Sample YOU CHOOSE (first three chapters)

FIRST THREE CHAPTERS OF YOU CHOOSE: PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY

Of the two you love most, one will live and one will die. The decision is yours.

YOU CHOOSE

A Falcone & Richards Thriller

By

Phillip Tomasso

 

Prologue

The contemporary two-story house sat at the top of a slight hill. Lights inside were off. The outdoor flood lights, perfectly placed for optimal shadows and accents, revealed a well-manicured lawn. Pristine edging cut grooves along the sidewalk, brick paved walkways, and driveway. Every tree, shrub and plant were aesthetically placed. Pumice rock, the mulch of choice, was contained behind a six-inch high stone garden block wall. Everything about the property screamed look at me!

The near-private road was filled with homes of the rich. Tonight, they had their eyes on a particular property. Social media was to thank for the heads-up. The hot tip came from weeks of posts from the family who owned the house. Big vacation had been in the works for over a year. The last few weeks was the official countdown. The owners were going on a ten-day cruise. Caribbean. They would follow it up with another week in the Florida Keys. Cold drinks on the beach with bare toes digging into soft, clean sand. Their mastiff, Bowser, would stay with family who lived nearby. (Oh, they were so apprehensive about leaving their dog for so long, but, boy, did they deserve the time away from it all)!

The rich family needed time away from it all? They practically lived in a mansion in their own little wedge of the world isolated from reality. It was hard scraping up any sympathy toward the owners for what was about to go down.

There had been nothing on social media about anyone house-sitting, or even needing to stop over and water plants. The place would be vacant the entire time.

The two drove down the street in an SUV. Both wore small grins. They felt invigorated, inspired even. They kept the vehicle headlights off.

Each home, built on a healthy plot of land, stood like its own isolated castle. Although plenty of neighbors lined both sides of the street none sat on top of the other, the way city housing tracks were constructed. In the city, houses were built so close together they made cars in driveways between properties feel claustrophobic.

They pulled into the resident driveway, drove over one hundred yards, and parked outside of the three-car detached garage, which was located in the back of the house. From where they sat inside the SUV, they saw the downside of a hill and below, the in-ground swimming pool. The fenced in patio protected picnic tables, a tiki bar, and a pool room for changing into and out of bathing suits. There might be a bathroom in there, too. Neither of them was sure. Lights from below the surface illuminated the pool’s water, while more lights around the backyard lit blue and white glow.

Dressed in black, the two exited the vehicles with black velvet satchels. The lawn had been cut that day. The smell of grass trimmings and chlorine filled the night. It was a humid July evening. No clouds. The stars might have been out, but with the floodlights strategically placed around the yard, it was impossible to tell. The key was staying in the shadows. It wasn’t easy. Every light they passed made their own shadows project over the grass and onto the house. They hoped no one was paying attention, up late at night, too, for water and peering out from behind slightly parted curtains.

Wearing gloves, they decided on smashing a window, even though jimmying a side door would be quieter, neater. They knew, not from social media, but from the signs out front, that the house had an alarm. Most houses worth breaking into had burglar alarms regardless. Not all had motion detectors, though. Usually doors were monitored, and sometimes windows, too. For entry, they picked a random back window, one they believed went into a bathroom. Few people wired bathroom windows. Not sure why. Maybe they weren’t worth monitoring?

If the bathroom window was indeed monitored, the alarm would trigger with the alarm company first, the alarm company would attempt contacting the homeowners before calling the break-in to 9-1-1. Once the alarm company called 9-1-1, dispatchers would assign a car or two and have them check out the location.

All said and told, if the alarm was activated, they figured they had a good five minutes once inside before they skedaddled.

Five minutes was plenty of time. Plenty. And that was if the alarm was triggered at all in the first place.

Move about the house as if it were activated. Get the goods quick, get out even faster. They knew what was where. Some of the more expensive things, the really good jewelry—the cash, the handguns, and items like those—were kept in the bedroom safe. They weren’t there for the safe. The thing weighed a ton and was bolted down inside the walk-in closet floor. Safes were a different kind of job for specialized crooks. Safes weren’t for them.

They were happy with silverware, laptops, crystal, and the other rare items on display.

Recently, working as hired interior painters they learned the layout inside the house like the back of their hands; they knew what was where, and what was worth snatching. Blue collar work had its privileges.

