Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Webster Falls Sheriff’s Department Asks for Help in Apprehending a Killer.

The flashing words, accompanied by the steady drone of a drumbeat and the eerie sound of distant guitars, hovered above a picture that sent chills down Danielle Tyler’s back. She leaned closer to the computer screen and stared spellbound at the scene below the words. As Dean of Students at Webster University she was familiar with some of the websites her students frequented, but she’d never seen anything like this.

A young girl lay on her back, her dark hair fanned out on a pillow of mountain foliage underneath. Red-tinged leaves littered her blood-drenched clothes. Her open eyes stared upward as if offering a silent plea for release from pain.
Danielle closed her eyes for a moment to shut out the grisly scene of the girl she knew so well and reopened them to stare at Detective Jack Denton from the Webster Falls Sheriff’s Department sitting across from her desk. “H-how did you find this horrible site?”

He opened the notebook he held and glanced at a page. “A man named Harrison Coleman from Marietta, Georgia, called our department this morning. He said his son who attends Georgia Tech said the website’s become the main topic of conversation on the campus. When I pulled it up, I was surprised at what I saw.”

Danielle crossed her arms and hugged herself to suppress the icy feeling flowing through her body. “It’s given me quite a shock, too.”

“I can understand. I intended to take this to the university’s president, but when I arrived, his secretary told me he was in Asheville today. She suggested I bring it to you.”

Danielle nodded. “Dr. Newman will be back tomorrow. In the meantime, how can I help you?”

The muscle in the detective’s jaw twitched. “The website claims the girl on there is a Webster student and has been murdered.” He paused before he continued. “Our department doesn’t know anything about a murder, but we’re concerned that the scene is identical to the murder eight years ago of Jennifer McCaslin who was a student here.”

Danielle took a deep breath. “I realized that when I saw the picture.”

A frown creased his forehead. “Did you know Jennifer McCaslin?”

Danielle sank back in her chair. “We were roommates. She was murdered our senior year at Webster.” She pointed to the screen. “But this girl’s not Jennifer.”
“No, I realized that. I looked at a picture from her cold case file. We don’t know who she is.”

Danielle gritted her teeth. “She’s Tricia Peterson, a student here at Webster. She was only a child when Jennifer was killed. How would she even know about the murder?”

“I don’t know.”

Danielle glanced back at the screen. “This doesn’t make any sense.”

“We know that, but we wanted to see if anyone can give us information. From what my caller told me this morning, this thing is sweeping the country and causing panic on college campuses, not to mention the fact that it doesn’t look good that a sheriff’s office is advertising for help in catching a killer.”

Danielle frowned. “But why are students frightened by this obvious prank?”

He nodded toward the computer. “Why don’t you read what it says next?”

Danielle turned back to the computer and read the lines printed underneath the flashing heading. The Webster Falls, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Department asks for your help in the apprehension of Damien Carter, the chief suspect in the murder of Lila Barrett. The victim, a student at Webster University, was found on a Smoky Mountain trail outside of Webster Falls in September. Carter, also a student at the school, disappeared soon after the discovery of the body. Various sightings of the fugitive have been reported, but so far he has eluded capture.

Acquaintances of the suspect report the young man had become obsessed with murders on college campuses and had often threatened to wage his own rampage across the country. Having been blackballed by a fraternity, he harbors animosity against anyone belonging to a Greek organization. Students enrolled in institutions of higher learning are warned to be on the lookout for this suspected killer. If he is seen, notify the Webster Falls, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Department at once.

Danielle shook her head and frowned. “We don’t have a Lila Barrett or a Damien Carter enrolled at Webster.”

Detective Denton nodded. “I know. When I went to the president’s office, his secretary told me.”

Danielle leaned back in her chair and pointed to the screen. “I can’t believe this. Who would construct such a website?”

Jack glanced down at the notebook. “Actually we know. Our tech guys traced the Internet Service Provider and found out the owner is Flynn Carter.”

Danielle sprang from her chair. “Flynn?” she screeched. “He’s my work study student and Tricia’s boyfriend. Why would he do this?”

“That’s what I need to find out. Can you get Carter in here?”

She reached for the phone, but her hands shook so that it slipped from her fingers. Clutching it with both hands, she brought it to her ear. “Betty, would you find out what class Flynn Carter is in and get him to my office right away?” After hanging up, she glanced at the detective. “Is there anything else?”

Jack nodded. “There are pages of forensics information, a picture of the victim and killer together before the murder. There’s even a page with pictures of the suspected killer at places all across the country—Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, a museum in Oklahoma City, Graceland. It says these were sent to the department by tourists who just happened to catch him in their family vacation pictures.”

Danielle clicked on the page with the photographs and gasped. “That’s Flynn in those pictures.”

“That’s what I suspected,” Detective Denton said.

Sandra is giving away a copy of her book Mountain Peril. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book tomorrow for your chance to win!

1 comment :

  1. Sandra, I can't wait to read this one. I love all your books, and I know Mountain Peril will be no exception. Love the title, and it looks like a fabulous read!


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