Characters: Zac Hanson, Taylor Hanson, OCs
Word Count: 2,148
Warnings: Language, violence
Summary: When a series of gruesome murders begins, everyone on campus is stunned, leaving the student body shaken and community anxious, but when those close to Zac Hanson realize he once dated all of the victims, they're left wondering about the connection and who might be next.
Disclaimer: This story is purely fictional. I do not know Hanson or any of their associates. All original characters belong to me. Do not use anything from this story without my permission.
Author's Note: This is the unedited version. Sorry about any errors! I don't know that this chapter is necessarily filler, but it is a bit of a switch right back into the detective side of things.
October 18, 2008 8:07 a.m.
Vivienne groaned and pushed her chair back away from her desk. She rubbed absently at her temples in hopes it would help alleviate the tension that had her muscles taut as a wire, stretched too tight without not enough give. As she glanced at the clock, yet again, she feared at any moment she might reach her breaking point.
A normal person might have been relieved that they hadn’t been called out of bed at dawn to go to the scene of another homicide, but Vivienne held no delusions of being normal. She was just as fucked as the next person. A long twenty-eight years of failed relationships and abandonment issues had hardened her in many ways. However, any other day she would be relieved by the lack of a homicide. Today, though, the fact that there had been no calls reporting another murder on campus only made her nervous.
As unnerving as this series of murders had been, she’d almost come to count on the fact that another girl would be dead this morning. She didn’t like it, of course. It went against everything she stood for, but that was what the pattern over the last few days had told them. With no suspects in sight, she felt powerless to the inevitably of another girl’s death.
Most serial killers weren’t likely to deviate from their routine when they felt the compulsion to kill. Vivienne couldn’t help but wonder if something had changed for their killer. She hoped, mostly like in vain, that they were getting close and had scared him off, but that didn’t seem likely. Even if he were spooked away from the campus, he’d likely just move his kill zone to some place less populated by police presence.
The last few days had been a mess. There was really no other way to put it. Most of the squad had been on call, which had left many of them angry. She couldn’t blame them. In a job like this, where they faced death and tragedy on a regular basis, a break was necessary. However, with three college girls dead and few leads, their presence was needed on campus more than ever. The campus security guards had already been checked out and were quickly eliminated as suspects. They were good guys that took their job seriously, but there weren’t nearly enough of them to cover the whole campus.
In the end, though, there was nothing out of the ordinary at the university other than a bunch of scared students wanting to know what was going on. The number of phone calls the precinct had received over the last week was more than overwhelming. Between inquisitive reporters, worried parents and the tip line, the department was stretched thin. With next to nothing to go on, everyone was feeling a little on edge.
Between Jacinda and Melissa’s murders, they had been working hard, looking for clues both at the scenes of the crimes and in other areas of the girls’ lives, but when Katya’s murder was reported, the panic only seemed to increase, along with the feeling of hopelessness.
If Jacinda and Melissa’s murders had been gruesome, Vivienne wasn’t sure what to call Katya’s. Like the two previous, Dr. Stanley had been able to confirm that Katya had also died of asphyxiation. She had also been tortured postmortem. Vivienne shuddered as imagines of the girl’s lifeless body filled her mind. Again, the mutilation had seemed catered to the girl. Her eyes had been removed with a crude object and were found floating around in the toilet.
As disturbing as the removal of Melissa Rogerson’s tongue had been, it had been left on the bed beside her. If the killer was trying to send a message, Viv was at complete loss as to what that message might be.
Generally, she tried to stay objective, but something about these cases really got to her. It was gruesome and made so more by the fact that the murderer obviously knew his victims. It was one thing to murder a stranger on the street. That, at least, was impersonal, but knowing your victim and taking their trust and using it against them to do the kind of things that were done to Jacinda Edmunds, Melissa Rogerson and Katya Stana was beyond anything Vivienne could even begin to understand.
She and Brody had poured over all of the reports and gone through the evidence several times. There didn’t seem to be anything out of place in either girl’s room. Unfortunately, any hairs or fibers that were found were of little use. These girls lived on a college campus with friends and classmates coming and going at all hours. Finding a hair or fiber that didn’t belong was like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Her disgust at the case was only strengthened by the fact that they were getting nowhere. The only thing they had to go on for now was that the killer knew his victims, which meant the girls were somehow connected. So far the link had escaped them.
Yes, there were the obvious things, like they were all female, college students, but that was about as far as the similarities went. Their majors were complete opposites. None of their classes had ever even overlapped, as all three girls were in different classes. Jacinda had been a senior while Melissa was a junior and Katya a sophomore. They ran in different social circles and didn’t share any extracurricular activities. Background checks and cross-referencing known acquaintances and friends were all coming up empty as well.
Even the girls’ appearances were complete opposites – not that Viv had been able to tell much about how they looked until after seeing photographs of them provided by friends or family. They were all beautiful girls, of course, but Jacinda was a brunette while Melissa and Katya were blonde and redheaded, respectively. Their builds were also all over the place, ranging from tiny and petite to tall and athletic. Even rushed, the toxicology reports wouldn’t be back for a couple more days, so they still had no way of knowing if the girls were drugged either.
