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All The Lies: Chapter 8


The secret to being a bore…is to tell everything.


“Where’s Craig?” Leonard asks, breaking the silence in the car.

“Conveniently, the director called him to aid in a media thing upstate. Johnson is currently handling all media for this case.”

He mutters something under his breath before adding, “It’s pissing me off how obvious it is what they’re doing, yet no one is helping us stop it.”

“We just need evidence. We also need the entire story.”

“It’d be a lot easier to piece together this puzzle if our killer would just spell it all out for us. It’s obvious he wants us to know the truth,” Leonard grumbles.

He’s been lost in thought for most of this trip.

“He wants us to figure out the truth for ourselves. He thinks we’ll be on his side, considering he’s been saving us.”

Leonard turns to face me. “Are you conflicted?”

I shake my head. “No. I understand what happened ten years ago was beyond fucked up, and I have no sympathy to the victims we’ve found so far, but playing judge, jury, and executioner is not excusable. I also know how these cases go. It starts off as revenge, individuals getting targeted. But it turns into a massacre when the unsub devolves rapidly, and anything at all that’s perceived as a threat is killed as collateral damage.”

He looks back out the window. He’s seen these cases too.

“What if this one was different?”

“What?” I ask, confused.

He faces me again. “There were rare cases where the revenge killers actually killed just those who had wronged them. No one else was caught in the crosshairs.”

“Very few,” I remind him. “And almost all end with a shootout between law enforcement and the unsub. Still can’t play judge, jury, and executioner, regardless.”

“Most all revenge seekers are seeking revenge for themselves. It’s what causes the psychotic break—being too close to the triggers when the emotions finally take over,” he goes on. “We profiled this unsub as being one to avenge for someone else. He could have separation and even be able to form attachments, unlike other revenge killers, since I doubt it’s a proxy killer who is suffering a delusional paradigm.”

I heave out a long, weary breath. “I get the confliction you’re dealing with. Especially in this case, given what we’ve already learned and now seen. But innocent people will die if we don’t stop him. No one has the right to take the law into their own hands,” I say calmly, even though a silent argument in my mind contests my own words.

He cuts his gaze away before replying, “They tried to get help. They tried to seek justice. They were denied.”

“They?” I ask curiously.

“The unsub,” he states flatly. “I don’t know if I should keep referring to the unsub as him, since you said you feel it was a woman.”

“You believe me?” No one else has.

“You saw Hollis. You saw Lana. What made you believe the unsub was a woman when you never saw a face? Men can be small as well, and I strongly believe in counter forensics in all cases with an unsub this organized. He or she could have easily masked their true size and weight with the right counter measures.”

I grow quiet, letting a chill creep in over me. No one at all has even considered believing me.

“Men can be small,” I say in agreement.

“How small are we talking?”

“Someone as short as Lana.”

He clears his throat. “That’s specific,” he says under his breath. “Still doesn’t explain why you think it’s a woman.”

My mind goes back to the blurry images of the small frame taking down Hollis, landing on top of him.

“I swear I heard a feminine laugh. It was cold and taunting, and almost enjoying the killing part.”

He shifts beside me, turning a little pale.


“This unsub may be somehow projecting obsessively onto Victoria or Marcus Evans, creating the illusion of either being them or being involved with them. It would make the most sense, considering we’ve ruled out the few friends they had in this town. So don’t rule out a proxy.”

“An unsub who can fight, kill, and meticulously plan murders with counter forensics is too organized to be killing as a proxy. Killing as a proxy would indicate a psychotic break,” Leonard argues. “And obviously he or she is still rational enough to show patience and control, which would immediately rule out any sort of psychotic break.”

I grow quiet, thinking of all the contradictions this unsub has left us with. It all fits, and none of it fits at the same time.

It’s as though he or she needs their own profile. Even considering it to be a woman is a direct confliction with a female serial killer profile because of the torture.

“Remember the case we worked in San Antonio six years ago?” Leonard finally asks, his tone thoughtful as he stares out the window.

I don’t even have to ask for details to refresh my mind. “The father who killed the five guys who raped his daughter at a frat party.”

