I pulled up to 41st and Michigan and saw at least a half-dozen squad cars parked surrounding the building located at 4101 S. Michigan. We had received the call from the Violent Crimes Desk right after dinner, and it was now 8:30 pm. My partner Jessica Jones had taken off for date night, so I had new detectives, Jim Corcoran and Collin Murphy, with me. This homicide scene would be their first since being promoted. Both were excellent patrolmen, and they didn’t need supervision as much as they just needed to see the inside of a crime scene and learn the protocol of a homicide investigation.
The area was slowly being gentrified and restored since I first got there in the ’80s. Gray-stones, Brownstones, old multi-unit brick buildings were getting a new facelift, and 4101 S. Michigan was one of the first to undergo the neighborhood's rejuvenation. It was so remarkable I couldn’t tell if it was new construction or an incredibly well-done rehab. It had been 20 years since I patrolled this neighborhood day in and day out, but I just could not remember if this was a new structure or just renovated. I thought I saw that some of the original entry doors on the 41st street side had been completely removed and replaced with a massive metal garage door allowing for enclosed parking below the residences.
Corcoran and Murphy jumped out with their notebooks and were eager to canvass the building without being told. That’s a good thing to do and a great thing to see. These young detectives realize the importance of a thorough canvass of the building's occupants, along with the immediately surrounding buildings and residences. It can be tedious, boring work, but every window in every building that faced that scene had to be canvassed. Some new people just get it and take to detective work like ducks to water, and like that, I knew that Corcoran and Murphy were going to be quality detectives.
I grabbed my notebook, flashlight, and latex rubber gloves out of my unmarked squad car when Sgt. Ware from the 002nd District walked up. Ware was but built like former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. Ware looked sharp as always, but his face looked drained.
"We meet again, Detective Nolan.”
“Hey, Sarge, what’s happening?”
“Did you see all that shit that jumped off downstate in Arcola on the news this morning?" Ware asked.
Arcola, Illinois, was a small town of about 2900 people and about 163 miles to the south of Chicago along I-57 Highway. The town is semi-famous for the Lawn Rangers, a precision broom and lawnmower team performed in parades. They took their name from the Lone Ranger TV series and had the Lone Ranger himself, actor Clayton Moore, as the grand marshal at some of their parades. The morning news had shown footage of heavily armed law enforcement personnel surrounding a bank that someone had taken hostage.
'Yea, I watched it. Something with a high-speed chase and a bank takeover?"
Sgt. Ware nodded, "Well, the car those dudes used belongs to this guy up on the third floor, and he is dead."
“After all the excitement ended downstate, the Illinois State Police went to tow the car the desperadoes abandoned down there and ran the plate, and it came back to Allen Greyves from this address. Except there was no Allen Greyves downstate or in custody.”
“So, they called this one into us. Tonight is the second time we’ve been here, Nolan.”
“The second time?” “Why?’
“Earlier this morning around 1 am, a unit went on shots fired call to the same address.”
Sgt. Ware went on to say the responding officers found a locked front door, no complainant, and no rapid access to the interior of the building. They radioed dispatch and asked for a complainant or a call back number. When that turned up negative, they pushed all the resident doorbells until someone buzzed them in. A common ploy the police used that almost always worked. The officers searched the lobby, the main level, and then all three floors. The callback number came from an out-of-state area code, and they weren’t picking up when 911 tried to call them back. When the officers finished, they coded the call out as no service necessary.
“I got to warn you, Nolan, some family members are here, and they are pretty distraught.”
“Well, who told them?”
Sgt. Ware went on, “State Police told them. They sent an Illinois State Police unit over to the parents’ house on Avers Street looking for Allen Greyves. After they told the family what had occurred downstate, some of the family tried calling Arnie and received no response.”
I could see some people milling about near the street and parked cars, but meeting with the family would be the last thing we do tonight. Examining and processing the scene was first.
It was always a potentially volatile scene when family members were close. At times, it is the proverbial double-edged sword. Violent death is an incredible group shock to the entire family and friends; what made it worse was that it was happening right before their eyes. Many times, we have had family members rush the scene and grab hold of the body. We understood that they needed and wanted to hang onto their loved ones no matter how futile it seemed.
But we also understood that the body and everything around the body was now our crime scene. Regardless of whether the family would cooperate or didn’t want to press charges, we were going to find out who did it, arrest them, and get them charged. If not for the family, then for us because that’s what we worked hard to do. We were to be the revenge vehicle for the deceased and the sword of justice for the family. It was as basic as that. Homicide was the ultimate crime, and catching the bad guy was what all policemen try to accomplish.
