“Ms. Stuart, do you understand these rights I have read to you?” James asked
“Yes.” Hazel replied.
It was the next day in the afternoon. They were sitting in the interrogation room. Hazel wore a pretty blue dress, and wore her red hair back in a ponytail. She sat on the opposite sides of Corbin and James. She looked very composed and not at all concerned that she had just been read her Miranda rights.
“Let’s start with the night of April 5th.” James said. “In your previous statement, you said you girls woke up in the middle of the night and found Carla missing?”
“Who was the first person to notice her missing?” James asked.
Hazel looked thoughtful for a second. “I’m not entirely sure. I think it was Toni.”
“So Toni woke you up to tell you Carla was gone?”
“No, I just kind of woke up on my own.”
“So you were the first to wake up?” Corbin asked.
“I don’t remember” Hazel shook her head. “We were so tired so we just kind of camped out in the living room. I was sleeping next to Jaz and Toni. Carla was on the other side of Toni. I guess Toni woke up and saw she was gone and woke the rest of us up.”
“But you said you woke up yourself?” James reminded her.
“Well I think it might have been Toni’s voice that woke me up.” She replied.
James nodded. “Where you aware Carla was home the past week? That she had been hiding out in Harbor?”
Hazel gave a look of surprise. “Really she was here? When? Where?”
“I take it you didn’t know.” Corbin said. “So you didn’t see her at all between April 10th and 12th?”
“No, I didn’t see her” Hazel said, her eyes filled with earnest.
“Would you mind submitting a DNA sample with our department?” James asked
“Why?” Hazel asked confused.
“We found traces of red hair we believe to be yours on the dress Carla was wearing when she was murdered. We also found trace amounts of DNA at the scene.” Corbin stated bluntly.
Hazel looked momentarily shocked. Then she spoke angrily, “If you re suggesting that I killed my best friend, you are gravely mistaken.”
“Where were you on April 12th between 6pm to 9pm?”James asked pointedly.
“I am not saying anything else until I talk to my parents and a lawyer” Hazel folded her arms stubbornly.
James leaned forward. “Listen Hazel; don’t make this hard on yourself. I know you know something; you girls are not being entirely truthful about what happened that night. Now I can get a judge to write a subpoena for your DNA sample. It would be in your best interest if you talk to me now.”
Hazel shook her head. Her eyes were beginning to swell with tears.
“Listen kid.” Corbin added. “We just want to help you. We are the good guys. We want to find out who did this to your friend. Work with us.”
Hazel shook her head again her eyes swimming with tears. James handed her a hanky. She wiped her eyes after a few seconds, and looked up.
“I-” She started
Suddenly the door burst open. A woman in a grey suit walked into the room. It was Moraine Heathway, Carla’s mother.
“Hazel, do not say another word!” she demanded. She turned to the detectives, “Are you charging her with anything?”
“Well no, but-”
“Then we are leaving. This interview is over.” She turned to Hazel. “Let’s go.”
* * *
“What just happened?” Corbin asked dazed.
“We just got lawyered” James said grimly. “We better start working on that subpoena.”
“No judge in his right mind would grant a subpoena based on just barely circumstantial evidence.” Corbin scoffed.
“You saw how she reacted.” James said. “She knows it is her hair. She knows something. She might even be the killer.”
“They don’t grant based on gut feeling either.” Corbin added. “Look do you know who the Stuarts are? They are powerful people in this town. You can’t just go around accusing their daughter of murder.”
“I am sorry whose side are you on?” James said angrily
“I am on your side man.” Corbin said raising his hands. “But don’t you want to even talk about why Moraine ‘freaking’ Heathway showed up here defending her? Last time I saw her she couldn’t even say a word, now she is defending someone who might have information on her daughter’s death?”
“I don’t know that’s a question for later. Right now I am focused on proving that hair belongs to Hazel.” James said.
“Then we need to find more evidence on her.” Corbin said. “That way we can charge her.”
“It was her parent’s beach house the girls stayed in Newport right?” James asked. “If it was her idea to go there in the first place that shows premeditation.”
“But what possible motive could she have had?” Corbin wondered. “Jealousy perhaps?”
“Well we are not finding out here.” James said. “By the way, we need to set up an interview with Thomas Bridges.”
“Why? I thought you already talked to him.”
“I didn’t get all I needed from him. Even if Hazel Stuart killed Carla Heathway, I doubt she snuck into the ME’s office, stole her body and killed Gary. Someone probably helped her.”
“And you think it was Bridges? What is even the connection?” Corbin asked.
“It wasn’t Bridges. He was with me when Gary was killed.” James reminded him. “But I do think he is connected to this somehow.”
“Let’s take one thing at a time shall we?” Corbin said. “Where do we start with Hazel ?”
