Scott Parker had just concluded that he didn’t have the slightest idea of how to go about finding Samantha. Besides, he couldn’t risk staying around Bentlyville much longer. Eventually, someone was sure to recognize him. He decided to hire a private detective. He drove back up to Canfield and for the first time during the past two months, his luck began to change. Although he didn’t know it, the private detective he chose at random from the phone book was the best in the business. Using his alias, Ben Sanford, he made an appointment to discuss a missing person investigation.
Early the next morning, Scott was seated across a big old-fashioned desk from Ray Shultz. “Well Mr. Parker, how can I help you?”
Scott’s look of consternation was obvious. Ray chuckled and said, “I recognized you the minute you stepped through the door. Your mug was plastered all over every newspaper in the area two years ago. I wouldn’t be much of a detective if I didn’t recognize you. Take my advice and get rid of the sunglasses. They only draw attention to you.”
“I guess it’s a miracle that I’ve evaded the police for as long I have.”
“It’s not a miracle. I don’t think they’re trying very hard to find you. I know one of the detectives on the Bentlyville PD. Phil Philips is as sleazy as they come. Personally, I can’t stand him, but he’s a damned good cop when he wants to be, I believe if he were interested in finding you, he would have. Fill me in just a bit; I know most of what was in the papers was bullshit. What really happened?”
“There wasn’t a lot to it. I caught two girls stealing a little money. One was Karen Ewell and the other was Julie Barns. I took advantage of Julie. You know, I blackmailed her for sex. I tried the same with Karen, but she was too smart for that. Instead, I ran off with her. I took a week’s sales receipts. It was about ten-thousand dollars. That’s it.”
“So you were involved with one girl, besides Karen? Is that the truth?”
Scott couldn’t admit to his involvement with Samantha. He replied, “Yes that’s the truth.”
“Well, here’s my take on it. If the other girl was stealing money, it’s likely she’d been in trouble before. Did she have a boyfriend?”
“Julie had lots of boyfriends. She was no virgin, if that’s what you’re getting at.”
“It’s about just as I suspected. I assume you have some money and if you’re willing to put out ten to fifteen thousand, I can put you in touch with a sharp lawyer who could make your troubles down in Bentlyville go away.”
“I’d be interested in that.”
Ray scribbled on a note pad, tore off the sheet and gave it to Scott. “Here, go see this guy, Chuck Fairbanks. He’s the best around. Now for the other issue, I assume the missing person is your daughter. That’s going to be a tougher nut to crack. I don’t know much about what happened, only what was in the papers. Your wife’s suicide and daughter’s disappearance didn’t get nearly the coverage that you did. Give me a couple of days to do some checking and I’ll get back to you.
When Anna awoke Sunday morning, she felt nearly normal. When she returned from Rawlings yesterday, she’d taken a nice long soak in the tub. Afterward, she was still sore, but the aspirins she took and a good night’s sleep seemed to work wonders. She’d also managed to come up with Doctor Sherman’s address and that did a lot to lift her spirits too.
She went into the kitchen. Her uncle was pouring a cup of coffee and he said, “Good morning dear. Would you like some coffee?”
“Yes please. What are your plans for today Uncle Burt?”
“I’m going to be very busy. I have to meet with a contractor and go over plans for the new equipment barn. He’s supposed to submit an estimate by the middle of next week. He wants to do a walk down of the proposed site. I’m afraid I’ll be gone most of the day. Sorry about that, but we’ll go out somewhere nice for dinner this evening. OK?”
“Sure Uncle Burt. No problem.” Anna was secretly pleased. Her luck was holding. She’d been trying to think of some excuse for driving over to Rawlings. Now that wasn’t necessary.
When Anna turned onto the street where Doctor John Sherman lived, she started checking addresses. She was within two or three houses of the address, when she heard the wail of sirens approaching. She looked in her rear view mirror and saw a sea of flashing lights. Anna pulled to the curb. Three police cars and a rescue squad shot past. They screeched to a halt three houses down on the other side of the street. Anna got out of her car and walked down. She checked out the address. It was Doctor Sherman’s house. Damn, what had happened? Was Samantha up to her old tricks again? Had she murdered this Doctor Sherman too?
Within minutes, a crowd of neighbors had gathered on the sidewalk. One old lady said, “Oh dear something must have happened to Doctor Sherman.”
Another bystander commented, “Either him or the girl that was living with him. She’s been over there for at least a couple of months. I saw her and the doc going in and out of there together lots of times. She was a real looker and young too.”
A middle-aged woman said, “It’s not the girl. I was out getting the paper this morning and I saw her come out of the house lugging a suitcase. In a couple of minutes, a cab pulled up and away she went.”
Anna waited until no one was paying any attention to the woman and then she approached. She pulled Samantha’s picture from her purse, held it out to the woman and said, “Excuse me. Is this the girl you saw at Doctor Sherman’s?”
“Yes that’s her; no doubt about it. Do you know her? Is she a friend of yours?”
Anna said, “I know her,” and turned away.
In a while, another car with a flashing light came on the scene. Someone said, “Looks like the doc cashed out. That’s the medical examiner.”
Anna walked back to her car and got in. She pulled a note pad and pen from her purse and began to write. The girl who was living with Doctor Sherman is Samantha Parker. She ran away from Bentlyville about three months ago. She’s listed as a missing person. Her father, Scott Parker, is a rapist and a thief. The local police think her mother committed suicide, but Samantha murdered her. She told me so. She probably murdered Doctor Sherman too. She’s might be taking a bus out of town. Check the bus station.
Anna folded the note and Samantha’s picture together. She got out of her car and walked back down the street. When she got to the crowd on the sidewalk, she looked across to the Sherman house. The passenger side window of one of the police cars was partially down and the car was unoccupied. Anna quickly walked across the street, sidled up to the car and dropped the folded picture and note inside. She managed to get back across the street, without being noticed by the cops. A couple of bystanders asked, “Hey what was that about? What did you do?” Anna didn’t reply. She walked quickly back to her car and drove away.