The case had already gotten under her skin. The young woman in question had gone missing and no one noticed. How was it possible that a week had gone by without anyone realizing something was wrong? The loneliness, the aloneness, the seeming lack of concern and care hurt. She was determined to devote every moment in finding out what had happened.
As she sat staring at a photo of the missing woman, some sixth sense told her this was one that would haunt her if she didn’t solve it. It wasn’t as though Lisa hadn’t been involved in similar cases over the years, but this one disturbed her.
The victim, Anna Desmond was just 19. The age when young adults were learning about themselves, about life, about well, everything not to mention experimenting. It was that in-between age where the young felt invincible. Too often that experimentation involved taking risks that turned deadly. The excitement of being out and about, trying new things, interacting, mingling – mattered because there were unsavoury types eagerly awaiting the opportunity to pounce on the unprepared, the innocent.
Anna didn’t have family, they’d perished in a fire at their home several years ago and she’d been taken in by an elderly aunt living across the country in Texas. It made sense that although they kept in touch, she wouldn’t suspect anything was wrong or that Anna was missing.
It brought into question the people she worked with, especially the woman who’d recommended the nightclub to Anna. She’d planned to meet her there but had cancelled at the last minute. Why hadn’t she questioned the fact Anna hadn’t turned up for work? Why hadn’t anyone she worked with noticed her disappearance? Surely her boss must have asked questions, especially when according to the files she’d obtained, Anna hadn’t missed a day and was never late?
In fact, a neighbour had contacted the police asking for a wellness check since she hadn’t seen nor heard anything from Anna for several days and her car hadn’t moved. They were close enough to chat from time to time and Anna made a point of saying hello to the elderly woman every morning before work. When she’d knocked on the door for the third day running without an answer, she’d become concerned.
Anna Desmond was last seen according to active CCTV cameras, entering the well-known nightclub recommended by her co-worker. The footage from the nightclub showed her saunter up to the bar and order a drink. She hadn’t engaged with anyone and it hadn’t appeared as though she was expecting someone. Other than glancing around at the others in the bar with shy interest and chatting on and off with the bartender she’d kept to herself.
Anna Desmond was a beauty that even the hazy film couldn’t hide. When she asked the bartender, he’d indicated he’d noticed but been too busy to give her much information. As far as he was concerned, they were a dime a dozen, all looking for the next bigger better whatever. He sounded jaded and a tad bitter and Lisa made a point of starring his name for a look into his background. The other bartenders that were on duty the night weren’t due in for another half hour which meant she’d have to cool her heels. Ordering a coffee, she sat in a corner and watched the interactions between staff as they prepared for the night.
It was noteworthy that the bartender seemed to take exception to her presence, that or he was nervous about something, what she wasn’t sure. Nefarious activities of some kind? He watched her surreptitiously while carrying on with his duties. Another red flag went up.
When she’d finished interviewing the other bartenders, none of whom seemed unduly interested or concerned by her questions, and having gleaned all she could, Lisa rose to leave. As she did, she noticed the bartender Bart Gibson, slap another on the shoulder before grabbing his jacket to hustle out the back door. Coincidence? Nah, she didn’t believe in coincidence. It was plain interesting and because of those red flags, she’d taken note!
Hurrying out to her undercover vehicle, Lisa spotted him racing out of the parking lot and speeding toward the highway. Lisa called the license plate number in and asked that anyone witnessing the vehicle follow at a safe distance.
Lisa automatically called her partner to explain where she was headed and why asking him to join in and spell her off so Gibson wouldn’t become wise to the tail.
After travelling to the outskirts of town, he turned off onto a little-used dirt road and Lisa hung back. He veered left onto another road and a dilapidated house that seemed all but abandoned. As soon as her partner had parked, she jumped from the car and headed down the road. Gibson had entered the house and as they approached, they heard yelling. Drawing their guns, they quietly approached the house and Lisa peered carefully through a dirty window. Dappled light from the far side of the room highlighted a young woman bound and gagged leaned up against a dirty old sofa. It was Anna Desmond.
Lisa signalled to her partner and he rounded the house to another door situated right of the window directly behind Anna. She watched Gibson rant pick up a frying pan and head toward Anna. She couldn’t wait! Slamming through the door she yelled, “Gibson! Put it down!”
He turned in shock then headed toward her, “You bitch! You followed me!”
“Put it down, Gibson, don’t make this any worse than it already is.”
“Fuck you, bitch!”
Lisa’s partner, MacPherson burst through the far door, took one look and fired, hitting the perp in the leg. He screamed fell and dropped his make-shift weapon. “You bitch!”
Lisa rushed at him, kicked the pan away and placing her leg on his lower back, cuffed him. “Nice shot, MacPherson.” Rising she asked, “You go him?”
“Yeah, I got him!”
Moving toward Anne, she said, “Anna, it’s alright, your safe now. This is Detective MacPherson, I’m Detective Morrison. Let me take these off of you.” She slowly removed the gag and then the zip ties synched so tightly they had cut into her arms and legs, bloodied from obvious struggles to free herself.
Anne didn’t move at first, she was stiff and moving hurt. Lisa gently rubbed her arms and legs then taking her jacket off, wrapped it around the young woman. It was then that Anne looked up into her eyes, the tears flowed and she began to shake.
Gently pulling the young woman to her she wrapped her arms firmly around her. “Your safe, Anna, your safe. We need to get you to a hospital, have you checked out.”
While she’d been taking care of Anna, MacPherson had radioed for two ambulances giving them the location. “Damn good work, Lisa.”
Lisa nodded, yeah, it was! She was relieved and as the ambulance took Anna Desmond away, she felt the greatest relief of her life. “We saved her, MacPherson, team effort!”
She headed out to her car to follow the ambulance. Damn but she’d lucked out on this one. And so did Anna.