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The chronological order of my stories is as follows:

Todd & Melina series, Interludes 1-5, Sperm Wars series, Russian Roulette series, Case of the Murdered Lovers series, Case of the Murdered Chessplayer series, The Swap series, Interludes 6-10, The Murdered Football Player Series, Case of the Black Widow series, Teresa’s Christmas Story, The Case of the Black Badge series, A Case of Revenge series, Trilogy Series, Dark Side Of The Force series, Caught In The Act series, Case of the Murdered Bride series, The Credit Card Caper series.

The Hot Wives Investment Club, Ch. 1-3.

Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, extreme language, and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial or racist language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.

Part 8 – Whiteboards

The meeting that the Chief wanted himself and myself to ‘mosey’ to was at 2:00pm on Oct. 31st. It was a meeting convened in Classroom ‘E’ behind the MCD room, and was meant to be something of an experiment for us, but ‘normal’ for most Police Departments: we were going to start the ‘whiteboards’ on the case.

At the Chief’s request, the meeting was led by Lt. Cindy Ross. Present were Martin Nash, Diana Torres, Theo Washington, Teddy Parker, Lorena Rose, Claire Michaels, Myron Milton, “Goth Girl Mary” Mahoney, J.R. Barnes from the Crime Lab, and Chief Griswold. Also attending were Detective Julie Newton and Lt. Teresa Croyle from Vice, and Sergeant Damien Thompson.

In Classrooms ‘E’ and ‘C’, which was Vice’s meeting room, there are whiteboards on the side walls. They open like double doors, and can be closed and locked when Detectives are not using them. They are also detachable from the walls, and we have been known to do just that and carry them to the Courthouse and A.D.A.s offices to present our case why a Grand Jury should hear our case. On these whiteboards, we’d be putting pictures and information about the suspects and various other things about this case.

I deliberately arrived a couple of minutes late, per the Chief’s instructions, then took a chair to the back corner and sat down, telling the Detectives to not mind my presence, to pretend that I was not there at all. I was trying hard to let Cindy lead the Detectives and for them to follow without me, though of course I had no intentions of disassociating from working the case. I wouldn’t let them fail just to have them do a case without me.

“Okay, what did we get done this morning?” Cindy asked, as I perused officer reports of the Investment Club members’ statements the night before. “Teddy? Theo?”

“We canvassed the neighborhood around the Donolan’s home.” said Theo Washington. “Neighbors said the Donolans seemed like a happy couple, but a couple of them said that yesterday morning Mr. Donolan left his home in an angry mood, squealing his tires as he drove off in his car. Another neighbor, in the house behind the Donolan’s, said that she heard yelling, as if the Donolan’s were having a fight. We did get formal statements from them.”

“Good.” Cindy said. “J.R.?”

J.R. Barnes, the young but promising Crime Lab liaison to the Detectives, said “The D.M.E. (Deputy Medical Examiner) says that death was from the stab wound to the throat, but she said it was not very deep, barely getting the job done. In fact, the carotid artery was not severed but nicked, and the bleed-out was slower than a full severing of the artery, which is why Mrs. Donolan lived long enough to get to the door of the bathroom. The D.M.E. thinks the killer was not particularly strong, and also the killer was either taller than Trish, or else was standing on the toilet seat when making the fatal cut.”

“No murder weapon, though?” Cindy asked.

“Not yet.” said J.R. “The Crime Lab went through all of the trash and through every room in the building, just to be sure. No blood anywhere else, no weapon at all. The Country Club’s kitchen staff have fully accounted for their knives. None missing.

“Sergeant Thompson?” Cindy said.

Sergeant Thompson said “Ma’am, we collected all of Mrs. Donolan’s correspondence at her home and Sr. Patrolman Rudistan and I are going through it all right now. Commander Troy has the DVDs, and will be looking at those with Master Technician Milton, who also has the videotapes of the Country Club that evening. Right now, we have nothing that stands out relative to the murder.”

“Nash?” Cindy said.

“We didn’t get anything from Trish’s co-workers at Lightsource.” said Nash. “But the one thing Torres and I noticed was that all of her co-workers liked her. No one thought she was mean or a bad person, which is a contrast to what aydınlı escort we heard from her fellow Investment Club members and other women who know her socially. Her co-workers don’t know her except through work, though.”

