(2019-01-05) Covering Their Tracks
Acting on information from Teija, Olivia visits the gunsmith who decorated the cult's weapons. Sully is needed.

It's a freezing night and the snow is falling. A few inches on the ground already to make driving that little more exciting. Olivia, dressed against the weather in huge jacket, the fur-lined hood up over her head, is stamping her legs awake on the porch of a homestead. A couple of police cars are parked there, the occupants having the wisdom to either stay in the car or in the crime scene house. Olivia is waiting for the M.E.

The homestead is a three bedroom place on a few hundred acres. A large barn near the main house though no sign of any animals. All the lights inside the house are on and police tape had begun to be rolled out before it got too damn cold.

By now, the new ME has made the rounds in the department, making herself known, stealing pastry, drinking awful cop shop coffee, and a good number of the beat cops know her. So when she pulls up, this time driving the van herself, she only need flash her office ID rather than answer annoying questions.

This time, too, Sullivan is dressed warmer for the weather, in hiking boots, thermals and with a black knit cap tucked over her hair, which is pulled back into a tail. She's even wearing an infinity scarf around her neck and seems mildly annoyed that her coffee is cold already. Damn paper cups. "Who ordered the deep freeze?" She slams the van door behind her, leaving her assistant clutching his oh shit handle. Apparently she drives… creatively. By the look on his face.

"Nice looking place," Sully says to Olivia, jogging up toward the house after ducking under the tape with another of those badge flashes. She carries a small satchel over her shoulder and is already half-finishing her coffee and setting it down on the steps to pull on a pair of non-latex gloves.

"Evening, Doc" Olivia greets. She would smile but it would only make her teeth chatter. "We have to stop meeting like this." Because M.E.s have /never/ heard that joke before. "It'll be up for sale soon if you really like it." Nothing like graveyard humor to get through a crime scene. "Come inside where it's warm…er." The Special Agent leads the way, opening the door into a hallway and pulling her hood down.

"Two adult bodies. Shot. I discovered the scene. The man is Boddicker, gun smith. I made some inquiries about a rifle we found with a cult member. I learned Mister Boddicker did the engravings and designs on it. I guess the cult needed to keep him quiet." Olivia gestures through the door to the sitting room, where two bodies lie. Bullet holes through the back of their heads, execution style. No bindings for any of them. A large cross painted in blood on one of the walls with the words 'His judgement is known' scrawled beneath. "Their two children are missing. I assume they are now with the Guardians of Light."

"SA Lopez," Sullivan greets with a grin. She's new to the scene, fresh out of a heated, cozy van, so she still has some to spare. "Occupational hazard, I suppose. Catching up over a body." She says this conversationally, but not without respect. She glances up, with some interest, regarding the sale of the property. Hm. "Well, let's see the inside first. I'm not that handy."

"Gunsmith? That's a shame. Skilled labor is incredibly hard to come by." Sullivan shakes her head, following Olivia deeper into the residence. "That's just rude," she murmurs, at the sight of a gunsmith taken out in this way. "Is this what they do? Murder the parents and take the kids and brainwash them into their ranks?" She approaches the bodies, careful of her feet, to inspect their obvious wounds first.

"It's worse than that" Olivia frowns about what they do with the kids. "They brainwash them /before/ the murders and get the kids to do it. Once you are that devoted, there's no way out except by what the Cult has to offer. The children were at the scene the last couple of times. Might even be lurking around here but I doubt it. Now that 'He' has arrived, no need to leave someone behind to relay a message he is on his way." Olivia takes her hands out of her pockets to flex the fingers a little.

Small caliber bullet wound in the base of each of the victim's skull. Most likely fatal. No other obvious wounds. They are dressed in probably what they wore to bed. Maybe even dragged from bed to die. "I was hoping he could tell us how many weapons he had worked on for them. Now I have to look through files."

Sully glances up, regarding Olivia for a moment before she nods. "Smart." And awful. "Have them cut their own ties so all they have left is the cult." She inspects one and then the other before she moves around to survey the scene as a whole. "The good news is that these wounds were most likely fatal. Barring any surprises at autopsy, you're probably looking at a straight up execution." She glances over at the wall. "With poor-taste graffiti." She stares at the pair for a long moment. "I'm really beginning to dislike this cult leader." Her affect is fairly flat when she says that, though Sullivan quite often is when she's on the job. "How many bodies on the ground does this make, courtesy of them?"

