Maria: I have a case for you. All the groundwork has already been done, but then we hit a dead end. We don't know who the guy was or even if it's a homicide or not. Steve: Why is that? Maria: The cause of death is undetermined. No traces of anything in the parts we've got, and we're missing the skull. Steve: Why are you giving the case to me? I mean, shouldn't it be somebody more experienced...? Maria: The more experienced ones haven't given up on this, they just don't have the time right now. There are more urgent cases and this guy isn't going anywhere any time soon. So I thought there's no harm in having a fresh set of eyes take a look. I'm not expecting you to solve the case, but maybe you can come up with new ideas. We could use some.
Claudia: I heard the Captain's giving you the John Doe case. Steve: What can you tell me about it? Claudia: Practically the entire area around the house was dug up, but the skull is still missing. Steve: But it's definitely not the owner of the house, who disappeared? Claudia: He was much shorter. My theory is that he killed John Doe and then left town. Steve: Hmmm, that's possible, but would you leave property that big without even trying to cash in? Claudia: All the house is good for is demolition. Not much value there. Steve: The house, yes, but what about the land? Has anyone looked into that? Claudia: Probably not. The value of the property isn't exactly high on the list of priorities. Steve: Was the owner's disappearance ever investigated? Claudia: Nobody has made a missing persons report, so not officially. We've been trying to find him to ask him about a dead body buried in his backyard, but he's vanished completely without a trace, and that's why I think he did it. Steve: Or maybe somebody just hid the second body better.
Steve: What about the person who found the bone? Claudia: You've got nothing there. Kids think the house is haunted, and that draws them to it. Steve: Kids? Claudia: Wasn't it in the files? I guess the Captain wanted to keep her out of it. Nikki's just a little feline girl with an affinity to animal bones. Steve: Oh... I think I'd like to talk with her anyway. Claudia: Tread carefully there. Her mother is Captain's long time friend. Still, I'm sure Nikki will be excited to have another discussion with a real detective. Just be prepared to answer a lot of questions yourself. - Why do you want to talk with her? She can't know anything about it. Steve: Children have big ears, and they talk to each other about things they hear. It could be useful to find out about any rumors going around. You never know.
Helen: Maria told me you'd be stopping by. I'm Helen. Steve: Steve. - Could I have a look at what you've got? Helen: Certainly, but it isn't much. Just bones and the pièce de résistance is still missing. Steve: I know. We're looking, although I'm starting to wonder if the killer took it with him. Helen: That's always a possibility, although that would mean he came back later. There are no marks indicating that the head was cut off. I'd say it was removed when decomposition had progressed far enough for it to basically fall off. Steve: Well, that's something. Are you absolutely sure there's nothing in the pieces you've got so far? Helen: No traces of violence, no poison, nothing like that. I'd put my money on it being a head trauma of some sort. Unless it's natural death, of course, which I doubt, because why bury someone who died naturally?
Steve: What about the DNA? Helen: We got a surprisingly good sample, but no match. Not even in unsolved crimes. What we have here is either a law-abiding citizen or someone who hasn't been caught since the DNA register was started. Steve: If we take the lowest estimate and assume he was 40 when he died, that would be since he was about 30. That should be enough time to learn how not to get caught, provided you're above average intelligence. Helen: Oh my, aren't you a bit young to be that cynical? Steve: I'm just pointing out that we can't assume anything from the no match result.
Steve: Was there anything out of the ordinary? Anything at all? Not just things related to the cause of death, but anything that could help in identification. Helen: Some healed old fractures, but nothing a thousand other people wouldn't have, and some look like they were never set by a doctor, so even if you find out who it is, I don't expect them to show in any medical reports. Steve: So basically, there's nothing useful. Helen: Sorry. I did my best, but I really need the skull. Steve: I guess it's back to searching then.
Helen: Try not to get too frustrated. Maria does this to all new detectives. And I don't mean new as in recently promoted, but as in working under her command for the first time. Steve: Does what? Helen: Gives them impossible cases. It's a test. Not so much a test of skills as a test of endurance. Don't tell her you know. I wasn't supposed to tell you, but I just think using this case is unfair. None of the others have had it this hard.
Jet: You can wait here while I go and get Nikki. Steve: Thanks for letting me see her. Does she know anything about the investigation, except that the Captain took the bone? Jet: She was a bit upset about the origin of the bone, so we haven't really talked about any of it as I didn't want to remind her. Steve: I'm sorry I have to... Jet: It's all right. She will probably find it exciting, even if it is a bit gross. Just remember that anything you say to her will be known by all the children at school tomorrow. A visit by a real detective is much too good not to tell, no matter how gross the bone was. Steve: I'll keep that in mind. Jet: One thing I don't understand... what do you think she can tell you? She just found the bone. The guy died so long ago that Nikki didn't even know about the house then. Steve: I want to hear what the kids at school are saying about it. Jet: I thought hearsay and rumors aren't evidence. Steve: They're not, but parents talk and little kids eavesdrop, either intentionally or accidentally. I'm not looking for evidence this time, just pointers to show me where to go next. Jet: All right. If it's results of eavesdropping you want, I think I'll better let you speak alone with her.
