Copyright © 2007, 2014 by Eric Aune
All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved
Around noon, Randy wakes up, and sees Devon isn't with him. He gets up and puts some jeans and a shirt on and goes out into the living room. His mom is there reading the paper.
"Hi Mom. Have you seen De, uh... Dad?"
"He left about an hour ago. He wanted to get in to work and see if they found anything out yet."
"Oh, okay. Did he know when he might be back?"
"No, he didn't know. He said he was going to stay there until they finished everything so that could be some time."
Randy nods and goes back to the bathroom to clean up. When he finishes, he goes to the kitchen and makes a sandwich. He goes outside for a bit to see if Devon is out there with Gus. Gus comes up to him, but Devon is nowhere to be found. He goes back inside.
"Mom, I'm going to ride down to the park for awhile."
"Do you have any schoolwork to do?"
"No, everything is done. I'll find out what I missed tomorrow."
"Your Dad told me about this morning. Was it bad?"
"No. I went back to the truck before they unwrapped him. I didn't want to see him that way."
"I'm glad. That would have been a terrible sight."
Randy stands there for a minute, then comes in and sits down next to his mom.
"Mom, could I ask you to think about something?"
"Of course, you know I will."
"It's something I've been kind of thinking about for awhile now. It has to do with this boy, Devon. When Dad let me read his file, I kind of felt sorry for him and wanted to ask that if the... baby is a boy, would you and Dad maybe think about naming him Devon, after this boy? I would kind of like a little brother named Devon. Kind of so that someone remembers him."
"I promise, I'll talk to your Dad about this. We'll see what he says, okay?"
Randy leaves for the park. When he gets there, he searches the entire park. When he is sure no one is near, he calls out for Devon. He doesn't find him and heads back home. When he gets there, he looks around again and goes to his room to watch TV.
At the station, Andrew is at his desk. Unknown to him, Devon is sitting on his desk looking around. Both of them from time to time get up and walk over to a window and look out.
He turns around and sees Bill calling and waving him to his office. Andrew makes his way to the office, Devon close behind. Bill closes the door behind Andy and sits down at his desk. He motions to a chair.
"We got a hit to our feeler."
He hands some papers to Andrew, who takes them and looks through them, Devon looks over his shoulder. Bill waits while he reads them.
"As you can see, about eight years ago in San Antonio, Texas, twelve boys went missing over a few months time, all in the same age group as ours: 10-12. None of them had any family. They were all in the system. Like your case, no clues, no witnesses, no evidence of any wrongdoing, and none of them were ever found, and they are all still listed as missing."
"Well, the MO is the same. Would it be possible to get some more info about their case? Maybe they have something in their records compared with what we have, and hopefully what we'll find on Devon will lead us to the son of a bitch."
"I'll ask them and see if they'll send it."
"No word yet on Devon?"
"Nope. I know it's hard, but try to relax. I'm sure we should be hearing soon."
"Yeah, I know. Part of it is that if this guy has Kyle, then we may not have much time left."
"I know, I've been thinking of the same thing."
Andrew goes back to his desk and sits down rereading the report from Texas. An hour later, Steve comes in the office and goes over to Andrew's desk. Andrew looks up and Steve hands him a folder.
"Here it is."
Steve smiles "Yeah, we got something. You can read it, but I'll give you the highlights. He was sexually abused as we suspected. You saw that he was dressed, but when we removed his clothes, he had no underwear on."
"Possible, serial killers or rapists sometimes keep items belonging to their victims to 'remember' them by. Anyway he wasn't physically abused really, you know beaten up, no bruising on his body, just sexual abuse. There were ligature marks on his wrist and ankles, so he was probably tied up during the ordeal. There were also ligature marks around his neck, with hemorrhage in his eyes; preliminary cause of death until the lab work comes back is strangulation."
"Okay, mostly what I thought was the COD, but you said you found something."
"Oh yeah, we found a couple of hairs that did not belong to the vic; at least one of them a pubic hair. We should have some preliminary DNA information soon."
"Yeah, it is, you find a suspect, I'll match 'em up. We will send the information to CODIS and see if there is a match. If he is in the system we'll find him."
"Put as much of a rush on everything as you can. This is high priority. If he has Kyle Johnson, we don't want the same thing to happen to him as it did to Devon. Did you know that Devon and Kyle were roommates at the group home?"