With LED penlights the two of them snaked their way through the house filling the satchels with goodies they’d pawn a month or two from now.

Things were going smoothly, until they weren’t.

Flashing red and blue lights lit the inside of the house. The parlor, or drawing room, resembled a cop-Christmas tree. And they freaked.

Dashing for the back door, throwing back deadbolts, and disengaging locks, they pushed into each other as they scrambled out of the house. Stumbling over one another, they made a dash for the woods behind the house.

A beefy officer came out of nowhere and tackled one of the burglars, and then drove him hard into the grassy ground. The aroma of dirt and fresh cut grass filled his nostrils as he let out an oomph, and then was unable to breathe.

With a knee pressed into his back, and his arms twisted around behind him, he surrendered and let his body go lax.

“You have the right to remain silent . . .”

Just like that, his life twisted around, and turned upside down.

 

FRIDAY

October 19th

 

Chapter 1

A floorboard creaked.

Byron Franks woke up. Something, some noise, pulled him out of his sleep. The slightest sound did that now. His rest was rarely deep and undisturbed. He blamed the job, the hours. Stress continually built inside him and it became increasingly difficult shutting it off when he was home, and then turning it back on while working. Instead, it stayed on twenty-four-seven. The darkening bags under his eyes was proof enough. He knew the copious amounts of coffee he consumed wouldn’t help any, but he needed something that would cut into the near constant fog he found filling his head all the time.

He patted the mattress. Janice wasn’t beside him, which might be why he’d stirred in the first place. She usually did her best keeping quiet. His wife knew he wasn’t getting the rest he needed, and he desperately needed much more sleep than what little sleep he got. Her tiptoeing out of the room sometimes wasn’t enough. It wasn’t her fault. He didn’t blame her. She tried. She always tried making his life easier. He didn’t deserve such a caring and loving woman in his life. Guilt festered inside his chest from the list of mistakes made. Guilt might have added stress; a contributing factor for lack of sleep. She wasn’t aware of the list and this could be why she still tried all of the time, rather than just walking out on him.

Franks wished every slight movement made—every floorboard creak—didn’t wake him. Out of place noises became his nemesis. However, he knew the value of wishes.

He passed his hand over the empty space on her side of the bed. The sheet still warm. She hadn’t been gone long and he figured she’d either run to the bathroom, or down to the kitchen for a drink (or for something to eat. Last night’s dinner was baked chicken, and there were juicy breasts left over. The idea of pulling one apart and making a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayo did sound kind of good right about now). If it was down to the kitchen for water, then in another hour or so she’d probably disrupt his sleep again when she snuck out of bed to go to the bathroom.

He rolled onto his side. The alarm clock, set for 0500 hours, let him know the opportunity for another two hours of sleep still existed. The key word, of course, being opportunity. The chance was there if he could close his eyes and fall asleep. It seemed unlikely, though, because now he had to use the bathroom, and a glass of water sounded good, too. Not to mention, the idea of a chicken sandwich was firmly planted in his mind; it wouldn’t easily dissipate on its own, at least not without feeding the desire.

He sat up and swung his legs over the edge with an accompanying small grunt, and groan. He was too young for the aches and pains thrumming through his body every time he got up.

Getting up in the first place was detrimental. More than likely he’d end up doing what he did most mornings after using the bathroom or getting a drink. He would stay up. Brew a pot of coffee. Read the news on the laptop in the family room and see what he missed during the few hours spent in vain attempting a solid night’s sleep.

Franks used the toilet, flushed, washed his hands, and then switched off the light. Halfway down the stairs, he stopped. For only a brief moment he thought he might be dreaming. He closed his eyes, and shook his head, certain what he saw could not be real.

Fastened with zip ties in kitchen chairs sat Janice and their eight-year-old son, Henry. Gags were plunged into their mouths and were secured around their heads with bandage wrap.

Janice’s face was coated in a sheen of sweat. Her terror was visible in her wide opened eyes. Strands of hair stuck in her mouth with the gag and were also tucked under the bandage. She shouted, and screamed, but every sound made came out muffled.

“You will see a pair of handcuffs on the last stair.” The man wearing a black ski mask stood behind Henry; a bowie knife pressed against Franks’ son’s throat. “Have a seat and secure your arms around the banister. No sudden moves. This knife is sharp as hell, and I’m not afraid to admit, I feel a little jittery right now. Never done this kind of thing before, and my nerves,” he held out his left hand, and it trembled, “you see what I’m saying?”