He nods, still lost inside his own mind.

“He also went on to the campus police,” I remind him. “He killed two of them before we caught him.”

“The campus police never filed a report. When we interviewed them, they said poor girls get drunk and call rape all the time at frat parties, trying to get a settlement out of the rich guys,” Leonard says, his hands turning to fists. “I have a sister. Anytime something like this happens, I think of her.”

“Caroline can take care of herself,” I remind him. “She’d obliterate any guy who tried to touch her.”

“Which is why it was stupid to rule out a female killer based on the fact these were all fit men who were taken down physically. My sister has been in twenty different competitions and has won several of them. She could easily overpower any of these guys,” he says thoughtfully. “If a woman knew what she was going up against and had the forethought to prepare counter forensics, she’d know our profile would be sexist enough to rule out a female.”

My lips purse. I’d argue this if it wasn’t for the fact I saw our small unsub. I heard her feminine laughter.

“Lindy May Wheeler was in her kindergarten classes during some of the kill times,” he goes on. “I checked last night.”

Lindy May was too timid to be a calculated killer. I never even considered her.

“If someone had ever hurt Caroline like this, and she never saw justice, I don’t know that I’d be any better than the killer we’re trying to catch,” he says quietly. “Albert Rawlings let himself be killed when he’d finished. His gun was empty when he pointed it at the police who’d cornered him. He was done. He never planned on killing anyone else. And he forced the police to kill him because he had nothing left to do or live for.”

Blowing out a weary breath, I think back to that case. It was a rare instance where there was no massacre.

“Caroline learned how to use her smaller frame and weight to her advantage against a larger opponent, as well as all the weaknesses on a body she could exploit. She also learned a lot of control when learning various forms of martial arts,” Leonard goes on. “It’s not just a strengthening of the body; it’s also a strengthening of the mind. This unsub could have been training her body for the fight, but she might have also been training her mind against the impending psychotic break. It’s obvious she did all her research, so it makes sense.”

If that’s the case, this unsub is ten times more organized than we assumed.

“The two people missing right now—Kevin and Anthony—are probably already dead if the unsub is here with us,” he continues. “She started sprinting through the kills so she could be here with us when the time came.”

“Even left one alive to return to,” I add.

“So she has enough control to put a pin in her agenda just to join us in this town, possibly even watch over us.”

Watch over us…

“Which is another confliction with the profile,” I say on a long sigh.

“Exactly. Revenge is more important and the primary focus for revenge killers, yet our girl comes to make sure we don’t get caught unawares by a town she knew was corrupt enough to try and kill an agent of the FBI.”

“So the truth is more important than the revenge,” I say aloud as we bounce theories off each other.

“Or the unsub is firmly grounded in reality and doesn’t want to let anyone else innocent die by the hands of this town.”

His words speak to a mentality the unsub would be incapable of if this is revenge. Again, nothing but conflictions no matter how we profile.

“Let’s focus on what we have. The unsub has been in town for as long as we have, yet has only killed once,” Leonard says as I drive. “And that was to save you.”

“And Donny,” I remind him.

He clears his throat. “The unsub has enough control to let us find out what we need to know, and hold off on killing more,” he adds.

“Only because Kyle is possibly next, and he has around-the-clock protection. He hasn’t even left his home since this started.”

He nods slowly.

“Our unsub is leaving messages to taunt the town, and using the voice of Jasmine Evans to remind them of how the corruption started.”

I take a turn, and he continues.

“I spoke to Lindy May last night,” he says, surprising me. “When I told her what we’d learned about the past, she told me that I only knew about three of Kyle Davenport’s victims. That he was a serial rapist and possibly a sociopath.”

I pull up at the curb and shut off the engine as I turn to face him.

“He’s the sheriff’s son, and they’ve kept us from getting an interview.”

He cocks an eyebrow. “We’re profilers who could see through him. If he’s someone who gets off on raping women…”

He lets the words trail off.

“Then he could be the original killer,” I groan, then curse before punching the steering wheel.

“May be why our unsub has held off on killing him.”