"I hadn't heard that."
"I think this guy had seen Kyle with Devon at some time, and probably chose Kyle after he was done with Devon and was just waiting for the right time to grab him. Also we found a similar case in Texas."
"Really? Well good luck with that. I'll let you know if we get anything else."
"Thanks, Steve. Call me at home if you get anything else."
Steve waves in acknowledgement as he walks away. Andrew reads through the file quickly, and then goes over to Bill's office and knocks. Bill waves him in.
"Bill, we've got the prelim. report."
"They found a couple of hairs on him that did not belong to him. They're going to run the DNA through CODIS and see if they get any hits."
"Yeah, hopefully quick. Kyle's missing and probably still alive, but maybe not for long. I'm going to head home and gets some more rest."
"Okay, if there is anything we'll let you know."
"Okay, thanks. See you tomorrow."
Andrew leaves the office, gathers his briefcase at his desk and leaves. Devon can't wait to get home and talk to Randy. Well, at least as much as he can. They leave and start the drive home.
As soon as Andrew pulls into the driveway, Devon is out of the car like a shot. He runs into the house to find Randy. He finds Randy in his bedroom. Devon jumps up on the bed, startling Randy, who looks up at him and drops his book.
"Devon! You scared the crap out of me!"
Devon is smiling as sits down next to Randy.
"Where have you been all day?"
Devon frowns for a moment, then grins and gets up and goes to stand leaning against the wall with his arms and legs spread.
Randy laughs. "What are you doing?"
Devon sees a flashlight on Randy's desk. He picks it up and makes his hand into a gun and holds the flashlight under it supporting it. He walks around the room like cops do on TV when they are advancing with their guns drawn.
"I don't get it."
Devon throws his hands up in the air and looks to the sky. He goes into Randy's closet and moves the clothes around and points to Randy's Police Explorer uniform and then points back to the living room.
"Oh, you were with my Dad?"
Devon gets an exaggerated look of "Duh!" on his face, and then grins.
"Okay. Playing charades isn't the best way to have a conversation."
Devon smiles, then jumps up on the bed again.
"So what happened? Anything new?"
Devon smiles and nods.
"Does that mean they found something?"
"Do you know what they found?"
Devon reaches up and gently pulls on a few hairs on his head.
"They found some hair?"
"Great, then they can get some DNA and maybe find who the guy is."
"Well, at least they found something. I hope they find something soon, so my Dad can find Kyle."
Devon hangs his head and nods.
Randy puts his arm around Devon. "Don't worry, bro, Dad's good. He'll find him in time."
Devon leans against Randy and puts his arms around Randy and hugs him.
They sit there quietly for a while, then a knock interrupts them. The door opens and his Dad pokes his head in; he sees the way Randy is sitting and quickly looks behind him, then comes in the door, closing it behind him.
"Hey, bud, you and Devon do anything today?"
"No, he wasn't here."
"Not here? Where was he?"
"With you, Dad."
"Me? You mean he was with me today? I thought he only stayed around you."
"Nope, he's gone with you before, early on."
"Oh, so does that mean you know?"
"Yeah, kinda. He said something about hair."
"Yep, we found some hair that didn't belong to Devon. So we're going to put it in CODIS and see if we get a hit. Also, we heard from Texas. It seems that twelve boys disappeared down there about eight years ago. Same MO. All in the foster care system. All are the same age range, ten to twelve years old. We're going to request that they fax us more info, maybe we can cross reference their info with ours and maybe something will jump out. Anyway, I wanted to let you know."
Andrew nods and leaves the room, closing the door behind him. The rest of the afternoon and evening is like any other, not much going on, and no new word from the station. Perhaps something will come up the next day.
Randy and Devon go off to school in the morning. Andrew goes in to work, hoping to hear some good news. After he drops his laptop case at his desk, he goes to the lab.
"Morning, Steve, any news on my case?"
"Nope, we put the DNA into CODIS, but nothing yet."
"Okay, let me know."
Andrew goes back to his desk. There is a file on it. He opens it and sees that it is the detailed information from Texas about the missing boys there. He starts going through it, making notes as he reads. He is interrupted by a folder being dropped on his desk. He looks up and sees the Lieutenant standing in front of his desk.
