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Whispers of the Dead

Whispers of the Dead

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Format

Main Tropes

  • Cold Case
  • The Secret Relationship
  • Emotional Toll
  • Police Procedural
  • Female Detective
  • The Reluctant Witness

Synopsis

Justice was denied fourteen years ago. Can a strong-willed detective bring it back to life or will it remain buried forever?

A single mother in a brutal fight for custody of her son, Detective Lexi Dixon accepts a phone call from Jenny Parker. After listening to a mother’s plea to find her teenage daughter’s killer, Dixon takes an interest in the fourteen-year-old unsolved case.

Determined to find justice for this young girl and closure for her mother, Dixon invests her energy in finding answers. She quickly learns the victim’s life was not as it appeared. As Dixon weeds through suspect after suspect, tension begins to build in her own personal life and could end in tragedy.

Will Dixon find justice for a young woman and herself?

If you enjoy suspenseful stories with twists and turns, you'll love Whispers of the Dead.

Intro to Ch. 1

"Please find who killed her. Please."

Detective Lexi Dixon stared down at the crime scene photos taken over a decade old, the worn voice of a distraught mother echoing in the forefront of her mind. Reaching for the whiskey glass sitting on her coffee table, Dixon let out a long, drawn out sigh. Her eyelids felt heavy, but though it was late, the woman's tears kept her from sleeping. She had never lost anyone close to her. Not like that. Not to a brutal murder. But she knew of people who have lost people, and tonight, her heart went out to this woman.

It took several hours after her shift to find the files. After she tucked her son into bed for the night, she poured herself a drink and started looking through the case evidence. So many photos had been taken of the crime scene, and they'd started running together in Dixon's mind, her vision blurred from sleepiness. Dixon set the glass back on the table, blinked, and held the full body photo of Josie Parker in front of her eyes.

She laid on the ground, her eyes open, arms limp to their sides.

Josie had a pretty face, small, oval. She wore a slight shade of rouge blush over her high cheekbones and purple eye shadow beneath her high arching brows. Her lips were painted a deep burgundy, and her dark brown hair seemed as if she’d once taken the time to pull it into a bun, but now it was disheveled, loose and tangled. The hemline of her laced purple dress began halfway above her knees and seemed to melt with each curve of her body. The V-neckline showed just enough of her cleavage to reveal a tattoo of a blue and green butterfly fluttering above her heart.

She had turned seventeen years old on August 9, 2005, just three weeks prior to her murder.

Her body was discovered on August 28, in a dark alley downtown between a dance club and a bar, but not until dawn the morning following her supposed time of death.

It was the owner of Bryan's and Roy’s Bar who had been the first to find the deceased. Over the audio tapes, dispatch reported a frantic young man calling.

She’s dead! the man had said.

Who’s dead? Dispatch asked, her voice unconcerned.

A pause.

Sir?

She’s by my bar. Bryan's and Roy’s Bar? I-I-I checked for a pulse, but she d-didn’t have one.

Name?

Another pause. I-I don’t know her. Can you send somebody here?

Sir, I mean your name. The dispatcher was beginning to sound irritated.

Oh, uh, Bryan Singer. I’m co-owner of the bar.

We’ll send first responders there ASAP. Don’t leave. The police will need to speak to you.

What? Why? I didn’t kill her!

I didn’t say you did. It’s protocol, sir.

Oh, then, okay. I’ll, uh, I guess I’ll just wait in the bar. Is that allowed?

I don’t see why not, the dispatcher said before ending the conversation.

The coroner later mentioned Josie Parker had not been sexually assaulted; however, it was noted she did have intimate relations with an unknown male before her death.

According to the victim's family and friends, she didn't have a boyfriend.

Josie lay on her back near the side of the bar, her head tilted toward the dance club. There was no evidence of the killer. No blood spatter was seen, but she did have fresh bruising covering her skin. Her fingernails were cut too short for her to have been able to scratch her assailant, hence no fibers or other trace evidence. It was possible the assailant had cut her nails if they wanted to eliminate their DNA, but she appeared to have kept them neat—not ragged as they would have been otherwise.

The autopsy report stated the cause of death as asphyxiation, which was made clear by the dark bruising around her neck. Because there were no prints, it was assumed the killer used gloves. Josie’s time of death was noted to have been between eleven on a Friday evening and three on a Saturday morning.

