(2018-09-12) Seeing Red pt. 1
Franklin and Ashlea investigate a loose end related to the shooting.

GM'd by: Maddie

It's been more than a week since the shooting. The I.D.s the bartender from Slim's brought in were many, and it took some wrangling to get everybody to come in for questioning. It was nothing but mindless labor, calling people in, questioning them, and then seeing them to do the door. It turned up absolutely nothing — but there was one outlier. A man named Thomas Cutter. A local. Who didn't respond to a single call…

A retired miner, Tom's known around Calaveras, and he's well-liked, too. He's a friendly retiree, who enjoys golfing, beer, and old western movies. He's clean; nothing on his record but a minor traffic violation from 1993. He lives in one of the bigger trailers in Ash Park, with his wife and high school sweetheart, Felicia.

Maybe his popularity let him off the hook for a few days, maybe it didn't. But either way, it's been too long. Suspiciously long. And the Calaveras PD need to tie up the loose ends…

The car pulls up outside the trailer. Not in the designated driveway for it, but deliberately blocking that. Ashlea puts it in park and eyes the house even as she speaks to her passenger. "Just go ahead and unfasten the snap on your holster to be careful. You're vested yeah?" Glancing over to see for herself. As for Ashlea, she is, but it's under her blouse and blazer, but her badge is at her waist and her weapon within reach. She reaches for the door. "You want to take lead in this?"

Franklin doesn't need to be asked twice; especially for a visit to the trailer park, which he is not entirely unfamiliar with. Once the ride pulls to a stop, he leans to the side to peer at the trailer in question. "I'm vested, but let's hope we don't get to the point of needing them." He offhands while unsnapping his safety belt. The door opens and he steps out, taking the time to visually inspect the trailer unit. "It's your investigation, Detective. I'm just here for moral support." The big guy quips with a shrug of his massive shoulders. "But if you want me to go in first, I'm cool with it too."

Once out of the car, Ashlea tosses a nod his way. "Yeah, I'm hoping it doesn't come to vests, but better safe and all." No one dying on her watch hopefully. She hesitates only briefly. "I'll take it, we'll see how it goes from there. If you're able to get a read on anyone and find something you think that you can say to get them to talk, then by all means." With that, she walks over, up any steps to the front door and once they are both there, she raps on the door with what could only be called a cop knock.

Ash Park isn't known for housing Calavera's most upstanding citizens, so the presence of the police has drawn a little bit of a crowd. People peek through the shutters of their windows, and loiter on the outskirts of the scene. The CPD are probably familiar with Ash Park's resident manager, an elderly woman by the name of Beatrice, who lives with her seven cats. The manager's office is a small, run-down little building that's not much more than a desk and an old, dusty floor fan. Beatrice watches as well, from the office doorway.

The lights are on in the trailer, but it's dead silent inside. Knock. Knock knock. No one answers. No matter how many times Ashlea's knuckles hit that flimsy little door.

"… Ya lookin' fer the Cutters?" comes Beatrice's creaky voice from across the court. "Ain't seen 'em in days. Think they got on vacation." Unlikely, since Thomas's truck is still in the driveway.

Frank nods to Ashlea, holding out a hand and gesturing for the detective to step up to the door. While the pair waits, the big cop's attention is drawn towards the voice of the park manager. With a lift of his chin, Franklin turns and strolls casually towards the old cat's unit. "Bea." Frank hollars, clearly familiar with the woman. "You know where they might have gone? Looks like they left in a hurry." He turns his head back in the direction of Ashlea and the Cutters' trailer, jerking a thumb thataway. "Lights still on. Truck's still parked. C'mon, where are they?"

No answer even after Ashlea knocks again. Listening for movement, all she can hear is the lady across the street. Turning that way while still keeping an eye on the door, she seems glad for the familiarity of the officer beside her and the manager of the court. The questions are good ones, but she only inserts one other one. "Are they paid up on their rent currently?"

"I dunno where the Cutters gone. I needs'a vacation myself," Beatrice says to Franklin. Oh — She's drunk. It's suddenly very obvious that she's incredibly drunk. She hiccups, and then warns: "Don't be standin' 'round too much, ya hunky chunk'a meat, there's a bear in the woods nearby. Heard'a bunch'a rustlin' a few days ago." She gestures one pudgy hand out towards the woods that skirt around the trailer park. "One'a the stray cats is dead… Huh? Rent?" Beatrice pauses for a while, and then nods. "Ayup. Paid at the beginnin' of the month." She rubs at her nose, which is drippy with snot.

Hands go to his hips, head tilts, and an impatient furrow creases his brows. "Isn't it too early in the day to get that drunk? Go easy on the hard stuff, Bea. Your liver's gonna thank you." Frank calls to the crazy old bag, turning back to Ashlea and shaking his head. "Let's check around the trailer and see if we can look inside." He suggests in a low voice once he's rejoined the detective. Another backwards glance is spared at Beatrice's window. "May wanna check the woods about this… bear. I don't remember any bear calls lately, but she's not prone to making things up like that."

Drunk and drippy hearing rustling in the woods. Immediately, Ashlea looks towards that direction knowing she was going to be checking that out tonight. "Definitely the woods where the disturbance was. If something happened to the Cutters, it could at least be a trail to follow." She makes to move behind Franklin who would be much more able to glance in the taller windows than herself. "If you see anything, we've got probably cause and can skip the warrant." The words are given quietly as she walks with him.

