“So?” Fred asked anxiously.
Annette sighed and stood up. Instead of answering, she handed him a skull.
Fred yelped and almost dropped it. “Wha-What is this? I mean, why’d you give it to me?”
“Look into the nose. There’s something missing.”
Fred clicked open his flashlight and shone it into the triangular hole.
“What is it? I don’t see anything.”
Annette sighed again. “Of course you don’t see anything! It’s gone! This person’s sphenoid has been taken out. It doesn’t look to be shattered or else there would be remains in there, but it’s been cleanly taken out. You know what this means, don’t you?”
Fred shook his head mutely.
“Fred, it’s the butterfly bone. It’s the Butterfly Killer, he’s back. The body has almost completely decayed, but the past month has been wet and it was buried relatively close to the surface. This is an old case anyway. I’d say this body is still fresh enough to make something out of it.”
The name apparently didn’t mean much to Fred because he didn’t show much of a reaction. Annette took the skull back and handed it to the forensics team. Instructing them to keep her abreast of any developments, she then told him to go to her car and wait there.
She came a minute later and they pulled away from the dig site. During the drive, they barely spoke to each other. When Fred asked where they were going, Annette merely replied with, “You’ll see.” They arrived at headquarters thirty minutes later.
She pulled him into her office and opened the top level of her filing cabinet. A thick folder came out with a classified stamp on the front. She set it down on her desk with a thump. She pushed away the paperwork already on her desk and opened the folder. The first page, labelled with a case title of “Butterfly Killer”, featured a picture of a bone.
Annette started speaking. “We haven’t seen a case like this for years. Back when I was still a new officer in this precinct, I was on this case as an assistant to the lead detective. He gave me this file when he retired.” She pulled out several pictures and pinned them a corkboard behind her. “These are the known victims and these are the suspects.”
She pointed to a picture isolated at the top, a bearded blond man with a low hat. “He was the most likely one to be the killer, but just when we were about to make an arrest, our men on the field found evidence pinning each murder to a different suspect. The evidence was planted but it was irrefutable. Sometimes, it was a piece of physical evidence that was missing from the crime scene and there were even some cases that had tapes of the crime being committed. The suspects all went to jail for their individual crimes but we never found the mastermind. We know he exists because all of our suspects made references to a Mr. Monariz and said that they met this man at specified locations where he would then give them the means to carry out their crimes. We checked out each location and we found notes at each place.”
“He’s taunting you.”
Annette glanced at Fred. “Yes.”
Fred walked closer to look at the board of pictures. “Why couldn’t you find him?”
“First, he never left physical evidence that we could trace back to him. Second, he worked solely through other people. Third, since he was never directly responsible for any crimes and there was no solid evidence he exists, our team then couldn’t put our full efforts into finding him. There was a string of 27 known homicides that year that connects to the case and also several that were never solved that had similar circumstances.”
Annette leafed through the folder and found a stapled packet. She gave it to Fred.
“Our mastermind was a philosopher. One of those spiritual types that tries to find the ultimate truth in life. Except this guy’s fascination was with death. Our psychologists and, you can say, our closet symbologists put together this extensive packet explaining the killer’s decisions as to why he chose the symbols he did to commit his crimes. You can have that. Read over it tonight.”
Fred fingered the packet thoughtfully. “But why now? This must’ve been quite a while back if you were just a new officer. What can we do? How do you know that the body is connected this case for sure?”
Annette shot him an amused look. “It was five years ago. I’m not as old as I act. You were also late to get to the crime scene; I was already there for two hours. He’s got his name all over the place. In any case, get yourself acquainted with the case. You can get Jones to get you an abbreviated version of the case file. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
With that, he was escorted out of her office and the door shut in his face.