Angola LaGrange and the Brain Teaser Part 6

The name’s Angola LaGrange, private investigator. The other day, Mrs. Hilsberger hired me to find her missing husband. After I found his corpse, the police medical examiner discovered the husband’s brain had been removed by

The name’s Angola LaGrange, private investigator. The other day, Mrs. Hilsberger hired me to find her missing husband. After I found his corpse, the police medical examiner discovered the husband’s brain had been removed by a pro, or by someone who needs a less gruesome hobby. The murder seemed like an improved version of a job done on two downtown vagrants. That, and the missing thinker, suggest a serial-psycho. At least one of the victims, and maybe the killer too, was seen by Richmond Jones at the Royal Egrets Motel, who became the next jack-o-lantern after his girlfriend Virginia Dean reported him missing. On top of all that, someone leaked the story to the media, and my friend on the police force thinks I did it.

Read the full details Here and the unfolding case below.


Images of the headline “FBI Stalls in Eastside Ripper Investigation” flashed through my mind. How could Jim think I leaked this story?

I called Lucky from the elevator, but it went to voicemail. “I’m heading over to Virginia Dean’s apartment; give me a call as soon as you get this. As soon as you get this, Lucky.”

I half expected the security guard to still be standing there when the elevator doors opened, but the hallway was empty. After a few steps, my phone buzzed again.

Another text from Jim: “Ange?”

“Not me.” I texted back. “Looking into it.” I waved at the security guard in the lobby as I waited for Jim’s response.

“No, Ange, this added media coverage is causing a panic. The mayor pressured the chief into calling—”

My phone lit up with a call from Lucky.

I answered. “Did you see the news?”

“I woke up to your message. Why, we got another body?”

“No, but someone leaked the whole story to the press. They’re calling him The Brain Teaser.”

He swore under his breath. “So, now what?”

“We’ll have to work faster. Meet me at Virginia Dean’s apartment.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“Just get over there as fast as you can.”

#

The apartment complex was a rundown four-story building a couple of blocks from the university campus, so of course it was swarming with college students. I parked as far away from the noisy frat boys as I could. Obviously, they thought that out-cussing and out-drinking each other before noon equated with manhood.

Lucky was waiting for me with two cups of coffee. “Morning, Boss.”

“On time and you brought coffee, what’s wrong with you?”

“Don’t get any ideas; these are both for me.”

“Yeah, yeah. Come on, which apartment is it?”

“4B, top of the stairs on your left. Have fun.” He headed for the door.

“Oh no you don’t.” I grabbed his arm. “I’ve already dealt with one grieving widow today. You’re coming with me.”

There was no elevator, so we hiked the four flights of stairs. As promised, the apartment we wanted was on the left. I knocked on the door as Lucky wheezed his way up the last few steps.

“Four stories are four too many without an elevator.” He panted.

“Quit griping, our building doesn’t have an elevator.”

“Yeah, but we live on the second story, much more reasonable.”

I knocked again. “Virginia Dean?”

There was no answer.

I pressed my ear against the door, and listened. There was no sound from inside the apartment.

I turned to Lucky. “Make yourself useful and call Virginia.” I listened at the door again while he dialed.

A phone rang in the apartment.

When the ringing stopped, Lucky looked at me and said, “No answer.”

I knocked once more. “Virginia Dean?”

Nothing.

I backed away from the door and turned to Lucky. “Get it open.”

“Are you sure?”

“Do it.”

With a smile he produced the necessary tools from his pockets and knelt in front of the lock. A few moments later the door swung open.

The place had been ransacked. Files, pictures, and torn cushions were scattered across the living room. Even the couch had been upended and ripped open.

“Woah.” Lucky took in the mess.

I handed him a pair of gloves from my purse. “Look for her phone, or any sign that she was here when this happened.” I pulled on my own gloves. “Don’t touch anything you don’t need to.”

Lucky nodded and started carefully working his way to the far side of the room.

I went straight to the bedroom. It was in the same condition as the rest of the apartment, furniture upended and clothes scattered all over the place. I started my search with the mattress, it was ripped open, but there wasn’t any blood. That’s a good sign and an unusual one for this case.

Widening my search, I found indents in the carpet indicating where the furniture belonged, as well as the distinctive two-wheel-two-feet pattern of a basic suitcase. A quick glance around the room didn’t reveal the luggage, and a more thorough search of the larger piles of clothes yielded nothing either.

A lot of the clothes were scrubs, reconfirming my “she works in the medical field” theory, though adding in the location of the apartment, I had to amend it to include the possibility of her being a med student. On closer examination, I found that some of the scrubs were larger; suggesting either a roommate—unlikely given the size of the apartment—or that Richmond Jones also had some tie to the medical field.

I stashed that clue away and moved on to the bathroom. The floor was littered with soaps, shampoos, and makeup supplies. There was also a tube of toothpaste, but no toothbrush.

I ducked back into the living room to check on Lucky. “Anything?”

“Not yet.”

“We know her phone is in here, I heard it ring through the door. What about a two-wheeled suitcase, did you see one of those?”

“No, nothing like that. Hang on; I’m going to try calling her phone again.” He tapped his phone a couple times and we waited.

The ringing came from under the overturned couch.

“There, you lift it up and I’ll grab the phone.”

“Why do I have to do the heavy lifting?” Lucky whined.

“Come on, be the big, strong man for once.”

“Fine.” He grunted as he heaved the couch up.

I slipped the phone out and looked at it. There was a password to unlock it, but the background picture was of Virginia, Richmond, and a woman I didn’t recognize. All three of them were dressed in scrubs. The mysterious woman was clearly older than the other two, maybe a mentor or professor. Someone who might know where Virginia went.

I tossed the phone to Lucky. “See what you can do with this.”

There was a soft creak outside the door.

I held up a hand to Lucky. “Wait, what was that?”

“FBI! Put your hands on your head.” A young man—probably fresh out of Quantico—burst into the room, gun drawn.

I carefully followed his instructions. “Easy. I’m a private investigator working a case. The apartment was like this when we got here.”

“Angola, Angola, Angola.” Another man’s voice came from the hallway. A voice I remembered all too well. “I heard you’d been sticking your nose into this case.” FBI agent—and pain in the neck—Clay Jackson walked into the room.

“Clay. Been a while.” I threw on my best fake smile.

“Indeed, imagine my surprise when, on our way to conduct a routine interview with a Miss Virginia Dean, we discover that her apartment has been broken into and ransacked.”

“As I said before, it was like this when we got here.”

“And of course, as good citizens, your first response was to call the authorities. Oh wait, it was the neighbor down the hall who did that.”

“We’re just trying to help. It looks like she left before the ransacking.”

“Well, for once I’m happy for your help, Angola. It lets me say something I’ve always wanted to say to you.” He grinned mischievously. “Angola LaGrange, you are under arrest.”

To Be Continued…

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