It was just after 3 a.m. when I pulled into the driveway. Flashing lights reflected off the siding of this single family home. Howard Simon, a 47-year-old cancer survivor, told his girlfriend he was going to take a nap. A few hours later, she came into the bedroom to wake him for dinner and found him unresponsive.
Medics arrived but were unable to resuscitate him. That’s when the sheriff’s department called me.
I approached the deputy standing outside of the residence.
“You must be the new investigator,” he said, extending his hand.
I shook it. “Louisa Tucker. Nice to meet you.”
“Deputy Stiller and likewise.” He smiled and looked at me from head to toe. “Guess they didn’t tell you about the required uniform.”
“Huh?” Required uniform? I was wearing the black dress shirt with the office seal embroidered on the upper left side; beige cargo pants with so many pockets I often forgot where I put things; and black tactical boots. I’m not a fashionista by any definition of the term but even this uniform was outside of my taste.
“Aren’t you gals supposed to wear leather pants and high-heeled shoes at these scenes?” He snickered
I rolled my eyes at the overused reference to today’s crime scene dramas where all of the female employees dress like super models when they work.
“Listen,” I began. “It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. You’re lucky I didn’t show up wearing flannel pajamas and pink, bunny slippers.”
“Fair enough.” Deputy Stiller chuckled as he lead me into the residence through the garage. “Medics reported the victim was on his stomach when they arrived. They rolled him over onto his back to work on him.”
We walked through the kitchen, into the living room and then down a hallway.
“Where is Ms. Buckman?”
“She’s with friends next door.”
“I’ll need to speak with her when we’re done,” I said.
The master bedroom was at the end of the hallway. Howard was on the queen-sized bed. The bed was centered underneath a large window. A long dresser was along the same wall as the door. A beside table covered with various pill bottles caught my attention. I took a few photographs of the room and then made my way toward the medications.
I started looking through each of the medications when something on the floor between the table and the bed caught my attention. Reaching down, I picked it up. It was a small box shaped like an old rotary telephone. A chill crawled up my spine. I saw a box exactly like this one in Grandma’s attic. It was identical in every detail right down to the letter “Q” located in the center.
“Did Grandma know this guy?” I wondered. “What are the odds of two people owning a box just like this one?” I held the box in my hands. It was small enough to fit inside the palm of my hand. It was also heavy. The seam of the box divided it in half through the “Q.” As I held the box up to examine it, I heard something rattle inside.
I opened the box, careful not to allow its contents to spill out. Inside were two, white pills both shaped like candy corn.
Something about this box and its contents was familiar to me but I didn’t know why. I put the box along with the other medications in an evidence bag and left an inventory sheet on the table so Ms. Buckman would know what was removed. After examining Howard and assisting the transport team with placing him inside of the body bag, I left to interview Ms. Buckman.
In addition to cancer, Ms. Buckman told me Howard also suffered from heart disease, hypertension and sleep apnea. I wrote down the information and left Ms. Buckman my card, instructing her to call if she had any questions.
To be continued….