The first crime scene was a ranch style house in a what appeared to be an upper middle-class neighborhood. Yellow crime scene tape still surrounded the house standing out like a sore thumb among the carefully manicured yards. It was the weekend, so many of the neighbors were watching as we pulled up in the driveway.
Agent Nixon climbed out of the SUV and motioned for me to follow him. We ducked under the tape and stepped up to the porch. The Agent waved at the dark-colored sedan parked in front of the house.
Motioning with his chin, he nodded toward the car. “It’s a local police undercover unit. They have a theory that the Unsub will return to the crime. Someone has been watching too much TV over there.”
“Why let them keep doing it?” I looked at the car. They stuck out in this neighborhood.
“They have been guarding both the house and the scene, so why not? Their police chief won’t listen to reason.” The Agent climbed the steps and onto the porch. The door to the house was secured with a special police lock. Agent Nixon typed in a code and the lock released. The door opened at his touch.
“The Smith’s had four children. Greg Smith, the oldest, found them when he showed up as a surprise early in the morning. Local police units responded and found the parents and three children dead in their beds. Later inspection found a dog carcass in the backyard leading them to believe it was the point of entry. We weren’t called in until the second family was discovered.” The lower level of the house was pristine except for evidence markers and signs that fingerprint teams had been through the area. A large oak staircase led to the upper levels. Holiday decorations draped the finials with bows and flowers.
“Our units failed to find any strange or non-familial fingerprints in this area.” We climbed the stairs to the second level.
“The son apparently thought to surprise his parents and entered their bedroom to find them slaughtered like sheep.” We entered the first door on the left. A large, king-sized bed, dominated the room. Blood was everywhere. I stopped just inside the doorway and took a deep breath through my nose.
His scent was everywhere in the room. I could smell both his excitement and his sexual arousal. He got off on killing these people. I carefully stepped around Agent Nixon and circled the bed. The Were stood here and watched them. He left pheromone trace everywhere.
I looked up to find my new boss looking at me. “He stood here and watched them for a time. He killed the man first and then the woman. He got off on it.”
“What sort of Were is he?”
“”He’s a Wolf. They are the most predominate of Weres. I can smell his anticipation and his arousal. The profile isn’t complete, he’s a sexual predator. Where are the children's rooms?”
Agent Nixon led me down the hall past the bathroom. I didn’t need direction after that, the scent of blood was unmistakable. The door was slightly ajar, and the charnel scent that drifted out put my hackles on edge. I stepped inside and took a deep breath.
I shook my head. “He killed the boys first. Their terror permeates the room.” I could see some signs of struggle complete with evidence tags. “They must have heard the death of their parents and were trying to escape. He killed them quickly, so he could get the reaction he wanted from the girl. She was terrified more than the boys. He played with her.”
“You mean he …” The Agent looked shocked.
“No. He didn’t touch her physically. Have you ever watched a cat play with a mouse? He let her think she was getting away and then he killed her. This guy was very methodical, he touched almost nothing. Only another Were would have known he was here. Did you have any Magickal Support check out the crime scene?”
Agent Nixon was studying the floor and looked up quickly. “MS? No. We only have one of those guys on the payroll around here, and he wasn’t available. Do you think he would have helped?”
“Some Wizards can detect Weres. Or at least that is what my roommate at the Academy told me. It is an acquired skill, but they can do it, even the Russians.”
“Who was your roommate?”
“Agatha Blackmore. She’s the first official Federal Witch the FBI has ever recruited. Magical Crimes has her out west at the moment.”
“I heard there was a Witch at Quantico, didn’t she try to burn down the school?” He looked at me funny.
“Not exactly. Let’s go out back; I need to check the yard. I’ll tell you on the way.” I looked at the room and shuddered. Those poor children didn’t have a fighting chance. Agent Nixon followed me down the stairs. As we walked, I told him the crazy story.
“So wait a minute, a Director of the FBI was trying to kill her? Was he crazy?” Nixon had stopped and was staring at me.
“Maybe? They fired him for cause. If he was prosecuted, no one told us. The new Director of Quantico is very nice. She wasn’t too pissed at some of Agatha’s antics. Strange things just happen around her sometimes.”
He shook his head at me. “It sounds to me like we all better watch out. You’re trouble.” He was smiling so I guess he was kidding.
In the back of the house was a nicely trimmed expansive backyard. A six-foot wooden fence ran the entire length of it. In the center was a small roped off area with evidence markers. Much of the scent was gone due to it being outside, but it was there too.
“The Smiths didn’t have a dog, so whose is this? Did anyone canvas about a missing dog?”
Agent Nixon stared at the fence. “Not to my knowledge. We assumed it was theirs. The fence is pretty big to keep a dog in.”
“You should have checked with a K9 unit. German Shepherds can jump six to eight feet. If this one wanted over, he could have gotten over.” I jumped up to the top of the fence and held on. Carefully I pulled myself up to a sitting position. From up here I could see two of the neighbors yards. The one to the rear was a giant truck garden with greenhouses and solar panels. I doubted they had animals. Dogs could tear up a garden. The house to my right had a similar yard complete with a dog house. I didn’t hear any barking. Most dogs go crazy when a Were is near, especially us Cats. I stood up on the top of the fence and peered over into the left-hand yard. It also had a dog house, but I could faintly hear barking. Sensing Agent Nixon's distress I stepped backward off the fence and flipped into a standing position.
