La Duquesa -Chapter 8

LA DUQUESA – Wonder Horse Book Two
By Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez
Authors of Action and Adventure with Arabian Horses


Sam Brown was puzzled when he got a message from the Coroner’s office about the Reilly Stone case. He’d closed that case down almost as soon as it landed on his desk. He’d gone to the scene, looked it over, and chalked the death up to an accident. He’d even told the next-of-kin that weeks ago. He called the Coroner’s office. The secretary told him the Coroner needed to speak with him. He had finished the autopsy on Reilly Stone, gotten the toxicology reports back, and needed to see him. Sam made the appointment and told his boss.

When Sam arrived for his appointment, he was given a set of booties, a gown, and gloves to put on. He was escorted into an exam room lined with tables. Most of the tables had bodies on them under sheets. He wished he had his eucalyptus salve the minute he walked into the room. The Coroner greeted him and asked him to join him at one of the tables near the middle of the room.

“I’m sorry to do this to you, but we just finished up the autopsy on Reilly Stone. On my initial exam, I was in complete agreement with you. It appeared the guy was drunk as a skunk and fell off the steps and broke his darned neck. The toxicology report does show his blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit, so he was definitely impaired.”

“Okay, so what have you got for me?” Sam asked.

“We found something strange when we got to looking. The man’s neck was broken so badly that it severed his spinal cord. It was effectively an internal decapitation. But there was no internal bleeding at the site. With that much bone and muscle damage, there should have been some bleeding. So we looked into it a little more and did some additional x-rays.”

“What did they show?”

“Let me show you the x-rays we took,” as he pulled them from a sleeve and hung them on a lightbox. “Just here, you can see the actual cause of death. Do you see that depressed skull fracture? It is just over his ear along the left side of his temple. That’s what killed him. We’ve looked at x-rays from several angles, and we looked at the injury to his head. We found bone fragments penetrating the brain. He took a hard blow to his left temple with a large flat object of some kind. We just haven’t been able to figure out what it was. There’s no trace evidence of the weapon in the injury that we can find.”

“Did he get that injury from a fall prior to falling down the stairs?” Sam asked.

“No. There was too much force used to give him the injury to his brain. That couldn’t have been done in a fall, even with a man his size. It wouldn’t generate enough force.”

“Okay, Doc. What are you telling me here?”

“I’m afraid I’m telling you this was no accident. I believe this is a homicide. Someone used a heavy flat object to bash his skull in before his body fell down the stairs.”

“Oh, great! None of us did much at the scene that day since it looked so obvious to us what happened. We didn’t collect much evidence or even look for any.” Sam told him.

“Oh, one more thing. I found a strange substance on his clothes and in his hair. It was greasy, and it took me a while to figure out what it was. I finally gave it my “smell” test. It was bacon grease! I will tell you we found bacon and eggs in his stomach contents if that helps you.”

“Oh, wonderful! The guy eats breakfast while he’s getting drunk. Sounds perfect!” Sam muttered under his breath. “Thanks, Doc. We’ll see where this takes us.”

Victoria Hardesty has owned, bred and shown Arabian Horses for more than 30 years. She and her husband operated their own training facility serving many young people that loved and showed their own horses. She is the author of numerous articles in horse magazines, was the editor of two Arabian Horse Club newsletters, one of which was given the Communications Award of the Year by the Arabian Horse Association at their national convention. An avid reader from childhood, she read every horse story she could get her hands on.