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Книга EchoPark. Страница 18

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Bosch decided to read the murder book first. He quickly became acquainted with Raynard Waits and the details of his arrest. The suspect was thirty-four years old and lived in a ground-floor apartment on Sweetzer Avenue in West Hollywood. He wasn’t a large man, standing five foot six and weighing 142 pounds. He was the owner-operator of a one-man business-a residential window-cleaning company called ClearView Residential Glass Cleaners. According to the police reports, he came to the attention of two patrol officers, a boot named Arnolfo Gonzalez and his training officer, Ted Fennel, at 1:50 a.m. on the night of May 11. The officers were assigned to a Crime Response Team which was watching a hillside neighborhood in Echo Park because of a recent rash of home burglaries that had been occurring on the nights of Dodgers home games. Though in uniform, Gonzalez and Fennel were in an unmarked cruiser near the intersection of Stadium Way and Chavez Ravine Place. Bosch knew the location. It was at the remote edge of the Dodger Stadium complex and above the Echo Park neighborhood that the CRT teams were watching. He also knew that they were following a standard CRT strategy: to stay out on the perimeter of the target neighborhood and follow in any vehicle or persons who looked suspicious or out of place.

According to the report filed by Gonzalez and Fennel, they grew suspicious as to why a van marked on the sides with signs that said ClearView Residential Glass Cleaners was out and about at two in the morning. They followed at a distance and Gonzalez used night-vision binoculars to get the van’s plate number. He then entered it into the car’s mobile digital terminal-the officers choosing to use the onboard computer rather than the radio in case the burglar working the neighborhood was equipped with a police radio scanner. The computer kicked back a flag. The plate was registered to a Ford Mustang with an address out in Claremont. Believing that the license plate on the van was stolen and that they now had probable cause to stop it, Fennel accelerated, put on the UC car’s grille lights and stopped the van on Figueroa Terrace near the intersection of Beaudry Avenue.

“The driver of the vehicle appeared agitated and leaned out of the van’s window to talk to Officer Gonzalez, an effort to block the officer from conducting a visual survey of the interior of the vehicle,” the arrest summary read. “Officer Fennel approached the vehicle’s passenger side and beamed his flashlight into the van. Without entering the vehicle, Officer Fennel was able to notice what appeared to be several black plastic trash bags on the floorboard in front of the front passenger seat of the vehicle. A substance appearing to be blood could be seen leaking from the cinched mouth of one of the bags and onto the floor of the van.”

According to the report, “The driver was asked if that was blood leaking from one of the bags and he stated that he had cut himself earlier in the day when a large plate glass window he was cleaning shattered. He stated that he had used several glass-cleaning rags to clean up the blood. When asked to show where he was cut the driver smiled and then suddenly made a move to restart the vehicle’s ignition. Officer Gonzalez reached through the window to restrain him. After a short struggle the driver was removed from the vehicle and placed on the ground and handcuffed. He was then moved to the backseat of the unmarked car. Officer Fennel opened the vehicle and inspected the bags. At this time Officer Fennel found the first bag he opened contained human body parts. Investigative units were immediately summoned to the scene.”

The driver’s license of the man taken out of the van identified him as Raynard Waits. He was booked into the holding tank at Northeast Division while an investigation of his van and the plastic trash bags carried on through the night on Figueroa Terrace. Only after Detectives Olivas and Colbert, the on-call team that night, took over the investigation and retraced some of the steps taken by Gonzalez and Fennel was it learned that the rookie officer had typed the wrong license plate number into the MDT, typing an F for an E and getting the plate registration for the Mustang out in Claremont.

In law enforcement terms it was a “good faith error,” meaning the probable cause to have stopped the van should still hold because the officers had been acting in good faith when an honest mistake was committed. Bosch assumed that this was the point of the appeal Rick O’Shea had mentioned earlier.

Bosch put aside the murder investigation file and opened the prosecution file. He quickly looked through the documents until he found a copy of the appeal. He scanned it quickly and found what he had expected. Waits was claiming that typing in the wrong plate number was a custom and practice within the LAPD and often employed when officers on specialty squads wanted to pull over and search a vehicle without legitimate probable cause to do so. Though a Superior Court judge found that Gonzalez and Fennel had acted on good faith and upheld the legality of the search, Waits was appealing that decision to the District Court of Appeal.

