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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Sunday Serial: Haunted Bones-Chapter 15


Authors note: This is a work of fiction. It does not reflect any actual events, and all of the characters are fictional. Any similarity to events or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.There is a real city of Oceanside, California. It’s San Diego County’s third largest city with a below-average crime rate.
The Grand Pacific Hotel is fictional, but during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there were at least two similar resort hotels that did exist, primarily serving railroad passengers and tourists as described in this book.

— Tom Morrow

Chapter 15

“Private First Class Harold B. Stacy, USMC, home address: 431 State Street, Kansas City, Kansas. Blood type: B. His serial number was basically unreadable. Think you can handle it from here, Danny?” said Bob Overby, head of the lab.

“Yeah, I think so,” Danny said dropping his breath. He looked over at Joe. He didn’t want to let on to Bob it would be more difficult than meets the eye.

The reason being was that asking for further information would require another contact with NCIS. They already had asked for help once; asking again was akin to asking for trouble—big trouble. This time they would demand to be included with the investigation—and nobody in the OPD wanted that to happen. The last time they had worked together, things got heated and caused a riff. To this day the relationship remains frosty. However, there was one avenue of approach that might work: Lisa Cummings. She worked under Harrison Flynn at NCIS. Joe once dated her.

When the detectives returned to office to sort things out for their weekend work, Danny approached Joe about calling her.

“Damn, Danny! Isn’t there another way we can do this?”

“I don’t know. You tell me?”

“Why don’t we just go down there and break into the damn place. I know where everything is. I can find what we need.”

“Yeah, right. They’ll be all over us like mustard on a hotdog. Then what? Hell, we’ll all be in hot water. You know that won’t work.”

“But damn!”

“You told me you got along fine with her.”

“Well, we did get along fine up until I broke it off. She did get a little hostile with me.”

“That’s understandable. But have you spoken to her since?”

“Just a few times in passing.”

“And how did that go?”

“I guess it went all right. She wasn’t hostile.”

“Then you don’t have anything to worry about. Come on, give her a call. Use your charm.”

“Hell, the last time I used my charm, she hit me.”

“Ah, come on. The department needs you. You know we can’t let NCIS in on the deal. It would turn into chaos again. Remember last time?”

“Putting the guilt on me, are you?”

“Damn right I am!”

“Looks like I have no choice.”

“Nope. Give her a call. Meet her for lunch tomorrow.”

“I’ll see how it goes. What time you want to meet in the morning?” Joe asked.

“Around nine. We’ll have a long day.”

“Mind if I come in after lunch.”

“What, you got a long night planned? Oh yeah, that’s right! You got a date with Sara.”


“That nice quaint Italian joint near the beach, huh?”


“Anything else planned?”

“You never know.”

“Okay, all right. Go have fun. I’ll see you after lunch.”

“I’m not looking forward to seeing Lisa.”

“You’ll get through it. The department needs you in this time of crisis.”


The following afternoon around three o’clock, Joe waltzed into a quiet office. Danny was leaning back in his chair studying some papers with his reading glasses hanging halfway down his nose. His feet were propped up on his desk next to a half-eaten Big Mac. The fries were history.

“How’d it go?” asked Danny.

“With who?”

“Well, let’s start with Sara.”

“Great time! That place has the best veal parmesan. None better anywhere else in the world.”

“Put you in the mood, huh?”

“Damn right.”

“How did it go with Lisa?”

“Not so good. I had to eat a lot of crow.”

“Put enough ketchup on it?”

“Yeah, I had to suffer through it.”

“That bad, huh?

“She enjoyed it. Told me my breaking up with her was the best thing that ever happened to her.”

“Oh shit.”

“Yeah. Said if I hadn’t broken up with her, she would’ve never found her new boyfriend, er, I mean fiancé. She really poured it on.”

“A real beating, huh?”

“Yeah, but I hung in there for God, country, and the OPD.”

“Good boy! Is she going to help us?”

“Yeah, she is. Said she would have something for us later this afternoon. She just wants to cover her ass so Harrison doesn’t find out. Makes sense. Certainly don’t want that sonuvabitch in on the deal. But the fact is, Lisa doesn’t like him too much either. Said he’s a pain in the ass to work with. So in a sense, she’s getting payback. She knows he was the one who caused all that trouble awhile back.”

“He was a jerk. No doubt about it.”

“Did you fill Lisa in on why we needed this to be kept quiet?”

“Hell, I had to. She said if I didn’t, she would tell Harrison. I had no choice. But I chose my words carefully. I didn’t tell her exactly how we found the bones. You know, with Sara and all.”

“Good move there. Anything else?”