"I'm hoping to meet this leader real soon" Olivia remarks in her flat way, though the anger boils inside. A nod at the announcement that the victims didn't seem tortured; except for probably being killed by their own children. At that last question, Olivia is rather quick with the answer. "Twelve that we know of. Not counting their losses. Yes, twelve, and I'm still waiting for permission to raid the compound. Makes you think they have protection, doesn't it." A nod to the words on the wall. "Can you make sure the blood is from the victims. I have a horrible feeling it might not be."

Sullivan shakes her head, eyes on the bodies for a moment more before she says, "I'll do a little more with them on scene, then get them bundled up and out of the way of the processing." She glances around again, this time inspecting the home. "Looks like they had a good life here." Before. "I had a light day before this callout, and I should be able to start with one of them this evening." Seems like things in Calaveras were getting quiet for a hot second there. "Yes." She sits with the number twelve for a long moment. "I'll take and document my own sample." She's been harassing the hell out of the lab recently, so this might help it process faster. Never let it be said that mild threats and bribery never achieved anything in a lab setting.

"Don't suppose the lab came up with results for that crucifix body?" Olivia asks. No pressure. "A light day? Lucky you. Once we're done here, I've got to go and tell Ms Harkonnen a family friend has been executed and the children are missing. And we know who did it, but we aren't allowed to arrest them. And all the while one of our own is being held hostage up there. I would love a light day." She looks over the crime scene a little before adding. "When you're done, want to come and check out the barn and shed with me? I have a feeling you'll see more than the officers. And…" Her voice lowers in volume a little. "I trust you more."

"They did." Sullivan shakes her head. "I have you on my call-list right after I figure out how to delete the boozy voicemail I left my boss at three am." She's probably joking about that, seeing as she still has a job. "Long and the short of it is they ran the samples, and it is, in fact, a poisoning. They're still running the potential culprits to figure out which it is, but the list narrows. They're meant to call me the moment they know, but I have a call going in Monday first thing." Tiny labs and their banker's hours. Colorado is really killing her this week.
The ME falls silent for a beat, then adds, "I examined a few cross sections of the tattoo to check our supposition. The application is skilled, and had she lived, it probably would have healed beautifully. This is someone with training or a lot of practice in inking."

Olivia nods solemnly to the confirmation of poison. "Sounds like I have tattooists to interrogate…sorry…question. Though it doesn't mean they run a proper business. Could be working the streets on the sly. Looking for people to punish." A pause. "Or I could leave it to the locals if I can't make it a serial crime. They do still have working detectives in this town, don't they?"

The correction Olivia makes prompts a grin from Sully. She covers it quickly, though, lest the patrol officers see the ME smiling at a crime scene. "I imagine it'll start off like a questioning and turn. I've known a few tattooers." She's said that before, of course. "I've met some of the detectives, and I would like to assume some of them do work. Maybe they're busy on cattle thievery and…" She glances out the window. What does go on in Calaveras. "Sorting files. If everything in this town is as messy as the ME files and backlog… and what are the odds, really, that two religious crackpots are trolling this tiny town separately. Until you know otherwise, it's just concerned investigating. I imagine they'd have already filed a complaint with your supervisor if it was a problem." That's her theory and she's sticking to it. Her supervisor's going to get a lot of complaints the day everyone around here remembers how to file.

"You'd be surprised how many religious crackpots there are" Olivia deadpans. "If only we could get them killing each other. Oh wait, they do." A wry arching of an eyebrow. "You have tattoos, Doc? Love to see them someday. I've met a couple of them…detectives, not your tattoos." Her assessment of their abilities is left for another time. "I think my supervisor puts complaints about me straight into the 'Emergency Completed' cabinet. You may know it as a trash can." A pause. "You think they still have cattle rustling here?"

Sullivan's smile goes a bit dark at the suggestion it'd be better if they killed each other. "From your lips to God's ears," murmurs the dark-haired ME. "I do have a few tattoos. If we go out for a drink sometime, maybe I'll show them to you." She slides a hand into her satchel and pulls out a tube with a small swap inside of it. "I assume everything's been photographed?" She moves over to have a better look at the wall. And then she glances over her shoulder, "We call that deep cold storage." The trash can. "It's Colorado, isn't it? Cattle are still worth something. I would be deeply disappointed if they didn't." She doesn't touch the smeared blood until it's been confirmed documented. "Oh, I am still interested in those shooting lessons."