It took experience and savvy to approach and inform family members about their loved ones when they die. It is worse when they die violently or unexpectedly. Conversely, often having the family there sometimes leads to immediate clues and suspects. They may be a fountain of information on the victim’s last few hours and actions. The family’s information would prove to be true in this case.
The front entrance to the three-story was on the west side of the building and required a key or a doorbell buzzer to gain access. An officer was stationed there and had the door propped open so that we could get in. A small foyer that contained the mailboxes led up three steps to the lobby door. That door had no lock. I made a mental note of that. Only one ring of the doorbell or one key, and you were inside. The lobby contained two elevators in its center and a stairway entrance door on the left.
We climbed the stairs to the third floor instead of using the building's elevator to kill two birds with one stone. You never know if someone or something from the crime scene might be found, and it allowed us to get a clearer picture of the access to the third floor. Once at the landing, I could see another patrol officer and yellow crime scene tape blocking a walkway along with an open atrium courtyard. That was a good sign. Some sergeant or officer immediately determined the boundaries of the outside perimeter and had it protected.
The crack of police radios rang out to my left as I approached the tape and walkway leading to apartment 304. Three officers from the002nd District were chatting outside the entrance door to the residence. 002nd District Sergeant Moravec and Officers English and Tornes responded to the second call that night at 4101 S. Michigan. They stopped when we approached.
“What’s happening, crime fighters?” I asked.
“Nada detective, what’s new with you?”
There is a familiarity with the police department that removes the newness and awkwardness of meeting people for the first time. The police department was like that. You just have a connection with them regardless if you have ever met or worked with them before. That’s what makes being a police officer so great. No matter where you go, it’s like part of your family is waiting when you get there.
Officer English and Officer Tornes had received the assignment, and they were now the assigned paper car. Their job was to document the entire incident, who responded to the call, who had crime scene protection, and to notify all the big bosses.
Officer English got right to the point, "The resident's nephew, along with his mother, Anna Greyves, and Investigators from the Illinois State Police, came over to the condo when Arnie Graves did not answer his phone. The nephew looked through this side window and saw his uncle lying on the floor, not moving.”
I noticed the window to the left of the condo’s entry door. It had short white sheer drapery and a linen shade that was pulled halfway up. From this vantage point and in the hallway light, I could not see clearly through the window.
Moravec added, "We knocked on the door and received no answer. I sent Officer English into the apartment through the bedroom window that was unlocked to open the front door for us."
English had gotten through the bedroom window when he saw Arnie Graves's naked, lifeless body splayed out on the floor at the foot of the bed. English drew his weapon, stepped over Greyves body, and entered the hallway. Pausing for a moment to listen for any movement or noise and confirm that he was alone, English unlocked the dead-bolted door and let his partner and Sgt. Moravec into the residence.
The three officers crept through the apartment in search of any other person or a possible offender. Finding none, they backed out the way they came making sure nothing was touched or disturbed.
Blood red crime scene tape spanned the width of the decorative metal security door blocking the entrance where the officers stood, and one of the officers pulled it up so we could pass through. No one, not even nosy command rank bosses, immediate supervisors, or looky-loo coppers, entered that scene except the assigned detectives and the Evidence Recovery Team. I let Murphy and Corcoran go ahead of me as we entered the scene.
Standing just inside the doorway, I noticed that nothing looked out of place except for what appeared to be a line of white liquid drops and smears traversing through the hallway and into several other rooms. The first door to my left was a bedroom, where Officer English discovered the body of Arnie Graves. Staring down into the room from the doorway, Corcoran and Murphy both froze.
“What the fuck?” Murphy said.
Jimmy Corcoran kept staring straight down into the room when he said, “Timmy, come here and look at this,” with his fading Irish brogue accent.
It was my twenty-first year on the job and my tenth year of being a homicide detective in a city that is arguably one of the most violent places on the planet. I saw horrific acts of violence, accidents, suicides, and child murders. I responded, worked, solved, and prosecuted every type of violent crime imaginable. I looked at Allen Greyves body and saw the unimaginable.
“Jesus Christ,” I said as I stared at the person on the floor. Murphy and Corcoran separated at the doorway as I walked in and stood to the right of the body.
He was lying 5 feet inside the room and on his back like Michelangelo’s “The Vitruvian Man.” Both arms were out away from his body at a 45-degree angle. There was a pool of blood formed underneath his head. He was completely naked except for his shower shoes.
