Could her death have been a lover’s vendetta?

More chapters from ToxiCity

A VG Serial: ToxiCity

Fred Mozgala, Glenbrook Police press liaison, stood at a lectern in the patrol room waiting for the crowd to quiet. Doyle, in a crisp white uniform shirt, his hair combed forward, was beside him. Matt checked his watch. It was after three; plenty of time to make the evening news.

Mozgala cleared his throat and adjusted a silver pole to which several microphones had been clipped. “Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Chief Sean Doyle, who is supervising the Violent Crimes Task Force, has a short statement, after which he will take questions.”

Lights flooded the lectern area with a bright wash, and the TV cameras clicked on. Stepping up, Doyle looked over the crowd.

“I know you are all anxious about the case. We’re following some promising leads. I can also tell you that we have committed substantial resources to these cases. We have established a command post here at the station and have enlisted police officers and Detectives from various villages. We are also using the Northern Illinois Crime lab, and Cook County Medical Examiners’ lab. These cases will be solved. And now,” He smiled, clearly enjoying his fifteen minutes. “I’m happy to take questions.”

“Are you continuing to treat both deaths as homicides, despite the inconclusive findings of the Medical Examiner?” asked a Sun Times reporter.

Doyle folded his arms. “Yes. We have since the beginning.”

“What evidence do you have that the two murders are connected?” asked another reporter.

“I can’t comment on that. We’re just starting to piece things together.”

“What about the fact that they were both found on RDM property?”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“Well, doesn’t that suggest a strong link between the cases?”

“At this point, that’s speculation, and I can’t respond to that.”

Matt blinked.

“Are you any closer to identifying the agents responsible for the deaths?”

“We believe the victims were already dead by the time they were moved to the locations where they were found. But, as you may know, autopsy results show a difference in the cause of death.”

“Does that mean no pattern has been established?”

“One of the victims died from ingesting something that killed her; the other from inhalation of a noxious substance.”

“What toxins and poisons are you concentrating on?”

“I’m not going to speculate at this point. When we have something, we will release it to you.”

An irritated buzz went up. Doyle wasn’t making any friends. A blonde stood up. Matt recognized Amy Ferguson. She glanced at the camera to make sure it was rolling before speaking.

“The FBI claims to have information that terrorist groups are experimenting with infectious biological agents, including viruses. Is that a factor in your investigation and have you brought them in to help out?”

The crowd grew quiet. Doyle scowled. “We have no evidence that suggests any link to a terrorist organization.”

Ferguson stood her ground. “So, you’re categorically ruling out biological agents such as Ebola?”

“As I said, at this point, we have nothing that suggests a link to Ebola or any other pathogen.”

Amy Ferguson twisted back to her cameraman, who gave her a thumbs up. She smiled and sat down. Matt saw worried glances among the reporters, but whether that was because of Amy Ferguson’s question or the fact they’d been scooped by a TV reporter, he didn’t know.

Another reporter waved a hand. “Are you sure there’s no threat to public health?”

The undertow of muttering gained strength, and before Doyle could answer, several reporters called out at once. “What groups are you looking at? “Have you found evidence of Ebola?” “Are you considering a quarantine?”

The press conference was heading toward chaos. Doyle blinked rapidly, as if he didn’t quite understand how control had slipped out of his grasp. Mozgala was nowhere in sight. Matt swallowed. Finally, a young man with an earring in his ear shouted in a clear baritone.

“What about the fact that Julie Romano was gay?”

Doyle’s face drained. Matt stiffened. “I can’t comment on that.”

“But you don’t deny it?”

“No comment,” Doyle growled.

“So it is possible that her death could be a lover’s vendetta.”

“No comment.”

The young man continued. “There’s also a rumor that Simon was a womanizer. I suppose you don’t have any comment on that, either?”

Doyle’s kept his mouth shut, but his eyes roved the room, as if he could somehow divine who leaked what to the press. When he saw Matt, his expression hardened.

“When will you have something you can comment on?”

The audience tittered.


Episodes in the novel will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Please click the following title,ToxiCity, to read more about Libby Fischer Hellman’s books on Amazon.

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