My eyes flit to the innocuous blue house that sets idly between two white ones. This town is outside of the sheriff’s jurisdiction. Something tells me Carl Burrows moved here for a reason.

“Let’s deal with this before we go digging into Kyle,” I tell Leonard.

“Sheriff Cannon and Johnson are going to block us from speaking to Kyle. I don’t get why Johnson would cover up a true killer. Even at his worst, he’s still a fucking agent.”

“Because he fucked up. His ego is more important than justice could ever be,” I say as I get out.

Kyle would have been nineteen at the time. Nineteen seems too disorganized to be the killer from back then, but he fits the profile in every other way.

Unless Lindy May is right and he’s a sociopath. We’re looking for a psychopath. Sociopaths can’t imitate empathy or anything else. Psychopaths can.

As we walk up the sidewalk, I notice someone peering out of the window, watching us as we approach the door. The curtains pop closed and sway from the disturbance, and the door swings open before we even make it to the stoop.

He’s short, has a touch of oriental in his bloodline, given the shape of his eyes and cheekbones. His hair is dark and long, tied back in a ponytail. He looks like he doesn’t get out too much either, given the disarray of his wrinkled clothing and the pungent smell of body odor I get a whiff of from here.

“Are you SSA Logan Bennett and Agent Stan Leonard?” he asks as we step onto his small stoop.

Creasing my lips to hide my surprise, I hold up my ID, as does Leonard.

Burrows adjusts his glasses on his nose as he reads our names, then he looks up and then gestures for us to hurry inside. I resist the urge to cover my nose when we walk in. Old food is lying haphazardly around, covered in flies and sealed in aquariums. Various other aquariums have other things inside them, though my stomach is reeling too much for me to focus on it.

Leonard coughs and covers his nose.

“Your sense of smell is the weakest sense. Give it a few minutes, and you won’t smell it anymore,” Burrows assures us as he leads us through his house.

“What is all this?” Leonard asks, coughing back a gag.

“I study the decaying process and the insect activity that follows. It’s part of the forensics program I run to help identify time of death in hard to date cases.”

“In your home?” Leonard asks, gagging again.

“My lab has several other experiments going on, and I can monitor things better from home anyway.”

“How did you know we were coming?” I ask him as we move through his kitchen, where several more ‘experiments’ are underway.

It smells like death met a rotten asshole and had five puke babies.

Burrows shudders, popping a piece of nicotine gum and chewing it frantically.

“Do you believe in ghosts?” he asks us seriously, looking around nervously.

Leonard tilts his head. “No, why?”

“Because I do. I’m a man of science, but I believe there are too many unexplained variables in the course of a lifetime to believe things are as cut and dry as science implies. A psychic actually solved one case I was involved in one time.”

Confused, I lean against the wall, letting him ramble.

“He said the killer had one eye. He saw the killer through the eyes of the dead victim, and he described him down to the eye and snake tattoo on his neck. Police found the guy, and they also found his next victim in the trunk of the car. She was still alive. And no, the psychic was in no way linked to him. He actually helped solve many cases. He called himself a medium, but I still refer to him as a psychic. Because psychics see shit the normal person can’t, right?”

I look over to Leonard, and he looks back at me.

As one, our gaze swings back to the looney toon doctor who has apparently spent too much time in solitude with rotting food. I’m not sure what an extended period of time in an environment like this would do to one’s psyche. But I bet we’re looking at the product of that answer.

“Why are we talking about psychics?” I ask him warily, trying and failing to follow his thought process.

“I tried calling him today. He said he’d need a victim to touch or something involved with the killer. I had him over, and he touched my wall. He told me nothing about the killer. Instead, he told me SSA Logan Bennett and Agent Stan Leonard would be on their way. Said you’d be here within ten minutes. He said to tell you everything I knew about Robert Evans.”

Leonard immediately pulls out his phone. “What’s his name?” he demands.

“Neil Mullins. He’s clean. He’s not your guy. He’s a true medium, and he helps solve cases that can’t otherwise be solved. But he said he refused to be involved with this one, because the killer is after souls too dark for him to save. He said there are souls begging him to help the killer, and the darker souls were trapped by the lighter ones, being held down. He’s only had that on a very rare occasion.”

