Dead Men Falling

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

People are falling to their death, in the Grand Canyon at an alarming rate. FBI agent Louise Spalding believes she knows what is going on, but finding who is responsible is a challenge. The fourth installment of the Louise Spalding trail mysteries.

Dead Men Falling

Long Way Down

Kim has been looking back over her shoulder whenever the  trail takes a turn,  there aren’t many women hiking alone.  The rangers at Grand Canyon National Park strongly recommend that no one hike alone, but she knows what she is doing.  It’s after Labor Day, the crowds are dying down now.She has been on the South Kaibab trail many times, today starting early in the morning, just as the first rays of sun lit up the sky.

She is coming up to O’ Neill Butte,  a massive block of sandstone dominating the ridgeline, she stops just before the trail takes a sharp turn to the west.  She pulls her water bottle from the side pocket of her backpack,  takes a drink and glances back.  The creep is still behind her, she figures he is thirty minutes back, hiking solo.She is going to pick up the pace, when she gets a bit closer to Skeleton Point.

Randy moves along the trail, his first trip to Grand Canyon National Park,  his sister Debbie told him not to go.  He had as much right as any other American, he knew the rules and did the research. Damn Debbie, always putting me down. He planned it out, camping at Mather campground on the south rim for five days, driving over from Vegas.  His first time ever camping or hiking;  he realizes these light weight hiking shoes he got at the sports store are not quite cutting it on the South Kaibab trail and he isn’t on the most difficult portion according to the trail guidebook.

Randy sees the woman quite a distance up ahead on the trail taking a drink of water, she is moving fast.  He chuckles to himself; probably afraid I am going to molest her.  Not my type, she’s not my type, he chuckles again.  He would like to see her up close looks like she is a blonde.

He thought he would get on the trail before anyone,  for safety and try and have some privacy.  Debbie was right someone from Vegas could be here, someone that might cause a problem for him.  He sighs, just being paranoid, nobody here knows me or is gonna harass me, whole damn point of coming here is to get away from that crap in Vegas.  He glances back over his shoulder the other direction and sees a group of four come around the bend, barely visible, probably forty five minutes behind him.He looks back up the trail,  blondie is gone out of view.

Randy takes a sip of water, Skeleton Point and back that is his goal, the trail book says the trail gets rugged before the view area.He also knows the view area is open without rails near the rim.  The park service warnings say to stay six feet away from the rim. supposedly some people look over and get dizzy, and fall, vertigo is what the website said.

Randy picks up his pace a bit, get a closer look at blondie, even if she isn’t exactly his type.  He takes in the scenery, wishing he had spent more money on boots.The trail starts to get more rugged changing directions, he knows from the trail map he is getting near Skeleton Point, it can’t be too far away.  Two sharp turns, and he knows he must be getting near Skeleton Point.  What the hell, looks like blondie is hurt.  He can see her sitting down on the trail edge, just before it changes direction again.

He approaches slowly, “hey, are you okay?”

She looks up, one boot off near the edge of the trail,  “yeah,  just twisted my ankle a bit, not too bad, I think I might head back.I have one of those chemical ice packs, it feels better.”

Randy gets closer, but he stays away from the trail edge next to the cliff, walking just past her on her right side.  “Your kind of close to the edge, the warnings say six feet from the rim, said you can get dizzy.”

She laughs, “well I am sitting down and this is not the rim,  this is just a side canyon, around that next bend you can start to see the main canyon before you get to the rim.  You never seen it before?”

“No first time.”

“You are almost there, another thirty minutes.”

Kim glances back down the trail, no one is in view, past the second bend from where they came from.She looks over the edge, “its not the rim, but its still a pretty good view, take a look.”

Randy moves a bit closer to the edge.  She laughs, “you aren’t going to get Vertigo here, its only two or three hundred feet down.”

Randy inches forward,  “wow, it’s still a long way down.”

From around the bend less than ten feet away a man has moved quietly behind Randy.  Kim is looking in the opposite direction,  she gestures towards her left.  “You see that waterfall down there?”

Randy moves a little closer to the edge, “no, I don’t see a waterfall?”

