Chapter 14: The Grind Continues
"Here's what we found," I said to Detective Etchevarry as Christie and I met with him. I took out the two hair pieces and the glasses and laid them in front of him. I then took the matchbook from my pocket and passed it to him as well.
"I can see us not paying attention to the darker hair, but how did we miss the blonde wig?"
"It was kept in my daughter's closet. The glasses were in her dresser and I'm guessing your people might have thought they were hers and it didn't register that they might be false. The matchbook was in a coat pocket with some of her business cards and just got missed, I guess."
"I'll have to talk to our guys about being more thorough. After all, it was a murder investigation. I think we'd better start retracing our steps and making sure we haven't missed anything else. Is there more?"
"Yes. Christie has a friend who is skilled at altering photographs. We asked her to take some pictures we gave her and create what Diane might have looked like when she was wearing her various disguises." I took the photos out of a large envelope and placed them before the detective.
"This is very impressive. So, I can assume you are thinking what we've been thinking. Your wife didn't frequent the ordinary bars but stuck to the high end places in town. She wasn't a frequenter of these places normally, so any disguise would do, right?"
I nodded. "That's pretty much our thoughts too. But now that we have an idea of what she might have looked like, could you see your way clear to start checking again? Even though it's a pretty cold trail, I was hoping you'd give this a shot."
He nodded slowly. "I'll get a couple of my people on it. Please don't you do anything at this stage. Let us do our job. We know what we need to find out and we've been doing it for a long time. Just give us a chance to see what we can come up with."
"We haven't come up with anything with possible DNA on it for Paul Wilson," I said. "I don't know what to do about that."
"We interviewed him again and we gave him the impression that he's under a microscope. He looked and sounded a bit uneasy, but we didn't learn anything from him except ... when we asked him for a voluntary DNA sample, he declined. He said he wasn't about to be 'framed' for something he didn't do."
"That should make you suspicious all by itself, shouldn't it?" Christie said.
"It does, but legally, my hands are tied. Unless he commits a crime or gives us the opportunity to capture a sample in the course of our normal work, we can't touch him."
"What does that mean ... in the course of your normal work?" Christie asked again.
"It means that if he left a cigarette butt or a container that he drank out of when he was being interviewed, we could take that as a sample if he left it behind voluntarily. Unfortunately, he didn't do that, so we got nothing."
I sat back, thinking for a minute. "Where did the DNA samples come from that you found on my late wife?"
"She was beaten with someone's fists. When that happens, the assailant is bound to leave particles of his skin unless he's wearing gloves. She might have tried to fight back because we found some under her fingernails on her left hand. Anyway, we have enough samples to get an accurate reading of what we believe was her attacker."
"So what we need now is Paul Wilson's sample to see if they are a match," I said, thinking aloud. "The question is, how to get that legally?"
"Right," Etchevarry agreed.
"Let me give you a scenario, Detective. What if I provided you with a sample of his DNA? Say, a glass he was drinking out of, or maybe something else? Would that be admissible?"
"Only if you could establish that it was his. You'd need a witness who was unrelated to the case. Someone who would testify that he was the donor."
I nodded. That germ of an idea I'd had earlier was beginning to take shape. I smiled at Etchevarry.
"So, if I did get some evidence, how would I get it to you?"
"Bag it in a clean plastic bag and bring it in. We'll deal with it right away. But remember, you'll need a witness as to who was the donor."
"I got it. Thanks. I hope we can find a way to get it legally. Even if it means he isn't the guy."
"Good luck," he smiled. The detective and I had a decent relationship and I wanted to keep it that way. We both wanted this case solved, but for different reasons.
"What are you thinking?" Christie asked as we walked out of the station toward our parked car.
"I'm thinking there might be a way to get a sample from Paul and have a witness at the same time."
"I know one place he goes to drink. He's usually alone, too. If I get to the bartender and let him know what I'm after, maybe I can get his cooperation to get a glass that we can use."
"Why would the bartender do that?" she asked.
I took my thumb and forefinger and rubbed them together. "Money."
"Do you think he might testify too?"
