'Holy shit,' he uttered.

A tech snapped off a shot and stepped to the side. The girl lay on her back in the middle of the floor, naked. A thick band of duct tape encircled her head, covering her mouth. Her eyes were frozen wide with horror. Blood was everywhere. Bolinger moved closer.

'Watch it, Sergeant!' cried a scowling tech as he darted toward him. Bolinger sidestepped a bloody organ he couldn't identify and crouched down next to the body. There were bruise marks around her neck, and Bolinger found himself involuntarily hoping that was how she died. On the couch were what he presumed had been the girl's clothes. Oddly, they were folded. That told him she probably got naked on her own and that she knew whoever did this pretty well. Carefully, he poked through the clothes. There was no underwear or bra anywhere, and Bolinger wondered if there was a reason or if it had simply been the girl's style.

There was a scuffle in the entryway accompanied by Farnhorst's bark. Bolinger looked up to see a large man with long dark hair. He pushed his way into the living room. Bolinger stood up to face him. Before he could speak, the man, who wore faded jeans and cowboy boots, froze in his tracks and let out a maniacal howl that made Bolinger reflexively draw his gun. The man's face was contorted and he pulled at his own hair. When Farnhorst and his partner got hold of either arm, the man burst into a wild flurry of arms and legs. Farnhorst, who weighed in at about three hundred pounds, went flying like a lawn chair. The other cop, too, went sideways into a lamp, and they both crashed to the floor.

The maniac's howl turned to a bloodcurdling scream, and he shot toward the door. Bolinger was after him with Farnhorst and his partner in tow. The man bolted out the door and down the driveway, screaming all the while.

'Stop him!' Bolinger shouted.

Halfway down the drive two patrolmen brought the man down like a pair of linebackers. But even the shock of his head hitting the pavement did nothing to take the fight out of him. He bucked the patrolmen up into the air and spun himself around. As he rose, one of the cops took out his baton and struck the back of his neck. As he went down, the big man yanked a revolver out of the other patrolman's belt. Bolinger was two steps away on a full run when the man jammed the gun into his own mouth.

Instinctively, Bolinger dove for the pistol, jamming his fingers between the hammer and the chamber just as the man pulled the trigger. Bolinger cried out in pain but didn't let go. With his other hand he grabbed for the gun and wrestled for it, but the maniac had clamped down on the barrel with his teeth for all he was worth.

When Farnhorst hit the guy with Mace, Bolinger got a good shot of it, too. Blood was running freely down his hand now, but still he kept his fingers jammed beneath the gun's hammer. With his eyes shut tight against the burning Mace, Bolinger rolled with the punches until he realized that he'd been separated from the melee and he alone held the gun. He rolled over on the pavement and sat up coughing and crying from the Mace. His eyes cleared enough to see that even with a set of cuffs on his wrists and another shot of Mace, the man continued to struggle violently. Bolinger could only think he was whacked out on PCBs.

Before he knew it, the guy was up again and surrounded by four policemen, two wielding their batons. Blood streamed down the man's face from his nose, his eyes were swollen half shut, and still he screamed. Abruptly, he dropped to his knees, hung his head, and let out a dismal sob. Then he dropped to his side and cried almost as violently as he had fought.

'It was Lipton!' he bawled. 'It was Lipton! She said she was afraid! She told me she was afraid of him! Lipton! Oh my God, Lipton!'

And then his words were so garbled that Bolinger couldn't understand him. Carefully, the cops loaded the man into the back of a cruiser and let him sit.

'Shit,' Farnhorst said, helping Bolinger to his feet. 'You all right?'

'Yeah,' Bolinger said, stooping down to pick up a wallet off the ground. He leafed through it.

'Donald Sales,' he said to Farnhorst, holding up the wallet and wiping the tears from his face on his sleeve. 'Girl's father?'

Farnhorst shrugged. 'Jesus, I guess. You think he was the one who killed her?'

'I have no idea,' Bolinger said, his lips pressed tight. 'Take him in and chain him up to the floor so he can't hurt himself. Let him sit for a while, and then I'll talk to him. He said something about someone named Lipton.'


Bolinger spun around. It was Alice Vreeland from the ME's office. She was a stubby redhead and the best they had.

'Rough day?' she asked.

Bolinger shook his head. 'Didn't start out that way, but it looks like that's how it's ending up.'

'Looks like the photos are finished,' she said, eyeing the cameraman, who was loading his equipment back into his van.

'When the crime lab is done, you want me to remove the remains, or is there anything else you need to see?' she asked.

'No,' Bolinger said. 'I've seen enough.'


