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North Coast Current

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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Sunday Serial: Haunted Bones-Chapter 18


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 18

Somewhere around ten o’clock that night, the mummy was excavated from the work site, hopefully, unnoticed by any bystanders, and hauled to the Laura’s lab in Del’s dump truck. Surprisingly they were able remove the body in one piece onto the same metal sheet they had used in removing the bones in the hotel’s boiler.

Lieutenant Hastings was pleased to have been in on the action. His authority made sure patrolling police cars didn’t make any unnecessary stops by the site as this could have raised a red flag to the neighbors that something was in the wind. He also found it a pleasure to have met Sara for the first time. He was impressed with her and how she handled herself in the field. Then again, she wasn’t under strain from any haunting apparitions.

Out of curiosity, Joe got Sara off to the side and asked her if she had seen any orbs in her subconscious relating to this death. She said no and reiterated that once a murdered body had been discovered, there would be no orbs. She also told him she did not detect any more bodies meaning the place was clear of death. Joe related this to Lieutenant Hastings. He remained skeptical but was reminded of how this same phenomenon proved true at the hotel after the boiler bones were discovered and removed.

It would take several days for this mummy to be unraveled so a cause of death could be determined. It would also give them an opportunity to discover just who these bones belonged to. But, both came relatively quick. Joe and Danny were called to the lab.

“Did you ladies work overtime for us?” Joe asked Laura with a touch of humor. She laughed back.

“Well, mostly Sara. She knew you were under a lot of pressure. She’s the one who put in the hours. Thank her if you will.”

“Yes, we’ll do that. Where is she right now?”

“Working on another project. We got it last night.”

“So, what’ve you got for us?” Danny asked.

“Crushed skull. I won’t go into the details, but he was apparently hit from behind. The type of wound indicates it was a round object probably similar to a baseball bat. Whoever hit him hit him with a lot of force. Probably died within seconds; maybe minutes.”

“So you say it’s a he, huh?”

“Bone structure tells us that. He appears to be just under six feet tall.”

“Any ID by any remote chance?”

“Thought you’d never ask. We have another set of military dog tags, and we got a break. This one is legible. You can read everything: name, serial number, blood type, religion.” Laura walked over to a metal table and retrieved the tags and handed them over to Danny.

“James Custer Armstrong; serial number, blah, blah, blah; blood type O, Protestant. That’s good. At least we don’t have to have our lab guys figure it out.” Joe dropped his head and put his fingers over his eyes. He knew what Danny would say next.


“I know, I know. I’ll give her a call. But I’m not taking her to lunch!”

“Lisa?” Laura said.

“Yeah, how’d you know?”

“Sara told me.”

“She did, huh?”

“No secrets around here.”

“No, I imagine not.”

“Any idea how old this fellow was?” Danny asked Laura.

“If I had to guess based on what I see, I’d say he was in his mid-thirties. And how long he’s been wrapped like a mummy? I just don’t know. What I do know is that whoever wrapped this body was probably the same person who wrapped the other one. There were tell-tale signs showing that. However, this body doesn’t appear to be wrapped as well as the other one.”

“You could tell that from the condition we found it and how it was torn from the debris?”

“Sara figured that out. That’s her opinion.”

“And your opinion?”

“Same as hers.”

The detectives took the autopsy information and the tags back to the office and sat at their desk and pondered—and pondered and pondered and then pondered some more. With all the information they had in front of them, they hoped just one aspect would jump out and bite them—or at least jump out and nibble at them. They seemed close, but not close enough.

Joe called Lisa at NCIS and made another request. Surprisingly she didn’t balk, but wanted to know more. Joe responded, saying he would meet her somewhere on the outside where over-sensitive ears couldn’t hear them talk. He was afraid her phone might be tapped. Harrison Flynn would go crazy if he knew Lisa was passing secretive information to his nemeses.

Danny pulled all his information up on the incident board. They would go over it as many times as necessary until something jumped up and bit them. Just as they were getting into the meat of the case, Lieutenant Hastings called them to his office. What he had to say caused Danny to explode.

“You mean to tell me that Dobbins has escaped our surveillance! Damn! I can’t believe this! What the hell happened?”

“Danny, calm down, calm down,” Hastings urged. “I put out an alert. We’ll find him.” Hastings said this just loud enough to force Danny to calm down.

“What happened, Lieutenant?” Danny asked in a calmer tone.

“Apparently, he was wise to our surveillance schedule. Somewhere along the line he saw an opportunity and took off.”

“In his car?”

“No, not in his car. He just disappeared. We don’t know how he got away. We’re trying to find that out right now. We’ll catch the SOB. Gun or no gun, we’re going to arrest him for his step-mother’s murder. We’re not going to play games anymore. I think this guy can go dangerous on us. It’s time to play hardball.”

“What do you want us to do?” Danny asked.

“Nothing! What I want is for you two to get back in there and keep working on that damn hotel case. There’s nothing more you can do on the Dobbins case. We’ll catch Junior. Do you understand?”

“Roger that,” Danny said in agreement. “Okay Joe, let’s go put our thinking caps back on.”

After several hours of pondering, sifting of evidence, and hair pulling, both detectives leaned back in their chairs to take a breather. Both were worn out. They had made some progress but nothing had jumped out at them. Danny related to Joe some off-color political joke that caused Joe to laugh. A few moments later, Joe got a serious look on his face and jumped from his chair telling Danny he would return shortly. He wanted to catch Janice, the front office lady, before she left for the day.

Fifteen minutes later he returned with a photocopy of something. He handed it to Danny. He looked over the yellow highlighted area. He grinned. Boy did he grin.


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Sunday Serial: Haunted Bones-Chapter 18