Monday, 23 May 2011

The Silk Stocking Murder by Cole Phelps

Captain Donnelly takes takes us for a coffee, he's happy with my progress and tells Galloway and I that we have a new case.  A Latino woman has been found murdered near City Hall and been left lying naked in an alley.  Third case I've worked since I joined homicide in late '47 and the third dead woman found battered in a public place.  I swear the Henry case, not to mention the Moller case, still don't feel right.  Galloway doesn't care and Donnelly is just pleased the DA is happy that we charged our suspects.

Galloway and I drive over to the murder scene, he's happy enough, still making me drive everywhere and relieved the case isn't far from his desk and the bottle of hooch he keeps there.  The soak.

It's 1pm by the time we arrive at the the alley, the sun beating down on the streets of LA.  The woman is lying face up with massive legions to her neck and has a message, just like in the Mendoza case, scrawled in lipstick over her abdomen.  'Kiss the blood. BD.'  There's half of a library card in her right hand with the name Antonia and a date of birth on it.  She was twenty one.  Christ.  Just like the first two cases Galloway and I worked the victim has had a wedding or engagement ring torn form her finger.  This time the bone is visible.  There are massive legions to her neck and a trail of blood leading from the scene.  Nearby Uniform have spotted a bloodied silk stocking and Galloway calls me over to a hat, the name Antonia embroidered inside.

The Coroner, Malcolm Carruthers is at the scene and mentions something about bruising on the body from a small man's shoe.  This is starting to ring too many bells with the other cases whatever Galloway and Donnelly think.

We follow the trail of blood down the alley.  It feels like we're being led somewhere and sure enough I find a key, embossed with the number five and a piece of paper with some kind of code on it.  The trail of blood leads up a fire escape and we take to the roofs.  The murderer has left plenty for us up here, we were supposed to find all this, of that there is little doubt.  There's an empty envelope addressed to a Mrs A. Maldonado (so our victim was married, Galloway will be blaming the husband then) and the wedding ring is hanging from a piece of string on a pipe.  The victims handbag and a makeup box have been left and the bag contains the other half of the library card confirming her name.  Nearby are a paint brush and tin full of blood.  The murderer has daubed his bloody trail with the brush.

We have an address, thanks to the Library card so we return to the car.  Typically, Galloway is on about the husband as soon as we move off, but I'm far from convinced, all three murders feel linked, they're just too similar, not to mention the case the unit worked on before I was promoted :Elizabeth Short or the Black Dahlia.

We arrive at 712 North Hill Street.  It's a boarding house and the owner, Barbara Lapetini, lets us in and points to Antonia's room at the back of the house on the first floor.  The room has been broken into, the window smashed by an iron picket, left lying on the balcony outside.  On the bed is a letter from an attorney, it seems Mrs Maldonado was about to divorce her husband.  The letter contains his name and an address: Angel Christopher Maldonado of 330 North Hill Street.

There's a wedding photograph showing Antonia wearing a charm bracelet.  That wasn't at the crime scene though, puzzling.

We return to the parlour to interview Mrs Lapetini.  She's a pleasant enough old lady and after a bit of pressing (although calling her a nosy old hag might have been pushing my luck) she gives us the name of a bar that Antonia may have gone to last night and confirms that she was about to divorce the husband, whom she describes as a cruel man.  Galloway is going to love that.  I misjudge her response to the news that her building has been broken into and she clams up.  Damn.

We talk about the charm bracelet but Mrs Lapetini says that Antonia never wore it but kept it in a wooden box.

The El Dorado bar isn't far from the alley where the body was found, seems like a good idea to go there first and find out more about Antonia's movements last night although I'm sure Galloway will be itching to get to the husbands address.  'Rusty's Razor' theory or something.  I'm starting to feel like things are almost as complicated here as they were in the Pacific two years ago.

It's nearly 2pm by the time we reach the bar, Galloway's three divorces don't exactly help with his narrow world view, he's already convinced of the husband's guilt.

The barman, one Diego Aguilar, confirms that Antonia was in the bar last night.  She was drunk and left a letter behind.  Divorce papers for her husband.  Aguilar says that she was drinking for Dutch courage before serving the papers and hadn't been shy about letting the rest of the bar know what she was about to do. After a bit of gentle pressing he tells us that she wanted a cab but because the bar's phone wasn't working he pointed her to the fruit market across the street, although she seemed reluctant to go.

