Tag Archives: Mickey Holmes

COLD AS ICE – Part 4

This guy had a signature that nightmares were made of. “Why her? She doesn’t fit his old MO at all. ”

            “He’s been out of action for five years. Maybe his MO has changed. Maybe he’s been locked up someplace and learned new tricks? I have no idea. However strange it is, he’s got your new business cards and he’s connected to you somehow. This guy knows you better than you know him.”

            That was probably what terrified me most. He’d always seemed to be a step ahead of me. Facing him scared me to death, and yet I’d been obsessed with catching him. Obsessed with making him pay for killing that young girl…

            But I hadn’t made it happen.  When we’d busted through the door to his cold water flat in South Trenton, all that was left was a note for me. In that same, meticulous handwriting he’d written: “I’LL BE BACK.”

            “You okay, Mick?” Bill asked quietly, pushing a cup of what he called coffee into my hands. I nodded, but didn’t trust myself to open my mouth. Years of psychotherapy down the drain with one dead woman and three little words. My nemesis had murdered four people before he suddenly disappeared. I’d celebrated by marrying Elise. Somehow a musky perfume like hers had been in the air at that run down apartment and I’d taken it as an omen of good things to come. A year for major errors, it would seem.

            I sipped the hot liquid and ran my fingers through my hair. “Okay. I’m better trained, have better resources and don’t have a family to worry about this time around. This time we win, Bill. I promise.”

            He nodded, knowing how painful the whole thing had been for me. The killer, who’d become the “Ice Man” to us, had almost destroyed my life. My very own Jeffrey Damler. Just what I needed.

            I stood and looked at Bill. “Can I have a copy of that report when you’re done? Today I’ll get clear to handle this. Tomorrow I start to track down Damian Harbinger.”

            He nodded and looked at me like an older brother who knew I was headed for a broken heart. “Promise me you’ll ask for help with this. You were way too close to the edge last time.”   

        “Sure, Bill. Don’t worry. But I’m going to get him. That’s a promise, too.”



            The Captain called me in, and I stood at parade rest before his desk. “Close the door, Holmes, and have a seat.”

            I sat in the chair, resting my left ankle across my right knee. “Yes, sir?”

            “Judging from this autopsy report and the evidence collected from the victim, looks like the Ice Man is back in town. Should I put someone else on this case?”

            My heart just about jumped out of my chest, but I kept the Captain from seeing it. “No sir, I want to work this case. I wouldn’t mind some help this time, though. The only thing that counts is that we catch him before he murders again.”

            I looked at him closely and knew I was already too late for that sentiment. The Ice Man had been a busy, busy man. I hung my head. “Who and where?”

            “Just before dawn, we figure. Your ex-wife’s next door neighbor.”

            “Not, Marge? Please, tell me it wasn’t Marge.” My resolve to stay professional oozed out through my slumped shoulders.

            “I’m sorry, Mickey. We’ve put your ex in protective custody, but she’s not happy about it.”

            “Tough. Does she know about Marge? Does she know how lucky she is to be alive?”

            “Doesn’t sound like she considers herself lucky about anything, if you ask me. Will your talking to her make any difference?”

            “Yeah. It would probably make it worse.”

            “Try. Next time she calls your cell phone, answer it. Get her calmed down.”

            I shook my head, but there was no use arguing with the boss. “What do we have on Marge’s murder?”

            “Ice pick to the throat and a few other places. Mutilated breasts. The killer’s one very angry fellow.”

            I ran the old files back through my brain like a worn out black and white slide series. “By the time the killings stopped last time, I wasn’t so sure our killer was a man.”

            “You did the work at Quantico, Holmes. You know women serial killers are few and far between.”

            “But not all together absent. And we both know this is personal. It’s connected to me, somehow.”

            Cap waved me toward the door and reached for the phone. “The press will be all over this Oberhauser murder. I expect the FBI will be sniffing around end of the week.” He picked up a pen and pointed it at my chest. “You be careful and take Cyrus with you. You’ll need a partner. A sharp one.”

            I closed the door behind me and wondered how the day could get worse. Ordered to talk to an ex-wife who would like to see an ice pick sticking out of my anatomy and enlisting a partner who had a chip on her shoulder like Mike Tyson. Damn.

To be continued….November 23

COLD AS ICE – Part 3

Daphne's Chandelier    I watched the tail lights on his van disappear down the long, tree-lined lane, then turned to join the others in the house. I was too tired for another long night. I needed to get this done.

            Interviewing Joseph Oberhauser seemed straight forward. He looked to be shattered by his wife’s demise. He was her senior by almost fifteen years, but by his account, they were devoted to each other. He pulled out photos of happy times; black tie and evening gown affairs that showcased how perfect they were for each other. They had no children although he had two from a previous marriage. One lived in Ocean County, the other all the way across the country in California. Where it was warm.

            Officer Knight had finished his coffee and left after I’d come in. He was going to knock on the doors of the other homes on the lane just in case anyone had seen anything. We doubted it, but it was protocol. We needed to locate our tipster if we could. And the tow truck still had to pick up Mrs. Oberhauser’s car.

            “When can I have Daphne back?” the husband asked quietly.

