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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Sunday Serial: Haunted Bones-Chapter 16


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 16

At ten o’clock sharp the following morning, eight patrol cars and one unmarked detective car pulled in front of the Dobbins house. They all got out and followed Joe and Danny to the front door. After a few loud knocks, Mrs. JUNIOR Dobbins opened the door. Dobbins himself was in the kitchen pouring a cup of coffee, seemingly unconcerned of what appeared to be half of the Oceanside Police Department standing in his front yard. Dr. Dobbins, totally oblivious to the world and what was happening, was in the back-of-the house family room, watching Fox Sunday Morning with Chris Wallace.

After Joe and Danny presented the search warrant in a stern and forceful way, they boldly made their way into the house. The uniformed officers followed, fanning out from room-to-room looking for a gun. The detectives walked to the back of the house. Joe moved into the family room when he saw Dr. Dobbins sitting on the couch with a blanket over his knees. Danny immediately walked into the kitchen and confronted JUNIOR. He stood just inches from his face hoping for an immediate confession.

“You know why we’re here?” Danny asked in a calm, yet tense voice; the veins in his neck were popping.

“No, not really. Did overhear you say something about a gun. But there’s no gun, or guns, in this house,” JUNIOR said in a sardonic tone. This really pissed Danny off; but he kept his cool.

“No? I think we’ll find one.”

“No, I don’t think you will. And will you please not tear the place apart looking for it. The maid just cleaned up yesterday.”

“Ha, you have a maid now?” Danny said with disdain.

“Yes, to help with Dad. His condition has worsened, and we need help with him. By you being here, it’s is not helping him.”

“You should have thought about that before you shot him.” By this time JUNIOR’s wife had already walked to one of the kitchen door openings and heard this. She became alarmed; but she didn’t know whether to be appalled at Danny or at her husband.

“JUNIOR, what is going on?” she asked.

“I don’t know, dear. I have no idea why they’re here.” Danny kept quiet. The damage had already been done. The wife had been in the dark.

About an hour later, no gun, and a very turned-over interior, the officers and the two detectives left the Dobbins’ home. The maid had her work cut out for her whenever she returned. There was a good chance were she’d quit. The neighbors had retreated back into their homes to begin the gossip tree. Nobody went to church or Sunday school that day.

Back at the office, Danny plopped down and leaned back in his swivel chair. He tossed his feet atop the desk and clasped his hands behind his head. Joe sat and reached into his coat pocket for an antacid tablet.

“Wha’da you think, pardner?” Joe asked with a light belch.

“Perfect! We got that sonuvabitch now.”

“You think?”

“Yeah, I do. You could see it in his eyes. He’s running scared.”

“You were close.”

“I could see it. His lower lip quivered. He knows he’s in trouble. He tried to act smug. It didn’t work.”

“Think he’ll run?”

“I think he will. Did you see the way his wife looked at him in the kitchen? I have a feeling she suspects him. She can put two-and two together.”

“You think our short encounter with her did that?” Joe asked.

“Directly, no. But indirectly, I think so,” Danny replied. Something must have happened when she told him we came by for a chat. She must’ve sensed something from his response to cause her to pause.”

“Maybe we should have tried to interview him again.”

“Probably. Don’t know it would’ve done any good, though. Besides, bodies started turning up over at the hotel and our attention got diverted. And at the time, we felt his father did the deed.”


“Well, you started to convince me later otherwise,” Danny said. I’ll admit I should have read the evidence a little better. But it makes no difference now. We know who did it. Is the surveillance team in place?”

“Like white on rice,” Joe quipped. “He’ll know we’re on top of him as planned.”

“Good, now we wait. Have you heard from Lisa at NCIS yet?”

“Yeah, I did as a matter of fact. She called me earlier this morning. Meant to tell you but we got busy with the warrant and all and it slipped my mind.”


“Our boiler-bones guy was reported AWOL on June 12, 1972. Nobody has seen him since.”

“No wonder. He was being cooked. Anything else?”

“He was twenty-one years old … was scheduled to ship out to Vietnam that week,” Joe said looking down at his notebook.

“Makes sense,” Danny reckoned.”

“We’ve got a body from the early fifties, the mid-sixties, and now the early seventies,” Joe gestured with his fingers. “This hotel murder business has been going on for a long time. They checked in, but didn’t check out.”

“More than twenty years,” Danny said in agreement.

“What a mess,” Joe sighed. “Look, let’s go grab some lunch and come back and go over our notes and draw up some sort of a timeline. Let’s also scrutinize our interview notes from the hotel workers. Those folks were all at the hotel during those years. They’ve got to know something. We’ve got to look at this from a new angle.”

“Let’s go eat,” Danny said, jumping up from his chair.

When the officers returned from lunch, they met Lieutenant Hastings in the squad room. It was unusual for him to be there on a Sunday afternoon. But he knew Danny and Joe were working and wanted to get a handle on their progress.

“How did the search warrant go this morning?” Hastings asked.

“Great! We put the fear of God in him. He’ll break,” Danny said, assuredly.”

“Tear the place up?”

“Didn’t rip anything apart, but, yeah, we left a mess,” Joe chimed in. “Mrs. Dobbins wasn’t too pleased, but that’s what we wanted. She’ll be more upset with her husband because he’s the one who actually caused it.”

“Think so?” Hastings asked.

“I do,” Danny reckoned. “Besides, I think their marriage is on the rocks. I could sense it by the look on her face and in her eyes. I think since our interview with her, she’s been asking her husband questions and getting runaround answers. Who knows, maybe the old man, Dr. Dobbins, said something that made her think twice about what happened.”

“By the way, how’s he doing?” Hastings asked.

“He remained quiet during the search. I pretty much stayed with him while it was going on. But his eyes did move around a lot. You could almost hear his mind clicking, but nothing came out,” Joe said.

“You got a tail on the son, right,” Hastings asked.

“We do. We told our guys to stay close. We wanted him to know we’re there. Sooner or later, he’ll mess up.”

“I assume you didn’t find the gun?”

“No, no we didn’t. But to tell you the truth I didn’t think we would. The intent was to scare him; letting him know we know. But we definitely got Mrs. Dobbins’ attention,” Danny said.

“Well, I hope your theory pans out. You back on the hotel case?”

“We are. Getting ready to run a detailed timeline, compare interviews — you know the gambit. We did get some new info on our boiler guy. It appears he was stuffed in the boiler sometime in mid-June, 1972.”

“Figured those boilers out, yet?” Hastings asked.

“We’ll be working on that, too,” Danny replied.

“Okay, good work. Keep plugging. Things seem to be coming together. You’ll come up with something.”

“I hope so. This case has really been a bombshell,” Danny said.

Later that afternoon while going over the hotel time-line, Joe dropped his pen and began rubbing his tired eyes. Last night’s dinner and wine were catching up with him. Danny laughed, making some off-color joke. Joe just shook his head. After some idle chit-chat over nothing, Joe’s cell phone rang. He picked it up off the desk and looked at the number before answering. It was Del Torrance.

“I wonder what the hell he wants,” Joe said.

“Won’t know ‘til you answer it.”

It was a very short conversation. All Danny heard Joe say was, “Okay Del, calm down. We’re on our way. We’ll be there in ten.”

“Now what?”

“Del was upset, real upset.”

“I think I could figure that out,” said, half-chuckling. “What’s he upset about?”

“Pardner, we got more trouble. Del just found another body in that apartment building he was tearing down. Another mummy!”

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Sunday Serial: Haunted Bones-Chapter 16