At six feet five and two hundred sixty pounds, Sales was an imposing man. Cuffed and chained to the floor, with his face swollen and bloody and his pale eyes burning with hate, he looked downright scary.

'Cigarette?' Bolinger asked.

Sales nodded and Bolinger stuck one into the other man's mouth. Sales sucked greedily when it touched the proffered flame. Besides being big, Bolinger guessed that, cleaned up, Sales was a handsome man. His tan skin had a reddish cast that suggested Native American blood somewhere close by in the family tree. Bolinger already knew that Sales was a decorated veteran who'd served in Southeast Asia and that since his return he'd been self-employed as a carpenter who specialized in building docks around Lake Travis. Just after he'd arrived home from the war, Sales had been arrested in separate incidents on charges of disorderly conduct and assault. Both had been pled down to lesser charges. The red flag was that Sales had undergone treatment at the VA hospital for post-traumatic stress disorder. It wasn't an uncommon thing for veterans, but Bolinger knew it wasn't an uncommon thing for psychopathic killers, either.

Bolinger lit a Winston of his own and looked candidly at Sales through the smoke.

'You want to sit down?' the sergeant asked.

Sales jangled his chains and snorted disdainfully but sat down anyway on the cell's concrete floor. Bolinger sat on the bench against the wall. Beside him, he put down a tape recorder whose rectangular red light glared accusingly at Sales.

'What brought you to your daughter's apartment?' he asked quietly.

'Ha!' Sales barked. His face crumpled in pain, and tears began to stream freely down his face. He shook his head from side to side as if trying to make everything go away. 'Ha! My daughter! Oh God! Oh my God!'

Bolinger waited. In ten minutes, the big man's crying subsided enough for him to take a deep breath and say, 'We were supposed to have dinner together. I was taking her to dinner…

'We did that,' he explained sadly, looking directly into Bolinger's eyes. 'I promised her that if she went to law school at UT I wouldn't be around all the time. I only live an hour up the road. But I told her I wouldn't always be checking up on her. When she was at San Angelo State, I used to drop in on her a lot…'

Here Sales looked at Bolinger to see if he understood. Bolinger didn't have kids, but his brother did, so he nodded with commiseration.

'Yeah, so I stopped doing it, but we'd still see each other pretty regular. We were going to dinner- Oh God!'

Sales started to shake and cry again. When he was quiet, Bolinger said, 'Where were you before?'

'Home,' Sales said dully. 'I finished a job after lunch and took the rest of the day off to work around the house.'

'Anyone with you?'

Sales shook his head.

'Anyone see you?'

'My house is out in the middle of nowhere,' Sales said. 'No one ever sees me.'

'Would you sign a consent that allows us to search your house and your truck?' Bolinger asked.

Sales looked at him, mystified. 'Why?'

Bolinger shrugged and held out a consent form with a pen.

'Ha!' Sales erupted. 'Ha! You think I… Ha! I told you who did it! It was Lipton. Her professor, he was after her. I told her I'd talk to him, but she didn't want that. He gave her the creeps.

'Give me that,' he said in disgust. 'I'll sign anything. You can look anywhere you want for anything you want, but you better have someone go get this guy!'

Bolinger talked with the father for over an hour, pumping him for every bit of information from every angle he could think of. At the end of that time, he excused himself and reported to his lieutenant.

'I'm letting him go,' he said.

The lieutenant raised an eyebrow. The father was all they had. They could book him and hold him on charges of assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. They didn't need to let him go anywhere. They could sit on him for another day if they wanted, unless he started barking for a lawyer. But Bolinger cut through all that. He was a man who'd built his reputation on instinct.

'He didn't do it,' Bolinger said. 'He's calmed down now, and if he blows his brains out, then he does. But I don't think he will. I think he just lost it. If I book him, then I'll have to deal with some lawyer, and I'd rather be able to talk to this guy straight. He may be able to help us, I don't know.'

The lieutenant nodded and said, 'You going to go home and get some rest?' It was after ten, and Bolinger had gone on duty that morning at seven.


'Didn't think so. What next?'

'The professor. According to Farnhorst, the girl's criminal law professor is a guy by the name of Eric Lipton, a well-known academic. Besides teaching at UT, he travels all around the country giving seminars on defendants' rights. He's the one the father thinks did it.'

'Holy shit,' the lieutenant moaned, 'a law professor. That'll be fun. Anything prior on him?'

Bolinger shook his head. 'Clean as a whistle.'

The lieutenant paused for a moment before asking, 'You ever look at the crap that builds up on the inside of someone's whistle?' He'd spent the first two years of his career in the traffic division.

'No,' Bolinger said, 'but I'll take your word for it.'

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