"We got another hit. About fifteen, sixteen years ago. Twelve missing boys in Ohio. All without parents, and in the foster system. No clues, no bodies, nothing. When I first heard about it, I asked them to send the details of the case, so here it is. We may have a serial child predator on our hands. How many have we had in your case?"
"Kyle is number nine."
"So if we do have the same person, he's not done, if he stays true to form. He has plans to grab three more."
"I'll get to work on looking these over, Bill. We have got to find Kyle, so that there is no number nine, ten, eleven or twelve."
"Yeah, keep at it. Any word from CODIS?"
"No, nothing, but Steve will let me know."
"Okay, good work."
Andrew nods and goes back to work. By the end of the day he is no closer to finding an answer. He calls it a day and heads home. When he comes in the door, Randy is sitting in the living room watching TV. The way he is sitting, Andrew can tell Devon is with him. Randy looks up expectantly, but Andrew shakes his head and Randy frowns a bit. Andrew sees him look around for his mother, then lift his arm and hug the air, looking to his right. Andrew drops everything in his office and goes to change out of his suit to some more comfortable clothes... all the while thinking of his case and what he has read from the other cases in Texas and Ohio. At dinner he is quiet as he thinks about the case.
"Honey, you okay?"
"Huh... wha... sorry, I wasn't paying attention."
"I was just asking about your day. You've been kind of quiet."
"Sorry, I was thinking about the case. Nothing new. Still searching."
"Okay, you just seemed a bit distracted."
"Sorry, I have been. How was your day?"
They continue the rest of the meal talking about her patients and just small talk. After dinner, Andrew goes into his office and looks over the files for another hour or so. He sighs and puts them away, and joins the family in the living room before bed.
The next day they go about their morning routine, getting ready for work and school. Devon once again goes with Randy to school. Andrew gets to work, and again checks with Steve, with no luck. Nothing new about missing boys either. He heads home empty handed as the clock ticks down for Kyle.
Meanwhile, in a neighborhood in the Santa Clarita area, where the houses out here are on big lots, so that the next door neighbor is not too near, a basement door unlocks and opens. Down in the basement on a cot Kyle startles awake. He is chained to the cot by his wrists and ankles with handcuffs. He sees the shadow of the man come down the stairs, and he starts to shake his head and tears run down his face. The man comes into view and leers at the naked boy in front of him.
"Time for some more of our nightly fun, sport."
"No, please... just let me go. I swear I won't tell anyone. I don't even know where I am."
"Sorry, I'm not done yet. But if you're a good boy and do what I say, I'll free you in a couple of days. But you have to swear on a bible that you won't tell anyone about me."
"I'll swear on a stack of bibles."
"You're a good boy. You know that you'll go to hell if you break your promise."
"I know, I'll do what you want and I'll swear to forget all about you."
"Good boy, yeah, we're going to have fun tonight. You'll like it, won't you."
"Yes, sir. I... uh like it and I'll do whatever you say."
The man pushes the boy down on the cot and runs his hands all over him, touching everywhere. He then takes a key out and unlocks the cuffs. When the boy is free, the man takes his arm and pulls him up, they go through another door and enter a separate room, and he locks it behind them. The room has another door in it that leads to a small bathroom with a shower. The main room has a queen size bed. Also in the room is a large safe. There is a small dresser to one side of the room. There is a chain with handcuffs bolted into the wall. The walls of the room have soundproofing material on them and no windows. The man keeps a tight grip on the boy as he picks up the handcuff and locks them on the boy. He pushes the boy toward the bed; he undresses once the boy is sitting down. The boy tries to hide the revulsion on his face of what is about to happen as it has every night for the past few nights. The man is older in his late 40's or 50's, balding and a little overweight. Once he is finished, he unlocks the handcuffs and takes a firm grip on the boy, leading him to the bathroom.
"You know what the good book says, 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness'."
They go into the bathroom and get into the shower. There is plenty of room for both of them as he washes the boy down, again getting his chance to touch the boy all over. When they are finished he dries the boy off, then takes him back into the room and cuffs him again, while he goes and dries off. He comes back in smiling. He goes to the dresser and grabs a tube of KY Jelly.
"This is going to be a great night, huh, sport?"
"Ye... yes, sir. It'll be a gr... great night."
"That's the spirit."