Leonard lowers the phone, eyeing Burrows like he’s lost his mind.

“You can check him out. He’s been helping the FBI for a really long time,” Burrows adds.

Leonard walks away, probably going to do just that and find out if this guy has any ties to Delaney Grove or our victims.

We told no one we were coming here, other than our team.

“Why your wall?” I ask Burrows.

He points above my head, and I turn, stepping back to see the red words that have been hiding behind me.

“It started appearing one letter at a time this morning right in front of my eyes,” he says on a shaky whisper.

The time for secrets is over. Tell my story. Save your soul.

“I never wanted to keep Robert Evans’s death details a secret. That was all the sheriff and Doc Barrontine. Not me. Not me,” he says rapidly, his fear, caffeine and nicotine causing his words to rush together.

“What details?” I ask, turning to face him.

“I don’t have any proof. I remember the case. I was doing my residency there. That case derailed my ambitions to be a coroner and turned me into a forensics scientist. Science isn’t politics. It’s organically dirty, not sullied by people. It’s simple math and truth, and all I have to do is deliver the facts. I never wanted to lie, SSA Bennett. I swear to you that’s the truth.”

“He checks out,” Leonard says, sounding confused as he walks back in. “Hell, he’s been in Mexico helping solve a string of murders near the border for the past two months.”

A medium. I’ve worked with them before, and they’re always crooks or attention seekers who do more harm than good by filing away unfounded facts that derail or sidetrack the investigation.

Yet this guy knew us by name? Hell, Elise doesn’t even know Leonard’s first name. He keeps a lid on that, because the name came from his father, and there’s a lot of beef there.

“We’ll look into him more later,” I say, gesturing at the message above us.

Leonard’s breath catches.

Our killer knew we’d come here. He might not have named us, but he knew we’d come today.

He’s watching us.

That’s how he knew Donny and I were being attacked.

That’s how he’s leaving these messages without being seen.

“I know it was the ghost of Evans. I watched that appear just this morning,” Burrows rambles on. “He left these,” he says, picking up a pack of small nails.

I hiss out a breath. “He left these? You’re a forensics scientist! You should know not to touch evidence,” I growl, grabbing a glove and an evidence bag.

He tosses them to the top of the microwave carelessly, scratching nervously at his arms. “Ghosts don’t leave prints,” he says, chewing endlessly on that gum.

“Tell us what you know about Robert Evans,” I say to the fidgeting scientist who is popping yet another piece of nicotine gum into his mouth.

I label the bag, and Leonard snaps a picture of it and the words over the doorway.

“Those are the exact same nails they used on him.”

A piece of the puzzle falls into place. “What?” I ask, confused.

I realize there are a mixture of nails in the bag, and not just the small ones. Longer ones like we found in the stomach of one victim are also in here.

“They fed him nails. Made him swallow them,” Burrows says, swallowing hard like he can taste the nails. “Sheriff Cannon shoved the nails into Robert’s mouth himself. Robert was crying, begging them to stop, still pleading his innocence. I tried,” he says quickly, looking me in the eyes. “I tried to stop them. One of his deputies pistol whipped me and left me bleeding in the corner.”

He swallows the gum, and he pops in two more pieces, chewing just as vigorously as Leonard slowly lowers himself to a chair.

“The nails sliced through his esophagus. He was spitting up blood and screaming in pain. They took out their batons and did terrible things to his backside then. They used the batons to rape him repeatedly, held his face against the table as he bled out from both ends. The sheriff then beat him the rest of the way to death once everyone had their turn at depravity.”

He chokes on his gum, and he spits it out into his hand, leaving a slobbery, sticky mess until he dumps it into the trash.

“I told the leading agent back then. Johnson was his name. Miller Johnson. He said it was small town justice, and he had real killers to track down.”

Leonard and I exchange a look, and fury creases his expression. This is what Miller has been covering.

