Chapter 4: Obsessions and Confessions
The secret thoughts of a man run over all things, holy, profane, clean, obscene, grave, and light, without shame or blame.
“Reid, Jack, what’ve you got for us?” Gideon asked as the rest of the team joined them around the table at the Detroit police station.
“We found evidence confirming the relocation theory,” Jackson told him. She showed them the ads in each newspaper, and Reid pointed out the plots on the map.
“Good work. Let’s present the profile,” Hotch said shortly. If it irritated him that her ability had helped discover this lead, he didn't show it. If she'd earned any sort of respect in his eyes, he didn't show that, either. He played his cards close to the vest, and Jackson tried not to let it bother her.
J.J. gathered the task force, and they all assembled, somber faced and attentive, to hear the BAU’s findings.
“Good afternoon, everyone. For those of you who don’t know, I’m SSA Aaron Hotchner with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. Detective Jurczak called my team and me in to consult on the Middleton case. We’re going to give you a profile of the person you’re looking for, and hopefully we’ll catch him before he kills again.”
Gideon stepped forward, rubbing his hands as he often did when thinking deeply. “We believe the UnSub you’re looking for is a white male between the ages of thirty-five and forty. He probably recently suffered the end of a long-term relationship, most likely a divorce, and maybe a job loss.
“This man will be well-liked and respected by his friends and former neighbors. He’s the type who, when we catch him, no one who knows him will be able to believe it. He might be deeply involved in a volunteer organization, perhaps a church, but that might have ended with the divorce that forced his relocation.”
“His life is falling apart around him,” Jackson continued where Gideon left off. “His wife kicked him out, he lost his job, his health may be failing – everything is going wrong at once. That’s why he’s suddenly decided to go public after years of killing completely undetected.”
“He stalks his victims before he kills them so that he can take them when they’re alone,” Morgan said. “He might have been observed walking the streets in his old neighborhood, or his presence may have been noticed in his new one. Talk to the girls. He might pick up girls fairly often without killing them. It’s more than likely they know this guy, and that some of them even like him.”
“He appears to enjoy the theatre. I’ve plotted the location of all the theatres featured in the newspaper ads on this map. Concentrate your canvassing to within this triangle,” Reid told them.
“Any questions?” Hotch asked.
“Our theory is he kills these girls on closing nights of the plays, right?” Jurczak asked.
“That’s a working theory, yes. We’ve asked our tech at Quantico to get us a list of all theatrical productions currently running in the Detroit metro area. It’s probably going to be a big list, but it might give us some idea of when he’ll strike next,” Gideon explained.
“Can’t we narrow them down geographically, like the canvass?” another detective wanted to know.
“We can’t be one-hundred percent sure that the location of Lacey’s murder is his new home base. He killed her in an alley, so obviously he doesn’t have a new kill site. He might stick to this area, or he might follow the shows,” Jackson said.
“Thank you, everyone,” Hotch said. “Let’s go catch this guy.” The cops scattered, but the team remained, waiting for Hotch’s orders.
“I’ve got the list from Garcia,” J.J. said. “It’s pretty big.”
“Is there any way to narrow it down?” Hotch asked, scanning it with a furrowed brow.
“What Jack said was right, but geographically is still our best bet. He seems to enjoy all genres equally,” Gideon said.
“Alright. If our guy is as much of a fan as we think, then he’d buy his closing night tickets in advance, don’t you think?” Morgan asked.
Hotch nodded. “Ask Garcia if she can get ticket lists for as many of the murder nights as she can. Have her cross-reference them for overlapping names. Jackson, a moment?”
As they stepped away, Reid moved to the Crime Board to tack up his map. Morgan closed his phone, ending the conversation with Garcia, and the two men examined the board in silence for a moment.
“Weird at the scene, huh?” Morgan finally said.
“Yep,” Reid agreed.
“More to it than anyone’s tellin’ us.”
“Oh yeah. Hey, do you have any idea what she has her Ph.D. in?”
“Who, Jackson? No. English Lit, maybe,” the handsome black man said with a grin. He smacked the smaller, thinner man on the back hard enough to make his eyes water. "Keep at it, kid; I put my money on you."
“Any ideas?” Gideon asked as he joined them.
“Nothing new,” Reid admitted. “You’ve read Jackson’s file. What’s her Ph.D.?”
He smiled inscrutably. “J.J. told me about your bet. That would be cheating, Reid. I will tell you she has three.”
“What? Three Ph.D.s??”
Morgan laughed. “Another genius. Looks like you’ve got some competition, kid!”
“Gideon, Reid,” a voice said, and they all turned guiltily to face the mystery doctor in question. She smiled, her clear green eyes brightening. “Garcia found a name for us. Hotch wants us to go talk to him.”
