The Butterfly Murders

By: Jen Talty

Chapter 1

FOR MOST PEOPLE, the start of a New Year brought with it a New Year’s Resolution. Homicide Detective Shane Rogers never believed in them. But he did hope for a fresh start after two years filled with illness and death.

The decision to go back to work on New Year’s Day seemed like the perfect way to ease into a new beginning, except Shane had forgotten one crucial detail: murderers don’t take the day off.

He stepped from his vehicle and ran a hand through his unruly, thick black hair that was a little longer than a cops typical cut, falling to the top of his collar. His son had told him he was just too old and nowhere near cool enough to pull off the look. Scratching the back of his neck, fingers brushing against the strands, he decided to keep the longer hair. He was starting his life over. Might as well have a new look.

He brushed his hand across the Glock securely clipped to his belt. A sudden rush of heat pounded in the center of his chest. The crisp night air burned his lungs.

He moved passed a small crowd that had gathered behind a police barricade manned by some of the city’s finest. He flashed his badge, holding it tighter than usual, keeping his hand steady.

“Sign in,” the uniformed officer said.

Shane did as instructed, knowing it was procedure for every crime scene and anyone who dared cross the line would have to file a report. Snow floated gently to the ground, adding to the eight inches that had collected in the last couple of days. The weatherman said it wasn’t going to ease up, but get worse, which wouldn’t help with the crime scene because the fresh flakes were covering potentially important evidence.

Bright red and yellow lights flashed across the sky as a half dozen police cars, an ambulance, the medical examiner’s car, and two fire trucks, lined the road. The side street was on the outskirts of the city, just west of the Genesee River. A couple of local news crews had set up their equipment on the far side of the street, all hoping to be the first to break the news. Thus far, all they’d been told was that a body had been found. Nothing about the victim being a fourteen-year-old girl. Nothing about the fact that Congressman Cleary was the father of the deceased.

Shane looked at the names on the list. His partner, Will Jones, had signed in, along with two other uniformed officers, Dr. Eric Green, who was the local medical examiner, and his assistant, as well as the police department’s forensics team.

“Were you the first responder?” Shane asked the officer as he forced himself to focus on the crime scene.

“No. He’s at the front door. I arrived five minutes after and taped off the area.”

“Thanks,” Shane said.

The cracked wooden steps dipped under his weight as he made his way up the porch and into the house. The building was ice-cold, and he had left his driving gloves in the car. He clasped his hands together, rubbing vigorously, and then stuffed them into his pockets.

Wires dangled from the ceiling and popped out of the wall sockets. Graffiti and a few pornographic images covered the walls. “You the first responder?” he asked a uniformed officer standing by the doorway.

He nodded. “As soon as I saw the body, I called homicide.”

“Notice anything I should know about now?” Shane asked.

“I was more concerned with making sure the crime scene was secure and dealing with the adolescents who called it in,” the officer said. “Body’s upstairs. Last room on the right.”

Shane kept his steps slow and methodical. The sounds around him were no longer distinct, merely muffled noises that echoed in the recesses of his mind. White noise, they called it. It helped him stay sharp. His mind churned over everything he knew about this case so far.

Which wasn’t much.

He took the stairs one at a time, trying to get a feel for the place. Every homicide crime scene had a texture to it. Even though the body was found upstairs, all the rooms could contain clues that may lead them in the right direction. He looked at every detail as he made his way to the back bedroom, noting the trash and needles left behind from crack users. This house had seen its fair share of crimes before this murder.

His partner stepped into the hallway. “Shane,” Jones said. “Over here.”