I would like to once again thank my editor Bechgen, for putting forth the time and energy required to correct this work. It is our hope that through our combined efforts can bring you a story that is for the most part free of errors and enjoyable to read. – Double_entendre.
Have you ever wondered if your life was preplanned long before you were ever born, or does it simply fall into place randomly by a series of choices that either you or someone else makes that directly or indirectly effects the outcome of your existence? That is a question that has pretty much plagued mankind since the beginning of time, and yet we still have not been able to reach a consensus on the answer. My name is Ryan Foster, and like everyone else, I have formed my own opinion on the subject, but instead of sharing it with you directly, I ask instead that you read my story, and from there you can decide for yourself what you believe to be true.
I am an only child from a working class family. My parents, Henry and Virginia Foster, both held down jobs, while I of course went to school. Although I never really considered myself much of a brain, I did manage to hold my own when it came to classroom work. There was one area, however, that I truly excelled in, and that was computers. My initiation into the world of keyboards and mice came in the form of a scrawny nine year old boy whose parents had recently moved in next door to my own. Jimmy Lance and I took an instant liking to each other, and he became my best friend for the entire seven years that we were neighbors.
Jimmy's dad Walter was a major computer geek, and from an early age taught his son everything he could about the wonders of technology. Jimmy started to relay some of his father's wisdom back onto me, and we were both amazed at how quickly I picked up on it. Mr. Lance, who secretly always wanted to be a teacher but chose the life of professional instead due to its monetary rewards, loved the fact that he now had two eager pupils in which to pass on his vast array of knowledge. As our skill level advanced he made us both take an oath that we would never use what we were taught for evil purposes. It was after we took this pledge that things really started to get interesting.
Five years into my friendship with the Lance's, tragedy struck on my end when we suddenly lost my mother in an automobile accident. My heart was in torment, and Jimmy, bless his soul, knew that what I really needed was a distraction to keep my mind off of my trouble. He graciously talked his dad into stepping up our lessons to more advanced levels.
By the time that Jimmy's family had to move away, which although following far behind my mother's death was still the second worse day of my life to date, I was able to do things with computers that most people couldn't even dream about. It was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, and without Jimmy being there to help occupy my free time I desperately needed to find something else to do. My father and I argued relentlessly about me getting a part time job. Dad feared that once I got a taste of what it was like to have a steady income, college would lose some its appeal. He complained that too many kids take time off from their schooling in order to either "find themselves" or save up money, and then life gets in the way preventing them from ever returning to their education. In all actuality I don't think my dad minded the fact that I wanted to work, but it was the paycheck he was scared I'd get hooked on. We finally managed to reach a compromise when I suggested that I look into some volunteer work for the summer and reminded him how good stuff like that would look on college admittance applications.
One would think that the offer of free labor would be in very high demand, especially with the declining economy. The truth of the matter was that there were really not that many opportunities to choose from. In the end there was one detail, that although well below my skill level, was still somewhat worthy of inquiring about. It seemed that with budget cuts the state needed someone to upgrade software on a few of their older computers. The work itself would actually be of no challenge to someone like me whatsoever, but the real shocker was that the PC's they wanted worked on just happened to be located in a medium security women's prison.
I debated with myself as to whether or not I should even apply for the position, but figured I could at least go through the interview process and then see what they had to say.
Naturally I sailed right past the computer portion of their examination, but the hoops they made me jump through in order to pass their extensive security background started to make me question as to whether this shit was really even worth messing with. Evidently I must have met their quota, because they did offer me the job, and that's when the second shoe fell. I learned that if I took the position I would actually be working with a real live inmate. What the fuck was I getting myself into?
In the end it was my sense of loss and sheer boredom that convinced me to go through with it, though I did feel a little better when they assured me that the woman I would be working with was incarcerated for a white collar crime and I would essentially not be in any real danger. "Famous last words"
Melody Farnsworth was not exactly the most pleasant woman I have ever come into contact with. To be honest, she was an absolute bitch from the moment we said hello, obviously blaming the world for her lot in life. I would come to realize much later, however, that she really did have good reason to feel this way. Our work was long and boring, as we had to upgrade the operating systems on over 70 computers. Since they didn't want any leftover residue from the previous version to potentially cause problems down the road, we had to dump each hard drive and start from scratch. This was a slow process and would have given us ample time to engage in conversation. Unfortunately it became abundantly apparent early on that Melody had no desire to talk to me.
