The Twinning Factor
Joseph McGee Private Investigator: Book Seven
McGee Faces A Conundrum
By Carl Douglass
Neurosurgeon Turned Author Writes With Gripping Realism
McGee was certain that he was missing something. Jason Richter was rapidly becoming his nemesis because he could not prove something his gut was sure about. His dossier of evidence had zilch. Nothing happened for weeks: no major trafficking arrests or girls saved, but no mass killings by any vigilante either. Caitlin and Ivory did not share McGee’s misgiving about whomever was doing the killing. They could not get it out of their minds that the assassin was a boon to all mankind.
In August, seven traffickers were killed in Indianapolis, which fit the modus operandi of the original two trafficker building’s occupants being shot to death, and five were killed in an arson fire. Two dozen girls were rescued by an anonymous operator who left the girls in front of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office located in the Marion County Jail, 40 S Alabama St, Indianapolis.
Caitlin O’Brian said, “That has to be the Richter guy. I feel it in my bones, and the MO is right on. We all need to get to Indiana and find out if there is any evidence that he was there around that time.”
McGee and Ivory agreed, and they took the Embraer Phenom 300 mid-sized company jet to Indianapolis that afternoon and landed in the domestic section of the Indianapolis International Airport. It happened to be perfectly convenient because it was located seven miles southwest of downtown Indianapolis in Marion County. The drive to the sheriff’s office took ten minutes.
“Good afternoon, Sheriff. Thank you very much for accommodating us so quickly. We have been investigating a perp named Richter for something over a year, and this sounds like his work,” McGee said by way of greeting.
“We’re glad to have you. This is weird, ya know. I don’t know what ta make outa somebody who rescues kidnapped girls and executes the traffickers. Not that I don’t pretty much approve of the executions; they deserve it. But, I still hafta folla the law, more’s the pity. Do you have any leads on your suspect?”
“We know of two rescues and killings where our perp was in the area, but his alibi was airtight both times. There is no question about the accuracy of the alibis. We also have looked into three others around the world that fit the MO like this one, but we couldn’t tie him into those. For that matter, we got nowhere in our investigation of those three. Where and how the perp gets his information, how he carries out his operations, where he is from, or where he goes is all a mystery.Frankly—in every case—we looked into the possibility that law enforcement was involved. Once, maybe that would be a reasonable suspicion, but three, four, five times, nah, that is way too coincidental.”
Sheriff Driscoll nodded his head and frowned.
“It could be possible that ona my guys did such a thing; they all hate perps who hurt little girls and boys and their families. But, I tell ya, we had no idea this trafficking ring was in our county, and I think I can account for where ever onna my men and women were on the night in question. You are welcome to question them, look inta their alibis if ya want. I don’t think ya’ll git anywhere.”
“If you don’t mind, let’s start there,” McGee said.
“You betcha,” the sheriff said without reluctance.
The interviews came to nothing. Alibis were all perfect. These were family men and women, and the ones not on shift were home with the spouse and children. Those on shift were always together with another deputy which was one of Sheriff Driscoll’s cardinal rules for the security of his deputies and himself. No one had ever heard of a Jason Richter, recognized his photograph, or saw any man similar to the description Ivory provided. The trip was a big fat failure, and McGee and Associates were frustrated beyond measure.
The Dark Web site was proving to be of inestimable value for the Richter twins. To their surprise, they gained a strong reputation from the enemies of human traffickers who were frustrated and angry at their inability to find their loved ones, or at the lack of cooperation by local authorities with law enforcement when information came in. It was never enough to launch raids, it seemed. For Jason and James, there was also frustration despite there being more work than they could handle alone, and more money coming in than they needed to carry out their missions. So far as they knew, they were operating entirely in the dark; and they liked it that way. They had not been back to Iowa more than twice a year for three years.
Most of their actions came from tips from angry cops. A particularly bothersome and intriguing tip came from an unidentified border patrol officer from New Mexico. Jason and James were frustrated to the point of being sorrowful because for all the girls they had seen and saved, and all the monsters they had eliminated, no girl even remotely resembled their “little sister” Elle, who would be twenty-four at this point.
James arranged for a burner phone conversation with the border patrol officer with pinging off dozens of different cell towers worldwide and disguised voices from disguisers purchased at Walmart online. The voices were so distorted that neither speaker could tell the gender, race, or accent, of the other speaker. The anonymity was nearly perfect except for the necessary knowledge of where the Richters should go and how to carry out their mission there.
“Hello,” came a Micky Mouse voice when Jason connected with the border patrol contact.
“Good day to you,” Jason replied in his Satchmo Armstrong distortion.
“You the guy from the dark website?”
“We got tunnels, trucks, airplanes, and private cars, bringing in girls kidnapped in Mexico, Central, and South America. Breaks your heart. They move the girls in, keep ‘em for a couple of nights in a series of trafficker houses, then ship them out all around the country, and even out of the US for all I know. It’s a sophisticated secret supply chain that has about a perfect record so far. We pick up a low-life involved now and again. Most of them are terrified of the higher-ups and would much rather go to prison than talk. We had two willing to serve as CIs. That lasted less than a week. We found their mutilated bodies at the mouths of caves we knew about.”
“Do you suspect locals, people you know, to be involved?”
“Sure we do, but we can’t get any evidence that would stick.”
“So, what’s different now that we might be able to do something about?”
“That’s the good question. My partner and me followed a low guy on the totem pole to a big old hacienda out by Santa Rosa on the border and watched the place for a few hours. Several trucks came in and out, and we even seen a small prop plane land in the back. It was too dark to be sure if they were hauling in contraband or people, but it was sure suspicious. We decided now is the time to act, because those monsters move to new locations about every two weeks. Can you get down here today or tomorrow at the latest?”
“Down where? Look, my friend, we have to trust each other to a degree. When we get there, we can meet or just talk on the Mickey Mouse and Satchmo phones, whatever seems best. By the way, switch to new burners every time we talk.”
The tiny town of Santa Rosa, Guadalupe County, New Mexico, is the perfect pit-stop for a Route 66 vacay or a transfer of human contraband around the country. There is not a lot to do on the Santa Rosa strip of the iconic highway, except maybe see some old features on the silver screen; some of which were filmed there. For car fans, there is a Route 66 Auto Museum. The only building worth a look is the 1909 brick-built Guadalupe County courthouse–a location of no interest to McGee and Associates, human traffickers, or the Richter twins, none of whom really knew any of the others.
They were about to meet at the formerly grand adobe hacienda of the Hijo de Algo Romàn de Cruces de La Vázquez-Iglesias family whose claim to fame was that they were criollos-Mexicans and South Americans born in Spain. They made a fortune in agriculture and mining by working enslaved nativos mexicanos to an early death. The family was exterminated in Comanche and Apache raids beginning in 1821, and the hacienda became vacant except for a few four-legged coyotes, ravens, and—most recently—monsters.