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Sep 20, 2013


Located just north of Boston, Nashua, New Hampshire, is known as a quiet cityuntil a series of violent murders makes front page news just before Memorial Day weekend. The brutal killings leave citizens terrified, and the NH State Police respond by bringing in an experienced investigator.

Detective Sergeant John Osborne is an abrasive but competent state trooper from the major crimes unit. Osborne immediately butts heads with Detective David Boyle, his liaison to the Nashua police department.

Both men begin investigating the grisly murders, which seemingly happened with absolutely no apparent connection except for the killer placing a white pillowcase over the victims head and tying the end of it off in a knot around the neck.

As if the killer didnt want to see the victims face, the skull is pummeled rendering them unrecognizable. Nothing is as it seems as both investigators clash every step of the way. Their own personal dislike and inter-departmental hostility for each other threatens to jeopardize the investigation. Ironically, both of them might actually be closer to the truth than they realize upon learning of an eerily similar crime committed in Maryland the year before. In fact, the killer has already decided that one of them must become the next victim.

Sep 20, 2013

Informazioni sull'autore

Christopher Murphy is a former police officer and native of New Hampshire. He has been on active duty in the United States Marine Corps for the last fourteen years. He currently lives in North Carolina with his wife, Donna, and their six daughters.

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Nashua - Christopher Murphy

Copyright © 2013 Christopher Murphy.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Abbott Press books may be ordered through booksellers or by contacting:

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Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

ISBN: 978-1-4582-1111-8 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4582-1110-1 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-4582-1109-5 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2013915454

Abbott Press rev. date: 3/24/2014



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5


To Donna-my inspiration from you

can never truly be measured



T he sound of struck skull is indescribable. That first melon thud when the pipe connects releases such a thrill, adrenaline fueled joy, that each whack that follows comes faster and harder only to try to recapture this feeling. James Ronan’s skull being the object of obliteration maybe made that feeling even better, knowing that greasy mullet would soon resemble road kill, a public service had probably been done this evening. The publicity of this victim would bring the memory of James Ronan to many minds, but very few would miss him in a sorrowful sense. No, more would ponder wow, I knew that scumbag would get it sooner or later, but I’da guessed he’d be floating up from the Merrimack with a needle in his ahm.

James Ronan. Who was he? James or Jimmy to the people who knew him was a local guy who just went from job to job. He was called Jimmy by those who liked him, and by those who didn’t. The didn’t like him crowd definitely out numbered the group that did like him. It didn’t really matter though. Jimmy was a decent guy until he drank and that was most of the time. He alienated enough people and it seemed that he was the type of guy who would never change and would never leave the city where he was from. He was born in Nashua, went to school in Nashua, worked in Nashua, and he would die in Nashua. Such was the cycle of his life.

Jimmy was one of those guys who couldn’t escape the 80’s. His black mullet and thin mustache time capsuled him in the glory days of high school. He stood a lanky six feet tall, had a crater face that could grease a frying pan and was not a very physically imposing person. He blended in with all the other big hair band fags in his Def Lepard and Van Halen t-shirts. At 37 he was still living with his parents in the room above the garage on Concord Street. The once grand Victorian neighborhood housed many Jimmy’s and their aging disappointed parents.

The fleeting idea of potential for their son had vanished years ago when the drinking and series of petty arrests began, and they had since resolved into quiet understanding that their only son had followed the trench of white trash. Occasionally Jimmy would stumble upon some tramp stoned or drunk enough to follow him to his room above the garage, but beyond that fumbling sticky 90 second encounter, he had never actually had a relationship to call his own. This probably was a good thing since Jimmy fit the Lifetime TV stereotype to be a misunderstood-slut-beater or crazy-chain smoking-stalker or whatever the white trash womanizing trend was that week.

Within the old Wellston Tannery Mill where Jimmy worked was a horrible clean up project. The contaminated riverbanks and grounds around the building were full of dyes, chemicals, various pollutants, and the asbestos that had been shedding away from the old building. The hazardous waste removal bill was going to be high. Once the poisons were identified within and around the building they would be eventually removed but a lot of work internally needed to be done first since the mill closed in the early 1970’s and had been host to, homeless vagrants, gangs and crack heads since. Who better to hire for this shit job than guys like Jimmy Ronan, guys who just didn’t care. He would be paid cash and throw around the title of Independent Contractor even to the yah rights! laughing in his face at the bars. Doing these odd jobs nobody in their right mind would do was the only way Jimmy would make any money. He made enough for the bars, for his dime bags, for the 4 cinder blocks he dreamed to hold up some wicked awesome ’89 Firebird he would one day restore, but not enough to find his own place to live.