It was about a week into our assignment when Melody came across her first problem machine.
"This damn thing just won't work," she complained.
"What seems to be the problem?" I asked.
"I keep getting this damn blue screen," she said.
"Here, why don't we switch computers?" I suggested.
"What makes you think that you can do any better, genius?," she asked.
"All I can do is to try," I replied smiling.
"Fine," she relented. "I was getting sick of that piece of shit anyway," she said.
The problem was easy to resolve, and I had it fixed in a matter of minutes.
"It seems to be loading fine now," I told her.
"How did you do that?" she asked in amazement.
"These older machines sometimes don't respond very well with their hardware components. I ended up just changing a few IRQ's in the bios. It seems to like this configuration much better," I explained.
"You really are pretty good at this kind of stuff. So when are you going to start quizzing me about the money?" she wanted to know.
"What money?" I asked totally confused by her question.
"You don't have to play dumb with me. You are not the first spy they have sent in to try and get me to crack. I will tell you what I told them, I am innocent, and have no idea where all that cash disappeared to," she stated.
"You'll have to forgive me, but I don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about," I told her.
"Yeah, right, do you honestly think that I am going to believe some kid just happens to volunteer to work in a women's prison installing software on his summer break from school for no good reason. Face facts, you are after the money just like everybody else. The problem is I don't have it, and I have no idea who does," Melody said.
"I still don't have a clue as to what money you're referring to, but the reason that I am volunteering this summer is that my mother died last year, and my best friend for the past six years just recently moved half way around the country. I am trying to find something to occupy my mind so that I am not constantly dwelling on it," I explained as a tear rolled down my cheek.
"You are telling the truth, aren't you? I figured that they would have told you all about me before having you start working here," she said.
"All I was told about you is that you were pretty good with computers, the crime you were convicted of was white collar, and I would essentially be in no danger while helping you," I admitted.
"Everything you just said is correct, but the truth is I really am innocent. I don't have any idea what happened to the money," she told me.
"First of all Melody, I still don't know what money you are referring to, and secondly, I believe you," I replied honestly.
"I am talking about the eighty-seven million dollars that suddenly disappeared from the accounts I was managing at the investment firm I used to work for," she said, while watching my face to gauge my reaction.
"Wow! That certainly is some huge hunk of change," I replied, totally shocked by the figure she just quoted.
"You really had no idea about the money?" she asked in wonderment.
"No ma'am, I didn't," I replied.
"You said you believed I was innocent, do you still feel that way now that you know what I was convicted of?" she asked.
"I'm sure of it," I replied, staring her straight in the eye.
"How can you possibly be so certain, we barely know each other?" Melody asked.
"Mom was always a bit psychic. She even predicted that she would die young and tried to prepare dad and me for it, but neither one of us wanted to believe her. She always said that I had a touch of the gift myself, though it was nowhere near as well developed as hers. She was able to teach me how to look into someone's soul to find the truth. I know you are not guilty, just as sure as I know my own name is Ryan Foster, and although it may take some time, I am going to prove it and get you out of here," I assured her.
"Don't make promises you can't keep," was her quick reply.
"I never do. My father taught me a man's word is his oath," I stated.
"You're just a boy," was her flippant response.
"Be that as it may, I am still going to get you out of here," I told her.
"Whatever," she replied, not believing I would actually do it. "Why don't we talk about something else," she suggested.
So from that point on Melody and I started to share general aspects of our life with one another. The two of us actually had many things in common. I learned that she was an only child, and that both of her parents were deceased. She had to struggle through her accounting degree on mainly part time jobs and student loans. It was her proficiency and excellent grades that landed her the job at Barkers investment firm. She said that at this point she thought that her luck had actually started to turn around. She got a promotion and was finally earning a decent salary. She'd even met a guy and started having aspirations about becoming a wife and mother. That is when her life fell apart. Somehow her passwords were used to steal massive amounts of money from client accounts she had sole access to. The funds, which totaled just over $87 million, were never recovered, and since she wouldn't return the money she was given the maximum sentence allowed by the state.
"Can you believe it? I have to stay in this hell hole for fifty fucking years. My life is ruined," she said, wiping away the tears with her shirt.
"I won't let you stay in here for that long. No matter what it takes, I will find a way to prove your innocents," I stated with as much conviction as I could muster.
