Chicago, Illinois, 1983
Twenty-seven year old Glenne Headly sipped her wine gingerly, and thought it profoundly divine. She sat atop her apartment's balcony, her feet resting idly upon the railing. Beside her, on the fancily-set, small side table, sat a plate of freshly-prepared caviar, which she deffered eating on account of her strong dislike for the stuff. She never really was fond of fancy things, but she did enjoy her wine once in a great while. In fact, she disliked fancy things more than she disliked caviar. She didn't need what other actresses needed, she just needed a quiet life.
She sat quiescently, over looking what was said to be the busiest street of Chicago, just pondering about where she thought each car was headed. If only she could be be free like the rest of the world. She knew that she had the option of living and doing wherever and whatever she wanted, but she felt bound to Chicago and it's busy streets. It seemed impossible to leave.
Long after the sun had descended below the horizon, Glenne finally found the clear bottom of her wine glass as she took the last sip. Afterwards she rolled her eyes in a tired fashion, and glanced at her plain wrist watch. It was half-past ten. She sighed and slouched backwards. It was official, she had nothing to do. Now that she had finished the mere one glass of wine she allowed herself a week, she would have to rummage to find something to keep her mind off of things.
Ellie Mauder was sure that she was hearing the knocking in her head. She had to force her eyelids open just to be able to sort out weather the knocking was inside her dream or not. It in fact wasn't, for the noise was the sound of someone banging their fists loudly upon the solid oak of her front door.
The knocking was followed by the screeching of a familiar voice.
"Ellie!" it screamed. "Let me in!"
Ellie shook the tiredness from her eyes and quickly scooted out of her bed. She began to increasingly awaken as her feet touched the cold surface of her wood floor. With every step, it seemed to get colder, until finally she reached the front door.
The door began trembling violently as Ellie struggled to unlock it. Ellie was perturbed as she thrashed open the door, and met face-to-face with her next door neighbor, Jane Mosby.
"Jane," Ellie said calmly. "What's wrong?"
Jane looked galled. Her breath was labored and tiny beads of sweat dripped from the coal-black widows peak on her forehead. Ellie allowed her a minute to soften her worry. When she was calm enough to speak half-decently, she sighed.
"My friend has been murdered."
Two hours later
Later that morning, around three am, Ellie found herself once again in the driver's seat of her SUV. She was tensed, for the lack of essential sleep was taking it's toll on her. She was lucky that she had a trusty mug of cuppacino in her cup holder at her side.
What is wrong with this city? This is the fourth case in a week! she thought as she began inching closer toward the line of police cars that were escorting her to the crime scene. The highway seemed very assiduous for this time of morning. Who had ever heard of a three am morning traffic, anyway? The new case must have been high-profile, or the police wouldn't have been so kind as to escort her across Chicago to examine a crime scene at three am.
She followed the red flashing lights for miles, until they led her to the back parking lot of an apartment building. Ellie grabbed her badge from dangling on her rear-view mirror, and grabbed her coat from her passenger seat.
She approached the figure of a man in a CPD vest.
"Tony," she said to his back.
Agent Tony Moraz pivoted on his heel, so he could look his colleague in the face. "Why, Ellie, thank you for coming," he said, shaking her offered hand.
Ellie tensed. "Forget the chit-chat. What can you tell me about the victim?" she asked, quirking a brown eyebrow at him.
Tony glanced over his shoulder at a set of outside stairs which led up to the third floor, where an open door was swinging in the wind. "Your gonna wanna be real thorough on this one, El," he said. "She's an actress. Born in Connecticut, twenty-seven years old. Glenne Headly's her name."
Ellie arched her brows worriedly. She had most certainly heard that name before. She recalled going to a showing of Bastard from California, in which Glenne Headly played the lead role. It had been a very vehement performance, and one hadn't touched Ellie so much as that one had. The fact made her want to jump right into the case. "Cause of death?" she asked.
Tony raised his hands. "Hey, I know how much you like to play forensic scientist, so I had the team hold off on the body examination before they hauled her away for her full-blown autopsy. I told them that you would like to have the first look," he said, examining a clipboard of blank report sheets.
Ellie leaned back a bit. "Did you at least have them cover her?" she asked. She knew that if the body hadn't been covered that it would have been extremely hard to find perfect evidence.
Tony nodded. "Of course."
She nodded. "Good. Let's get going,"she said, gesturing toward the building.
Once inside, Ellie was handed a forensics lab kit by Tony. Before taking her first step into the hallway, she adjourned her hands with latex gloves. The hallway was their first room, and yet, it held so much evidence that Ellie didn't know where to start. She decided that she would examine the body first, and then collect evidence and piece it all together.
The body was laying face-up on the snow-white carpet of the living room. Ellie tightened her grasp on the handle of her forensic kit, as she approached it. She set the kit down, and gently, as if not to harm the deceased actress, she pulled the sheet away. She slowly knelt beside the corpse, never taking her eyes off of it.
