THE CALL CAME IN while Harry Bosch and his partner, Kiz Rider, were sitting at their desks in the Open-Unsolved Unit, finishing the paperwork on the Matarese filing. The day before, they had spent six hours in a room with Victor Matarese discussing the 1996 murder of a prostitute named Charisse Witherspoon. DNA that had been extracted from semen found in the victims throat and stored for ten years had been matched to Matarese. It was a cold hit. His DNA profile had been banked by the DOJ in 2002 after a forcible rape conviction. It had taken another four years before Bosch and Rider came along and reopened the Witherspoon case, pulled the DNA and sent it to the state lab on a blind run.
It was a case initially made in the lab. But because Charisse Witherspoon had been an active prostitute the DNA match was not an automatic slam dunk. The DNA could have come from someone who was with her before her killer turned up and hit her repeatedly on the head with a two-by-four.
So the case didnt come down to the science. It came down to the room and what they could get from Matarese. At 8 a.m. they woke him up at the halfway house where he had been placed upon his parole in the rape case and took him to Parker Center. The first five hours in the interview room were grueling. In the sixth he finally broke and gave it all up, admitting to killing Witherspoon and throwing in three more, all prostitutes he had murdered in South Florida before coming to L.A.
When Bosch heard his name called out for line one, he thought it was going to be Miami calling him back. It wasnt.
Bosch, he said after grabbing the phone.
Freddy Olivas. Northeast Division Homicide. Im over in Archives looking for a file and they say youve already got it signed out.
Bosch was silent a moment while his mind dropped out of the Matarese case. Bosch didnt know Olivas but the name sounded familiar. He just couldnt place it. As far as signed-out files went, it was his job to review old cases and look for ways to use forensic advances to solve them. At any given time he and Rider could have as many as twenty-five files from Archives.
Ive pulled a lot of files from Archives, Bosch said. Which one are we talking about?
Gesto. Marie Gesto. Its a ninety-three case.
Bosch didnt respond right away. He felt his insides tighten. They always did when he thought about Gesto, even thirteen years later. In his mind, he always came up with the image of those clothes folded so neatly on the front seat of her car.
Yeah, Ive got the file. Whats happening?
He noticed Rider look up from her work as she registered the change in his voice. Their desks were in an alcove and pushed up against one another, so Bosch and Rider faced each other while they worked.
Its kind of a delicate matter, Olivas said. Eyes only. Relates to an ongoing case Ive got and the prosecutor just wants to review the file. Could I hop on by there and grab it from you?
Do you have a suspect, Olivas?
Olivas didnt answer at first and Bosch jumped in with another question.
Whos the prosecutor?
Again no answer. Bosch decided not to give in.
Look, the case is active, Olivas. Im working it and have a suspect. If you want to talk to me, then well talk. If youve got something working, then I am part of it. Otherwise, Im busy and you can have a nice day. Okay?
Bosch was about to hang up when Olivas finally spoke. The friendly tone was gone from his voice.
Tell you what, let me make a phone call, Hotshot. Ill call you right back.
Copyright © 2006 by Hieronymus, Inc.
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No Man's Land
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