Deleted Scene One:
Connor Raids Child Adoption Ring
Connor felt his heart beat faster, muscles bulging in tension, preparing to storm the house as he listened to Shelby’s countdown.
The door crashed down, paint chipping on the bending metal from the force as he and his unit used the battering ram against it.
SWAT entered the west side of the house at the main entrance while they entered from the east into the daylight basement, converging their efforts in synchronization.
As the light from their headlights spread across the darkened room, children’s fearful wails and crying rang out. There were none who were older than two. Wide dark eyes betrayed the terror along with tears. Most were in cribs, standing by holding on to the rails around them.
Connor immediately pointed his rifle down, ready at a moment’s notice.
Garret passed through the children to block the kidnappers’ from escaping by way of the basement. Connor stood on the left side of door standing guard, while Daniel was to the right.
To think people there are people who are heartless enough to steal precious children from loving families to sell to other families was heinous. It made Connor physically ill. He blocked that line of thinking to concentrate on his job. Connor drew comfort that he was able to do something about this particular adoption ring.
The team had been working the child ring case for two and half years with little to no results when one of Garret’s snitches reported having seen several babies being taken into a house. The house they were now raiding since the snitch had supplied enough evidence for probable cause.
Once the house was cleared and the men responsible for the kidnappings were taken into custody, Connor walked over to the nearest crib. He laid a hand on the little girl’s head. The baby looked up at him with eyes full of trust. Connor’s heart squeeze in compassion for the little girl. Two pink bands, which at one point held her hair in two ponytails on each side of her head, were now clinging close to the ends of the loosely gathered hair.
With what seemed to be a sudden compunction, the little girl held up her arms, silently asking Connor to hold her.
Obliging the baby, Fields slung his rifle over his shoulder then picked her up and was surprised when the girl snuggled her face against his neck. He rubbed his hand in circles on the baby’s back. Connor heard a contented sigh as the little girl laid her head on his chest and snuggled closer.
When Connor turned around, he caught Daniel watching him. “What?”
“Looks like you’ve got a little friend there.”
“I guess I do.” Connor smiled.
“Better watch it, that little girl is going see you as her hero when she gets older,” Shelby walked through the door.
“I won’t mind,” he replied, glancing down to see the baby had fallen asleep in his arms.
Deleted Scene Two
Crime Scene for Beatrice Ward’s Death
Grant huffed as he strapped the phone back on his wristband, resuming his run. The morning sun was bright, but still cool for which he was glad to take advantage of for his daily run.
He welcomed the shade that the trees offered as he passed under several along the street. A bead of sweat trickled down his temple and he lifted an arm to brush it off.
Pausing once again when his phone rang, Grant plucked it off his arm. He recognized the number and answered, “Rourke.”
“It’s Josh,” the man sounded solemn.
“Brian Ward’s widow, Beatrice Ward, was found dead in her home.”
Grant pulled the phone clutched in his hand and grimaced in frustration. “What’s the cause of death?” he wanted to know.
“It’s unknown at this time. I would say this one is suicide. Forensics is still examining the scene. The body will be taken to the coroner once they finish. We’ll know more later.”
“I’ll be there shortly.”
“Okay. You have the address.”
Rourke pushed the end button, resigning himself for another brutal day.
Rourke saw several cars outside the house of the deceased widow. Yellow caution tape was strewn around the perimeter of the the yard. He parked behind his partner’s Chevy Trailblazer then crossed the street.
Lifting the tape, he bent over as he crossed underneath.
Upon entering the Ward residence, Grant found the photographer, police, forensics, and medical examiner all working around the body.
The flash from the camera momentarily blinded him when he glanced over at the photographer just as the man behind the camera snapped a shot.
“Oh, good. You’re here,” McKenzie said from across the room, moving towards him.
“Talk to me.” Rourke didn’t take time for formalities.
“Mrs. Ward was supposed to meet her daughter, Melanie Rodgers, for an early breakfast this morning. When her mother didn’t show up and wasn’t answering her cell or home phones, she got worried which made her decide to come here to make sure she was okay.
“The mother didn’t answer the door and Melanie had to use her key to enter the house.” Josh turned on his heels and glanced down at the victim. “That’s when she found Beatrice as you see her now.”
“What’s the cause of death?” Grant wished to have all the facts on hand.
“It’s too early to know for sure, but it looks like she drank herself to death. There’s a whiskey bottle not three feet from the body.”
Rourke ran a hand around his neck. “So what do we have here? Murder/suicide? Only the suicide was belated?”
“Why would she wait to kill herself if it were murder/suicide?”
Grant shrugged. “Possibly because once she killed him, she couldn’t handle the guilt.”
“Or it wasn’t a murder/suicide and she drank herself to death because the grief of her husband’s passing was too overwhelming.”
