Chapter 5: A Good Theory
Everyone is like a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.
The team gathered on the cold street, and Gideon divided them into pairs. Hotch and Morgan went one direction, J.J. and Gideon another, and Jackson and Reid yet another. Each pair was armed with pictures of Lloyd Henry and Lacey Middleton. Reid and Jackson flashed their pictures to several groups loitering on the street despite the bitter, chill wind, but they came up empty. They worked in circles moving around the theatre and the crime scene, and as the afternoon wore on, the streets got busier.
It was a bit awkward between them, and Jackson could sense without reading him that Reid was uncomfortable around her since the reveal earlier. She decided to clear the air. "I can control it, you know," she told him as they walked away from yet another group of witnesses who had witnesses nothing.
"I...um. I guessed that much, from what you were telling Gideon," he said, picking up the thread of conversation instantly, but refusing to look at her. He kept his head down, his eyes examining the sidewalk as though the dirty concrete might reveal the answers to Lacey's murder.
"What I mean is I'm not reading you now. I don't just listen in. I wouldn't." She frowned, brushed her hair out of her face as the wind caught it. "I mean your thoughts are safe around me. Private."
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, finally looking up, though still not at her. "It's really true, isn't it?" He scanned the milling people, his eyes working and his face scrunched in concentration as he studiously avoided her gaze.
"I...yes, it's really true. Is your mind blown?"
"A little," he admitted, burrowing his hands deeper into his coat pockets. They had paused on the sidewalk, two still figures in the middle of a busy street. He turned to her at last, giving her a long, searching look from his intense, deep-set hazel eyes. "It's ironic, isn't it?" he mused after a moment.
He shook his head, smiling wistfully. "We all just want someone to understand us, to get us, and you do it effortlessly. It's what you're made to do. You're the person everyone dreams of meeting. Yet when people find that out about you, they're scared to death."
Her mouth fell open a bit in surprise, but she recovered quickly, her full lips curving in a smile. "Be careful what you wish for, I guess," she said lightly, trying to play off how deeply his words had affected her.
"I guess so."
They stood another few moments until someone bumped against her, knocking her off balance and into him. He reached out, catching her, and she caught an accidental glimpse into his mind that made her blush.
As Reid grabbed her arm to keep her from falling, he saw her cheeks redden. Remembering something she'd said to Gideon in the car, he let go abruptly, his own face suddenly going hot. "Um. I like the way your hair smells?" he offered like a question, wincing a little at how lame he sounded.
Jackson smiled, hating her stupid ability but trying not to show it. "Thanks. I kinda like it, too. Hey, have we talked to them?" she asked, pointing to a group of women gathered nearby.
Grateful for her tact, he shook his head. "No, I don't think so. Let's go."
As they approached, the women all turned toward them, some looking at Jackson with hostility, others regarding Reid with interest. "Hey, cutie," one said to him, "first one's free!"
"Ladies, a moment of your time?" Jackson asked.
"He can have a moment of my time!" another one said, laughing.
Reid sighed, thrusting his hands back into his pockets, and Jackson gave him a sidelong glance. "As fascinating as my colleague is, let's focus a minute. I was wondering if you ladies have seen this man around here lately." She held up a picture of Lloyd Henry, and a few of the girls nodded.
"Yeah, that Lloyd," one of the girls said, tossing her long braids. "He come around some, though not so much in the last few days."
"Have you seen him with this girl at all?" Reid asked, showing them Lacey's picture.
"Yeah," another girl said. "He was one of Lacey's regulars. He would go with me some before he met her. I was real disappointed when he decided to go with Lacey only."
"Why's that?" Reid asked.
"He was sweet," the girl explained. "Just straight sex, no rough stuff or anything. Sometimes he, ya know, had trouble? Some guys - most guys - get mean when that happens, but not him."
"What would he do?" Jackson wanted to know.
The girl shrugged. "He would cry. He said it was his fault, not mine."
"Didn't he buy Lacey that coat?" another girl spoke up.
"Coat?" Reid said. They hadn't found any of Lacey's clothes, of course, so this was of particular interest.
"Yeah," the talkative girl said. "It was real nice. I don't mean fancy or like expensive, just nice. Warm. She said he gave it to her because he was worried she'd be cold. Can you believe that? From a john? Most a john ever gave me was a cheap gold locket. What good is that shit?"
Jackson nodded in commiseration. "Men," she said ruefully. "What's your name?" she asked.
"Tanya. Don t tell the cops, ok?"
"Tanya, I'm Elliot. Your secret's safe with me. Thank you, Tanya, ladies," Jackson told them. "You've all been very helpful."
"Try to stay warm," Reid said as they turned to go.
"You could keep me warm, baby!" the first girl called after them as they walked away.
Jackson's laughter burst out as soon as they were clear of the group. "What was that?!" she demanded.
He shrugged, mouth quirking. "Apparently I'm 'fascinating.'"
She cut her jade-green eyes at him, fighting a grin. "That's the word on the street, anyway."
