"Looks bad in there", the young towheaded officer said with a worried look as he paused with his yellow tape to allow Detective Munoz to pass, "Never seen anything like it."
"I have." replied Munoz, his snow white Hollywood handsome smile unnerved the young officer.
Munoz had only been on the force locally for six months. He had been
transferred all over Arizona due to personnel and personality conflicts
and had finally applied for a less than prestigious opening in Ohio to
escape the bureaucratic shuffle. Daniel Munoz was a beautiful and
compact man, a well muscled 5'3" with a face like a tan angel. He was a
pit bull on a case, his record and work ethic weren't the reasons he
had trouble working with most departments. Some of his coworkers might
have said he had little man syndrome, others might say he would have
been as much of an arrogant prick if he'd been 7' tall, if not worse.
The latter were correct, Daniel Munoz was a cocky bastard.
woman, a hooker, had been murdered brutally. There weren't many other
ways for a hooker to be murdered, but this woman had been torn apart.
She had been strangled with a towel or cloth that hadn't been left
behind, and had also been stabbed repeatedly. The woman was missing a
few teeth, also not left on the scene. Her tongue had been cut out and
was, like the teeth, the stabbing implement, and the rag used to
strangle her, MIA.
The sanitary aspects of the kill
were somewhat perplexing. Obviously a passionate murder, sloppy and
crude and brutal, she had suffered greatly. However, none of the
neighbors in this two bit motel had heard a thing, and the crime scene
offered not a single clue to motive or perpetrator. If Munoz had to
guess, it was a textbook crime of passion, however the absence of
evidence and obvious taking of trophy's suggested a darker pattern might
And then there was the circle of skin missing
from her thigh. About the diameter of a tomato soup can, raggedly cut
from the tender skin midway between her knee and waist. Munoz had seen
something like that before. When he had first arrived in Ohio, he'd
been relegated to paperwork for a time while his own paperwork was being
Daniel Munoz loved a good story and the
best stories, to him, were darkly criminal in nature. He had grown up
on a farm under the care of a sadistic stepfather. His mother had
passed away giving birth to his baby sister when he was 5, and Daniel
had immediately become an unwelcome brown interloper in his own home.
His stepfather had been a template for Daniel's earliest sociopathic
study, he spent his time learning how to uncover and digest clues about
the big man's behavior and the consequences that behavior rained down
onto the small brown boy. By the time he was in high school, Daniel was
as good at predicting crazy as any trained professional. And so Daniel
Munoz, with his passion for morbid psychology, was a natural for the police force.
Daniel considered the similar case from
the three months he'd spent going over paperwork and logging old
evidence. A single instance of a boy, about ten years old, with that
same circle pattern carved expertly from his upper thigh and lower
back. The boy had been dehydrated prior to death, which made bleeding
difficult and possibly made the carving of the circle easier. He had
been molested and had been ultimately killed via strangling, and then
left in a ditch just outside of Merlin Ohio. The boy hadn't had much
family, the lonely and socially awkward single child of a disinterested
mother with holding down two jobs. She hadn't reported him missing for
three days, he was found a week later.
That had been
the work of a serial killer, Munoz was sure, but it was the only case. A
single case does not a serial killer make. This woman had been
savaged. The scene appeared to be a novice killer's work at best,
however the clean up, the clean up was superb. Daniel didn't know how
it fit but he knew the two murders were tied somehow. Those circles,
how much of a coincidence could that be?
Daniel Munoz gathered his report log