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Don't forget the murder...

Assos
Assos

The noise from the cracking window woke her up from her deep sleep. She felt confused from the sudden incident. It took her a few minutes to realise where she was and how did she get there. The last thing she could remember was the sound of a breath close to her ear and a strong unfamiliar smell coming to her nose. She can hardly remember some words coming from the person behind her but his raucaus voice and her disturbed memory didn't help.

A few years ago she had an accident when she was driving her car in the middle of Athens. It was raining heavily and that made her miss a light and also lose the control of the car. She crushed it in the middle of a bookstore which was completely destroyed as was her memory. After the accident she could hardly remember anything except for her 10year old daughter, who she loved too much to forget. Though some memories from the past have returned, doctors are unable to diagnose when she will be fully recovered or even if shes going to get her memory back at all. They were also unable to say what incidents her brain tends to block out. So somedays she could remember some things and other days she felt completely lost. Fortunately for her, her daughter is always by her side to remind her when she forgets.

Suddenly the window cracking interrupted her thoughts. She looked around her. She couldn't see much because the only light coming into the strange room was from the full moon outside the window, which was too high for her to reach. Then her mind started to recognise the room, the furniture around her.It felt so familiar but she just couldn't remember.Unexpectedly, her heart started beating fast, she felt her entire body paralyzing from fear. Tears were running down her face when she finally remembered.
If only she could see her daughter again she thought. The window cracked once again to interrupt her thoughts. And then... the sound of a breath...

When I arrived at the office everything seemed different than other days. Everyone was running around from office to office, phone calls and discussions were filling t

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Assos
Assos

When I arrived at the office everything seemed different than other days. Everyone was running around from office to office, phone calls and discussions were filling the agency with an unordinary noise. In the backgound at my boss's office I saw two policemen and my assistant George talking to my boss. It seemed as if everyone were talking all together so I doubt anyone understood what the other one was saying. George turned his head and spotted me between the crowd. Then he started running towards me with my boss following behind him.'' Finally you arrived!!'' He shouted. ''What's going on here?? Why all this fuzz??''
I asked. '' Something terrible has happened!! Come to my office. Me and the policemen will explain everything to you.. We need your help! George, make sure noone disturbs us!!'' said Larry, my boss. As I followed him to his office some kind of agony overcame me.. What could have happened??

Sara Charming
Sara Charming

The phone rang at 5:07 am. I remember, because I let the call roll to voicemail and I saved the message after I heard it. Detective Jennings sounded a little more tightly wound than he usually did. And that's saying something.
"Sara, this is Jennings. We need your help. We're set up at the detective agency that's in the old drugstore loft. You know, the one on Main. We need you for the usual reason. Yes, the PD has sourced this one out, and yes, we need you to do the paperwork for us. Plus, another set of eyes never hurt. Really, call me when you get this."
Thank goodness the PD still had enough sense to let some real detectives do the work. Besides, since when have they ever done anything in a 'timely fashion'?
Detective Robert Jennings and I had know each other for 7 years, ever since he transferred from the Special Interests Unit in the big city. Now, he was one rung below the top of the ladder on the local SIU. He was a pretty decent detective himself, but even he wasn't prideful enough to try and solve some cases on his own. I was hoping this case wouldn't be as difficult as some he had called for help on in the past.

I walked into the agency and greeted Jennings. He promptly introduced me to a gentleman who looked as though he ran the place, simply because he had that fatherly sternness about him.
"Larry, this is Sara Charming, she's the Independent Detective that will handle dealing with the PD's red tape. Sara, this is Larry, he's the boss here."
Larry grasped my hand warmly, and with a firm nod said "Follow me and I'll introduce the detectives you'll be working with while you're here. George, Assos?"
Two men were bent over a table in a conference room, laying out photos and documents. Both looked serious, but kind. At the sound of Larry saying their names, they both looked up.
"I'm Assos, nice to meet you." Said the first as he reached for a cup of coffee with one hand and shook my extended hand with the other. "I'm Sara, and likewise." "George." Said the other with a nod and a smile from the far end of the room. As I returne

Sara Charming
Sara Charming

returned the greeting, Larry broke in.
"Well, let's see what we have so far."

Sara Charming
Sara Charming

George pulled a dry erase board up to the head of the table and flipped it over to the cork board on the other side. He began picking up documents from the table and pinning them as he went.
"At 12:20 last night, a domestic disturbance was called in on Shallowend Road in Westfield." He held up the transcript of the call in his hand as he spoke and then pinned it to the board. "One of the neighbors of the scene of disturbance called it in. She said that there were loud banging noises, followed by a scraping sound. After that, she heard yelling, which lasted throughout the call, followed by one short scream. You can hear it in the background on the tape."
"When did the disturbance end?" I asked.
"About three minutes before the police arrived. The neighbor had stayed on the phone waiting for police to arrive. When the police got there, there was no one at the residence. The neighbor didn't see anyone drive away from the direction of the house, but there's a connecting road that goes in the opposite direction. Evidence of a struggle was found, as the backdoor glass was broken out, and upon entering the home the officers decided to call in backup and an investigation crew. Blood was spattered on the door frame, so they knew someone had been hurt. The house belongs to a Miranda Lask."
He picked up a blown up copy of a driver's license. Pin. He paused to pick up a second stack of stapled papers. Pin. "Then, at 12:35, another call came in, this time 10 miles away in Collins Village on Underpass Road. Neighbors called in thinking a robbery was happening next door. When police arrived, they saw nobody home initially, just as before, but decided to search the home for anyone upon seeing more blood and strewn furniture. Inside, they found a man lying unconscious, badly beaten and bloody. He's now in ICU. He is the owner of the residence, a Charlie King." Again with the driver's license copy. Pin.
"When he woke up, he was frantic, tried to pull out the vent tube. Nurses tried to tell him he was safe, thinking that the victim still thought he was in the fight. Wh