Before we go I ask Aguilar for his show size.  Every case so far has had a size eight shoe connected to it and I'm starting to suspect every guy we interview.  He says he's a broad size nine and Galloway and I leave the bar.

The 'Just Picked' fruit market is shut so we head off to pay Mr Maldonado a visit.

The apartment is on the third floor and Galloway decides to go gung ho and kick the door down.  Maldonado is there and we take him by surprise.  But he's not alone and Galloway is jumped by another man.  We brawl, briefly, but I knock down Galloway's assailant and then help put Maldonado to the floor with a head butt.  We arrest them both, although Maldonado seems genuinely upset at the news of his wife's murder and claims to have been at home for the whole of the previous night with the other man, who he informs us is his brother.  We call in the arrests, after I use Galloway's first name: Finbar, and have the two man taken to the station.  Donnelly used the name while we were having coffee earlier and Galloway's not pleased, prefers Rusty for some reason, but it feels good to have that on him.

Searching the apartment I find a box from the Just Picked fruit market.  It's full of bottles of liquor.  Intriguing.  More importantly though there's a shirt hanging from a wall hook with several bloody stains on it.  This will take some explaining from Maldonado.

We speak to three out of the four neighbours in the apartments on the third floor.  Two confirm that there was a disturbance last night, seems like Antonia did come and pay her husband a visit after leaving the bar.  The final neighbour we speak to says that she saw Maldonado chase after his wife as she left but did not see him return.  That's his alibi gone then.

We head back to the fruit market but it's still shut and then pop back to the bar.  A call comes through on the car radio  while we're driving, Donnelly wants us back at the station, a letter has been received from The Black Dahlia murderer.  The bar is busy but on this visit I step out of the back door and a delivery man is there from the Just Picked market.  I question him about the liquor we found but he says he knows nothing about it and that the bar buys fruit to be sliced for drinks.

We leave the bar and head back to the station. Donnelly is waiting downstairs for us with Fenis Brown and Ray Pinker.  Two letters have been received, both left in a taxi, or pushed through the window of a taxi.  The first is made from letters taken from a newspaper.

'Have changed my mind, you would not give a square deal.  Fuck you BD. Tex.'

It's part of the same message left on Celine Henry's body during my first case on Homicide.

The second note is a poem by Shelley.  Prometheus Unbound.  This guy is clearly educated and enjoying taunting the police but we have no idea how it's connected to the cases.

It's time to interview Maldonado.  He's reasonably forth coming although I push him to hard on what happened after he and his wife argued but we find out that the pair of them used to buy fruit from the Just Picked market and that the owner used to stare at Antonia.  He says that he and his brother fought after Hiplito had said something bad about Antonia and that's what caused the blood stains on the shirt. Maldonado isn't in the clear but everything feels connected and I'm sure the fruit market has something to do with all of this.  Time to pay it another visit.

This time it's open and it turns out the delivery guy we met at the bar is the owner.  His name is Clem Feeney and he confirms, after some well thought out questioning, that Antonia did come to the market the previous night to call for a cab.  However he was unable to get one for her and she left, although he did see her get into a brown Ford coupe.  Feeney thinks that she knew the driver.  He does confess to selling liquor on the side after hours, which is why he was still open after midnight.

Galloway and I take a look around the market and find a back room full of boxes of liquor.  On a desk there's a wooden box with the same type of code on it that we found near the alley where Antonia's body was found.  I use the code and sure enough her charm bracelet is inside.  The plot thickens.

I find a bloodied scalpel on another desk but Feeney spots us in the room and makes a break for it, jumping into his delivery truck.  We run to the car and give chase through the nearby street and alleys eventually getting close enough for Galloway to shoot out his tyres.  Feeney is forced to stop running and we make the arrest.

There seems little doubt that he committed the murder of Antonia Maldonado and Captain Donnelly is delighted with us.

I have some doubts though.  Serious doubts.

No time to dwell on it though, we have another case...
Full Review of LA Noire Coming Soon.