The Agent’s eyes were large as he gasped. “How did you just do that?”
“WereCat remember? We are very agile. The yard behind us doesn’t look to have animals but the ones on either side of us have dog houses. You’re the boss, which one first?”
The house on the left was a not our culprit, but they sent us in the proper direction. They raised corgi’s and the three in the house were going crazy by the time we finished interviewing the homeowner.
“They sure didn’t like you very much!”
“Yeah, well, regular animals aren’t fond of Weres. In early human history, they were kept in the house to detect us. I personally love dogs. My dad has two. If they are raised in the house as pups, they don’t react so badly around us. At least not normally.”
“I see that.” We traipsed across the Smith’s yard to the house on the right. According to the previous homeowner they had a ‘big’ dog.
Agent Nixon rang the doorbell and we waited for a response. Unlike the previous house, there wasn’t a cavalcade of barking.
“Yes, can I help you?” We could hear the voice from a small speaker next to the door.
“Ma’am, I’m Agent Nixon with the FBI. Can we talk to you about the Smiths next door?”
“On moment young man.” I could hear steps approaching as someone came downstairs and what sounded like a hallway.
The door opened about an inch. “What can I do for you, young people?” The voice belonged to an older gray haired woman.
“We wanted to ask you about the Smiths next door. Did they have a dog?”
“Those poor dears! It’s so sad about them.” She stared at Nixon for a moment. “I’m sorry, you asked about something didn’t you?”
“Yes, Ma’am. Did they have a dog?”
“A dog? No, Agent Nixon, was it? Mrs. Smith was allergic to them. The little ones would come over here and play with Hercules all the time.” She had a sad look on her face.
I spoke to her. “Ma’am, who is Hercules?”
“He’s my dog. I’ve been calling for him, but he seems to have run off.” A tear ran down her face. This was going to break her heart.
“Is Hercules a German Shepherd?”
“Why yes, he is. How did you know?” She had a slight smile on her face.
“I’m so sorry Ma’am. Hercules was killed protecting the Smith children from their attacker. We found him in their backyard.”
“What! Poor Hercules.” She started to cry. I nudged the door open and gave her a big hug. I held the crying woman for a few moments.
She pulled away and looked ashamed. “I’m sorry about that. He has been my constant companion for many years. He tried to save the children?”
I glanced at Agent Nixon. “Yes, Ma’am. He must have sensed the attacker and jumped the fence. We found his body in the backyard, so he was not successful. The FBI have taken care of his remains along with local Animal control. I can give you their number if you like.”
“No need for that dear. Thank you, both of you.” She closed the door, and I heard footsteps go down the hall.
“Why did you do that Moore? That dog wasn’t trying to save the children.”
“It may have been. Animals are more intelligent than many give them credit for. Besides it was the dog that gave us a new lead in the case.”
He nodded his head. “OK, that I can see. Do you need to see the other crime scene too?”
“I don’t think so. The dog was the biggest question I had. We now know we are looking for a WereWolf. I did think of a question for the other neighbor, though.”
“What was that?” We were walking back to our car.
“Have there been other times the dogs went crazy? Maybe the choice of victims wasn’t random at all.”
Agent Nixon stopped and stared at me. “It sounds like we need to canvas the neighborhood. I think we have some Agents that can do that task.” I smiled at him knowingly.
An hour later at the office, we found our victims.
“I don’t understand. You want me to knock on doors? Can’t we use the pool for that? Why do I have to do it?” Agent Ramirez had a look of shock on her face.
“You, Jones and Cavelli dropped the ball on this one by missing the dog connection. We need to get back in the game here. Find another connection and find it now. Go!” He pointed to the door. The three Agents moped out and went to work.
“I was a little pissed when I was told to assign you to our group Agent Moore, but you are pretty sharp. Maybe we can catch this guy after all.”
“You can call me Catherine or Cat if you like. I think we should send the Agents in the pool out to some of the other neighborhoods too. This guy may be cruising looking for another house. They should ask about strangers and animal behavior. We don’t want a Witch hunt. Lots of innocent Were’s in the area.”
“There are?” He looked surprised.
“Of course there are. We aren’t restricted to the reservations anymore. That was abolished in 1955. Many of my people stay there because it’s the only life they remember. My father has a lodge and hunting club in Kentucky. He’s very successful at it. Weres are just people Agent Nixon. There are bad seeds among us as much as among humans.”
“Like I said before. Welcome to the team Agent Moore.”
The canvas done by the team turned up a few instances of dogs and cats going crazy when someone was around. One of the town's postal carriers was a WereFox, so I had to cross those on his route off the map. The pool Agents turned up over thirty instances of animal misbehavior in their neighborhoods. A pattern was starting to emerge. We were looking for a lawn service or yard worker. It was the only reason for a rogue to be in some of those neighborhoods and not be noticed as a stranger. Unfortunately, there were over thirty services in the area. We still had lots of work to do.