As Jimmy worked alone inside the old brick mill he was reliving a few nights ago, his most recent arrest and giggling to himself until he remembered the mess he became after falling on his face. With the heat rising up his dirt caked sweaty neck, he decided it was his right to file a complaint against the police. Dollar signs flashed before him and he was nodding and muttering to himself over all the intelligent arguments he would give the judge, swaying everyone to sympathize for his victimization. It didn’t matter he was beyond wasted, being the asshole townie tossing chairs in the bar and then puking in the decorative palm by the door.

Dusk began to creep up on the old Tannery as Jimmy worked and strategized how to blow up his police brutality claim. Lost in thought, he hadn’t noticed his co-workers shuffling out. Only a few lights operated inside and it was getting hard to see. Some ambient light began to show through the dirty windows from the streetlights outside and it was suddenly oddly quiet, so quiet he could tip his head by the cracked window and hear the rush of the Nashua River as it fed into the Merrimack under the hum of commuter traffic. These old mill buildings were constructed of stone and brick walls and wooden 2x4 boards. Old piping was everywhere along the walls and ceilings. Along the east wall, which ran along the river, was where Jimmy was working. Old electrical junction boxes with obsolete wiring and vacuum tubes were being pulled out to make space for all the new electrical conduits scheduled to be installed during the fall.

Walking swift and sure a solitary figure silently approached the room where Jimmy was in. Dressed in dark clothing he was slightly camouflaged in the darkening mill. He looked around ensuring that nobody else was working inside, nobody but Jimmy. Through the dirty windows the parking lot even showed the only thing left now was Jimmy’s blue 10 speed chained to the light post. Before crossing the threshold to the room where Jimmy worked, he quickly pulled the latex gloves over his hands. The powder inside of them slightly puffed out from around his wrists after they snapped on. They fit snuggly and would serve the intended purpose. What was left of the dim light was fading fast and Jimmy was gathering his thermos and acid washed jean jacket. The killer had been watching for some time, studying the day-to-day work habits of Jimmy and his co-workers. He spent many hours observing the route to the mill Jimmy took and where inside he worked. During working hours the killer would don the coveralls of the day laborers to better observe, be close to his target, giving him a rush of adrenaline. He had studied Jimmy long enough and tonight was the opportunity he had been waiting for.

It had all been nearly too easy, the killer entered the mill through a side entrance by cutting the lock. This would keep him from being noticed by any vehicles passing by the front of the mill or by anyone who might be loitering outside in the main parking lot. With all the noise Jimmy was making it was easy to know exactly where he was. Up on the third floor was a perfect place to do it. It was isolated, deserted, and Friday night. With luck Jimmy wouldn’t be found for a couple of days. It was perfect.

As Jimmy was kicking his mid-morning break, lunch break & afternoon break beer cans into a pile he realized someone was standing nearby. The person stayed in the shadows just outside of the doorway enough for Jimmy to see the outline of him and not much else. There were lights were behind the person and they were obscuring his face.

Shit man! said Jimmy quickly, You startled me. With a bit of a smirk on his face he threw his jean jacket over one shoulder and wiped a bit of sweat from his forehead with his right arm sleeve, thermos in hand.

What’s going on? said Jimmy as he tried to see who was hovering there, silent. Jimmy was squinting and bent forward just a bit to try to see, but the person wouldn’t respond to him.

Hey… . Hello! Jimmy shouted, this time annoyed at the reluctance of the person just standing there, Yo, dude what’s the matter?

Still, the person stood there almost defiantly, not responding and not moving.

All-right-what-the-fuck? demanded Jimmy who was clearly put off by this person and started to step forward, What the fuck do you want? Jimmy started to step forward to get a look at who ever this was mocking him.

Jimmy was about ten feet away when the person standing there lunged forward like a cat. Before he could do anything the killer’s gloved right hand was around his throat squeezing it with almost inhuman strength. The thermos dropped and rolled across the floor, the jacket fell in a pile as Jimmy reached up with both hands to remove it, but before he could pry the fingers loose the right boot of the stranger kicked him in the lower abdomen with such force Jimmy crumpled to the floor into a fetal position. There was no scream, no sound, the wind was knocked right out of him. His face was beat red and he gasped for air. His eyes bulged out of his head. This agony kept him down and all his energy went into rolling onto his right side. Jimmy tried to look up, to see the face of the ass-clown he was going to beat later on when suddenly something struck the left side of his head.