Randy feels the top of his backpack pushing him forward, before he can react or make a sound he is falling, he doesn’t even scream.  His mind unable to process what has happened.

Kim watches, as Randy bounces a few times before coming to rest at the bottom of the side canyon, “dead man falling.”She puts her boot back on, and holds her hand up.

He reaches down and pulls his wife up, “let’s get to Skeleton Point, how far behind do you think the next group is?”He walks closer to the edge and looks down, “they probably will not see him,  let’s not wait and see, pick up the pace.”

Kim pats him on the shoulder, “they are probably thirty minutes away, he was moving at a decent pace, the creep was in pretty good shape.”

They move quickly making a quick stop near Skeleton Point,  drinking water and eating energy bars.  They do not walk over to take in the scenery,  they move quickly down the trail to the river, cross over the black bridge to the north side of the river.They have a camp set up in a rugged area far off the trail in the vicinity of Bright Angel campground, that is where Brandon had come from this morning.  Coordinating their movements on walkie talkies using private code words this morning.  He had been waiting for Kim about twenty minutes near the spot where they pushed the creep, they met up and then he moved back out of view.  Kim had come from the southside after parking the SUV early in the morning in the national forest land, just outside the park.

They are in the camp site around three o’clock and get the camp stove going for a late lunch,  around five they head to the rest rooms at the campground.  Brandon fills up the big water bottle, five gallons.A guy smoking leaning against the wall looks at Brandon, “dead hiker, did you hear?  Fell on the south side, someone spotted him around two in a side canyon not far from Skeleton Point, must have slipped on some loose scree.”

Brandon shakes his head, “that’s too bad.”

***********

Park Superintendent Glenn McDermott is in his office in HQ on the south rim,  it had been a miserable summer.It’s early October,  he looks out the window onto the canyon, thinking about the last three years, what am I missing?

“Boss, you busy?”

 Glenn turns from the window;  chief Ranger Sally Reynolds is at the door to his office. “What you got?”

“Final report on that last fatality,  you got time for a short briefing?”

“Yeah sure, let’s sit at the table.  Grab a coffee.”

Reynolds starts off, “well, you already know some of the basics, no witnesses, first time visitor to the park from Las Vegas.Turns out from what we got from LVPD,  his first time ever camping or hiking, next of kin his sister told them he wanted to get out of Vegas to relax.  His gear was really poor quality.”

Glenn listens as she continues, looking for some new insight, but there is nothing from this latest death, to help understand the rash of falls they have had the last three years.  “So no alcohol, no underlying medical conditions, rough part of the trail, with loose scree near the edge.”

“Yeah, sorry boss, no good explanation, we don’t think it is a suicide, I guess its possible,  not much of a spot for that, and LVPD didn’t give us any reason to think so.”

He nods, tapping his fingers on the table top, “I hope you are ready to take this seat,  the director is going to have to do something now, did you see the article in the New York Press, Death Canyon National Park.”

“Come on Glenn, what else could you have done,  I don’t want you to go out like this, you said she is fair.”

“She is fair, but it’s political now.  She will not fire me;  it will be deputy director of operations Lynn Curtis.  Well, she will ask me to retire a few years early, or offer me something in DC.  Lynn is fair, came up through the ranks, she makes a lot of tough calls.”

 

Bad Data

Just after Thanksgiving weekend Glenn is looking out the window as the plane climbs north from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, he can just see the outline of the Grand Canyon as the plane starts to turn east.He looks next to him, Sally is getting her laptop out, “there is no point in going through the data, and all of our corrective actions, just enjoy the flight.  Business class, that is a bit of a surprise, thought they would give us coach.”

Sally swings the small tabletop open and powers up her laptop, “you don’t know what the meeting is about,  could be about the capital improvement projects we requested for next year.”

Glenn chuckles, “we don’t get invited to DC HQ to meet with the deputy director of operations to talk about the budget.  We listen, I say I did the best I could, it’s time for fresh leadership and give my highest recommendation for you.”

“What am I going to do?  We tried everything Glenn, trail debris and cleanup, more warning signs, increased ranger patrols, everything.  Traffic flow analysis of hikers, demographic analysis, we looked at everything.”

