Chapter 27

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Raymond Stewart pulled his cruiser to the side of Potter Road. At three thirty that morning, a local high school girl, Kelly Johnson, had been found unconscious outside the emergency room door of the hospital. Her wrists were nearly shattered and there was a deep laceration on her chest that took over twenty stitches to close, along with multiple scratches and bruises covering the rest of her body. Whoever had dropped her off failed to report in to the hospital, but had given her first aid. Her laceration had been covered, her wrists were in rough splints and she had been wrapped tightly in a blanket. The cameras outside the hospital were no help, apparently when the tapes were reviewed, the cameras showed an empty doorway, then cut off to just under a minute of static before coming back to life to reveal the girl lying alone and unconscious in the doorway. The desk attendant had stepped away to use the bathroom and came back to find the girl alone.

 Things didn’t get any less confusing after she had received treatment and was lucid enough to give a report. According to her story, she was running alone on Potter Road and heading back to her car when she was attacked. She reported that her assailant moved too fast for her to see, and by the time he had her on the forest floor, it was too dark to make out any details of his face. She said his hands felt like ice and his breath was cold and smelled awful. She said his grip was strong enough to fracture both her wrists with one hand while he cut her with the other, and although the assailant has ripped her shirt off there were no signs of sexual abuse. She reported he had torn her shirt for the sole purpose of cutting her, and that he had started drinking the blood from her laceration before he was attacked himself.

At that point, she didn’t remember much of anything, saying everything had gone black. The decision was made to head out to the spot she had been attacked and search for whatever they could find.

Raymond stepped out of his cruiser and waited for a truck to pass before joining the other policemen and dogs that were getting ready to start searching the woods. He walked over and joined a small group of people who were busily looking over a map of the area trying to decide the best place to start looking. An officer Raymond didn’t recognize leaned over the map and tried organizing people in an effort to setup a search grid. The man didn’t look old enough to shave and yet here he was trying to tell people outside of his department how to do their jobs. Raymond rolled his eyes, he was glad to get help from other departments on cases like this, he just wished they wouldn’t try to put themselves in charge just because they were helping out a smaller department, especially if they didn’t look like they had any experience.  

“I think if we walk ten feet apart in this direction we should be able to find whatever evidence is out there. If we do that, we’ll be able to cover most of the ground within the hour, we’ll go in one hundred yards before we come back out and search the next area.”

Raymond only half listened to the officer leaning over the map and looked out into the woods behind the small group. As thick as the woods were around here he had little hope they would be able to find much of anything. Letting out a sigh, Raymond readied himself for a long hot day in the woods. He was too old for this.

 According to the girl, this was the general location she had been initially attacked on the road, and she didn’t think she was carried too far into the woods before the rest of the incident happened. If the girl was right, they should find a body or at the very least evidence of a fight before too long. And hopefully clues as to what happened.

More cars pulled up alongside the group, Raymond looked at the K-9 lettering on the sides of the cars and let out another sigh, this one of relief. At least they were smart enough to get search dogs, he thought to himself. His thoughts were interrupted when another officer, Keith Bennett, walked up and stood beside him, gesturing to the hot and thick woods they were about to spend the day in. Keith was only two years out of the academy and still counted as a rookie in the department, but Raymond had trained him and knew he did good work. Plus he liked Keith, no small thing.

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