Bosch went back to the investigative file. No matter the question of the legality of the traffic stop, the investigation of Raynard Waits had moved rapidly. The morning after the arrest Olivas and Colbert obtained a search warrant for the apartment on Sweetzer where Waits lived alone. A four-hour search and Forensics examination of the apartment produced several samples of human hair and blood taken from the bathroom’s sink and tub traps, as well as a hidden space beneath the floor containing several pieces of women’s jewelry and multiple Polaroid photos of nude young women who appeared to be sleeping, unconscious or dead. In a utility room was an upright freezer which was empty, except for the two samples of pubic hair found by an SID tech.

Meantime, the three plastic bags found in the van had been transported to the coroner’s office and opened. They were found to contain the body parts of two young women, each of whom had been strangled and dismembered after death in the same way. Of note was the fact that the parts from one of the bodies showed indications of having been thawed after being frozen.

Though no cutting tools were found in Waits’s apartment or van, it was clear from the evidence gathered that while Officers Gonzalez and Fennel were looking for a burglar, they had stumbled onto what appeared to be a serial killer at work. The belief was that Waits had already discarded or hidden his tools and was in the process of disposing of the bodies of the two victims when he drew the attention of the CRT officers. The indications were that there might be other victims as well. The reports in the file detailed the efforts made in the next several weeks to identify the two bodies as well as the other women in the Polaroids found in the apartment. Waits of course offered no help in this regard, engaging the services of Maury Swann on the morning of his capture and choosing to remain silent as the law enforcement processes continued and Swann mounted an attack on the probable cause of the traffic stop.

Only one of the two known victims was identified. Fingerprints taken from one of the dismembered women drew a hit on the FBI’s latent database. She was identified as a seventeen-year-old runaway from Davenport, Iowa. Lindsey Mathers had left home two months before being found in Waits’s van and had not been heard from during that time by her parents. With photos supplied by her mother, detectives were able to piece together her trail in Los Angeles. She was recognized by youth counselors at several Hollywood shelters. She had been using a variety of names to avoid being identified and possibly sent home. There were indications she was involved in drug use and street prostitution. Needle marks found on her body during the autopsy were believed to have been the result of a long and ongoing practice of injecting drugs. A blood screen taken during the autopsy found heroin and PCP in her bloodstream.

The shelter counselors who helped identify Lindsey Mathers were also shown the Polaroid photographs found in Waits’s apartment and were able to provide a variety of different names for at least three of the women. Their stories were similar to Mathers’s journey. They were runaways possibly engaged in prostitution as a means of earning money for drugs.

It was clear to Bosch from the gathered evidence and information that Waits was a predator who targeted young women who would not be immediately missed, fringe dwellers who were unaccounted for by society in the first place and therefore not missed when they disappeared.

The Polaroids from the hidden space in Waits’s apartment were in the file, encased in plastic sheets, four to a page. There were eight pages with multiple shots of each woman. An accompanying analysis report stated that the photo collection contained shots of nine different women-the two women whose remains were found in Waits’s van and seven unknowns. Bosch knew that the unknowns were likely to be the seven women Waits was offering to tell authorities about in addition to Marie Gesto and the pawnshop man, but he studied the photos anyway for the face of Marie Gesto.

She wasn’t there. The faces in the photos belonged to women who had not caused the same sort of stir that Marie Gesto had. Bosch sat back and took off his reading glasses to rest his eyes for a few moments. He remembered one of his early teachers in Homicide. Detective Ray Vaughn had a special sympathy for the ones he called “murder’s nobodies,” the victims who didn’t count. He taught Bosch early on that in society all victims are not created equal, but to the true detective they must be.

“Every one of them was somebody’s daughter,” Ray Vaughn had told him. “Every one of them counted.”

Bosch rubbed his eyes. He thought about Waits’s offer to clear up nine murders, including Marie Gesto’s and Daniel Fitzpatrick’s and those of seven women who never caused a blip on anybody’s radar. Something seemed not right about that. Fitzpatrick was an anomaly because he was a male and the killing didn’t appear to be sexually motivated. He had always assumed that Marie Gesto was a sex killing. But she was not a throwaway victim. She had hit the radar big time. Had Waits learned from her? Had he honed his craft after her killing to make sure he never drew such police and media heat again? Bosch thought that maybe the heat he had applied on the Gesto case was what caused Waits to change, to become a more skilled and cunning killer. If that was so, then he would have to deal with that guilt at a later time. For now he had to focus on what was in front of him.

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