"I know you mean well, but there is really nothing you can do. Please stop making promises you can't keep," she said.
"A man's word is his bond," I told her as I was leaving. "See you on Monday," I said.
The first thing I did when I got home that night was to look up everything I could about her case. Since I truly believed that Melody was innocent, then it only stands to reason that someone had to of set her up. My job was to find the person, or more likely persons, responsible for doing so. I started comprising a list of anyone that was either directly or indirectly involved in Melody's life during that time period. I remembered creating a family tree for my genealogy class, and used that same method for linking my suspects together.
When it was time for work on Monday, I decided to keep Melody in the dark about what I was doing. I wanted to hear her story, but was afraid she would get the impression that I was just after the money again. That was definitely not my motivation.
As our friendship grew more intense, I had to always walk a fine line between trying to ascertain as much information as I could without making her feel like I was milking her for the story. I felt so sad to learn that basically everyone in Melody's life had abandoned her. I vowed that I would always be there for her, no matter what the outcome of my investigation revealed.
As the weeks passed, it became clear to both of us that our time working together would soon be over. I made the suggestion that she could add my name to her list of preapproved visitors, so that I could still see her after our job was finished.
"Ryan, I don't think it's healthy of you to be spending time with me instead of trying to find friends your own age," she said.
"Don't you think it should be my decision as to whom I choose to spend time with?" I asked her.
"Not when you're obviously becoming too attached for your own good," Melody stated.
"I thought we were friends?" I asked her.
"I can't afford to have friends at this stage of my life," she replied.
"Everybody needs friends," I assured her.
"Well, not me, and I especially don't need some lovesick teenager drooling all over the place. The girls already accuse me of robbing the cradle, as it is," Melody told me.
"Look, I won't deny that I find you attractive, but I have never once said or done anything that was even remotely out of line," I argued.
"You don't have to, when desire is written all over your face," she challenged.
"I don't think I'm such a bad guy," I said defensively.
"That is part of the problem, you're not a guy, you're just a kid," she told me.
"Maybe so, but I am the kid that's going to get you out of here," I stated with conviction.
"Would you just stop saying that, we both know it's never going to happen," she yelled, causing the guards to look our way.
"Look, I give you my word I am working on getting you set free, it will just take a little more time, that's all," I tried to convince her.
"Do you really expect me to have any faith in some schoolboy?" she asked.
"I'm not your average school boy," I told her.
"Fine, if you're so fucking gifted, then you won't have any problems finishing the rest of this shit by yourself, because I quit!" she exclaimed as she bellowed for the guard to take her back to her cell.
Although I pleaded with her not to go Melody refused to relent, leaving the remainder of our work for me to deal with on my own. I of course completely understood where she was coming from. I knew it was stupid to keep bringing up the fact that I was working on getting her released, but I was just so desperate to give her some degree of hope that I couldn't keep my damn mouth shut. Now she won't even talk to me.
It didn't take long to for me to finish up our little project, and then I once again found myself with too much time on my hands. Rather than sit around being bitter about it, I decided to focus all of my energy into solving Melody's case. I knew she was still angry with me, but that didn't mean I could go back on my promise to help her, even if as she had suggested I really was just a lovesick schoolboy.
I had it in the back of my mind that there was probably more than one person responsible for framing Melody. I tried to do what they showed on TV, and put myself in the mindset of the criminal. I focused on how I would go about pulling off such a crime, while deflecting the blame onto someone else. It wasn't always easy for me to get my head around this form of debauchery, as I actually started feeling guilty at times over my own thought process. I had to treat this as a type of game before I could get fully immersed in my goal to unravel the perfect crime.
After reviewing all of the facts, I felt compelled to focus mainly on her ex-boyfriend Harvey Wallace as my primary suspect. I really don't know what drew me to him exactly, except that whenever Melody would speak of their relationship, I would get the distinct impression that things weren't quite as wonderful as she made them out to be. There was just something about her description of the man that didn't fit with my profile of what a loving boyfriend was supposed to be. I just hoped that I wasn't allowing my jealousy of him to cloud my better judgment.
It took almost no time to track down old Harvey's whereabouts, and once I did, I started to gather a pretty substantial amount of circumstantial evidence against the man. I knew that nothing I had discovered so far would be enough to overturn her conviction, but I at least felt I was making some sort of progress in that direction. For it to happen, though, I would surely have to recover the missing $87 million. Only then would I have enough leverage to get the justice department to reopen the case.
