Image of suspense author Mary Burton



The instant Turner had opened his front door, his expression had shifted from mild curiosity to pain. The man had understood immediately why Nevada was there.

Tobi Turner hadn’t been Nevada’s first death notification, but as the old man had wept, he’d felt gutted and angry and prayed he could find the girl’s killer.

“Sheriff, can you hold the plaque a little higher?” the student photographer asked.

“Of course.” Nevada couldn’t remember the last time he’d been around kids who weren’t abused, beaten, or dead.

As the kid took a dozen more pictures, Nevada kept smiling. He wanted this dog-and-pony show over.

When the group finally broke up, he grabbed his gear, ready to change and get back to working the Turner case. The board of supervisor’s chairman, Sam Roche, cut off his exit. Sam was a retired university professor who’d settled in Deep Run and had been on the board five years.

“Sheriff Nevada, how’s your investigation going?” Sam asked.

“It’s progressing.”

Sam frowned and dropped his voice a notch. “The board is concerned about this case. The optics aren’t good. Who’s going to send their son or daughter to the local university or relocate a business in Deep Run if we can’t promise law and order?”

“Deputy Brooke Bennett and I have been in constant contact with the forensic lab in Roanoke, and I’ve also reached out to the FBI’s profiling team.”

“FBI?” Sam asked.

“If you want this case solved quickly, then we can’t ignore the truth. We had a serial offender who operated in this area in 2004.”

“What’re the chances that this person is still here?” Sam asked.

“I have no way of knowing,” Nevada replied. “I’m still trying to determine if we’ve identified all his victims.”

Sam held up a hand. “There could be more?”

The naive question would have been amusing if this weren’t so damn serious. “Not all women who are raped report the crime. Yes, there could be more.”

Sam rubbed a hand over his thinning gray hair. “The media is calling me for a comment. I’m not sure what to say.”

“I strongly advise you to not speak to them,” Nevada said. “The FBI agent will be here in a few hours, and she and I will coordinate communications to the public.”

“What about Greene?”

“What about him?” Nevada was still pissed about Greene’s inaction on the DNA kits. If the lazy, dumb son of a bitch had made an attempt to solve the rapes in the summer of ’04, he might have saved Tobi Turner’s life.

“I don’t want the FBI taking over the case,” Sam said. “I don’t need the world thinking we can’t manage our own problems.”

“The bureau doesn’t take over.” He’d never taken credit for the cases he’d solved. Instead, he’d always stood off to the side when local law enforcement had made an announcement to the media. Now Nevada was the local guy and was on the receiving end of the FBI’s help.

“Just stay on top of this.”

He would swallow every last bit of his pride and accept whatever help was offered to catch this killer. He owed that much to Tobi Turner and the rape victims. “I will.”

“You’ve chased killers like this before?” Sam asked.

“Too many.”

©2019 Mary Burton