Oceanside Murders

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

WARNING: This is a pretty graphic murder story, not for kids or tender hearts.

Clifford Stone, "Cliff", was a cop's cop. Faithful to the badge, honest to a fault, and someone a fellow cop could confide in.

Eleven years in a squad-car, three years in drug enforcement, six years as a Detective for Industrial Theft, then came the Detective post in the coveted Homicide Department.

 

Most of Long Beach, California, USA, was a nice place to live, up and until the 1990's, after that, a third of the city went to hell in a hand basket.

Some blamed it on Gangs that oozed into Long Beach from Compton, Wilmington, and San Pedro. And that may be true because the most crime being done in Long Beach happen on the edges of those places.

But with the acceptance of the drug culture, more liberal laws, and policing restraints, all that encouraged the growth of gangs and lawlessness.

Others said it was the changing City Council that became too narrowly focused on what was important, and what they should spend money on. And they said that the acquisition of the "Queen Mary" was the start of such declines.

They claimed that the newer city council was trying to turn Long Beach into another San Diego Tourist Center, but they didn't have the money, or the brass to raise taxes to get the money. So they diverted funds to Down Town Tourist Projects, funds that should have been spent elsewhere; like on projects to keep kids off the streets, and city-wide "Hot-Spot" law enforcement.

 

Clifford Stone caught a case about six years ago, and strangely enough it was in one of the so-called "safe zones".

Two teenage girls were visiting the Long Beach Aquarium with their North Long Beach, Jordan High School classmates. And being teenage girls full of, "What If?" they decided to ditch the others and go sight seeing elsewhere.

The next day, Cliff was called at 9:16 a.m. and was given a cross-street location of Ocean Avenue and Junipero.

Left over from bygone days, there is an "Under the Street" tunnel for pedestrians that takes one from the edge of the park to the sidewalk on the ocean side of the street. But it was supposed to be sealed off.

That location is across from a park, and less than five miles from the Aquarium.

 

When Cliff arrived, there were squad-cars and a coroner's van parked on the park lawn, next to Ocean Avenue. There was crime-tape on trees and sticks in the ground, and the tape surrounded the park-side entrance to the under the street tunnel.

As Cliff and his partner, Rodger Harrington, approached, Patrolman Hector Garcia met them.

"Hector, how's the wife and kids?" Cliff asked the patrolman as he gave his a fist bump.

"All's good, and you?" Hector replied.

"Don't ask and we'll stay friends," Cliff said laughingly.

Then Cliff asked, "Well, Hector, what kind of mayhem has befallen us today?"

"Two dead Teens, both girls," Hector replied.

Homicide Detective Harrington asked, "Who found the bodies?"

Hector looked at his note-pad and replied, "One of the Park Maintenance people found them. She noticed that the No-Access gate-lock was busted, and the gate was opened, so she went down there to check it out; that's when she saw the bodies.

Poor thing, she's little more than a kid herself, too young to see that kind of shit. Anyway, she is over there by the squad-car, she's the one in coveralls."

Cliff turned to his partner and asked, "Will you take her statement, Rodger?"

"Sure thing, Cliff," Rodger replied as he headed off in that direction.

"You don't check crime scenes together?" Hector asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Cliff smiled, and as he started down the stairs he replied, "Rodger is the meanest thing I've seen on two wheels, a black-belt in three martial arts and a Golden Gloves Champ at 12 years old, but he is new to homicide. He hasn't adjusted to confined spaces and bloody bodies yet. This is my only clean suite left, so I'm trying to preserve it until the other two come out of the cleaners."

Hector shook his head and laughed, then he left Cliff with the Coroner's Assistant, Naomi Jones.

"I don't see a lot of upper-body blood, what killed them?" Cliff asked.

Ms. Jones was still probing and prodding, so she never looked up at Cliff when she said, "The Asshole must have knocked them out first, each has a lump on the head, then he crammed paper napkins down their throats. More than likely, they were dead or choking to death when he raped them."

Cliff scratched the back of his balding head and then asked, "Can't you tell if they were dead before the sexual attack."

Ms Jones looked up at Cliff and replied, "He came back for seconds, maybe thirds. This is one sick individual, Detective."

 

Well, that is what transpired six years ago, and like Cliff says, "Whoever did this wasn't worth the Spit to wet a whistle."

 

The killer wasn't a smart individual, and he wasn't necessarily cleaver, he was just plan lucky; dumb luck is what they call it.

He left DNA all over the place, and he left something no-one else would ever leave at a murder, an empty package and cigarette butts. But this wasn't any kind of cigarette butt, it was butts from Herbert Tareyton, one of the most unpopular cigarettes in southern California.

Well, it took Cliff and Rodger just four hours to find the store that sold that pack to one Larry Joe Taylor, a small time thief who had blew into town from Austin, Texas.

And Larry just happened to be living a half-block from the store.

Larry was in cuffs before sundown, the fingerprints and DNA were a match, and he was formally arraigned the next day.

But that wasn't the lucky part.

