Murder Mistress

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels

Special Agent Jackson Bowser stopped at the doorway of the master bedroom. A uniformed officer—who looked like he had one foot out the retirement door already—held out a clipboard, and a pair of black nitrile gloves and blue plastic shoe coverings. Bowser signed the log sheet, then slipped on the gloves and shoe coverings.

“You guys find her yet?” the officer asked.

Jackson grunted a noncommittal answer, crossing into the room. There were four piles of laundry on the blue carpeted floor, color coordinated and laid out neatly. He could see tan-colored dog hair in spots across the carpet. Apparently, his suspect cared about her clothes. Not so much about the carpet.

Kneeling in front of the first pile, he lifted the first item and shook it out. It was a simple black top, sleeveless, with a screen-printed pitchfork of some kind in gold-tinted filigree. The symbol looked familiar; it tickled a corner of his brain but refused to reveal its meaning. He dropped the shirt and stood fully, continuing his search.

The black dresser against the wall to his left held two blow-dryers, a leather jewelry box, and enough hair care products and makeup to stock a beauty parlor. The vanity mirror was surrounded by sixteen halogen lights. A sticky note was right in the middle of the mirror. Tiny handwriting covered it, but Jackson knew the crime scene photographers had already been through the entire house. He pulled out his cellphone and snapped a few pictures for his own reference anyway before slipping the note in an evidence bag and filling out the required information.

Even zooming in, he had to squint to make out the words through the plastic sleeve.

I didn’t do whatever you think I did.

It was written repeatedly, until there was no more room left on the small piece of paper. “If you didn’t do it, why’d you run, huh?” he said, before shoving the bag into his inside jacket pocket.

He stepped toward the second, taller dresser. This one held a small wire basket with a bottle of eyeglasses cleaner and several microfiber wipes. His suspect didn’t wear glasses, but the victim did, and they weren’t the cheap kind you could get off a Walmart rack, either. Rubbing a calloused hand over his scruffy cheek, Jackson finally looked at the California king bed against the far wall. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear it hadn’t been touched. But the slight dent in one of the pillows, along with the roughly tucked in edges of the blanket, told him his suspect had recently spent at least one night here.

He noticed a dog crate between the bed and wall, with an empty white basket atop it. Inside the basket were clean, meticulously folded pants and shorts. Jackson couldn’t stop the smirk that came to his face. His partner at home was just as bad about putting away laundered clothes. It’s one more step! You’ve already washed, dried, and folded ’em. Just put ’em away, babe, he’d argued more than once over their twenty years together.

The crate itself held a cotton-white dog pad, just thin enough for a pup to rest comfortably for a few hours while its owners were away or a place to escape when mom and dad were fighting. A rubber, perforated chew toy and a hollowed-out bone were in the back corner, and Jackson could see both were well used.

You could tell a lot about a person by the way they treated their animal companion. Still, his gut had never proven him wrong.

Lacey Edwards-Williams had murdered her husband.

He just needed to find the one piece of evidence that would convince a jury.

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