Cuckolding story

A Circumstantial Case

by Ajax

07/29/2016 03:57 in oral


It was Saturday night, and the sun had just gone down, creating that twilight that leaves you wondering whether you should have your headlights turned on yet or not. Mark Evans didn't have to make that choice, as he was in the process of pulling into his garage, located on a quiet residential street in Sharpsburg. In a moment the slim, dark-haired man emerged from the side door carrying his garment bag, briefcase and laptop case, long experience allowing him to manage the three bulky items with ease. One didn't travel as much as he was forced to, without developing this type of skill.

He unlocked and entered the side door of his home, but didn't bother to call out to his wife, Lisa, to let her know he was there; he already knew she wasn't home. Instead, he walked through to the living room with his briefcase and laptop, having deposited his garment bag at the foot of the stairs leading up to the second floor of their modest, but comfortable, home. He set the two items on the sofa before removing his topcoat, which he then carried to the closet near the front door, where he hung it on its accustomed hanger.

Only now, with both hands free and in the comfort of his own home, did he remove his jacket and tie, and unbutton the top two buttons on his white shirt. He didn't normally wear such formal business attire, but today he'd returned from a regional meeting of managers working for his employer, ABC Industries. Technically he wasn't in management, but his role as the most knowledgeable systems analyst on staff mandated that he had to attend the meetings in Pittsburg. His immediate supervisor was a good man at organizing the personnel, but he knew virtually nothing about the computer systems that let their business operate smoothly.

He could have been home the night before, but that wouldn't have fit with his plans. Instead he had told his wife that the meeting was followed by a series of workshops that would last the weekend, and that he would be returning on Monday. He had his reasons for telling her that, and had been forced to waste time for the majority of the day so that he wouldn't return home too early. He also wished he had been able to pack more comfortable clothing for this trip, but if he had done so Lisa might have wondered why he needed to do that; he never took anything but his dress clothes to these regularly scheduled business meetings.

Now that he was at home, his first step would be to go have a shower and then change into something a little more comfortable. 20 minutes after disappearing upstairs with his garment bag, he returned to the main floor dressed, wearing his more normal jeans and polo shirt, and looking very refreshed from his quick shower.

The next half-hour was spent choosing, reheating, and then eating a meal comprised of leftovers from the refrigerator. Lisa was a good cook, and even the leftovers made a good meal. His meal was washed down with a bottle of light premium beer, one of his few vices. By the time he had finished the bottle of beer he had moved to the living room, where he was now stretched back in a La-Z-Boy chair, reading the front page of the local newspaper. To any casual observer he was a typical husband, relaxing after a long and arduous trip out of town.

In truth, he was simply killing more time, following his script to the letter, patiently waiting for the selected time to bring his major personal crisis to a head. He'd had a month to work alone on the five stages of grief, and really, the only one to have been successfully dealt with was denial. Anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance were all in play at the moment. He hoped that over the course of the night he could make some progress on several of those remaining four stages.

It was after midnight, and Sunday was freshly minted, when he finally seemed satisfied with what his watch was telling him, and got up to return the empty beer bottle to the kitchen counter. While there he moved his dirty dishes to the dishwasher, before using a damp cloth to return the tabletop to a pristine condition. He knew as he did these minor chores that it was simply a form of delay, a way for his second thoughts and apprehensions to make him reconsider his chosen path. When no new solution to his problem presented itself, he went to the hall closet for a light jacket, and then began making his way to the side door, and the beginning of his nights' mission.

As his fingertips brushed the doorknob he suddenly yanked his hand back, snapped his fingers, and said, "Damn! I almost forgot." He hurried back into the living room, placed his briefcase on the coffee table, and then set his laptop upon the briefcase. In less than a minute he had turned on the laptop, logged himself in and had secured a connection to the Internet through the wireless router situated in the computer room he and Lisa maintained. Several minutes of typing and sending an e-mail completed the tasks that he had forgotten, and once he had logged off and shut down the laptop, he returned to the side door, confidently and unhurriedly leaving the house.

After spending about five minutes in his garage, he raised the garage door, backed out onto the street, turned on his headlights and slowly drove away as the garage door closed silently behind him.

+++++++

It was 7:37 a.m. when the Sharpsburg 911 operator answered a new incoming call. "This is your 911 Emergency Operator. What is the nature of your emergency?"

A vaguely female voice, seemingly young, replied on an apparently poor telephone connection, "I... I think I need the police. I think a crime has been committed."

The 911 operator coolly continued, "What is your location, ma'am? We need your location to send the police on the call."

"I'm... I'm on Park Drive, the payphone on Park Drive beside George Washington Park." The word payphone immediately explained the poor connection to the operator.

"What kind of crime has been committed, ma'am? Have you been attacked or robbed?"

There was a slight delay before the young woman replied, "No, it's not me. I'm OK. It's just... I just came from jogging through the park on the paved access road, the one that circles around to the picnic areas. There's a car there, beside one of the picnic sites. The doors are open, and the light is on inside it, and there's blood... Lots of blood."

The 911 operator was now very interested in the call, and asked, "Will an ambulance be needed? Are there injured parties involved?"

"No, there's no one there that's injured. At least I didn't see anyone there. There's just the empty car and the blood." A few seconds passed before the woman continued, "I didn't look around too much. I was afraid that someone would be coming after me too, so I ran out here to the pay phone to call you."

"You did the right thing, I'm sure. A car has been dispatched and should be there in less than 10 minutes. Please wait for the officers so that you can tell them exactly where this car is situated."

The caller, sounding a bit anxious, replied, "No, I'm not going to wait around here. What if whoever did this comes after me? I'm going to go straight home." Her last words were followed by the click of the receiver as she hung up the phone.

The 911 operator looked helplessly at her screen as the blinking computer image of the caller's number disappeared as the phone was hung up. "Damn. I suppose this was just her idea of a joke. Oh well, hopefully I didn't take those officers away from anything more important than their coffee break."

+++++++

It was almost 2 p.m. on that Sunday afternoon when Detective Peter Nesbitt suddenly sat up straightly in his seat as a car turned into the driveway at the Evans residence. He was already getting out of his unmarked car as the pretty, short haired, blond woman driving the car pulled up to a stop in front of the garage.

He was walking rapidly across the street as she got out of her car, and he quickly said, "Excuse me. I'm looking for Mrs. Evans."

She turned around as she removed an overnight case from the seat beside her and replied, "I'm Lisa Evans." She took a second look at the detective and continued, "Do I know you?"

"No ma'am. I'm Detective Peter Nesbitt of the Sharpsburg police. I'm here in regard to your husband, Mark Evans. We're in the process of trying to locate him with regard to finding his car abandoned in George Washington Park this morning." He quickly returned his photo ID and badge to his pocket.

Lisa Evans' face was momentarily overcome with grave concern, before it cleared and she said, "Mark is in Pittsburgh. He always leaves his car at the airport when he takes these trips, so I don't know how it could have been found in the park. You must be mistaken."

By this time Detective Nesbitt had reached her side, and he continued, "No, we're very certain it's his car. Both the license plate and the VIN correspond with his registration."

Her face now showed consternation, and she began walking slowly towards the side door of her home. "Well, if it's his car, then it must have been stolen from the airport. I don't know what else I can tell you."

The detective was quite persistent, and once again spoke up. "When was the last time you spoke with your husband? Would it be possible for you to call him now, so that we can verify he is really still in Pittsburgh? Does he have a cell phone you could call?"

Lisa Evans stopped abruptly and turned to face the detective. She placed her overnight bag on the ground beside her and dug in her purse for her cell phone. "He called me early yesterday afternoon from Pittsburgh. If it will make you happy, I'll call him right now." She pressed a set of numbers on her phone, anxious to show the detective that her husband hadn't been in the park.

A moment later, a cell phone began to ring in the detective's jacket pocket. He pulled it out, and brought it to his ear before saying, "Hello, Mrs. Evans."

The look of surprise on Lisa's face was quite genuine. In a moment, when the shock had subsided, she said, "Where did you get Mark's phone?"

The detective switched the phone off and began to put it into his jacket pocket again when she said, "You should give me my husband's phone. It must have been lost"

"I'm afraid I can't, Mrs. Evans. It's now evidence in a possible major crime. It was found on the floor of your husband's car."

Lisa was once again concerned, and asked, "A major crime? What do you mean?"

"Your husband's car was found early this morning in the middle of George Washington Park. The doors were open and there was a lot of blood and a bullet hole in the passenger's seat. There was more blood outside the car, and evidence that another bullet had been fired. We searched the park thoroughly, and didn't find anyone who could've been the victim of the violence noted. We really need to locate your husband so that we can rule him out as the victim or the perpetrator. Would it be possible for you to try calling him at his hotel in Pittsburgh?"

Lisa turned back to the house, picked up her overnight case and said, "Certainly; I can do that. I have the hotel's number in my address book. He always stays at the same Holiday Inn. I'm sure he must have forgotten his cell phone in the car, and that's why it was there when his car was stolen. Come inside with me and we'll get this taken care of immediately."

Detective Nisbett followed her into the kitchen and watched while she set her case and purse down, located the address book, and quickly began dialing the phone while absent mindedly looking across the hallway into the living room. He could clearly hear the hotel clerk saying, "Hello... Hello," as he watched her place the handset back on the phone. As she hung it up she was turning to the detective, her face ashen, and quickly said, "Mark has been home! His briefcase and laptop are in the living room, on the coffee table... I don't understand."

The detective had a pensive look on his face as he stepped back and took his own cell phone out of an inside pocket. He quickly dialed a number and said, "Hello, Dave; Pete here. I need you to get hold of the DA on call. I'd like a search warrant for the Evans residence. We're going to need to search this place to help us decide whether Mr. Evans is involved as a victim or potential suspect. Bring it up here to me as soon as you get it. I'll be waiting." He hung up and sat down across from Lisa.

"A search warrant? Why do you need that? You're welcome to look at anything you want; just ask. I want you to find my husband!"

Detective Nesbitt looked impassively at Lisa and said, "I want to do this by the book, ma'am. If I perform an illegal search, and your husband has been involved in anything illegal, anything I find may not be usable in court."

Lisa was a bit angry now and quickly replied, "Illegal? Mark is not involved in anything illegal. He works on computers, for God's sake."

"Well, something brought him back to town unexpectedly. Can you think of any reason why he would be here unexpectedly, and unknown to you, his wife?"

Lisa's face again lost its color, and she quietly muttered, "God no... He can't...Oh, no..." A somewhat panicked look had now taken over her face, and for a few seconds she was quiet, simply staring at the detective. Finally she said, "I have no idea why my husband came home early. I just know that he's not involved in anything illegal." Her look slowly became one of complete panic, and she continued, "Oh, God! Mark may be hurt, laying somewhere waiting for help. You've got to find him!"

Seeing how upset she had become, the compassionate side of Peter Nesbitt took over, and he now spoke with her in a much more gentle way. "We don't know anything for sure yet, Mrs. Evans. As a police officer I have to do things the proper way. At this point in time there's no proof your husband has done anything wrong, or that he is even involved in all of this. Why don't you make us some coffee while we wait for my partner to arrive with the warrant? There's nothing more we can do right now; all of our on-duty personnel are searching, or on the lookout, for your husband."

His sympathetic tone and comforting words seemed to help Lisa, as she began relaxing, and a bit of her natural color returned to her face. She got up and began preparing a pot of coffee for the two of them to share. Her calm state didn't last for long, though, as with his next sentence, Lisa once again became tense and nervous. All this occurred when he said, "Maybe while we're having coffee you can give me the details of how you spent the last 48 hours. Before this case is closed we're likely going to need statements from anyone even remotely involved."

Detective Nesbitt decided to hold off for a few minutes before getting a preliminary statement from Lisa Evans, and it seemed that she wasn't interested in broaching the subject on her own. Instead, the two of them sat at the kitchen table drinking their coffee while the detective retold the details of how the car came to be discovered, and the state of its interior.

Lisa seemed horrified by some of the details that came out, particularly that there was an apparent bullet hole in the center of a thoroughly blood-soaked section of the front passenger seat of her husband's car. He had described as well that there was blood evidence that a second bullet had been fired into a body that was resting against a block of firewood on the ground beside the car, and that this bullet was in the process of being removed from the wood for testing in their Forensics Lab. The car had been towed for examination, and evidence was still being gathered from it. Finally, he stated that a medical examiner and a forensics investigator were still going over the scene in detail.

They had barely started their second cup of the coffee she had made when Detective David Klein, Peter Nesbitt's partner, arrived much sooner than expected with the search warrant that had been requested. He was accompanied by two forensics technicians, and soon the three new arrivals began a systematic and careful search of the Evans home, to be followed by the garage and Lisa's car. While this was taking place Detective Nesbitt arranged with Lisa to locate her husband's razor and toothbrush, so that DNA could be obtained to compare with the blood evidence they already had.

Throughout the duration of the search, and particularly when the subject of DNA comparisons came up, Lisa was in such a state of distress that Detective Nesbitt was eventually forced to take her to the living room, where he requested that she remain seated on the sofa while he joined the others in completing the search of the home.