“With Jasmine Green.” James said grimly. “It is time to pay her a little visit.”
* * *
“She is not talking to you” Martha green said, her arms folded as she stood in front of door.
“We just need to ask a few questions.” Corbin pleaded.
“She has told you all you need to know.” Martha said stubbornly. “These girls have been thorough a terrible ordeal. You don’t have to go about harassing them.”
“Are you kidding me-” Corbin started to rant. James cut him off.
“Did Moraine Heathway come by to see you?” James asked her.
“She gave me a call.” She said. “You need to go and find her daughter’s real killer and stop wasting your time with my daughter. Goodbye” She stepped back and shut the door in their faces.
“Well that was rude” Corbin commented.
“I don’t blame her.” James said. They both turned and walked to their car. A few steps later James heard a noise behind him. He turned and saw a young boy walking toward them. James touched Corbin’s arm
“Hey O’Brian, take a look.” James nodded at the boy approaching them. He looked around fourteen. He was of medium height with jet black hair. They waited for him.
“Hey fella,” Corbin said. “How can we help you?”
“Look there is something you should know” the boy said without preamble. “The day before my sister went on that trip, I saw Carla in the graveyard with a boy. Blond hair I think, I didn’t really see his face. Anyway they were arguing and it seemed pretty intense.”
“Why are you telling us this?” Corbin asked.
“Because Carla had no reason to be in the graveyard, she doesn’t have any lost ones” he said bitterly.
“Did you over hear them talking?” James asked.
“No.” He said. “They were far away. I only know it was Carla because I saw her coming out and getting into a car; a red sedan.”
“Okay so why is this important?” Corbin asked.
“I saw that same car at school today. Hazel got into it.”
“Are you sure it was the same?”
“Yeah, it has a funny nameplate. It said-”
“Keith.” Martha’s voice called from the door. She stood in the doorway her face stern. “Get back in here.”
“Suck it.” He said. He turned around and sauntered into the house. Martha gave them the evil eye and then shut the door.
After a moment Corbin spoke up. “Did he just tell us to ‘suck it’?”
James laughed. “No. that’s the nameplate.”
“So where do we go from here?” Corbin asked.
James thought for a moment. “Maybe we should check out that red sedan.”
“How is that going to help us?” Corbin demanded. “We need to find a way for Hazel to give us her DNA.”
“It could be Bridges in that Car.” James thought.
“I thought he said they broke up a week before.” Corbin said.
“Yeah true, but they must have still been friends, he was living in her apartment-” James broke off
“He was living in her apartment?” Corbin asked. “Thought she lived with her parents”
“Yes, she does but she leased an apartment for him. And you know who can’t lease apartments?”
Corbin’s eyes lit up. “Seventeen year olds. A parent or guardian would have had to co-sign. One guess for who co-signed it.”
“Moraine Heathway,” James said. “Why would she help her daughter get an apartment for her boyfriend?”
“She might not have known it was for him. Looks like we are headed to Bridges house after all.”
* * *
“Nice.” Corbin commented as they walked into the compound. “How can she afford this place.”
“I think you are underestimating the size of her trust fund.”
They reached apartment forty. James raised his hands and knocked. A male voice called out from inside. “I’ll get it babe.” Moments later the door opened. Thomas Bridges stood in the doorway wearing nothing but shorts. His hair was wet and slick like he had just taken a shower. He saw them and his eyes went wide
“Umm this is not a good time-” He started
“We won’t take much of your time” Corbin said, pushing past him and entering the hose without an invitation. James followed suit. A noise sounding like running water was coming from the bathroom.
“Is there someone else here?” James asked.
“Uh-no. I think I left the water running. I’ll go shut it off now.”
“Hey Tom, who is that?” A familiar feminine voice called out from the bathroom.
“So you do have company.” Corbin grinned.
“Yeah she was here last time I came.” James said grimly. “You do like your blondes don’t you Tom?”
“Okay-” Thomas began raising his hands.
“Save it for the station.” Corbin said. “Go get dressed and tell your girlfriend to join us too.”
About half an hour later, Corbin and James were sitting in an interview room across from Toni Peters and Thomas Bridges. They both looked abashed.
“Last time we spoke you told me you just went to his house just to talk about Carla. Were you talking about her while you were both in the shower?”
“I don’t have to tell you anything” Toni said.
“Okay no problem.” James turned to Corbin, “Why don’t you call her parents and tell them she is here?”
“Don’t please don’t call them.” Toni begged. “They’ll kill me. I’m supposed to be grounded.”
“You have bigger concerns than your parents right now.” James said. “So this is why you killed Carla? Because you wanted her boyfriend all to herself?” He turned to Thomas, “I suppose she’s the reason you broke up?”
“I didn’t kill Carla because of Tom” Toni said indignantly.
