2007-02-24: Skeletons In The Closet


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Summary: Mara and Xander check out their lead in the Squaring the Circle case, only to encounter a grisly discovery in a small, custom jewelry store in Chinatown.

Date It Happened: February 24th, 2007

Skeletons In the Closet

The Third Eye Custom Jewelry Store, Chinatown

The Peristokya Lead brings Mara and whoever she decides to drag along with her to a small place in Chinatown called the Third Eye Custom Jewelry Store, located deep in the seedier parts of Chinatown. This is an area of town where Triad activity is usually whispered about, but never seen. It is flanked by two dilapidated buildings that serve as headquarters for several local businesses run by asian tenants located in this part of the city, ranging from exported goods to chinese food restaurants.

It is also extremely dark inside. There is a rusted gate which seals off the front doors and windows, though under close inspection one would find the padlock is actually unlocked. There is a WE ARE CLOSED sign visible through the dusty glass of the front door.

It doesn't look like it's been open for a while.

Detective Damaris is dressed down for this, in an attempt to blend in. Her badge is tucked out of sight, as is her gun. She frowns at the seemingly closed shop and then gives a look to her companion. "Our victims obviously didn't buy anything from this store." She frown and tilts her head to one side, as if listening for something.

Xander had chosen to tag along in order to see the place. He would get to question the the suspect later, when the time came. For now, he was going to keep behind the cop, especially if there was a possibiltiy of guns coming into play at all. He doesn't have a gun, just a power. "Obviously. The victims were described as devout of faith, one would have to have faith in something somepletely different than what they did, in order to get something from here."

Save for the sounds of New York nightlife, Mara doesn't really hear anything unusual. The shop remains dark and dusty, looming over both ominously. If they try to go in, they'll find the rusted padlock unlocked after tugging it down. Looks like someone who put the gate down last went through the effort of making the establishment appear locked without actually locking it.

"You underestimate the power of 'something pretty,'" Mara murmurs and leans in toward the glass a bit more as though she /has/ heard something. "You know, I think I might hear someone calling for help in there." Xander gets a Meaningful Glance. Extenuating circumstances and legal searches! The detective tugs down on the padlock experimentally and grunts softly when it opens. "I'll make sure it's clear." And into the supposedly closed shop she ventures.

"If I recall correctly, Detective, those necklaces could hardly be described as 'something pretty'." That said, the detective had a point, but once again this would require somehow explaining how the Necklaces found themselves on the persons of the deceased. "The lstest death… The minister's wife found in his office… Similar circumstances?" He asks, regarding the lastest in a string of bizzare deaths." He in the mean time remains behind the detective.

The store looks like part store, and part workshop. The storefront is full of display cases of jewelry made on the premises - and of various kinds. Egyptian hieroglyphics, pentagrams, even several African tribal glyphs could all be found. There's also a fine layer of dust on everything, indicative that no one has been inside for quite some time. There is a single cash register there, as well as several log books to record purchases made from the store. There's a smell of must pervading through the storefront….as well as something else.

This strange smell, seems to get stronger the further she goes into the dark store, right into the back where the jewelry is actually made. There is a small furnace used to melt metal on the side, as well as a workbench full of metalworking tools and pliers. There are a few molds for some of the store's signature pieces stacked neatly on one corner of the workbench. A large, metal closet could also be seen situated at the back, near the furnace. And while the vibe is creepy, the shop looks utterly devoid of people.

Mara waves Xander in behind her after she's confirmed the coast is clear. She wanders further into the shop, almost reluctantly in search of the source of the strange smell. The closet seems as good a place as any to start.

Xander nods and slips into the place as soon as the coast was deemed clear, and takes a moment to look around the place. He blinks as he steps into the dark place, and states, "Detective, I don't care how pretty an object is, I still wouldn't purchase anything from this place…" He continues to look around, looking for anything else suspicious, before noting, "If the owner of this place is the suspect, he must not have been here for a while… What's that smell?"

When Mara opens the closet, the musty, sort of indescribable smell suddenly becomes overpowering. If she has a flashlight or if she squints, she'll find a body stashed in the closet, very much a gooey skeleton now considering he was decomposing in an enclosed space. Dried, coagulated flesh that had melted off it post-mortem has been splashed in the interior of the closet. It's safe to say that yes, whoever it was, he or she has been dead for quite some time and no one bothered to check on the store for what looks like years.

Mara's now got an official crime scene in her hands, which should take care of all the niggly 'entering without a warrant' problems.

Mara covers her mouth with her hand quickly. "Shit! Outside, now!" She backs up quickly, pulling her cellphone out of her pocket before turning and heading toward the front door.