There was the sound. The killer relished it, held his breath, held the moment. Jimmy was totally disoriented by the pain. White light flashed behind his eyes. His hands fell to the floor and he closed his eyes just a bit, but another blow to the same spot closed them for good. Jimmy was down. The killer let the ecstasy run through his limbs and then retrieved a white pillowcase from his left pocket. The pillowcase was carefully placed over Jimmy’s head and the bottom of it was twisted and then knotted around his neck. Jimmy lay there motionless, feeling as though an eternity was passing. The killer watched, and after about a minute or two Jimmy started to groan slightly. The killer grasped his metal pipe in his right hand while he stood over Jimmy. The pipe was a metal pipe approximately 24 inches long. The pillowcase started to slightly move as Jimmy tried to lift his head.

Goodbye Jimmy, he said, You piece of shit. With that the stranger struck him again in the head. Again and again he followed that up with several more brutal strikes. The sickening sound of a skull cracking filtered inside the old office within the Wellston Mill. The pillowcase was soaked in dark blood and brain matter. The killer continued over and over until he felt he was striking soft melon with a spoon. Silence again filled the mill, only the sounds of the killers steady breathing hung in the stuffy air and outside life went on as normal.

No movement or sound came from Jimmy. The killer didn’t really know how many times he struck with the pipe. It didn’t matter though. He did what he came here to do. He looked at the blood dripping down the pipe and at the pillowcase that crudely kept the splatter to a minimum. He calmly walked to the cracked window, cranked it open a few inches more and threw the pipe into the river. It hit with a splash and it was gone, sunk in about seven feet of filthy water. Such a small action, so small it would never be noticed or accounted for. Commuter traffic moved along on the road, but the flow wasn’t very heavy at this point. Most of the weekend travelers were already home, some getting ready to go out, to live. The river flowed slowly, there was a breeze in the air and he didn’t care if the pipe was found or not. If it ever was, it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter at all.

The killer stepped around the pool of blood and bag of mush that used to be Jimmy and strode out of the building as confidently as he had entered, turning off the lights as he went. The latex gloves were still on and he would be careful not to remove them until he was long gone. Soon the rats that populated this old mill would make their way into here and feast on Jimmy. It would cause an even greater mess and evidence collection would become difficult. The rats would eat him. As he stepped into the night air he looked around again to be sure no one saw him. The killer left the building and walked north away from the mill.

Monday May 24

Detective David Boyle had worked at Nashua PD for about 13 years. Working in patrol the entire time he finally came to realize that if he was to go anywhere he needed to branch out and gain some new experience. Boyle liked being on patrol because he enjoyed the freedom of moving around the city. He tended to work a particular sector which included the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) building along Route 3 near exit 2. Even though over the years he worked on a rotating shift which covered days and nights he got to know many of the residents and business owners who populated that area. He also got to know the feel of the area which in asking a cop they might not be fully able to explain it, but getting the feel for an area allows the police to effectively patrol and identify problems. The neighborhood in turn enjoyed his easygoing personality. He was very amicable and would always stop to talk to people. It was Community Policing at its best. Since Boyle now had to change out of his uniform and into a suit he hated it. He absolutely hated coming into an office full of cases dealing with trouble causing little bastards, taking lobby complaints about damage to personal property, thefts, and all that other petty bullshit. On top of that since he was the new guy in the office he caught most of the shitty little jobs. At least he didn’t have the nightmare of being the Juvenile detective. Dealing with the frustrations of not being able to do much to these little hoodlums was enough to make him crazy. Dealing with the parents could be worse. They would actually defend their brat’s behavior or they would blame the cops for picking on little Johnny or little Suzie. It was unbelievable. It was refreshing to find that occasional parent who would actually hold their kid or kids responsible. Those were rare occurrences, but when it happened it was great. His buddy Kevin Kimble was one of the Juvy Detectives, as they were called. Both officers were secure in their role and neither of them wanted to leave, so Boyle was grateful. He felt like he dodged a bullet. Boyle would do his time in Detectives and get back to patrol hopefully as a Sergeant. At least that was the plan.

