Confessing to the Cowboy - By Carla Cassidy
Sheriff Cameron Evans was tired of finding women dead in their beds. He stood in the doorway of Dorothy Blake’s small bedroom and took in the tragic scene before him. It was definitely a bad start to a new week.
A light breeze fluttered the blue-flowered curtains hanging at the open window, blowing in the cold November early morning air.
Dorothy was clad in a pale pink nightgown and covered by a blue bedspread. Blood stained the spread around her neck but without that telltale sign it would appear that Dorothy slept peacefully. Her eyes were closed and her features showed no sign of stress.
Cameron tightened his hands into fists as two of his men wearing paper booties moved in to collect any evidence that might lead to a clue to the killer. He had little hope that they’d find anything. Two previous deaths in the same manner had yielded nothing. The murderer was smart and meticulous in his efficiency. Get in, slit the throat of a sleeping woman and then get out, leaving nothing behind for law enforcement to work with.
The window appeared to be intact, suggesting that it had been unlocked and had provided easy access. Cameron’s frustration grew as he thought of the town hall meeting where he’d cautioned all women living alone to make sure their windows and doors were locked at all times. Apparently there had been some at the meeting who weren’t paying attention.
“Where’s the kid?” Cameron asked. He’d been told before he’d arrived on scene that the body had been discovered by a teenage kid.
“In the kitchen with the dog,” Deputy Adam Benson said from behind Cameron. “He’s pretty freaked out.”
“I can imagine,” Cameron replied. He moved past Adam and headed down the hallway to the kitchen. There was nothing more he could do in the bedroom. His team was well trained and the coroner stood by to move in after the crime-scene team had taken their photos and done their work. In the meantime he had to speak to Jeffrey Lawrence, the young man who had found Dorothy an hour earlier.
Dorothy’s kitchen was painted a cheerful bright yellow, with white and yellow gingham curtains hanging at the window. Despite the day’s chill the sunshine streamed into the windows with welcome heat that battled with the cold air drifting down the hallway from the bedroom.
Jeff Lawrence sat at the small, wooden kitchen table, his blue eyes red-rimmed as he hugged a wiggly, small furry mutt close to his chest.
“I can’t get the picture of her out of my head,” he said as he swallowed hard in an obvious effort not to cry. “It’s like burned in my brain...all that blood and the smell.”
“I’m sorry you had to experience that. What were you doing here so early in the morning?” Cameron took the seat opposite the young man at the table.
“It’s my job...to walk Twinkie every morning before I go to school. I’m a senior and trying to save up some extra money for college.” Twinkie whined at the sound of her name and licked the underside of Jeff’s pointy chin.
“How long have you had this arrangement with Dorothy?”
“Since the beginning of summer. She and my mom are good friends and that’s how I know...knew Dorothy.” His eyes welled up with tears once again. “My mom is going to be so upset about all of this.”
Cameron waited a minute for the kid to get himself back under control and then continued, “How did you enter the house this morning?”
“I have my own key. Sometimes Dorothy worked the night shift at the Cowboy Café and she’d sleep in late in the mornings. If she didn’t answer when I knocked, then I used my key to come in and usually found Twinkie on the foot of her bed. Whenever Twinkie saw me she’d jump down and we’d go for our morning walk.”
“Is that what happened this morning?”
Jeff’s head bobbed like one of those big-headed dolls people put on their dashboards or desks. “Everything was the same as usual. I knocked on the door and when Dorothy didn’t answer I went ahead and let myself in. I walked down the hallway to her bedroom and Twinkie was curled up at her feet, just like usual. But this morning Twinkie didn’t jump off the bed when she saw me. She just whined and whined and I thought maybe she was hurt. So, I walked over to her and that’s when I noticed the blood...and the smell. I didn’t touch Dorothy,