The air was cold and smelled strongly of coffee as I entered the precinct. The room was buzzed more than usual.
“All hands on deck rookies; make yourself useful.” Sgt. Nygaard said begrudgingly as he handed us a pile of paperwork. Sergeant Nygaard was our attending officer; I am only a trainee and we’ve only been assigned here last month. I reach for the pile and see a file about some fire.
“Why are we investigating a fire? Isn’t that the fire department’s job?” I ask Sergeant Nygaard.
“We’re not investigating the fire. We’re investigating what happened after. Just keep reading rookie.” He replies as he walks back to his desk. I keep on reading and I have to say, it peaked my interest.
Early in the morning, at about 2 AM, a fire broke out at the Boucher residence. Everyone, the six children and the couple, was fast asleep when the fire broke out. Luckily Mr. and Mrs. Boucher woke up and went on to rescue two of the children but when they were about to go back to rescue the rest of the children, the fire was already out of hand. The fire lasted an hour and a half. When Mr. Boucher went back to retrieve the bodies of the four children, they were gone; there were no bodies. Further investigation discovered that the water pipes and the phone lines were cut off.
“Well this family is stupid, why did they not just use the fire escape?!” Wade interjected.
“The first respondents thought of the same thing, but it turns out the fire escape was locked and the escape ladder was missing.” Morello replied.
“Then somebody is obviously trying to kill them, Mrs. Boucher is a woman of power.” Floyd argues while sipping his coffee.
I forgot; Mrs. Boucher was a former Congresswoman. However, she lost the reelection for her second term but she won again in this year’s elections. She’s still technically Mrs. Boucher because she’s not yet inaugurated.
“That’s a valid but highly implausible. Mrs. Boucher may be a woman of power but she’s not the type that makes political enemies. She’s not very ambitious.” I object.
“Whatever you say, but I still think somebody is trying to kill them.” Floyd insists.
“If they’re trying to kill the Bouchers because Mrs. Boucher is a woman of power, then why did they have to kill the whole family? Why not just hire a guy to kill Mrs. Boucher while she’s not suspecting it?”
“I don’t know, maybe they’re sending a message.”
“Who’s sending a message? We have no idea who did it. If someone is trying to send a message, then they have to at least leave some sort of signature to let people know who is sending the message.”
“Alright, you win. Can’t a man just pitch in his theory?” Floyd finally concedes.
“Floyd may be right though. The woman of power angle is farfetched, but someone is trying to kill the whole family. We just need to know why.” Morello suggests.
“Alright, we’ll just have to go to Mr. and Mrs. Boucher for questioning. Morello, you should come with me.” I appeal.
“Hey, why did she have to come?” Wade asks.
“Because she’s smarter than you two dumbasses.” I jokingly reply.
The lobby of the Whitman Hotel was almost empty that morning. It was pretty unusual for a 5 star hotel to be practically deserted during the holidays.
“Good morning sir, madam, how may I help you?” The receptionist asks.
“We’re looking for Patrick and Linda Boucher. We’re the officers in charge with the investigation of their case.” I reply.
“Oh, I see.” she comments as she went on to check the database of where the Boucher’s rooms are. “They’re at room 330.”
The elevator dings when we arrived at the third floor. The long hallway was adorned with the greenery of indoor plants. It doesn’t seem to match the regal style of the hotel, whatever that means.
“Why did you tell her that we’re officers?” Morello curiously asks.
“Do you think that she would just give us their room numbers if I told her we were only trainees?” I answer.
“Fair point.” she concurs as she knocks the door of room 330.
The door opens and we see Mrs. Boucher, still in her morning get up, seems like she was just getting ready to go out for errands.
“What do you want?” she asks as she covers herself with the bathrobe and undoes her morning curls.
“Good morning Mrs. Boucher, I’m Agent Morello and this is my partner. We’re from the station and we’re here to ask about the fires that had happened in your residence on the morning of December 4, 2008.”
“Sure thing, please come in.” she opens the door, wider this time to let us in.
