Detective Wolters received the forensic report back. There were no fingerprints on the bassinet or anywhere. In fact, the tests showed the blanket and sweater had recently been laundered. Wolters assumed it was the kidnapper attempting to erase any evidence. Needless to say he did a good job. Other than the baby’s pink blanket, no evidence was found in the park and no one saw anything or anyone suspicious.
Even though the picture of Rita Grace was distributed to all the local stations in the county and surrounding areas, no one saw her nor did anyone come forward with any information. He questioned the babysitter, Bellicini and Thornton and interviewed those who worked for Thornton, as well as the fellow coworkers of Bellicini. No one could shed any light on who would have done such a thing. Each of them told Detective Wolters that as far as they knew neither Thornton nor Bellicini even had any enemies. He had their cell phones and home phone checked to see what calls were placed. They called one another, the babysitter, each of their respective jobs and a few friends. Nothing out of the ordinary. The father didn’t call, nor did they call him. They were like a perfect family, but apparently, there were skeletons in someone’s closet.
He was still trying to locate Pavel Ivanovich. He was waiting to get the DMV records. If he lived locally, the Department of Motor Vehicles would have him on file.
His telephone rang at his desk. He was hoping it was the DMV.
It was his wife, Monica.
“Hi, honey. What’s up?”
“I just received a strange telephone call. I was instructed to tell you about it.”
“What do you mean? Who called?”
“I don’t know who it was,” she said. “When I answered, they told me to not speak, to just listen. They said to tell you that you are putting your nose in business that you don’t belong in and it would be best for you to get his man out of jail.”
He was quiet.
“Brandon? What is going on? Is this part of some investigation you’re involved in?” this part of some investigation you'not speak, to just listen. They said to tell you that you were putting your”””
“One I thought was over. We arrested a member of the local crime family. I handed in my report and the district attorney has the case.”
“Well, it’s not over. They’re calling the house, Brandon. You need to do something.”
“Monica, please don’t worry. I’ll handle it.”
“Okay, maybe you should go to your mother’s house for a while.”
“Are you sure? Are we in danger?”
“No, I’m sure everything is fine, but I just want to err on the side of caution.”
“I see. You wouldn’t tell me if you did think so, would you? In any case, I think going to mother’s is a good idea, at least for a little while. Brandon?”
“Please be careful. I want you home safe. I love you.”
“I love you too, and I will be careful. Call me when you get there.”
After hanging up, he grabbed the Mancini file and walked into his Sergeant’s office, completely forgetting about the DMV reports he was waiting for.
“Got a minute?” he asked.
“Sure. What’s up?”
Sergeant Roger Palazzio was going through paperwork, but set it aside when Brandon came in.
“It’s the Mancini case.”
“I thought that was over.”
“I did too.”
He repeated the conversation he just had with his wife. He felt that it was the Mancini boss getting revenge.
“Apparently, he doesn’t want his son in jail.”
“Maybe. Are you sure this is about the Mancini case?”
“Pretty sure. I told my wife to go to her mother’s for a while.”
“Good idea. I’m also going to mandate protection for you.”
“Come on. I don’t need protection. I just want this asshole to leave my family alone.”
“So do I, but not at your expense. You’re off the case, Wolters.”
“What? You can’t do that, I’m the arresting officer. I’ll need to testify anyway.”
“I can do that. Let’s get the ADA in here.”
* * * * *
“Okay, you’re saying you think that the telephone call made to your house is connected to the Mancini case?”
Assistant District Attorney Sami Benson paced back and forth in the Sergeant’s office. Detective Wolters repeated, once again, the telephone call that made his wife nervous.
“Yes, I do. Although they didn’t say the name, they meant Phillip Mancini. I know it.”
“You’re basing this on what…one telephone call?”
“Yes, and my gut instinct. My stomach’s in turmoil over this.”
“I can’t go to the judge with what may or may not have been something you ate, Detective,” she said, as she stopped pacing to look at him.
