Fandom: Criminal Minds
Prompt for 30 sweets: #24 Rainbow
Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time.
Summary: Part 18/? of the ‘No more sweets’-series
Penelope’s hands were shaking slightly as she waited for the others to take their seats in the conference room. She’d been working all night, refusing to go back to the hotel – even ignoring Hotch’s direct order to do so.
But she didn’t feel the slightest bit tired. She was much too excited to be tired. There was so much adrenalin rushing through her body at the moment that sleep would have been impossible anyway. She felt like she’d found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
“I watched the video again and again,” she started. “And at first, I really thought I couldn’t find anything. I stopped it, and thought about what you guys always tell me, that I shouldn’t look at the victim or the UNSUB, but more at the background. So that was what I did. And I found something.”
Penelope hit a key on the remote control in her hands, and a picture popped up on the screen. “You also have this picture on your iPads,” she informed her co-workers. “It’s a countdown. I compared this countdown to the times of death of his victims.”
Penelope hit another key, and the autopsy reports of the first four victims popped up on the screen. “It’s not a full-on match, but I guess that’s due to the fact that you can’t always tell time of death for sure,” she added.
“Seventy-two hours, twenty-seven minutes,” Reid said, wondering if that meant anything.
“My God,” JJ gasped. “How can he be that precise?”
“I’ve been asking myself the same question,” Penelope told her. “And then it occurred to me when I watched the video again. Here.” She hit another key to show her co-workers the scene she was referring to.
They all narrowed their eyes, watching the screen carefully.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything,” Emily mumbled.
“It’s hard to spot,” Rossi confirmed, “but look at her mouth.”
“Exactly,” Penelope agreed, playing the scene again. “You can clearly hear the words, ‘Please, stop!’ but Amanda’s mouth isn’t moving.”
“That means he holds two victims hostage at a time,” Derek stated, frowning. “This explains how he can be so precise about the killings.”
“That’s what I thought, too,” Penelope responded. “So I ran the video through my voice print software. This is what my babies came up with.”
After Penelope had hit another key, five audio tracks popped up at the screen. “This is Amanda Connor’s voice,” Penelope explained, pointing at one of the tracks.
“There are four other women?” Emily asked, her eyes wide.
“According to my voice print program, yes,” Penelope confirmed. “But of course, it’s possible that he held even more victims hostage. If they didn’t make a sound, there won’t be an audio track.”
“But… We don’t even have four missing person reports,” Reid jumped in. “How’s it possible that no one noticed the other victims were missing?”
“Plus, how large must the facility be to hold at least five women hostage without making it possible for them to free each other or turn against the UNSUB?” Penelope added. “I think I might have an answer to all of your questions.”
Pressing a few keys, Penelope let missing person reports pop up on the screen. They all fit the victimology. “These women went missing during the past three months. His first victims were all from Hidden Hills – Jenna Wilcot, Terry Monroe, Amanda Connor, Elisa Jones, and Sarah Adams. But his most recent victims were from Los Angeles – Jennifer Abraham, Mona Duncan, Anna McMillan, and Lisa Reynolds. At least, I think our UNSUB abducted them.”
“The last victim we found was Elisa Jones,” Derek recalled, “meaning the other women could still be alive.”
“So the UNSUB is certainly working in Los Angeles, but living here,” Hotch stated.
“Exactly,” Penelope affirmed. “The problem is that most of the inhabitants of Hidden Hills are working in or somewhere near L.A. None of them would raise suspicions if they were seen in the city.
“Even crosschecking the list of people working in L.A. with those who own a facility big enough to hold at least five hostages didn’t help. This is a small town, and most people own some old farms, although most of them are now empty,” Penelope explained.
“But?” Derek pressed her. From her excitement, he could tell she had found something.
“Well, the UNSUB must have gotten his toys somewhere,” she replied.
“We went down that road already,” Rossi reminded her. “I thought you came up empty.”
“I did,” Penelope answered. “I crosschecked the list of people who ordered a pear – mostly museums or professors teaching medieval history – with the residents of Hidden Hills. But then I thought, maybe our UNSUB wasn’t actually living here.”
Hotch straightened in his seat. Garcia had found a name. He knew she had.