"All photographs taken" Olivia confirms. "He had to use a second camera since the first one froze, but they've been taken. And I took some myself." It should be no surprise that the agent likes to have her own copies too. Just in case an 'accident' befalls the originals. Probably not acceptable in court, but they calm her mind at least. "Any time you want to go shooting, let me know. You have my number. Same with drinks. Just a different kind of shots really. Both fun. And while that cult is out there taking out LEOs, you have to be ready."

"Great." Sullivan glances over. "I hate being blindsided by questions in court." She grins at that, snaps her own photo, takes a single, concentrated swab, and takes another photo, then repeats with a few more random samplings from various areas in the smear. "I'll of course record any physical evidence collected from the bodies, and get the comparison samples to the lab as soon as they're ready to take them." Which will probably be Monday, meaning all this is going to sit in cold storage over the rest of the weekend. Though perhaps it can at least be typed in house. "Yep. I got that about the time my back started bouncing off the roadway." She's mostly deadpan there, but there's still a minor irritation in her voice about it. At least the bruises have nearly healed up. "Maybe we could go halfsies on this place, get you out of your bullet riddled shack." Is Olivia being ribbed? Could this be friendly mocking?

"Aww…you want to move in with me already?" Olivia deadpans in reply. "We haven't even had a date yet." Still, it's a big house. And it has those other buildings…which they still need to check. If Olivia is staying around the area, it might be an idea… "Might be an idea /after/ the cult has been dealt with. I'd hate our new place to get riddled with bullets." She stands quietly as Sully does her job. Thank goodness there is at least one skilled person on this case…other than Olivia of course.

"What can I say," Sullivan's reply comes in a nearly identical tone. "I move fast." She gives the room once last glance, then pulls out a fine tip permanent marker and nearly prints on each sample, initialing after. She tucks them into a side pocket of her bag. "Yes, after the murder children have been rounded up and committed to the appropriate facilities." She makes a few notes in a small book she pulls out, then goes over to check the bodies one last time. She crouches there, and begins going through the clothing carefully. "I'd love to see a copy of the report." Out comes a liver probe. She's still doing this the old fashioned way. Little elbow grease, lots of pressure. She takes an ambient temperature reading with another gadget. Beep beep go her tiny gadgets. She makes a few more notes, then repeats with the other body.

"That's a point" Olivia muses as Sully does her work. "The children will inherit this. Assuming they are still alive…and I hope they are. It's a tangled web we weave, when first we try to buy a house. Shakespeare knew what he was writing about." Her eyes narrow a little at the use of the liver probe. "Need some help with…nope, looks like you got it. I wish the lab worked as fast as you." Olivia takes out her phone, looking up a number but deciding not to call it. Probably should be done face to face. The phone is pocketed.

"Sadly. It's such a beautiful plot of land." Sullivan considers it for a moment more, then cleans off the probe, caps the business end, and stows it back in her bag. She makes notes on the ambient temperature and some other sundry observations, handwriting neat and precise. "If this little burgh continues at the rate it's going, eventually they'll have to funnel more money our way. Hire some dedicated techs." She stands. "I'll process and take my samples at the office. It's easier to do in good light. If my bumbling assistant ever takes his butt out of the van." She slides her notebook away. "I do like a good drama." She smiles faintly, then looks over at Olivia. "Have you toured the outbuildings yet?"

"If this burgh keeps going the way it is going, we'll have our pick of a lot of empty houses" Olivia notes before glancing out towards the front of the building. "Can you blame him for staying in the van?" At that last question she shakes her head. "The officers did a quick look over but, as I mentioned before, I'd rather go over them again with you. You have better eyes than them. For a start, you keep them open. If you're ready, we can go check on our future guesthouse."

