Maria Graham had been dispatched to bus 24 at the intersection of Masterson and Montgomery. Apparently, the bus driver noticed a little girl, around six years of age, dragging her feet looking rather lost Concerned, she stopped the bus and asked the little girl if she was ok. “I’m trying to get home.” The bus driver, Andrea Jones, got down on one knee to kneel in front of the child and when she’d replied she didn’t know how to get there, the driver asked her to come and wait on the bus where it was safe and she’d help her find her way home. She’d then called the police for assistance. Maria Graham a homicide detective was in the neighbourhood and immediately responded since she was closest and knew the neighbourhood fairly well.
She’d arrived, parked behind the bus, lit up the car and got out Walking toward the bus, she saw the little girl sitting on the lowest step swinging her feet, the bus driver sitting behind her watchfully waiting. She was relieved when Maria flashed her badge.
Detective Graham introduced herself, and put out her hand to shake the child’s and asked her her name. She quietly responded and Maria asked, “Do you think if we take a walk together, you might remember where home is?”
“Maybe,” the little girl responded. Maria then held out her hand to the little girl, nodded at the bus driver whom she immediately thanked and said, “I’ll take it from here.” The bus driver seemed extremely relieved when Graham said, “You did the right thing. Thank you.”
“I have to move my car. Let’s do that first, then we’ll take a little walk together,” she suggested. The little girls’ eyes lit up.
“I can come sit in your car? “
“Absolutely.” Instead of placing her in the back, she opened the passenger door and after seeing her seat belt was properly set, walked around the vehicle and as the bus moved forward, parked in one of the vacant slots.
“Are you hungry, Sarah?”
“Not really. I ate my lunch while I was walking.”
“Well, it just so happens, I have a bag of mints in my pocket. Perhaps you have room for one of those?”
Smiling up at her, the little girl replied, “I love mints.”
They got out of the vehicle and Maria offered her a mint, took one herself, placed the package back in her pocket and took the child’s hand. “Which way shall we go first? Do you remember where school is?”
“Yes,” she replied shyly. “It’s back that way,” she pointed behind them.
“Ok, let’s go.” While they walked, she asked what grade she was in, her teacher’s name, what she enjoyed most about school. The little girl responded without hesitation.
“Do you walk home all the time, Sarah?”
“No. Mummy usually comes to get me, but she didn’t show up. I thought I could walk home instead.”
After fifteen minutes, they arrived at the school and they walked inside to the reception area. Detective Graham quietly introduced herself. “Sarah and I are looking for her mother. Apparently she usually picks her daughter up and when she didn’t show, Sarah bravely tried to find her way home. Could you give me her address and phone number please.”
The receptionist looked concerned at first, then looked up the information wrote it down and handed it across. “I hope nothing’s wrong.”
“I’m sure all is well. I just want to reunite Sarah with her mother.” She tried calling the number and received no answer. Could be the mother was on her way and had missed the call.
“Ok, Sarah, let’s go find your mom.”
The little girl looked confidently up at her and said, “Lets.”
Hand in hand, they walked out the front door and headed back in the same direction they’d come from and a block later turned right. The little girl was chatty, explaining what they usually did after school, how her mother would pick her up and they’d head to the park to play and then they’d head home, and while her mother prepared dinner, she’d do homework if she had any or colour. Colouring was a big thing in her life.
When they reached the address Detective Graham had for the child, she noticed the mother’s car parked in the drive. As they got closer, she realized the front door was slightly ajar. “Before we chat with mum why don’t we visit that park you love and play for a bit.”
The little brightened right up. “Let’s.” As they walked to the park in question, Graham was concerned. Once the little girl was involved in swinging, she contacted dispatch and asked for her partner, Detective Marcia Loren to meet her at this location. Within fifteen minutes she’d arrived and Graham took her aside and explained the situation before adding, “I’m concerned. This isn’t her mother’s normal behaviour and I don’t want Sarah inside until we know it’s safe.”
“Could you stay with her while I head back to her house?”
“Sure.” Graham introduced her partner and explained she’d be back in a few minutes. She handed the mints to the little girl for safekeeping. “I’ll be back for these, but in the meantime, your welcome to enjoy them. Maybe Marcia might enjoy one too.”
She winked at the little girl and caught up in the conspiracy, Sarah smiled back and replied, “We can do that.”
