Jeffrey Mariotte Day 1

EMPTY ROOMS  by Jeffrey J. Mariotte

An Excerpt from Chapter 11

Frank shook his head. He didn’t want to think about that. As a cop he’d had to deal with
plenty of horrible incidents. You couldn’t do the job without running headlong into
examples of human beings treating each other worse than vermin. “No,” he said, sadness
rasping his voice. “You don’t have to spell it. You think he killed her.”

“I think she knew something she wasn’t supposed to, or he was afraid she would tell
somebody at school about things being done to her. Maybe she had told someone. Either
way, he decided the only safe thing to do was to get rid of her.”

“So we should have been looking for a body the whole time?”

“I’m sure you were looking for a body, at least after the first twenty-four hours or so.”
“That was part of the detail, yeah.”

“Of course it was.” Richie thumbed through some of Frank’s files. “And the parents left
town what, six months later?”

“About that. After things cooled down.”

“Where’d they go?” Frank rifled through a file until he found it. “They left an address in
Indianapolis. Like I said before, after a few months they stopped answering the phone,
and anything mailed there came back as undeliverable. I had some Indianapolis cops go
by the house, but it was just a rental that was already occupied by another family.”

“And nothing after that? No word from them?”

“The Bureau never could track them down. I check with contacts there every couple of
years. They haven’t really kept up the search, but there has never been any sign of the
Mortons. I thought they had accepted the reality that they’d never see Angela again, and
didn’t want the reminders. God knows after I lost my wife Tiana, there were times I
wanted to burn this house to the ground and move on.”

Richie waved a hand at the walls surrounding them. “You didn’t, though.”

“No. I decided I could move on emotionally, and it didn’t mean I didn’t love her. After a
while, it wasn’t necessary to stop being reminded of her.”

“Because you’re sane,” Richie said. “And because you didn’t murder her.” He dumped
some photographs from one of the file folders onto the card table. “She looks like a sweet
kid. She didn’t deserve those parents. She didn’t deserve what they did to her.”

“Hell, no.”

“So we have to find them. Jarod and Barbara Morton got away with murder. So far. It’s
time we brought them back.”

“The finding is gonna be the hard part. If either one was incar-cerated anywhere, I’d
know about it—my Bureau contacts would see to that. But they haven’t turned up

Richie fingered a tear sheet from The Detroit Daily News. On it was an advertisement for
Jarod’s photo studio, Little Angels Photography. The ad featured a black-and-white photo
of a blond girl who had to be Angela, taken when she was seven or eight. Feathered angel
wings swelled from her back. The lighting was soft, from the right and slightly above her,
casting shadows on the left side of her face and neck. The shadows were soft, too. Frank
had looked at it a thousand times, thought it was nice, painterly. Other pictures were of an
older Angela, up until her eleventh birthday.

“There aren’t any baby pictures,” Richie said.

“Nothing before that angel shot. These are the ones they gave us, and I tore out that
newspaper ad when I saw the girl in it was Angela. I didn’t ask for baby pictures because
I was looking for ones that would help us find her.”

“Yeah, you’re right. These are the ones the search effort would have needed.”

“You don’t have any idea where they might have gone after Indianapolis?”
Frank picked at his fingernails. “Not a clue.”

“We have to find out more about them. Especially Jarod. I don’t know that Barbara was
even involved in what he did to Angela. She was the one who finally called the police,

“Soon as she got home and found Angela missing.”

“Then Jarod’s the one we have to focus on. We have to learn whatever we can about him,
and about Angela.”

“A little late for her.”

“It is,” Richie admitted. “But what if he and Barbara have had another kid?”

Empty Rooms online:
Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Empty-Rooms-Krebbs-Robey-Casefiles-ebook/dp/B00SLPQLGS/ref=la_B001IOBHPY_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423077230&sr=1-10


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