As luck, or perhaps maybe fate, would have it, Harvey's current address showed that he lived in the same city as my Aunt Linda on my mother's side. When I brought up that I wanted to go for a visit, Dad was all for the idea. He was never really crazy about the fact that I was working in a women's prison to begin with, and when I started discussing my friendship with Melody I could tell he was starting to get concerned about how close we were becoming. To avoid arguments, I basically stopped mentioning her to him all together. I know he was thinking that this trip would help get my mind off of her, but if he even suspected what my real motives were for going, I'm am sure that the shit would have most definitely hit the fan.
In all actuality it was really great to see Aunt Linda again, and since she and her husband both worked the day shift, I was pretty much left to my own devices until they arrived back home sometime after six P.M. each night. I quickly found Harvey's place of residence, and for nearly two weeks straight I stalked him relentlessly, desperately hoping that he would eventually slip up and possibly lead me to where he stashed the stolen loot. It was nearing the end of my stay with Aunt Linda that I suddenly hit pay dirt. I was tailing Harvey on the subway, when I noticed him removing what looked like to be a laptop case out of a locker. He then proceeded to the nearest McDonalds where he ordered lunch. I watched him take out his laptop and log onto their free WIFI connection. I quickly booted up my own laptop and hacked into his system through their non-secured line. Did I mention before that the advanced lessons Mr. Lance had taught Jimmy and me was in the field of computer hacking? Walter showed us the basics, but it was through my own skill and determination that I advanced to the level I am today, which by the way is damn good, if I do say so myself. As I sat there letting my PC record everything the bastard was doing, I knew that I finally had the son of a bitch right where I wanted him. Now it was time to call in the big guns.
I am sure the representative from Barkers investment firm was curious as to why I made an appointment to see him, especially after I requested that not only their attorney, one of their claim adjusters, and their best IT man be present in the meeting, but also I wanted the top man in charge of building the case against Melody to be there as well.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen, thank you for meeting with me today," I said, as we proceeded to get comfortable in their conference room.
I was then introduced to the five guys who I had asked to be at the meeting. Mr. Thomas Jones was the senior accounts manager for Barker's investment firm, and obviously the leader of the group. Next to him was their claim adjuster Allen Young. Off to the left sat Lewis Randolph, Baker's top IT geek, and last, but certainly not least, was Bill Murphy, Baker's head of security, and the man who built the case against Melody. This was certainly going to be one very interesting meeting.
"Mr. Foster, you said that you had a matter of substantial monetary importance to discuss with us," Mr. Jones asked.
"That is correct, sir, I have recently come across some new information which I would like to share with you regarding Melody Farnsworth," I said.
"Son, that case was settled months ago," Mr. Jones told me.
"You convicted the wrong person, Melody is innocent," I stated with conviction.
"I can assure you, son, that regardless of whatever lies she has been feeding you, she most certainly is guilty, I should know, as I am the one was built the case against her," Mr. Murphy replied.
"Excuse me for saying so, sir, but you didn't do shit. I came up with so much proof that supported her innocence; I started to wonder if you weren't in on the attempt to frame her yourself. I have since revised that theory, as I could not come up with any link between you and the real culprits," I answered back sternly.
"This is bullshit, Tom, why are we even here wasting our time with this kid in the first place," Mr. Murphy asked.
"I agree, Bill," Mr. Jones replied before turning to me and saying, "Mr. Foster, I think we are done here," he said with a gruff demeanor.
"On the contrary, gentlemen, we are just getting started, that is if you ever want to see your eighty-nine million dollars again," I threatened.
"You don't even know how much was stolen. Miss Farnsworth took eighty-seven million, not eighty-nine," Mr. Young corrected me, speaking for the first time since our introduction.
"For a claims adjuster, you of all people should know how fast interest can accumulate, especially when we are talking about that much cash," I replied.
"So you're saying that she has it stored in a bank somewhere?" Mr. Jones asked.
"No, you obviously weren't listening. She has no idea where the money went, or who set her up in the first place, but I do," I told him.
"OK, so where is it then," Mr. Murphy asked.
"Not so fast, guys, we have a few things to settle before I hand out that information," I told them.
