Ben doubted the accuracy of her statement, not in whole but in part. DeeDee Sampson was leaving something out, maybe several somethings. The question was why. Was she protecting someone or shielding herself and if so, of what or whom was she frightened?
He’d surmised that she was a strong determined woman, though small of stature and he would swear on a stack of bibles she didn’t scare easily. She wasn’t exactly misleading (she wasn’t pointing fingers) but he was hearing a vagueness that suggested half-truths. Part of his skill set in life had always been spotting other peoples’ “tells” and it became immediately apparent that when she spoke truthfully and directly, she looked him dead in the eye and when she wasn’t, she blinked a couple of times before carrying on with her story. Deception wasn’t part of her make-up and something she wasn’t comfortable with.
So, he’d have to dig if he was to get to the proverbial piece of sand that started it all for something had disturbed her greatly and she’d instinctively raised walls and roadblocks.
“The break-in took place sometime during the early morning?”
“Yes, it had to. I was away at a conference that started about four and ran through the dinner hour but since it ran late, I decided to stay with friends instead of heading home in Hampton.”
“Anyone have keys to the house?”
“Only my sister and brother and they both live halfway across the country.”
“Is there a possibility a window or door could have been left unlocked?”
“Not that I recall. I always double-check, particularly if I’m going to be away. Why do you ask?”
“None of the locks on the windows or doors have been tampered with.” She looked stunned by his revelation.
“How is that possible?”
“I’m not sure, but I’m determined to find out,” Ben Godfrey promised her in an uncompromising tone meant to reassure.
“Have you found anything missing?”
She rubbed her palm across her forehead as though erasing a headache, “I’m not sure, it’s such a mess, certainly nothing I can put a finger on, the tv, the computer, everything seems to be there.”
“What do you think they were looking for?”
That deer in the headlights look was back, “What do you mean?”
“Nothing was taken, and if burglary wasn’t the motive then something else was. Something of a personal nature perhaps.”
He could tell the idea startled her. ”I don’t know what that would be. I’m an artist and I paint. I travel occasionally, my social gathering is small comprised of great friends I spend time with, but I have no idea what anyone would come looking for.”
“Have you taken any trips recently? Brought anything back with you?”
“Yes, I went to Venice a couple of weeks ago with friends.” She relaxed as she reminisced, “We had a wonderful time.”
“Did you bring anything back with you?”
“Now that you mention it, I intending bringing a little ceramic angel back with me but I decided to have it posted instead because it was expensive and because I didn’t have space in my luggage.”
“I take it you haven’t received it yet?”
“No, according to the tracker I have on it, it won’t arrive for two more days.”
“Was anyone else interested in the statue at the time you purchased it?”
“Why yes, there was a man that stood off to the side. He seemed upset when he noticed my interest and then when I bought it, he seemed perturbed, shaken even.”
“Can you describe this man and have you seen him since?”
“I don’t know why I would, he was Italian, and when he brushed by me as he left, he apologized in halting English.”
Straightening she asked, “Surely you don’t believe someone did this because they were searching for a little angelic statue? Why?”
“It certainly is notable that you haven’t had a problem with break-ins before now and I find it interesting that after this brush with the Italian, you suddenly have. It could be a coincidence but then, I don’t believe in coincidences.”
“Why don’t we take a look through now that everyone else is finished and you can have another look.”
“Ok,” she spoke haltingly.
He followed her as she moved from room to room, eyes searching, taking in more than the mess that cluttered the floor, until they’d moved through every room in the house. She seemed more settled. “So, nothing?” he asked curiously.
He backtracked a little and guiding her to the front room said, “See anything unusual here?”
That’s when he knew he’d hit pay dirt. Something may not have been taken, but something had been added; her eyes darted to the mantle. He followed her gaze and asked, “What’s different about the mantle?”
Her agitation was obvious. “What do you mean?”
“I can’t help you unless your completely honest with me. Whoever did this, will be back and I guarantee you, you may be the recipient of more than a nasty search.”
He wasn’t sure but he thought he heard her whisper so quietly he’d barely heard it, “I wished I could.”