“That was fast,” Reid said.
“In Garcia’s words, ‘time is meaningless for the Goddess of Information,’” Jackson replied drolly. “Agent Hotchner told her bully for her, but time means a lot to us since Sunday in the Park with George is closing tonight at a theatre five blocks from where Lacey was killed.”
“Let’s go,” Gideon said.
“He actually said ‘bully for her’?” Reid demanded, trailing behind.
“Garcia says Lloyd Henry has been residing at his current address for six months,” Reid told them in the car on the way there. “The location fits the geographic profile.”
“It just seems too easy,” Jackson complained.
“He’s been killing completely undetected since at least 2001, and suddenly he gives us the information we need to go straight to him in less than two days. It does seem strange,” Gideon admitted. “He might not be our guy.”
“Chemistry?” Reid interjected suddenly.
“What would make you say that?” she asked.
He shrugged. “Chemists always complain when things are too easy.”
Glass-green eyes sparkled as she grinned. “I guess you would know. No, not chemistry. Keep trying, Dr. Reid.”
His expressive, finely-featured face screwed itself into something closely resembling a scowl.
“I have faith in you, Spencer,” Gideon assured him. “But you should know that the pool is against you three to one now.”
“That’s all? I would’ve thought the odds would be higher,” Jackson said with a wicked grin.
“I have excellent problem-solving skills,” Reid countered dryly.
“We’re here,” Gideon said before she could reply. He parked the black SUV in front of a low brick building, and the three agents hurried inside.
“Gideon,” Jackson said quietly, “remember what we discussed this morning. Rule number one.”
He gave her a long, steady look through intense dark eyes. “I would never ask you to compromise your principles, Jack.” He knocked on the door, and a few moments later a tall, good-looking man in his early forties answered. Lloyd Henry looked like the type of guy you’d take home to mom: neat, dark hair, smiling blue eyes, carefully chosen clothing.
“Mr. Henry?” Gideon asked. “I’m SSA Jason Gideon, and these are my associates Dr. Spencer Reid and Dr. Elliot Jackson. We’re with the FBI. May we ask you a few questions?”
The man frowned, a tiny crease forming in his smooth forehead. “I’m sorry; may I see some identification, please?”
All three agents produced their credentials, and once he had inspected them to his satisfaction, he nodded reluctantly and let them in. “How can I help you? What is this about? I’ve never had the FBI knock on my door before!”
Gideon smiled thinly. “Mr. Henry, are you aware that there was a murder a few blocks from here two nights ago?”
The crease deepened. “I believe I heard something about that, yes. Terrible thing; it was a young girl, wasn’t it? Something about...dismemberment.” He shuddered. “Horrible.”
Reid wandered off as Gideon spoke to the man, and he noticed a theatre ticket tacked to a bulletin board. “Sunday in the Park with George,” he said. “You’re going tonight?”
“Oh yes. I hear Dot is excellent. I wouldn’t miss it.”
Gideon's brows rose. “Sondheim musicals; not everyone’s a fan. Is that one your favorite?”
“No, no, that would be Gypsy,” he said, looking confused. Why would the FBI care about his favorite Sondheim musical?
“I like Sweeney Todd,” Jackson offered.
“Your favorite Sondheim musical is about a serial killer?” Reid asked.
She shrugged. “I like the music. All those driving minor chords. And who writes a musical about serial killers? It’s different.”
Gideon blinked, then turned back to Henry, steering the conversation to more relevant territory. Reid wandered toward Jackson and leaned close. “Music?” he muttered.
“Keep at it, boy genius. You’ll get there eventually,” she said softly, cutting her glass green eyes over at him.
He shook his head and wandered away again.
“Thank you for your time, Mr. Henry,” Gideon was saying. “We’re just checking with everyone in the vicinity, making sure they didn’t see anything suspicious last night.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help. I hope you catch him.”
“So do we, sir,” Reid assured him. “Just one more thing…did you happen to catch the recent run of Hamlet nearby?”
He looked a little startled, then abruptly dismissive. “Shakespeare’s tragedies are a bit preachy for my taste. I prefer the comedies.”
“Ok,” Gideon said. “Sorry to bother you.” He offered his hand, and Henry shook it quickly, and then did the same with Jackson.
“Nice boots,” he told her, holding her hand a little longer than was strictly necessary as he examined her footwear.
Jackson smiled. “Thanks. They’re new.” She managed to extricate her hand, Reid offered a small, slightly awkward wave, and the agents departed.
Once back in the SUV, Gideon met her eyes in the rearview mirror. “I don’t think so,” she said.