He nears the boy, and all Kyle can do is shut his eyes, dreading what is coming next as the man chuckles. Later, lying on the cot, Kyle is crying softly wishing for someone to find him. He cannot move far because of the handcuffs and it makes it hard to sleep sometimes, but he tries. He is so afraid of the man and what he will do to him. He has seen the man's face and if what they show in the movies and TV is true. He's pretty sure about what is going to happen. He puts his hands together and looks up.
"God. I hope you can hear me. I need someone to find me quick. This man is hurting me bad and I think he is going to kill me. I know that I've always asked for a family to adopt me. But I don't need that now. I'll be glad to live with the Jeffries. They treat me nice and take good care of all of us. If you help me out of this, I won't ask for anything again, I promise."
Eventually Kyle falls into a fitful sleep.
The next morning everyone is in their normal routine. Andrew's day at the station brings no good news, no hits from CODIS. But also no bad news, no other reports of a group of missing boys. Andrew goes home that evening, feeling a bit depressed and worried for Kyle. He has been gone for five days now, and if this guy holds true to form, his time is probably running out. He is in his office looking over the reports again when Randy comes in.
"Hey, Dad, how's it going?"
"Not great, buddy. We are still nowhere. We have the DNA, but no matches; we'll be able to match the bastard to the crime if we catch him, but he is not in the database. So he probably has never been caught."
"Did you find anything more?"
"Well, we did find out that their were similar cases in Texas about eight years ago and in Ohio about fifteen or sixteen years ago. But they have no real clues either."
He points to the files and Randy walks over, picks them up, and goes back to the couch to look at them. Andrew sits back in his chair and watches Randy look through them. Every once in a while, Randy tilts them like he is showing them to somebody next to him. Andrew shakes his head. Randy raises his head with a thoughtful look on his face. He looks to his father.
"Dad, these boys are all in the foster care, and basically orphans. They are also older than most people want to adopt, most people like babies or very young kids, right?"
"True, most people want a little one. I think they erroneously believe that by the time that they are older, it might be too hard to get them to assimilate with the family and there might be problems that they don't want to deal with, so they look for babies or toddlers. In some cases they are probably right, but I think there are a lot of great older kids out there, that just need a good home and someone to care for them."
"Yeah. I noticed that the boys in Ohio and Texas are all in the same boat. Also that they always disappear either on the way home from school or in the late afternoon, when they are by themselves and no one is around. Now who might know that kind of stuff about them? We know that the Jeffries are good people, and if you investigated the other homes that these boys came from, it would probably be the same. So who else would know about some of this stuff?"
"I don't know. Besides the foster parents, I suppose there would be some sort of records at CPS or Social Services, the caseworker assigned to the boy would know. Maybe the caseworker's supervisor."
"Would anyone else have access to these records?"
"No, not unless they had access to the computer networks at CPS or Social services and could loo..."
Andrew quickly sits up in his chair and looks at his son.
"Son of a Bitch! We've gotta go in to the station. That includes you and especially Devon. Go get your coat."
Randy leaves, closely followed by Devon. He hurries back out meeting his dad, who is talking to his mom.
"Mary, I'm going into the station for a bit, Randy's going with me."
"Okay, what is going on?"
"Randy gave me an idea and I want to follow up."
"This isn't another tip like Sunday, is it?"
"No, just a thought and I need to check the database at the station, Randy wanted to tag along, so since I am just going to the station I said sure. We won't be late."
"Okay, take care."
They quickly head back to the station. Andrew is driving pretty fast, in a hurry because he knows that Kyle's time if running out. They get to the station in record time. He is greeted by the other detectives and aides that are in the office.
"Andy, what are you doing here? Hi Randy."
"I just wanted to check something on the computer while I was thinking about it. Randy wanted to tag along."
He leads them to his desk and boots up the computer. He logs in and searches the county government files for employees of CPS and Social Services. He types into the search line 'male employees of CPS and Social Services'. When he runs it, the list is kind of long. He does a further search for any of them hired in the last 5-8 years. The list shrinks a bit. He narrows the parameters to caseworkers. The list shrinks more. He looks around then turns to Randy.
"Okay, here is what we're going to do. We're going to look through these files like with the mug shots. Devon, you need to let Randy know if anyone looks familiar."
Randy looks at Devon, who nods.
"Okay, Dad, we're ready."
Andrew starts paging through the records, which though pared down is still quite long. LA County is pretty big with a lot of problems that Social Services gets involved in. After five minutes, Devon's eyes get big as a picture flashes on the screen. He is so shocked that he doesn't do anything until a few pictures pass by. He pulls himself together and punches Randy on the arm.