“The director is getting heat from congress, she has to say the Park Service has done something, something at her level.  There will be a press release at some point saying there is a change of leadership at Grand Canyon National Park,  looking for new solutions to deal with park hazards.  I know the director and Lynn, they will not trash my reputation, it will be fine.”

Sally looks at the plots,  graphs, stacked bar charts,  Venn Diagrams, cluster plots, there was no getting away from the data, the data was bad.  Far beyond a statistical blip, a horrible increase in deaths at Grand Canyon National Park,  the trend clearly attributed to falls, always a significant contributor to park deaths.  But not like this, they could not explain it or fix it,  she shakes her head and sighs deeply whispering, this data is bad.

***********

The next morning, they are in the executive suite for the National Park Service in downtown DC, in the Department of Interior.The executive assistant gets up “Superintendent McDermott,  Chief Ranger Reynolds this way.”

Lynn Curtis is in a suit, she has adjusted to not being in a park service ranger uniform, she gestures to the conference room table, “Glenn good to see you, and Chief Ranger Reynolds,  have a seat.  Coffee and tea are on the side table there.”

Glenn pours a cup of coffee and sits next to Curtis; she is at the head of the table.  Sally sits next to Glenn, she has never been in HQ and is not comfortable in her suit, she has already had two cups.  She gets back up, “sorry, I think I will get a cup of tea.”  She pours it, gets her notepad out of her small brief case and sits back down, she is ready to fight for Glenn.

Lynn Curtis’ hands are on the table, fingers interlaced,  “well I am sure you know what I want to talk to you two about, its been another bad year in terms of visitor safety at Grand Canyon.  Three years running, something needs to be done, something significant.”

Glenn puts his cup down, “Lynn sorry to interrupt, why don’t I make this easier on you,  I have been thinking of retiring, in a few years anyway, I can step down early.Sally is very strong a great leader,  she brings a new perspective to the job.”

Lynn shakes her head, “I don’t want to go that direction.”

Glenn nods, “I understand, if you need to fire me to send a message, I understand.  But please, Sally knows Grand Canyon, she has great leadership skills and high standards.”

Lynn waves her hand, “Glenn just stop, stop and listen.  Someone else has been looking at the data since late this summer, they will be here in a few minutes they are in the lobby, they have some new insights.”

There is a knock at the door, “mam, they are here.”

“Good please, show them in.”

Glenn sees a woman leading the way, she looks vaguely familiar, but he cannot place her.  She is followed by another woman and man. They don’t really look like park service people. “Supervisory special agent Louise Spalding, you must be deputy director Curtis good to meet you face to face.”

Lynn gestures for them to have a seat, “yes thank you for helping us Agent Spalding, this is park superintendent Glenn McDermott and his chief ranger Sally Reynolds, two of the finest professionals in the National Park Service.  Coffee and tea at the side table, help yourselves.”

Louise nods, “agent Janet Taft and agent Stan Reese, Janet will cover the details once we get started.”  Stan is pouring coffee for all three of them, Janet is connecting the lap top to the large monitor.

Glenn realizes where he has seen Spalding, a few years ago on TV at Olympic National Park, “FBI BAU,  you got the people killing on the trails in Olympic National Park.  Sorry didn’t mean to blurt that out.  We already looked at potential suicides, I’m confused, what is this about?”

Lynn looks at Glenn, “we wanted a very different look at the data, from people outside of the park service.  The director called the director of the FBI and asked if the BAU could take a look,  only the director, myself and now you two know the FBI have been working on this.”

Glenn sighs, “What could you possibly find without coming to the park?”

Louise puts her coffee cup down, “you have a serial killer, your increase in deaths due to falls is the result of a serial killer, most likely two working together.”

Glenn shakes his head, “we have experienced crime scene investigators, we looked at all of these falls, there is nothing pointing to homicide.  How can you possibly know that?”

Louise nods, “its in the data, your data analysis what the park service does is good, looking for root causes, so you can take corrective actions.  We reviewed your investigation files of the deaths; you are right there is nothing from the scenes or the autopsies.I am guessing, you haven’t found anything that explains these increased falls, nothing in common, probably tried many things but nothing worked.”

