Whistleblower Ch. 01

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This story is part of an ongoing series. The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman’s biography.

Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.

Part 1 – Prologue

Dawn, Thursday, August 3d. I was in my new SBI SUV. It was black, with a very narrow blue LED lightbar on top, and blue lights in the windows and grille. It was nearly identical to my TCPD Police SUV, with similar bulletproof glass and a powerful motor. The SBI-SIS markings were nearly invisible dark gray against the black paint of the vehicle.

As I drove through Midtown towards Madison County, I kept a sharp eye out. Madison County was State Senator Richard Langdon’s territory, and Jimmy ‘Coffin’ Cerone’s influence upon Langdon had its limits. If Langdon knew what my mission was, he might well try to have me stopped.

I had gotten a message from Eddy the Bounty Hunter the day before. He said he’d been contacted by someone in Polk County, in the southeastern part of the State. The county seat was the village of Rocktown, pop. 5000. There were only two major employers in that county: BigAgraFoods and the State Regional Facility, which included the State Crime Lab, office of the Regional Director, maintenance facilities for the State D.O.T., State Patrol post, State offices to serve the People of the State, and the Superior Court complex.

The other towns in the county were Van Waring, to the east of Rocktown, with roughly 1500 people in it, and Aragon to the west, almost to the western county line, with about 1000 people. Aragon had been settled by early Spaniards, Van Waring by Germans, and Rocktown by English and Scottish settlers. Very interesting county.

And it was also the original district of now-US Senator Samuel Russell, and much of the property in the northern half of the county still belonged to his extended family.

Eddy’s message said that an employee of BigAgraFoods had sent Eddy information about some of the same stuff that had leaked to the Guardians of Justice, but the person feared he was being watched. After getting Eddy’s message, I called Norm Chow of the SBI-SIS, and informed him of the situation. He and Ted Orosco checked into the Holiday Inn Express that was next to the State Crime Lab. At 4:00am, I got the call from him, that there was local Police activity.

This was going to be the SBI-SIS’s first case, and a big one, if I did not miss my guess. And I wanted my SBI-SIS Agents to have a good first showing.

Part 2 – The Crime Scene

“You State people just barge in on us and take over, then take credit for solving the case.” said the Polk County Sheriff derisively. He was gray haired, with a fairly thick mustache, but not one that rivaled Chief Griswold’s in any way. He was middle-aged going on retirement-age, tall and slender, and his voice was deceptively quiet.

“We’re not here to take over, Sheriff.” said SBI Lt. Orosco, making his voice as smooth and placating as possible. “We’re here to assist you, and to observe. This case may have implications State-wide, if not further.”

“And I didn’t ask for your assistance.” replied the Sheriff. “But I guess you’re not going to leave, are you?”

“No, Sheriff,” said Lt. Chow, “not unless our boss calls us off.”

“And who would that be?” asked the Sheriff, the quietness of his voice belying his anger. “I’d like to talk to him. Now.”

“He’s on his way.” said Orosco.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The body was lying in a field of alfalfa that was surrounded on three sides by corn fields, and the west side by the north-south road.

“His name is Larry Wheeler.” Chow said to me as I looked at the mortal remains. The SBI Agents had had to work to keep the locals from moving or removing the body. “He’s 33 years old, married, two children. “Worked at the BigAgraFoods plant here. Assistant Office Manager.”

“Who found the body?” I asked.

“We got a 9-1-1 call about 3:30am.” said Deputy Sheriff Ormond, the chief Deputy. He was in his late 30s or early 40s, black hair, somewhat chiseled face, also tall and lean. “Person or persons on the other end refused to identify themselves. Cellphone was a burner.” I noticed the Sheriff peering unhappily at the Deputy.

“Shot in the back of the head, but not here.” I said, then turned the body half-over, with Orosco’s help. “Dragged out here, from the looks of his clothes and shoes. Wow, look at his face. He was beaten to a pulp before he died.”

“How do you know that it was before he died?” asked the Sheriff, his voce quiet but derisive.

“Bruising.” I said. “Dead men don’t bruise the way cebeci escort living men do.”

“Like we needed you to tell us that.” said the Sheriff.

I’d had enough of this. “Sheriff, let’s you and me have a talk.” I said, walking him down the rows of plants a ways, then coming around to face him.

“Sheriff,” I said, “I’m tired of your attitude. I get the feeling you don’t want this case solved. What the hell is your problem?”