There she was, Glenne Headly, deceased before her eyes. She was just as beautiful dead as she had been alive. Ellie couldn't help but notice how normal she looked for a woman of her standards. Most stars who were murdered were wearing only the best designer clothes, but not Glenne. She was wearing a simple black turtle-neck sweater and blue jeans. The sight of such a beautiful actress, dead, lying in the clothes of a normal person intrigued Ellie.
Tony clicked his tongue against his teeth. "It's a shame. She was a really wonderful performer."
Ellie looked up at him. "She could take a simple script, and make it reach out and touch your heart from her place on stage," she said thoughtfully, recalling her viewing of Bastard From California. "She's what I'd call a true star."
Ellie shook the thought away, and gingerly picked up one of Glenne's wrist. It flopped a bit. "Victim is just beginning to enter post mortem," she said. As she began scanning Glenne's body with her eyes, she noticed something under her head. Quickly, she reached into her kit and pulled out a small sketchbook. "Tony, can you go make me a rough sketch of the hallway scene, please?" she asked.
Tony nodded. "Sure."
After Tony was safely out of the room, Ellie began her academy work. She knew that it would take Tony a while to do a simple rough sketch, for the man liked everything to be precise.
She began with a set of five buccal swabs. She took five samples of DNA from Glenne's body. One from her mouth, her ear canal, her nose hairs, her head hairs, and a few skin cells. She separated them all into individual bags, and folded them neatly inside her kit case. She then proceeded to reach under Glenne's head, and gently lift it off the carpet. She began to feel a cold, liquid-like sensation on her glove. She quickly snapped back, and, without thinking, dropped Glenne's head.
"Oh, sorry!" she shrieked quietly when she realized what she had done. She then looked around to make sure that Tony wasn't in the same room as her, for he'd think her crazy for talking to a dead body.
Once again, Ellie began going at the head. With a single finger, Ellie brushed the loose pieces of hair from Glenne's forehead. There was no conspicuous evidence on it. Ellie proceeded to set her head gently down.
Now to inspect the skull. Ellie positioned herself upon her knees before the to of Glenne's head. She noticed something strange in the growing pattern of the roots. Why, there was dried blood crusted into the part of her hair. Even though she felt horrid that she even had to consider doing this, Ellie ran a gloved finger over the bloody spot. She knew that the woman could no longer feel pain, but she couldn't stop having this urge to avoid causing any pain to her.
She began rummaging her skull, sliding strands of silk-fine brunette hair from her way, with nothing but the tips of her fingers. She gasped when she saw it.
There, embedded into the middle of Glenne's skull, was a circular indentation into the bone.
Cause of death: Hammer wound to the skull, thought Ellie. She sighed, and removed her hands, setting them flat on the ground on each side of the actress's head. She began taking, slow, deep breaths as she tried to focus herself with the evidential facts. Someone had murdered Glenne with a hammer to her head.
Just then, Ellie heard footsteps.
"You okay, Ellie?" asked the familiar voice of Tony.
Ellie swiped a glove underneath her nose. "It was a hammer, Tony," she said softly.
Tony stepped to her side. "What?"
"A hammer. Miss Headly was murdered with a hammer. The wound is the exact diameter and depth of a Black and Decker hammer."
Tony knelt by her, and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Ellie. Whoever this bastard is, we're gonna get him," he assured her.
Ellie sniffled. "Yeah. It's bad enough that one good person had to pay the ultimate price, especially someone like her," Ellie said, stroking the hair on the corpse's head. "But what if it happens again?"
Tony half-smiled. "If we work fast enough, and think hard, we'll be able to stop it before the bastard even thinks about doing it again."
Ellie began stroking Glenne's hair again. It was beautiful hair, and she loved the way that it shone in the light. It was gallant compared to her normal blond hair. Thats when she realized that Glenne would never sing again, never dance again, never smile again, and she would never, ever walk across the stage again.
As top Agent in the force, Ellie was determined to find the killer, and fast.
She searched for hours. After almost twenty straight hours of investigating, Ellie ended up with the murder weapon, hair strands, and fingerprints. All led to Glenne's ex-husband, John Malkevic, but there was a problem. John hadn't been the one to take the hammer to Glenne's head. Ellie was sure that he had an accomplice, but who?
She started by thoroughly examining the collected evidence and photographs. She took her Nikon back to her apartment, and spent hours in her dark room. Any normal agent would have had a printing company print the evidence photos, but Ellie was old-fashioned and enjoyed developing them herself. The pictures, and the collected evidence from the hallway pointed to John, no question about it. But the hair fibers she had discovered pointed to another suspect. Ellie carefully examined them under her microscope.
Suspect is male, around forty years of age, hair is blonde, thought Ellie as she examined the ripped pieces of hair. The cuticle of the hair roots had no sign of a specific medulla, revealing that the hair was forcibly removed from the man's head. Ellie then proceeded to examine the photographs of Glenne's body.
She flipped through until she found herself staring at a picture of Glenne's left hand. On her ring finger, was a pretty sterling silver ring, which Ellie had forgotten was even on the victim in the first place. She immediately phoned Tony.