Det. Boyle was an early riser who was ready to run or work out first thing. He liked to stay fit. Especially during the summer months in Nashua he got into numerous foot chases. Normally it was kids vandalizing something and those little buggers were fast, but he needed to let them know that they wouldn’t out run him. Well some did and some didn’t. Maintaining a trim physic helped him forget the thinness on top. Balding in his early to mid twenties was a sore subject, but now in his mid thirties it wasn’t as bad. He got used to it and didn’t try to fight it. At least he wasn’t fat. He couldn’t stand seeing some of the porkers in uniform. They couldn’t chase down an old lady with a cane. It was always The guy got around the corner and I lost him or he was just too fast. No it was really you’re just fat and couldn’t do your job. So just shut your month and accept it.

When he wasn’t at work he was at home in Brookline, which bordered on Nashua. He lived in a nice new colonial style white house with black shutters and a red front door inside of a new development. He lived there with his wife Melanie of six years and their two kids Michael and Adam, who were ages five and two. They dated for almost four years to the day before getting married. It was a perfect match for both of them. The sun was starting to rise at 6:05 AM when he returned from his run. Finally stopping in front of his house after running four miles he was sweating profusely, but he felt good. He would walk for a few minutes to cool down before going back into his house. Once inside he would take a shower and get changed over. He always made sure the coffee was brewing while he ran and he could smell the aroma upon entering the house through the kitchen door located in the back. He had to go through the three-season porch built into the back of the house. The screen door creaked as he pushed it open. He had caught his breath outside and was still a bit sweaty when he entered. He kicked off his shoes inside the porch and they landed next to the pile of other shoes located near the door that entered into the kitchen. He sat down at the kitchen table and picked up his cat Pancake that was always hovering nearby when he came back in the mornings. Sometimes the cat was locked in the room of one of his kids. Before going on his runs he would usually let him out because he made a serious racket meowing to get out and would wake the kids up.

How are you Pancake? as he sat there. What a name for a cat. He was an orange colored Tabby that his oldest son named because pancakes were his favorite food. The cat purred as he scratched him under his chin and then dropped down to the floor. Cat hair stuck all over him from the sweat. As the cat fell to the floor he rolled over and started to purr and rub his back on the linoleum. Boyle stepped over the cat to get some water. As he did so the cat extended his paw to scratch him as he passed by just missing his bare leg.

Get out of here. said Boyle swinging his foot towards the furry assassin. Quickly the cat stood up and scrambled out of the kitchen.

After some minor hydration he proceeded up the stairs into the master bedroom quietly not to disturb his softly snoring wife to shower and shave in the bathroom. Once complete he turned off the water. His mind wandered as he dried and put his boxers and t shirt and left the bathroom. Once he was back into the bedroom he put on the clothes he had laid out on the love seat in the corner by the closet. His wife stirred a bit as he was getting dressed.

You are so loud in the morning. She said without turning over. Her back was to him with the bed sheets still covering her up to the neck.

What are you talking about? said Boyle defiantly with a bit of sarcasm attached. He a slight smile formed on his lips while waiting for a response.

You make all that noise when you shower and when you are downstairs you sound like you’re breaking dishes in the kitchen. Melanie’s head was slightly raised looking over her shoulder at her husband who was finishing up getting dressed.

You’re talking smack he replied as he placed his shoe on his right foot and grabbed the other one smiling.

How bout I smack you for waking me up with all your noise

How bout I throw your ass out of bed and you go down stairs and make me something to eat. Melanie shot him a look with piercing eyes and rolled her middle finger in the air and put her head back down. A big smile was now on his face. They went through this routine all the time. Because Boyle got up early Melanie didn’t like being harassed by her husband so early in the morning. As Boyle stood up he started doing a little dance which was what he called his victory dance. What exactly he was victorious for was a mystery to Melanie. As he continued on he saw their cat waltz into the room. Boyle walked over and grabbed Pancake and dumped him on Melanie before he exited the bedroom to go down stairs.

Get this cat out of here! She tried pushing the cat off, but the cat was immobile sticking his claws into the comforter and fighting it. While his wife was distracted by the cat Boyle turned around seeing his opportunity to further agitate his wife. He went to the bed and crouched over and instead of kissing his wife he quickly licked the left side of her face.

Oh you are so nasty! raising her voice and bed sheet with her left arm as she dried her face. Laughing Boyle left and went downstairs.

