Nolan stood in front of a small group of hungry reporters, glad that Chief Holbrook had decided to answer most of the questions about Darla’s disappearance. Chief Holbrook had not only given a full update and report about the situation and where they stood with the Candle Maker’s latest move, but he had prevented Detective Sonnier from hogging the spotlight like an attention whore.
“Are there any new leads that give you confidence that this killer will be caught?” asked one of the more impatient reporters. The man had been looking at his gold watch the entire time as if he needed to get the information by a deadline.
“With the recent discoveries that link the cold cases to the Candle Maker, the answer is yes,” said Chief Holbrook, who looked as if he wanted to be anywhere else. “But again, this is an open investigation, and we are not willing to comment on too many specifics at this time.”
“So, what is the public supposed to do?” asked one of the women reporters who had been staring at Nolan since she arrived. “Certainly, we can all agree that precautions are important, but are they enough? The killer seems to find a way to get these women.”
“The precautions we’ve suggested are important,” said the chief, avoiding the point of the question, which was more about them being enough and what law enforcement could do about it. “And I do hope that the public will continue to follow the suggestions we have given. Once again, I’ll remind women not to go out alone at night. If you have to go out, go in pairs. Use the buddy system. And stay in touch with those close to you. Check in daily or hourly if you feel that you are at risk.”
“We understand you’ve hired a new detective to the team, but are there other changes to the department that you feel are important? There have been statements made by the family of Samantha Rupert that Detective Sonnier dropped the ball in their daughter’s disappearance. Do you think that more vigorous measures are needed in order to catch this killer?”
“I feel that we have an outstanding team who are working hard and doing their best with what we have.” The chief glanced at Detective Sonnier and Nolan as if giving them instructions.
Nolan squared his shoulders and tried his best to look ready for anything while Detective Sonnier glared right through the woman who had insulted him.
Nolan got the message the chief was trying to send as well. He wanted them to work together and to get along. But it wasn’t that easy. There was too much said and done to change the way they felt about each other.
Chief Holbrook quickly turned his attention back to the reporters. “Now, I believe that’s all for today. I appreciate you all coming out.”
The reporters tried to get in a few more questions, but Chief Holbrook avoided all of them, thanking them again as they left the room.
Nolan was in the lead and stopped just inside the back hallway of the station. “Well, that is becoming too often a thing,” he said. “And it’s only going to get worse until we catch this asshole.”
Chief Holbrook let out a heavy sigh. “I’m glad we got it over with. But I agree.”
“Well, I’d love to stand around and chat, but I’m going back to work,” said Sonnier, who had no desire to stand around with Nolan, and the feeling was mutual.
But Nolan couldn’t let him go. Not yet. “There is something I wanted to tell you both before we go. There is another missing girl. Her name is Quinn Larson. She’s fifteen years old, and she goes to South High. I took the report last night. Her parents are worried. I checked in with them this morning, and they still haven’t talked to her.”
“A missing fifteen-year-old?” Chief Holbrook looked disturbed by the thought of it as he rubbed his temples.
“Yes, and while I don’t think it’s related to the Candle Maker cases, we can’t blame her parents for being worried that he took her or that she might run into him on the streets.”
Detective Sonnier shook his head. “I don’t think it’s him. From what we know, he’s never taken a girl when he has another girl in his possession. That’s just part of his pattern. And so far, it’s been consistent.”
“I’m aware, which is why I don’t think it’s related, but considering the last time we thought we had a runaway, we turned out to be wrong, I say we at least take it seriously.”
“I agree,” said Chief Holbrook. “There’s a first time for everything.”
“Yeah, I agree too,” said Detective Sonnier. “But how much time are we going to waste on it?”
Nolan wanted to say something to him. He was the only one wasting time at the office. The only thing holding Nolan back was the poor work that had been done before he was promoted, not to mention being slowed down by the influx of evidence from the cold cases and the fact that he had been on patrol. He was spread much thinner.
But those were all just excuses, and he didn’t have time for those either.
Nolan looked at the chief. “Officially, she hasn’t been missing long enough to make a formal report, but since we’re not treating missing person’s reports on the clock as usual and she still hasn’t gone home, I want to put out an APB and inform all units to be on the lookout for her. If she’s in this city, we’ll find her.”
“Sounds good,” said Chief Holbrook. “I’ll make sure that it’s taken care of.”
“I filed the report last night,” said Nolan. “The parents wanted to go ahead and file it, and I thought the sooner, the better.”
“Sounds good,” said Detective Sonnier. “I came in last night as well. I looked over the priors we discussed, but there are hundreds of men who have a history of violence against women, as well as domestic abuse and drug charges. I pulled some of the worst ones, but it would take a year to go through them all.”