“Your presence, Commander Troy,” said the Sheriff, “and the presence of these State Agents invading my county and my jurisdiction.”

“So because we are here,” I said harshly, “you’re bitching at every word we say, and again, seeming to be trying to obstruct the investigation?”

“I’m not obstructing anything.” said the Sheriff, whose eyes flashed fire at my implication he was obstructing us. “And it’s my investigation, not yours.”

“Not so, Sheriff.” I said. “There is scope in this beyond your county. Now why are you being so uncooperative?”

“Like I said before you got here,” said the Sheriff. “I’m sick and tired of God-damned State Agents riding in and running roughshod over us local LEOs.”

“Did they really do that? Were my Agents uncourteous to you when they arrived?” I asked.

“I’m pissed off they arrived at all.” snarled the Sheriff.

“Did they explain the nature of this murder, that it very likely will have ramifications beyond this county?” I asked.

“Yeah, they made their excuses for barging in on us and taking over.” said the Sheriff. “Just like you’re trying to do. But I don’t give a shit. Like I just said, this is my county and my case, and I don’t give a damn that you’re the Iron Crowbar; I want you SBI assholes to get out of my county and leave us to our case.”

“What, are you afraid we might find something out?” I asked, letting my mind as well as my eyes bore into the man as I continued the narrative that his actions were not wholly honorable. “Are you trying to stop us from finding a cover-up by BigAgraCorp?” I saw the first signs of inward fear in him.

“I resent that!” snapped the Sheriff. “Now you—-“

“Good!” I thundered. “If you resent it, then you should also have no problem with our presence and our help. Sheriff, I’ve tried to be courteous as well as cooperative. But this case involves a BigAgraFoods employee that was murdered, and right on top of cyber groups that have been leaking BigAgraFoods emails. If I really need to connect those dots for you, I can do so… but be advised that I’m here to stay, and if you give me any shit, I’m going to take over the case completely, and make your complaints come true, for sure.”

“We’ll see about that!” snarled the Sheriff. “One phone call to Senator Russell, and you’ll be regretting the day you were born.”

“Is that a threat, Sheriff?” I asked quietly, almost jovially like Rudistan would. “I don’t take being threatened very well, especially by corrupt U.S. Senators that think they’re above the law.” The Sheriff’s eyes widened. I didn’t know if it was because his namedropping didn’t work, or if he really thought I was stupid for not fearing the political power of Samuel Russell…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“The Deputies have been friendly enough.” said Orosco as we watched the State Crime Lab team collect evidence before releasing the body to the County Coroner. “Ormond seems to be willing to work with us; the others are trying to keep themselves neutral.

“What do they think of the Sheriff?” I asked.

“They say the Sheriff is pretty good.” said Orosco. “He’s been Sheriff here for 30 years, has solved every crime of any significance here. They’re not sure why he’s so hostile towards us.”

“You think the Sheriff is dirty, sir?” asked Norm Chow in his flat, even voice. One reason I liked Chow is because he did not play, and spoke what he thought.

“I dunno.” I said. “It’s a small county. BigAgraFoods is the main employer around here, along with State Government. And I won’t take bets that U.S. Senator Russell has already contacted him about this. The Sheriff may not be dirty, but I’ll bet he’s feeling some serious pressure right now.”

SBI-SIS Lt. Crenshaw came up to us. “I have some more information on Larry Wheeler. I confirmed that he’s the Assistant Office Manager here, and was in good standing with no issues against him. Co-workers said he seemed happy in his job, never seemed to have any problems, didn’t have any recent or sudden behavioral issues. His pastor at the Baptist Church said he was a Deacon and a family man, loved his wife and kids. He was also the Scoutmaster of Rocktown’s Boy Scout Troop, Troop 223. Nearly every boy that joined that Troop in the last five years has become an Eagle Scout.”

As an Eagle Scout out of Apple Grove, I felt some additional pain at that. Scoutmasters of small-town Boy Scout Troops were special leaders, and Rocktown’s Scouts had just lost theirs.

Just then, to my surprise, several cars full of State Troopers came up. “Is Commander Troy here?” çukurambar escort asked their Lieutenant.

“Right here.” I said.

“Sir,” said the Lieutenant, “we’ve come down as security for the Crime Lab Division Director. She’ll be here before noon, and asked us to check in with you.”