            “The coroner will call you to make arrangements as soon as the autopsy is done, Joseph. He tries to be quick about it. Usually twenty-four to forty-eight hours if he’s not worried about toxicology or anything.”

            “I still can’t believe she’s dead. How do I go on without her?” He asked me as tears streamed down his face.

            I never have an answer to that question, and it’s been asked of me dozens of times in all the years I’ve been a cop. I shook my head. “Have faith that time will heal, Mr. Oberhauser. That may sound empty at this point in time, but it’s my experience that it is true.”

            He looked me in the eye. “Has time healed your pain, Detective?”

            I didn’t answer him and he waved the question aside. I let it slide by me like a smelly dog that wasn’t mine.

            “Can your daughter stay with you tonight? You probably shouldn’t be alone. I can call her for you if you’d like.”

            “We are not on speaking terms. She disagreed with my marriage to Daphne. Some nonsense about being unfaithful to her mother.”

            “And her mother is where?” I asked, taking notes as fast as I could.

            “She’s been dead for fifteen years. You’d think Jenny would get on with life, wouldn’t you?”

            I shrugged. “Kids handle things in their own way, I guess. At least you’d hope she’d want to see you happy again.”

            “She doesn’t. She believes I should be miserable my entire life. And now I will be.”

            “How does your son feel about it all?”

            “David’s in the Navy. San Diego almost ten years now. He felt he should devote himself to one career and he didn’t chose a family. I gave my children horrible legacies, Detective.”

            “How so, sir?” I asked.

            “My daughter thinks I killed my first wife. Not literally of course, but by not being around enough. I was fighting to keep the family business alive, amassing the money it would take to care for them in style. It required a lot of hours and travel. Jenny feels Mandy died of loneliness.”

            What the hell could I say to that? After all, my marriage had been a victim of too many hours and days absent, too. Not for money maybe, but I was responsible none the less. I stood quietly and concentrated on not shuffling my feet. “When did you become a minister?”

            “Ten years ago. After a certain point, the money lost its sparkle. After Mandy died, I took a good look at my life. The company is strong, and I made sure that the family would be taken care of in the sale. I can do the Lord’s work, now.”

            “No vow of poverty, huh?” I asked, realizing why I’d recognized the man when I saw him at the kitchen table. He traded salvation for personal checks three nights a week on the local cable stations.

            “It isn’t money that’s the sin, Detective. The sin is what we are willing to do for it.” I was usually wishing I had more, so I couldn’t relate to a man who collected millions from blue-collar people like me every week.

            “Is there anyone who can stay with you, Joseph? You shouldn’t be alone right now.”

            He shook his head, his hand on the gleaming brass door handle. “I’ll be all right, Detective. The Lord is with me. And with you. Thank you for your time and your compassion. You’ve made this somehow bearable.”

            I shook his hand, pulled on my gloves and shoved through the heavy door into the blistering wind. My head down, I forged through the snow toward my car. I turned the key and let the engine idle for a few minutes. When I looked at the house, I could feel sorrow reaching out to me through the arched Tudor windows. Secrets. The fireplace flickered in the parlor, the only light in a house of many windows.


            “No Elise, I’m not giving you any more money. I’m paying you what the judge ordered and I’m paying you on time. That’s it. Get a job if that’s not enough.” I was having this conversation at seven fifteen in the morning, after four hours sleep and no coffee. If I hadn’t been sound asleep when the thing rang, I wouldn’t have answered it. Even after eleven months apart, my ex-wife could still push my buttons.

            I listened for another minute and swung my legs out of bed. “I’m not angry with you. I’m just tired of this whole thing. I’ve moved on. It’s not my fault your boyfriend did too. Don’t call me again.” I closed the phone and turned it off. If the station needed me, they would call the unlisted house phone.

            After a trip to the bathroom, I crawled back into bed. The dawn was not bright and glorious, so my bedroom was still dark. When I woke next, it was eleven o’clock.

            I started the coffee, took a hot shower and dressed for doing nothing. Coffee mug in hand, I put down tuna and whitefish dinner for my three-legged feline housemate, collected a soggy paper from the front porch, and settled in at the kitchen nook to read what was dry enough to decipher.

            The kitchen phone rang at one o’clock. “Mickey Holmes.”

            “I finished the autopsy on Mrs. Oberhauser,” said Bill. “You might want to see some of this.”

            “Fair enough. I’ll be there in forty minutes.”

            We signed off; I changed into jeans and a sweater, my partially dried boots and my parka. “’Bye Cat,” I called to my independent but pretty housemate.

            I strode into the coroner investigator’s office and tapped on the door before entering. Bill was pounding his keyboard at a feverish pitch. I peeled off my coat and gloves and dropped into the worn, black swivel chair on the other side of his desk. By the look of him, I’d had much more rest than he had.  

            “You sounded like you found something that surprised you, Bill. What’s up?”

            He handed me a clear plastic bag with my current business card in it. On the back of the card, in neatly printed letters was a warning. “SHE’S NUMBER 5.”

            “So we’re right, huh? He’s back.” I dropped my head in my hands. “Why is he back?” I asked Bill who knew exactly who I was talking about.

            He patted my shoulder. “I don’t know, but we have to catch him this time. You know how bad this will get.”

To be continued…November 9

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