"I do have trouble committing to real estate, so it'd have to be a buyer's market." Sullivan murmurs, moving out to the entryway to gesture. Presumably the assistant is waiting for this. She turns back into the room, waiting, obviously. "Sure, let's do that. My charming assistant can get one of the uniforms to help him heft our decedents into the bags and the van beyond. He knows procedure, even if he's frightening by a little accelerator pedal." Sully's lip twitches, and she removes her gloves, stowing them in a baggie she pulls out of her pocket. Those, too, go into her bag. "Let's do it. Guest houses are important."

Olivia is pulling gloves on as she heads for the door. Warm ones…though they will cover prints too. The hood flicked back up as they step outside and start to trudge through the snow towards the barn first. "At least you've got assistants" she smirks. The barn is well-built and looks solid, raising tow stories above them. The main doors closed, so they make their way in through a side door. Olivia taking out her flashlight and switching it on to sweep the bare, muddy floor. "Doesn't look like they kept many animals." There are stables along one wall but no sound of animals.

Sully gestures to her assistant, a brief set of motions that could either be load the bodies carefully or up yours. Hard to say for sure. She follows on after Olivia, back out into the freezing air. Her boots leave a distinctive tread behind her, boots new and light. "One. And I'm not sure where he came from." She glances over her shoulder, but she can't see through the house to what he's doing. Sullivan's mini halogen comes out of her pocket too. She clicks it on and slips on a pair of slim thermal gloves finally, pale hands disappearing in black fabric. "Shame. Land like this should be used." She makes her way further in, slowly, beam sweeping the floor, then sliding up to check the ceiling. She always makes sure to look up.

There is an upper level at one end of the barn. Normally there would be straw up there, but with no animals, it has been turned into a little office with no walls. That must be freezing at this time of year. Olivia sweeps the lower level, walking slowly, looking for anything and everything. "So, when we buy this place, you're turning it into a working ranch? Not sure I can help out there, Doc. You'd need somewhere for all the ranch-hands to live," She stops, brow furrowed. "I wonder where that building is? If this /was/ a ranch once…" and they are in a large barn "…where is it?"

"I don't think livestock is the answer for me, but, I don't know. Maybe one old horse." Sullivan glances up, shakes her head, and makes her way deeper into the structure. "I don't have time to feed animals." She glances around, "You'd think it'd be in sight of the barn, or at least the main paddock." She sweeps her beam around. "Of course, I've never lived on a working ranch." She makes her way to the back to see if there's a door in the other side of the barn. "I don't imagine people get permits to build when they own this much land."

"That's why you get ranch-hands. They do all the work for you" Olivia notes. There is only the double front door and the one side door in the barn. The Fed shines her light up at the office. "I'll go up and check it out." Her flashlight held between her teeth until she climbs up the ladder and retrieves it. A desk, a couple of empty filing cabinets. Not much at all. "Workshop next" she calls down before heading down the ladder. "I guess there aren't a lot of ranches in New York. I doubt you'd ever stop what you do anyway. You love it too much."

Sullivan wasn't going to say it, but, "There could be enormous spiders up there. Have you ever seen a bar spider?" She pops open the side door and peers out briefly, eyeballing the landscape for the shadow of a hint of another structure showing in the moonlight. She sweeps her beam lightly over the immediate area, which really does little this time of day. It's bright, but this land is vast. "I do love my job. It gives me a sense of purpose, and there's some serious job security. Plus," she flicks her light into the barn again, "It's not like I can kill someone when they're already dead."

"And I couldn't fail to notice how much you enjoyed using the liver probe" Olivia deadpans. "A bar spider? Is this some kind of joke about alcohol?" The sweep of Sully's light outside reveals a small mound of snow, obviously higher than the surface around it. Obviously a rock, right? Ignore how flat the rest of the area is.

"What? Oh, barn spider. Sorry. My brain's on wine o'clock already." Sullivan tugs the side door to the barn closed. Or starts to. And then she turns around, peers back out, and sweeps the mound of snow with her light again. She lets the door fall open out of her hand with a creeeaaaaaak. She stares at this section of snow for a moment, then carefully steps out. "I think it's the cold getting to my synapses."

"Understandable, I'd prefer a bar to a barn too." A curious look at Sully's interest in the world outside. "You see something?" Oliva steps out alongside Sully, her light soon finding the mound as well. "Or it could be something" she points out before making her way to the lump through the still falling snow. A gentle brush over the shape causes her to frown. "I don't think it's a rock." Another clearing of snow produces…a small frozen hand reaching for the sky. "Looks like you have more work, Doc."

