“Is this the nut that puts women in boxes?” Palmer asked.
“Yes. Sara Fletcher was his fifth victim,” Kate said.
“Jesus, I hope this creep is caught before he can recreate any of your other house of horrors victims,” Palmer said. “How the hell do you sleep?”
“Not well,” Kate said.
Mazur glanced at the picture of Sara Fletcher and then to another picture of the wooden box that had been her prison. A primal rage made it hard for him to sit still. “This guy is headed south and was last spotted in southern New Mexico.”
“At this time, Drexler is not relevant to this case.”
“Assuming the Sanchez and Kendrick killings are connected,” Mazur said, “what theories do you have about this killer?”
“Male. Late twenties to midthirties. Educated. And he wants the world to know he’s smart enough to obtain classified details, but he also wants the world to know he’s his own man.”
“That description fits Bauldry,” Mazur commented.
“So what can we expect?”
“The next time he murders, he might improvise. He might have his own style that he wants to show off.”
When Mazur and Kate arrived at the Forensic Department an hour later, Calhoun had organized all the clothing articles from Gloria Sanchez’s murder scene next to Ms. Kendrick’s belongings. Kate scanned the items, not touching but evaluating.
“I’ve processed the items from the Sanchez case, but haven’t had a chance to examine Ms. Kendrick’s things. You can look but don’t touch,” Calhoun said.
“Of course,” Kate said as she pulled on a pair of rubber gloves.
Gloria Sanchez’s clothes were all high end and designer. The shoes were Gucci as was her purse.
“She liked nice things,” Mazur said.
Kate lifted an evidence bag that contained a bottle full of oxy, then replaced it. She studied the shoes, the belt, and the earrings. And then she paused when she saw the victim’s key chain. It appeared to be a brass chess piece.
She raised it up. “It’s the queen, the most powerful player on the board.”
“She was the Queen of Cars,” Calhoun said. “She often appeared at events with a crown, a cape, and a scepter. It was her shtick.”
Kate moved to Ms. Kendrick’s belongings. The items weren’t nearly as expensive. Faded jeans and a white blouse, a beaded bracelet, and slip-on shoes. All now stained with blood that was still sticky and damp.
She took a mental step back, banishing the image of the young woman who’d been alive and well yesterday.
As she inspected each item, she saw nothing that was out of the ordinary. Why had the killer chosen her?
“I’d like to look at the contents of the purse.”
Calhoun unzipped Rebecca Kendrick’s large black leather tote. She removed a spiral notebook, several pens, lipstick, a hairbrush, a leopard-print wallet, and a packet of blush.
“Is there any jewelry?”
Calhoun looked up. “Two gold stud earrings.”
“What are you looking for?” Mazur asked.
“I’m not sure,” she said, more to herself.
“You were interested in the queen chess piece before,” he prompted.
“William and I used to play chess. It’s how we met. We were our happiest when there was a chessboard between us.” William would see all this as a game. He would deliberately leave her a memento so she knew it was him. “Check her purse one more time.”
Mazur shook his head. “This is a stretch.”
Calhoun rooted in the bottom of the purse. Seconds passed, and then she arched a brow before frowning as she removed a white bishop. “It was stuck in the bottom of her purse.”
Kate released the breath she was holding, but there was no sense of relief. She rubbed her thumb against her forefinger, now worn red.
I have chosen the queen, the rook, and of course the bishop. When this match is finished the king will have nothing left.