When she returned to the residence, she pulled her gun and pushed the door open then called out, “Josey Marks, are you here? Police.” She slowly entered, calling out as she went. A neat tidy little home, well kept and very clean. Obviously not the type to leave her daughter unattended. When she got to what she perceived as an office, she found the mother curled up on the floor. She checked to make sure the other rooms were clear and called for backup. and an ambulance to her location.
Returning to the woman, she knelt down and found a pulse. She heard a faint whimper from the woman and rested her hand on the woman’s shoulder, “Josey, I’m Detective Graham.” As the woman became more cognitive her eyes dilated, “My daughter.”
“She’s safe, she’s with my partner. Lay still, an ambulance is on the way.”
She tried to sit up, “I don’t need an ambulance,” she stated falling back on the floor. “Oooh.”
“Seems that you do.”
“Can you tell me what happened here?”
In an unsteady voice, she stated someone had attacked her at the front door as she was leaving to pick up her daughter and they were after money. They dragged her back to her home office looking for money and when they realized she didn’t have anything of value, had struck her and she went down.
“I’ll have to get a statement from you later, but right now, let’s make sure your alright.” Within minutes reinforcements arrived, a young cop she asked to secure the scene, followed by two ambulance attendance. She stepped back as they examined the woman before loading her onto the gurney and heading to the hospital.
Graham promised to deliver her daughter to her and the woman fell back on the gurney without another word.
“Officer Campbell, I’m going to get the child and head to the hospital. I’ll get my partner to assist with the scene, but stay put. I’ll be back quick as I can.”
Her partner had been contacted and had Sarah with her in her vehicle. They dropped Graham off at her car and they all headed to the hospital. “I think it best if I stay with the mother and daughter, but could you return to their house, an officer is posted there, but I want your eyes on the situation.”
“Sure thing. I’ll let you know what I find.”
“Good, good!” She then sat down along side the little girl to explain that her mother was being treated by the very best doctors to make sure she was alright without going into detail about what had transpired.
An hour later, the doctor approached. She took him aside and he said, “Seems she’s got a sizeable goose egg and a fractured left arm. We’ll set her arm, and she’ll have to stay overnight for observation. I’m concerned about concussion. She’s taken a hard crack to the head.”
“Did she mention family the little one could stay with?”
“She mentioned an a sister living across town. Mandy. I’ve placed a call already and asked her to come. She’s agreed.”
Graham stayed until the sister arrived, then walked into the er room to talk to the young woman. “Any idea who did this to you?”
“No. He had a mask on. I saw brown eyes, dark hair, he had to be over six feet and he was strong, muscled. I grabbed his arm to try and get past him and he wasn’t thin and he wasn’t fat. He said he’d been sent. I don’t understand what that means or by whom. I don’t get it. I just need to know my daughter’s safe.”
“Your sister is here now, and she’s with her. I understand they are keeping you overnight for observation. I’ll pop by tomorrow to see you, and we’ll go over the incident then.”
“Thanks, Detective Graham, I appreciate that. My head feels like a football and I’m not thinking clearly.”
“Right, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ll send your daughter in. She’ll be happy to see your alright.”
Tears filled the woman’s eyes as she once again thanked her.
She headed back to the woman’s house. “Something doesn’t fit. It isn’t right. More here than meets the eye, I’m sure of that!” She spoke her thoughts aloud.
“Hey, partner. What did you learn?”
“The woman’s neat, tidy. I took a quick look at her desk, and it appears she’s an accountant. Works for three firms from the look of it. Two major and one smaller company. Seems like she had some questions about what was going on with the smaller company. There were questions outlined on a piece of paper sitting beside the lap top. Where moneys had come from and where they’d gone. Seems hinky to me. Not that I’m an accountant, but when an accountant things somethings screwed up, I tend to believe it.”
They inspected the accounts, took photos on their cell phones, and searched the house thoroughly. There was nothing else to indicate what had happened. Forensics was arriving shortly to fingerprint the place and they left together. Graham made sure the place was locked when they were done. “I think I’ll head back to the hospital later, see if the mother remembers anything else. I told her tomorrow, but I have a feeling that might be too late.”
“Well if something is hinky, whoever was responsible will likely return.”
“Either way, we’ll have a patrol unit drive by regularly for the next few days. Make sure everyone stays safe.”
“Yeah. I don’t know, Graham, I have a horrid feeling about this one.”
“Yeah, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up the second I arrived. Nothings changed so I’ve been on high alert since.”
“I know what you mean. I have an eerie feeling its not over yet.”
Staring back at the house, Graham said, “Yeah, I’m with you there.”