Glenn sits back in his chair sighing loudly, “what did we miss?”

“You didn’t miss anything, we looked at a broader range of parameters, focused on victimology.  We looked at all of the deaths from the previous ten years compared to the last three years, anything that would stand out.  We found something, it is clear and points to UNSUBS killing in the summers in the park, carefully planned and executed to look like accidental falls.  Janet, give them the numbers and the details that led us to this conclusion.”

Janet starts through the briefing slides, “Some of these numbers are going to be familiar to you, the number of visitors, deaths in the park and the recent increase in deaths.Given the previous ten years of deaths in the park, you know that on average you were experiencing around twelve deaths per year, on a per capita basis this is on the lower end of the national parks.  For the last three years, eighteen, twenty five and thirty two this year for seventy five, an extraordinary increase. Taken cumulatively, there are thirty nine more deaths for those three years than expected from the average.  You already know this and you know the increase is primarily due to a higher number of falls, thirty four of the thirty nine for those three years.”

Janet takes a drink of coffee, “what we looked at based on victimology you do not have.”

Sally shakes her head, “we looked at demographics, they are from all over the country, different ages, occupations.”

Janet nods, “we know you looked at that, but did you notice they were a bit older than the statistical average for the visitor population,  there is a reason for that, but not something you would have seen as significant.We looked at an extensive number of variables that might connect these victims, it took some time but we found the key.  Do you know how many registered sex offenders are in the US?”

Glenn shakes his head, “no clue?”

Janet nods, “let’s stick with ratios, that makes the numbers easy to follow,  you will see it right away, no need for an advanced degree in statistical analysis.  Roughly one of every two hundred and fifty Americans is a registered sex offender. Given the number of visitors ...”

Sally jumps in, “that’s twenty thousand sex offenders a year visiting Grand Canyon a year, if the ratio is the same as the national average.  Sorry to interrupt, I just never would have guessed.”

“That’s right and if you use the same simple ratio for deaths in the park,  you would expect less than one death per year in the park to be a registered sex offender.  For the last three years together,  for seventy five deaths maybe one would be a registered sex offender, five would be statistically very significant.The last three years thirty three people who died in the park due to an accidental fall, were registered sex offenders.  In simple terms that anyone can understand for comparison, in the previous ten years only one registered sex offender died in the park, heat stroke.  The complex statistics, estimates the likelihood of this number of deaths for this victim pool to be less than one ten thousandth of one percent.  Someone is killing registered sex offenders in Grand Canyon National Park; we suspect thirty three likely victims in the last three years.”

Glenn is staring at the computer monitor on the wall with these final numbers summarized, “Why? Aren’t some of these people guilty of relatively minor crimes, like public urination things like that?”

Louise picks up, “you are right,  there are a wide range of offenses and every state has its own criteria for registration.  We found that all thirty three are guilty of a range of serious offenses against minors including sexual battery, molestation, pornographic trafficking.  Serious offenders have been targeted, by the UNSUBS.”

Sally pounds the table, “why aren’t they in prison?”

Janet nods, “that’s why the age is a little bit older, they have all been in prison anywhere from six to fifteen years.”

Louise explains what they think about potential UNSUBs,  because the individuals are from all over the country, they do not think it is simple personal revenge.There is likely a personal element, likely two people working together, one of whom has been a victim or they have a loved one who was a victim.Methodical, smart, employing multiple forensic countermeasures and able to spend long periods of time at the national park.  “We only see one mistake, we think they let the numbers get too high especially this year, getting the park on the media’s radar screen.”

Glenn McDermott is convinced, “So how do we catch them?Are you looking for us to be involved?”  He looks at Lynn Curtis.

“That is why you are here.”

Louise gestures to Stan, Stan picks up the briefing.  “Okay, we have already looked at data from NPS data bases, parking, registration, everything that would show overlap with these thirty three killings, we cannot find anyone.  We believe they are staying outside the park with their vehicles and camping outside the park.”

Sally nods, “yeah okay in the national forest and recreation areas outside of the park, there are some old jeep trails, they can get in close to the park never register and hike in, both the north side and south side.  They could stay for weeks, months moving around a bit.How do they find their victims?”