“So I crosschecked the list with professors teaching medieval history in L.A.,” she continued. “There’s a professor Norman Wingsley, who ordered a pear, Saint Elmo’s Belt, and a few other devices about a year ago.”
“Wingsley?” Derek asked with a frown. “That name doesn’t ring a bell.”
“Well, it can’t. There’s no one named Wingsley living in Hidden Hills,” Penelope answered. “But I hacked into his files, and it turns out that he was not the easiest child to deal with.”
An excerpt of the file popped up on the screen. Penelope had highlighted the information she was referring to.
“Bedwetting, arson, animal torture,” Reid read out loud. “The dark triad.”
“Endorsed with an excessive propensity for violence and an unnatural interest in torturing devices,” Derek added. “Sounds like our guy.”
“Now, it turns out that his parents sent him to a medical facility when he was eight,” Penelope added. “That was on July second, nineteen-seventy-two. After two years there, he was released as cured. The thing was that his parents didn’t want to have him back. He spent another two years in foster care, before the Wingsleys adopted him.”
“Poor kid,” Rossi remarked. “Even if he had been cured, the rejection of his family certainly brought him back to violence.”
“It did,” Penelope affirmed. “But he had learned from the experiences in the medical facility.”
Hitting a few keys again, Penelope opened a newspaper article. “Apparently, he had learned to cover his tracks so that he wouldn’t be sent back to the medical facility again,” she explained. “The article says that the Wingsleys were killed in a fire only one week after their son Norman turned eighteen.”
“He was able to live a life on his own,” Rossi said. “He didn’t need his foster parents anymore, so he got rid of them.”
“Well, there were no obvious signs of arson, but that kind of screams murder to me,” Penelope remarked.
“Where’s the connection with Hidden Hills?” Hotch wanted to know.
“Norman Wingsley was born as Norman Daniels,” Penelope told them.
For a moment, it was dead silent in the room. Everyone stared at Penelope with wide eyes.
“You mean,” Emily started, “Daniels, as in… Sheriff Daniels?”
“Norman Daniels is Peter Daniels’ older brother,” Penelope affirmed. “And it turns out that after Norman was sent to the medical facility, his parents bought a farm about a mile outside of Hidden Hills and moved here from Illinois.”
“As far away from their past and their second son as possible,” Rossi mumbled.
“Do Daniels’ parents still live here?” Derek wanted to know.
Penelope shook her head. “They died four years ago. The farm is still in the possession of Sheriff Daniels, but he hasn’t been there in quite a while. At least, that’s what he said when I asked him about it. It’s possible that his brother used the farm without Sheriff Daniels’ knowledge.”
“It’s also possible that they’ve been working together,” Derek said with a grumble.
“Unlikely,” Hotch said. “Daniels called us in, remember?”
“But he had contact with his brother,” Penelope told them. “At least, that’s what his phone records say. Norman Daniels called his brother about six months ago. There has been no contact between them before that. Norman Daniels has moved to twenty-two different cities within the last ten years.”
“Maybe it took him that long to figure out where his family had moved after they sent him away,” Hotch guessed.
“Where is the farm?” Rossi wanted to know.
“You have the address on your PDAs,” Penelope replied. “I can’t guarantee that Daniels or any of the victims are there, but it’s the best guess I could make. It certainly isn’t possible to hold the victims in the middle of a city like L.A.”
“At least not considering what he’s doing to them,” Derek agreed.
“And that he’s dumping the bodies here,” Rossi added. “If he killed them in L.A., he would surely dump them there. It’s too risky to drive a dead body all through the city.”
“We’re heading to the farm now,” Hotch ordered, jumping up from his seat.
“There’s one problem,” Penelope said quietly, before her co-workers could rush out of the room.
Everyone turned their attention back to her.
She took a deep breath, before she explained, “If he sticks to his schedule, his next victim only has twenty minutes before he’ll start torturing her.”
“That means we have no time to spare,” Hotch mumbled, rushing out of the room.
Nodding, the others jumped up as well, all of them heading for the SUVs.
Turning in the door, Derek flashed her a smile. “I told you you’d find him,” he whispered. “I’m proud of you, Baby Girl. You’ve earned yourself a month’s salary in tiramisu.”
She smiled ever so slightly as she watched him run after the others. Then she drew in a deep breath. All she could do was hope that they would be there in time to save the other women.