The Case of the Sniper’s Embezzlement

Posted: September 23, 2010 by Ty in Rex O'Neil Mysteries

        I guess the clichéd way to start one of these adventures would be to say that it was a dark and stormy night; unfortunately it was neither dark nor stormy.  In fact the bloody sun was shining so brightly we had crested to 35 degrees Celsius by 11 a.m.  That kind of heat with a body was not making for an enjoyable crime scene.

        One would think accountants would not be a beneficial murder topic, and one would be wrong. For this guy was an intended target, a clean round right through the head in the middle of his living room.  Right through the living room window as he sat on his reclining leather couch watching the Alouettes beat on the Ti-Cats.

        Unfortunately the crime scene was quite disturbed as his wife thought he was just sleeping soundly and didn’t realize he was dead until after performing fellatio to awaken him.  She was sobbing and couldn’t get his name out straight; all I could get from her is that her name was Colleen.

        The forensics crew was attempting to do their best to find evidence inside and outside the house.  Opening the deceased’s wallet I discover his license, James Dunphy, the question Mr. Dunphy is why would someone want to execute you like a deer in the woods?

        His wife is at least half his age, hot little Asian number, could be why she’s so shocked, Dunphy is mid-fifties, overweight, balding Caucasian. I wish I could say this crime scene shocked me, but it didn’t.

        It was the third living room shooting this month.  We had a serial sniper picking off the oddest ducks, with no real rhyme or reason behind it.  I try to speak to the widow.

        “Mrs. Dunphy?”

“Ling, please, Inspector…”

        “O’Neil, you may call me Rex.  Did you hear anything unusual before?”  There is really no tactful way to ask a lady before you choked the dead man’s lizard orally, so I let the parciple dangle before her.

        She just shakes her head.  “Did anyone make threats towards your husband at all?”  Just a silent headshake was her answer.  Her hands wrapped tightly around a can of Diet Coke one of the constables had brought her to calm her nerves and kill a dead sperm taste from her mouth.

        I lower myself down to be able to look the young lady in the eye, she is obviously in shock at the events of the day, definitely not one expects for an average Sunday afternoon.  “Walk me through your day?”

        Ling wipes away some more tears, sips her drink, her brown eyes lock with mine, first time I realize the blood red and pink streaks in her hair.  “We went to Mass, James was Eastern Orthodox, then we took in services at my church, I’m Evangelical.  Had lunch with his priest, then back here for the game. I was outside reading, and well, felt a little frisky so I came back and then…” her voice trails off as she remembers finding him.

        Church, football, and death.  “Which church was your husband a member at?”

        “St. Vladimir’s.  Father Gregory.”  I thank her and give her my card. Head out to my car, the usual Ford P.O.S. departments issue, St. V’s is just a few blocks away, hopefully the Father has not gone home for the day, and perhaps he can shed some light on Mr. Dunphy. Victim’s Assistance Unit will be out for Mrs. Dunphy, and I am quite sure the coroner will have the body moved shortly.

        The sanctuary of the Eastern Rite churches have no pews, people move in and out of the service freely, and it is standing room only, like Rome, they have antiquated view of women as clergy, but I am not here to judge. 

        The building is dark except for one loan office light on down at the end of a long hallway.  “Father Gregory?”  No answer, I reach the door, it is already askew and I peak in. 

        Father Gregory will be of no help in furthering this investigation, he sits in his high leather back chaired, that is backed on to a huge plate glass window with a sniper round through it, the chair and his head.

        “Fuck.” I flip open my cell phone and call it in.

High Holy Days is what Sunday is known as in both the Roman and Eastern Rites, yet today they were darkened by twin sniper rounds killing an accountant and patriarch (priest).  As I lower myself into the old vinyl desk chair in the station house though the question is why?

        What joins these two with the other two?

Possibly it can all be random, yet the shooter was accelerating rapidly, usually there was weeks between kills and now two within hours of one another, pathologically that was odd. Sipping cold coffee while staring at four dead white dudes is even odder, outside of the receding hairline what else could tie them together?

        The patriarch was the accountant’s minister, and what a minute—according to this Dunphy was the finance guy on the church’s council.  The church was looking into an expansion project, and the first random shooting was a general contractor check the phone luds, that Dunphy and the patriarch had called on numerous occasions, what did victim number two do?

        Building inspector.

Shit. Shit. Shit.  This isn’t a random happenstance at all.  Okay time to get a reheat on the coffee that can degrease a tank, and sort this out in my noggin.

        “What’s up Rex?”

“Hey Rach, think our sniper is not random.”  Rachel Vasquez is my boss, best friend, and was married to my elder brother, until said elder brother was killed in the line of duty.

        “How so?”  I walk her through the connection between the patriarch and accountant, then their connection to the general contractor, “and on faith we accept the building inspector?” I nod.  She winks, she’s grooving on it just fine. “So essentially we just need some forensic accountants to follow the money…”

        “Or talk to the patriarch’s wife.”

“Priests are celibate!”

        Rachel just shakes her head at me, “you poor lapsed catholic altar boy, not all priests are.”

        Damn, she’s right, check the Father’s file and yup he was married.  Now comes the hard part, back check the notes the building project was projected for $758,969; of that $350,000 had been raised so far, quite a bit to embezzle.

        Now where did the padre call home?  It takes twenty minutes by my car (given three stalls, and one majorly embarrassing backfire) to reach the humble condo complex.

        They are on the third floor, I simply wait until someone exits and then slip right in.  Click my cell on and call for back up as I head up the elevator, they are unit 302. 

        The door is ajar when I reach it, and it’s too quiet, bad horror movie quiet without the sucky sound track.  My mind races, what if…

        Stepping in and just inside the door is the kitchen area where…Ling Dunphy’s body is, a frying pan splattered with blood, and the glass top range cracked obviously her head had bounced off it before or after the frying pan had.

        So this shows something fishy was up.  The bedroom door beside a barca lounger in the living room is closed, I scan the other three doors and they are all open revealing empty rooms.

        I knock on the door.  “Police.”  Sobs instantly erupt as I open the door.

        “She broke in, a mad woman, I just defended myself…”

“From a parishner that you and your husband had lunch with today?”

        The simple question shuts down the crocodile tears and shifts her gaze to green eyed steel. “She was weak, and like Darwin says only the fit survive.”

        “How much?”

The whole amount, all $758, 696 was what was on the line, plus the life insurance policies on all the victims.  “I was married to three of them, and then Ling got that Dunphy dud.  It would’ve worked.”

        “Except for this pesky kid?”

She dives for her pillow, screaming, I draw my gun, she moves fast for an average 40 year old Caucasian woman, but her gloc clears the pillow case and she fires, but my round is already out.

        The case of the church embezzlement ends with the mastermind dead.  She was a bigamist, playing each player in the scam that she was going to run away with each of them and set up the other ones.  It was all in her journal.

        There’s an investigation, I decide to save my boss the paperwork, and hand in my badge and gun, police work isn’t that fun, not as fun as a private investigation office, or possibly pursuing that writing career I always wanted to do.

        She’s the first and last person I ever shot in the line of duty.

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