“I appreciate that.” I said, knowing the optics of this would not be lost upon the local LEOs. “Do me a favor and let me know when she gets here.” I then suggested they go to the State Office Complex.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… er, TCPD Headquarters… the coffee klatch was extended as Joanne and Theo talked about their Police Academy courses.

“Top ten percent of your classes, both of you.” said Cindy. “That’s really good.”

“I thought I had a shot at No. 1 in the class.” said Theo. “But this young guy from Pottsville, some guy named Seamus O’Brady, beat me out. He was good, though. Maybe not the Iron Crowbar, but he’s good.”

“Where’s Pottsville?” asked Teddy Parker.

“To make a short story long,” said Cindy, “we have the University Highway that goes from here east to the City. There’s a parallel east-west road, that goes from the University-Midtown Highway east and west to the Interstate between Midtown and the City. Hamilton County is the western end of that road; Pottsville is near the eastern end of it.”

“It was kind of a transportation hub,” said Joanne, “as it’s southeast of Nextdoor County and then to here, southwest of Westphalia and Eastphalia and then the City, and northeast of Midtown. And then State Highway 113 goes southeast of there into the farmland country, towards Rocktown and Van Waring, then on southeast to the State Line at the corner of the State opposite us.”

“They had a good bit of drug traffic through there.” Teresa said, having just come in and overheard the story. “The SBI-NTF under Ferrell didn’t do a damn thing about it, except maybe profit from a few shakedowns, so the FBI and U.S. DEA ran some big stings, and cleaned a lot of it up. So… what did y’all think of the Academy courses?”

Theo said “I’ll be honest: maybe it’s because I’ve worked with you guys and Commander Troy, but that course was almost ridiculously easy. They’re using some of Chief Griswold’s book, which is really good, but if it were up to me, I’d re-write the course to be tougher and weed out some people.”

“Commander Troy did re-write it, after he went through it.” Cindy said. “He told me he wrote it to teach more than to weed out. Can you imagine how it would’ve been if it was written to true Iron Crowbar standards?”

“We’d have all of three graduates per course.” said Theo, with his ‘movie star handsome’ grin.

“What about Advanced Course, Joanne?” asked Teresa. Cindy wondered why Teresa was asking so many questions.

“It was… okay.” said Joanne. “Like Theo said, after working with you guys and the Iron Crowbar, there’s nothing we haven’t seen or done. Most of it is on leadership, and is meant for leaders, like Sergeants, Lieutenants, maybe even young Captains like Captain Ross here…”

Everyone laughed as a green crowbar was waved in Joanne’s general direction. But Cindy was grinning also, knowing she was being ribbed… and that she really was very young for a Police Captain…

Part 3 – Crime Labs and Crowbars

The van pulled into the State Crime Lab building, escorted by a State Patrol car. Parking in the designated space, the door opened and Captain Tanya Perlman locked herself and her wheelchair onto the lift. Everyone was out of the way, knowing well that as soon as that lift touched the ground, the wheelchair would be fired out of there like it was a rocket. Captain Perlman wasted no time.

As she came into the lobby, she saw the tall, broad-shouldered redhead with the red crowbar waiting for her. “Don!” she exclaimed. “It’s so great to see you!”

I bent over into her arms, and hugged her back. “Great to see you. And good timing, too.”

“No coincidence about it.” Tanya said quietly. “When you called me yesterday about Eddy’s message, I began putting the trip together. I told Jack about it, and he’ll have FBI Team Lazarus ready to come down at the drop of a hat.”

“We may need them, too.” I said. “Let’s go see your Crime Lab people, shall we?”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The tour of the Southeast Crime Lab was a total surprise to the technicians there. “Don’t worry, this is not a formal inspection.” said Cpt. Perlman as she addressed everyone in the break room. “I would never have a formal inspection when the Iron Crowbar was here, as he is now. I don’t want to embarrass you, nor myself. So just do what you do.”

The priority was the evidence that had come from the Larry Wheeler death. Many of the technicians here were older, married, and some had known Larry, so they were inspired to get the work done correctly as well as quickly. As I went through the labs, talking with them, I found that they knew well who I was, that I was certified ankara escort to do what they were doing, and that I’d done that work in spite of death threats. They were inspired to do the same, and I knew that might become necessary…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Ma’am,” said the Duty Desk Sergeant at the door to Cindy’s office, “this package just came for Commander Troy.”

“Give it to his assistant.” Cindy said, wondering why she was being bothered.

