Day 18: Time Travel Forensics (TTF)

Time travel plays hell on forensics. For one thing, it’s not widely known about, so finding the right judge to understand the circumstances can be tricky. And once it’s established as a time crime, all alibis are out the window.

Sheila Baker was a working girl on the upper east side, and as people in her profession goes, she was a sweet kid. That is to say, she was one of the few who cared—just a little—about things other than cash and the needle. She lay back on a gold, glass-top coffee table, her head tilted on the floor in a pool of blond hair, her legs bent awkwardly outward, like a doll with no knees. Strangled.

I’d been working her for a few years to inform on Cappy Shishkin, the top of the foodchain of Russian organized crime. She’d called me a few hours ago telling me she had something, and I was supposed to meet her in an hour at Steuben’s Lounge. She was going to miss that appointment.

Naturally, Cappy was our number one suspect. But we had him and every one of his henchmen under surveillance the entire day. His alibi could get no better.

So that’s why I called in David Greer of the Time Travel Forensics team. If we could demonstrate this was a crime of time travel, we could follow through investigating Cappy, damn the alibi. Greer walked in humming a tune I didn’t recognize, wearing an eighties style trench coat over a blue suit and red tie, Stetson on his head that looked like cattle had trampled it, plain brown cowboy boots.

Hey, hey, Inspector Crowe.” said Greer. He had a narrow, bony face with perfectly trimmed black hair.

“Glad you could make it.” I shook his hand.

“I had to move my calendar around a bit,” he laughed, closer to a bleat, as if he’d made a joke. “What do you have?”

“Strangulation. I didn’t let them move anything except trace materials. The photographer’s already been through.”

After inspecting the body, Greer said, “All right. First we need to gather newspapers, magazines, prescription meds, packaged food, anything with a date on it. If you find something dated after today, June 11, 2014 show it to me immediately.”

I had a few of my men help out. During our search, Greer picked up an emoji pillow with a winky face. “Hah. I remember these.” He tossed it, then squinted at the shelf behind the couch. He reached behind and pulled out a wireless camera. “Look at this! Where’s the surveillance box for this thing?” They found the box in a tangled mass of cables and cords behind the television.

“Sekulovich,” I said to my tech. “Go get the A/V kit.”

Sekulovich put the surveillance box on the dining table and helped us get it hooked up while the rest of my men finished gathering all the dated material. Nothing from after today. I had them catalog and tag every item in the apartment while Greer, Sekulovich, and I reviewed the video.

We fast forwarded to about the time the she was murdered. She sat on the couch behind the coffee table and seemed to be zoning on the television. The doorbell rang, she got up, left the frame of the camera, and we heard the door open. A tinny falsetto voice sang, “…I been thinkin’ too much. I been thinkin’ too much. I been thinkin’ t—” It clicked off.

“What do you want?” she asked. There was no response. A scream quickly became a rasp accompanied by bangs and clunks. Sheila’s limp body came into view, and the video caught the gloved hands and part of the jacket of the killer as he let her fall back onto the coffee table, then left the frame.

The music came back on, “Oh-ooh-oh-ooh-oh-ooh, Oh-ooh-oh-ooh-oh, I’m falling. So I’m taking my time—” The door opened and closed.

“Crap,” said Greer. “I was hoping for more than that. Mr. Sekulovich, can you get me the best picture you can of the assailant’s gloves and jacket, please? I’ll send a copy to our lab to analyze the clothes, but I can’t see much.”

The tech fiddled with the video going back and forth, searching for the best frame. While he did that, Greer examined all the articles they’d bagged and tagged and shook his head. “It’s not looking good for this one, Crowe.”

I clenched my teeth. “I’ve been chasing this gangster for seven years. Is it going to take another seven to get him?”

Greer brightened. “No. Just another two.” He grabbed a chair by the A/V kit. “Start it from the doorbell,” he said. Sekulovich complied. Greer smiled broadly as it played, sobered as we witnessed the murder again, then nodded smugly when it was done. “Twenty-One Pilots. Ride,” he said.

“Yeah?” I said.

“It wasn’t released until summer of two thousand sixteen.”

I smiled for the first time since breakfast. “We’re going to get him.”

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