Home > Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(15)

Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)(15)
Author: Melinda Leigh

“No one reported her missing for two weeks.” Morgan made notes on her legal pad. “That’s horrible.”

“Who’s listed as the investigating agency?” Sharp asked.

“Randolph County Sheriff’s Department,” Lance said.

“King wasn’t the sheriff in 1994.” Morgan’s chair squeaked as she shifted back and crossed her legs.

“No.” Sharp shook his head. “Bob O’Reilly was the sheriff back then. He dropped dead of a massive heart attack on the job in 2001. King was the chief deputy. He ran for office, won, and has been sheriff ever since.”

“Let me pull up the case report,” Lance said. “I’ll print Mary’s photo.”

The printer hummed and spit out a sheet of paper. Sharp retrieved it and fastened it to the board. Mary had brown eyes and shoulder-length brown hair.

Sharp pointed to the picture. “Does she look familiar, Lance?”

Lance shook his head. “No.”

Sharp wrote Mary’s name above the picture. “Lance, why don’t you call Frank? If finding her was this easy for us, then he probably already has her name.”

Sharp went back to pacing, as if physical movement jogged his brain.

The ME didn’t answer. Lance left a message then set down his phone.

“While we wait, we should conduct a thorough review of the file and make a list of people to locate and interview.” Sharp returned to the board. “Morgan, I want your eyes on this whole file. You’re the one starting fresh with no preexisting opinions.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to copy the file for my grandfather as well,” Morgan said. “He has decades of experience and nothing but time on his hands.”

“I’d appreciate that.” Sharp started a new column entitled Interviews. Underneath, he listed Stan Adams and Brian Leed. “Vic worked for UpState Insurance. The company went bankrupt in 2012. His boss’s name was Phil Dryer. Phil was a real company man and stayed with the firm for his whole career. His last known address is in the file. There was also a secretary, Dorothy Finch. She was sixty years old in 1994 and retired when the firm closed. The last time I checked, she was living in a nursing home.”

Lance worked on his laptop. “Stan and Brian still live in town. Their addresses haven’t changed in the last five years. I found an obituary for Dorothy Finch. Phil Dryer no longer lives at that address.”

Under Find, Sharp wrote Phil Dryer.

As always, Morgan was making her own notes. “What else did Vic do? He must have had hobbies, other acquaintances. Were he and Jenny socially active back then?”

“Stan and Brian were the full extent of Vic’s social life,” Sharp said. “They played baseball and hung out at PJ’s.”

“Is that the same PJ’s that’s on Fletcher Avenue?” Morgan asked.

“That’s the one.” Sharp nodded. “It’s still in business. Still owned by the same family.”

Morgan turned to Lance. “What do you remember of your dad’s friends?”

“Not much,” Lance said. “Stan was single back then. Brian’s wife’s name was Natalie. Their kids were younger than me. Two were in diapers the last time I saw them.” Lance shook his head, his mouth flattening as he remembered the sheer, stark loneliness after his dad went missing. “They didn’t come around after my dad disappeared.”

Sharp took a deep breath. “There were some things we’ve never talked about. At the time, you were just a boy. You had enough to cope with, and I didn’t want to burden you. But now, if you really want to dig in to your dad’s disappearance, you’ll need to prepare yourself for the less pleasant details.”

Lance straightened. His gaze met Sharp’s briefly before he nodded. “I knew you kept things from me. Maybe I didn’t want to hear the truth if there was no real chance of finding out what happened to him. But now there is, and it’s time.”

Over the years, he’d actively avoided learning more about the case. It was almost as if he knew the facts would change his memories of his childhood. No doubt he’d painted the period before his father vanished with a rose-colored brush. Understandable, since the years afterward had been hell.

“All right.” Sharp took a deep breath. “Your father’s friends, Stan and Brian, told me that Victor had been concerned about his wife’s mental health. She had already begun exhibiting signs of anxiety and depression. She was still teaching at the community college but was struggling. They also said that your dad’s company was having financial problems. He was worried about getting laid off. On top of all that, your mom’s spending was getting out of control.”

Lance digested the information. Bits of memory moved and clicked into place like a Rubik’s Cube. “So his disappearance didn’t cause her illness.”

“It didn’t,” Sharp agreed. “But it sent her into a rapid downward spiral.”

Given that information, the Krugers’ marriage hadn’t been the episode of Leave It to Beaver that Lance had always believed. Now that he thought about it, this version made more sense.

“Stan and Brian said Vic was unhappy,” Sharp said. “He didn’t know what to do about Jenny’s problems. He was drinking too much.”

Lance turned toward the board, away from Sharp. He’d always known he didn’t have the full scoop. But none of this explained how a young woman had ended up in the trunk of his dad’s car.

“Let’s divvy up our tasks,” Sharp said. “I’ll search online records and the Social Security Death Master File for Vic’s old boss, Phil Dryer. I can also make a few calls and see if there are any good rumors floating around about the case.” Sharp knew everyone in local law enforcement who’d been on the job more than five years. “We need fresh background checks on everyone involved, and we obviously can’t ask Jenny to do them for us.”

“I’ll take care of those. I’m not as fast as my mom, but I can get the job done,” Lance said.

“Someone needs to go down to the county clerk’s office and check vital records. We need to find out if Phil is still alive. If he is, I want to talk to him. Maybe now that he no longer works for UpState Insurance, he’ll be more willing to share information than he was back then. I’d really like to know how precarious Vic’s job really was. Phil would never give me a straight answer about the financial health of the company.”

“Aren’t vital records available online?” Morgan asked. “If he died, the county will have a death certificate on file.”

“In Randolph County, you can request them online, but you might not receive them for a week or a month . . . or ever,” Sharp said.

Morgan nodded. “I have to go to the courthouse to file a discovery motion for a DUI case I’m working on. It’s Esposito’s case, and the DA’s office has been slow to send me information.”

“What a jerk.” Sharp shook his head. “Lance, go with Morgan to the courthouse. You can check vital records while she’s filing her motion. I don’t want her alone until her stalker is brought in.”

Chapter Eleven

Morgan filed her discovery motion, then took the elevator to the ground floor and navigated the maze of hallways that led to the wing of the courthouse that housed the county clerk’s office.

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