Tears ran down Henry’s cheeks. He tried crying, but the gag prevented sobs from escaping.

“It’s okay, Henry. Don’t worry. It’s going to be okay.” Franks turned his attention onto the intruder. “You don’t want to do this. This is a mistake. I’m not sure if you know who I am. Why don’t you just let my family go, set them free, and I’ll stay right here with you. Keep this between you and I. Okay?”

The man fisted Henry’s hair, tipped his head back, and re-gripped the bowie handle. The meaning not lost on Franks. It was a show of control, depicting who was the one actually in charge.

“I’m not here for you to apply some psychology one-oh-one on me, okay? Now, why don’t you just do what I said? Sit down on the last stair there and cuff your arms around the banister. Please, please, don’t make me ask you a third time.”

The man nicked Henry’s chin with the blade. Blood dripped. Franks lifted both hands in the air in surrender. “Be cool, man. Okay? Relax. I’m sitting. I’m sitting.”

Byron Franks sat on the last step. Every muscle in his body taut. His jaw set. It was an unnatural move. All his training shouted like voices inside his head. Charge the intruder! Against his better judgment he ignored the mental taunts and picked up the handcuffs. This was his family. His wife, and his son. If he charged the intruder and something went wrong, if his son was injured, or worse . . . he wouldn’t be able to live with himself. He always told victims who didn’t fight back they had done the right thing. The man wielding the knife might not harm anyone.

Franks put one arm under the railing, and around the banister before snapping the cuffs around his wrists. He was tethered to the banister now. Subdued, and confined.

The intruder sheathed the knife. Franks figured the guy was about five-nine, five-ten. Maybe one-hundred and ninety pounds. Not thin, but not overweight. There wasn’t much more to take in, other than his attire: dressed in black, wearing gloves, and a ski mask. “What’s this about? Money? We don’t have much money. It’s yours, though. You can have it. Take whatever you want. We’ve got computers. Flat screen TVs. Whatever, man. It’s all yours.”

The intruder squatted between Janice and Henry. Franks saw through the eyelets on the ski mask, black grease over bits of exposed skin. It was like what football players applied under their eyes for reducing sun glare. He had no idea if the man was white, black, or Hispanic.

“Money? I don’t want your money, Franks.” The intruder shook his head as if disappointed or insulted by the offer.

And then Franks’ brain froze. The intruder knew his name. He wasn’t sure how knowing his name changed anything. It might not. Somehow, he figured the recognition was relevant. If anything, it might mean this wasn’t random. Franks was a target. Being a target couldn’t be good. A home invasion, as opposed to a botched burglary? “Then what do you want?”

“What do I want?” The man stood up, back straight, and chest slightly puffed, as if with pride. “I am so glad you asked. I mean, I figured we’d get around to it, but why wait, right? Why not just get right down to the bare bones? What I want, Franks, is I want you to choose.”

Choose? Choose what?” Franks knew he was shaking. Every nerve inside his body was on fire, the adrenaline racing through his body came in constant waves. His breathing was quick, shallow, and his heart slammed behind his chest. The situation was surreal, and unimaginable at the moment.

The intruder cocked his head to one side, the motion condescending. “This is pretty simple, really. You see, this morning two things are for certain. One, you are going to die. There is no way around that.”

Janice struggled against her restraints, her muffled moans louder than before.

The intruder thumped her in the temple with back of his hand.

“You son of a bitch! Don’t you touch her!” Franks came off the steps, his arms restrained, the metal from the cuffs cut into his flesh. His right wrist bled.

“Sit down, officer. Sit the fuck down.”

Franks never looked away from his wife. Their eyes were locked.

He sat back down.

“That’s better.” The intruder placed on hand on the back of Janice’s chair, and the other behind Henry. “We all settled, hmmm? Good. Now, where was I?”

This was all a game. Franks couldn’t stand the taunting of it all. His stomach was twisted into a knot. He felt the bile in the back of his throat. Part of him wanted the intruder to get to the point. Another part of him was afraid of hearing what might be said.

“Ah, yes. You are going to die today. We established that much already, correct?”

“Fine. Fine. You’re here to kill me. I get it. We get that. But then you’ve got to promise me you’re going to let my family go. Whatever I’ve done to piss you off, it’s on me. They have nothing to do with any of this.”