You see, six years ago a new detective on the job, Cliff's new partner, Rodger Harrington, dropped the ball, or so the defence said. He may have contaminated evidence, they said. And because of a series of other technicalities, the murdering bastard walked away from a double homicide with an aquittle.

When Cliff heard what had happened, he took the vacation time he had coming and followed the guy for two weeks; Cliff was hoping the shit-head would slip up. Anything to slap the cuffs on that sick-o would be good in Cliff's eyes.

Then one morning, Larry Joe Taylor didn't go out for his morning coffee, as he usually did. So Cliff decided to play Census Taker and knocked on the door; the door swung open. The murderous bastard had cleared out sometime during the night.

Cliff checked the train and bus depots, and sure enough, a ticket salesman remembered Larry. The guy bought a one-way ticket on a Greyhound, he was going to Las Vegas.

Out of State, out of mind, Cliff told himself. But none the less, Cliff called a Los Vegas State Patrolman he had once worked with. He gave the guy the lowdown on Taylor and the patrolman was happy to get the Heads-up; he issued a bulletin.

 

Two years later, Cliff heard that Larry Joe Taylor had done it again, this time in Wyoming and that time it was a twelve year old girl. Larry's lawyer asked and received a mental evaluation, then Larry was convicted and confined to a mental institution for the criminally insane.

But dumb luck wandered in again, and Taylor convinced some psychiatrist that he found Jesus and was cured. He was released in less than three years.

Cliff knew better than that, he had seen the score cards that told him that kind of sickness is never cured, Jesus or no Jesus.

 

The next time Cliff got wind of the Larry Joe, he was back in Long Beach and looking for work.

A friend of Cliff's owns the "Sunny Spot Dinner", just a mile or so from the Bay.

The owner's name is Nick. Nick, Cliff, and a few others play poker together every other week.

So, you see, Nick stays connected to what is going on via small talk and poker. And when it came to Larry Joe Taylor, Nick had gotten an earful.

Nick called Cliff saying that Taylor had come by his restaurant looking for work. And the guy left a phone number where he could be reached.

***

Three weeks have passed and we find Larry Joe Taylor working at a fast Food joint on Ocean Boulevard, Taco Heaven.

It is eight in the evening and Maria Sanchez just left Taco Heaven after a twelve hour shift. It is dark but the street lights are bright, and the Boulevard is always busy, so Maria has no cause for being concerned for her safety. She is even less concerned because she has happened upon Larry, one of her coworkers, and he has offered to walk her home. "It's no big deal," he said, "I'm going in that direction anyway."

As the two coworker enter one of the many business alleyways along the Boulevard, Larry releases the metal pipe that he has up his long sleeve shirt, it was now in position to slip down his hand and ready to use as a weapon.

And at that moment Maria was kidding Larry about all the napkins that were stuffed in his shit pocket. Don't you have toilet paper at home?" she jokingly asked.

A shadowy place appeared ahead, located between a trash dumpster and a brick wall. "It is time," Larry mumbled to himself.

 

Suddenly a man wearing sweatpants and a hooded top stepped out from those very same shadows. The mysterious man said, "We have business, Taylor! And you, little girl, run along."

Maria was startled and shaken to the bone, so she didn't waist any time making her way around another corner. She was history.

That is when Taylor let the pipe slip down his hand and he attacked the man in the hooded shirt.

Like a well oiled machine, the hooded man stepped aside and Larry fell to the pavement. Taylor tried to get up quickly, but a foot to the Kidney slowed him considerably. Then he was grabbed by the belt and the back of his shirt, and before Taylor had a chance to react, his head came in contact with the edge of the metal dumpster.

As Larry Joe Taylor was sprawled out in the shadows, the man in the hooded shirt pulled the napkins out of Larry's pocket and began stuffing then down Larry's throat.

***

 

Cliff got the call while covering a car to car shooting at the traffic circle; three dead, two wounded, and one car got away with two people in it. --- A gang dispute, Cliff figured.

 

When Cliff arrived at the Taylor killing he was surprised, and yet, relieved.

He had lost track of Larry Joe Taylor, and the number Nick gave him was a public phone booth.

 

"Doesn't the way this guy was killed remind you of something?" Detective Garcia asked Cliff.

Garcia is Cliff's partner, now, he just made detective a year ago.

And after looking at the body, and talking with the Coroner, Garcia was trying to remember when he had heard of such an unusual means of killing someone.

Cliff lied when he replied, "You could be right, Hector, but for the life of me I can't remember. But maybe it will come to me later, over lunch. How about tacos?"

Hector said, "Sounds Good, there is a Taco Heaven around the corner."

And as the two detectives walked to their car, Precinct Commander Rodger Harrington pulled his SUV up next to them.

Rodger looked at Cliff and said, "I had to close the book on a past mistake, Cliff. I hope there are no hard feelings as to how it was done." Then he drove away.

"What the hell was that all about?" Detective Garcia asked.

Cliff smiled and replied, "Oh, what he's talking about isn't worth the spit to wet a whistle."

 

 

D. Thurmond / JEF

01-29-2021


Submitted: January 30, 2021

© Copyright 2021 D. Thurmond aka JEF. All rights reserved.

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