Nikki: Hey, you're the guy aunt Kate pounced on at school! Steve: You mean the teacher? Yes, that was me, but it was just a misunderstanding. - I'm Steve. Did your mother tell you why I'm here? Nikki: You want to know about the bone I found. It was just a bone, and I only took that one. Steve: I know. We found more in the place where you found that one. We're trying to find out what happened there. Nikki: Maybe it was the ghosts. Like, somebody went there after dark, and the ghosts scared him so badly that he died. Steve: That's a theory. What do your friends think about it? Have you heard anyone talk about it at school? Nikki: Pauline told me there were two guys living in that house once, but people didn't like the other one, because he was really rude to everybody and he had guns. Then the rude guy left, and everybody was happy. Steve: Who's Pauline? Nikki: She's my friend, and her mom is a reporter, so Pauline always knows the best stuff. She's not supposed to listen when her mom's on the phone, but her mom has a really loud voice. Steve: I'm sure she does.
Nikki: Do you know detective Claudia? She came to see us when they were trying to find that serial killer. Steve: Yes, I know her. She's the one who told me you found the bone. Nikki: She's really nice. She even showed me her gun. Do you have gun? Steve: Of course, but I don't have it with me now. Nikki: Why not? Steve: I thought it was safe enough to come visit you without it. Nikki: Teehee. - Have you ever shot anybody? Steve: No. People are often sensible enough to realize there's no point running, and if they do run, we start with warning shots, which is usually enough. Nikki: You mean shooting in the air to scare them? Steve: That's right. Nikki: How many murderers have you caught? Steve: None so far. I just started as a detective. Nikki: I hope you find this one. Steve: We don't even know if there is one, we're just investigating what happened. - I think I need to go now. I've got a lot of work to do. Thank you for helping me with the investigation. Nikki: You think I said something that helps you? Steve: Yes, I think so.
Maria: Where did you get the idea that we should talk to a reporter? Steve: From Nikki. She mentioned that her friend's mother is a reporter and had talked about the guys who used to live in the house. Maria: You talked with Nikki? Steve: Jet had nothing against it. Nikki and I had a nice little chat about ghosts and a rude guy with guns and police work. Maria: Ghosts? Steve: Nikki suggested that the guy had gone to the house after dark and the ghosts had scared him so badly that he died. Maria: I guess the ghosts also buried him. Wherever did they get the idea that the house is haunted? Steve: It's abandoned and falling to pieces. I wouldn't be surprised, if the ghosts turned out to be homeless guys looking for shelter. - So, what do you think? Maria: It's worth a try. You do it, she's probably not too keen on seeing me. Just be very careful with what you tell her. Steve: The skull? Maria: Tell her about it. At this point, we need all the help we can get to locate it.
Claudia: How did it go? Steve: She said yes. I'll call the reporter and arrange a meeting with her. Any idea why the Captain didn't want to do it herself? Claudia: She was pretty harsh on the reporter's last informant, who talked too much. Steve: What happened? Claudia: Barbara is a meter maid indefinitely. If she's really lucky, she may get other duties some time in the next decade. Steve: That is harsh. Claudia: I would have kicked her out. The feds had kept the serial killer aspect under wraps for ages, and she went and ruined everything. Steve: But you got the guy. Claudia: Yeah, but that was luck. Basically a combination of him getting careless and the last victim being a really tough cookie. Steve: Gustav told me about her.
Couple of days later: Steve: I understand you have some information for me. Winona: Yes. I saw an article about that skeleton that was found. I think there has been some sort of a mix-up. That guy you're looking for as the owner of the house... he's not the owner. My brother owns that house. Steve: Mr. Olsen is registered as the owner. Are you trying to say he isn't? Winona: The real owner is Warren Smith, my brother. Mr. Olsen just lived there. Steve: Warren Smith is the person who sold the place to Mr. Olsen. Maybe your brother just didn't tell you about the sale. Winona: Grandpa built the house, then daddy got it and then, after him, Warren. He would never sell that place. Especially as he doesn't believe in cash, he believes in land and real estate and gold.
Steve: When did you last see your brother or talk with him? Winona: It must have been a few years ago. Steve: Few years? Winona: My brother is a violent man, detective. To be honest, mother and I were just relieved that he stayed away. Maybe that makes us horrible people... Steve: Not at all. Family relations can be very complicated. Winona: Also, you should know that Warren isn't a big fan of government, and he hates the police. So when I stopped by the house the last time and saw how it looked, I got worried, but I didn't dare to even think of reporting him missing. Steve: Would you do it now? Winona: You think it's him. That skeleton... or that he killed that guy. Steve: Don't draw too hasty conclusions. All we know is that he's missing and we need to find him.