The question remained: was it premeditated?

If so, what was the reason for Josie’s death?

The original sergeant in charge of the investigation had kept Josie’s case files on his desk for five years after her death. He found no answers. After he died, they had shoved the records in the filing cabinet, almost as a way to bury any further thought of Josie Parker.

The files collected dust for almost nine more years until Detective Lexi Dixon received a phone call from the girl’s mother.

It was another detective who had answered the call first, but due to his unease with talking to a family member and telling them there were no answers, he transferred the call to Dixon.

It was never easy talking to the surviving family and friends of the victims. Not even fourteen years later, after all had been long since forgotten, the memory of the victims still resonated in the loved ones’ minds, haunting them when they woke up in the morning and until they went to bed at night. Even their dreams became haunted by the ghosts of the pain of the brutality of life.

With interest, Dixon assured the mother she’d look into it and promised to return her call once she was able to give her something. She gathered everything the department had on Josie Parker and after her shift ended, she went home to spend hours familiarizing herself with the specifics of the original investigation.

And no matter how long she sat in her love seat looking at the photograph, it always remained the same.

They say pictures are worth a thousand words.

In this circumstance, they were worth nothing. It told no story, only that someone who had barely begun to live was taken from the world far too soon.

Such was the story of life—at least that was the truth in the job Dixon held as a homicide detective.

In the crime scene photo, the position of the sun had created shadows in the background making it hard to see the back road leading out of the alley. She decided in order to get a clear picture of the murder scene, she’d need to visit the alley. However, nearly fifteen years was a long time. There would be differences between the present-day alley and the time when Josie was killed.

Dixon frowned as she ran her finger across the photograph, tracing the outline of the victim’s body.

“What’s your story, honey?” Dixon muttered underneath her breath.

The cell phone vibrated on the coffee table and with a quick glance, she saw a photo of her ex-husband on the screen. She let the phone ring as her eyes skirted over the coffee table where notes and questions the previous detective had written were scattered.

Why was she in the alley? –To meet someone? If so, who?

Crime of passion appeared to be the result.

No one claimed to have spoken to nor seen her.

She told no one where she was going.

Ashley Griffin—friend—is hiding something, but what?

Dixon glanced back at the crime scene photo and studied the area surrounding the body. There were no usable footprints found. Trash was scattered along the ground. Her handbag lay clumsily next to her body. Nothing was missing on her person. She had two credit cards, a driver’s license, and twenty dollars in cash stuffed in her wallet. Her right hand held a small diamond ring on her third finger, and she wore a watch with a silver band.

It didn’t appear to have been a robbery gone wrong.

Dixon pulled the ring from the evidence box and studied it. From what she could tell, it was a one karat, flawless cut diamond.

Dixon agreed with the original detective’s assessment. If Josie was mugged, even after killing her, he or she would have taken it all. The ring itself would be worth a couple of hundred to a thousand dollars.

Without moving her eyes from the photo she held, Dixon reached for her bourbon and wrapped her fingers around the glass. Bringing it to her lips, she took a sip, letting the liquor burn her insides.

She also believed it wasn’t premeditated. Possibly, Josie and another had entered an argument, and there’d been a struggle. The assailant freaked out, and took off, never to be found. Leaving questions to be unanswered.

Hearing a noise, Dixon glanced up to see a tiny male reflection of herself standing in the doorway. She set the glass on the table and eyed her son.

He had her big brown, tired eyes and wide mouth. The slightly pointy nose and chin belonged to his father. His brown hair was a shade darker than hers, yet lighter than his father’s. It seemed to Dixon that her son had gotten the best of both worlds.

“Wally. What are you doing up, honey?”

“I’m thirsty,” Wally’s voice was thick with sleep as he rubbed his red eyes. He released a yawn, though he attempted to hide it.

With a sigh, Dixon replaced the interview tapes, photos, and notes in the evidence folders, along with bags containing Josie’s purple dress and handbag in a brown box on the coffee table, covering it with the lid as she stole a glance at the clock on the wall. She was surprised at how little evidence the police had collected.

It was just after midnight.

“All right, we’ll get you some water, then you need to go back to bed. You have school in the morning.” She pushed to her feet and walked toward him, putting a hand on his shoulder. She guided her son to the kitchen.

Dixon pulled a clean glass from the dishwasher and jabbed it into the ice dispenser on the outside of the door before filling it halfway with water.