“Interesting… Myron, Mary?” asked Cindy.

“The Donolan’s finances are in absolutely perfect shape.” said ‘Goth Girl’ Mary, dressed in leather, probably to tweak the Chief. “The only strangeness is that their finances are completely separate, and I mean completely. They own absolutely nothing jointly, that we know of, anyway. The house is in her name and it’s paid for; no mortgages or liens. The cars are in BigPharmaCorp’s name, leased at one dollar per year by the Donolans, and have some light armor and radios, justifying the cars as security needs.”

Mary continued: “All of Trish’s earned money went into her own back account. Her credit cards are in her name only, and mostly were used at Nordstrom’s and other places, shopping places. For his part, Mr. Donolan mostly uses company credit cards to buy his suits, his meals, anything he can expense to the company. He does have one personal credit card, it’s not used very much, and mostly for stuff at home that he can’t find a way to expense. Neither of them have debt, and both are in good standing with the IRS.”

Myron took up the story: “Looking into their past, Trish Donolan’s family had money, which she inherited. Several tens of millions of dollars, some of it in trusts, some of it used to buy the house outright. It was her money and social influence that got Mr. Donolan started on his career to the CEO chair.”

“So nothing there that suggests a motive?” the Chief asked suggestively.

“No sir.” Myron said. “Not that we’ve found to this point. We haven’t seen a will yet, so we don’t know what he gets of her estate, but we did not find a life insurance policy on her when we searched the house, and they don’t have any safety deposit boxes with any of the banks in Town. Now there were two life insurance policies on him, one of them by the company, a very typical thing; and the other was a variable whole-life policy.”

“Julie, explain the importance of that.” I said.

“Yes sir.” Julie said. “Rich people like the Donolans don’t invest for retirement through limited products like IRAs. Instead, they take out a whole-life insurance policy, and contribute far more than the base amount. The overage is invested in the markets, and the policy can grow to millions. Then when they retire or when they need the money, they can borrow against the life insurance policy, never paying it back. By borrowing, the money is tax-free, as well.”

“Thank you, Detective Newton.” said Cindy Ross. “While you’re at it, what have you found from the Investment Club’s records?”

Julie said: “First of all, the amount of their worth is, and to the penny: $2,404,684.36, and 80% of it is invested in high quality dividend stocks such as Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, Kellogg, etc. They occasionally write covered calls, which is an income producing option strategy, as well. But for the most part they’re conservative, and tight with their cash.”

“What about who’s next to join the club.” Cindy asked.

“Ah, there we ran into an issue.” said Julie. “Jeanine Burke of the Women’s Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatham & Howe has invoked lawyer-client privilege. She refused to respond to the subpoena and provide us with the information. Myrtle L. James said that she was willing to tell Mrs. Burke that it would be okay to release the information, but Mrs. Burke gave Mrs. James reasons why that should not happen, so they’re both keeping silent now. The judge said Mrs. Burke is fully entitled to claim the privilege and not waive it, so we’re stuck there.”

“Commander,” Cindy Ross said to me, a bit of a gleam in her eye, “are you going to work your niece-in-law over and get that for us?”

“Nicht mich.” I replied. “In the arena of the Law, Mrs. Burke can run rings around me. She knows what she is doing, and I suspect her reasons for invoking lawyer-client privilege are very good. So I’m not going to have any part of messing with that.”

“That’s a wise man talking, there.” said the Chief. “Anything else, anyone?”

“Just a couple more things, sir.” said Mary. “We’ve been checking out every member of the ‘Hot Wives’ Investment Club.” I knew she said that on purpose to tweak the Chief, but he pretended not to take notice. “There are sixteen members, but only two of them have any financial issues that we could find. One is Catherine Clausen, Trish’s best friend. She has some serious debt issues, and she and her husband are estranged.”

“Miss Mahoney,” said the Chief, “what data is backing that up?”

“Me, sir.” I said. “As ‘Crowbar 2’ so astutely pointed out, Mrs. Burke is my niece-in-law, and hers is primarily a divorce law firm. No further comment will be given.” Everyone broke out laughing. “Go ahead, Mary.” bağdat caddesi escort I said as the laughter died down.

“The other is a woman named Susan Wexler. She’s from the City.” Mary said. At that, Teresa and I exchanged glances. “She’s been a member since the founding of the Club, but she has some debt issues, as well. She’s never been married, though.”