"I need to see the body again," was all she said.
Tony agreed to have the coroner meet her at his office, so he could unlock the freezer for her. She requested to see Glenne's fingers. The ring had not been removed it, so she checked it for hair strands.
The process was a success. There, entangled in the band of Glenne's elegant ring, were small strands of blond hair. Ellie gently removed them with a pair of tweezers. As she held one above her face, she said : "Bingo."
The coroner, a man by the name of Mr. Jake Johnson laughed. "You're a smart young woman," he said, admiring the way she matched the strands of hair both from the crime scene and from Glenne's ring. "But what does this mean?" he asked.
Ellie sighed. "It means that Glenne was smart, she fought back. When the suspect grabbed her, she grabbed his hair, attempting to rip him off her when he gave her a good smack in the back of the hand," she explained.
The coroner sighed. "Well, at least she wasn't one of the victims that just stood there and screamed until it actually happened. You have a primary suspect?" he asked.
Ellie nodded. "Her ex-husband. I read up on their divorce over at Tony's office. John was a abusive bastard, and when Glenne left him, she left him a very angry man. After she won their divorce case, he lost his marbles. But he didn't deliver the blow that killed her, that's what I don't get," Ellie said. "I have a secondary suspect, I just have to find out his name."
Jake looked strangely at Glenne's face. "You think she may have had a lover? He and the ex could have teamed up," he pointed out.
Ellie shook her head, making her ponytail bounce. "I hardly doubt that. She wasn't that kind of woman." She placed her elbow on the cold examination table. "At least I don't think she was."
"Well, it's possible. A woman leaves her husband and dumps a lover, the two find a common alibi to murder within one another," he pointed out.
Ellie sighed. "Well, thanks, Doc. I'm going to go over to the lab and run these through the DNA processor, and hopefully come out with a secondary suspect," she said, waving the ziplock bag of blond hair.
Jake smiled. "Alright, Ellie. I'm not scheduled to autopsy this one till next Tuesday, so you've got time before I cut her up," he said, teasing her.
As she walked out the coroner's building into the street, she had shivers. She couldn't imagine what Jake was going to do to Glenne's dead body with a scalpel in hand, and she didn't want too, either.
After running the hairs through the DNA processor, she had a match, but not what she expected. As she stared at the DNA match, she could not believe what lay before her.
The man who's hair she had found wasn't a man at all.
It belonged to a sixteen-year-old boy.
Ellie phoned Tony and had her send her files on John's family. Why, John had a son from a woman he had met before he had wed Glenne. Timothy Malkevic. A boy, a mere boy had murdered his father's ex-wife. Why? Ellie would be sure to find out.
Ellie returned to the coroner's seven day's later, tired, worn, but most importantly, upset. After all of her investigative work, and with the help of the Chicago Police Department, they had caught the two murderers. It had been done with an enormous amount of effort, but it had been done. It had been a horrendous week, and she required some peace of mind after everything.
They had caught the suspects together, out for a stroll late one night, when Tony had jut happened to rin into them, only to cuff them and have them taken into custody. Ellie then had to interrogate the boy. When she asked him his reason for murdering Glenne, he spat in her face and cussed at her as two policemen dragged him back to his cell. John did piratically the same thing.
Even though Ellie was running on no energy, she still attended the trial. It took no effort for the jury to convict the pair guilty, and sentence them to four life sentencing's a piece. Even though Timothy was a minor, he was put on parole, and sent to prison anyway.
Now everything was over, and she gave Glenne one last visit before the burial the next day. She stared at the beautiful woman and couldn't help but cry lightly. She let the whole situation get to her head, and she collapsed to her knees by the body. Glenne's hand hung over the side of the examination table, as if to offer itself to her. She grasped it and whispered between sobs, "I'm sorry, Glenne."
Ellie was then invited to Glenne's funeral, as a thanks from the Headly family. She sat next to Glenne's mother during the service and cried harder than any of the Headly's. After the burial, Ellie was approached by Glenne's mother.
"I want to thank you for all you've done for us, and for Glenne," said Mrs. Headly. She was a spitting image of her daughter. Mrs. Headly extended an arm, and slowly opened her flattened palm. Why. she was holding the ring Glenne was wearing when she had been murdered. "I want you to have this."
Ellie sobbed. "Oh, but I couldn't," she said.
Mrs. Headly handed it to her. "Please, I want you to. You have done more for our family than the police could have. Thank you so very much." Ellie accepted the ring. "It's been Glenne's since she was four years old."
"It's a very beautiful ring," replied Ellie softly.
"Yes," said Mrs. Headly. "I am very proud to give it to you. And besides, I think Glenne would have wanted you to have it, in her gratitude for all that you've done."
"Thank you," said Ellie.
Ellie Mauder strolled into her office at the forensics unit at the offices of the CPD the next morning, Glenne Headly's ring hung on a chain around her neck. The ring was close to her heart, and she was determined to keep it there, for it would forever remind her that she was the one who had solved a murder case of a lifetime.