"s 2015 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by HISHAM H.

"Good evening, Detective Cal. Still hard at work?"

Cal looked up. "Evening, Detective Ramon. I have to fill out the paperwork for Johnson, he had to go home early. Busted a ingrown toenail or something." She looked up. "Pardon my English, but you look like crap."

He sighed. "The quadruple homicides at campus." He gestured at the files in his hands.

She frowned. "Wasn't that all wrapped up? Case closed and all that?"

He took a sip of coffee. "I take it you haven't been keeping up with the news lately?"

She shook her head. "These days, can barely keep up with my inbox. What happened?"

"Parker family unsatisfied with findings," he shook his head with disgust. "They're accusing police of incompetence, and they managed to rope in the families of the other victims as well."

She sat back. "I'm pretty unfamiliar with case; hectic week for me. Care to give a rundown?"

"Thought you were busy?"

"I could use the break."

He drew up a chair and sat down heavily.

He leafed through the files. "I'll just give you the abridged version."

"Don't skimp on the details."

"Don't worry. Ahem.

"4 victims reported at the campus of the university. Four students who roomed together in one of those dorm houses or whatever.

"I'll start with the victims and describe the scene.

"1st victim was Carlos Suarez, 23, recent dropout, formerly English major. Found dead in the living with severe head trauma and various cuts to arms and chest caused by broken glass. Clothing suggest casual outdoor wear. Coroner says cause of death was primarily head injury, identified as steel bat; secondary injuries all pre-mortem, bled excessively. Blood trail shows Carlos came in from kitchen; glass back door broken, blood on glass shards matched with victim. Secondary injuries all confirmed to be from sharp glass; shards still embedded in several wounds, including large piece in chest. Blood shows Carlos staggered around bleeding in kitchen and rummaging in cupboards before heading to bathroom, then living room; 1st blood pool shows Carlos collapsed next to sofa. 2nd blood pool marked current location of body. Toxicology report show high levels of alcohol and codeine in blood. Vodka bottle and pill bottle found in close proximity; codeine was a legitimate prescription from a dentist following tooth extraction. First aid kit found open next to blood pool, contents strewn haphazardly.

"2nd victim was Lisa Zhang, 22, English major. Found dead in own bedroom on ground floor; blood marks indicates she never left it. Clothed only in underwear. Cause of death severe head trauma, weapon identified as steel bat. Blood marks (from victim #1) on door indicated killer knocked on door before gaining access. Evidence shows signs of protracted struggle; she most likely fought back. No signs of sexual trauma. Lisa had been absent for two days with fever. Blood tests show high white blood cell count. Cerebrospinal fluid cloudy, showed high bacterial cell count. Autopsy revealed heavy inflammation of the meninges. Bed indicates she had been lying in it.

"3rd victim was Edward Washington, 24, medical student. Found dead in hallway leading to own bedroom, which was farther along than Lisa's. Cause of death single precise hit to the head. Weapon identified as steel bat, impact and position of body indicates victim was facing killer. No defensive wounds. Clothed in white undershirt and boxers. Blood tests came back clean. Bed indicates he had been lying in it. Room messy, but no signs of struggle.

"4th victim and the main suspect was Jason Parker, 23, sports major. Found alive but unresponsive in pool of own blood in kitchen. Dressed only in boxers. Jason had tied a his shirt around his upper right arm as a torniquet, and had attempted to amputate his arm at around the mid-humerus level with a meat cleaver. He was unsuccessful in completely breaking the bone, and passed out from blood loss. Paramedics found him unresponsive, with only a weak pulse. He was taken to ER where he was declared dead upon arrival. Cause of death exsanguination. Jason had several scratch marks on his face and chest, a broken nail embedded in one of the wounds, and a deep bite mark on lateral aspect of right upper arm just above elbow. All were determined to be from victim #2. Meat cleaver was found in left hand, steel bat in close proximity. Blood results/toxicology came back clean.

"Fingerprints on handle of steel bat matched to Jason. Blood on bat matched to all three victims. Blood splatter on Jason matched up to victims #1 and #2.

"Likely sequence of events as follows; Jason killed Carlos first, knocked on Lisa's door before entering, struggled with her then killed her, then killed Edward as the latter approached him. Edward may have been ambushed as he approached the room to check on Lisa, explaining the lack of a struggle. Then Jason went into kitchen, and attempted amputation of right arm.

"Carlos's other injuries determined to be unrelated to the attack; glass shards indicate door was broken from the outside. Carlos's key still in door lock. Very likely Carlos, coming back drunk, stumbled and fell into glass door as he was opening it, then subsequently went to bathroom, took codeine and first aid kit from bathroom. Sat next to sofa, swallowed codeine pills with vodka, then attempted first aid before passing out due to combined effects of alcohol and codeine, hence 1st blood pool next to sofa. The attack occurred later.