"Jack, Reid, anything?" Gideon called as they approached the rest of the team.
"Actually, yes." Reid filled them in on what they had learned, and he looked to Jackson for confirmation, but she wasn't paying attention. Her gaze was riveted on the surrounding crowd, her eyes searching the faces around them, scanning the loiterers and general riffraff.
"Henry fits the profile," Hotch was saying, "and he knew the victim. He could easily be our UnSub."
"Did Garcia get anywhere on the Hamlet thing?" Reid asked.
Morgan shook his head. "The theatre doesn't use computers for their ticketing system, and they've already thrown away everything from the other night. Garcia was personally offended, I think. We have no way of knowing if Henry was there or not."
"What if our profile is wrong?" Jackson suddenly said.
"What?" Hotch demanded, astounded.
She was still staring out at the crowd, but her brow was creased in concentration, and her words came slowly, as though she were considering each one carefully before saying it. "What if we're wrong? What if..." She trailed off, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth.
"Go on, Jack," Gideon encouraged quietly.
She sighed in frustration, turning at last to face them. "He gave her a coat. Not some useless piece of crap or some expensive statement gift, but a warm, practical coat. I think he actually cared about her. A man who cares doesn't slit a girl's throat, chop her into pieces, and then leave those pieces wrapped up like so many cuts of meat."
The more experienced team members looked at each other, mulling it over. At last Morgan nodded. "She makes a good point. The two don't really go together: I'm going to give you a considerate gift that shows I care about your well-being, and then I'm going to treat you like an object and display no remorse about it."
"Henry visited Lacey regularly. I'm sure he probably visited other girls in his old neighborhood the same way. So let's say just for argument's sake that he would pick up a girl, become her regular, and then she would disappear. This pattern continued over the past several years. He finally starts to clue in that the common denominator is him," she said.
Reid nodded slowly, frowning. "He decides to relocate, hoping his stalker won t follow him."
"He didn't move far," Morgan pointed out.
"He has a young son," Hotch, the only parent in the group, reminded them. Garcia had unearthed Henry's entire family history earlier in the day, and he was indeed recently divorced with a five-year-old son. "He wouldn't want to move too far away from his child."
"So he just goes across town. He still probably thinks it's a coincidence; I mean, prostitutes are a high-risk group, and the UnSub wasn't mailing body parts around before now," Jackson said.
"The UnSub was forced to follow Henry, the object of his obsession. That led to the escalation," Reid continued.
"He's angry. He decided to expose himself or, really, Henry, since all the evidence the UnSub sent us led us to create a profile that points to Henry," Jackson said. "He stalks Henry, sees the girls who come to matter to him, and kills them on the closing nights. Henry loves his closing nights." She studied their faces, wondering what they thought of her theory. She longed to read them, but she didn't. Watching, she waited patiently for one of them to speak.
The silence seemed to last forever.
At last Hotch rubbed his forehead, letting out a long sigh. "Damn it. Bring Henry in. I want to know the last time he saw Lacey Middleton and anything else he didn't tell us."
"Agent Hotchner--" Jackson began.
"It's a solid theory, Dr. Jackson," he interrupted. "Now let's prove it."
"I don't understand," Lloyd Henry was saying as the team observed him through the window in the Detroit P.D.'s homicide unit. "Why am I here? I talked to the FBI this afternoon; I told them I didn't know anything about the girl's murder. I'm going to miss curtain!"
Hotch frowned, crossing his arms over his chest. "He seems more concerned about missing his play than anything else."
"The closing nights are his routine," Reid said. "In a world out of control, he feels safe at the plays. He can lose himself in the fantasy. We're disrupting him."
"We might be disrupting his murder routine, too," Morgan said, his dark brows drawn together over his handsome features.
"The murder we saw was committed by someone with a lot of rage," Gideon said. "Being kept from it would only increase his fury. Let's leave him for a while and see what happens."
As an hour, then two, passed, Henry became more agitated, checking his watch, adjusting his tie, rubbing his brow. Curtain came and went, and he looked like he wanted to weep.
Jackson watched him, shaking her head. "There's no rage here. He's upset, but not angry. Look at him," she said, her voice going soft with compassion. He sat slumped in his chair, head in hands, looking utterly miserable.
Gideon sighed, rubbing his hands. "Ok. Let's go talk to him. Hotch, Jack, you're with me. Reid, stay in here. Keep an eye on his body language. Let me know if you see anything telling that we miss."
The three agents filed into the small room. Gideon sat across the table from Henry with Hotch standing over Gideon's shoulder, while Jackson stood behind the nervous, upset Henry. Gideon smiled reassuringly. "Mr. Henry. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. We needed to ask you a few more questions."
"I'm missing Sunday in the Park," he said in a small, sad voice.
"I know. Again, I'm sorry." He opened a file and placed the mug shot of Lacey Middleton on the table between them. Henry wasn't able to suppress a flinch at the sight of the young, hopeless face.
"You told us you didn't know her, Mr. Henry," Jackson said softly.