Nolan didn’t think that was true. “Let me take a look at them. I’ll see if anything rings a bell. Something might stick out.” He had a lot on his plate since he had not yet gotten a chance to look at Samantha’s diary, but that would have to wait. He couldn’t trust Detective Sonnier’s judgment.
“Are you sure you have time?” asked Chief Holbrook.
“Yeah, I’m good.” What was one more thing added to the list of many other things he had to do? If he was lucky, something would break, and they would get this guy. And hopefully, with any luck, it would be in time to save Darla.
He didn’t think he could stand going to Frenchie’s again if he found her in the same shape as Miriam Smallwood.
“Oh, and did you find anything in the diary?” asked the chief, earning Nolan a dirty look from Detective Sonnier.
“What diary?” he asked.
“It was Samantha Rupert’s. And no, I haven’t. I haven’t had time yet, but I will get to it. I’m really interested in seeing what I can find out about her life and who she was hanging out with at the time.”
“I thought you left the diaries here,” said Detective Sonnier. “I thought they were evidence.”
“I only have the most recent. Besides, you can’t find evidence unless you read them.”
“Shouldn’t they be properly processed first,” he asked.
Nolan wanted to tell him that was all handled while he was hanging out in bars but decided not to. “They have been.”
“I signed off on it,” said Chief Holbrook.
“Well, as the lead detective, I don’t think I like the idea of that. I want everything brought to me first.”
“I couldn’t find you. Where was that you said you were again?”
“Don’t worry about what I do and where I go. You’ve got a lot to learn.”
“And hopefully, I’ll learn it from her diary.” Nolan still wasn’t sure why Detective Sonnier had buried the girl’s case, but if it was in the diary, he wanted to find it before Sonnier did.
“I agree,” said the chief. “There could be something in that diary that is of value, especially if we can all agree that it appears Ms. Rupert was his first victim.”
“Yeah, I was going to look at it, but I spent the night going over the missing girl’s report with her parents.”
“I can take a look at it,” said Detective Sonnier. “I have time. Bring it to me.”
“I have time, too,” said Nolan, wondering why he was so eager to take a look at it.
“Not if you’re going to look through the enormous list of men I gathered.” Detective Sonnier gave Nolan a hard look. “Your plate is awful full already.”
It was time for the truth. “I have time for both. Besides, you’ve had your chance with Samantha’s case, and her family hates you. So, if you want something to do, get an update on surveillance for Darla’s case.” He needed to find something to make himself useful.
“Oh, so now you’re telling me what to do?” Detective Sonnier narrowed his eyes.
Chief Holbrook cleared his throat. “I don’t want a fight between you. I just said that I wanted you to work together on this. You’re supposed to be a team.”
Nolan shrugged. “I’m not fighting. I’m just saying. We’re going to need that information. That and her cell phone records as well.”
“I can do that. But what we need to do is go search her room,” said Detective Sonnier. “There might be something there.”
“I agree,” said Nolan. “I was already going to do that. I thought I’d pay a visit to her mother when I went back to work.”
“I’ve got an idea,” said Chief Holbrook. “You can both do it. Ride out there together now. See what you can find.”
“I really don’t think that’s such a good idea,” said Detective Sonnier, who was about to continue when Chief Holbrook spoke up.
“I don’t care what you want,” he snapped. “I said go together. It’s far past time the two of you learn to rely on each other. And how to work together.” He walked away, leaving Nolan looking at a very irritated Detective Sonnier.
“I’m driving,” said the old man.
“That’s fine with me. That will give me a chance to look over the report you made. Where is it?”
“I left it in my car.”
“Perfect. Maybe I can narrow down that list a little.”
“You’re not going to find anything. It’s a mile long, and it could be any one of them.”
“Someone fits into the puzzle. I just have to find him. Besides, I can narrow it down using a few facts.”
“Oh, now you think you know it all? That’s just great.”
He walked with Detective Sonnier to the parking lot and got into his car, which still had a hint of a new car smell.
“Do you know where she lives?” asked Sonnier.
“Yeah, it’s across town. Take Main to Eleventh. I’ll show you when we get there.”
Nolan buckled up and found a manila folder tucked beside the console. “Is this it?” he asked.
“Yeah, that’s it. Knock yourself out.”
Nolan took the folder and opened it. There was a large stack of mugshots in it, but not nearly what Sonnier had said. “This is it?”
“Yeah, I narrowed down the ones who were incarcerated and the ones who were incarcerated when Samantha went missing or during any of the murders.”
“Why didn’t you say that?” asked Nolan, thinking he was trying to make the task seem more intimidating. “You made it sound worse than it is. There’s only about two hundred and fifty here.” It was still a lot, but he had gone through much more doing research at home.
“Yeah, there’s about two seventy, so have fun.” Sonnier gave him a sideward look and drove out of the station parking lot.
Nolan settled in and began to look at the records one by one.