Boyle knew when he went to work he had to follow up on the recent spat of mailbox smashing that took place the previous weekend in which 57 mailboxes were damaged in some form of adolescent rampage. He had an idea of who it was because some kids came forward to rat out some people they didn’t like. He would check it out and see where it led. Awesome he thought to himself. Also there was a rash of vehicle vandalism at the Pheasant Lane Mall which was going to be a nightmare to sort through. Since Nashua was on the border with Massachusetts many of the victims lived in Mass, and getting them to come up and get more follow up information was just going to be miserable.

Can’t wait… . He muttered to himself as he was in the kitchen pulling a cereal box from the cabinet. As he did so he took a bowl out of another cabinet making the kind of noise that his wife complained about. Without realizing Melanie came into the kitchen rubbing her face where he licked her. She looked tired and annoyed.

Hey babe, he said to her. Melanie stood there in the entrance of the kitchen wearing an old favorite, her gray faded Plymouth State College t-shirt and green shorts. Since she graduated from PSC over 10 years ago it was nearly see through. It was totally deteriorating to be honest. She was a petite woman with chin length dirty blond hair. Her once trim body showed the signs of age and childbirth, but she was still all-that in his book.

Fultz called while you were in the shower, said Melanie referring to her husband’s supervisor in the Detective Division. His boss was Lt. Patrick Fultz. She had some exhaustion in her voice. Fultz needs you to go to old Wellston Tannery on Canal Street. There was some incident there last night and since most of the other detectives are down in DC at the Law Enforcement Convention, he said you need to bring the suitcase with you. The suitcase held the crime scene and materials tools needed to gather evidence at crime scenes that all the detectives at Nashua PD used process a crime scene. Inside was a camera, some powders, evidence collection bags and other assorted secret squirrel widgets to help anyone solve a crime just like on TV. Well not exactly, but it was a helpful asset.

What happened? as he poured himself some milk after getting it out of the fridge. He was now sitting at the table intently looking at her.

He wouldn’t say, said Melanie annoyed, I’m only the house wife and secretary, but apparently Major Crimes from the State Police along with an Assistant Attorney General are on the way.

That definitely got his interest and he looked at her with enthusiasm as he ate quickly making more noise. Boyle knew exactly where the Tannery was and he could get there quickly.

Would you please not make so much noise! her hands were on her hips, You’ll wake the kids up Boyle seemed to interested in the info about the potential crime scene he really wasn’t paying any attention to his wife’s protests.

Oooh, it must be good if the boys and girls from Concord are coming down Boyle said excitedly and grabbed his favorite travel mug to hurry to the kitchen for a fill up. I’ll call ya later, love ya hon! He was out the door and got in to his Green 2001 Dodge Intrepid and sped out the driveway. He drove past the other cookie cutter homes, and cookie cutter lawns as he and Melanie nicknamed them in the new development not seeing them, his mind finally excited for work. He really liked his neighborhood, even though all the homes were practically the same. Most of the homes were variations of the colonial style like his, the yards were well kept and the homeowners were mainly young families, and although they made fun of the sameness throughout the neighborhood, they secretly loved it. The kids had little friends in the area and that made mommy friends for Melanie, and that made other dads for David to be forced to socialize with at neighborhood BBQs, but such is life. A few Evergreen trees were prominent between the homes mixed in with mainly Maple and Oaks. The fall time of year was just beautiful, the foliage incredible. Their favorite walk was around the streets in September and October, sweater weather, smelling the wood fires and watching the leaves changing color before their eyes.