“He knew,” Burrows goes on, biting his nails now as he shifts his weight from one foot to another and back again. “He knew before it happened. There was no surprise on his face when I told him. They came to me later that night, and they told me if I wanted to tell what I saw again, they’d repeat the performance on me. I left town, finished out my residency elsewhere, and moved into the field of forensics. Bugs are safer than people.”

Leonard blows out a long breath, and I suppress my urge to find Johnson and beat the actual fuck out of him.

“He was innocent, you know?” Burrows says, peering over at me again. “Evans, I mean. He didn’t kill those women. Couldn’t have. The serial killer was left handed, and Evans was right handed. His left hand was broken after a kid slammed his hand in a locker as a joke. Kyle Davenport, to be more specific.”

My blood chills more.

“Victoria Evans broke up with Kyle because of that. She yelled at him in front of the school. Three months later, Robert Evans was convicted of those murders. Quickest trial process in the history of murder cases. And two kills occurred the very week after his left hand was broken. He couldn’t have been the murderer. But that didn’t matter. They wouldn’t listen to the science. They only listened to that pompous prick Agent Johnson. Sheriff Cannon just wanted someone to persecute.”

He pops in a fresh piece of gum and wipes his hands on his wrinkly, smelly shirt.

“Who else would know about what happened to Evans?” I ask him.

“No one who would talk. Most of the deputies were involved. And Kyle Davenport, of course. He was there. I heard rumors he did basically the same thing to the kids, only he didn’t bring the nails for that night.”

Kyle Davenport seems to be at the root of every problem.

“Any chance he was left handed?”

“Kyle?” Burrows asks, his face paling. When I nod, he barely whispers, “Yes.”

Nineteen. Nineteen is just too young of an age to be so methodical as the original killer. Each kill was filled with rage, according to the reports. A temper tantrum could send a sociopath into a homicidal rage, if Lindy was right and not just abusing the word she used to describe him.

If he’d been ten to twenty years older, he’d fit the profile perfectly.

“We need to find a way to speak with Kyle Davenport,” Leonard says grimly.

“Right now,” I add.

“I’ll call that medium on the way back to Delaney Grove,” he says as we head toward the door. “And I’ll send Hadley over here to see if she can pull anything from the house,” I say on a sigh, closing the door to Burrows’s home behind me.

“Doubtful. Our unsub never leaves any trace.”

“Is that all?” Burrow shouts from behind us, and I turn to see his head poking through the door.

“For now.”

“Can I get a hotel room? I don’t feel safe right now.”

Since I don’t feel like making a scientist see a ghost story as ridiculous, I just nod.

Leonard seems distant, thoughtful even.

“What?” I ask him as we get into the car.

I don’t crank it, because I lift my iPad, bringing up pictures from the previous crime scenes.

He turns to face me. “We haven’t know we were coming here for too long. Our unsub would have had to hit sometime between our decision and our arrival at the home today.”

I nod slowly. “I thought I had something figured out, but apparently that was wrong, because now it’s impossible,” he sighs.

“What?” I ask, curious, my fingers hovering over the screen.

“Nothing that sounds sane anymore. Guess it was all just in my head. What are you looking for?” He gestures toward my iPad.

“The unsub knew Donny and I were being attacked. The unsub knew we were coming today. The unsub has known every move of his or her victims. This unsub is a watcher. There are eyes on us somewhere, and—”

My words cut out when I notice the small holes. I barely remembered them because they seemed so unimportant.

“Each house has these in almost every room,” I tell Leonard. “Except for some of the later kills the unsub sprinted through.” I gesture toward the small holes the size of a nail head.

“Too small to be a camera,” he says.

“We’ve already suspected the unsub of a much higher intelligence. What if she has this sort of technology? It’d explain how she managed to save me in time last night.”

“You’re just saying she now,” he notes.

“Everything in me is saying it was a woman.”

“I believe you,” he says absently.

“You lack the conviction in your tone that you had on the way down here.”

I put the car in drive and push my iPad away. Knowing the unsub is watching us is actually a good thing. Hadley can tap into the video stream if she can find the signal, and possibly even back-hack the unsub to find her.

“Like I said,” Leonard mumbles under his breath, “thought I knew something else.”


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