Chapter 96


    There is a moment, almost sexual in its feeling of release, when a police detail winds down. Most of the time during this period of deceleration, in the minutes and hours after an arrest, there is a lot of handshaking and backslapping and fist-pumping in the air; never a shortage of gallows humor. But not this time. The personnel who made their way through this enormous Chestnut Hill mansion found no joy or happiness in this arrest. This was one of their own.


    Kevin Byrne was in custody and en route to the Roundhouse. Christa- Marie Schönburg had been taken to Mercyhurst Hospital as a precaution. Her private nurse, Adele Hancock, had been at the opera. She was contacted and was on her way to meet Christa-Marie.

    Before long it was Jessica, Dana Westbrook, and Michael Drummond, along with a few officers, searching and securing the house. Soon it would be November 1, All Saints' Day, twenty years to the day when Christa-Marie had been arrested in this very place.


    Westbrook took Jessica aside. They stood in silence for a full minute, neither of them finding the right words to say. 'We'll sort this out,' Westbrook said. 'There's a hell of a lot about this I don't understand.'

    Jessica just nodded.

    'Kevin's arrest warrant came from on high,' Westbrook added. 'I had no choice but to serve it. You know that, right?'

    Jessica said nothing. She could not get the image of Kevin Byrne in handcuffs out of her mind. The two of them had made so many arrests over the years, hunted down and brought to justice so many bad people, that she could not fathom Byrne being on that side of it all. The thought was beyond nauseating.

    'So, I'll see you at the Roundhouse?' Westbrook asked.

    Jessica looked at her watch. 'Give me an hour.'

    'You got it.'

    Westbrook took a few more moments, placed a hand on Jessica's shoulder and, perhaps trying and failing to find words, crossed the large atrium, stepped through the front doors and left.

    Jessica glanced across the hall, at the steps which she had seen Christa- Marie descend earlier. She had to clear her mind. She had to think.

    'Do you want me to drop you somewhere?'

    Jessica turned around. It was Michael Drummond.

    'Josh has my car,' Jessica said.

    'Okay,' Drummond said. 'As soon as that scene is clear I'll send him back.'

    Drummond stepped away, made a quick phone call. When he was finished he made his way over to where Jessica stood.

    'I'm sorry it came down this way,' he said.

    'I don't have much to say to you.'

    'What are you talking about?'

    'I just needed a little time, Michael. That's all. A little time.'

    'I didn't make the call, Jessica.'

    Jessica looked up sharply. 'You didn't? Then how did the fucking cavalry just happen to show up?'

    'Police work, detective.'

    'What are you talking about?'

    'Russ Diaz followed up with Kevin's cousin Patrick. It turns out that Mr. Connolly's van had a Lojack installed.'

    The Lojack was a recovery system that allowed police to track and recover a stolen vehicle.

    'Russ called it in as a routine stolen vehicle, and got this location,' Drummond continued. 'I had nothing to do with it.'

    Jessica's anger and rage did battle with her embarrassment for assuming that Drummond had dropped a dime.

    'And just so you know, I talked to Detective Diaz,' Drummond said. 'Kevin is going to be handled with respect. I won't stand for any cowboy shit.'

    Jessica had so much to say that nothing would come out. What she really wanted to do was scream.

    'We're going to need your full statement tonight,' Drummond added.

    Jessica nodded. She picked up her service weapon, slipped it into her holster.

    'I know this is hard for you, detective, but the good news, for the people of Philadelphia anyway, is that this nightmare is over.'

    The feelings inside Jessica began to swell. The one feeling missing from all of it was doubt. She had no doubts about her partner. Her work, the task of proving Kevin Byrne's innocence, started right now. Before she could make a move she noticed someone standing to her left.


    Jessica turned. Standing there were two patrol officers from the Fourteenth District. The one talking to her was a big kid, twenty- three or so. He was pale as a ghost, but his hands were steady. 'The house is clear, ma'am.'

    Jessica looked overhead, at the high ceiling, the large rooms. 'Are you sure? It's a big house, officer.'

    The kid looked a little unnerved, then turned to look behind him. Four more officers stood there, and a pair of detectives from North that Jessica recognized. The kid was saying that a total of eight police officers had searched the house and that it was empty.

    'I'm sorry,' Jessica said. 'It's not a good night.'

    'No, ma'am,' the kid said. 'There are two locked doors - one in the attic, one in the cellar. Other than that, the structure is clear.'

    He waited a few moments, perhaps to see if there was anything else. Jessica shook her head. The officer touched the brim of his cap, and together, single file, the eight cops walked out.

    As the sound of the sector cars disappeared down the driveway, Michael Drummond put on his coat. He looked at Jessica, but remained silent. He walked through the door, closed it behind him.

    The house was still.

    Jessica was alone.

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