At the end of an hour of seemingly fruitless searching in the house, the detectives decided that about the only things that they would need to return to the station with, besides the DNA samples, were Mark Evans' briefcase and laptop computer. Detective Nesbitt had already discovered that the computer was protected with a password, and they wouldn't be able to access anything on it until they found a way around that.

"Mrs. Evans, do you happen to know the password your husband used on his laptop?" This question seemed to bring Lisa out of her state of desperate and intermittent crying, as it seemed like something that she could perhaps assist with.

"It used to be his first name, followed by his year of birth. Try Mark1971. That should be it." Unfortunately, it was soon apparent that he had changed his password, as no variation of his old one would work for the detective.

"That's all right, Mrs. Evans. We have expert computer technicians in our forensics department who will find a way past your husband's password. With any luck at all, that shouldn't take too long." The two items were tagged and removed to the van used by the two forensics technicians.

Alone with Lisa Evans, Detective Nesbitt decided to again broach the subject of getting a preliminary statement from her. "Now then, Mrs. Evans, I'm going to need to get some basic facts about your whereabouts this weekend. Let's just cover Saturday morning until you arrived back here this afternoon." He got out his notepad and pen, and sat poised to record her description of how she had spent the time period in question.

Lisa Evans took a deep breath, and began, "Well, until noon on Saturday, I just did normal housekeeping stuff around the house. Mark phoned me from Pittsburgh around one o'clock, or maybe it was 1:30. We talked for just a few minutes. He told me how sorry he was that he couldn't be here for the weekend. After that, I went shopping until about 4:30, and then I came home. After supper, about 7:30 p.m., I went out to visit a friend, and I spent the night there. I got up late this morning, took my time, and got home, as you know, around two o'clock." She seemed to have been getting more tense as her explanation went on, and by the time she was finished she was looking down at the floor, and was wringing their hands together.

When he finished writing the last word of her explanation into his notepad, Detective Nesbitt flipped it closed and sat there tapping it with his pen for several seconds before he said, "We may need more detail than that, Mrs. Evans. This will do for now, but be prepared to provide more details and closer times if the progression of this case demands that." He slipped his notepad and pen back into his pocket before standing.

Detective Nesbitt was about to leave the house to join the others who were searching the garage and Lisa's car. He was confident that the house had been fully checked out, when he suddenly realized that there was one other item he needed. "Oh, Mrs. Evans. Do you have any recent full body photographs of your husband? A good head shot would also be helpful. We only have his photo from the driver's license database at this time. Something a little less official would be good for us to circulate amongst the patrol officers." After saying this he walked over to the mantle above the fireplace and looked at several of the wedding photos there, while Lisa Evans quickly moved to a book rack where she selected a thick photo album.
"Here are several good recent photos, detective. Take your pick." She had returned to her seat on the sofa, and the detective sat beside her as she opened the album. The last page in the book contained several very good photos for his purposes, with perhaps the best one including Mark's wife standing to his right, while a tall, well-built, sandy haired man stood close by to his left.

"This one would be good," said the detective as he indicated the group photograph. "We can crop out you and this other fellow." A couple of seconds later the detective selected another photo, a very good head and shoulders shot of Mark Evans. "These two photos will be more than sufficient for our needs."

When Lisa had removed the two photos from the book and handed them to the detective, he took another look at them and asked, "Would the fellow in this photo with you and your husband be a relative of his? If he has a sibling or parent available for providing a DNA sample, it might be helpful if they can't get anything usable from the razor or toothbrush."

Lisa quickly replied, "No, that's Blake Moore. He's my husband's best friend, since grade school. My husband doesn't have any relatives who live near here."

After thanking her for the photos, Detective Nesbitt went out to join the others in the garage. He left Lisa sitting at her kitchen table looking forlorn and on the verge of tears. He was beginning to think that he felt sorry for the woman, and the position she was now in. Her husband was missing, and may or may not have been involved in a serious shooting. The fact that she didn't know he was even in town, though, made the detective wonder what exactly was going on.

The detectives, along with their two forensics experts, soon concluded the search of the garage and car. It was while the technicians were carefully going over Lisa's car that they noticed something potentially important, and certainly suspicious. Both the accelerator and brake pedal showed staining by what turned out to be blood, when it was tested chemically. It was immediately decided that the car would be towed back to the garage for extensive examination and testing.

While the two technicians packed up their equipment, and prepared to leave, the two detectives stepped aside to discuss their feelings about the case.

Detective Nesbitt, standing so that he could look back at the side door of the Evans house, said to his partner, "What's your opinion of Mrs. Evans? I've been back and forth in my thoughts about her, and this positive test for blood on the pedals in her car really has me wondering."

"Well, you have the advantage on me, as regards Mrs. Evans. I've just been here for the search. She seemed like a typical worried wife, but you know how that kind of thing can go. Right now I wouldn't want to put money on whether she's involved in something here, or is simply what she seems to be."

Nesbitt suddenly started walking towards the side door, saying as he went, "Come with me, Dave. Let's both see how she reacts when we tell her about the blood we found, and that her car is being towed."

The two detectives walked up to the side door, knocked, and entered. Lisa Evans was on her cell phone, and looked very startled when the two men stepped into the kitchen. She quickly turned off the phone, without even saying a word to whoever was on the other end of the conversation. "You're back! I thought that you were all finished here."

Peter Nesbitt stepped aside, so that his partner would have an equal opportunity to observe Lisa Evans. "We thought we were done here, too. However, the forensics technicians have found what appear to be smears of blood on both the brake pedal and accelerator of your car. Where taking your car to the impound lot so that we can give it a thorough inspection. I hope you don't mind."

Lisa appeared genuinely shocked when she said, "Blood in my car! How would that get there? I didn't see any blood anywhere."

The two detectives were watching her closely, as he replied, "That's a question we're likely going to want an answer to. We have no way to know at this time whether it's related to the incident in the park, but if it turns out to be a match for the blood found there, you can be sure we're going to insist on some answers. Oh, and we're going to need the shoes that you were wearing today."

"I wasn't anywhere near the park. I haven't been there in weeks. I don't see how there could be blood in my car; certainly not any of the blood that you described was in my husband's car." As she was speaking she reached down and removed the shoes she was wearing, handing them to Detective Nesbitt. When that was done she slumped in her seat, covered her face with her hands, and began sobbing. The two detectives, realizing that there wasn't very much more they could say or do without more information, said goodbye to her, leaving her in the same position, slumped in her kitchen chair.

"What do you think, Dave? Is she what she seems; a wife worried sick about her husband? Or do you think that maybe she's just a very good actress? Did you notice that she was on the phone when we walked in, and hung up on whoever it was?"

David Klein shook his head and said, "I just don't know Pete, I just don't know. She seems genuine enough, but you know how these things go. If the blood in his car turns out to be the husband's, there's a good chance his spouse is involved. We see that over and over. Maybe we should make some background checks on this couple; talk to their friends and neighbors. Somebody may know something that is relevant to this whole business. As for the phone call, she was probably talking to her best girlfriend. Women always seem to turn to their best girlfriend when things go wrong."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. Some good old-fashioned digging just might lead somewhere. What I'd really like to find out is why he came into town two days earlier than expected. That might be the key to this whole thing." When he got to his car, Detective Nesbitt pulled out a plastic evidence bag, slipped in the pair of shoes, and firmly sealed the bag.

Since the two partners had arrived separately, each had his own car. As they drove back to the station, each in his own solitude, they individually tried to figure out the clues they had so far been presented with. Unfortunately, neither of them had enough to go on to come up with anything better than what they had already discussed. Both of them were busy completing reports and other paperwork until the end of their shift. No new information had come up from the lab before they departed for their homes, so the two of them were left to consider only what they had already learned during that day.

+++++++++++++

The next morning both Peter and Dave arrived a half an hour early. It was obvious that the Mark Evans case was high on both of their agendas. Fortunately their dedication to their jobs was rewarded; a stack of reports from the forensics department and the medical examiner were there to greet them. It took them an hour to read the reports, passing them back and forth between each other as they digested the information that was being presented. After they finished what had been waiting there for them, they both realized that there were still going to be a number of further reports to come.

As he looked over one particular report, Peter Nesbitt said to his partner, "These certainly seem to be pointing in one direction, don't they? Is seems there are a few more reports we can expect this morning, though, so I don't think we should jump on this too quickly. I'd rather not go off half cocked."

David Klein was nodding his head as his partner spoke, and replied, "I think you're right. Let's see if they can get some more out of the computer. We could go out in the meantime and talk to his lawyer, and some of the people that he worked with. I'm not certain that we have enough for an arrest yet. We're going to need to take some official statements as well, before we talk to the DA."

The two men were in complete agreement, and left just after 9 a.m. for the office of Mark Evans' lawyer. Like all members of the legal community, Robert Graham didn't want to seem to be biased against the police, especially during an investigation. He quickly gave them a few minutes of his time.

"You realize that I can't discuss anything pertaining to my client's legal situation? That said, let's hear what you want from me, so that I can decide whether or not to answer your questions." The lawyer leaned back in his chair and waited expectantly.

Detective Nesbitt quickly spoke, not wanting to waste too much of the lawyer's valuable time. "We have several email messages here, messages that we obtained under a search warrant from Mark Evans' computer. Could you please confirm receipt of them for us? We simply need to know that the messages were actually sent to you over the past couple of weeks. We want to be sure they weren't just draft copies."

He proceeded to hand over four sheets of paper to the lawyer, who quickly glanced at each of them, before he replied, "These do appear to be genuine. I can confirm receipt of each of them."

He handed them back to the detective who immediately stood and said, "Thank you, Mr. Graham. That's all we need. We couldn't very well make investigative decisions based on what these emails tell us, without some confirmation that they were genuine." The two detectives left the office, exchanging a smile as they headed back to their car.

As they drove to ABC Industrial Peter Nesbitt said to his partner, "Like you said yesterday, in situations like this it's usually the spouse that's involved. We've still got a few more bridges to cross, though."

When they arrived at Mark Evans' place of employment, the two detectives were quickly shown into the office of his immediate superior. This time it was Detective Klein who did the speaking.

"We're investigating the discovery of a car in George Washington Park yesterday. You probably read about it in this morning's paper. The car involved belonged to one of your employees, Mark Evans. We have a few questions that you may be able to help us with."

Mark's boss quickly assured them that he would do anything he could to help them out. He said that Mark was considered a very valuable employee, and anything that could be done to help solve the mystery of his abandoned car was most certainly acceptable.

"First, I'd like to know whether Mark was expected to stay in Pittsburgh past Friday evening. There are some reports that he was scheduled for seminars throughout Saturday and Sunday. We need to know if that's correct."

His boss quickly replied, "Mark was most definitely not scheduled for anything on the weekend. I fully expected that he would have returned on Friday night."

Detective Klein nodded, made a note in his notebook, and continued, "Have you noticed anything about Mark that seemed a little off lately? We're wondering if he seemed to have something on his mind, something that stood out."

The man sitting at the desk thought for a moment, and then replied, "Mark did seem to be carrying more weight on his shoulders lately. A couple of weeks ago, I asked him if there was a problem. At the time he said that everything was fine. I also noticed that he seemed to be lost in thought a lot of the time. I just assumed that he was hard at work, solving our problems, but I guess he could have had other things on his mind."

The detectives thanked him, and then they quickly headed back to their car. A picture was taking shape, and both of them knew that by the end of the day there was a good chance that they would have made a major dent in this case.

By late morning they were back in the office, and discovered that some preliminary DNA results had returned. As well, there was a strange looking little box with wires dangling from it, sitting on the top of a report from forensics. The two detectives found it particularly interesting, especially when combined with some of the printed maps the computer technician had given them. Another blank had been filled in, and a picture was becoming clearer.

The two men took their accumulated information, printouts and notebooks with them when they went to spend a couple of hours in one of the empty interrogation rooms. By the time they emerged they felt they had a pretty good handle on what had happened in the park, although there were some very large gaps still remaining. They did agree it was time to make another visit to Lisa Evans. This time they felt they had enough information to ask her some hard questions. Depending on the answers they received, there might be cause to bring her in for an official statement.

The detectives pulled up outside the Evans residence at just after three in the afternoon. They hadn't phoned ahead, for fear of letting her prepare for their arrival. They really wanted to catch her off guard.

They went to the front door and rang the doorbell like any normal visitor would. Lisa Evans did appear to be startled when she saw the two of them standing at the door.

"Detectives! Have you found my husband? I've been phoning the desk sergeant every couple of hours, and he keeps telling me that there's nothing to report."

Detective Nesbitt responded, "No, we haven't found your husband yet. We have made some progress, though. We'd like to come in and ask you a few questions, if you don't mind."

Lisa Evans seemed a bit confused, but then stepped back and said, "Certainly, come on in; I'll do anything I can do to help you find Mark." She walked into the living room with the two men following close behind her. As she sat on the sofa, each of the detectives took a seat in one of the chairs facing it.

Detective Klein began the conversation, after opening his notebook, by asking, "Is there anything you care to tell us about your relationship with Blake Moore?" The two detectives had decided that asking this very much 'in your face' type of question might be the way to rattle Lisa Evans enough to make her reveal something she might otherwise prefer to keep hidden.

