Home > Forgotten in Death (In Death #53)

Forgotten in Death (In Death #53)
Author: J. D. Robb

 

1

 


For a homicide cop, murder often started the day. For the mixed-race female sloppily wrapped in a tarp and stuffed in a construction site dumpster, it had surely ended hers.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas ducked under the crime scene tape and strode across the demolition rubble. She’d already been on her way downtown to Cop Central when the call came through, detouring her to one of the construction sites in Hudson Yards.

The day had a soft feel to it, a breezy warmth as May of 2061 made way for June and the heat that would surely follow. Construction types stood around in their hard hats and steel-toed boots, gulping coffee, shooting the shit, and goggling at the dumpster where a couple of uniforms stood by.

Civilians, Eve knew, couldn’t resist goggling at the dead.

She could hear the hard, staccato, machine-gun echo of an airjack at another site. The whole sector, she knew, was full of them.

The dumpster sat on the north side of the seventy-story spear of a building, on the edge where a trio of lesser towers huddled. The trio, post–Urban Wars toss-them-up-and-cross-your-fingers construction, showcased the dinge and wear of the years, the shrugged shoulders of neglect.

She noted broken windows, the pitted, graffiti-laced walls, crumbling facades, old beams now bent and twisted, and the big, muscular machines, the strangely delicate sway of the towering cranes, and the mountain range of lesser tools lined up to deal with them.

To her eye, it resembled the aftermath of a war zone, but the only casualty she could see lay wrapped in a dumpster like so much debris.

Whatever the plans, the schedule, the budget might be, it all stopped now.

The civilians could goggle at the dead, but she stood for them.

She carried her field kit to the cops at the dumpster, tapped her badge. “Who’s first on scene?”

“That would be us, Lieutenant. Officers Urly and Getz.”

“Run it for me,” she said as she took a can of Seal-It from her kit.

Urly, a tall Black woman in her early forties, took the lead.

“Getz and I responded to the call at oh-seven-thirty-five. We confirmed the DB in the dumpster here, and secured the scene. The nine-one-one caller, a Manuel Best, stated he found the body shortly after he reported to work at seven-thirty.”

“Maybe the blood trail gave him a clue.”

Urly’s lips twitched—the closest she got to a smile. “Yes, sir. Best stated he thought someone had dumped a dead or wounded animal in there.”

“He’s pretty shaken up, Lieutenant.” Getz, white, husky, thirties, chin-pointed to the left. “Just a kid, college boy, summer job. Just started this week.”

“Hell of a way to enter the workforce. I’ll want to speak with him when I’m done with the body.”

She stepped up, avoiding the drops of dried blood, and, a tall woman herself, peered into the dumpster.

She could see the side of the victim’s head through the plastic sheeting. Scraggly hair, the color of dust, spilled over it. Blood matted the hair, smeared the sheeting.

Her hand fell out when the killer tossed her in, Eve thought. Rush job, bash, dump, run.

“Severe blunt force trauma to the right side of the victim’s head is visible, as is a blood trail starting approximately four feet from the dumpster on the far side of the security fencing. Blood on the front of the dumpster, on the plastic sheeting used to cover the victim. Likely used to carry the victim to the dump site.”

When she had the interior of the dumpster, the position of the body fully on record, she hissed out a breath.

She sealed up, passed her field kit to Getz.

And boosted herself into the dumpster.

Construction crap—not garbage, so lucky day. But construction crap could include nails, glass, toothy metal, and all kinds of sharps.

“She can’t be more than five-two,” Eve judged as she found a corner of the sheet, drew it up, and exposed more of the head wound. “Blood, bone shards, gray matter. Hand me my kit. Looks to me like…”

She took the kit, pulled out microgoggles. With them, she leaned in. “Yeah, murder weapon’s going to be a crowbar. I can see where the two-pronged hook went in, the flat handle indented.”

Gently, Eve turned the head. “Two strikes, right temple, upper back of the head. One probably did it.”

“Oh hell. Lieutenant, I know her. Getz?”

He rose up a little, leaned in. “Yeah, shit. Sidewalk sleeper, sir. She roamed around this area, did some unlicensed begging.”

“We looked the other way there,” Urly added. “She was harmless. She’d make little flowers or paper animals out of litter, pass them out to anyone who gave her some change, you know?”

“Got a name?”

“No, sir. She used the Chelsea Shelter mostly in the winter or bad weather. Or flopped in one of the condemned buildings here like a lot of them. She didn’t hustle or hassle, but she kept a little book, and wrote people up for rule violations.”

“What kind of violations?” Eve asked as she got out her Identi-pad.

“Jaywalking, littering—she was fierce about littering—shoplifting, trespassing, not picking up your dog’s poop.” Urly shrugged. “She’d write down a kind of description of the violator, the violation, the time and place. She’d hunt up a cop and read off the page. Ask us to make a copy.”

“Mostly, we would, and we’d thank her, give her a couple bucks,” Getz added. “We all called her CC—for Concerned Citizen.”

“Spotty on the ID data, lot of blank spots. But she comes up as Alva Quirk, mixed race, age forty-six. No fixed address. No current employment. No family listed on her ID. We’ll do a run there.”

“Alva,” Urly repeated. “Lieutenant, if it turns out she doesn’t have family, the cops in the Tenth would take care of having her cremated. She was kind of a mascot.”

“I’ll make sure you’re notified. TOD, zero-one-twenty. COD, blunt and sharp head trauma. ME to confirm.”

Eve heard the clomping, recognized pink cowgirl boots. “Peabody,” she said without looking up. “Just in time. Everybody, seal up, and let’s get her out. I can get her up,” Eve said before Getz could climb in with her. “I can get her up and pass her to you.”

It was a process, and not a pleasant one, but Eve slid her arms along and under the plastic, got a grip.

Even deadweight, the victim couldn’t have been more than a hundred pounds.

Urly reached over, took some of that weight, then Getz and Peabody helped lift the legs.

They laid her, the sheet still wrapped around her lower body, on the ground in front of the dumpster.

Eve crouched down to check the multiple pockets of Alva’s faded gray baggies. “No book, no nothing.”

“She usually had a backpack, but she kept the book and a pencil in her pocket.”

“Not there now.” She looked back at the dumpster, thought: Fuck.

She looked up at her partner. It still took her an extra instant to adjust to the red tips and streaks in Peabody’s dark, now flippy hair. In fact, Eve thought she registered a few more of both streaks and flips.

“Peabody, Officer Getz is going to take you to the wit who found her. Get his statement. There has to be some security around this site—get copies of any discs or hunt up any security guards. And make sure whoever’s in charge knows this site is shut down until I say otherwise.”

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