As he continued his quick drive to Route 13, the main road through Brookline, he fueled his anticipation with downing the coffee mug. There would be only one reason that would get Major Crimes and an Assistant AG out to the Wellston Tannery. He knew the back roads of Nashua well enough to get there quickly and he arrived in a record 20 minutes avoiding the bulk of morning traffic. Once on Main Street he turned left onto Canal Street and would be at the Tannery momentarily. The Tannery has a gathering of vehicles located near the main entrance with a few unidentified people milling about. As he pulled up next to the several marked and unmarked Nashua Police vehicles he started to recognize faces. Two large wooded double doors with metal banding around the edging stood out for all to see. It was the obvious main entrance of the mill. Above the doorframe located on the brick face of the mill was a weathered and old wooden sign about ten feet in length and three feet high white sign hanging above it read with black letters Wellston Tannery-Established 1923. Suspended by old chains it was a wonder that it stood the test of time by remaining in place. It must have weighed several hundred pounds. It was probably not recommended to stand beneath it for any length of time. The doors were partially deteriorated and the metal frames on the doors were rusted with a chain lock hanging from one of the handles. The doors were still solid, but they had taken a beating from neglect and weather over the years since the Tannery shut down 35 years ago. The worn reddish colored brick that lined the outer walls of the tannery also were slightly faded from the weather over the years as well. Along the outer walls in the parking lot were five large blue industrial dumpsters used to collect trash and debris from the cleaning out of the building that had been going on over the past month or two. The large black covers of the dumpsters were open and hanging off the back on hinges and anyone passing by could see broken wood, furniture and other consumable material in some, and metal pipes and salvage in another. Basically it was all garbage. The contractors doing the work needed to keep it separate for disposal. Some metal would even be recycled. These dumpsters were located directly below opened windows to allow easy dumping from the floors above the parking lot. Several uniformed police officers roamed about the outside along with about 10 Tannery contractor cleanup workers dressed in work overalls. No one associated with the clean up was being let inside and a few folks seemed to be irritated by that, but a few others resigned themselves to go sit back in their vehicles and drink coffee or smoke cigarettes.

Physical labor not for me.

Boyle stepped out of his car in his black suit with a Sig Sauer 40 caliber pistol on a shoulder strap under his left armpit and his gold Detective badge displayed to the left of his belt buckle. After retrieving the crime scene suitcase from the trunk of his car he walked briskly towards the two doors where two Nashua patrolmen stood guarding it against anyone who was unauthorized to go in. They were especially not going to let the contractors looming around the area inside after the crime scene was discovered. Boyle observed the dumpsters and some of the garbage that didn’t seem to make it in them. He assumed that whomever was dropping it from above did a fire-and-forget. Someone would clean it up though. The Officers easily recognized Boyle as he approached and they exchanged friendly greetings as he entered the mill. Once inside he saw Lt Fultz coming down some steps toward him.

David… . morning, said Fultz as he closed in to shake Boyle’s hand. Immediately Boyle could smell the scent of an old musty building. The dust, old chemicals, and rodent droppings mixed in gave this tannery a very distinct stench. With the workers tearing apart the inside it was no wonder that all these particles were now airborne. What didn’t help was that all the work going on inside caused a lot more dust to be kicked up in the air, probably with a bit of asbestos mixed in. The smell immediately confirmed to Boyle that this would be a real nasty place to work.

You’d be coughing up this shit for a week he thought to himself.

Anyone looking through the windows could see the clouds of tiny particles floating and swirling about. This place was a biohazard waiting to happen.

Hey Pat, said Boyle smiling as he looked at Fultz and back to the old mill, What have we got here? There was an obvious sense of informality among the two since Boyle didn’t refer to Fultz by his rank.

We have a body upstairs that had the piss beaten out of its skull. Totally smashed in., said Fultz emphatically. As they spoke they both started up the stairs to the third floor. The stairs were wooden and had been worn through the years, but they were still solid. A slight creek was audible, but Boyle really just wanted to hear what Fultz had to say. Boyle could see the previous foot print traffic going up and down them and he chalked it up to the contractors clearing the building out. The staircase was also littered with cigarettes butts and other assorted small pieces of debris. There was a thick layer of dust still along the left and right side of the stairs with a slight bowing in the middle of each stair going up to the second floor. There were twenty steps in all. From floor to ceiling on each floor it was about twenty feet. The same amount of stairs led to the third floor. Once to the top of the second floor you had to turn and make an immediate right and turn again to start up to the third floor. The mill had some massive machinery located on the first floor and the high ceilings were necessary. Boyle was definitely interested in hearing what Fultz had to say. As they walked up the stairs the mill still had that old musty, dirty smell to it as it did when Boyle first entered the tannery. He noticed cobwebs littering the upper ceiling corners and a few old bird nests tucked away in the rafters running the width of the second floor.