“What’s her occupation in the City?” Teresa asked pointedly.

“I don’t know, ma’am.” Mary said. “I can’t find anything on her, except her personal bank account and credit cards.” At that, Teresa gave me another look, and Cindy caught it.

“Share it, ‘Crowbar 1’.” Cindy said.

“She’s a City Police Officer, a Captain in their Police Force.” I said. “And she has a history of undercover work; hence, you’ll likely not find much on her. And for that matter, don’t try anymore. I’ll have to handle that one myself.”

“Absolutely, Crowbar.” said the Chief. “People, let me reinforce how important it is to keep quiet and not get caught up when an undercover police officer is involved. I don’t want anyone outed and murdered because somebody talked too much. Is that clear, everyone?”

“Yes sir!” came a loud chorus.

“Okay, if nothing else–” said the Chief

“Sir,” said Myron Milton, “I do need to report one thing about the videotapes of the Club. The equipment is pretty old. The timestamps are not in good shape, sequence-wise, but I can’t tell if it’s just bad equipment or manipulation.”

“Meaning the videotape footage is not really worth anything.” said the Chief. “Okay, Ross, let’s talk suspects.”

“Yes sir.” Cindy said. “We’re going to start putting suspects on the whiteboard. Obviously, the first is her husband, Donovan Donolan.” Cindy put up a picture of Donolan, his formal portrait issued by BigPharmaCorp. “So what are possible motives?”

“He had a fight with his wife that morning.” said Torres.

“Their swinger issues, might be something there.” said Lorena Rose. “I’m thinking that there might be something left over from the Diane Lang murder… the Donolans knew the Langs pretty well.”

“Good points, Miss Rose.” I said. Lorena was pleased at the compliment.

“Anything else?” Cindy said. “Money?” No one was really buying that, and I couldn’t blame them.

“Okay, who is next?” said Ross.

Julie Newton said “Whoever is next on the list to join the club. Of course, we don’t know who that is.”

“True.” I said, forced to break silence. “But let me point this out: no one, not even the Members nor the people on the wait list, know the names on the list, nor would they know the exact order of the names on the list. I verified that much with Mrs. Burke and Mrs. Myrtle L. James myself. What that means, folks, is that the person on top of the list is known only to the lawyers at the Women’s Law Firm, and their own names are not on that list at all; a consequence of them getting the firm’s legal business. So the next woman on the list doesn’t even know she’s next; ergo, no reason to go on a killing spree.”

“Ah, so you did work your niece-in-law over, Crowbar 1.” Cindy said, teasing me. I gave Cindy a cutting glance with my eyes. Retaliation would be soon coming, swift and devastating.

“I’d have to say every woman that was at the Club meeting that night is a suspect.” said Martin Nash. “Especially Cat Clausen, who discovered the body, and was Trish’s friend. For that matter, I guess the Country Club staff should be considered, as well.” Cindy wrote it down, making a special notation for Cat Clausen, complete with her picture.

“Whatever you do, Ross, do not put Myrtle L. James’s picture on that whiteboard.” I said. “I don’t want my wife getting fired by a pissed off University Trustee.” Everyone laughed.

“Taking you seriously, Commander,” replied Cindy, “if memory serves me correctly, she was in sight of multiple persons the entire time, including the break time. She’s not a suspect. Anyone else?”

“Although it’s thin,” said Teddy Parker, “there was another murder involving Lightsource Industries, where Mrs. Donolan worked. We have to consider something or someone from there as a tie-in.” I complimented Teddy for his thought process as Cindy wrote it down.

“Sean Bailey.” said Teresa, to my great happiness. “His wife Margo died a year and half ago, and he blamed the Donolans. Although I checked his alibi and it checked out, he could’ve hired someone.”

“I’ll start looking into his finances.” said Myron. Cindy wrote his name down on the whiteboard.

“Anyone else?” Cindy asked. No one spoke.

“Okay, everyone.” the Chief said. “The Commander told me he was going to keep quiet to this point, as he wants you Detectives to think without him. That is not an insult, of course, and it won’t be an insult or a put-down if he starts teaching you guys some good stuff right now. Crowbar?”

“Thank you, Chief.” I said as bostancı escort I stood up and went to stand in front of the whiteboard. “You all did a fabulous job, and I was thinking about taking a nap in the corner there. There are a couple of points I want to bring out, though.”