Stan continues,  “as Louise said the UNSUBS are smart, very smart at least one of them has  cyber skills, we believe they are data mining and possibly hacking state sex offender registries. For example, your last death this year Randy Baxter from Las Vegas.  He is registered in Nevada and he put in a notification that he was going out of state to Arizona.  Because he was going to be in Arizona for less than fourteen days he did not need to register with Arizona.  None of this is visible to the public, but we know from FBI computer analysts these sites are not very secure.Baxter had been out of prison for six years, he had a small presence on social media, with some messages about hiking in the Grand Canyon.”

Sally sighs, “what did he do?”

Stan grimaces, “raped a thirteen year old girl, his defense was that it was consensual, even though her hands and feet were restrained.  Beyond this he did not beat or torture her, but he did cut off some of her hair.  Police found other bags of blond hair, we think he had three more victims but there was no DNA and no one came forward.”

Sally grits her teeth, “I think I see the motivation for killing them now.”  She sighs, “sorry, what are you going to need from us?  We will give you all the support you need, I am assuming we will.” She looks at Glenn, deep down she feels conflicted, spending time and resources  to protect these disgusting monsters.

Glenn nods in agreement, “absolutely, how many could it be next year?  Vigilantes, running wild in the park, what if they kill someone completely innocent.”

Louise starts out, “no one in the National Park Service should know about this, unless we bring them into the team.We will set up monitoring in cyber space, looking for victims starting in April, they have never killed before May.  We will flag targets that we think are likely victims and then have agents in the field with park service rangers undercover, to shadow them.  We will need your expertise, doing this on rugged trails is not something we have done before. We have a few months to set up teams and run through the details, today we just wanted to get the foundation down and agreement to collaborate.”

 

Trace and Track

It’s April,  Kim is at home working from the study, the advantages of life as a tenured professor of computer science.She is filtering the files building a list for May, she checks the counter, four hundred potential creeps,  she types in another filter to trim it down further.She hears the back door open,  “in the study.”

Brandon comes to the study door, “you been home all day,  I guess life as a CS professor is more free spirited than us simple, criminal justice professors.How goes the search, we really need to watch our numbers this year, right?”

“Yea I know, still narrowing it down, before we review the short list.  Is all the gear ready to hit the road?  We will be ready to go in a few weeks.”

Brandon nods, “I will finish checking the gear this weekend, I am going for a run before dinner.”

He looks at the picture of their daughter Kelsey on the dresser in the bedroom, the only framed one they still have displayed, others are in boxes or albums.  He finishes changing,  looks at her picture before he leaves the room.

***********

It’s early summer, Kim and Brandon are sitting in the tent, the lantern lighting up the map,  Brandon traces out the route, “okay this is a new trail for us, he is only here two more days and this is supposed to be his goal for the trip, so he has been building up to this one.He will be out early, it’s a long back and forth.”

“We have scouted it; we know the trail.”

“You know what I mean, I think we go with the picture ruse so we can stay together.  We stay a bit ahead of him, but keep an eye so we know where he is,  we have three spots we can hit him.  As soon as we see there are no witnesses on the trail nearby.”

Kim nods,  “we are near one of these scenic edges,  when he catches up,  I ask him if he will take our picture, he will not be able to resist me.  Then we play it one of two ways, see if he wants us to take his picture or we push him on the exchange when he brings the camera back over to me.”

Brandon nods, “that’s right if he wants his picture, then I stay close by him you take his mobile, you get him to look away from me, then he goes down.”

Kim lays back down, “if he does not want his picture, then I stay by the ledge as he brings the camera to me, as he gets close you circle back behind him.  I move in close to him, getting his attention focused on me, but slip around to the side.  Look at the picture, with a big smile, thanks a lot creep, and step back.  You give him the nudge.”

Brandon nods, “if it does not work, we can try the injury gambit higher up, lets get some rest, we need to get up early.”

***********

Janet is with Ranger Karen Green,  Janet pulls the radio out, ALPHA this is BRAVO,  “we are in place on the western check point one.”

Stan is with Ranger Bob Thornton, “Roger that, BRAVO is in place on the south trail head, VICTOR just headed down the trail, no one else following, we are going to wait thirty minutes then sweep behind.”