The decision was immediately rewarded, when Lisa Evans quickly turned white before saying, "Wha... What do you mean, my relationship with Blake? He's my husband's best friend. He's always hanging out with Mark, but he's just my friend." Her eyes darted back and forth between the two detectives.

Detectives Nesbitt now joined in, "Are you, or are you not, having an affair with Blake Moore?" The detective had asked the question in a calm, level fashion, and now sat waiting for a response.

It hardly seemed possible, but both detectives later agreed that it seemed she became even paler with the second question. Her mouth opened and closed wordlessly several times before she said, "Absolutely not! How can you come in here, asking me that kind of question?"

The two detectives immediately stood, and Detective Klein said, "I think you're going to have to come down to the station. We're going to take an official statement from you."

Lisa was clearly beginning to panic now, as she said, "What? Am I under arrest? Why do I have to go down to the station with you?"

"You aren't under arrest... yet. We have reason to believe you haven't been truthful with us, and we want to get an official statement from you. You'll be able to request a lawyer if you wish."

Lisa was frantically looking back and forth from one detective to the other and quickly said, "I don't need a lawyer! I haven't done anything. If you want me to come to the station for your questions, then fine, I'll do it. I'll do whatever it takes to help you find my Mark."

Lisa Evans quickly got up to accompany the two detectives out to their car for the trip downtown. She was walking in front of them so she didn't notice when Pete gave Dave the thumbs up signal. After helping her into the back seat, the two men took their places in the front and then drove silently back to the police station.

After arriving back at the station, the detectives slowly walked Lisa Evans upstairs to their squad room, and then into one of the empty interrogation rooms. They chose the starkest one they could find, a room that needed a paint job and could have used some new furniture as well. They wanted the most negative environment they could create.

"We're going to have you wait here for a few minutes, while we get our files together. You're sure that you don't want to speak with a lawyer?" Detective Nesbitt was giving her every opportunity to make that decision, but this time she declined with a quick shake of her head. In the drab surroundings she still looked very pretty, even though her blue eyes were brimming with tears. She sat down heavily in one of the chairs, while the detective left the room, closing the door behind him.

"Be sure both cameras are on for the full time we're with her. I want a good record of everything that is said in there. I have a feeling we're going to break this case wide open, and I don't want to lose a word of what she has to say." Detective Klein was speaking to his commanding officer, the man who would record and bear personal witness to what was said in the interrogation room.

Just then Peter Nesbitt walked up with the files they had accumulated. He had been thinking about their pending interview with Lisa Evans, and said, "Let's go grab a coffee first; let her stew a while." There was quick agreement, and the three men left to spend the next 20 minutes in the staff coffee room discussing the case and how they would handle her interrogation.

++++++++++

Life does not take place in a single linear progression; innumerable events occur in overlapping time frames. While the two detectives were out that morning, speaking with Mark Evans' manager, on the other side of town a volunteer answered the phone at Crimestoppers.

"Good morning, this is your local Crimestoppers office. We pay up to $1000 cash for good tips on outstanding crimes. How can you help us fight crime? Please be aware this call is being recorded."

There was no reply for several seconds, making the volunteer manning the phone think there was no one there, but just before she hung up, her older male caller said, "Ah... is this the place where I can get money if I help the police?"

"Well sir, that depends on what you tell us, the type of crime involved, and how much the police feel you contributed to solving it. Do you have some information on a crime?"

There was silence again for a few moments before the caller spoke, "So, I don't get no money now? I gotta wait? What if the cops want to cheat me out of my money? Then what, huh?"

"Well sir, we need to know for sure that you helped. The money doesn't come from the police, so there's no reason for them to try to cheat you, sir. Why don't you tell me what you know, and I'll give you a code number for later. You can call me back in a few days, and I will tell you whether the information has been a help, and what it would be worth."

The man was a little indignant as he said, "I want some juice now! I need the money now."

"Well sir, that's just the way it works. What do you mean you need some juice? If you're homeless, and need food, I can give you the addresses of a few shelters that provide meals."

"I don't need no damn food; I need juice! You know, grape juice, the kind they sell for five bucks a bottle."

The woman chuckled to herself, but said to the man, "I'm afraid I can't help you with that, right now. If your information is good, though, you could probably afford a lot of those bottles of grape juice."

"OK, then. I'll wait. What I seen was someone throwing away a gun. In the river. I was under the Third Street Bridge, just mindin my own business on Sunday morning, at least I think it was Sunday morning, when a fella pulled up into the public access lot. When he got out he was carrying a gun, and two shovels. He threw them all in the river, right there practically in front of me. I was scared, let me tell ya. I figured for sure he was going to see me and use that gun on me."
The operator was mildly interested in what the old man had to say, and so she asked, "Was that at the parking lot on the east side of the Third Street Bridge? Did he throw them way out in the water?"

"Yup, that's the place, and no, he just sort of dropped them over the end of that little dock that's there. Them guys should have no trouble finding the gun." He hesitated before adding, "I can describe him too. He was big, and had light hair. Not blond, just kinda light. And his car. It was dark blue, and the license number started with AZSS, but I forgot the rest. Jimmie showed up with some juice, and he shared, so I forgot some of it. But the rest is right. I lived in Arizona, and one time I owned a Chevy Impala SS. That's how I remember."

The woman had written all of the information down, and was now ready to end the call. "Well sir, I have everything we need, I think. I'm going to give you a number that you need to remember. The number is 127. You call back in a few days and tell me that your calling about tip number 127, and I'll tell you if it has been a help to the police. We might even know how much the information is worth. If it's worth some money for you, we'll tell you where you can pick it up anonymously."

The call was quickly ended, and the Crimestoppers operator phoned the information in to the police liaison officer she reported to. He figured they would send a diver out very shortly, as keeping guns off the streets was one of the mayor's top priorities.

As it turned out, the police diver was on the scene in not much more than an hour, and it only took minutes to find the three items that had been thrown into the river. The proper reports were filled in, and then filed with the Crimestoppers report. By 2:30 the shovels were with the property clerk, and the gun had been dropped off at the forensics lab for eventual testing to see whether it matched any of the outstanding crimes in the city.

When the gun was checked in, it was quickly noted that the caliber and type of jacketed ammunition that was still in it matched perfectly with the recent crime scene in George Washington Park. Within minutes the gun was being checked over in detail, and a test bullet had been fired for comparison purposes. It was immediately shown to be a match for the slug removed from the block of firewood discovered at the Park. A report was immediately sent upstairs to the attention of the detectives in charge of the case, and a technician was dispatched to pick up the two shovels from the property clerk.

++++++++++++

Just as different chains of events can run in parallel, they can also eventually intersect, and that is exactly what happened when the detectives and their commander walked out of the staff coffee room. They were met just outside the door by the clerk who was delivering the ballistics and Crimestoppers reports.

"Detectives! I was just bringing this information up to you. We've got the gun from the George Washington Park shooting. There is some information for you in the attached Crimestoppers report as well. It just might even lead you right to the perpetrator." The grinning clerk from the forensics lab handed the two reports to the surprised detectives, and headed back to his own department.

Detectives Klein and Nesbitt took turns looking over the two reports. Within seconds, they were seated side-by-side in front of a computer terminal, calling up records from the vehicle registration department. When they were finished doing that, the two of them held a quick conversation.

"Pete, I'm going to suggest we split up on us. If you'd like, I'll start the questioning of our guest in the interrogation room, and you can take a uniformed officer and go call on Mr. Moore. We should have him in here for questioning as well."

"That sounds like a plan, Dave. Things are coming together nicely, aren't they?"

New parallel lines of action were formed as Detective Klein picked up their accumulating stock of reports and information and headed for the interrogation room where Lisa Evans continued to wait. As he did that, his partner spoke to his commanding officer, asking for a uniformed officer's assistance on a surprise visit to Blake Moore. He was soon out the door with a patrol car scheduled to meet him at the Moore residence.

When Detective Klein entered the interrogation room, Lisa Evans was sitting quietly at the table, her face a mask displaying neither sadness nor fear. She seemed to be stoically awaiting her fate, whatever that might be. "I'm sorry we kept you waiting, Mrs. Evans. I'm ready to get started now. Please be aware that this room is under the surveillance of two video cameras, and everything we say and do is being recorded."

She looked at him with a bit of surprise evident, and said, "I don't mind if you tape us; I have nothing to hide."

As he shuffled papers, he replied, "That's good. We should be able to get started then." He sat back and looked at her briefly before taking her on directly. "I'll start where we ended it when we spoke at your home. Once again; are you having an affair with Blake Moore? Yes or no."

His decision to once again drive to the heart of the matter had a noticeable effect on her. Her shoulders slumped a bit and she turned her head so that she could no longer meet the eyes of the detective. After a few seconds she said in a soft voice, "Yes."

Detective Klein pulled a couple of pages from the pile of papers in front of him. "It's a good thing that you decided to be honest with me. We have proof of your affair right here, printed from your husband's laptop."

His statement seemed to shock her, as her head jerked up, and she once again stared directly into his eyes. "What do you mean, you have proof? Nobody knew about Blake and me."

"Your husband certainly knew, as you can see in these pages. Here's the email he sent to his lawyer almost a month ago, telling him that he wanted him to start preparing papers for a divorce on the grounds of adultery. Here's a map from two weeks ago, clearly showing the route you drove that day, complete with time stamps that show you spent two hours at Blake Moore's residence. Here's a copy of the email your husband sent his lawyer that day, telling him how you had lied when he called you that afternoon, when you told him you were at home."

The pieces of paper slid across the table one at a time, each coming to rest in front of the seated woman. She looked back and forth between the papers and the detective several times before picking up each of them and confirming that each appeared to show exactly what the detective had said they did. Finally she spoke, "How... how did Mark do this? How could he know where I was? This map..." She picked up the detailed map, and traced the route that was clearly marked upon it, showing the route she drove from her home to that of her lover.

"I don't know how your husband first found out, but something made him install this device in your car." He picked up a small black device, smaller than a package of cigarettes, and slid it across to her. On its side was embossed PT--200, and below that was Rocky Mountain Tracking. "He bought this off the Internet, along with an unlimited tracking option, and has been able to use his laptop to get a complete, real-time, location history for you, with full addresses, as well as date and time stamps. He could tell where your car has been every minute of every day since he installed that device under the dash."

She stared at the small, innocent looking electronic unit like it was a scorpion about to sting her. "You mean, Mark has known about us for weeks? Oh God...And he wanted a divorce!" She began to cry again, and the detective took a moment to reclaim the papers and tracking device, which he stacked in a separate pile beside him.

"He certainly did, along with the time and place for all four of your liaisons with his friend over the last month. The last map was created at just after midnight Saturday night, the night he went missing. That was the same approximate time that he sent an email to his lawyer, telling him how he was going to drive over to Moore's place and confront the two of you. He told his lawyer that he was concerned he would be arrested if he broke into the house, or ended up in a fight with your lover, his supposed friend."

She looked up again at the detective, and said, "But, but he never came over there. I... I spent the night there, but Mark never showed up. Something must have happened to him before he got to Blake's house."

The detective appeared to be well-prepared for that claim, as he quickly said, "I'm sure something happened to him, all right. Preliminary DNA results confirm that the blood in the park is his, and we've just found the gun that was used. We can tie the gun to your lover, and the only question now is how long you intend to cover for him."

"Blake... Blake never did anything to Mark! I was with him the whole time, and he never left that night." Her eyes once again broke contact with the detective as she continued, "We were together all night in his bed."

The detective pulled more pages from his stack and said, "We have more, you know. The blood in your car and on your shoe as well, I might add, is also your husband's. Right now my partner is on his way to pick up Mr. Moore, and we'll soon find out whether his story matches yours. There is also the little thing about prosecutorial discretion. Whichever of the two of you tell us what really happened, and where we can locate your husband's body, will be offered a better deal at sentencing." He slid the blood analysis reports across the table to her, but she barely glanced at these ones.

"Mark isn't dead! He can't be dead! I love him; I need him." She was sobbing again and clearly very upset. "Blake is going to tell you the same things that I have. If my husband was hurt in the park, we didn't have anything to do with it." She continued to hide her face with their hands as she cried, a wrinkled and very damp handkerchief in her left hand.

Detective Klein gave her a few minutes to compose herself, during which time he again reclaimed his reports from in front of her, and selected several more that he intended to shock her with when she regained her composure. As she seemed to recover a bit, he said, "There's no doubt your husband is dead. The medical examiner carefully went over the scene, and judges that from the blood loss that is evident, combined with the fact that your husband has not been given any medical attention at any facility in the area, it points to a greater than 95% chance that he is dead." He slid the associated report along with several 8 x 10 photos of the bloody scene across the table to her.

One of the photos slid into contact with her elbow, and she removed her hands from her face to look at it. It seemed to her that there was blood shown in every square inch of the photo, although in truth it was somewhat less than that. She immediately went back into her crying state, and the detective once again straightened out his documentation before putting everything together, picking it up, and heading for the door. "I'll leave you for a few minutes so that you can compose yourself. You really aren't doing yourself any favors by failing to accept your responsibility in this."

Detective Klein set the pile of evidentiary reports on his desk, shook his head as he passed his commanding officer, and walked to the break room for a fresh cup of coffee. His commanding officer continued to periodically glance at a monitor that displayed the interior of the interrogation room, making sure that the detained woman remained safe and secure.