The room was nothing special. It was your typical hotel room. No kitchen, one bathroom, 3 beds, cable TV; nothing noteworthy, maybe except that it’s not really a “room” but a group of rooms
“Would you agents want some coffee?” she asks as if she forgot that she was not at her home or there was no kitchen.
“No thanks” I reply.
“My husband’s still in the shower. Would you care just to wait a little bit?” she utters.
“No, not at all”
(don’t explicitly say that they sat on the couch and waited for the couple to finish getting ready.)
The couple sits opposite to us; Mr. Boucher on the leather chair while Mrs. Boucher on the ottoman. In between us is a cheap coffee table, probably from IKEA.
“Would you care to walk us through what happened.” Morello implores.
“Well, I woke up at about 2 in the morning. At first I thought it was one of those times when you just randomly wake up in the middle of the night, but it was not in this case. I saw smoke, or smelled smoke. I quickly woke Linda to tell her that there’s a fire. We grab Wendy and Louise; they are our youngest and they slept in the room opposite to ours and sprinted out of the house. Amidst all the panic, we forgot for a minute about James, Michael, Peter, and Angela. I tried to come back for them but the fire escape was locked. It’s as if someone is trying to trap us. When I was about to enter through the front door, the fire was already out of hand. And I couldn…” Mr. Boucher tells as he is about to tear up. “I just couldn’t save them.”
Mr. Boucher reaches for his wife’s hand “I’m sorry Linda, I couldn’t save them.” he says with tears rolling down his cheek.
“I’m really sorry about your loss Mr. Boucher, but could you continue on what happened next?” Morello interrupts.
“We waited it out. We called the fire department and waited. There was nothing else we could do.” Mr. Boucher continues. “When the fire was out, everything was gone. The whole house burned down.”
“Did you go inside to check the damages, or at least retrieve the bodies of your children?” I ask.
“Yes, but the thing is, there was no body. There was no sign of anything, which is strange.” he answers.
“That is odd. Do you think that they woke up and got out?”
“Well, I hope so.”
“Let’s just hope for the best Mr. Boucher. Do you suspect that this was no accident? That this was foul play?” Morello interrogates.
“Who do you think would burn our house down? We are outstanding citizens of this town; we don’t have enemies that I know of.” Mrs. Boucher proclaims.
“Please, call me Linda. Don’t be too formal” she requested.
“Alright; Linda, have you sometimes noticed that you make friends without even knowing it?” Morello asks.
“Yes, but what are you trying to say?”
“Well, it goes the same way with enemies. You may think that you’re the nicest person in the world, you may even be the nicest person; but you cannot walk this earth without making a few enemies.”
The precinct was almost empty when we’ve arrived. It was almost noon; lunch time. Wade and Floyd sit at their desks, eating their packed lunches.
“Hey there love birds! How was your date?” Wade suggested while chewing on his salad.
“Shut up Wade. Did your mama give you vegetables for lunch ‘cause she thinks you’re getting fat?” Morello interjects in an annoyed deadpan manner.
“Well I’m offended that you reacted that way; but yea, shut up Wade.” I replied sarcastically.
“I found something weird guys.” Floyd interrupted.
“What is it?” I ask.
“You all know that Patrick Boucher owns a mining company, right?”
“Yes.” We monotonously replied.
“And last year, he suffered major losses, thinking there is silver and gold beneath the hills just at the end of the town?” he continues.
“Yes” we said monotonously.
“That is weird. How can we know all about whether or not his mining business suffered losses? He didn’t call for a press conference or anything.” Wade impedes.
“Well, this is a small town; and small town gossip travels.” Morello argues.
“Something’s not right. I guess I’m starting to figure out the loopholes of this crime” Floyd continued.
“Your point?” Wade asks.
“Ok. First question; how did you come upon such information?” I interrogate.
“I know a guy.” he replies.
“Second question, don’t you think this is just too speculative? Why would they burn their own house down? And the four children that were missing, what happened to them?” I utter.
Now that everything seems to be quite vivid, our brain started uttering questions and we were more than ready to solve the case.
“Maybe someone hid them somewhere.” I ended.