The man laughed. “I love how you believe you are in a position to call the shots. It amuses me, Byron. I mean, I find this hysterical.”

“Just leave us alone, alright?”

“There you go again.” Only now the man wasn’t laughing. Instead he unsheathed the knife. Franks’ eyes focused on the trace of his son’s blood still on the polished steel. “Secondly, and this is where it gets just a little more complicated. For you, that is. Not for me. Number two, I want you to choose. You get to decide who lives. Either your wife, or your son. I’ll give you that much. You can pick who dies with you, and who is spared. The choice is yours, officer. One dies with you. One lives. You choose.”

“Nah, no. You can’t do this.” Franks resumed his struggle against the cuffs. Janice, and Henry were both crying. Whimpering. He would kill this bastard! He would tear his head off his shoulders!

The intruder said, “You see, that is where you are wrong. I am doing this. And here’s the thing, the part I forgot to mention. If you don’t choose who gets to live, I will kill all three of you.”

“You’re a monster!” Franks tugged and pulled. “Don’t hurt my family. Just wait a minute. Let’s talk this through. You let them go. Kill me, okay? Kill me. I’m fine with that. But not them. Don’t you dare touch them!”

The intruder actually threw his head back and laughed. It was as if he were being entertained at a fancy dinner party and someone just shared a joke. “I love that you’re bargaining. You have no chips in this hand, Byron. You are not calling the shots. This is my game. My rules.” He pulled back a sleeve and looked at the time on a wristwatch. “You have, hmmm, three minutes to decide. I’ll kill whoever you want dead, and then I will kill you. The third person, I promise not to harm. I’ll just leave them strapped to the chair. Whenever the police get here that is exactly how they’ll be found. Alive. Safe. Waiting for help.”

Franks couldn’t wrap his mind around the situation. It was now beyond surreal. There was a way out of this. He just couldn’t think of one. The only thought he could muster was talking their way out of the mess. “Listen, listen, you don’t have to do this. You can let them go.”

“I can’t,” he said. He sounded casual, calm. No longer did he seem unsteady, or anxious. Maybe he’d never been shaky. It could have been an act. Had this man done this kind of thing before? He must have. No one just breaks into a house and kills people on a whim. Maybe the guy started young, started small. Pulled wings off flies. Killed neighborhood pets. Eventually worked his way up to people?

They weren’t dead, yet. No one had been hurt. Henry was cut. The laceration would heal. They could survive this. It would about timing. At the right moment he would rip the guy’s fucking head off! Franks said, “You can. You can, and you should. You should let them go.”

“Two minutes.” The intruder eyed his wristwatch.

Franks twisted. The metal cuffs continued digging into his skin. He knew if he jumped up onto his feet with enough force, he could splinter the railing with his combined weight, and strength.

“Don’t even think about it.” The intruder moved behind Henry, the knife once again against his boy’s throat. “You attempt breaking free and I will kill both of them before you get the chance to come at me. Are we clear?”

Deflated, Franks leaned back. “We gotta talk about this, okay? I just want to understand why you’re doing this. Why me, why us? What have any of us done to you? Help me understand that much. Don’t you at least owe us some kind of explanation?”

“The why will become apparent, I promise you.” The intruder kept staring at his wristwatch, as if Franks was inconsequential. “Just not now. The when will be made known when the time is right.”

“The time? But if you are going to kill me, I might never know the reason.”

The man shrugged. He didn’t care or was no longer listening. “One minute.”

Franks stomped his feet. Hot tears streamed down his face. He kept looking from his wife to his son. They stared at him, silently pleading with him to fix everything, to protect them, to do his job as a cop, a husband, a father, and protect them. “Stop it. Stop this!”

“I hope you’re not just wasting all of your time deciding how best to kill me, when you should be considering who is going to die alongside you, and who will live. That would be unfortunate.”

“Let them go, please.” All Franks had left was begging. “Can you just do me that favor, and let them go?”

“Favor?” the man’s laugh came out cold, and flat. Nothing humorous in the horrific sound. He didn’t toss his head back this time. Instead, his eyes narrowed and were trained on Franks, as if Franks was centered in some kind of mental crosshairs.

Franks still considered smashing the railing. The guy might be bluffing. Maybe he didn’t have it in him to kill two people. Or one. A knife was a brutal murder weapon, a personal weapon. To use it you had to get in close and push the blade through flesh.