++++++++++++++

When he left the station, Detective Nesbitt was deep in thought about the Mark Evans case. It appeared that they had received enough information from the forensics department to soon solve it. He was wondering as well whether Blake Moore would still be in town. If he had any inkling of how much evidence the department already had, he would probably have been tempted to flee their jurisdiction.

He arrived at the Moore residence at almost exactly the same time as the patrol car that was to provide his backup arrived. The two policemen knew each other, and exchanged pleasantries as they headed to the front door. Detective Nesbitt was almost surprised when their knock quickly resulted in the door being answered by Blake Moore. The man looked curiously at the two strangers at his front door, one obviously in a police uniform while the other was holding out a badge and identification. "Yes, officers. What can I do for you?"

The detective quickly responded, "I'm Detective Nesbitt, and I'm here regarding the disappearance of Mark Evans. We'd like you to join us back at the station for some questioning. We have Mrs. Evans there now, and questions have been raised that will require your participation."

The tall, well-built, and ruggedly handsome man quickly asked, "Am I under arrest, or something? I know Mark is missing, as I've spoken to his wife. I don't really know what you think I can tell you about it, though."

"We have a number of questions that we think you will be able to help us with. If you don't mind we'd like to have you accompany us now, although you aren't under arrest." Blake Moore seemed too shocked to put up any real resistance to their request, and quickly joined them on their way back to the unmarked car that Detective Nesbitt was driving. Once there, he quietly accepted their invitation to get into the back seat, and didn't seem at all surprised that both the detective and the uniformed officer got into the front seat. Department protocol required that when dealing with a potentially violent suspect, two members of the force had to be involved, for backup purposes.

The detective first turned his attention to his uniformed partner. "We'll get one of the squad cars to bring you back to your patrol car later." When that formality was over, Detective Nesbitt directed his attention to Blake Moore as he asked, "Tell me, Mr. Moore, how well do you know Mrs. Evans?"

Their passenger quickly replied, "She's just Mark's wife to me. I've known her since he met her. Why do you ask?"

"Just wondering, sir. What is it that you do, anyway, Mr. Moore?"

Blake Moore seemed to relax a bit when the question was asked, and replied, "I own a small landscaping company, Moore's Landscaping. We do a lot of commercial work. You've probably seen some of it, as we've even done work for the city."

Their conversation continued until they arrived at the police station, where Blake Moore was escorted to the interrogation room beside the one confining Lisa Evans. He too was asked to wait alone, while the detective collected the files that had been placed on his desk just moments before by Detective Klein.

In just a couple of minutes a conversation commenced between Blake Moore and Detective Nesbitt that closely paralleled the just completed questioning of Lisa Evans. At first he denied any affair with Lisa Evans, but the emails and tracking reports soon made him change his tune. He quickly conceded that they were having an affair, one that had been going on for almost four months. He adamantly denied that they had done anything to Mark Evans, and insisted that neither of them had left his home the night that Lisa's husband had disappeared.

As Detective Nesbitt continued to hammer at his suspect's emphatic denials of any involvement in Mark Evans' disappearance, a new theory was advanced about what had happened in the park.

"I had nothing to do with anything that happened in that park. If Mark knew about Lisa and me, he would have probably gone ballistic, and there's no telling what he might have done. He might have even hired his own killer, and paid him to make it look like Lisa and I were involved. He and I had a history about things like my relationship with Lisa."

"What do you mean by that, Mr. Moore? We have the gun that was used, and a witness described you, and your car, and states that you were responsible for dumping the gun in the river. He even gave a major portion of your license plate number. Don't try and introduce some fairytale about Mark Evans committing an elaborate suicide to frame you and his wife."

Blake Moore got greatly agitated as he responded, "You don't know Mark. He and I have been the best of friends, ever since grade school in fact, but I have known for years that I had better not get caught messing around with his girlfriends or now his wife. We were seniors in high school when I once did that. I took out one of his girlfriends behind his back, and when he found out later that I was screwing her while they were dating; he got so angry that he scared me. I'm a lot bigger than him, and I've always been stronger, but he scared me. He warned me then that he'd never put up with it again, and that I'd be a dead man."

The detective listened to the statement with faint amusement on his face. "You're telling me that you were actually scared of what he would do if he found out, but that you were screwing his wife anyway? Man, that doesn't make much sense."

Blake was more sedate now, as he said, "Stupid, isn't it. I just couldn't resist her; it's been slowly building up between us for years, and I finally put a serious move on her a few months ago. We've been getting together periodically ever since. I don't have a clue how he could've ever caught on. We've been so careful."

The detective sorted through his pile of reports before continuing, "Yeah, it was stupid. Sometimes I think half of our homicides and suicides involve stupidity like that. The old eternal triangle. The only thing is, in this case I think we have you and Lisa dead to rights as the perps. You may as well tell us what happened. Did he surprise you, and things got out of hand? Or maybe you two planned this all along so you could be together and wouldn't have to worry about whether he found out or not. I don't buy the idea that he arranged his own murder; that's just too bizarre. He already had his lawyer arranging his divorce, so why would he suddenly resort to that?"

"I don't know what happened. I just know that Lisa and I had nothing to do with it. As far as the two of us wanting to be together, that wasn't in the cards. She and I both knew it was just a fling, and it wouldn't have lasted much longer at all. The bloom was already off the rose, as they say."

Detective Nesbitt leaned forward before saying, "We've got enough probable cause to get a warrant to search your house, car and office. I wouldn't be surprised if that was already taking place. You had better come clean on this before we drive the last nail in your coffin. I'm going to make you the same offer that I'm sure your lover has been given by my partner. Be the first to tell us what happened, and you'll get a break at sentencing. There's no sense in both of you keeping your mouths shut and getting a maximum. Use your head, and do yourself a favor."

Blake Moore was indignant. "I never had anything to do with whatever happened to Mark. Maybe Lisa arranged something on her own, but if she did, I don't know a damn thing about it."

The detective picked up his papers without responding to the suspect's latest theory. As he left the room he said, "That figures. Whenever we have two perps working together, one always tries to blame the other. You may as well relax for a while, because I don't think you're going to be leaving anytime soon."

When he came out of the interrogation room, Detective Nesbitt found his partner waiting for him with another report in his hand. "It gets better and better. The two shovels found in the river are both stamped as belonging to Moore's Landscaping. What a maroon! Why do these guys always think that we're never going to figure out what happened."
[Note- 'What a maroon!' is an expression used by Bugs Bunny in old cartoons. Means fool/idiot/moron. Widely used, in my circle anyway, back in the day.]

Within minutes the two detectives were explaining the evidence they had accumulated to a DA. Even though they didn't have a body, and the evidence was somewhat circumstantial, it didn't take long to convince him that there was enough evidence to warrant charges. A half an hour later both Lisa Evans and Blake Moore were charged with the murder of Mark Evans. Both loudly protested their innocence while they were being read their Miranda rights, but were told that it was now in the hands of the prosecution and the legal system. Neither of them was comforted at all by that information.

++++++

After they were charged, both Lisa and Blake were escorted to the main floor of the police station for fingerprinting and to have their photographs taken with their booking numbers. The instruction that they should not smile for the photos was completely unnecessary, as Blake was displaying an angry scowl the entire time, and Lisa could scarcely cry and smile at the same time.

While they were being taken back to adjacent holding cells, they had their first opportunity to speak to each other since the charges had been laid.

"What are we going to do, Blake? They can't believe that we did something to Mark, can they?" Lisa was still sniffling periodically, but for the most part was beyond that now.

"We'll have to get ourselves lawyers, I guess; unless you'd like to share one with me. That could be cheaper, and since we're both charged with the same thing, it would make some sense I guess. This whole damn situation is totally wrong, though. I just know that Mark has done something to set us up. I think the bastard may have paid to have someone off him, and then leave a trail of bread crumbs for the cops, so that they would charge us." Mark was clearly still very angry.

"You can't really believe that he would do that, do you?" Lisa was displaying shock, bordering on outrage, at the suggestion. "Why would Mark go to the sickening extreme of having himself killed?"

"I don't think you knew your husband as well as you thought, Lisa. I'm totally amazed that he didn't do something drastic to the two of us the same day that he figured out we were having an affair. That's the real mystery to me. I've known Mark for too many years to think he would just let it go this long. If I had thought for one second that he was going to find out about us somehow, there's no way in hell I would've laid a finger on you." He then proceeded to tell her what happened years earlier when he had gone behind Mark's back to mess with his girlfriend.

They were in their holding cells now, separated by a 6 inch concrete block wall, but able to speak to each other easily and freely as each of them were standing at the bars adjacent to the block wall.

"I don't believe that Mark is the type to have actually done anything like that. I don't know how or when he found out either; I never noticed him treat me any differently. He was out-of-town most of the times we met, and we never went anywhere in public together. The couple of times we got together while he was actually in town were the times we were at that little motel on the north side of town," Lisa replied. After some reflection she continued, "I should never have betrayed him. Even if he isn't dead he'll still want a divorce." During the last sentence her voice caught several times, as she was obviously becoming emotional again.

Blake managed to listen to a couple of sniffles before he said, "Geez, Lisa. Give it a break. You must have had some idea of how things would end up if he ever caught us together. Your eyes were open the first time you came to my house and ended up with your legs spread in the middle of my bed."

His words had the desired effect, and her sniffling stopped. A few seconds later she said, in a very quiet voice, "You're right. I can only hope he'll forgive me."

The two of them were quiet for another couple of minutes before Lisa suggested, "I could call Robert Graham, I guess. He was our lawyer, and if he'll represent both of us, we can just split the costs."

They agreed to this proposed legal solution, and a few minutes later, when she was able to get the attention of a passing officer, she was escorted to a small private room that held a telephone and a phone book for her use. Her call to Robert Graham was not as simple as she had expected, as he advised her that since he was already Mark's attorney for a still pending divorce, he would not feel comfortable representing her. He suggested that one of his colleagues, Basil Smith, a lawyer with more experience in criminal cases, would do well as their attorney. She quickly agreed, and it was arranged that their new lawyer would come right over to confer with them.

Blake was happy to hear that the lawyer was on his way, and thanked her for making the call. Both of them retired to the comfort of a wooden bench bolted to the back wall of their respective enclosures, and spent the next hour in their own private thoughts, while they waited. When Basil Smith arrived, they were both escorted to a small room intended for the purpose of lawyer and client meetings.

Basil Smith would fit into anyone's image of a lawyer. He was short, stocky, and with only a fringe of dark hair circling his otherwise bald head. At least he didn't believe in the dreaded comb over. A pinstriped, dark blue suit completed the picture of this 50 something legal professional. Introductions were quickly made, and the two nervous prisoners waited while he carefully scanned the copies of the documents detailing the charges against them that he had been given when he arrived.

That task completed, he lifted his head to look alternately at his two new clients, and said, "So... you're both charged with the murder of Mark Evans. What can you tell me about what the arresting officers had to say to the two of you? You go first, Mrs. Evans. Just the big picture, please. I would just like to have some idea of what we have here."

Lisa proceeded to tell him, in an abbreviated form, what had happened since Detective Nesbitt had met her in her driveway on Sunday afternoon. By the time she was relating the experience of fingerprinting and having her mug shot taken, she was crying again. Between sobs, she ended her statement with, "I didn't have anything to do with whatever happened in that park. I love Mark; I couldn't hurt him."

Basil Smith digested what she had to say for a minute before turning to Blake and saying, "You're turn. I don't need all the little details."

Blake Moore gave a quick account of what had taken place since the police had arrived at his home that afternoon, and he was far from tears as he told the story. He completed his account with the words, "Lisa and I had nothing at all to do with Mark's disappearance or whatever it was that happened in the park. I've told Lisa and the cops the same thing, and now I'll tell you... Mark Evans arranged this somehow. I believe he paid to have himself done away with, and part of the deal was that whoever did that job agreed to frame Lisa and me." He took a hard look at the lawyer, as if defying him to disagree with his explanation.

Blake's reiteration of his belief that Mark was dead started up Lisa's sobbing again. Their lawyer looked at her briefly, and then said "Now isn't the time to be pleading our case to each other. Our first thing is to see what we can do about getting you two out of here. We have to consider your bail. From what the two of you told me, and with what I see in this set of charges, I expect they'll be asking for bail in the neighborhood of about $100,000 for each of you. Is bail going to be a problem?"

Lisa looked shocked and asked, "I'll need $100,000 for bail?" She was ready to panic, knowing she had nowhere near that much in assets.

"No, no, no Lisa. You only need 10% or $10,000 in cash to cover $100,000 in bail. This state doesn't require the full amount to be posted unless the judge so states," her lawyer had been quick to tell her.

With that explained, neither of them thought it should be difficult to raise bail, and naturally there was a great deal of interest in whether they could be bailed out immediately.

"You'll be arraigned sometime tomorrow morning, and bail will be set. That's when you can make the arrangements necessary to get out of here. You're both going to be spending the night here, so get used to that idea." Both of his clients reacted badly to that statement.