“Let’s get an autopsy report ASAP.”
“Janelle is ready to take the body whenever it can be released from the scene.” Josh slipped his notebook and pen into his pocket.
“Good. We’re acquiring way too many bodies on this case.”
“One body is too many,” Josh countered.
“Until we know more about Becker, I think we need to look harder at the IMS pharmaceutical company,” Grant said after hanging up with Connor Fields.
“You’re still convinced that they are going after the grandmas and grandpas of the U.S.?” Josh asked.
“I’m not convinced,” he clarified, “but I do consider it something we should check into.”
“And how would we go about doing that? We’d have to have a search warrant and in order to get one we have to have enough probable cause, which,” Josh brushed his suit coat back and hooked both thumbs in his belt loops, shifting his weight on his toes, “I might add, we don’t have. It’s only a theory at this point.”
“Then we need to find something.”
McKenzie gave his partner a disparaging look. Then changed the subject. “The new development of Beatrice Ward.”
“What about it?” Grant’s brow lowered into a frown.
“Do you still think she killed her husband?”
“That,” he stood as he grabbed his coffee cup to refill, “is something we have yet to find out.”
Deleted Scene Three
Grant and Josh Fill Connor in On Beatrice Ward’s Death
“That’s four vics. Tell me about number five,” Connor prompted, wishing that he could disagree with Rourke’s suspicion that Becker had anything to do with this case, but the MO had Becker’s fingerprints all over it.
“The lady is Beatrice Ward. Brian Ward’s wife. She was also found in her home. It appears she died of alcohol poisoning.”
Connor visibly whipped his head around, expecting to hear that she had also been a victim of kronilan. “Alcohol poisoning?” his tone rose an octave towards the end of his question.
“That’s right,” Josh replied. “It’s been surmised that she killed her husband for the money he’d been awarded. It’s also assumed that the guilt was too much for her so she ended her life as well.”
“Making it a murder/suicide,” Connor wrapped up the explanation. “So what are you guys thinking? That the Ward case is its own and isn’t connected to the rest of the other victims’ cases?”
“We’re not sure what to make of it yet, but that’s what we’re leaning towards,” Josh said.
“I would say that would be it, but with the husband dying from a kronilan overdose and that it was put in his medication…” Grant pursed his lips. “It kind of makes it hard to swallow. It’s about like pounding round pegs into square holes, as my dad used to say.”
“I have to agree.” Connor nodded, thoughtfully. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and his chin on his folded hands.
“Do you also agree that this could be Becker?” McKenzie wanted to know.
Connor inhaled deeply, taking a moment to form his reply. What he answered could turn his quiet, ordered life, into chaos once again. “I’m not going to make a dogmatic statement and say it’s definitely him. There are definitely similarities, but there are also differences.”
“Such as?” Rourke asked.
He’d come this far, he might as well continue. “The similarities are the medications being tampered with, and each of the vics, excluding Beatrice Ward, are all against drugs. Those two things make him a good suspect to look at.”
Deleted Scene Four
Beatrice Ward’s Daughter Storms into DEA Office
FBI Agent Connor Fields
Connor startled and whirled around at the high-pitched voice. The woman’s heels knocked loudly on the tile floor as she approached McKenzie’s desk. He stifled the urge to run his hand under his dress shirt collar. She wasn’t confronting him, but he still felt the boiling heat of the woman’s upset.
Fields gave a quick glance over at Josh as he focused his eyes on her and noticed him swallow nervously, though the man’s voice came out steady, “Good afternoon, Ma’am. May I help you?”
“Are you the agent working on my father’s case?” her eyes nearly shot daggers at the agent.
“That depends,” Josh replied, taking a step towards her.
She raised her chin. “On what?”
“On who your father is.”
At least the woman had the decency to look embarrassed and Josh seemed to have taken the wind out of her sails. “My father is, was,” she corrected herself, “Brian Ward. Deceased,” she hiccupped the last word and a shadow spread across her face.
Josh’s face softened. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
The woman worked to compose and asked, her voice stronger, “Are you the agent working his case?” he leaned against a support beam and crossed his arms, watching the scene unfold before him.
“I am one of the agents on that case, yes,” McKenzie replied.
“Are you also working on my mother’s case?”
Connor saw McKenzie’s shuttered expression, though, a person who wasn’t trained in subtle body language would never have caught onto it, Fields had taken note. “It’s being looked into.”
“I’ve read the police report-”
Josh held up a hand to interrupt. “How did you get a hold of that?”
The woman blinked. “I have a friend who works on the force.”
She opened her mouth to continue, but Josh stopped her again. “I didn’t catch your name.”
“Melanie Rodgers,” she answered impatiently. “Now may I continue?”
“Please do,” McKenzie encouraged.
