Back out in the living room, he opened the small side table’s drawer by the couch and removed more condoms, a fresh pack of chewing gum, and a collection of pictures. “She’s worried about getting pregnant. Not just cautious but very careful.”
Kate flipped through the pictures. The first featured a smiling Rebecca Kendrick, her arm wrapped around a young man with a haggard face and the toothless smile of a meth addict. Behind them was a circle of chairs and a cross on the wall. The next picture featured Rebecca and two young women. The smiling women were thin and pale, their eyes sunken. And the next picture captured Rebecca with Gloria Sanchez.
Mazur studied the picture. “I get the sense these two liked each other.”
“Relaxed posture, close proximity, and the slightly arched brows certainly indicate that. Gloria’s smile reminds me of the one I see in her car ads. Big, bold, as if she’s selling something.”
“No pictures of Mr. Sanchez.”
“No. The background appears to be the basement of a church. No windows, and a cross on the wall. Also, there’s a large coffeepot in the background and a plate of doughnuts. Ms. Kendrick was working the program.”
“What was Gloria doing at the meeting? Checking up on her?” Mazur asked.
“Gloria’s hair and makeup are completely done. She’s dressed in a high-end pantsuit. Nails polished. Jewelry. She wasn’t sneaking around and trying to hide. She expected to be photographed. Maybe this is part of her charity outreach to ex-cons. Publicity, no doubt.”
“That fits. Take away the hair and makeup, and they look very much alike. They could be sisters.” He pulled the small notebook from his breast pocket. “But they’re not. Ms. Kendrick moved to Texas five years ago from California. She bounced around the state, living in Houston and Austin before settling here. And she did serve nine months in the Travis County jail for possession early last year.” He flipped the pages of his notebook.
“Gloria is wearing fall colors and a light blazer. And if you compare this image to the commercials made last summer, Gloria’s hair is longer. If I had to guess, I’d say the picture was taken very recently.”
“The crucifix hanging on the wall behind them suggests a church.”
“Check a three- to five-mile radius of this apartment. Recovering addicts like to stay close to their meeting sites, especially in the beginning. She would want to know she could get to a meeting quickly if she had to.”
He typed the information into his phone. “There’s one church within two miles of this apartment. Saint Anthony’s.”
“Let’s pay them a visit. Maybe they’ve also seen Bauldry.”
The drive to the parish in the modest neighborhood took less than ten minutes. The parking lot had about a dozen cars. The brown adobe exterior had arched doorways and windows with leaded glass, and a cornerstone marker dated the church to 1899. The landscape was neatly trimmed and the trash picked up.
Inside, they moved down the dim hallway following the signs that read “Office.” Beside the church office hung a sign-up sheet for altar flowers. A flyer requesting volunteers for Sunday school was next to a notice that the first meeting for the Christmas pageant would be held in two days.
They entered and faced a small desk where an elderly Hispanic woman with salt-and-pepper hair sat at a computer. Her round spectacles magnified her dark eyes when she looked up and smiled.
“Police?” she asked.
Mazur reached in his pocket as Kate pulled out her badge. “You’ve seen the police before?”
The woman rose, pulling off her glasses. “In this neighborhood? Father Jimenez counsels many at-risk youth, so we get our share of visits from the police.” She extended her hand. “I’m Maria Lawrence. I’m the church secretary. Father Jimenez is making a hospital visit now, but maybe I can help. Who are you here for?”
“Rebecca?” The woman shook her head. “Don’t tell me that Rebecca is in trouble. She’s worked so hard to straighten out her life.”
“You know Rebecca?” Kate asked.
“Yes. She came to us after she was released from jail and joined our sobriety group last year. She just received her eighteen-month chip.”
“What do you know about her past?” Kate asked.
“She came from a very bad family situation. She lived on the streets many times growing up in Los Angeles. She’s proud of her new apartment and her job at the coffee shop. She was saying they were talking about making her manager.”
Mazur showed the picture of Gloria and Rebecca. “Was this taken here?”