Louise is with Sally Reynolds on a peak across from the trail, it took them two hours to hike up here in near darkness, she never would have made it without Sally.  She is looking through the spotting binoculars on the tripod, “OVERWATCH here, I see VICTOR on the trail, there are a few people ahead of him on the trail.”  She pans the binoculars around to the west, “got you in sight BRAVO.”Sally takes a look through the binoculars, looking at VICTOR, the child pornographer moving along the trail, “disgusting creep.”

Louise nods, “yeah, I agree.”

Stan looks at his watch, “this is BRAVO, we are headed up the trail, three people just headed down the trail, we will get ahead of them.”

***********

Kim is standing on the ledge,  with a wide open vista,  “okay here he comes, you ready?”

Brandon nods,  “yeah.”

Kim waves, “hey, would you take our picture, then we could get one of you.”

The man looks at the cute blonde, if she knew who I was she would be running, “that would be great, safer than trying to do selfies.”

***********

Louise is looking through the binoculars, “ALPHA this is overwatch, looks like VICTOR is about to catch up with two or three people can’t tell for sure, not far from your spot, you need to move closer, about fifteen minutes down the trail.”

“Roger that we are on the way.”

***********

Kim watches as the creep falls bouncing down the ledge, “dead man falling.”

Brandon looks over the edge, “okay, up into the back country camp for a day, lets move its another eight miles once we get to the top.”

***********

Janet watches as VICTOR approaches the group of three,  they watch as he passes, without saying a word.“BRAVO here, we are moving back up to checkpoint two, VICTOR is still on the move.”

 

 

End of the Season

Kim and Brandon have a campfire going, camped not too far from Saddle Bag Lake, about two miles outside the north eastern boundary of Yosemite National Park.Kim looks up at the stars, “good first season here, back here next year?”

“I think so we kept the numbers down, but I will check with some of my contacts who know people in federal law enforcement see if there is anything on any ones radar.”

***********

Sally Reynolds is with Glenn McDermott in the conference room next to his office, late September.  “The lowest number of summer deaths in eight years in the park, so from that perspective it was a successful year.”

Glenn is looking out the window, “yea, well we will hear what Louise thinks, they should be here soon.”Agents from the Phoenix FBI field office had taken over for Janet, Stan and Louise in June, doing surveillance under cover with a group of three park rangers for the rest of the summer, they never saw a serial killer or anyone fall.  It was frustrating work.

The door to the conference room opens, Glenn walks over, “Louise, Stan, Janet good to see you again.  Coffee and tea are there in the back of the room, we are anxious to hear what you think and what we should do next year it anything.”

The three FBI agents sit down after pouring coffee, Louise starts the conversation, “well first of all we want to thank you for the support this summer, I am sure it was frustrating.  We have gotten an earful from the Phoenix field office; they are not particularly happy.  We are headed over there tomorrow, to mend fences.”

Glenn shakes his head, “well it was difficult work and frustrating, you were helping us, you found these killers,  we are just looking for answers.  Frankly I am confused and worried, do you think they stopped, will they be back next year?”

“This is guess work,  educated guess work, our best guess is they moved on, probably the publicity about the park from the previous years fatalities, they felt like they were exposed.  Typically, these mission killers do not stop until the mission is complete,  I do not think they had specific targets in mind.  They are killing somewhere else, probably watching their numbers more closely, I would not expect them back here in the near term, you already watch your numbers closely.”

They talk about the summer, some of the stories about the three tender foots from DC on the trail.  Glenn McDermott, looks at the clock, “we have lunch being brought in, then how about a short guided tour along the south rim,  from the superintendent.”

Louise nods agreement, “that would be nice.”

***********

The week after New Year’s Day Louise is sitting outside the FBI directors office with her boss Dan Popp,  the executive assistant opens the door, “the director is ready now.”

Dan Popp takes a seat next to the director at the conference room table, “thank you sir, for getting us in quickly.”  Louise sits across from Dan on the other side of the director.

“Sure thing Dan, what do you and agent Spalding have for me this time?”