Xander wasn't quite looking in the direction of the closet at the time, and spins around to see what the heck was going on. The stench suddenly gets much stronger, and the lawyer nearly gags as he follows Mara outside, and coughs, breathing freash air finally, and taking a breather, "I reckon… We're onto something now…"

Yes, Xander. You both just might.

When Mara phones in the crime scene, dispatch indicates that they'll be calling in further backup, as well as whatever the station can spare in terms of crime scene investigators who will handle processing the nitty gritty forensics stuff. This means that Xander and Mara have some time to themselves to look around some more should they choose. There's still the cash register with the log books, aside from their grisly find in the closet.

"I reckon," Mara mutters and phones up the precinct. After she hangs up, she rakes her fingers through her hair. "I'm going to take another look." She fishes a pair of plastic gloves out of her back pocket and pulls them on. A good detective is always prepared. "You're welcome to come back in with me if you can stand the smell." First stop, the cash register and the ledger. Find a name, find a suspect.

Xander pokes his head back inside for a moment, taking it into consideration, before saying, "Unfortunately I'd rather not… If that poor sod is the owner, that puts us out of a suspect, doesn't it?"

When Mara flips through the ledger, she'll find lists and lists of purchases made from when the store opened, to when the last purchase was made…. December 12, 2005. There is a note next to it, scrawled by blocky handwriting: B.J. 2:30 pm.

The moment fingers the page, she'll get a random flashback thanks to her ability. It would feel like looking through the eyes of the person who last stood behind the counter, and it looks like whoever it was is speaking - the words are muffled, vague, and the vision is slow moving, focused onto the wall behind the register. And then, the viewpoint suddenly twists to the right, as if whoever was standing behind the counter suddenly had his head yanked back. And then, the viewpoint falls, sideways and up as it sinks lower and lower. Mara will catch sight of a foggy face - a man, standing over whoever it was dressed in nondescript clothing….the only detail she'll be able to see with clarity is that whoever it was, he was balding.

Mara cries out as the vision hits her. She grabs at the counter just before she goes down, a crumpled, unconscious heap on the floor. For at least two minutes after the vision subsides, she doesn't move. Only her quiet breathing proves she's still alive, as still as she lays.

Xander would have, obviously, heard Mara's cry, at which point he spins about and dashes back in, pulling his shirt over his mouth so he coul breath better, and soon spots Mara back behind the counter, and tries to lift her up, and carry her out, "Bugger… The hell happened?" He asks the unconcious woman, who he tries to bring to fresh air.

Mara's backup starts pulling in. As Xander brings Mara out, he'll be able to see sirens, and NYPD cars screeching to a halt right in front of the store. Another detective or two comes out, as well as other patrol officers. The latter move to start chording off the crime scene with yellow tape. Red and blue lights continue to flash, and some Chinatown locals and visitors stop a little bit to stare at what's going on. While crime isn't exactly a stranger in New York, people still can't help but rubberneck a little bit.

Finally, Mara's eyes flutter open. She groans, "Did anybody get the plate of the truck that hit me?" She looks up at Xander first, then around at the other officers gathered. "Shit." She climbs to her feet and rubs the back of her head. "Just because our suspect is dead doesn't mean we're out of suspects. I reckon our vic," she jerks her thumb toward the shop, "was commissioned to make those pendants and then was killed to keep him from speaking up when his handiwork started showing up at suicide scenes." She frowns. "We gotta find out how many this guy made for our killer." She's definitely convinced the suicides aren't what they seem now.

Xander blinks for a moment, before grinning, and says, "We'll have ourselves a case then." He helps Mara up to her feet and asks, "Are you alright, though? The stench get too bad for you?"

"I'm fine," is all Mara offers for assurance. "Sorry if I worried you." She pulls out a notebook and a pen and scribbles down a few notes in sloppy, nearly illegible script.


NYPD Official Findings:

1) The dead body is Nicolo Peristokya, whose fingerprint was found embedded on the metal of the Al-Hamad crime scene's necklace. Autopsy would show that he was killed by a broken neck. He had been stashed in that metal closet for a little over a year.

2) The ledger found detailed purchases from the time the shop opened to the last year. The last entry is dated December 12, 2006. There is a note on the margin: B.J. 2:30 pm.

3) There were several fingerprints lifted from the counter, which was a nightmare for the CSI kids which is why this piece of information won't reach Mara until maybe a week or more later. But by comparing all the other prints and after isolating the dead proprietor's from the set, KOTIS will reveal another match. A William "Billy" Jones, who KOTIS has on file because he was enlisted in the army. If they follow this lead, this will lead them to the Jones Disappearances file. The couple have kin in New York City, Leto and Ghanima "Nima" Jones. Leto, or Lee, would've been entered in the NYPD records recently thanks to a recent fire that the lead detective in the case is concluding to be an arson, at the J. Philip Sousa Junior High School.

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