Their lawyer informed them that there wasn't really much else he could do until they were arraigned. Once the task of getting them out of their cells was complete, he would see about talking to the DA, to obtain the disclosure of evidence. He felt he would get a better feeling for where they stood once he knew what they were dealing with in the way of actual facts.

The two of them were taken back to their holding cells, where neither of them had much sleep that night. Each of them was given a greasy takeout meal for their supper, a single blanket for the night, and loud cell mates in the middle of the night. Neither of them looked particularly fit when they met their lawyer the next morning at 10 a.m., just prior to their first appearance in court. None of the court staff, not even the judge, seemed particularly concerned about their appearance as their "Not Guilty" pleas were taken, and their bail set at the expected $100,000.

Because Blake had both his home and his business as assets, he was able to make arrangements quickly to deposit his $10,000 with the court, and was back on the street by early afternoon. Lisa however, was not so lucky. Unlike Blake she did not hold exclusive ownership rights to their home so that was out. She then discovered to her shock that the savings account that she expected to contain over $20, 000, was now empty.

Without it she couldn't get the required security, and ended up calling her parents in desperation. Explaining the need for bail to her parents was one of the most difficult things she had ever had to do. It was only after much pleading on her part that they finally agreed to make up her $10,000 shortfall with the court.

By the time that Lisa secured her parents assistance, it was too late in the day for the final papers to be completed, and she spent a second night in the holding cell; her roommates this time were a pair of slightly high prostitutes. She spent most of the night awake, huddled in the corner by herself, sheltered by her single blanket. By noon the next day, with her financial arrangements all made, she was finally allowed to leave the station and return to her empty house. She immediately had a shower, went to bed, and ignored the several phone calls that came in, letting the answering machine take care of them.

++++++++

The next month went by fairly quickly for the two accused. In the first few days Lisa learned that the money that was missing from the bank account she shared with her husband had been removed by him about 10 days before he disappeared. Her lawyer discovered that an email had been sent to his partner, Robert Graham, in which Mark explained that he was taking funds out of the account, in cash, so that his wife couldn't deprive him of his legal share when she received the divorce papers. There was no indication of what he had done with the cash, although his message indicated he would relinquish her share once the proper agreement had been reached with Lisa over the terms of their divorce.

Lisa and Blake had several meetings with Basil Smith at which he advised them that he had met with the DA, had been given copies of the various reports and evidence summaries, and was planning to bring his clients to a meeting with the DA in the hope of having all charges withdrawn. He felt that the lack of a body or a witness who could be cross-examined would make it very difficult for them to be convicted.

Soon after their release on bail, at their first meeting, he had made the suggestion that they hire a private detective to try and determine whether there was any way to prove Mark had contributed to his own death or disappearance. Blake was quite glad to approve of that suggestion, although Lisa still did not believe that Mark could've had anything to do with what had happened. She had developed the theory that Mark had been the victim of a carjacking that went bad. She said it made at least as much sense as Blake's theory. Even though she was theorizing about a carjacking, she still wasn't willing to admit that all signs pointed to the fact that Mark was no longer alive.

Over the next few weeks they received regular reports from the detective that had been hired, but they were all very similar. He had found nothing. Basil Smith also suggested that the detective try to locate the old wino who had reported the ditching of the gun and shovels. Basil had secured a copy of the Crimestoppers recorded call, and the detective was using it when he canvassed the areas known to be favored by the down and out. No one he spoke with recognized the voice.

Also, it seemed strange that the tipster had never called to find out whether tip number 127 would have kept him in juice for a while. They did have to acknowledge the possibility that the caller had simply forgotten the number, or maybe even forgotten that he had called in the tip. That population was also very fluid, moving from one area to another, depending on factors such as weather, police presence, and the availability of sources of quick cash.

Although he never said anything about it, Basil Smith had begun to notice that his two clients no longer seemed to be getting along. Neither of them volunteered the information, but soon after their release on bail Blake had suggested to Lisa that since Mark was out of the picture now, they could get together as often as they cared to, at either of their homes. Her reply had been quick and emphatic: "I don't want anything to do with you, beyond our legal case. You kept after me, and after me, and like a fool I gave in. Now I've lost Mark." Her reply had ended in another tearful episode, one that she seemed to repeat frequently almost without provocation.

Blake's reply had been succinct and final. "Suit yourself, Lisa. You aren't the only woman in town." From that date forward they didn't speak except in the company of their lawyer, where carrying on a feud would be detrimental to both of them. The ashes of their illicit romance were now ice cold.

Just over a month after their release, Basil Smith arranged for a meeting with the DA, Jeff Bagdon, one that they could all attend. Lisa and Blake walked into the meeting hoping that the charges would be dropped. They had both been repeatedly bothered by crank callers and questioned by friends and acquaintances about the nature of their relationship. Both of them had begun screening their calls with caller ID and answering machines. Having the charges dropped would allow them to get on with their lives.

Lisa and Blake were surprised at how young, hip and casual Jeff Bagdon looked. He could've been their lawyer's preppie son, except he had a full head of dark hair. The DA started speaking as soon as all four of them were seated. "I'm glad we could get together so easily. Just today I received the final reports from the medical examiner, and the police and forensics reports are now all complete. I've carefully considered all of the evidence, and I feel I am serving the people appropriately by offering you a reduced sentence of eight to 12 years for an agreement to plead guilty to second-degree murder."

The shock and awe displayed on the faces of the two accused, and to some degree on the face of their lawyer, was a thing to behold. Both Lisa and Blake began loudly professing their innocence, while their lawyer was alternating between trying to get them both to be quiet, and asking the DA how he could justify the offer.

When the other side of the table had quieted down, Jeff Bagdon began, "Since the initial charges were laid, I have received new reports and information. I'll be giving Mr. Smith copies of the new information right away. The first is the DNA report on blood samples taken from the back of the license plate and from the rubber gasket on the trunk lid of your car, Mr. Moore. Both of the samples contained the DNA of Mark Evans. The samples were taken under the authority of a search warrant before you made bail. As well, a scrap of black polyethylene found under the rear tire of Mark Evans' car is a match to the brand and style used in your landscaping business." The DA quit speaking at this point, choosing to look at the two accused for their reaction.

Lisa appeared to be more angry than shocked. While Blake seemed to be still digesting the implications of the facts just stated by the DA, Lisa broke in with, "Blake, what have you done?" She appeared to be ready to continue with her accusation, but Basil Smith was immediately able to insist on her silence.

Blake was very quick to react to her accusation. He exploded, "You know damn well I had nothing to do with this. You were right there with me, in my bed, when this happened." It was all he got out before Basil grabbed his arm and told him to shut up in no uncertain terms. The lawyer's next words were for the DA.

"Please excuse my clients, Jeff. We came here hoping that the charges would be dropped, and your statement has caught them both very much by surprise."

Jeff Bagdon seemed slightly amused by the display put on by the two accused. "I understand, Basil. I've been in private practice. The fact remains that we have more than enough evidence to take this to trial. The medical examiner's report makes it clear that the victim in this lost too much blood to have remained alive, and the crime scene reports can be interpreted to show that a body was dragged away from the site and loaded into a vehicle. I'm comfortable with this case from a prosecutorial standpoint." The DA stood up, pulled a file folder of reports from his briefcase, handed them to Basil Smith and promptly left the room.

As the door closed behind the departing DA, both Lisa and Blake began speaking in a rush to their lawyer. He couldn't make any sense of what either of them said, and was forced to tell them both to shut up. Having their own lawyer tell them to shut up was startling enough to get both of them to obey.

"I know you're both shocked and upset by this turn of events. I didn't expect it either. It will do no good to fight with each other over the situation you find yourselves in. We have to try and figure out how we're going to deal with this to keep you both out of prison. I gather both of you want to refuse his offer of an eight to 12 year sentence?"

Both of his clients were quick to emphatically refuse the deal as it was offered. Both of them felt that there was no way they could be convicted at trial. When it was agreed that he was to refuse the offer on their behalf, Basil Smith dismissed them both, saying he was going to have a lot of work to do preparing for trial. When his two clients departed, Basil was left alone in the room and after quickly going over the new reports he sat back, wondering if either of his clients were telling him the truth. Technically, it didn't matter. He would defend them no matter what the state of their souls. He just liked it a lot better when he felt confident about what his clients were telling him.

+++++++++

A few months had passed, and the trial of Lisa Evans and Blake Moore was set to begin. At 10 a.m. on Monday morning, with everyone in the courtroom standing, Judge Robert Cox took his seat. The defense table was arranged so that Basil Smith sat between his two clients. He had decided it was the best way to handle the fact that the two of them could barely be civil to each other. He had contemplated suggesting that each of them retain their own lawyer, a means of keeping them apart more than anything, but realized that they could likely not afford to individually pay for the services of a lawyer. He knew that Blake Moore's business had fallen on hard times, and that Lisa Evans had recently given up her job due to the stress of the upcoming trial, and the difficulty she experienced when dealing with friends and acquaintances of her missing husband.
The opening remarks of District Attorney Jeff Bagdon were the first item of significance, and he got right to the point. "Members of the jury, I'm going to be up front with you. We don't have the body of the victim in this case, Mark Evans. However, we do intend to show you that he is deceased, and that the two accused are, without doubt, guilty of his murder."

He began slowly, stating that the two accused had begun an affair several months before the murder. At some point Mark Evans had become aware of the situation, and had commenced an action for divorce from his unfaithful wife. Some things were unknown, such as how and when exactly Mark Evans had become suspicious. He described how a trail discovered on Mark Evans computer would prove that he knew when and where the two adulterers had met. There would be emails that documented his progress at tracking the two accused, arranging his finances in anticipation of his divorce, and finally, a message that demonstrated his intention to confront the two accused.

He continued, "We can't demonstrate precisely when the three parties to this triangle physically got together, but we know what the results were, and we can show you with pictures and investigative reports exactly what took place. We believe that an encounter occurred between the three of them, likely at the residence of Mr. Moore, and in that encounter Mr. Evans was incapacitated. He was then driven, seated in the passenger seat and probably unconscious, to a remote area of George Washington Park, less than half a mile from Mr. Moore's home."

"Once at the park, one of our two accused shot Mr. Evans in the upper right chest. We don't know whether Mr. Evans was conscious at the time of the shooting, but he was still seated in the passenger seat. The evidence shows that he was dragged from the seat and thrown to the ground, coming to rest against one of several pieces of firewood scattered around the picnic site. He was shot again, as he lay on the ground. Evidence will show that this bullet nicked his carotid artery, and you'll see graphic photographs of the blood evidence of the last moments of his life."

At this point Lisa Evans lost her composure, and only after several warnings from Judge Cox was her lawyer finally able to get his client under control so that the district attorney could continue with his opening statement.

"The circumstances are horrific, as even the reaction of the defendant suggests." He paused for effect before continuing, "After being shot a second time, Mr. Evans was rolled into a plastic shroud, dragged from the picnic site, and loaded unceremoniously into the trunk of Mr. Moore's car. He was taken someplace unknown to us, and buried."

"Mr. Moore took the murder weapon, along with the shovels used to create Mr. Evans' grave, and dumped them into the river. We are fortunate that a concerned citizen saw this act take place and reported it, through Crimestoppers. The police were able to recover the murder weapon, and the instruments of Mr. Evans' disposal."

"Through sound investigative techniques, and precise forensic testing, it can be proven that both of the accused were at the scene of the crime. Blood from the deceased has been identified on the exterior of Mr. Moore's car, transferred when the unfortunate Mr. Evans was loaded into the trunk. Lisa Evans can be placed at the scene as well. Her husband's blood was detected in her car, and on the shoes she wore that day."

"The defense will say that the two adulterers were nowhere near the scene of this horrific crime. How can they prove this? Why, with their own testimony of course. Each will make the claim that the other was with them at the time of the murder, and could therefore not be involved. This self-interested testimony will not, I'm sure, divert you the jury from finding them guilty."

It was a difficult statement for Basil Smith to speak against. He tried, emphasizing that the defendants were innocent until proven guilty, and that such proof was not going to be available in such a circumstantial case. He asked that the jury disregard the DA's opening statement, and instead rely upon the evidence that they would be shown in court. It was a brave attempt, but several veteran court reporters from the local newspapers gave round one to the District Attorney.

The first witness was the departmental computer expert, who described finding the emails and the maps illustrating the route taken by Mrs. Evans on the occasions that she met illicitly with Mr. Moore. The method that Mark Evans had used had been described in one of his emails to his lawyer, and the computer expert went on to explain to the jurors how a little electronic device was able to precisely track the defendant's car, and then allow her husband to re-create on his computer a precise map with time and locations that told him precisely where and when she met her lover.

One of the reporters took careful notes, and planned to include the name of Rocky Mountain Tracking in his story. He was confident that more than one husband or wife would be checking out the Company's product based on the successful use that it had been put to by Mr. Evans.

During this testimony Blake Moore seemed slightly bored, while Lisa Evans appeared very embarrassed, and wouldn't look at the jurors. There was really nothing that could be gained by Basil Smith in cross-examining this witness. The tracking device was what it was, and the emails he knew, could be quickly verified by his own law partner, Robert Graham.