“You know Louise, she is relentless and you know about the case we had at Grand Canyon National Park last summer.  Well, she kept digging into this underlying trend, she is just going to give you the bottom line sir, she has a map no detailed briefing material.”

Louise slides a hard copy map across the table, “this shows the location of the sixty three national parks in the US.”

“Okay and I am guessing there is some significance to these few in red, looks like the Smokies, Everglades and six out west.”

“Yes sir,  you already have seen the data we had from our Grand Canyon briefing before we got started on that surveillance, the victim pool of registered sex offenders.”

“Yes, its like you said SSA Spalding you don’t need a degree in statistics to see they were being targeted; you think there could be something bigger?”

“This looks like it has been going on for six years, so far at these eight parks, the very first appears to be the Smoky Mountains, the numbers have always stayed low, but the number of dead registered sex offenders is off the charts from a statistical perspective.  They are being targeted, but different means of killing in the different parks, everything from vehicle deaths, drownings, falls we think even cardiac arrest possibly with some drugs that get masked.”

“How many killings are we talking about?  Two people covering this much ground?”

“Its averaging out to about five registered sex offenders each year at each of these parks, over the six year period it’s been two hundred and forty six victims in total.We think there are six teams involved in the killing, we think this is some type of network, a community that has gotten together for this purpose.”

“How does the Grand Canyon fit in?”

“We think they were a new team, operating for three years, got in some hot water with the network because they let their numbers get out of control and they have moved on to another park.”

Dan picks up, “we don’t quite know what to do with something this big sir, the resources that would be needed to try and tackle something of this scope.”

“Yeah, I get it I understand.  All we have is the data right, Louise have you looked at any of the homicide files?”

“Yes sir, I have looked at all of them,  the cause of deaths are all well documented no sign of homicide.  But the numbers are solid, UNSUBS are killing registered sex offenders in the national parks.”

“I understand and I do not doubt you, Dan I am guessing your teams all have a full plate right, I would like to talk to the Attorney General about this, how to approach this.  Can you set this aside until you get some direction?”

Dan nods, “yes sir, we will put this aside, we have lots of work.”

***********

The president is listening to the Attorney General, describe what an FBI agent discovered at America’s national parks over the last six years.He looks at the Secretary of Interior sitting across on the opposite sofa from the AG, “your people in the park service didn’t see the numbers?”

“The numbers were being looked at for Grand Canyon and that’s when we got the FBI involved, but the numbers across these other parks, the numbers are within statistical variations, these people are clever not raising alarm bells.  Not till someone sorts them showing how many are registered sex offenders, then it’s clear.Given the numbers we might expect five registered sex offenders to be among the fatalities in a six year period,  given how many there are in the country.”

“What was the total number the FBI agent found?”

The attorney general sits forward, “two hundred and forty six in the six years she looked at, that’s when she believes this started.”

The president nods, “more than twenty thousand homicides per year in this country that’s not even one percent.  I am guessing this is pretty darn difficult to detect and stop?”

The AG nods, “extremely difficult.”

The president walks towards his desk, “this agent in the BAU, is she still working on this?”

“No Mr. President, she is a supervisory agent, the one who got the killers in Olympic National Park, she has moved on to other work unless they are told to dig into this.  The FBI director told the team to put it on hold, he wanted my advice.”

The president looks at the Secretary of the Interior, “your park service rangers, are plenty busy already.”

“Yes Mr. President.”

“Sounds like you both already have this under control, please advise me if something changes.  The FBI is independent, sounds like they know what they are doing.”


Submitted: January 15, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Damon Nomad. All rights reserved.

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Sharief Hendricks

Excellent story Damon Nomad.

Murder in the National Parks.
What a vivid and scenic journey you took me on, as I made my way through the trails, victim by victim.

Louise is determined, dedicated and has a eye for detail. She will only grow in strength and confidence as she improves her craft...
Your creative imagination makes one wonder who the real bad guys are...the molesters or the vengefull vigilantes correcting "wrongs"...
or are they, just cold blooded serial killers after all?

Well done

Loved it !!

Sun, January 16th, 2022 10:05pm

Author
Reply

Thank you for very kinds words

Sun, January 16th, 2022 5:25pm

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