I shrugged. "That's the unknown. At least we'd know if Paul was the guy."
"Yeah. I kind of hope he isn't, you know," she said sadly, looking out the side window as we drove home.
It would be almost two weeks before I had the opportunity to work my plan. I had decided that I would try to find Paul on a Friday night, a likely time for him to be in one or another tavern. I would start with the one I had found him in when I overheard him. With luck, it would be his regular hangout and I wouldn't have to go all over Lexington to find him.
If I'd spent a few more seconds thinking, I'd have realized there was an easier way. I could find out where he lived and follow him if and when he came out in the evening. It was a long shot I knew, but I was fixated on two things. One was finding out if Paul was the killer. The other I explained to Christie after our conversation with Etchevarry.
"Why are you so determined to link Paul to this?" she asked me when we got home.
"The first time I met with the detectives, Etchevarry said that in the majority of these kinds of homicides, the victim knew the killer. Diane wasn't wearing a disguise that night. I'm guessing that means she didn't expect to be recognized. Let's suppose Paul stumbles into her, sees she's not with anyone, and makes a pass at her. They go to a motel together ... Diane pays ... and then something goes very wrong. Paul loses his cool and beats her up, thinking she might report him. Unfortunately, he's a little too aggressive and she ends up dead."
"I couldn't imagine Diane getting together with Paul," Christie said, shaking her head.
"I couldn't imagine Diane having a secret life," I replied.
With that conversation, Christie decided that anything we were going to do to get the evidence we needed would be done as a team.
"Even if I only drive the getaway car," she said seriously.
I laughed. "I don't think it's going to be that kind of caper."
She went to the computer and looked up the phone directory for Paul Wilson in Shelbyville. No luck. Next she looked up the phone number for Frankfort Builders Warehouse. She went to our phone and dialed the number.
"May I speak to the human resources department, please? It's about a credit check."
"Hello, my name is Doris Peller and I'm calling from Lexington Appliance Center. I need a credit check on Mr. Paul Wilson. He's given this business as his employer.
"Can you confirm his address, please? We have it in Shelbyville."
"He listed his income as thirty-six thousand per year. Can you confirm that?"
"Thank you, you've been very helpful."
She hung up the phone and passed me the paper she was writing on.
"That's his address. The lying bastard is making more than he claims, too. I'm going to have to talk to my lawyer and have him garnishee his wages if he doesn't keep up with his support payments."
"That seemed awful easy to get that information," I said.
"It was. Unfortunately, these smaller companies don't protect it the way they should. I was counting on that. Anyway, we know where he lives, so we can go have a look at the place."
It was about a forty minute drive to Paul's address in Shelbyville. The GPS on my Blackberry led us right to a small bungalow looking in need of some paint and upkeep. His worn-out old pickup was in the driveway alongside the house, so we assumed he was home.
"What do you want to do?" Christie asked me.
"I think we should go get something to eat. I doubt he'll go anywhere until later, so we can come back and wait to see if he does go out. Then we'll follow."
I wasn't worried about Paul spotting my SUV since he had probably never seen it before. We could park down the block and wait to see if he came out. If he didn't, we'd go back home and try again the next night.
"This is boring," Christie said about eight that evening. "I should have brought a book."
"Yeah ... stakeouts are always a waiting game. I hope we don't have too many of them."
It was just before nine o'clock when Paul came out of his house after turning on the front porch light. I had a good look at him and I couldn't be sure, but thought he might have been drinking. He didn't look too steady putting the key in the lock.
"Here we go," I said quietly as I started our engine.
He backed out of his driveway rather rapidly and turned toward us.
"Down!" I said as his headlights flashed on our windshield.
I waited until he had passed then made a U turn and began to follow him.
"He doesn't look too steady behind the wheel, Christie."
"No ... I think maybe he got an early start on the evening. Let's give him lots of room."
He wasn't hard to follow other than his speed was so erratic. One moment he was crawling along and the next he would speed up. I wondered if he wouldn't get picked up by the local police before we had a chance to hatch our plan. If he started to look too dangerous, I would report him to the local police.