Frank nods; that's exactly what he is going to do. Taking the lead, he begins circling the trailer, stopping by every window and attempting to peer in. If any windows are left ajar? Even better. He can try to pry those open a bit more for a better look.

<FS3> Franklin rolls Mind+alertness: Good Success. (3 8 7 2 1 1)

At the back door, Ashlea takes a look inside, curious if she is able to make out anything inside. Then she moves along with Frank, even sniffing the air for something to be amiss. Something was going on. Taking a glance from the house to the woods, she checks for any trails or tracks or drag marks. Being a detective, everything was under suspicion.

<FS3> Ashlea rolls Mind+alertness: Success. (2 4 1 3 6 3 7 3 6)

Both the backdoor and side windows provide a clear look inside. Franklin can see the living room with ease, and Ashlea can catch the scent of decay. Not that it matters, because Frank has a perfect view of its source: Felicia is dead, her body covered in stab wounds as she lays on the old, shitty leather couch inside the trailer.

Ashlea will also notice boot prints — pointy-toed and cowboy-esque — leading into the brush and overgrowth of the San Juan Mountains. They're old, probably few days, as some of them have been swept up or cleared by the wind.

"Ohhhhh Shi…." Frank begins to swear, as soon as he spots the gruesome scene through the window. Instinctively, his sidearm — a Desert Eagle, not some puny Glock - is drawn. He spares a quick glance at Ashlea, in case the detective hasn't seen the corpse. "We have a stabbing victim." He says hurriedly, and is already moving pronto back to the front door. "I'm gonna bust down the door. Cover me, detective?"

There's a definite expletive from Ashlea and she goes double time to keep up with Frank's larger steps. Her gun is drawn, no safety on, ready to fire. "I got your six Sergeant." She prepares at the door for when he breaks it open to go in if there's anyone alive inside. On the way from the back to the front, she makes a quick call to the station giving the happenings, then puts it away to cover him. "Got it, let's do this."

<FS3> Franklin rolls Body+athletics: Great Success. (6 6 1 7 8 8 7 8 2)

Franklin comes up to the door, taking a moment to listen for any noise that may indicate the presence of others - not that he's expecting any. Exchanging a silent look with Ashlea, the big guy takes center stage and gives the door a good, solid kick with a thick boot. It's like being hit by a battering ram: the door doesn't just fly open, it's literally torn off the hinges, as well as snapping in half and splinters flying everywhere. Frank doesn't even slow down as he rushes inside, aiming his gun this way and that before moving carefully towards the woman's corpse. Once there, he drops to a crouch next to the blood-soaked couch, and performs a cursory check for life signs. Well. He looks back at Ashlea with a frown, and shakes his head. He's dead, Jim.

The apartment is a mess, and the signs of struggle are obvious. A broken lamp on the ground. Furniture shoved into strange angles. Trails of blood droplets zig-zagging around the old, shitty carpet. Felicia's body is sprawled out on the couch, half-naked, her corpse slightly blue and bruised in places. The entire place reeks. Some things don't make sense. Things that don't happen in a struggle; but in a rage. There are fist marks in the wall, as if someone was punching it for the sake of punching it. Everything has been destroyed like a tornado came through. Even the T.V. remote has been snapped in half.

And Thomas was the nicest man in town. Could he really have done this? Always energetic and full of quick wit; at least that's what the locals said. The fastest putter in all the range. Never argumentative. Could he really, really, really be the guy that fired first in Slim's?

Waiting for the sign, Ashlea nods in response to the silent look as soon as the door is… obliterated, she rushes in behind him, aiming her gun where he isn't, glancing around for any hidey hole. The stench hits her and she almost vomits then and there. Not usually like her. She manages to hold it in and only breathes in with her mouth. In and out. Watching as he checks, her suspicions are confirmed with that shake. "So did the husband do it, or is he a missing person too." It's a question but a more rhetorical one. No one knows. Yet. "Forensics is on the way, we'll have to put the tape around the entire trailer and when they get here we can check out the woods. I'd like to look around the trailer for other clues once the ME clears us to." After the body is gone. "Was someone looking for something or were these folks just hated so bad." Another question that needed answering. She looks at Franklin. "These are people you know. What's your thoughts?"

At the very least, guns are no longer needed, so Frank's Desert Eagle is lowered but not yet holstered. He frowns at Felicia's corpse, ignoring the stench and looking back towards Ashlea. "No, this doesn't add up." His gaze moves from the punch marks on the walls, followed by a finger-point. "Look at those. This wasn't someone breaking in; this was someone enraged and frustrated." Beat. "And Thomas Cutter was never known to be a violent man. If he did this… something snapped him. I don't know. Maybe he shot someone by accident at Slim's, and he went crazy afterwards." Well that's one theory. "But I guess we'll find out more when Forensics come over for a look."

It's a grim mood; a dark cloud over the trailer park as the cops exit the Cutter's residence. The drawing of that gun and the breaking down of the door either made people hunker down inside their trailers or peek out with curiosity. Rumors are already starting, and the murmurs can be heard all around:

"Did Thomas Cutter kill his wife?"

"Is he a madman?"

"It was the bear!"

"I always knew he was cuckoo…"

It's too early to really know anything, other than Thomas is missing and his wife is dead. At this point, it's all speculation. But forensics will be here soon, and maybe they'll be able to shed some light on the situation…

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