Sara Charming
Sara Charming

When he gestured like he was writing, they handed him a notepad and a pen. This is what he wrote." A yellow page from a legal pad with scrawled handwriting. Pin. Someone came in and tapped Assos on the shoulder; he followed them out. "He thumped the page until the nurses told him they didn't know where his daughter was, and they didn't know he had a daughter until that moment. When this sunk in, he wept, and almost coded. He is in an induced coma until he heals some. His brain is somewhat swollen from the beating and he has a couple cracked ribs. Other then that, they're still trying to see what all is wrong, so medically speaking it's for the best he's unconscious for now. For us, not so much."
A blown up school picture. Pin. "Lauraine King is the 10 year old daughter of Miranda Lask and Charlie King. The couple has been divorced for 3 years now, and shares joint custody of Lauraine. Neither Lauraine nor her mother have been seen since the calls last night. A BOLO and an Amber Alert have been put out for Miranda and Lauraine. Right now, this is being ruled as a kidnapping, and right now we have no suspects. "
"We may have one," Assos said as he walked back into the room. "Miranda Lask's background check just came in. We're still waiting on King's. She was the Lask involved in the really bad accident on Adonis Street in Athens 11 years ago. Remember, the one that shut the middle of Athens down for two weeks while they made sure the structure of the shared buildings were still intact? Well, apparently King wasn't her first husband. She had been previously married to a Marvin Clayson. After the wreck, she checked herself out of the hospital. She had forgotten she was married to King, and instead went and found Clayson, who was more than happy to have her in his home again for the 4 days it took King to find her. About a year later, Lauraine was born. It lists King as the father on the birth certificate. Here, pin these."

Background paperwork. Pin. Accident folder full of photos. Pin. Hospital release forms for Miranda King. Pin. Divorce filed by M

Sara Charming
Sara Charming

Background paperwork. Pin. Accident folder full of photos. Pin. Hospital release forms for Miranda King. Pin. Divorce filed by Miranda Clayson on grounds of "Cruel Refusal and Neglect to Provide Suitable Support And Maintenance". Pin. Divorce papers jointly filed by Miranda and Charles King on grounds of "Irreconcilable Differences". Pin. Birth Certificate of Lauraine Adelaide King. Pin. Map of Northwood County. Pin, pin, pin, pin. 1545 Shallowend Road. Pin. 3656 Underpass Road. Pin. DeLacey Elementary School. Pin. Prestin Electric Company, workplace of Charlie King. Pin. Salt Print Co., workplace of Miranda Lask. Pin.

So many pins, and none of it made sense. George flipped the board back over to the dry erase side and made a list of things to search for. Immediate family of Lask and King. Address and background on Clayson. Police reports in the county and surrounding counties that threw a red flag.

After all this, Jennings, Assos and I decided to go over to the crime scenes and then to the places of work and school of the Lask/King family. To think, it was only 6:30 and the day was already long.

Sara Charming
Sara Charming

We first stopped at Miranda Lask's house. She had owned the house for two years, and had never missed a payment. The lot backed up to a field, which looked like it hadn't been cut all summer. The sawgrass had grown up about two feet high in the field, but the lot itself was well kept. A line of evergreen trees separated Miranda's property from her neighbors, and the neighbor had a hedgerow on the other side, adding to the density of the barrier. This is what had kept the neighbor from seeing what was happening. The house sat atop a slight slope, which made the driveway a little steep. Lauraine probably loved sledding down it during the winters. We walked up the driveway, past the tech vans and the workers. One of the techs guided us to the backdoor of the residence, and we saw where the backdoor glass had been shattered. We walked inside, careful to not disturb anything, even though the techs had already combed everything and moved pieces out of place. At this point, we were trying to find anything that may tell us what or who happened upon this quiet house last night. We felt like we were walking through a memory... Any fracture at all ruins the integrity.

Assos looked inside of Miranda's desk in her office. In one of the side drawers, he found a checkbook. This would give us a good place to start with her personal expenses, and we could contact the bank for further transactions.

I had only one thing I was looking for, and on the bedside table I found it: Miranda's purse. We took the whole thing to the kitchen to examine it and inside we found all the normal accoutrements of a woman's daily life; Her wallet, still full of cash but missing her debit card and maybe a credit card, we would have to see; Lipstick, glasses, headache pills, hand sanitizer... and a little black day planner. Deciding we had found all we could, we decided to find a cafe and do a little research with the help of WiFi and coffee.

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