There's a long moment when Sully stands there watching Olivia catch up, then go over to investigate the mound in the snow. She doesn't say anything for a long time. Snow falls quietly around them, the peaceful blanket over the landscape interrupted only by this vista. She purses her lips. Sullivan blows out a breath. "Right." She slips a hand into her bag, pulls out a small digital camera and snaps off a few shots with the flash, then backs up. "Let's get some lights out here and somebody get patrol to fetch us some hot coffee." She pulls her cell phone out of her pocket and dials, after pulling off one of her gloves. She talks quietly into the phone for a moment, then shakes her head, and relays a few orders to the poor assistant, who then has to relay them to the uniforms securing the scene. Poor kid. She crouches beside the body, almost touches it, then pauses to swap to a fresh pair of non-latex gloves, not saying a word.

Olivia nods about caring for the scene correctly, taking a step back in her own footprints to make her own calls. Sully probably has more authority over the locals than an advising FBI agent, but she will contribute to get things moving. Once that is done, and Sully is getting to work, Olivia starts doing a circuit of the area. The falling snow doesn't help with finding physical evidence. Footprints long gone. The officers soon show up, lugging lights and a generator, bathing the area in a sickly yellow glow. The photographer is back, cursing the cold once more. Coffees are delivered for the two women, Olivia finding a spot to watch as more and more of the frozen corpse is slowly revealed. Probably one of the victim's children.

"Now," the Medical Examiner murmurs, "I triply invested." Sullivan says this quietly. Clearly, she was invested before, but dead kids are a whole other ballgame. She nods to the photographer, stepping back long enough for the scene to be documented overall, then details shot. When it's time for that, she herself performs as the photographer's assistant. She steps back a few moments later to take the hot coffee, breaking enough to drink some of it, waiting for all the details to be observed before she nods to her assistant to get in there with her to help, or really hold things while she excavates the child to estimate age, injury, and to gather the snow carefully in a couple of buckets to melt back at the ranch, so to speak. "Wider radius," she says to her assistant, asking for a clear of several feet in each direction.

Olivia sips slowly on her coffee, alternating between watching Sully work and scanning the world around them. The perpetrators could still be out there. Watching. Laughing. Or, in their case, praying their thanks to their mad leader. It is a boy, about ten years old, matching the description of one of the missing children. He wears only his underwear. He would have died from exposure but had been helped along by the numerous stab wounds that mark his body. The snow against is body drenched red. His throat slit from behind - the wound that would have killed him. The look on his face is of contentment rather than fear. Cut into his back, with the same knife that killed him, is 'He failed Him'.

A while later when Sullivan turns the body to inspect those wounds, she pauses, hands light and careful. She nods to her assistant, and a body bag is produced, the crinkly material bright white rather than black, which is so much easier for spotting trace and transfer after a body's been removed from it to process. Not that there's likely to be much more than a bunch of blood in this case. Sullivan's lips press together and she helps lift this body, closing the bag. By now, she has to be feeling the cold in a pretty significant way. She turns to Olivia, body a little stiff from crouching in the cold, and says, "I should get back and get started. Multiple stabbings require an incredible amount of processing." She pulls off her gloves, stows them, and swaps back to her warm ones, though her fingers are done for a while. She slips her hands into her pockets. She doesn't say anything for a while, but her gaze is steadily on Olivia's face, and she's quite clearly thinking things about this cult leader that she can't and shouldn't say in any official capacity where it could be overheard.

Olivia understands completely and offers a nod to Sully. "Thanks for coming out, Doc" she states softly, but sincerely. Any additional sympathy/comforting would probably be not good in an official setting. "Let me know what you find out." She looks up at the falling snow. "I'm going to stay here for a little while. See if I can find those records. Give me a call sometime."

There's a beat before Sully replies aloud, "You got it." She nods and slides her phone out of her pocket again. "I'll start tonight. Be in touch soon." She doesn't offer to let Olivia watch the postmortem this time. It's gonna be a long night. "I will. Drinks. Let me know if you find anything else. I'll come back out." At some point. She nods, "SA Lopez." And then she's headed out with the body to join the other bodies. ME's office has a full house tonight.

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