Randy turns and looks at Devon, then his eyes widen. Andrew turns and whispers to Randy.
"What's going on, son?"
"Devon just punched me. I think that's the one."
Devon punches Randy again.
"Ow! Quit will ya." Randy rubs his arm.
"Keep it down. Do you want everyone over here?"
"Sorry Dad." He looks at Devon.
Devon is shaking his head and motioning with his hand.
"No, that's not him." He looks at Devon, who nods. "Dad, Devon wants you to go back."
"Okay." He hits the back arrow and starts to go back through the pictures.
Devon looks at the pictures, Randy is watching him. Suddenly Devon's face changes, and his eyes widen; he points.
"Dad, stop. Dev, is that him?"
They look at the picture and information:
Clifford Handy, 5'9", 190 pounds, 50 years old. He has worked in Social Services for over 25 years. Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Ohio State. Brown hair, brown eyes. There is an address in Santa Clarita. Hire date seven years ago.
"I've gotta make a couple of calls."
Andrew opens a small book and dials a number.
"Hello, Social Services, may I help you?"
"Hi, this is Detective Shepard of the LA Sheriff's Department; can I talk to the supervisor on duty?"
"Sure, just a moment."
"Hello, this is Michael Reed, can I help you?"
"Hello, Mr. Reed, this is Detective Shepard of the LA Sherriff's. I need to ask you about one of your caseworkers."
"I know Clifford, good man, seems to care about the kids. I worked with him when he was first hired, about eight years ago. Is there a problem, detective?"
"No, I just wanted to ask him about one of his cases. What he knows about him, just a few questions. Do you happen to know where he worked before he was hired here?"
"I'm not sure. Let me check his file and I'll call you back."
"Okay, I'm here at the Burbank station, 818-555-0934."
"Okay, got it. I'll call right back."
Andrew hangs up.
"Okay, now we wait."
They sit impatiently for the phone to ring. When it does, it hardly finishes ringing before Andrew picks it up.
"Detective Bureau, Detective Shepard."
"Detective, according to his file, he worked in San Antonio, Texas. Is there a problem?"
"No, none that we know of. Do you happen to know if he will be in tomorrow?"
"He should be; that is what the schedule says."
"Good, I'll call tomorrow and ask him about this boy that we're concerned about. The kid says that Clifford is his caseworker."
"Do you need anything from us?"
"No, nothing to worry about. Just a petty theft report that were looking into."
"Okay, if you're sure you don't need us."
"Yeah, I'm sure. I'll call you if we need help. Bye."
Andrew looks at Randy.
"Okay, that's one down."
Andrew hangs up, then looks through some files on his desk and finds the number he is looking for. He dials it and it rings a couple of times before someone answers it.
"Hello, Social Services, how may I help you?"
"Hello, this is Detective Andrew Shepard of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, I am working on a case and would like to talk to someone who can give me some information on a former employee."
"I can get you the evening supervisor."
"Okay, one moment."
"This is Oscar Romero, supervisor. How can I help you, Detective?"
"I'm looking for some information on a former employee from about seven or eight years ago."
"Okay, give me a minute. Okay, who is the person?"
"All right, just a moment." Computer keys can be heard tapping. "Okay, here we go. What do you want to know? Is he in some kind of trouble?"
"No, just doing a background check and just wanted to check how long he worked for you folks, and if you know where he worked before."
"Well, let's see. He was with us about eight years, and he came here from Columbus, Ohio. He got his degree there at Ohio State and went to work with Social Services there in Columbus after graduation."
"Okay, thanks, Mr. Romero, for your help."
"Glad to help, Detective."
Andrew hangs up and looks at Randy.
"Okay. I think I have enough for a search warrant. It is a little slim, but we'll see."
Andrew calls another number.
"Andy, what are you calling about?"
"I think I might have a lead on the guy."
"No shit? Who do you think it is?"
"A Clifford Handy, he's a social worker with CPS."
"How sure are you about this?"
"Pretty sure. I was thinking about this at home, when it occurred to me that the information needed to get to the boys, could fairly easily be found in the files of CPS by someone who has access to them, like a caseworker. So I searched by looking for male caseworkers who were been hired about 6-8 years ago. Then searched through them for anyone who had been in or working in Texas before coming here. This guy was the only one. Also, he got his degree from Ohio State."