Henry didn't turn, instead choosing to look at her reflection in the mirror across from them. "She's a prostitute," he explained. "I mean, she was. I didn't want...I have a son. If my ex-wife found out...I can't lose visitation. I love my son."
"I have a son, too, Mr. Henry," Hotch told him. "I understand how far you would go to protect him."
Henry looked up eagerly, sensing an ally. "Yes," he said, nodding, "I'd do anything. Ethan - my son - is the world to me. I'd do anything for him."
"Including kill?" Gideon asked.
The man blinked, taken aback. "I...what? Do you think I...?" He stopped, took a deep breath, and visibly pulled himself together. "I would never hurt Lacey," he said in a steadier voice. "I know it sounds improbable, but I cared for her."
"She's not the first prostitute you've cared for, is she?" Jackson asked, stepping forward and sliding three more pictures across the table. "Katherine Marino, Janet Dorsey, and Elizabeth Jennings. Did you care for these girls, too?"
"Oh God," he whispered, raising shaking hands to cover his eyes. "I didn't...I would never...Did the same thing happen to them as happened to Lacey?"
Hotch raised a cynical brow. "You should know, Mr. Henry."
"No! Listen. Ok, listen. I do know these girls. Or, I mean, I did know them, but they moved or something."
"Moved?" Gideon asked. "They were all prostitutes, Mr. Henry. That's not a lifestyle known for its upward mobility."
He took another deep, gulping breath. "Could I have some water? Do you think I could have a glass of water?" Jackson stepped away to pour it for him, and when she handed him the cup he took a long, deep drink. "I thought...I hoped they moved. I prayed they maybe went home. Katie sometimes said she wanted to go home, that she missed her family. I hoped she did."
"But you didn't believe that," Jackson prompted gently.
"No. No, I didn't."
"Tell us, Mr. Henry," Gideon said.
He took another long pull from the Styrofoam cup. "A few years ago my wife decided she wanted to have a baby. I wanted one, too, but..." He glanced over his shoulder at Jackson, embarrassed.
"It's alright, Mr. Henry. We spoke to Tanya."
"Ah. Well." He cleared his throat and turned back to the men. "Anyway. My wife and I were having problems, so I started visiting prostitutes. I felt like I could take care of them. I would start seeing a girl regularly, and I would buy her things...nothing flashy, just nice things like a coat or some shoes for her kid. It made me feel like I was helping someone, and it helped my, er, problem."
"When did the girls start disappearing?" Gideon asked.
"Allison was the first," he said, staring down at the table. "That was in spring of '01. It was only a few months before my son was born. I thought maybe it was for the best, she moved away or started working another part of town, and now I could focus on my family."
"But you didn't stop seeing the prostitutes," Jackson said.
"No. I couldn't. I tried, after Ethan was born. I thought it would be enough. But I still felt empty. My wife hates the theatre. Can you believe that? But with the girls, I could talk about anything, and they just listened."
"You were paying them to listen," Hotch said a trifle impatiently.
"You think I don't know that?" Henry cried, finally looking up. "I know how pathetic it is. I know I should have gone home to my wife and my son and been happy, but I couldn't. I tried."
"Ok," Jackson said soothingly. "Let's focus. We know there are at least seven victims. Is that right?"
Henry frowned, thinking. "Yes, seven. Lacey makes seven." He looked up, meeting her eyes in the mirror. "They were all like Lacey? In pieces?" His face was pale, and he was sweating.
She nodded. "Yes, though Lacey's is the only body we've recovered. Mr. Henry, this is very important. We need to know of anyone who might have a reason to hurt you. The man we're looking for is obsessed with you. He's killing these women because they were involved with you. Is there anyone you know who might have that kind of grudge?"
"If someone was that angry at me, why didn't he just hurt me? These women were innocent; they didn't deserve anything like this. I never thought..." He trailed off miserably, shaking his head.
"He sees your involvement with these women as salt on the wound," Gideon explained. "Whatever you did that set him against you in the first place is made that much worse by your seeing the prostitutes."
"Could it be someone who knows your wife? A friend or a member of her family? Someone who would see your affairs as a personal betrayal of her?" Hotch asked.
Henry blinked, confounded. "My wife has a brother, but he faints when someone gets a paper cut. I can't imagine he d be capable of doing something like this."
"Do you know of anyone in you or your wife's past?" Jackson asked. "He was probably always a loner, prone to fits of rage, inappropriate outbursts and obsessive behavior. He might have been an avid hunter or maybe worked as a butcher."
"No, I..." He broke off abruptly, and his face transformed.
"What is it, Mr. Henry?" Gideon said.
"My wife was engaged before we met," he said quietly. "I don't know much about him, except I know she finally broke it off with him because he went nuts on her once. He beat her up so badly she had to be hospitalized."
Gideon pulled out his phone and slid it across the table. "Call your wife, Mr. Henry. We're going to need his name."
Aww, poor Lloyd: he missed George and Dot and their adventures in the park. That's ok: Sunday in the Park kinda bored me silly.
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