John, Henry, Nick, Nancy and Brenda were having a really tough time. They had been besieged by journalists and reporters since they had stepped out of their homes that morning. It was especially bad outside the police station and the CSI headquarters. The parking lot was thronged with reporters, and the roads were jammed with vans belonging to news channels. As the five members of Operation Grim Reaper team arrived at work, microphones were thrust into their faces, cameras took their pictures and video cameras captured their reactions live.
“Special Agent Hartigan, has the FBI really taken over the Grim Reaper case?”
“Agent, do you think the New York police is sloppy and ineffective?”
“Detective Stalinzki, why was the news of inclusion of an FBI agent in the investigation kept secret?”
“Lt. McKinsey, do you think that the news that you started a new line of investigation should have been given out to the public earlier? They have a right to know something is being done about them”
“Agent Hartigan, do you think your experience with the BAU gives you an edge over the NYPD?”
“Detective Stalinzki, do you think that Agent Hartigan will repeat what Agent Sharpe, his colleague, did on the Green River case?”
“Lt. McKinsey, do you think that Agent Hartigan is trying to expose the ineptness of the New York Police?”
“Mr.Summers, do you think that Agent Hartigan has been butting in this investigation unwantedly?”
“Miss Willows, do you think Agent Hartigan will catch the killer and take all the credit for it?”
“Detective Stalinzki, is it true that you dropped Lt. Samuel Hernandez from the investigating team because he pegged a rich socialite as the suspect?”
“Agent Hartigan, do you think the killer has a reason to be afraid of you, since you hunt these kind of people?”
All that the team members said in reply was ‘No comments’.
Henry and Brenda somehow snuck out of the station into the CSI building without getting noticed by the media. John, Nick and Nancy were waiting for them there.
“This is getting out of control!” exclaimed Nick as Brenda and Henry approached them.
“How could Samuel do this? How could he have jeopardized the investigation for a petty grouse?” wondered Nancy.
“His ego made him do this. He is so used to using his muscle to elicit confessions from the street scumbags that he has forgotten how to use his brain. Anything goes not according to his whims, he will make others pay for it” said Brenda, scathingly.
“And now Patricia Cain is being dragged into this mess, unnecessarily. She may have a reputation for a wild past, but that doesn’t mean anyone can peg her as the killer” said Henry.
“Well, he sure knew how to get back at me, by ratting out on our investigation to make us all look like idiots. It was my plan to keep this investigation a secret till we have covered all bases and cast our net, but there goes the plan” said John, bitterly.
“What if he tells the media about all the progress we have made?” asked Nancy, with alarm.
“The killer is watching the news right now. She knows I’m here with you, and she already has a suspicion we are catching up with her. If he makes public the investigation details, we can anticipate that the trail will go cold again. Or else…” said John, hesitating.
“Or else what, John?” asked Nick, anxiously.
“The murders will escalate. And I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that this is what will happen” said John. He had little idea how soon he was going to be proved right.
It was 11.50 p.m. that very evening. The five team members of Op Grim Reaper were together in Room 101. They hadn’t left the building since morning. They didn’t wanna face the grueling questions by the media, which had also made it impossible for them to go out anywhere to continue the investigation because they would be followed everywhere. One of Henry’s men had been kind enough to bring them food and coffee. All they did was sit and follow news reports, and waited with a sense of dread to see their investigation jeopardized more. The fact that Samuel Hernandez was being pulled up for his antics was not very much of a consolation, because they figured he would do anything to get his revenge.
All five of them had dozed off in their chairs, when they were woken up by an officer.
“There is a 911 from Fifth Avenue. They just found another body” said the officer, with bated breath.
The whole team lost all sleep at this declaration, and got up to leave for the crime scene. It was going to be a long night ahead.
The Operation Grim Reaper team stood at the latest dump-site. They knew that the media had been camping outside the PD HQ for the whole day, so it was a given that they would be followed to the crime scene too. Therefore, Detective Stalinzki had deployed a large number of his officers to put road blocks half a mile both directions of the dump-site, to dissuade any over-eager reporters or cameramen desperate to get a snapshot of the dead body. The area had been cordoned off to the residents in the immediate vicinity in this one mile radius; cops stood at the entrance of every apartment building to keep curious residents from coming outside to take a look. The body lay on the edge of an alleyway, in full public view, unlike the earlier murders, where the body was dumped in the alleyway. This murder was not meant to be a shocker…it was meant to be noticed by the police, and the city. It was a message, loud and clear, from the Grim Reaper.
John and Nancy stood on one side of the corpse. The coroner’s assistant, Dr. Devon Hodgkins, was kneeling over the corpse on its other side.
“He died some three hours ago. Cause of death was due to excessive hemorrhage both by virtue of severing of the carotid artery, and multiple stab wounds on the torso” said Dr. Hodgkins.
“The killer used the same method to kill. But this is overkill…going by the number of stab wounds on the body” said John. He was right; the body had been stabbed all over, apart from the slit throat and the castration.
“And the mutilation wounds to the face are much deeper this time. It’s as if the killer wanted to scratch this poor guy’s face off” Nancy observed.
“Look at the amount of blood. The killer is outraged…this is a huge escalation” John said, a note of worry in his voice.
“I found the severed penis here” said Nick, standing beside a Dumpster and pointing to a small black mass lying on the ground in front of him.
“The killer has taken all forensic counter-measures again” Nancy made another observation.
“True. Her rage has not affected her organization and efficiency” said John.
“Do we know the victim?” said Brenda, standing a little way off from the body. Dead bodies made her extremely uncomfortable.
“He is Joshua Smith. The owner of Smith and Broderick Pharmaceuticals. I am calling his fiancée right now. She might be able to give us something” said Henry, standing with his men behind Brenda.
Half a mile on either side of the road block, people were clamoring to know what was going on. They were flashing their phone cameras, or craning their necks, or arguing with the cops to let them inside the blockade. In one of these crowds, at the front, she, the Grim Reaper stood, pretending to be a common New Yorker inquisitive about the goings on at the crime scene. She was dressed in blue jeans, a white shirt and a black overcoat, her eyes covered in rectangular spectacles. She could see the group of policemen standing at the mouth of the alleyway, prominent in the floodlights set up at the spot. She could see Agent Hartigan, standing with the brunette woman, looking at the body which she knew was there, even though it was being deliberately blocked from view.