I saw you pull in so I came down to get you, stated Fultz, I got called just after six this morning by dispatch that the Foremen of the work crew in here found the body upstairs on the third floor. It’s a serious mess. Fultz continued on in telling Boyle that two cruisers showed up and confirmed that someone was indeed dead and it looked to be a deliberate killing. Once up on the third floor the two of them turned left and walked about fifty feet to where some gutted office spaces were located on the right. These offices had a single doorway leading in each one and windows located in the back of the office. No front windows were apparently designed into them. The doors had a space for windows on its upper half, but they were long since gone. The windows in the back of each office were overlooking the ever-smooth flowing Nashua River. Standing just outside the door was a uniformed officer who stepped aside to let them in as they approached. Once they entered the room a police photographer stopped taking pictures to acknowledge Fultz and Boyle. Boyle gave a quick glance around the room. It was approximately 15 x 30 with no furniture in the room. He saw the large windows in the back with one of them pulled down and open to the inside. It was a rectangular window about three feet long and about a foot wide with a metal frame around it. The window itself was just filthy, but you could see through it. He noted the trash, the footprints, and the scuffmarks all over the floor. A he looked up at the ceiling there piping they appeared to be getting ripped down. A ladder was tucked into the far right corner.

The rats started to get him, stated Detective Ron Russo with the camera. They munched on him for a while. He pointed out the bite and scratch marks all over torn clothing and exposed body. Blood smears and smudges on the floor from the rats scampering around trying to drag the body towards a hole located in the opposite corner.

The door was closed so the rats couldn’t drag him out into the hallway. Russo motioned to the door that was now open and back to the hole in the corner of the office. Little bloody track marks from the feet of the rats clearly had a trail marked out. The clothing was partially shredded and it looked like the body started to go through a meat grinder. "It looks like a pillow case or something was pulled over the deceased’s head and tied off by pulling on each side of the opening and tying it off around the neck in the back.

What looked like a heavily stained bloody pillowcase was now dark red and brown. Portions of it were dried was partially torn open around the head. Again it looked like it was eaten away by the rats getting to the brains. Boyle felt his stomach twist and his coffee come up a bit by looking at all the gore.

Did he still have a face? Where had it gone?

All that was visible under the pillowcase was semi dried brain matter, chunks of blood, dried flesh, shards of skull and tattered hair. The rats, the rats had done quite a job.

Any idea who it is? inquired Boyle as he scanned around the room a little more. He was trying not to concentrate on the carnage lying in front of him.

According to his ID its James Ronan, said Russo. Boyle looked at Russo and then back to Fultz with a look of surprise on his face.

You’re kidding?

Nope, sighed Fultz, looks like someone did ol’ Jimmy boy in. We’ll have a positive on him once he gets sent over to St. Joe’s before going up to Concord for an autopsy. They’ll have to do a dental check, but he did have his ID on him. Narrowing the suspect list is going to be a bitch. I don’t think we could ever get a small list of people that hated Jimmy. He managed to piss off more people than I could imagine. Boyle nodded in agreement.

What a freaking mess, said Boyle out loud looking at the body of Jimmy Ronan while placing his free right hand on his hip. He didn’t want to get to close, but curiosity still got the best of him as he peered closer. With the suitcase in his left hand he placed it down without opening it yet. He didn’t want to disturb anything further because possible boot prints could be obtained from all the dust that was on the floor. What they would have going against him would be the fact that so much foot traffic from all the contractors going back and forth could serious hamper identifying the perpetrator of the crime by his or her boot print.

The foreman of the contractors spoke with Lt Levesque and he stated he remembers Jimmy being the last guy working Friday night, but not much else, said Fultz as he continued to stare down at the body before him, Most workers if not all left around 5:30 pm Friday night. The foreman just called his supervisor to have them call the owners.

The owners? asked Boyle wondering who it was.

Felder-Morton owns the mill now, responded Fultz as he turned his head to the left a bit toward Boyle.

Oh—you mean Felt-Her-More owns this place? said Boyle smirking as he crouched down a bit to get another close up look at Ronan. Felder-Morton Investments was a major financial and money management service company located in Boston. Apparently they had a massive investment planned for the mill, expanding their operations up here in Nashua. The mill was to be totally refurbished to house mainly money managing account representatives, mutual fund and Annuity mangers, along with their customer service center of operations. It was a few years in the making since the sheer expense was going to be massive, but the company struck a deal with the city for cleanup funding and tax breaks from the state. The economic opportunity for the southern New Hampshire region could not be dismissed. The city of Nashua took this as another reason to establish them as the optimal location for businesses to relocate after leaving the burden of taxes imposed by the state of Massachusetts. Massachusetts had a reputation as an extensive entitlement system in place and many referred to it as the Commonwealth of Welfare Recipients. Many people and businesses had had enough with what they considered a hostile tax rate and they were leaving. They weren’t going to move their headquarters from Boston though. It was critical to keep the store front in a major metropolitan area. The senior corporate staff and other executives would remain there while most of the actual legwork and customer interaction takes place in NH. The massive commercial and foreign investments were researched and coordinated from Boston, but the day traders were being moved up North as well.