Steve: You mentioned gold. Would you say your brother is wealthy? Have you any idea how much gold he has? Winona: Not really wealthy, but whatever savings he has, it's in gold. Do you think somebody killed him for it? Steve: We don't even know if he's dead. Still, money in any form could be a motive, if something like that has happened. - One more thing. Would you give us a DNA sample? Winona: You really think it's him. Would the sample help you to check that? Steve: Yes. We managed to get a DNA profile. We just haven't had anything to compare it to. Winona: I guess I have no choice. Steve: It is entirely voluntary. You don't have to... Winona: I didn't mean it that way. Whatever else he might be, he's still my brother. It's strange, even after all he's done, I don't want it to be him, but if it is, I need to know. I need to know what he's done or what has been done to him. - What do I need to do?
After the DNA results are in: Maria: That newspaper article turned out to be more useful than I expected. Steve: Yes, at least we now know who our John Doe is. Maria: And the sister still insists that her brother wouldn't have sold the property? Steve: More than ever, and I believe her. The transfer of property took place much too close to the estimated time of death. I've sent the papers for analysis, but it'll take some time. Maria: Now we need to find Mr. Olsen, so he can answer some very uncomfortable questions. Any idea where he is? Steve: Not yet, but I'm working on it. Maria: If you continue at this pace, I have no doubt you'll dig him out from his hiding place. Very good work, Steve.
Maria: There's just one thing I'm wondering. What would be the point of forging a sales contract to get the property and then disappear and let the house fall apart? Steve: I know, it doesn't make sense. Maybe Mr. Olsen died too, or maybe he's locked up under some other name. We haven't been able to locate any relatives, so it could be that Olsen isn't his real name. Maria: Hmmm, it's a long shot, but it could be worth a try... Steve: What's a long shot? Maria: Get a search warrant and go there to see if there's anything left that could have Mr. Olsen's fingerprints or DNA in it. If he's locked up, he's in the register. Steve: Wasn't the house searched already? Maria: Just to see whether it was the crime scene. It wasn't and as it's not even sure there was a crime, a detailed search was not done. - Do we have anybody who can identify him? If people have been using the house as a shelter, you may find traces of several persons. Steve: Warren Smith's sister has met him, and there are still some neighbors who remember him. Maria: Good. We should also get the composite artist to meet with them and create a picture. It'll help pinpointing the real Mr. Olsen. We can also give the picture to the press and hope they're interested enough to print it.
Steve: Even if we find him, it'll be hard to prosecute without any evidence of a homicide. I suspect we can get him on forgery, but it's not enough. Maria: I know. We need to find the skull. Steve: The entire area was searched twice. The ME said the head was not cut off, so it was removed much later. I suppose it could have been some animal. Unless... Maria: What? I can see you're onto something. Steve: How usual is this affinity to bones with felines? Maria: Not usual, but there are always some who find them totally fascinating. Are you thinking that the skull is in somebody's collection? Steve: Could be. How do we find out? Taking a skull and not reporting it isn't normal behavior. Maria: You're right. There's not much hope that anybody would come out voluntarily even if they read the article. Steve: Is there a way to find out who's interested in that sort of thing? Do you think we could get search warrants just based on somebody's hobby? Maria: We can try. - By the way, I know Claudia has been helping you, so we might as well make it official. You two are working on this together now.
Maria: Steve told me he talked with you. How did it go? Nikki: He said I had a theory, and he said I told him something that helped him, but he didn't say if it was my theory or something else I said. Maria: Was the theory about ghosts? Nikki: Yeah. You can get scared to death, right? Like, if you have a bad heart or something. Maria: I'd say it's a fairly remote possibility, but I guess it could happen to somebody. I don't think that's what happened in this case, though. Nikki: I guess it was something else I said, then. But he said I helped. Maria: Yes, you did. We didn't know about the other guy, the one the neighbors didn't like. Nikki: Oh. So it wasn't really me. It was Pauline who told about that. Maria: But you told it to Steve. It is just as important to get the information to the right people as it is to be the first one to find out about it.
Maria: So, what is it you wanted to talk about? Nikki: It said in the newspaper that it's a bad thing that somebody took the skull. Maria: Yes, it is. If you find something like that, you're supposed to call the police and let them handle it. Nikki: Was it a bad thing that I took the bone? Maria: No, you thought it was an animal bone, and there's no law saying you cannot collect those. It was just a mistake. Nikki: So, how bad was it to take the skull? Maria: Well, first of all, it can be obstruction of justice. That means you do on purpose something that slows down police work or prevents it entirely. It can also be evidence tampering. That's when you take away evidence of a crime from the crime scene. I guess you could also be in violation of some health code, but I don't think there was any danger to public health in this case.