There were no professors all three of the girls had shared, but they’d run background checks on all of the staff on campus. Aside from a couple minor misdemeanors from over a decade ago, a couple of DUIs and several speeding tickets, the faculty had come up clean. They wasn’t even a clichéd shady janitor to point a finger at.
The fact that there was such little cooling off time between each of the murders was also worrisome. Killers were typically satisfied, at least for a time, after each kill. This killer did not appear to be satiated after the first murder. Perhaps if Melissa had been murdered first, Vivienne might have bought the theory that he wasn’t satisfied with the murder because of the lack of physical violence, but she wasn’t.
Brody theorized that Melissa’s mutilation was less aggressive because he was cooling off, but Viv had a hard time swallowing that idea – especially after Katya’s body was discovered. The mutilation led her to believe that these girls were targeted and killed for a reason. If only they could figure out the meaning behind the brutality bestowed upon each of their bodies even after they were dead, she was sure that would give them something to work with.
Jacinda’s injuries had been beyond brutal. Overkill was the word that came to mind any time the poor girl’s mangled face appeared in Vivienne’s thoughts. Most killers didn’t go from all but crushing a girl’s face to removing body parts. She supposed the brutality hadn’t decreased so much as it had been channeled elsewhere.
She shuddered at the thought of each of the girl’s parents. They were already preparing funeral arrangements for all three. At least the Rogerson girl and the Stana girl could have an open casket. It was all just so sickening, and unlike anything she’d ever seen before.
Furthermore, it nagged at her mind that she couldn’t figure how their killer was coming and going from each of these girls’ rooms without anyone noticing. It was true that most college students were too self-absorbed to really pay much attention to what was going on around them, but with everyone so on guard because of the murders, it seemed unbelievable that no one had noticed someone coming or going from one of their rooms.
Vivienne shook her head and glanced at her watch, wondering where Brody was.
Despite her protests, he’d gone out to pick up breakfast for the both of them. She’d tried telling him that her appetite was shot after what she’d seen this week, but Brody wouldn’t budge. She thought, now, so long as she didn’t think of any of the girls she might be able to keep some food down.
However, she doubted that would last long. While the news seemed to be reporting that there were no murders reported on campus, Vivienne couldn’t shake the horrible thought that there was an undiscovered dead girl somewhere on campus.
“Hey, lady,” Brody said, almost as if on cue, as he walked up behind her. He sat a tray with two coffees on the corner of the desk, and then dug through the bag under his arm. “Hear anything while I was out?” he asked.
Vivienne shook her head, and Brody grinned, “You could try not looking so damn bummed about it. No news could be good news.”
“Or it could just mean she hasn’t been found yet,” Viv pointed out.
Brody grimaced but nodded as he handed her a sandwich. “I’m just trying to be optimistic.”
“You realize even if it is ‘over’ that we’re still stuck with three unsolved murders, right?” Viv commented. “And if the trail goes cold and we’re stuck with what little we already have, then we’re screwed. Do you really want to face those girls’ parents and tell them that we can’t find their killer?”
“Viv, relax,” Brody said sternly. “We have plenty. We just have to find the right lead to follow, but we’re going to figure this out.”
Vivienne didn’t reply but unwrapped her sandwich and took a bite. Brody smiled a little, pleased to see that she was eating again. “So, listen, I say after we eat, we start going through the girls’ personal effects. We’re not finding the connection between their classes, but they have to have something in common. There was something about these girls that made our killer choose them. If it’s not academic, then it’s something in their personal lives.”
“We could get our tech guy to go back through their phone records and emails,” Viv nodded. “I’d like to steer clear of talking to their families unless it’s absolutely necessary. They’re going through so much already.”
Brody didn’t argue. “What about their friends? Those are the people they’ve been around most lately anyway. They’d be more likely to know more about their day to day routines than their parents.”
“Did any of their friends overlap?” Vivienne asked before taking another bite of her sandwich.
Brody chewed his food thoughtfully. “No, I don’t think so,” he said, but then after a moment he sat up and began to sift through a few papers on his desk. He thumbed through a few papers and Vivienne watched curiously. After a moment, he pulled out a paper and nodded to himself. “This is thin, but remember that girl named Lux we talked to after the Edmunds murder?”
Vivienne nodded. Odd names always made it easier to remember people. “What about her?” she asked.
“She lives in the next building over from the Rogerson girl. Some of her friends live there,” Brody explained.
“You’re right. That is pretty thin,” Vivienne agreed. “Besides, her alibi checked out, remember?”
“Yeah, I know,” Brody nodded. “But maybe that’s the sort angle we need to be looking at this from. Whatever the link is it’s either buried pretty heavily or something we haven’t even considered yet.”
“We’ll know more after we look through their belongings and dig a bit deeper into their personal lives,” Vivienne said with renewed hope. Brody was right. Looking at this straight on wasn’t working, and time was running out. They needed to start thinking outside the box and beyond the usual suspects.
She knew everyone wanted to believe that the worst was over, but the uneasy feeling that seemed to permeated throughout her whole body compounded with the tension in her muscles and the pounding inside her head told her otherwise. She had to go with her gut on this. It was only a matter of time before they got the call, saying another girl had been discovered and in the meantime their killer was likely planning his next move.