"Don't worry, if you can help us recover the missing funds you will get the $500,000 reward money," Mr. Jones assured me.
"No I won't! The money is to go to Miss. Farnsworth for all the shit you have put her through, that is, of course, after you help me get her released from prison. By the way, I don't just want her conviction overturned, I want to completely expunge her record of any wrong doing, is that understood?" I asked sternly.
"This is ridiculous, how can we be assured that you even know where the money is to begin with?" Mr. Murphy asked.
"Here is the account and routing number to a bank in Switzerland. I'm sure you can verify for yourself that the money is in there. I know you won't be able to transfer any funds without the user name and password, and I am holding onto that information until we reach an agreement," I told them.
It looked like Mr. Young was about to shit his pants when he came back to the room and confirmed that eighty-nine million in change was indeed sitting in the account I had provided. This was by far the closest any of them had ever been to recovering the missing funds.
"OK, Mr. Foster, what exactly do you want?" Mr. Jones asked.
"First of all, sir, please call me Ryan, Mr. Foster is my father, secondly, in addition to what I have already stated, I want complete and total amnesty for myself regarding any illegal actions I may have taken to obtain the evidence I am prepared to present to you," I told them.
"That would be up to the district attorney," Mr. Harris informed me.
"I realize that, but since she refused to come to this meeting, I figured that I could get you gentlemen up to speed on what I discovered first, and then it would be easier to convince her to get on board with this as well," I told them.
"Alright Mr. Foster, I mean Ryan, we are ready to listen," Mr. Jones said.
"First of all, I need to make a confession. I am a computer hacker, and without trying to brag about my abilities I would have to say that I am very good at it," I told them.
"Ok Ryan, I can relate to what you are saying, but how does that affect Miss. Farnsworth's case?" Louis Randolph asked.
"These are the instructions on how to design a very unique type of hacking device that when connected to someone's computer will not only send information back to the owner of the device without being detected, but will also let someone else completely take over the affected machine making it seem like the instructions were coming directly from the machine itself. A parts list of everything needed to build such a device is on the second page. Here is a list of the items sent by various retailers to a post office box opened by Mr. Wallace about a month before the money disappeared from Melody's clients' accounts. You will notice that every part on the list was delivered just days from of one another," I pointed out.
"How can we be sure these lists are authentic?" Mr. Jones asked.
"That is why I requested Mr. Randolph's presence here at this meeting, so he could confirm everything I show you," I tell you.
"Even if what you're saying is true, it proves absolutely nothing," Mr. Murphy said.
"On its own, you are correct, but combined with some of the other evidence I have gathered, I have no doubt that before this meeting is over all of you will feel as I do, that Miss. Farnsworth is completely innocent in this matter," I replied.
"So who do you think is responsible for taking the money?" Mr. Jones wanted to know.
"It was actually a joint venture between both Harvey Wallace, who was Melody's boyfriend at the time, and another woman who works here by the name of Sherry Smithfield," I said.
"That is ridicules, I checked both these people out myself, and not only was I unable to find them guilty of any wrongdoing outside of a traffic violation, but I found no evidence what so ever to suggest that they even knew one another," Mr. Murphy replied.
"You obviously didn't dig deep enough. Did you know that they were high school sweethearts?" I asked.
"That is not possible. They didn't even attend the same school together, and lived in different cities," Mr. Murphy told me.
"That may be true, but here is a copy of their prom picture. Do you recognize anyone?" I asked, smiling.
"This can't be, how did they even meet?" Mr. Murphy wanted to know.
"Well according to this genealogy report, Sherry's parents lived right next door to Harvey's grandparents. I would say it is likely that they met while he was visiting them," I suggested.
"Even if they did know each other, that doesn't prove that they stole the money," Mr. Jones stated.
"Well, guys, since I haven't even scratched the surface of what I uncovered, you may want to have lunch brought in, because this meeting is going to last a while," I suggested.
"Look, I've had enough of this. We have video evidence that shows Miss. Farnsworth sitting at her desk during the time the money was stolen. How do you plan to explain away that?" Mr. Murphy asked.
"That brings up my next point, sir, have you taken a really good look at your video?" I wanted to know.
"Of course I have, it clearly shows Miss Farnsworth sitting at her desk with her back turned towards the camera during the time that our clients' accounts were being drained from her computer," he stated proudly.