“First,” I said, “I need to add a suspect or two, here. Trish Donolan has long been associated with black drug pushers, usually having sex with them but not known to be a drug user herself. But she might have learned something she shouldn’t have. In addition, I haven’t had a chance to look over the DVDs we got at the Donolans’ home, and beyond that are those evidence photographs that Donovan Donolan somehow had in his possession. There may be something there, and something in these swing clubs that some of you have astutely mentioned.”

“We’re putting the DVD evidence onto the servers for you to look at, Commander.” said Myron helpfully.

“Good. Thank you.” I said as I put a piece of paper on the whiteboard. Printed upon it was a computer graphic makeup of the floor plan of River Valley Country Club, the parts around the meeting room.

“Guys, let’s look at this chart and try to understand what happened.” I said, in the form of a professorial lecture. “There were sixteen Investment Club members and six River Valley employees in the building at the time. No one else that we know of. None of the employees were in the kitchenette area or those bathrooms during the time of the Investment Club’s break. There is a door to the kitchenette that is a service entrance, but it was locked. Also, the hall’s surveillance camera covers it, for what little that’s worth.”

I then said “One employee was seen going in taking the desserts, and that employee came back out well before 8:30pm. The only other way into that kitchenette is through the meeting room, and none of the sixteen members noticed anyone except the employee who put the desserts on the side table then left through the main back doors, again well before 8:30. Those employees are fully accounted for.”

I went on: “So here is what was accomplished: during a very short fifteen minute interval, someone had to get into that bathroom with Trish Donolan, someone she knew as she never screamed out. The killer had to not be noticed by others, and then had to kill Trish, partially clean up, get rid of or hide the murder weapon, then get out without being observed or arousing anyone’s suspicions. To do this, the killer was either extraordinarily lucky not to have had blood spattered on him or her, as no one was reported as being seen with blood on their clothing, save Myrtle L. James’s sleeve when she felt for a pulse. And as Lt. Ross has said, Mrs. James had eyes on her literally the entire break time, not to mention her age and lack of physical strength to commit this sort of crime.”

I continued: “I again commend your attention to the missing murder weapon. The Country Club kitchen is on that side of the building, but at the end of the hallway, and the cameras showed no one going down that hallway, assuming we can trust the cameras. So I rule out kitchen knives, and J.R. has confirmed that, as well. There were no knives on the dessert table in the meeting room, and no knives in the kitchenette area, either. The murderer either had a damn good hiding place for that weapon, or else somehow whisked it out of the building undetected.”

“For all of that to have happened, a lot of skill as well as some luck had to go into this murder.” I said. “Either it was so spur-of-the-moment that the killer got lucky, or it was exceptionally and extensively planned and orchestrated well before the night of the murder, and it was carried out with practiced precision.”

The Detectives were all silent, the enormity of the issues involved just beginning to hit them. The Chief broke the silence, saying “So, Crowbar, have you figured it out yet?”

“Oh, of course, sir.” I said, grinning. “I’ve known all along.”

“What?!” cried out Cindy Ross, still standing next to the left side of the whiteboard, losing her restraint. “You sat there and let us go through this and you knew all along?”

“Hell no! I don’t have a clue, either!… but you thought I did, didn’t you?” I said teasingly to Cindy. I did say to myself that retaliation for her earlier teasing would be devastating.

“Why you!” she said, picking up the blue crowbar from where she’d leaned it against the wall under the sideboard, and swinging it at me. I covered my head with my hands, not knowing if she were pretending or for real. All the other people in the room were laughing uncontrollably, even the Chief was gasping with merriment, his mustaches twitching mightily. Cindy didn’t really hit me, but her face was red.

And then it hit me… no, not the blue crowbar, but an idea that came out of the blue. I went into a reverie. Everyone noticed as the laughter died down.

“Don? what is it?” the Chief asked. I looked up.

“I did just think of something.” I said. “J.R., call Christina Cho and have her and a small Crime Lab team meet us at River Valley Country Club. Ross, Croyle, Nash, Torres and Thompson, all of you meet me at the Club. Ross, ride in my car with me. Everyone else, keep gathering that data.” I scooted out, and everyone scrambled, not worrying about an explanation that they weren’t going to get yet.

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