They arrived at Peterson’s; only Peterson was home. The rest of his family was staying at a hotel. He was too, but he made an effort to show up at his place to help Chance and Turner out.
He looked haggard, as one could expect from a man that’d just lost a child. He looked defeated, as one could expect from a man whose child had been targeted by a killer. He looked ashamed, as one could expect of a man whose work was possibly the direct cause of his child’s murder. Poor guy, all who knew him or who’d hear of him would think. And when he does find out the real reason, what reassurance could it be, to think his child had died for such a reason? Until then, he helps Chance and Turner.
He invited them in and showed them around, asking if they needed something to drink before going to the scene of the incident.
“No thanks, Peterson. Really, you don’t have to,” Chance said.
“No, it’s my job. This guy killed my kid. I’d like to string him up myself. But I’ve got the rest to look out for. I’m sorry, Chance, Turner,” Peterson said. He sounded humbler than he had ever been in the past. Chance had to look at the guy, the detective that was rather haughty and always laughing prior to now. He’d been defeated, but there was still a burning, a fire of desire to get the guy he’d been chasing for months.
“Don’t overwork yourself, and don’t worry about us,” Turner said. “We’ll find him.”
“Thanks Turner. I don’t know how I could relax now, but knowing you’re on it gives me hope. We’ve been on this guy for a while. I know if it’s you, you’ll pick up where we left off without a hitch,” Peterson said. He breathed a sigh of relief. He was still shaky, but he was regaining some of his color. He looked down for a moment, and then looked up at the two of them with a stoic expression. The cop was back.
“This guy is professional,” Peterson started. He was out of his father mode, managing to briefly push that part of himself away while he gave the facts.
“The files say as much,” Chance said. He gave a brief look at Turner, as if to say “look, I read them,” but Turner didn’t look at him. He just stared at Peterson without much of an expression.
“We tried to be thorough, but there was only so much to report. Various killing methods makes him different than most other serial killers. In fact, he does a lot of things different. He doesn’t have much of a pattern. Until, until my boy, there wasn’t a pattern or reason to his madness. Only two things, until now, were consistent. First, that there wasn’t a struggle prior to the attempt on each victim’s life. We never figured that part out. Second, a note was left that apologized for the killing. Everybody knows that much, it’s why he’s called The Apologist,” Peterson said.
“No struggles and a note. The first implies familiarity, but the file didn’t find any connections between the victims, until now, right? But what about the notes?” Chance asked.
“Hand-written, all capitals, on a standard sheet of paper, all with black ink,” Turner said.
“That wasn’t in the news, right?” Chance asked. Turner sighed a bit; Chance hadn’t fully read the files.
“Right,” Peterson said, “since we don’t want copycats. Analysis on the paper was useless, it was too common, purchasable everywhere. Handwriting in capitals is neat but there aren’t any habits or flaws in it. If anything, it’s too neat, but we just assume that means the killer was trying extra hard to obscure he standard writing style,” Peterson said.
“What about the ink?” Chance said.
Turner grunted once, and then reached into his coat and pulled out a pen.
“One of these,” Turner said. He handed it over to Chance.
“You’re kidding,” Chance said.
“Nope. It was written with one of those,” Turner said. He took his pen back from Chance. “Even I have one.”
“I got a package of those at home too,” Chance said. “So it was written on standard paper with quite possibly the most common pen in the city, that pretty much every house has a pack of ten of in a drawer somewhere. Just great. Anything else?”
“You’re getting the idea,” Peterson said, looking grim. “But there is something of note. A couple of them, the way they were done, and this latest one seem to indicate a few things about our guy. A couple traits.”
“They are?” Chance asked.
“Nunez came up with it, and looking at the cases I had to agree. We already know a killer’s gotta have something wrong with him, I mean, who else could do such terrible things? But looking at it, we think he’s a narcissist.”
“How can you tell?” Chance asked.
“The timing and some of the victims. You’ll notice that killings take place soon after a major news event. And then he’s at the top of the news again. Sure enough, when enough time passes and no major news of him comes along he strikes again. This time was no different. I have to believe that. I have to, to keep going on. Think about it, what’s taking up the news recently?” Peterson asked.
“Celebrity murder. That, this is disturbing,” Chance said. He had to shake his head.
“Indeed. Narcissist? Crazy,” Turner said.
“We’ve got a few other ideas about him, but you can get them from the file,” Peterson said. Chance could tell he was getting shaken up again.
“All right Peterson, I think we’ve heard enough for now. Mind if we go check things out for now?” Chance asked.
“Yeah. Down the hall. I’m gonna head to the hotel and beg for forgiveness from God and my wife,” Peterson said with a forced fake smile. He headed out, and Chance and Turner got up to go investigate the rest of the premises.