"Let's just take another quick peek at it, shall we. I am sure that you gentlemen won't mind if I plug this into your projector screen, that way we can all see it at once," I suggested, as I proceeded to pull the video up on my laptop.
"How did you get a hold of that video?" Mr. Murphy asked.
"I already answered that, sir, I am a computer hacker, remember," I answered.
"But our server is completely secure," Louis Randolph said.
"Mr. Randolph, you of all people should know that no server is ever completely secure. I admit you have it locked down fairly well, but you would have to close off a few more ports before I would consider it a challenge, and even then I could still get past your security systems, it would just take me a little longer, that's all," I said, completely shocking the poor IT manager, who thought his system was nearly impenetrable.
"OK, gentlemen, let's get back on track for a bit. Can we all agree that this is the video shot on the day the money disappeared from your clients' accounts?" I asked.
Once they all affirmed this, I ran the file through one of my video enhancing programs focusing on a spot where light was bouncing off of a glass door. When I zoomed in you could clearly make out the mirror image of Melody's reflection.
"Shit, she's eating lunch, her monitor isn't even on!" Mr. Murphy exclaimed.
"That's right, and if you continue watching, you will see that she never even turns it back on until after she finishes eating, which, by the way, is after the money transfer took place," I said.
"I can't believe we had this video the entire time and no one ever noticed this," Mr. Jones said stunned.
"If you think that's unbelievable, just wait till you see this next part, I replied.
I switched to the next video clip, where Sherry Smithfield came into Melody's office and conveniently spilled her soda all over the floor. Naturally, Sherry bent down on her hands and knees trying to quickly clean up the mess she made, while Melody ran to the ladies room to get some extra paper towels. I zoomed in once again as the camera caught Sherry reflection, and we all watched her remove some type of electrical device from Melody's computer and stick it in her purse.
"Just in case you are wondering, gentlemen, I also have the clip of Miss. Smithfield planting this device as well. It seems the poor woman can be quite clumsy at times," I told them.
"I'll admit that on the surface this evidence appears to be quite damaging, but how can we be certain what the device actually was. I mean, for all we know, it might have just been an MP3 player?" Mr. Murphy suggested.
"Well, this is where things start to get complicated. How much do any of you know about cellphones and satellites?" I asked.
"I once worked installing satellite TV, so I would say I am quite versed on the subject," Mr. Randolph stated.
"Good, then you are aware that phone signals are bounced off of satellites and beamed to their desired locations?" I asked.
"Of course I am, but how does that pertain to this case?" he wanted to know.
"Melody's ex-boyfriend, Harvey Wallace, keeps a laptop in a locker at the subway station. I discovered this when I was tailing him earlier this week. After retrieving it from his hiding place he proceeded to the nearest McDonalds, where he not only had lunch, but accessed his account to check on the money. As I recorded him doing this, I hacked into their non-secure router and copied everything I could from his hard drive before he terminated the connection. It was when I reviewed his internet history that I came across the plans for the hacking device I gave you earlier. As you can see, the reason it is so effective is that it uses a nearly untraceable Tracfone data account to connect to its host," I explained.
"So if it is untraceable, how does that help us recover the stolen money?" Mr. Jones asked.
"I didn't say that it was untraceable, I said it was nearly untraceable. You see, sir, cellphone signals not only are beamed off of cell towers, they also bounce off of each other. Does everyone here understand how sonar works?" I asked.
"Of course I know how sonar works. You are talking to an ex-marine, son," Mr. Jones replied.
"Good, then you are aware that pulses are sent through the water, and when they bounce off of something it can be determined not only the size of the particular object, but how far away it is as well?" I explained, mainly for the benefit of the other gentlemen.
"That is an adequate description, son, but how does it pertain to this situation?" Mr. Jones asked.
"Well, sir, cellphones can work pretty much the same way as sonar. I may not be able to trace a TracFone signal because it is tied to a usage card rather than a person's account; however, if the signal bounces off of a contract phone, I can trace that and find out not only whom the phone belongs to, but how far away it is from the other device as well. If the contract phone happens to be a smart phone with GPS capabilities, I can reverse the signal and trace it back to the phone in question," I explained.
"I seriously doubt that you could do something like that," Mr. Randolph challenged.
"Well I can prove it to you, sir, but, I have a few more pieces of evidence to present before I do," I stated.
"I would like to hear about this so called evidence as well," came a voice from the doorway.