After breaking for a lengthy lunch, the trial resumed in the afternoon with testimony from the 911 operator and the two patrol officers who had answered the initial call. They were simply determining the basic facts surrounding the discovery of Mark Evans' car, and the testimony was relatively without drama.

That changed once the detectives, involved with attending the scene after the state of the site was reported by the patrol officers, began their testimony. The description of the site as it had been given by the district attorney was now being testified to by the forensic technicians and medical examiner who attended the scene. Their descriptions were clinical and precise, illustrated with large photos that showed the bullet holes, the blood and the drag marks leading to the paved roadway.

The medical examiner testified to the quantity of blood that he felt was distributed around the scene. There was no way to physically measure its volume as much had soaked into the sand and upholstery, but he estimated that it represented 3 to 4 pints, a good percentage of the roughly 10 pints in a human body. His most effective testimony, though, concerned the four distinct sprays of blood that extended from the area of the bullet hole in the blood soaked block of firewood.

He testified that they indicated that a main artery had been cut, and the force provided by the victim's heart was propelling the blood in a spray away from the body. He showed how each of the four separate sprays was of a decreasing length, which indicated that the heart was losing its ability to pump blood. It was when he said that it proved the victim was in the act of dying that Lisa Evans lost control of her emotions again.

She screamed, "No! Mark can't be dead!" Lisa broke into uncontrollable tears, and when it became obvious that she was not going to be able to control her emotions for some time, the judge called an end to the proceedings. Court was adjourned until 10 a.m. the next day.

The second day of the trial began just as the first one had, right at 10 AM. The medical examiner once again took the witness stand, but little additional information was given. Primarily he expanded on the tests that had been done on the blood samples that had been taken. Within 15 minutes the prosecutor, District Attorney Jeff Bagdon, had finished his questioning and the witness was turned over to the defense attorney.

As Defense Attorney Basil Smith got up from his seat and took a few steps towards the witness, he glanced back quickly to confirm that his client, Lisa Evans, was in control of her emotions and not about to disturb the court again, as she had the afternoon before. He knew that she had been prescribed something to calm her down, but he was still afraid that she might interfere with his cross-examination of the witness. He was happy to note that for now she seemed to be sitting calmly in her seat.

He knew he was going to have to discredit some of the medical examiner's testimony from the day before, as it was quite graphic and left a strong impression that the shooting in the park had been quite heartless, almost an execution. He began, "You stated that Mark Evans lost three to four pints of blood in the park. At the same time, you stated that it was impossible to know for certain, because of the conditions, and that it was simply your estimate. Isn't it possible that the blood loss could have been as low as one to 2 pints, depending on how the blood was distributed around the site?"

The medical examiner, known to be a conscientious professional, thought for a few moments before saying, "It isn't likely, but it isn't impossible."

Basil Smith remained quiet for almost a minute, letting the medical examiner's acknowledgment sink in with the jury. He then continued, "What you described as a fatal wound to Mark Evans could have been less than fatal if someone were to have applied immediate first aid, wouldn't you agree?"

Again, the medical examiner thought before answering, "My answer is the same as to your last question. It isn't likely, but it isn't impossible. Medical attention would likely have been needed within minutes of receiving a wound of that nature. There is no evidence of that occurring."

The defense attorney quickly said, "There is no evidence of assistance being offered, but as you say, it is possible." He dismissed the witness, happy to have gained a couple of small concessions from him.

The next witness was one of the forensics technicians whose specialty was guns and ammunition. He testified about the recovery of the two slugs, one from the seat and one from a block of firewood. He testified that the ammunition was of the type known as Full Metal Jacket, and that it was frequently used for target shooting, and was the standard for military applications. The slug recovered from the car had hit a metal seat support and had been severely deformed, but the second one, recovered from the firewood, had been in very good condition. Matching it to the weapon pulled from the river had been very easy to do.

Basil Smith had done his homework with regards to ballistics and the science of how bullets reacted with human bodies. He asked, "Were the bullets examined for any residue of the bone or flesh that they had passed through before recovery?" He knew that this kind of testing could possibly even identify which organs of the body a bullet had penetrated.

The technician confirmed that such tests had been done, and continued, "We found very little on the actual bullets, beyond traces of blood. The bullet that was fired into the car seat passed through about 2 inches of various layers of padding and fabric. We think that may have stripped it clean. A similar situation exists with the second bullet, the one that became lodged in the firewood."

"The bullets themselves were commonly used by the military, and featured a GMCS jacket, or Gilding Metal Copper Steel sheath around the core of the bullet. It's a copper alloy that has a small amount of steel in it." He went on to explain that this jacket was much harder than a standard full metal jacket, which was normally just copper.

This testimony was both good and bad for the defense. It acknowledged that there was no evidence of the bullets actually passing through a body, but the circumstances and style of bullet that had been used tended to explain the situation. His hope that the gun could be traced was also doomed.

The gun had been checked against the state and national records, and all that could be determined was that it had been sold at a gun show 20 years previously. There had been no record kept of the purchaser.

The only other thing that Basil Smith could accomplish was to get an acknowledgment that neither of the defendants' fingerprints or DNA was recovered from the gun or the cartridges. It appeared that whatever hadn't been washed away by the river water had been wiped away before the gun was disposed of. It was a small acknowledgment, but he felt good about it anyway.

Another technician described the testing on the two recovered shovels. Again, there had been no fingerprints or DNA evidence, but both shovels were stamped with 'Moore's Landscaping'. He also testified that under the powers granted by a search warrant, he had examined the facilities of Moore's Landscaping and had found 14 more identically stamped shovels. There was no point in cross-examination of this witness.

The parade of witnesses from the forensics unit and the detectives from the Police Department continued throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. The only serious cross-examination by Basil Smith occurred when one of the technicians described recovering the blood samples from Blake Moore's car. The technician had testified that he located blood that had dripped behind the license plate, as well as a smear that he found on the foam rubber seal for the trunk.

A question came quickly, "Could these smears and drips have been planted by a third-party?"

The technician was forced to admit that they could have been, and Basil Smith returned to the defense table with a smile on his face.

It was a little more difficult when the evidence of the last technician, the one who had been at Lisa Evans's home, was given. The blood had been found inside of her car, and later more was found on the sole of her right shoe. It was more difficult to suggest that the blood had been planted. He did get the technician to admit there was no way to tell whether the blood had been transferred from the shoe to the gas pedal, or in the reverse order.

The defense attorney hoped that the small amount of doubt raised by this statement of the obvious might allow the jury to discount this piece of evidence against Lisa Evans.

As a steady parade of prosecution witnesses slowly wound down, the conclusion of testimony by the last one happened to coincide with the end of the afternoon session of court. As a result, the third morning would begin with the opportunity for the defense to present their evidence.

The local newspapers that evening continued with their usual diet of titillating articles about past trials that had featured adulterers, and breathless stories based on courtroom gossip. There were a couple of serious stories that were written about the trial, and they suggested that the writers believed it would be very difficult for the defense to counteract the totality of the damning evidence presented by the prosecution.

They also suggested that since there was no body, it might be difficult to convict, especially with the expected defense strategy of questioning whether Mark Evans was really dead. Based on the few instances where the defense attorney had cross-examined the prosecution witnesses, it was obvious that that was Basil Smith's intent.

+++++++++

As the first witness for the defense, Attorney Smith called a recognized expert in the analysis of blood evidence. His name was Dr. Wilbur, and he had been hired to give expert testimony at many trials. He was quickly asked, "What do you think of the testimony of the medical examiner who talked about the blood evidence in this case?"

Dr. Wilbur put on his glasses, and consulted a small notebook that he had been holding. "I believe that a much better job could have been done with the collection of evidence as it related to the blood. If samples of the blood soaked earth had been properly analyzed, a much more accurate estimate for the total amount of blood at the scene could have been given."

The attorney continued, "Based on your review of the evidence that was gathered, do you have any opinion on the actual quantity of blood at the scene?"

"I believe that it is quite possible that as little as one and a half pints of blood could have created the scene as it was recorded."

The last question asked was, "Do you think it is possible for someone who has lost the blood depicted in the photographs to have survived?"

Dr. Wilbur's one-word answer was, "Yes." There was no cross-examination by the District Attorney.

Once Dr. Wilbur was excused, Basil Smith proceeded to the testimony of Blake Moore. Blake was calm and direct in stating that he was not guilty of the murder of Mark Evans, and personally believed that it was Mark himself who had arranged for his own murder. He also testified that he had never owned a gun, and that the shovels found in the river could very easily have been stolen from one of his company's work sites. Basil Smith wanted to keep the testimony simple, and quickly turned over his first witness for cross-examination by the prosecutor.

Jeff Bagdon's first question was, "What makes you think that Mark Evans was the type of person who would have arranged his own murder?"

Blake Moore immediately retold the story of Mark's reaction in high school, when Blake had gone behind Mark's back to date his girlfriend. He described how Mark had threatened to kill him, and said it demonstrated his mental capacity for violence.

The prosecutor thought about this for several moments, and then asked, "So, Mr. Moore... this isn't the first time that you have chosen to have an illicit relationship with a woman who Mark Evans would have expected to be safe from the sexual interference of his best friend. Don't you think that if he was going to have someone killed, he would have chosen you?"

Blake Moore was unable to answer the question directly, but rather he blustered about how he had a physical advantage over Mark, and that this would have kept his former friend from taking him on directly.

"So you feel that you could physically intimidate your best friend into taking his own life by proxy; is this what made you feel comfortable with taking his wife? Are yours the actions of a supposed best friend? You don't need to answer the questions, sir. I think we can all see that your actions and assumptions are those of a narcissistic ladies man who thinks that every woman is his, and friendship be damned."

Basil quickly objected on the grounds that the district attorney was providing testimony himself, and was not just asking questions. The judge agreed and asked the jury to disregard the prosecutions last statement. However, even that admonition didn't counter the correctness of the D.A.'s statement.

Blake was obviously upset by his treatment at the hands of the prosecutor, but left the stand without saying anything further. Basil Smith knew that the testimony of his witness had not worked out as planned, but hoped that the testimony of Mark Evans' wife would turn the tide that was running against them. Blake's testimony and the unanswered questions from the prosecutor had painted Blake in a very poor light with the jury. Hopefully it hadn't affected their opinion of Lisa.

Lisa Evans appeared to be in good control of her emotions this morning as she took the stand. Her lawyer asked her much the same questions as he had asked of Blake. She stated categorically that she had not been involved in any attack upon her husband. She stated flat out that she loved her husband, and could never have been party to any effort to physically hurt him. When pressed for a theory of what might have happened to him, she suggested that he might have been carjacked. Once again Basil Smith decided not to ask further questions of his witness.
When the prosecutor began asking his questions of Lisa, he started with, "Can you account for your whereabouts between midnight Saturday, the time at which your husband made his last email transmission, and 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon?"

Lisa was embarrassed by the question, and answered, "I told Mr. Smith where I was. I was with Blake Moore, at his home, from eight o'clock on Saturday evening until approximately 1:30 on Sunday afternoon."

"You didn't really answer the question, did you? I would like you give us a chronology of what you were doing between midnight on Saturday until you arrived home on Sunday."

Lisa was flustered and embarrassed. She finally said, "Well, at midnight I was in Blake's bedroom, and we were ah... you know... we were having sex." She had been forced to complete the sentence because the prosecutor kept motioning for her to continue with each of her hesitations.

"How long did it, shall we say, continue?" He stood there waiting expectantly for her answer.

"Ah... we... finally we went to sleep at one o'clock. It might have been a little bit later than one o'clock." Again Lisa was very flustered as she answered.

"So, from midnight to around one o'clock the two of you had sex, and then you went to sleep. Then what? Please continue with your chronology."

"Well, ah... we were asleep until about quarter to six, I think. I remember getting up to use the bathroom."

The DA asked, "Was Mr. Moore there in bed, when you woke up? Please continue."

"Yes, he was there. We, ah, we had sex again, and went back to sleep about 6:30, and then we got up at about 11 o'clock in the morning." Her answer had started out slow, but the words had come out faster as she spoke, as she apparently was anxious to finish the statement.

"So, when you came back from the bathroom Mr. Moore initiated sex with you, and that continued until about 6:30 a.m., after which the two of you went back to sleep. Is that correct? Is that exactly what happened?"

Lisa was very embarrassed now as she said, "No, that's not quite right. He wasn't awake when I came back to the bed. I woke him up."

The DA had obviously been surprised by her answer, but quickly recovered as he asked, "You woke him up. What did you do; shake him by the shoulder until he woke up so that you could ask him to have sex?"

Lisa was really embarrassed now as she said, "No. I... I didn't wake him up that way. I... gave him oral sex until he was ready, and then I woke him up." It seemed that she could barely get out the words as she gave this answer.

The DA could tell that he was getting somewhere with the jury, as the four female jurors clearly seemed offended by her answers thus far. He decided to continue with this line of questioning. "Kindly tell us how you woke him up, if you didn't shake his shoulder, and if the oral sex hadn't caused him to awaken."

Lisa seemed resigned to having to continue with the answers, especially after her lawyer's objections had been denied by Judge Cox. "I just... started having sex with him. That was when he woke up." She was very red in the face, and kept her head turned away from the jurors, the opposite action to what her lawyer had suggested. He had asked both of them to look the jurors in the eye so that they could see their sincerity as they spoke.