“That’s about it,” Joe said looking at the half-eaten burger. Danny noticed.

“You still hungry?”

“That crow tasted like shit. Do you mind?”

“No, but you might want to shove it in the microwave.”

While Joe was taking a lazy Saturday morning with Sara, and then having a crappy lunch with Lisa, Danny was totally absorbed with the evidence. He had been making phone calls and working on a detail timeline of the Dobbins case. There were still some lingering questions; however, he did discover one piece of evidence that, for the most part, exonerated Dr. Dobbins and his bullet wound: Even though he played golf right-handed, everything else he did was left-handed. It was improbable for him to create the bullet trajectory that caused the wound to his abdomen. No, make that impossible. Besides, there were no burn marks on his body from the muzzle blast. Whoever shot him had to have been some distance away. Four feet, maybe?

In the beginning, Danny was fairly certain the doctor had committed this crime. As a matter of fact, he convinced himself he had done it even though Joe had pointed out various discrepancies. But the Boykin interview was the turning point. Now all he was doing was convincing himself, in an objectionable manner, that the good doctor’s son was, in fact, the culprit—and revenge was the motive. His brutal beating of his step-mother was beyond reproach, and Danny wanted pay back—for her. But for the moment, he wanted JUNIOR Dobbins in the pokey. Danny called an assistant district attorney to discuss the case.

After Joe had microwaved and eaten the remains of a half-eaten burger, a bag of vending machine potato chips, and gulped down a bottle of water, Danny relayed to Joe his conversation with the DA.

“So there is enough evidence to arrest him without talking to the banker or any of Dobbins’ investors?” Joe asked.

“There is. However the case still remains weak. What we really need to do to is find that gun. If we don’t, and still take him to court, a smart defense attorney will chew our asses up. Besides, if we do go ahead and arrest him, there’s a better than a 50 percent chance he’ll make bail, which will make things more difficult for us trying to find the gun. He’ll ditch it in a heartbeat.”

“So you’re thinking we do a search warrant first?”

“I do. I believe for the moment he thinks he’s in the clear. The gun very well might be nearby. If we pounce right now, we’ll put the fear of God in him. He’ll immediately know we’re after his ass. We’ll catch him off-guard; and if we get lucky, we might actually find the gun. We get the gun, we got him.”

“Interesting tactic. But what if we don’t find the gun? Then what?”

“We’ll keep a tail on him. Somewhere along the line, he’ll screw up. I just know it. He thinks he’s smart; he isn’t. He thought he committed the perfect crime; he didn’t. He believes he escaped a murder charge; he won’t. And I’m going to make damn sure he doesn’t. He’s nothing more than a narcissus self-righteous murderer who needs to be caught.”

“Damn, Danny! You really want this guy.”

“You’re damn right I do! Every time I see the photos of Mrs. Dobbins’ bloody body lying on that bed with her skull cracked wide open, I get angry. Nobody should die like that. Nobody!”

“It’s horrible. When do you want to serve the warrant?”

“In the morning. Ten o’clock.”

“It’s Sunday.”

“I know. And all his neighbors will be home and see us. They’ll come out of their houses and start asking questions. And we’ll be there to tell them what we’re doing. Young Dobbins’ life, as he once knew it, will turn for the worst. By the time he gets to really know me, he’ll wish he’d committed suicide.”

For the rest of the afternoon, they set the criteria for the search warrant and lined up a number of officers who will look for the gun. At least eight two-man black and white units will park in front of the Dobbins house. A few officers would remain outside simply telling the neighbors, “We’re conducting a search warrant. There’s nothing you can do. Please return to your homes.”

In as much as the GP’s Haunted Bones case was concerned, they didn’t spend much time discussing it. The subject of the boilers came up briefly but just decided to tackle that question tomorrow after the search warrant had been served. But in all honesty, Danny and Joe didn’t really think they’d find the gun—they just wanted to scare the hell out of Dobbins. After they did, they would return to the office and discuss the hotel case and the hotel boilers. But, for the moment, the Dobbins case remained paramount.

Around five o’clock they had their search warrant in hand with everything lined up. The two detectives decided to call it a day even though they had not heard back from Lisa at NCIS. Danny headed to his house for what would probably be last night’s left-overs. Yolanda had taken the kids to a movie and told Danny to fend for himself. Hopefully he could kick back in his lounge chair and grab a nap before they returned.

Joe, on the other hand, headed back to Sara’s condo. She was broiling a beef tenderloin and making a horseradish sauce. Two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon were lying in a small countertop wine rack. Three bottles had been there, but Sara took the notion to open one and have a glass—or two— while cooking.

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Sunday Serial: Haunted Bones-Chapter 15