Chapter 19: The Noose Tightens

When David Chan returned to the station, he found Sergeant Stillman poring over a file having to do with a murder at Sandy Beach.  A young woman had been found by some body surfers who’d shown up early.  She’d been stabbed multiple times.

“Boss,” Stillman said as Chan sat down.  “They told me you went to see the Tico.”

Chan laughed.  “Yeah, I know you said you’d handle him – them – but I couldn’t help myself.”

“I know,” said Stillman.  “I know how you feel about those two.”

This gave Chan pause.  How much did Stillman know about his relationship with the Ticos?  He couldn’t remember sharing much information at all about them with his partner.

“Yeah,” said Chan, “I’m a little obsessed with them.  Have I ever told you about the son and my daughter or the father and my father?”

“Right,” said Stillman, “you’ve mentioned it from time to time.”

Chan tried to do a mental recall of the times he might have done this.  Was Victor Yamamoto correct?  Or at least his vision of Yamamoto?  How much did he trust this young man?

“So,” said Chan, “you said you’d lean into the Tico angle.  You find anything that says they might be trying to do me in?”

Stillman, still leafing through the report on the dead woman said, “Sorry, I had another lead on this woman as Sandy’s.  An anonymous tip came in this morning.  Something about seeing a car there early.  No license plate, but a red coupe.”

He stopped talking.  Chan watched him.  Wondered.  How hard was Stillman going to look at the Ticos?  Chan took a deep breath.  What if Stillman were tied to the Ticos?  His gut steered Chan well and had done so for many years.  But was this bordering on paranoia?

Chan said, “So, you think you’ll be able to do some checking?”

Stillman looked up from the file.  “Boss, haven’t you just done that?”

Shaking his head, Chan said, “Well, yeah, I guess you could say that.  It wasn’t what I’d call procedurally precise.”

“What happened? asked Stillman.

So Chan told him the whole story.

“Geez, David, that kind of puts it all out there with, well, not very much in the way of progress.”

Chan’s temperature ticked upward.  “Ah, yes, Bobby, not a whole lot of progress, I suppose.  I mean, I’m just a bit too close to this.  That’s why I need you to do it the right way.  If you can do that, maybe the Ticos won’t succeed in killing me.”

“If it’s them,” said Stillman.

The sergeant was getting on Chan’s nerves.

“Bobby, I know you know what gut instinct is.  Cops develop it, right?  It gets more and more accurate as we plod along over the years.  I’ve got a few years under my belt, and my gut is speaking to me in very strong terms.  Now I do know that I’m very personally involved with those two, but I don’t think that precludes what my instinct is telling me.  So, if you’re able to give my situation with the Ticos a little of your time, I’d be most appreciative.”

Stillman said nothing.  His expression, Chan thought, looked a bit on the irritated side, as if he were being upbraided by his daddy.  However, he held his emotions in check, like a big boy, Chan saw.

“Okay, boss, I’ll get right on that.  I think it might not accomplish much if I go talk to them right now, seeing as I’m sure they’re all worked up after your visit with them.  But I’ll talk to my contact again and see if he can get me more specific info.”

And with that, Stillman got up and walked out of the squad room.

Chan was pretty irritated himself.  Not that it was going to calm him down, but he picked up the file on the female student who’d been found on the Hawai‘i University campus.  She’d been strangled.

Picking up the phone, Chan called Hank Lee, the M.E.

“Hank, was there any evidence of sexual assault in that case over on the HU campus two weeks ago?”

“No, David, I didn’t see anything like that.  There were no traces of semen, and there was no evidence of bruising, abrasion, or any other kind of trauma that might point to penetration, at least.”

Next Chan called the registrar’s office at HU.

“Can you please give me her schedule for this semester?”

The woman read off the courses.  There was no chemistry.

“How about last semester or the summer terms?  Do you see any science courses?”

Yes, as a sophomore she’d taken two semesters of introductory chemistry.

“The instructor for those courses, can you give me the name, please?”

Bingo!  Both courses had been taught by Jeffrey Tico.

So, thought Chan, I’m one step closer.  It would give him the greatest pleasure to slap the cuffs on Jeffrey Tico for murder.  Murder-one would have been ideal, but murder-two would be very, very good.

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