Jeff Bagdon was ready for the coup de grace now. "Earlier, you told your attorney that you love your husband. Is that correct?"

He waited for Lisa's emphatic "Yes", an answer accompanied by a vigorous nodding of her head.

He then continued, "I'm a little confused. You tell us how much you love your husband, but you've just finished describing how you spent the night he lost his life. It was a night you spent in the bed of his best friend, having sex, initiating sex, and behaving very much like a woman who has no regard for her husband. How are we to believe that you couldn't also have been involved in his murder?"

He stood there waiting for a few moments, but it was obvious that Lisa wasn't going to answer his last question. She was crying softly, hiding her face in her hands. It was Judge Cox who finally put an end to her misery when he asked if there were any further questions for the accused, or a re-direct by the defense. When each said there wasn't, the judge announced that the court was going to adjourn for lunch.

The courtroom was almost empty when Lisa finally regained enough control to leave the witness stand and join her lawyer and her codefendant. The three of them went out for a very somber lunch, during which the experienced attorney warned them that the case could now go either way. Privately he felt a bit more pessimistic than that, as both of his clients had failed miserably in the witness box.

The afternoon session of the court ended quickly, as Basil Smith announced that there were no further defense witnesses. Both lawyers were prepared for their closing statements, and there was nothing surprising in either one. The prosecutor told the jury that there was simply too much to explain away for the two accused to be innocent.

The defense lawyer emphasized the circumstantial nature of the case, the lack of a body, the possibly he could still be alive, and the fact that no real motive for Mark's murder had been suggested. The case was given to the jurors by four p.m., and they deliberated for two hours before they adjourned for the night.

The next morning Lisa and Blake joined Basil Smith at his office while they waited for the call that the jury had returned with a verdict. While his two clients waited in one of the conference rooms, Basil Smith was able to keep himself busy with other case work. He had warned them that it could take a while before they heard from the courthouse, and he was correct about that.

While they had been forced to share the conference room Lisa and Blake set aside their differences, and they talked about their chances for acquittal. Both of them were still hopeful, and neither one could accept that the jurors would believe they were capable of murder. Finally, at 3:30 p.m., the call came in; the jury had decided their fate.

Lisa's parents had come into town for the trial, although they didn't attend at the courthouse during the testimony. She was extremely thankful for that, as it meant that they didn't hear her admissions on the stand. They had been in contact with the court continually during the day, and had been informed when the news that the jury had made their decision came down. Lisa was relieved to have their support as she sat at the defense table beside her lawyer.

The reading of the verdict took place very quickly. Lisa and Blake were found guilty of second-degree murder. Neither one could believe it, and Lisa broke down in tears, again, while Blake pounded his fist on the table in frustration. In just a couple of minutes they were handcuffed and taken into the custody of the deputies on duty. Lisa had just a couple of minutes to speak to her parents and profess her innocence. Being normal parents, they joined her in her grief. Before the two convicted murderers were led out to their cells, they were advised that they would be back in a week for sentencing. It was a very bad end to a trying day.

+++++++++

The week between conviction and sentencing passed quickly. During that time Lisa's parents visited her daily, while Blake had one visit from a cousin. His parents were deceased, and he was an only child. The week passed very slowly for him, and he soon realized just how slowly time could tick away when you were in custody. He was also beginning to comprehend just how bad his future looked. Lisa was still in denial, and refused to talk about the future when her parents brought up the subject.

Mercifully, sentencing took just a few minutes. They were both handed terms of 15 years to life. Basil Smith expressed his sympathy for their situation, and said he would look over the court transcripts for an avenue of appeal.

Once sentencing had been completed, things moved very quickly. Within 3 days the two convicts had been transferred from the local lockup to state prison. The women's prison that Lisa was assigned to had a reasonable reputation, but the same could not be said for the one to which Blake was sent. It had been the scene of more than one disturbance in the last few years.

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Now that the trial and sentencing were over, the local news media no longer featured the case. The last reports on the local television channels featured the scenes of prisoners being transported by a converted school bus to the state prison. It may have even been stock footage used to give body to the short reports outlining the destinations of the two convicted felons. Within days there were new disasters to report and fresh crimes to seize the attention of the news anchors. It was as if Lisa Evans and Blake Moore had dropped from the face of the earth.

A couple of months after their sentencing, Basil Smith joined Jeff Bagdon for a drink after a new case had brought the two of them together again. The Evans murder case had been nagging at Basil Smith from time to time, and he said to Jeff, "You really went after them. To tell you the truth, I was surprised when the convictions were brought in. I had come to the conclusion that they were most likely innocent, as they never once wavered from their stories."

Jeff pondered his brandy before replying, "12 of their peers didn't buy their explanations. I try not to take these cases personally, although that's nearly impossible to do when the crimes involved are too terrible, or involve children. This case wasn't the worst I've ever tried, but it wasn't one where I could generate a lot of sympathy for the accused. It only works if we accept what the jury decides."

Basil Smith thought about his tablemate's statement and said, "I guess you're right, but the case still bothers me."

About a year later there was a small article in the news about a major disturbance at the men's prison. One name stood out when Basil Smith read the article, and it got him thinking about the case again. Blake Moore had been stabbed during the riot and had been transferred to a hospital for treatment of a collapsed lung. It said that he was in guarded condition, but would survive.

It was almost eighteen months after the convictions of Lisa Evans and Blake Moore for the murder of Mark Evans. Enough time had passed that even Basil Smith rarely thought about the case that had troubled him for the first year after he had represented the defendants. He had checked the transcripts thoroughly several times on his own time, but could not find legal grounds for launching an appeal. There had been no failure in the law that he could exploit for the benefit of the two convicted murderers.

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It was a relatively quiet Wednesday morning in the New York City offices of The Innocence Project. The receptionist had just returned from her morning coffee break and was taking a moment to check her appearance in a small mirror when the FedEx delivery man stepped up to her desk with a package. It was one of those large padded envelopes that are regularly used for interoffice delivery of the information and products that business and industry simply cannot do without…. and that have to be delivered yesterday.

The receptionist signed the electronic pad she was offered, and then watched as the very buff young man, clad in his summer uniform of shirt and shorts, left the office. The exact nature of her thoughts were for her alone to know, but the naughty smile on her face would have provided a clue to anyone there to witness the whole event. In this case the reception area was populated only by the attractive young black woman sitting at the receptionists' desk.

The package had been addressed simply to the office, so she opened it to determine what the disposition of its contents should be. Inside she found a DVD, a sealed black plastic bag with a biohazard symbol, and a multi-paged letter. Since there was nothing pressing for her to do at the moment, she began to read the letter.

It took her a few minutes to do that, and the range of emotions that crossed her face while she read the letter would have intrigued an observer of the scene. No one else had entered the office since the departure of the hard bodied FedEx man, so again her expressive reactions were unseen.

When she completed reading the letter, she sat in contemplation for a moment before picking up her phone and pressing one of the intercom buttons, waiting for a few seconds, and then saying, "Tony, could you come out here for a moment? We've just received a package that I think you're going to find of interest." She sat listening for almost fifteen seconds before she continued, "Yes, it does appear to be something that the team can work on. It concerns a couple of murder convictions that apparently should be reversed."

About a minute later a tall, red haired young man wearing a short-sleeved white shirt and a pair of well-worn jeans came out of one of the offices that opened into the reception area, thanked her while picking up the package, and then disappeared once more behind the door from which he had appeared.

The comfortably dressed young man was Tony Kelly, a recently graduated lawyer who felt that before he began chasing some high-paying Associates position in a Wall Street law firm, he should devote some time to the public good. He had worked at The Innocence Project for almost a year, doing mostly basic legal research for the more high-profile lawyers who had begun the office a number of years earlier.

While he knew that he wouldn't be staying there for the rest of his career, he enjoyed making a difference in the lives of some of those who had been unjustly convicted of serious crimes.

Once he had returned to the comfortable swivel chair that was behind a relatively cheap veneered desk, he placed the contents of the FedEx envelope on his blotter and picked up the letter, after taking a cursory glance at the DVD and sealed bag. He maneuvered his chair so that he could lean back and place his Nike clad feet on the corner of his desk while he read the letter. It had been clearly printed from a computer system in an easily read font, and he was quickly lost in its contents.

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The Innocence Project,

New York City.

Re: the murder convictions of Lisa Evans and Blake Moore.

I hardly know where to start with this, so I'm going to just start at the beginning. This way I will be able to keep everything in sequence, and hopefully not forget anything important.

My name isn't of any consequence, but the information I have been asked to give you could make a real difference in the lives of not just the two convicted murderers named above, but in the future well-being and happiness of five other people, of which I am one.

The beginning that I am going to start with is the day almost fifteen months ago when a man walked in from the street in response to an ad that I had placed in our local paper. I was looking for someone who was computer literate to join me in my small computer services company. A short interview made it obvious that he knew at least as much as I did about computers and their use in business networks. I've since learned that he knows even more than me. In any event I hired him immediately.

This man, who I will refer to as Mark throughout this letter, was probably the quietest person I had met in quite some time. That didn't affect his ability to do his job, which he did very, very well. Within two months my business had grown by at least 50% due to his efforts, advice, and the long hours that he seemed to insist on working.

When he started working for me, he told me that he had just arrived in town, and hadn't yet rented a place to live. Since my business was still going through the pains of infancy, I had contemplated renting out a basement room in our home for extra income. I wanted to be able to plow the profits from my business back into it, making it grow so that it would eventually provide a living for my young son and I. I knew that I was taking a small chance when I rented this room to Mark, but there was something about him that convinced me that he wasn't any threat to us.

We began a routine that continues to this day, although it has changed in its dynamics. He spent the first three months in that basement bedroom, although he ate with us and the two of us would travel to and from work together every day. In the beginning he would always return to the office to work extra hours, time that he did not ask to be paid for. He would always tell me that he would rather spend the time productively, rather than in front of a television set or sleeping.

Over time, our relationship changed from one of boss and employee to one of friendship and eventually to what it has become now; a loving family relationship. My son calls him his Daddy, and that is what he is in every way.

From the very beginning I knew that something was weighing heavily on Mark's mind. Over time his extremely quiet nature, and his frequent habit of lapsing into deep thought about things that I knew nothing of, brought a confrontation of sorts between us. One afternoon when it was extremely quiet in the office, I locked the door and called him into my private office.

I was determined to find out what was bothering him so much, as I had begun to realize how my feelings for him had developed.

It took a while, but I convinced him to share what it was that was bothering him. Eventually he told me that he was running from a disastrous marriage, one that had shaken him to the core of his being. He told me his wife had betrayed him with a good friend, and that he had almost committed murder and suicide over it. We continued talking for the rest of the afternoon, sharing our feelings about adulterous spouses.

My husband had left me for another woman, and Mark had left his wife because of her relationship with another man. We had that common ground, and our talk seemed to somehow help him over one of the last hurdles he faced on the road to getting over his past life.

That talk also seemed to be the catalyst that brought the two of us together. We began dating on weekends, maintaining two separate relationships; employer and employee during the week, and man and woman on Saturday nights. After a month of that, things had progressed to the point where it made no sense for him to maintain his bedroom in the basement, and he moved into my bedroom with me.

Since that time we have been a family, although there were still times that I felt he was keeping things from me.

We continued in our relationship, growing as a couple. I know I love him, and I'm sure that he loves me and my son. I really should say our son; because that is the way he treats him. The boy will soon be four, and he needed a loving relationship with a father, something that his biological father completely failed to provide. He hasn't seen his biological father since he was an infant too young to even remember him.

This is where we found ourselves four days ago when Mark collapsed at work. It took three days in the intensive care unit before they decided that his problem was related to his heart, and that he was going to need open heart surgery to correct a condition that has apparently been there since his birth.

Once his condition was stabilized, he was moved to a private room. He was awake now, and we could finally talk to each other. When I first walked into his room, I could tell something was wrong, and that it was seriously bothering him. That was when he told me this story; the one that he was afraid would die with him if he didn't make it through his heart surgery. It's very important to him to finally close the door on this episode of his life.
He told me this story over the course of this afternoon, and once I agreed to type it up for him, and make sure that it got into your hands, it seemed as though the weight of the world had been taken from his shoulders. He is asleep now while I am typing this on my laptop, and my, I mean our, son is on the bed beside him, also asleep.

I think I will have most of the night to get this letter done. I'll still have to go home and create the DVD I'll explain later, and I also have to pick up a few other items before I can send this information to you. I really want to have it ready to be sent by noon tomorrow. The problem of getting it sent from some location that will not let you track it back to us also has to be solved.

The story my husband, and that is what he is to me, told me started almost two years ago. He was happily married to Lisa, and their marriage had almost reached its sixth year. One night, after they had enjoyed making love together, Lisa fell asleep, naked on the bed beside him. He doesn't understand why it caught his eye, but he noticed that there was a small, oval bruise on the side of her right breast.

At first he thought it was just from a bump, something that occurred when she walked into the corner of a piece of furniture at home or at the office where she worked part-time as a secretary. He said that it began to bother him as he lay there, as it looked more like a love bite than a bruise, and he knew he hadn't caused it. Thinking about it kept him awake for most of the night, as his mind imagined more and more erotic scenarios of how that bruise had been created. It was still on his mind the next day, when he went to work.