“Ma’am, you might want to look at this… it’s from a ‘Larry Wheeler’.” said the Sergeant. That got Cindy’s undivided attention.

“Stay here.” Cindy said, taking the package, knowing well that Commander Troy was now investigating the murder of a ‘Larry Wheeler’. She opened the manila envelope, which was stuffed with papers.

“Oh my God.” she said as she saw what the papers were. “Come with me.” They went to MCD, where Cindy had Joanne Warner come with her, keeping the papers under two-(wo)man control. They went to Classroom ‘F’, which was the converted room to Data Branch cubicles. In one of the cubicles was a reader, like a copy machine, but this device stored everything digitally to evidence servers…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“So what’s the situation?” Tanya asked as she, me, and the SIS people talked in the breakroom for a moment. It was around 11:00am, still Thursday, August 3d.

“We haven’t taken the case away from the Sheriff yet.” I said. “But despite it being everything I was against the SBI doing to our County, I am just looking for an excuse to take it over.”

“I’ve got what Captain Ross would all a ‘vibe’ on it.” said Norm Chow in his totally straightlaced manner. “Something’s not right with that Sheriff.”

“Where is he now?” Orosco asked.

“He went back to his office.” said Chow. “Crenshaw and I went over with the Deputies, allegedly comparing notes of the people we talked to this morning at BigAgraFoods. I’m pretty sure he made some phone calls.”

“Okay guys,” I said, “I’m expecting a little visit from one of our U.S. Senators, and soon. I think the State Patrol contingent we have should be enough to protect us, and you may have noticed that most of them were from my County. I appreciate you bringing them down, Tanya.”

“They’re loving it.” said Tanya, sporting her cherubic grin. “Breaks up their routine.”

“Think there will be trouble when Senator Russell arrives?” asked Chow.

“Yes.” I said. “I expect him to try to stop the investigation completely, and force us to turn it back over to the locals.”

“Is he a suspect?” asked Chow.

“A U.S. Senator?” I asked with mock sarcasm. “U.S. Senators don’t kill people!”

“Now who’s being naive?” asked Tanya, right on cue. A fan of the ‘Godfather’ movies, she was. We fist-bumped as we chuckled together.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

2:45pm. The sleek jet landed at the airfield, and was met by two vehicles: the Sheriff’s patrol car, and a black limo SUV with bulletproof glass and a powerful motor. U.S. Senator Samuel Russell disembarked from the plane, curtly shook the Sheriff’s hand, then climbed into the SUV limo.

The small entourage drove to the State Office Complex. Tanya and I watched from the window as they came up.

“The timing is going to be close.” I said, looking at my personal iPhone. “Okay, Tanya, you stay here. Chow, let’s go outside and face off with the Senator.

“Got your crowbar?” asked Tanya jokingly.

“Cat got climbing gear?” I asked, holding up the red crowbar. Tanya grinned.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It did not take long for the confrontation to occur. As Senator Russell walked up toward the door, he was met by SBI Agents and State Troopers. Leading them was a determined-looking redheaded man, the trademark red crowbar in his grubby paws.

“What the hell is going on here, Troy?” snarled the U.S. Senator.

“We’re investigating a murder… of a BigAgraFoods employee, no less.” I replied.

“That’s a job for the local law enforcement officers.” said Russell. “They do not want the SBI here. You of all people know about the SBI encroaching upon local jurisdictions. You need to send your SBI people home. And you need to go home yourself, Troy.” The Sheriff was right behind him, arms folded, nodding vigorously in agreement with the Senator’s words.

“Not gonna happen, Senator.” I said. “The Governor has involved himself, and says he wants the SIS working with the locals, especially as a big company like BigAgraFoods, which has donated so much to your campaigns, Senator, is involved.”

My implication was obvious to all, and Senator Russell’s eyes became slits as he squared up to me. “Now you listen to me, and you listen good.” he said in a lower, quieter, more menacing voice. “The Governor of this State is a worthless piece of shit that won’t be Governor much longer. You may be a good cop, Troy, but you’d better be a good cop in your own jurisdiction, and stop sticking your nose in places where it doesn’t belong—“

The screech of tires interrupted him. I looked up to see a green O65 Imperial Crown with old-style blue light flashing on top, followed by two State Patrol vehicles. They tore into the parking lot at a high rate of speed, and smoke erupted from the wheel wells as the brakes were violently applied.

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