“So not because of Tom but something else?” Corbin said.
“I-” Toni faltered. “I think you better call my parents.”
James stood up and rapped on the glass. A moment later an officer entered. “Take her to holding. Let her call her parents.”
After Toni left the room, Corbin turned to Thomas. “So now that it’s just us guys, tell me what is Carla’s name doing on your apartment lease?”
“I told your pal here, she got it for me.”
“Why?” James asked. “And how did she get it? She is not eighteen she can’t enter a lease contract.”
“She is Carla Heathway. Everyone knows she is loaded. She probably paid a year’s rent upfront.”
“Why would she spend all that money on you?”
“She didn’t really.” Thomas asked. “The apartment was not originally meant for me.”
“What was it for then?” James asked.
“I don’t know!” Thomas said. “When my parents left Harbor I needed somewhere to stay for a while until I got on my feet. Carla said she had an apartment that was already paid for. I moved in.”
“When was this?”
“Two months ago.” Thomas said.
“So if she was such a good girlfriend why did you dump her for her best friend?”
“I told you we wanted different things.” Thomas said.
“When was the last time you saw Carla?”
“The night before she left for Newport. She told me to bring Toni’s luggage to her place-” He hesitated.
“Go on” Corbin encouraged him.
“When I got there I saw Hazel leaving.” Tom said. “She looked kind of upset.”
“Kind of? Was she crying?” James asked.
“No her face just seemed kind of down, downcast. Anyway she got into her car and drove off.”
“Are you sure it was Hazel?” James asked.
“Yeah I’d recognize that red hair any day.” Tom said. “The only thing in contrast to it was her car.
“Her car?” Corbin asked puzzled.
“Yeah it was red like her hair too. A red sedan I think.”
Corbin and James exchanged looks. “But Hazel drives a silver Ford” James said.
“Yeah but she has a sedan too. I’ve seen it plenty of times. She drove it to school every day during her junior year. Her parents just got the Ford for her last summer. Dude’s got m-”
“Was Hazel was driving the red sedan? Or was someone else with her?”
“Well she got into the driver’s seat. There didn’t seem to be anyone else with her. It was too dark to see.”
“What does the name plate say?”
“Oh yeah it’s hilarious. It says ‘Suck it’.”
* * *
Toni’s parents came for her later that day. Corbin and James sat together to compare notes.
“So Hazel was the one at the graveyard with Carla?” James said
“She probably picked her up. She probably knew who Carla was meeting. It makes sense. Jasmine’s brother wouldn’t know the car was Hazel’s. He is a freshman, so he wouldn’t have seen hazel driving the car last year.”
“Wait did he say Hazel was driving the car? Or did he say she got into it with somebody?”
“I’d say she was probably driving. She wouldn’t leave her car at school.”
“So how can we nail Hazel with this?”
“Simple.” James replied. “In Hazel’s first statement, she denied seeing Carla the day before they all left. She said they only spoke on the phone, and saw each other briefly in school.”
“But according to witnesses, it seems they spend they spent the entire evening together.” Corbin agreed. “What is she hiding?”
“Well let’s find out. This should be enough evidence to get a court order.” James said grimly.
“Half an hour later they were standing outside the Stuart mansion. The butler came out to greet them.”
“Afternoon officers,” He said. “What can I do for you today?”
“We are here for Hazel Stuart” James said.
“I’m sorry but Mrs. Stuart has given me strict orders to-”
“Do you want to be charged with obstruction of justice?” Corbin cut him off. “We will see Hazel Stuart now.”
The butler bowed and left to enter the house. A few minutes later Hazel came out. She walked defiantly towards them
“I’m not supposed to say anything.” Hazel said crossing her arms. “So you can leave now.”
“Oh we will,” James said. “We just came to give you this.” He handed a piece of paper to her.
“What’s this?” Hazel asked as she unfolded it.
“It’s a court order requiring you to come in for a sampling of your DNA.” James said. “You have Forty Eight hours to comply.” He smirked and nodded to Corbin. “Let’s go.”
* * *
“Ashwood, O’ Brian, get in my office now!” Jones yelled.
James and Corbin got up and walked into the captain’s office. They shut the door behind them
“What are you two doing?” He demanded.
James was puzzled. “We were just finishing up-”
“I mean what are you doing investigating Hazel Stuart? I just received a call from the mayor saying my department has been harassing her.”
“We are following the evidence sir.” Corbin said. “We have reason to believe Hazel was involved in the murder of Carla Heathway.”
“Do you have any evidence?” Jones demanded
“That’s what we are trying to gather now.” Corbin said. “We got a subpoena for her DNA from a judge today. We believe it will match the red hair from Carla’s clothes.”
“You do realize the Stuarts are very powerful in this town. Tread carefully. If it is not a match, lay off her completely.”