"Okay, sounds promising, go on."
"So I called San Antonio CPS and asked if they could tell me where he worked before being hired by San Antonio. They said that he had been with them about eight years and that he had worked in Columbus, Ohio. The same area that the missing boys in Ohio were from."
"Okay, I'm coming in. I'll be there in a few minutes; wait for me."
"Where is this guy located?"
"I'm on my way."
"All right, see you in a few."
Andrew hangs up and turns to the boys whispering.
"Okay, boys, we're going to go after this guy. You wa..."
"No way, Dad. I'm going with you. If we find Kyle, he'll be scared; I can help with him, since I'm only a little older than him. I might be able to comfort him if he is all right."
He is quiet for a moment. "Okay, you can go along, but I want you stay in the car, got it? It might be dangerous."
"Yes, sir, thanks Dad."
About twenty minutes later, Bill arrives.
"Okay, Andy, I called the DA on the way in here. Someone from his office should be here soon to get the basic information, then they can get the search warrant."
"Okay, I'll be waiting impatiently."
Bill laughs. "Yeah, me too."
Andrew gets some coffee and Randy gets a coke from the machine as they wait. Ten minutes later, Bill comes out and nods toward the door. A lady comes in and goes to Bill.
"Bill, good to see you. I understand that you have a lead on someone who may be responsible for the missing boys."
"Yep, well at least Andy does. Andy, this is Janet Tennant, from the DA's office."
"Ms. Tennant, nice to meet you."
"Detective. So what have you got?"
"I have right now nine missing boys."
"Nine, I thought it was eight."
"Another one went missing Saturday, it was reported on Sunday. We decided to keep it under wraps, because that night we found the body of one of the boys, Devon Carter; he was number seven, we believe."
"Okay, go ahead."
"Anyway, we put out feelers for similar cases and we got some hits. Twelve boys went missing in San Antonio, Texas, about eight years ago. No families to speak of, all were in foster care, all boys between ten and twelve years old. None have been found. Then about eight years before that, twelve boys went missing in Columbus, Ohio. Same thing, no families, no clues, no bodies."
"So you believe that there is a predator that has been doing this for what about 15-20 years? And you think that this person is someone of interest? How?"
"Well, I did some investigating and thought that someone who has access to the CPS computer systems would be able to find out everything they would need about the boys by pulling up their records, so I did some cross referencing and found that this person, Clifford Handy, worked at CPS in San Antonio eight years ago before coming here and in Columbus, eight years before that. He also got his degree from Ohio State. He was the only one that met the criteria that I searched by, so I believe that he is the one."
"Well, that is pretty coincidental, but I can see how it might look. I'm not sure that I can get a search warrant for this."
"Ms. Tennant, I know how it sounds, but I truly do believe he is the guy."
"How certain are you?"
"100%. I know that it sounds pretty coincidental, but Handy was in each place during the time that each group of boys went missing, and had access to their records. So, yeah, I think he's the guy."
"Okay. I'll see what I can do. I'll let you know."
"Thanks, Janet. We'll be waiting."
"One more thing, Ms. Tennant, the ninth missing boy. We believe that he may still be alive, but not for long. We think that this guy keeps them for no more than a week and then kills them, then waits a few weeks before grabbing another. It is almost a week now, so please do everything that you can."
"Don't worry, I will, Detective."
She leaves and the wait begins. An hour later, Bill comes out of his office.
"Andy, we got it! She'll be here in a few minutes. Call for some uniforms and we'll get out there as soon as we can."
"Great. Okay, boys... Randy, lets go. Remember I said stay in the car."
"Okay, Dad, Okay!"
The office is a flurry of activity as they get ready.
At Clifford Handy's house Kyle is once again being led into the bedroom. The routine is the same as the other nights, except that the man has a different look on his face, anticipation.
As soon as the warrant gets to the station, they leave. In the car Andy gives out instructions.
"All units, this is Shepard, do not use your lights or sirens when you approach the house. Stay back until the Lieutenant and I arrive."
There are several acknowledgements. They drive quickly, escorted by black and white's. It does not take long to get to the neighborhood. They find the house. It is on a large lot, set back from the road a bit. As they near the house, several other cars fall in behind them. All of them quietly exit their cars. Andy calls them together. There are six officers.