"Scene was discovered at 8:30 am, by Maria Gonzalez, 24, History major, fifth resident of dorm. After she spent the night at a birthday party, entered front door with key. Discovered body of Carlos, checked on Lisa and Edward. Called for Jason but received no response, so fearing for her safety vacated premises and called 911. Maria stated that steel bat was kept hidden in umbrella stand in living room.

"Jason did not have any previous convictions, but one charge of sexual assault that was later dropped. Currently on probation due to involvement in several cases of on-campus violence, warnings issued. No history of mental illness, antisocial personality disorder. Suspect's browser history unremarkable, apparently a fan of horror movies. Tastes in porn show preference for dominance and humiliation of women. Owned a video game console, titles heavily biased torwards violent games."

Cal hummed thoughtfully. "Seems pretty clear to me. Jock flips out, murders three people and kills himself. Not very comforting to the Parkers, obviously. So what's the problem?"

Ramon sighed. "Like I said, the Parkers are claiming police incompetence, accusing us of neglecting the fact of the broken glass door, and that it indicates the 'real killer' came in from outside, and that their boy actually died in self-defense."

"'Real killer'?"

"Yeah. They don't to admit their baby is a killer. The only truth compatible with their worldview is an outside killer, with their son a hero."

"Ah well, people are like that."

"That's not the problem, though. The problem is that the other victims' families believe the same thing. So the Suarez, Zhang, and Washington families are all demanding we reopen the case and search for the real killer."

Cal snorted. "Crazy. How'd they manage to rope those other people in?"

"Well, the fact is, the families are close. The four victims? All friends who decided to room together after they ended up at the same university."

Cal raised an eyebrow.

"So all four families reject our story. Claim that it doesn't add up. And the Washingtons? Cousins of Brenda Hamilton."

"Our DA?"

"Yep. Hamilton's been pretty cool and understanding about it, but she says she has a few misgivings of her own. Which is why I'm going over the case again."

She tapped a finger. "But the Parker guy, history of sexual assault and violence..."

Ramon shook his head. "Charge were dropped. Girl claimed he raped her while she was drunk; he claimed he was drunk as well, too drunk to remember anything. It's possible. And the violence charge? Some drunks attacked him and a few other students. Since it was self-defense, no formal charges were filed, but he was placed on probation for excessive use of force."

He sighed. "The fact is, a deranged killer doesn't need a reason to kill. We try to rationalize, try to figure what would lead a young man to murder a bunch of people. What triggered him? What influenced him? Who knows. Sometimes a nice guy just snaps, and that's that.

"But these people can't accept that. Deranged killers are other peoples' sons, never our own. Our son, a murderer? Impossible! But the fact remains; senseless murders defy rationalization!"

Cal looked over the file. "Defy rationalization, you say. I wonder..."

She looked up.

"Carlos, the guy that cut up with glass? Drunk and on opiods, right?"

"Yeah, codeine. Tylenol 3 or something."

"So he would have been really out of it? Dull, lightheaded, barely aware? Probably couldn't even talk right, just slurred all his words."

"Yeah, guess so."

"And Lisa, the girl? Had a bad infection, probably running a high fever?"

"Yeah, on-site coroner mentioned that, she was warmer than the others."

"With meningitis that bad, she probably became delirious, you know: impaired thinking, agitation, delusions, maybe even hallucinations."

"Well, yeah. Maybe."

"Picture this. The first victim, Carlos. He's drunk, he's hopped up on painkillers. He's probably woozy too from all the blood loss, all pale and cold to the touch. He wakes up, covered in blood and lying in a pool of his own blood, can barely get to his feet. Stumbles around, can only walk with a shuffle. He's stoned out of his mind, can't speak, just mumble. He is still doped out, so he doesn't feel pain, doesn't even notice the glass shards still sticking in him. Can you imagine it? Visualize him slowly rising up from behind the sofa, all pale and groggy, eyes unfocused, like his limbs don't work right and are too heavy.

"Now imagine the second victim, Lisa. She has meningitis, she has a raging fever. She's delirious. So delirious that when someone pulls her out of bed she flips out and attacks him, going so far as to bite him. Imagine her shrieking like a banshee while clawing and biting you."

Cal paused. "The only one that seems out of place is Edward."

Ramon raised an eyebrow. "This is making sense to you?"

"I gather you're not much of a TV guy. But yeah, I can see how a perfectly nice, if somewhat stupid, young man can kill three of his friends then attempt to amputate his arm. I just need one piece of information; can you contact the Washingtons, or maybe classmates, friends of Edward? Or his physician? I just have one question."

"Sure. What do you want to ask?"

"Was Edward Washington prone to sleepwalking?"