She frowned, fidgeting with the sash of her coat. “He was casting us.”
“Casting us?” Gideon asked, raising his brows.
“Yes. My Fair Lady. You were Henry Higgins, of course, and I was Eliza Doolittle. He thought Reid would be perfect as Freddy.”
“Um,” Reid began, but Gideon wagged his hand in the air, silencing the younger agent.
“You’re kidding,” Gideon said to Jackson.
“No. But I think it was just a cover. He was trying desperately not to think of something.”
“Yes, but more specifically…Lacey. I think he knew her. There was guilt there, but…” She shook her head.
“What?” he demanded.
“I sensed nothing predatory in him, Gideon.” She took a long breath and let it out slowly. “I didn’t read him. I told you I wouldn’t. Everything I saw was right on the surface. He held my hand so long I could’ve gotten his life story.”
“He did hold onto your hand much longer than Gideon’s,” Reid observed, though he sound a little putout at not understanding a word of their conversation. “He seemed to be appraising you.”
“Mm,” she agreed mildly. “There was a lot going on in his head. You,” she said, indicating Gideon with a tilt of her head, “he thought were sexy in an older, intense sort of way. Perfect for Higgins. He thought you,” she said with a nod at Reid, “were young, a little skinny, but cute. A believable Freddy.”
“And you?” Gideon asked with a trace of amusement.
She shrugged. “He liked my boots. He’s got good taste; they are nice boots.” As both men glanced at her in the rearview mirror, she couldn’t repress a smile. “Ok, I guess maybe he was right about you guys, too.” Her smile faded as quickly as it had come, and her eyes drifted to the window, though her gaze wasn’t focused on the sites streaming past. “I saw some real creeps at the Agency, but if this guy can chop a girl into pieces one night and casually cast the all-Bureau production of My Fair Lady the next as though it never happened…” She shuddered.
“This is a whole new world, kiddo,” Gideon said gently.
“Yes,” she agreed in a soft little voice. Silence fell in the large car, until finally Reid couldn’t take it anymore.
“Could one of you please tell me what the hell is going on here?” he demanded.
Gideon met her eyes in the mirror, raising his eyebrows eloquently. Yours to tell, his look said. She nodded just a little, and he was full of confidence in her.
“I’m a mind reader, Spencer,” she said bluntly. “That’s my big secret. Suddenly my majors don’t seem as important anymore, huh?”
He blinked owlishly. “That’s not possible. The human brain—”
“Is an incredibly mysterious and powerful organism,” Gideon interrupted. “We’ve barely begun to understand it. We don’t know what causes depression, psychosis, autism…or telepathy. Look at the things your brain is capable of, things that many people would say are impossible. It’s true, Reid.”
“But...how...you...Hamlet...?” he stammered. His stunned mind was racing, analyzing, processing, recalling everything he had ever read, learned, or heard about psychics. Most of it was bunk, quack science that meant nothing, and he had a hard time accepting that the man he respected most in the world was calmly and rationally telling him that Elliot Jackson was a mind reader.
“Ah. Well.” She grimaced. “Sometimes I can read places, too. Not objects. But sometimes people leave a stamp on a place, and I can pick up small snatches of information. It fascinated the Agency, and they were trying to develop that ability further. Very useful, you understand.”
“I’m not sure I understand any of this,” he admitted ruefully. He rubbed his forehead, considering. Except, of course, he was the off-the-charts genius son of a schizophrenic mother. He profiled the dregs of humanity for a living. If anyone understood how unfathomable the human brain could be, surely it was Dr. Spencer Reid, boy genius.
She smiled at his reflection in the mirror. “It’s ok. I don’t plan to use my ability as a substitute for old fashioned behavioral analysis or detective work; after all, you can’t arrest someone based on something I picked up in his head.”
“Having said that, why don’t we go talk to some witnesses? You said he knew Lacey; let’s find out if any of the working girls around here have seen him hanging around,” Gideon suggested. “Reid, get on the phone with Hotch. Tell him what we learned at Henry’s, and get him to meet us down there with the rest of the team. We’ll split up and cover as much ground as we can. We’ll need pictures of both Henry and Lacey.”
Reid blinked, still reeling from Jackson’s announcement, and nodded once Gideon’s words began to filter through. “Right. Hotch. Calling.”
Ok, I guess I lied: Jack uses her ability the most in this chapter, just not, ya know, well.
Ah, Sondheim. Why Sondheim? One, so I could reference Sweeney Todd. It is a bit weird that her favorite Sondheim musical is about a serial killer. Two, Mandy Patinkin originated the role of George in Sunday in the Park on Broadway. That tickles me.