If he could get himself freed fast enough . . .

If. That was the question; the problem.

The intruder lowered his sleeve covering the wristwatch. “Well, Mr. Byron Franks, time is up. Who will it be? You are going to die and so is your wife, or your son. Please choose now.”

Franks saw blood still trickling down his son’s throat.

The if was irrelevant.

He couldn’t sit idle and let this happen to his family.

All at once Franks shot up from a squatting position on the stair, the muscles in his legs uncoiled like a spring. He felt his shoulder slam against the wooden banister, and the wood gave. As he broke free from the railing and banister, the intruder reached behind his back, and unexpectedly produced a gun.

Committed, Franks couldn’t stop his forward motion.

The intruder started firing his weapon.

 

Chapter 2

Late October was Investigator Vincent Falcone’s favorite time of year. Brisk mornings, cool days, and cooler nights. He didn’t miss the heat and humidity of summer.  This morning was no different. The chill in the air felt invigorating, and although he wore a thigh-length black leather jacket over a white-collar dress shirt, and loose blue jeans, he drove toward work with his window down.

On his way, he stopped at the Tim Hortons on Lake and Ridge and bought two coffees at the drive-thru. He took his black. His partner drank her coffee with two creams, two sugars. Pulling into the precinct parking lot, past the back gates, Falcone parked alongside the fence, and then entered the precinct through the front door. He greeted the desk sergeant, made his climbed stairs, and exited on the second floor, Special Operations Division. Investigators for the Major Crimes Unit, like Falcone and Farrah Richards, were to the right, other divisions, like Economic Crimes, License Investigations, and SVI, the Special Victims Investigations—were to the left, and also occupied space on the third, and fourth floors.

Desks were butted together, so partner faced partner. Farrah Richards wasn’t in yet. Falcone set her two creams, and two sugars coffee down by her keyboard, and his on his desk before removing his jacket. His department issued Glock was suspended from a shoulder holster under his left arm.

Lieutenant Daniel Garcia made his way over, eyes locked on Falcone. He was the second platoon commander. The two wore similar crew cut hairstyles, except Garcia’s was black with thick, silver streaks, and Falcone’s hair was deerskin-brown. Garcia coordinated day-to-day operations, handed out assignments, helped the sergeant keep officers in line, paperwork cleaned up, and the higher-ups happy. The higher-ups were never happy, so Garcia was rarely happy, which meant most of second platoon was generally unhappy.

“Hey, Lou.” Falcone took a sip of coffee, moved his mouse on the pad, and woke his computer. He punched in his password and waited while the system booted up.

“Don’t get comfy,” Garcia said. He pointed a waving finger at Farrah’s empty desk. “Where’s Richards?”

Falcone looked over the lieutenant at the wall mounted clock. “Should be here any second. I’m a bit early. What’s the deal?”

“Tell you what. Why don’t you meet her downstairs?” Garcia turned a thin manila folder over in his hands, looked at the label, and held out the folder. “I need you guys out on a triple.”

Falcone inwardly groaned. It seemed impossible they were already next in the rotation. He and Richards were still working two other unrelated homicides, one from last week, and one other from two weeks before. Adding a triple into the mix would spread them thin, like air. There was no point in complaining. The bodies kept showing up and there wasn’t an investigator on the team who wasn’t already pulling twice their own weight.

Falcone took the folder, but figured he’d look over the contents in the car. He had the lieutenant right in front of him, and chances were it was Garcia who had put the information together anyway. Why not just talk with the source? “What do we have?”

Garcia’s expression, grim normally, darkened as he pursed his lips turning them into two thin lines. “This just got called in. You know Officer Byron Franks? He was a no call no show at roll call. The sarge sent a patrol unit by Franks’ house.”

Standard operating procedure. If someone didn’t show for a shift and couldn’t be reached by phone to see what was what, a car was dispatched to the officer’s residence. Falcone remembered a time or two when he forgot to set an alarm and had been awakened instead by the hammering sound of fists pounding on his door. People overslept. It happened.

“Who checked on Franks?” Falcone knew what the patrolman found. The lieutenant wouldn’t be coming up to see him unless the officer had been found dead. The lieutenant had said a triple homicide, though. Falcone’s stomach muscles clenched.

“Parker. Michael Parker.”