"Okay, this is how we're going to do it. I want two of you at the back, one on each side of the house, and the rest at the front. We will go in from the front. If you hear us break in the front, that means that no one answered the front door and it was locked. Then you come in also. If we get in quietly, or he answers the door, we will let you in ourselves. You guys on the sides, stay there until I call you in. All right, let's do it."
They quietly fan out around the house. Andrew goes up to the front door and knocks. There is no answer, so he rings the bell. Nothing, so he tries the door. It is unlocked. He draws his gun and gently pushes the door open.
"Sheriff's Department! We have a search warrant!"
He looks back at Bill and shrugs. Bill waves his hand. Andrew opens the door the rest of the way. The officers fan out; one goes to the back to let the others in. They search the house.
In the basement, Kyle is lying on his stomach, weary from the pain and humiliation. The man has gotten up from the bed and gone to the dresser. He pulls out a short piece of rope and heads back toward the bed.
The officers come back and report the house is empty.
"Detective, we found a door in the back of the kitchen."
Andrew leads the way. He cautiously opens the door and sees stairs going down. He carefully walks down the stairs. When he enters the basement he sees a cot, with handcuffs attached to it. Andrew looks around the room. There is a washer and dryer down here and some shelving.
In the bedroom, Kyle reacts to the weight of the man climbing onto the bed. He looks around, tears on his face. His eyes widen as he sees the rope in the man's hands. He opens his mouth to scream.
Andrew sees the other door and carefully advances on the door. He goes to it and quietly tries the door. It is locked. He motions to the others and sets himself. He kicks in the door and is assaulted by the sound of a young voice screaming that suddenly cuts off.
Andrew stands in the door and sees a naked Clifford Handy pulling on a rope around a naked young boy's neck. He is suddenly distracted by the splintering door. He is startled and as he turns around, his hands still pulling the rope, he falls off the bed, pulling the boy with him. Andrew moves forward and Clifford jumps up with a gun in his hand and the boy in front of him. He is pointing it at Andrew, then at Kyle's head.
"Back off, or the kid gets it."
Andrew motions to those outside; none of them can see into the room. "Calm down, Clifford. You don't want to do this. We can get you the help you need."
"What help? I don't need help. You're just going to let the boy and me leave. You try to stop me, the kid gets it."
"Clifford, we're here to help you. No one needs to get hurt. Just let the boy go and we'll see that you get the help you need."
Clifford suddenly shoots the gun into the wall near Andrew, who recoils and raises his gun. Clifford has quickly brought the gun back to Kyle's head. Kyle's eyes are wide as he stands there whimpering, tears running down his face. Andrew sees a pleading look in Kyle's eyes. Andrew focuses back on Clifford.
"Now, Clifford, you don't want to hurt the boy. You just need some help. Put the gun down and let the boy go, and we can get you help. We don't want to hurt you."
There is indecision in Clifford's eyes and he starts to drop the gun, but for some reason he suddenly raises the gun again, pointing it at Andrew. From the corner there is a yell that draws the attention of Clifford, Andrew and Kyle. They are stunned at what they see.
"YOU LEAVE MY DAD AND MY FRIEND ALONE!"
In the corner of the room Devon is standing in plain sight. Fury is radiating from him.
"Devon... is that you?"
Kyle faints after saying that. Clifford lets him drop to the ground. Clifford is shocked and lets go of Kyle.
"No, you... you're dead. You're dead, you can't be here. You're dead. I killed you."
Clifford shoots at Devon, the bullets of course going through him; he then turns, pointing the gun at Andrew. Andrew breaks from his shock as Clifford turns to him.
"Drop it, Clifford, NOW!"
Clifford doesn't and points the gun at Andrew. Andrew quickly shoots before Clifford can get off a shot, hitting him in the chest twice, slamming him back against the wall. The gunshot wakes Kyle up, who sits up and looks over at Devon. Kyle's face is pale white and he looks like he is going into shock. Devon smiles at his friend.
Andrew shakes himself and turns around.
"Someone get Randy, my son, down here. I think Kyle needs someone nearer to his age to help!"
Bill turns and gives the instructions and one of the uniform cops calls up above to another officer. Kyle faints, Andrew runs to him as Devon disappears smiling. Bill and another officer move toward Clifford Handy and kick the gun away. He checks for a pulse and gets up. Andrew is cradling Kyle. Bill pats him on the back as he goes by.
