“When I did his profile I determined he was a loner who was living out his own fantasies toward women. And when he was arrested we discovered he lived alone, had lost his job, and was having his food delivered to the house. A shut-in, he only went out when the moon was full. That’s when he picked up a prostitute, stabbed her to death, and left her just like this woman here. When I interviewed him after his arrest, he was very proud of the fact that he did the work alone.”
“Could you be wrong about an accomplice?”
“Of course. There’s always the chance. But my team checked his online profile, and though he commented often on certain occult sites, he never appeared to be in communication with anyone.”
“What are the chances that I’d have two murders mirroring your cases?”
“Zero. Clearly my work and I are the common denominators.”
“Who has access to your case files?”
“A few people in the bureau. And each of the jurisdictions had copies. But all those are closely guarded.”
“What about boyfriends, lovers, friends, family? Ever left files out and someone got a peek?”
“I want a list of all the cases you’ve profiled.”
She shook her head. She’d worked several very grisly cases that still woke her up in the middle of the night. She wouldn’t wish that list on anyone.
“Could this be Bauldry?” Mazur asked. “Could this be his way of sending you another message? Could he be following your work?”
“He would have been incarcerated at the time of the Soothsayer murders, but the case received quite a bit of press locally and some nationally. It would have been easy to research considering the case is now closed. And it’s clear whoever killed this woman wanted her left in a humiliating position to send a message.”
“We need to find out more about this woman.”
“Start with her vehicle. It’s new and it was purchased from Sanchez Motors.”
Kate stood apart from the cops and dialed her boss, Jerrod Ramsey. He picked up on the third ring. “There’s another complication.”
He cursed. “I hate complications, Kate.”
Her voice was steady and gave no hint to the growing worry that threatened to cloud her thoughts. “There’s been another homicide.”
“A Samaritan shooting?”
“No. The victim was killed like the Soothsayer’s victims. She was stabbed, her eyes removed, and an eye drawn on her forehead.”
Silence crackled over the line. “That case was solved.”
She could take his yelling and his curses. That’s what Ramsey did to blow off steam. He only worried her when he was quiet, careful. “I know.”
“How much does this crime scene resemble the ones in North Carolina?”