One thing Felder-Morton tried to forget was the massive sexual discrimination lawsuit brought against it back in the late 90’s by multiple women who alleged mistreatment, harassment, discrimination, a hostile work environment and even sexual assault. It was a public relations nightmare for them. It all went bad for Felder-Morton during a New Years Eve party at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston when several Senior Vice Presidents and a few other executives in the company mistakenly confused some of the female employees for hired prostitutes. One Senior VP even had one of these women brought into his room for a private sex party. She was passed around and groped by several men, had her shirt torn off and tried to run out of the room, but was grabbed by the drunken VP and pulled back in so they could give her what’s-what. A hotel employee saw this when he went up to that floor because of noise complaints. Parts of the events that night were filmed and ended up being released to the local media. It caused a firestorm of controversy by the time it got on YouTube, and the company still hasn’t fully recovered from it.

The city of Nashua was going to get an influx of over 1500 new employees. This would also generate economic gain for all the local business around the mill. It could help continue the revitalization of the city that was continuing to improve. The tax increase revenue was going to be an incredible windfall for the state and Nashua region. It was all payback for how the company was treated in Massachusetts. Even though there was no state income tax NH would still benefit from the influx of new revenue from property and business taxes.

They’ll have a suit or two here shortly, said Fultz. Boyle and Fultz continued to share bad Felder-Morton puns when a patrol Sergeant approached them.

They boys from state are here. They just pulled up in their Major Crimes van along with a couple of cruisers. He said with a look of disgust on his face. It was a well-known fact that Nashua PD and the State Troopers had a contentious relationship over the years. Most of it was over petty squabbles, personality conflicts and jurisdiction disputes. Many liked to chalk it up to the fact that Nashua cops get paid more than State Troopers and it had been a serious bone of contention because the rank and file would always mention it. Many times Nashua PD would stop cars on the Everett Turnpike and a Trooper would show up and a pissing match would erupt as to who has jurisdiction. Nashua PD did not openly patrol the Everett, but would occasionally stops cars on it as they moved around the city or were returning to the PD station located just off Exit 5.

Ten bucks it’s dickhead, said Boyle turning his head to the right to face Fultz. Dickhead as he was known was Detective Sergeant James T. Osborne. He had an narcissistic attitude which was really just sheer arrogance that was matched only by his belief that he could run rough shot over any local police force at a crime scene regardless of where it was or what happened. Since the State Police were involved it demanded that he start dictating how things would be run. Even though he was right it would still behoove him to obtain a good working relationship with the local police since they would have insight into any local individuals potentially involved as a witness or possible suspect. Osborne believed that he was just too smart for everyone else.

Is there anyone from the AG’s office with them? asked Fultz looking towards the stairway leading up to the third floor.

Probably Thorpe, replied the Sgt who turned away to retrieve and lead the State Police up to the crime location. As they waited they mulled over Jimmy and who may have done this. Basically they had no idea who could have been responsible. The list was going to be extensive, but to murder him in such a way? A few minutes later they could see the patrol Sgt leading a group of three uniformed Troopers, including Detective Sgt. Osborne and a female dressed nicely in a powder blue business suit towards the room. The mill was beginning to get real crowded. The female was Assistant Attorney General Anne Thorpe. She was the head of the Major Crimes/Homicide Office in Concord and was obviously going to be the lead on this investigation for the state. Her hair immediately stood out as being a bit frazzled. It could have been chalked up to getting up early to come here, but those who knew her realized that the way her hair was when she went to bed was the same as it was when she woke up. She had potential to be an attractive woman, if she could only tame that hair. It didn’t matter though, she was one hell of a prosecutor and she put all her energy into her job. She had a really bad relationship with a State Trooper that went sour some years ago when he was fired for driving while intoxicated and blamed her for it. Afterwards she never pursued another relationship even though men still pursued her.

Gentlemen, said Thorpe as she greeted Boyle and Fultz when she entered the room now ahead of the other troopers she showed up here with. She had a small black leather bound day planner in her left hand. Making sure not to step to close to

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