"Oh, please come in, Mrs. Marsh. Gentlemen, this is state's district attorney, Tabitha Marsh."
"Good afternoon, ma'am," I said, standing up and extending my hand to greet her as my dad always taught me to do. "I am glad you could finally join us today," I said sincerely.
"Thank you, Mr. Foster, though from the sound of Mr. Jones' voice, it appeared I didn't have all that much of a choice," she said.
"Well, now that you are here, Ryan was about to explain just how he managed to ascertain certain evidence that the rest of us overlooked," Mr. Murphy said.
"Before I go any further, since a member of the court system is now present, I must once again insist on immunity to protect myself from prosecution," I told them.
"Don't worry, Ryan. Mr. Jones has already informed me of all of your demands over the phone. If you can help us recover the missing money and prove to my satisfaction that Miss. Farnsworth is innocent, as you claim, then I see no problem granting you most of what you requested," she said.
"What does that mean?" I asked.
"If you can show me that Miss Farnsworth was not involved with the missing funds, I should have no problem overturning her conviction and getting her released from prison. It is very difficult, however, to convince a judge to completely expunge someone's record, unless you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are innocent."
"I think with the evidence I have I will be able to do just that, however I am concerned about the methods I used to obtain that evidence," I told her.
"Don't be, Ryan, because I am prepared to grant you full immunity as long as you only used your hacking skills to gather information, rather than alter it," Mrs. Marsh assured me.
"No offence, ma'am, but can I please have that in writing before we continue?" I requested.
"No offence taken, young man," she said, sliding the already signed and notarized document over to me.
We took a few minutes to fill Mrs. Marsh in on what was discussed so far, and get her up to speed on the evidence I had already presented.
"Ok, as I was saying, cellphone signals bounce off of one another much like sonar does. What most people are unaware of is that cellphone companies not only track these signals, but they archive their paths as well, in case there is ever a dispute over usage. I pulled up the archive from this building for the day in question, and discovered that there was a TracFone data signal being sent from within 24 inches of Melody's desk that corresponded with not only the time that the money transfer took place, but also when she was eating lunch as well. I tracked that signal, and found that it bounced off of a smartphone that was only 12 inches away from it. I later determined that phone's owner to be Harvey Wallace. Curiously, I was able to detect another TracFone signal, and again it was within inches of Harvey's smart phone. I started researching the usage of that phone, and I discovered that the vast majority of calls both made and received I could trace to another TracFone user. As luck would have it, this user also had a smart phone, and I was able to determine that it belonged to Sherry Smithfield. This disc will show all the times that the pair used these phones to talk to one another, since they were purchased by Miss. Smithfield with her credit card a month before this incident took place," I told them, handing over the disc.
"How can we be sure these are the phones that Miss. Smithfield purchased, when the stores don't keep track of the phones serial numbers when they are sold?" she questioned.
They may not record the serial numbers, but they do have to scan the activation codes for the phone cards which she purchased along with the phones that day. There is a link showing those cards were used for both phones. By the way, on the day the funds were stolen there was a call to Miss Smithfield's TracFone immediately following the money transfer, and just prior to her little accident in Miss. Farnsworth's office, where she removed the electronic device from Melody's computer. In case you are wondering, that call came from Harvey Wallace's TracFone," I told them.
"That is a very fascinating story, Ryan, but I still don't believe a word of it. Hell, I have been working with computers for the last 25 years, and I can't even do what you suggest," Mr. Randolph challenged.
"I am afraid I am having a hard time swallowing this one myself," Mrs. Marsh admitted.
"If you assure me that I am still under immunity, I would be happy to prove I can do what I claim," I told them seriously.
"And just how do you propose to do that?" she asked.
"Have Mr. Jones go out in the hall and pick one of his employees, but don't bother telling me which one he chooses, as I am sure I will be able to reveal that information to you in due time on my own. Make sure they have a smart phone, and that they take it with them and keep it turned on. Send them to a store to buy a TracFone, and then have them to pick a restaurant and go there for lunch. Tell them to call one of you on your cellphones using the TracFone once they get to wherever they are going, and I will tell you who they are, where they are, and who is sitting next to them. By the way, no tricks like switching cellphones or something. Remember, I am doing this to help you retrieve your missing money and get an unjustly convicted woman out of prison. Please respect that," I requested.