By the time he got to his office he had decided he was being foolish. After all, he had absolutely no proof of anything untoward happening. He had decided that this whole thing was just a circumstantial case.

Just before lunchtime the manager of the parts delivery division stopped by his office. The man had ordered a tracking device, for trial use, as a means of better coordinating their delivery fleet. He wanted Mark to evaluate it, and give his recommendations. Mark was left with the device, the software and all of the instructions for its use. It didn't take him long to decide on how he would test it.

Three days after he installed it in his wife's car, he was sitting at his desk and decided to check the monitor program to see if it was still tracking his wife's car. She had told him that she was going to do some shopping that afternoon, but the tracking device showed him that she had left home and gone directly to the home of Blake Moore, his best friend.

He checked back an hour later, and her car was still there. He didn't really believe that there was anything going on, so he called her on her cell phone. When she told him that she was out shopping, he knew immediately that something was drastically wrong.

That night he casually asked her about her day, and had to listen to her explanation about the shopping she had done. He told me that he was almost physically sick, but decided that he shouldn't just jump to conclusions. He decided to monitor her for another week, while he was out of town on business.

He was able to follow her car from across three states as she spent from eight o'clock in the evening until two o'clock in the morning at Blake's home. When he spoke to her the next day, she told him that she had been home all of the previous night. The shock of confirming her infidelity was apparently almost too much for him to handle.

When he got back from his trip, he was contemplating murder. He knew his friend Blake was a real ladies man, but never considered that he would go after Lisa. Likewise, his wife's betrayal almost tore the heart right out of him.

That first night that he was home he visited the elderly widow next door, ostensibly to borrow a wrench from her late husband's toolbox. Mark knew that her late husband had long ago hidden a pistol in the bottom of his large toolbox, apparently because his wife had forbidden him to keep guns around their home. He had shown it to Mark one day while the two of them enjoyed a beer together.

Instead of borrowing a pipe wrench, Mark had located and taken the revolver from the toolbox. As he explained it to me, his intention was to use it to kill Mark and Lisa, and then to kill himself. He decided that he would wait until the next time the two of them got together while he was in town. It wouldn't be a problem for him to leave his job and go to Blake's to catch the two of them together, and then deliver his ultimate revenge.

Since he was going to have to track his wife's car for several weeks, he had ordered one of the tracking devices for himself so that he could return the one that he had been given to evaluate. It was fortunate that Lisa and Blake didn't arrange a tryst for almost another week, because if they had, my son and I would never have had the great pleasure of meeting Mark.

During the days that he had to wait for them to get together, he decided on a better plan. He decided to try to frame them for murder, and he described to me how he did it.

It took a full week to come up with a plan, and another week to assemble the things he would need to make it work. When he was ready he made an excuse to be away on a trip over the course of a weekend, quite confident that the two of them would get together while he was out of town. While monitoring his wife's car during the time he was gone, he finally saw her leave their house and drive to Blake's. That was his cue to put his plan into action.

He had been setting up a paper trail that would make it look like he was in the process of divorcing his wife. The last item was an email to his lawyer that would point directly at Lisa and Blake. Apparently he almost forgot to send it, and that could have meant that the whole plan would fall apart.

The last thing that he did before he left his house was to use his neighbors' revolver to fire a bullet into the passenger seat of his car, and another into one of the blocks of wood that he had gathered. The sound of the gunfire was muffled by an old blanket and the fact that he was inside his closed garage. He told me that firing those bullets was a gigantic relief to him, as he knew that he was finally started on the path to his revenge.

You should really do a search for the archived newspaper articles that are available on the Internet. Mark followed the trial daily on the Internet, and he said that the majority of the story of what he did was written up by the court reporters. When he started telling me about what he had done, it seemed to all come out in one long story. I didn't want to interrupt him, so there could be a detail or two that I'll forget to include here. Also, get a copy of the trial transcript. Mark thinks that all of them together should make everything clear.

First he drove his car to a park near Blake's home and found a secluded area where he could work at setting up his death. There was a large gym bag full of everything that he had accumulated for his plan, and he set it all on the picnic table which he had covered with the old blanket.

One of the first things he did was unload the pieces of firewood, some plastic sheeting and his spare tire. He used the plastic, on which he had piled the pieces of firewood and his spare tire, to create an obvious drag mark that led to the paved roadway. After he did that the tire went back into the trunk, the wood was placed around the picnic site, and the plastic was packed away

In order to do all of these things he was using a small Maglight, and when he was finished he sat down quietly at the table for a while to see if anyone came around after seeing the flashes of light that resulted while he was setting things up.

While he was sitting, he inserted a large blood collection needle into his left arm. He was able to pick up the medical supplies he used at a medical supply store when he told them that he was caring for his elderly mother. The blood was being collected in a homemade plastic bag set up, and his only fear was that the blood would clot too much before he could water it down with distilled water and pour it where he needed it.

It took him over an hour to collect what he thinks was almost 2 pints of his own blood, most of which he watered down with a pint of distilled water.

The first thing that he did with the whole blood was fill a small plastic squeeze bottle and use it to squirt blood in a pattern that he hoped would look like arterial spray. Most of the rest of the blood that was mixed with the water was spread around on the car seat and the ground, to make it look like someone had lost a lot of blood. Some more of the whole blood was used to pour into the bullet hole in the firewood, and the hole in the upholstery of the passenger seat.

I hope I'm getting the details right, as I don't really want to have to wake him up so that I can read this to him. He's going to need his rest, as he has been scheduled for surgery tomorrow afternoon. I'm praying that there will be no complications, and that he'll come through the surgery.

Whether or not I have been correct with all the details, there is still the matter of the DVD that I'm going to make for you. Mark took photos, sort of before and after pictures, with his digital camera as he did everything there in the park. He said there are even pictures of him taking his own blood. I haven't seen them, but he's given me the password so that I can access the picture files on our server at work. They've been there since he started working with me, which I never knew. His souvenirs, he called them.

Apparently the pictures are quite good, even though he had to take them by the light of his little flashlight. He was scared that someone would see the flash if he had used his flash setting.

Anyway, when he finished setting up the car and the blood in the park, he packed up everything into his gym bag and walked out of the park. He had an old car that he had purchased for this purpose sitting on a side street, and he told me how he almost didn't make it to the car.

Even though he had been drinking lots of fluids, and had been taking supplements, he was still very lightheaded, from the loss of blood, when he got to the car. He rested in the car until almost six o'clock in the morning, but he knew that he still had to go to Blake's house to finish the job he had started.

Lisa's car was still there, something he hadn't been expecting, and it was unlocked. He decided that it was a real bonus to him, as he was able to squeeze a couple of drops of blood onto her accelerator pedal. When he moved from Lisa's car to Blake's, he realized that there was a dim light on in Blake's bedroom, and he was really scared that one of them had seen him. As soon as he had put some blood on Blake's car, he got out of there in a hurry.

From Blake's house he went to a pay phone on the opposite side of the park. Just after the sun came up he used the pay phone to make a 911 call to report his car in the park. He'd set up a professional model telephone voice changer he'd bought from a 'spy store' in Pittsburgh, and used it so that they would think he was a woman. It worked quite well, as it allowed him to change timbre, tone and pitch.

From there, he went to a dock on the river where he dropped two of Blake's shovels and the revolver into the water.

By the time he had done all that, he told me he was feeling really exhausted. He thinks it was just the rush he was getting, from knowing that nothing had really gone wrong with his plan, that had kept him going to that point.

There was a small motel about a mile away where he'd already rented a room, and he went there to stay out of sight and to rest. He spent two days there, taking supplements and eating energy bars. I'm a little confused about the timing, but at some point he went out with his voice changer and made another call, this time as an old man. That call was used to steer the police to the revolver he had ditched.

That was about everything he told me, I think. I'll read this to him in the morning, and fix up any errors. I'm really hoping that when he sees I've got all of this ready to print he'll be much more relaxed.

The whole reason that he told me this story, and insisted that I send it to you, is that he wants to break the final tie that is holding him to his old life as Mark Evans. Somewhere along the line before he got here, he acquired the identity that he now uses, and that our son and I know him by. He wants to keep this identity, and never have to be Mark Evans again.

Please do everything you can to reverse the convictions of Lisa Evans and Blake Moore. Tomorrow I'm going to be getting a copy of the New York Times and an ink pad. We're going to use a piece of the front page to put all of Mark's fingerprints where they can be been clearly seen.

Then we're going to prick his finger and make a large blood stain on the newspaper as well. When it is compared to the DNA from the park, it will be proof that he is alive. All of this should be enough to get them out of prison.

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That was the end of the computer printed letter, but an additional message was hand printed at the bottom, as follows: --

Mark has come out of the surgery in very good condition. He wants me to fly to Seattle tomorrow to send this package. I hate to leave him, but I know that he'll feel so much better once this has been sent.

I told you earlier that this would affect five of us, but I see that I never explained what I meant. Mark and I are expecting twins in about three months.

Tony Kelly turned over the last page to see if anything had been added on the back of it, but it was blank. He took his feet down from the corner of his desk and turned around so that he could look at the other items that had been in the package.

The DVD was labeled "Photos taken in George Washington Park". On the back of the black plastic envelope was scrawled "Fingerprints and DNA". He took one more look at the printed pages, checking the back of each one for any additional handwriting, and then he called one of the senior lawyers. This was not something he could handle on his own.

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It didn't take very long to confirm that the DNA was really that of Mark Evans, and the fingerprints also confirmed that he was still alive when they were compared to those that had been taken from his car when it was found in the park. Faced with conclusive proof that two people had been convicted of a murder that never occurred, the State's Attorney General and Governor expedited their release.

Within a week they were back in the courtroom where they had been convicted, joined by Basil Smith, Lisa's parents and even District Attorney Jeff Bagdon with some state officials.

The State Attorney General extended the apologies of the judicial system and the State for their unfortunate conviction. He also said that there was no doubt that the blame for the whole unfortunate business could be placed at the feet of Mark Evans. The court system had worked, but had been diverted from justice by the concerted efforts of a determined man.

He then announced that their office would be putting every possible effort into locating Mark Evans and holding him accountable for the significant sum of money he'd caused the city and state to expend. Police, forensics, trial and prison costs were being totaled up, and he intended to see them recouped. Charges would be laid as well. However, when asked by a reporter if they had any idea of where to start looking for Mark Evans, he simply shook his head.

Blake Moore seemed to have undergone a personality change. The cocky and overly self-assured man had been replaced by someone who seemed much more amenable to compromise. He apologized to Lisa for having instigated the chain of events that had resulted in them spending almost a year and a half in prison. Lisa didn't seem to be concerned, one way or the other. She seemed completely cowed, anxious only to get away from the courthouse with her parents.

Before the two of them left, both Basil Smith and the District Attorney added their apologies for what had happened. Both of the lawyers felt that they had been severely taken in by the machinations of Mark Evans. They both felt that they should have been smarter than to be duped by a vengeful husband. Later, both of them thought to themselves that they would have to pay much more attention to the details of future cases.

Although the State Attorney felt that there was no liability to the State, Lisa and Blake were each given a payout of $50,000 after signing away any right for further legal action or compensation. Shortly after the receipt of his check, Blake Moore left town. His business had gone bankrupt, and his home had been sold to pay his legal fees. There was nothing to keep him there any longer.

His only comment to Lisa after they had been handed their checks was, "Mark sure as hell screwed us good, didn't he? This check is only a fraction of what my house and business would have been worth if he hadn't found out about us. I hate to say I told you so, but I knew that he set us up."

Lisa was still only a shadow of her former self. She had lost the house she and Mark owned due to non-payment and foreclosure. Also she had lost weight in prison, but had gained what could be charitably called 'worry lines' that hadn't been there before. She seemed hopelessly lost and accepted her check as though it were nothing more than a scrap of paper.

After she stuck it in her purse she said, "I think maybe we deserved it, Blake. I don't even care about the time in prison. That cost me only 18 months of my life, but I lost Mark forever." She walked away with her parents without even a goodbye.

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Two weeks after the cable news featured the story of the release of Lisa and Blake, a large envelope arrived by courier at the office of attorney Basil Smith. Inside was a short note to the attorney, and a sealed envelope addressed to Lisa Evans. He made an appointment to drop off her letter on his way home.

At 5 p.m. precisely, the attorney knocked at Lisa's apartment. After a short and polite conversation, he left her standing at her door, staring at the envelope with apprehension and just a little hope. Finally, after carrying it into her kitchen and staring at it more long seconds, she opened it. The familiar handwriting on the envelope had told her it was from Mark, and she knew she just had to read what it said.

'Lisa;

I would like to say I'm sorry for having let you spend so long in prison. I've never been vindictive before, but being betrayed by you and Blake practically drove me mad. My new life, and the happiness I've found, finally made me realize that until I set the two of you free I was just as much a prisoner as you were. I know the authorities will search for me for a while, but I'm confident that I'm safe in my new life, with my new family. Good luck and goodbye. M.'

The short letter slipped from her hand and floated to the floor, taking with it the last faint hope she held for reconciliation with Mark.


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