Detective Wolters ignored her wise remark, and said, “They said they want their man out of jail. He’s the most recent man I’ve arrested who, to this day, remains in jail awaiting trial. Besides, it’s the most high profile case I’ve worked on lately. Who would call my wife and demand that their son—a man suspected of murder—be let out of jail? Who else could it be if not the Mancini boy?”
“Sami, I have to agree with Brandon here,” Sergeant Palazzio interjected.
“I’m not saying I disagree, but what do you expect me to do? I can’t go to the judge with this. Mancini’s been in custody, away from the general population and has no contact with anyone. How could he be threatening you and your family?”
“It’s the Mancini family. They have ways. The old man is ruling that family and he’ll do what it takes to get what he wants. It wouldn’t be the first time. All I’m suggesting here is that you talk to the guy. Maybe get him to leave my family alone.”
“I will interview him, that goes without saying. As far as doing anything about it…well, there isn’t any proof the Mancini family is behind that phone call.”
“I’ve taken Wolters off the case for his safety.”
“Sergeant, I’m asking you not to. I can handle this.”
“It may be a good idea to keep him on this case,” Benson told Palazzio.
“How is it a good idea?”
She turned and looked at Wolters.
“Well, if it is indeed the Mancini family who is doing this, they’re targeting you because you are the arresting officer. You will be the one testifying, the one t be the first time." They have ways. It wouldn'y member of his family. How could he be threatening you and your family through LoListenwho targeted Phillip Mancini and the one who was actually able to get enough proof to arrest him. They know all this.” She turned her attention to the sergeant, and continued, “Whether or not you take him off the case is irrelevant. He will be testifying.”
“So, what do you suggest?” Palazzio asked.
“Let’s use you as bait,” she turned back to Wolters. “Are you game?”
“Depends on what you mean by bait.”
“Your wife is leaving town, right?”
“Yes, today I hope. She’s going to her mother’s in Ojai.”
Ojai was a small community, tucked into the hills and off the beaten path of any major city. It was a very artsy town, and most who lived there knew one another. Brandon felt it would be a safe place for Monica to be.
“Good, make sure she does. You’ll do nothing about the telephone call. You go on as you always do. Once they don’t get a response from you, they’ll try again. We’ll have a shadow team following you. You won’t be alone. Let’s see what they do next.”
“What? Wait like a sitting duck? You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Palazzio.
“He will be well-protected. If you want to do something about this, then we need to act, or not act, as the case may be.”
“I’ll do it.”
“I’ll want to have your home telephone tapped as well as the one at your desk,” Benson told him.
“We can easily tap the one at his desk since it’s his individual line,” Sergeant Palazzio said. “Should we get a warrant?”
The ADA started pacing again.
“It’s not really necessary as anyone calling in has no expectation of privacy.” She stopped in her tracks and continued, “Just to be sure though, I think I’ll go ahead and get one. That way, it we do get a caller taped, there’ll be no issues to contend with.”
“That’s all just great, but what good will it really do?” Wolters asked.
“We need the wiretap to get an insight into who it is that actually called and if they are, in fact, tied to the Mancini family. Plus should we make an arrest we may be able to use it to get a confession during an interrogation. We cannot fight someone unknown and assume it has anything to do with this case.”
“What about his house phone?” asked Palazzio.
“Since his wife was called at home like I said, it would be a good idea. I’ll get that set up as well,” Benson said.
“So, what happens when we know for sure? Because I am sure,” Wolters said.
“Then we handle them,” Benson stated firmly.
“I guess then, you’re still on this case, Wolters…for now,” Sergeant Palazzio told him.
“Then let’s get started,” Benson crossed to the Sergeant’s desk and snatched up the telephone.
While she arranged the tapping of the telephones, Wolters took his Sergeant aside.
“Sarge, I have a feeling here,” he said, pointing a finger at his stomach, “that this is just starting. We thought it was over when we arrested Mancini, but that was only the beginning of our problems.”
“If you’re right about your hunch that this has to do with the Mancinis, then you may be correct in worrying. This is only going to get uglier.”