When she handed the glass to Wally, he cocked his head. “Mommy, are you okay?”

Dixon frowned as she leaned against the counter and linked her arms over her chest. “Of course. Why do you ask?”

He shrugged as he lifted the glass to his lips.

“Well, I’m fine, honey,” Dixon assured him. “Mommy just has a lot of things on her mind. Don’t worry about me. It’s my job to worry about you. Not the other way around.”

“Is it work things? Or Daddy things?”

In truth, it was a mixture of both, but Dixon didn’t want to tell that to her son. He was much too young at the age of six to worry about the dangers of life, so how could she mention her work? As far as his father was concerned, she wanted to protect Wally at all cost, although she feared in the end she’d lose the fight.

Dixon shook her head to clear it, then curved her lips, smiling down at him. “Adult things,” she evaded. Dixon sat at the kitchen table and lowered herself in a chair, pulling Wally close to her. She cupped his chin in her hands.

“You know how much I love you?”

Wally nodded. “All the way to Heaven.”

“And then some.”

“Does Daddy love me that much?”

Dixon smiled, her heart tugging fiercely in her chest. “Of course, he does, honey.”

“Then why does he want to take me away from you? Why won’t he let me stay with you?”

She hesitated a beat. “Because Daddy can’t imagine a life without you. Simple as that.”

“I don’t want to live with him and Deb,” Wally admitted. “And I don’t want to go with him this weekend.”

“I know you don’t,” Dixon replied.

“Please don’t make me, Mommy. I could stay here, and we can eat lots of ice cream.”

She took his glass of water, set it on the table, and pulled him in for a tight hug. “I promise you’ll have a good time with him. He’s taking you to the Braves game, isn’t he?”

Wally mumbled an answer.

“You’ll have fun. Who's your favorite player? It’s Freddie Freeman, right?”

He bobbed his head with another tired yawn.

“Maybe you’ll get lucky and catch his foul ball.”

“I don’t think so, Mommy,” he replied, although his lips turned to a slight smile.

“Just enjoy your time with your dad, okay? And get to know Deb a little. I’m sure she’s not all bad.”

“Okay,” he said with a sigh. “I guess I can try.”

“I’ll be here waiting for you to come home Sunday night.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.” She pulled away and ruffled his hair. “Okay, it’s late, mister. Let’s get you back to bed.” She took his glass from the table and set it in the sink.

“Will you read me a story?”

“I already read you one three hours ago.”

“I know. I want another one.”

Dixon laughed lightly. “Well, who can resist you? But let’s choose a short one. We both need to get some sleep for the morning. I’ve got work, and you, mister, have school.”

Wally took her hand and led her to his bedroom upstairs.

After he chose a book, they climbed into his bed and she read to him, using the voices she knew he liked.

As Dixon expected, Wally had fallen asleep soon enough. She remained next to him, finding herself unable to leave his dinosaur-filled room.

“Good night, baby boy.” Dixon kissed the top of his head and wrapped her arm around him, snuggling close to his warm body. She shut her eyes, feeling his steady breath against her neck.

As Dixon fell asleep, her mind drifted to the photos of Josie Parker tucked away in the box on her coffee table. In the reports, her mother claimed Josie didn’t go out except for school or to attend dance classes. There were many things about her life that didn’t add up. Try as she might, Dixon couldn’t make head or tails. Detective Goff spent five years trying to find answers behind Josie Parker’s murder, but the mystery remained silent.

The seventeen-year-old had no male suitors, yet she’d had intimate relations with an unknown man before she’d died. She was quiet and wholesome in her everyday, normal life, yet she was dressed like a party girl, found in the alley between a bar and dance club, both of which required an identification to enter.

It was obvious family and friends had known a different Josie. One that wouldn’t be a target for murder.

So, the question buzzed in Dixon’s head: who killed Josie?

Her heart squeezed as she heard the girl’s mother’s voice echo in the still room. She sounded like a woman in pain, a mother who wouldn’t be able to move on until justice for her daughter was found.

Dixon decided to request her captain’s permission to investigate. They had four unsolved murders collecting dust, including Josie’s. That was four too many.

Dixon wasn’t sure if she’d be able to find anything the original sergeant couldn’t. But she did know a fresh set of eyes often helped. There were times over the years loyalties changed, stories changed.

Dixon hoped that this would be one of those times.

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