“Thank you,” Melanie huffed. “I’m here about my mother.” She drew in a quick breath and her chin trembled.
Connor hoped they weren’t going to have to console a blubbering female. He could storm into a building guns blazing, handle being in water at freezing temperatures, but put him in the same room with an emotional female and he was lost. He let out a breath of relief when she continued. “The report I read said my mother died from sleeping pills.”
Josh nodded in agreement. “That’s right.”
Melanie let out a sob with her next words, “But she couldn’t have!”
“Excuse me?” he furrowed his brow.
Connor unfolded his arms and pushed away from the beam, intrigued.
Shaking her head, Melanie wiped her eyes with a tissue. “Mom didn’t take sleeping pills,” she nearly whispered.
McKenzie didn’t look convinced and Connor didn’t feel it either.
“Never?” Josh asked skeptically. “She might have kept that fact private.”
Melanie dropped the hand holding the tissue and balled it into a fist, saying with barely controlled anger, “My mother would have told me if she took a sleeping aid. She didn’t take any kind of prescription medicine. She would also be mortified that her death would be questioned by suicide!”
“Miss Rodgers,” Josh took her by the arm. “Why don’t you have a seat and take a moment to calm down.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You’re patronizing me, aren’t you?”
“No, but I do think that we would get further in this discussion if we are calm and rational.”
Now her eyes widened in disbelief. “Are you saying I’m being irrational?”
“No!” McKenzie clamped his mouth shut, lest he say something to get himself deeper with this exasperating woman.
Connor took pity on the man and decided to join the conversation. He posted himself at the side of the desk Josh now occupied. “Miss Rodgers, I’m FBI Agent Fields. I’m assisting in your father’s case.”
“I take it from what you have said, there’s not a doubt that your mother never used sleeping pills.”
“Yes, that’s right.” She seemed to calm at Connor’s understanding tone.
“Agent McKenzie was simply asking questions that must be asked to be sure we get the most accurate account. You see, the case on your mother wouldn’t be as strong if she was on any prescription medicines. Now that we know she didn’t, what you have reported – her not committing suicide- will hold more water, so to speak.”
“I see,” Melanie breathed. “So you will look into it?” She sent Josh a hopeful look.
“Yes,” McKenzie answered.
Tears of gratefulness welled in her eyes. “Thank you!” She brought the tissue back to her nose. “Thank you.” Her shoulders shook as she cried for the loss of her mother.
DEA Agent Grant Rourke
Grant checked the clock on the dash. Forty-five minutes had passed since Josh had cut the call short. He couldn’t wait to hear the story he knew Josh would have to tell when they talked next.
Finally, the phone rang. “What was that all about?” he couldn’t keep the smile from his voice.
“You know emotional women are the most difficult to try to rationalize with?” was McKenzie’s dry reply.
“You should have known that before you got married and had two girls,” Rourke replied.
“Enough of the jibes,” Josh responded as he chuckled.
“Despite the hysteria,” Connor spoke up, “the woman was quite helpful and gave us a tip to go on.”
Grant’s ears perked up. “What’s that?”
“Beatrice Ward’s daughter, Melanie Rodgers, claims Mrs. Ward didn’t have any prescription medicine which means no sleeping pills.”
Rourke felt the breath whoosh from his lungs. “If what she says is true-”
“Then we’ve got another murder,” Josh finished. “I’m working on looking into Beatrice Ward’s financials now.
“I’ve pulled the phone records and it looks like Beatrice received a call right around the TOD.”
“Refresh my memory of the time of death.”
“5:28 Sunday evening. Connor is helping me go through all of her financial papers that we gathered from her house. We’ve been looking through receipts, bank statements, anything that would show she’d frequented stores which sold alcoholic beverages or say she bought it anywhere. We aren’t finding anything so far.”
“Keep on it,” Grant directed.
Josh shook his head. “We’ve been all through her receipts and anything else that might contain that information.”
“Mrs. Ward was very specific when it came to her records.” Connor closed the file he’d been perusing. “I think we can safely say there isn’t a record of her purchasing prescription pills.”
“Which begs the question, ‘where did it come from?” Rourke planted his hands on his hips.
As they served their plates, Josh asked around a bite of food, “So if she did it herself, would that be considered suicide?”
Grant paused from pouring green beans and strips of steak onto his plate to drill his partner with a hard look. “Mrs. Ward did not take the pills of her own will. She was somehow coerced into suicide. And that, McKenzie, is murder.”
“How was she coerced?” Connor contemplated aloud as he cut a piece of sweet and sour chicken with his fork.
“The only clue we have to go on is the phone call she received the night before her daughter found her body,” Josh informed his partner. “We traced it to a burner phone.”
“Which makes it a dead end,” Rourke said, shaking his head.