Falcone couldn’t recall a Byron Franks. Not unusual. There were a lot of patrol officers on the city payroll. “Parker. Good kid. Knew his father,” Falcone said as he turned the file over in his hands. He peeked into the folder and saw the basic intake form inside. Although his eyes scanned the page, he wasn’t concentrating on what he read. The handwriting was Garcia’s though. “Scene secure?”

“House is taped off. No one unauthorized is allowed inside.” Garcia pointed toward the road. “Got a few more cars en route with a tech and the Monroe County forensics team. Medical examiner is going to be a bit. Shouldn’t be too long. Said he was on the way. Chief’s on the phone with the mayor’s office right now. Notifications are being made.”

“Media?”

“No. Not yet. We didn’t go through dispatch. Nothing was put out over the air. It will buy us a little time. Not much, but the delay gives us a bit of a chance to get some of our ducks in a row.” Garcia was about dotting “I”s and crossing “T”s.

“You said a triple.” It wasn’t a question, it was more of prompt. Falcone thought he could surmise an answer. Guessing, or assuming never helped when looking for facts. Doing so led to trouble, and backtracking.

“Officer Franks, his wife, and their eight-year-old son.” Garcia lifted his chin, ground his teeth, and concentrated on something just over Falcone’s shoulder. “Your partner’s here.”

Falcone turned.

Richards walked toward them, arched an eyebrow as if silently asking what’s going on? Short black hair framed milky skin and bright grey eyes. She looked as sharp as ever in navy-blue pinstriped suit pants and a crisp white blouse, with only the first two buttons undone.

Falcone looked back at Garcia, and asked, “What? Like a murder suicide? Franks kill his family and then take his own life?”

“Parker didn’t think so. It’s one of the things I need you and Richards to check out.” Garcia crossed his arms. “Parker sounded convinced it was a home invasion gone south. Definite signs, according to Parker.”

Officer Michael Parker was green, still wet behind the ears. Soles of the kid’s shoes probably didn’t even have scuff marks on them yet. “Any witnesses? Someone see something? Strange car in the area? Anyone lurking about?”

Garcia pointed at the file. “Soon as more uniforms get on scene you can have them canvass the neighborhood. Knock on doors. No one’s come forward with anything yet, but as I already mentioned, this was just discovered, and for the moment we want to keep the media at arm’s length. Although we diverted around ECD, I did just alert supervisors at nine-one-one.” The Emergency Communications Department was where Monroe County’s 911 operated. Everyone just referred to it as ECD. Short. Simple. “They created a tech job. Once this does hit the news outlets their phones are going to be ringing. They’re going to collect names and numbers and add them to the one tech job card. This will make sure all information they gather from citizens calling is centralized in one place, instead of scattered all over. So far, we have nothing. I instructed Parker to seal off the entire area. House. Front yard. Backyard.” The lieutenant offered up a smile. It wasn’t for Falcone’s benefit. “Morning, Richards.”

“Fellas,” she said, and took off her suit coat. “Looks like I’m a little late to the party.”

“Keep it on.” Falcone lifted his jacket off the back of his chair, pushed his arms into the sleeves, and adjusted the collar. “We caught a triple.”

Richards gave their boss a look, one Falcone knew well.

“It’s one of us. It’s a cop.” Falcone added before his partner complained outright about being overworked. “Bought you coffee.”

“How very thoughtful,” she said, and gestured toward the cup on her desk. “Two creams, two sugars?”

“Naturally. Was my turn.” Falcone shifted his attention. “We reporting directly to you on this, Lou?”

“I told the captain, and she told the chief. Tunsil wants you reporting directly to him. Like I said, he’s tied up briefing the mayor right now. He’s got the same thing I’ve just given you, which isn’t much. I’d expect the chief, and possibly the mayor at the scene before the morning’s over,” Garcia said. It sounded like both a head’s up, and a silent warning. In other words, cross the “T”s and dot the “I”s. No mistakes. People were going to be watching.

Falcone knew a case like this would attract a lot of attention, some good, but mostly bad. Once the media caught wind of the murders, pressure on solving the case would come at them from all directions. The media, the citizens, and from the big bosses.

Garcia continued, “No talking to the media. Canned statements while our liaisons work on preparing a press release. You can tell them the chief will address all questions when we have information worth reporting. Got it? Okay, get going.”

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