"I'm going to call it in. Dispatch, this is Lieutenant Bowers; get the coroner here and an ambulance."
Andrew nods holding the boy. One of the officers hands a blanket to Andrew, as another uses a sheet to cover the man's body. A few moments later Randy runs in the room and goes to his dad.
"Dad, are you okay?"
"I'm fine, son. Take care of Kyle."
"Sure, Dad, give him to me."
Andrew hands Kyle over, then looking around, leans close to Randy and whispers.
"I saw him. Devon was here. He appeared in the corner and distracted Handy. He looked real and he yelled at Handy. Kyle fainted and then Handy tried to shoot me. He missed, I didn't. That was the most shocking scene I've seen, having Devon appear and yell at him. I don't think I'll ever forget that."
"Yeah, Dad. That's how I was when I first saw him. I'll take care of Kyle."
"All right, I've got to go talk to Bill."
Randy nods. He holds Kyle and strokes his hair. He looks around, but doesn't see Devon anywhere. He feels the boy stirring in his lap. He looks down as the boy slowly opens his eyes. He blinks a couple of times as he focuses on Randy's face smiling down on him. He smiles back, then suddenly starts and looks around.
"Chill, bud. It's over. You're safe."
"No buts. You're safe. That guy can no longer hurt you or any other person."
Kyle looks over at the shrouded body of the man. He looks back at Randy and starts to cry.
"He... mad... he made me do thing..."
"Shhh, buddy. That's over now. You're safe and I'll be sure to keep you safe."
"But I had to... had to... people will hate me now."
"No one will hate you. I know what happened and I don't hate you. Everyone here knows what happened, and they don't hate you. If they hated anyone, it was that evil man, who hurt you and Devon and all the others."
"Devon. I saw him. Where is he? He was here."
"Kyle... calm down."
Randy looks around, but everyone is busy. He lowers his voice.
"You did see Devon, but he is... dead. You saw his spirit. We found his grave on Sunday. He directed my dad and me to it. He's been communicating, I guess you could say he's been haunting me for several weeks now. It was with his help that we got to you."
"He helped you find me?"
"Yep, you were his friend and he really freaked when we found out that you were missing. Then things just fell into place, and we were able to figure out who was doing this and here we are."
"Is Devon around now?"
"No, I haven't seen him."
"Maybe he's gone to heaven now."
"Maybe, I hope so, but I'm going to miss him. I loved him, but he should be with his family now."
Randy has tears in his eyes, missing his little brother. His dad comes into the room.
"Randy. Can you carry Kyle upstairs? The EMTs will be here in a minute."
"Okay, Dad. I'll be right up."
Randy stands up, carrying Kyle, who willingly allows Randy to carry him up the stairs and outside. The EMTs are just pulling up. Randy leans close to Kyle and whispers.
"I think I'd keep the part about Devon to yourself. I'll see you later."
Kyle nods as an EMT takes him from Randy and lays him on the gurney. Randy goes over to his Dad, who is finishing giving his report. He puts his arm around Randy as he comes up.
"Detective, we found something that you need to see."
"Okay, lead the way."
He follows the officer into the house and downstairs to the basement and to the safe in the bedroom. Andrew sees that the safe has been drilled out and inside are a bunch of packages that have various pieces of what look like cloth of some kind. As he nears, the officer hands him one of the packages. Andrew takes it and looks at it. It is a pair of white boy's briefs. Inside the clear package is a silver chain and a picture. It is Devon's picture. Andrew starts to tear up. He hands it back and turns away.
"Okay, bag it all up and get it to the station."
Andrew goes back outside to the Lieutenant.
"Bill, they just found some packages of boy's underwear in the safe downstairs. Probably trophies. The one that the officer showed me had a pair of white boy's briefs, a silver necklace and Devon's picture. I had them bag them all up."
"Yeah, there looked like about two or three dozen in there."
"What a sick bastard. Too bad you're such a good shot, this is one son of a bitch that you want to live long enough to go to prison."
"Okay, Bill. I'll see you in the morning to finish writing up the report."
"That's fine, Andy. See you in the morning; when you come in just write up the report and take the rest of the day off; you deserve it. Great work. See ya."
Bill walks away. Andrew turns to Randy.
"Ready to go home, son?"
"Yeah, Dad, I'm tired."
Andrew nods and they head to the car to go home.