“Come on in here, boys, and we can go over the body.” Both Colin and Jim walked in tentatively, never breaking their gaze at the victim on the floor.
“We need to sketch the body, body relative to the rest of the furniture, and the location and placement of all the furniture in the room,” I said.
“The body sketch doesn't have to be so good as to go into the Art Museum, and we aren’t doctors, so note what you see. Blood and the lighting may hide the exact location of these wounds, so don’t sweat it. The pathologist’s report will tell us all about the type and location of these wounds. So no assumptions and no guesses on your notes, OK?”
“Gotcha, Timmy,” Colin said. They both flipped open their notebooks and started writing.
“You are going to note the date and time of our arrival. For the date and time of occurrence, it is going to start from the last time someone saw Graves or heard him, till the time he was discovered.”
I knew they had to go through this and get comfortable with it. The scene is the first time either of these new detectives would spend a lot of time with the dead. It is an unusual position to be placed. Most people deal with the dead in a hospital or funeral parlor. Detective work, especially homicide detective work, required that you continue to do your job thoroughly, tenaciously, and objectively despite the location or violence of the scene.
That did not mean that it was not going to affect them. It does. But the task at hand was so important on so many different levels. They had to keep a quiet calm to do their job professionally, allay the fears and apprehension of the deceased's family members and compartmentalize the violence and horror of the scene to the back corners of their conscience.
A box of baking soda leaning on the victim’s right arm could explain the powder-like substance that blanketed the victim’s body from head to toe. It gave Allen the appearance of an African Tribal Warrior that you would see on National Geographic or the History Channel.
“So, as you guys can see, this victim has been dusted with some white powder over his entire body. We can also see that there is a box of baking soda leaning on his right arm. We will have the Forensic Investigators take the box and add it to our evidence request for prints. Again, we will not assume he has been dusted with it, even though it is more than likely. We will let the scientists tell us what is on his body and report our findings after that.”
“After you diagram the placement of the body, note the direction of the head and feet, start at the top and work your way down to the feet,” I instructed.
Colin asked, “Tim, that wound on his head. It looks pushed in, and I don’t see a bullet hole.
A large gaping wound on the victim’s forehead had soaked his hair with blood and had streamed down and dried into the carpet. His head tilted to the right, holding his lifeless gaze staring up at the ceiling.
“What do you think?”
“If I had to guess, it looks like he was hit with something.” Jimmy half asked, and half stated.
“Good! That is what I thought, too,” I said. “We can keep an eye out for something that could have made that wound.”
There was an apparent bullet wound between his nose and the left eye that had formed a massive hemorrhage under his eyelid.
“Is that a gunshot wound to his face Timmy?” Colin asked.
“Probably. What would that tell you?”
“Well, if it is, then maybe the bad guy had a revolver?”
“Or? I egged him on.
“Or the bad guy used an automatic and picked up his shells?”
“Excellent, and it is something to consider.”
I stared at what looked like stab wounds to the left side of his neck and clavicle. That is more than likely postmortem, I thought since very little blood had come out from either wound.
His legs spread open, revealed an apparent gunshot wound to the outside of his right thigh that passed through and possibly into his groin.
The DVD movie of HANNIBAL about a fictional serial killer, still in its wrapper and propped up on its end, rested near his chin. Another DVD, RED DRAGON, the prequel to HANNIBAL, sat on his chest. On top of that DVD and perpendicular to the body rested a large 12-inch black-handled blood-stained butcher knife. A dime had been placed on his penis, heads up. I leaned forward and took a closer look at a piece of white paper lying on the right side of the victim's chest. It had the faintest of writing on it like the pen was running out of ink. On the note written in childlike penmanship I read,
"Help me." "The Devil" "666”.
Really? Was this moron of a suspect thinking that his half-ass attempt at staging a scene was going to send me reeling off into strange, occult, serial killer land? That is not happening, pinhead. What you think is some brilliant concealment of gruesome fake evidence to cover your tracks just gave me your planning and intent for a First-Degree Murder Charge.
Near the left forearm of Greyves was a large wooden-handled mallet. Probably the weapon used on Allen Greyves to cause that wound to his forehead. Sitting on its end and above his left shoulder was a Hallmark birthday card to Arnie signed from “Ace.” On the card written in smeared blood spelled,
"AC DUE IT."
Jimmy Corcoran bent forward and was looking down at the victim’s hands.
I looked at the hands of Allen Greyves, and I could see blood on the right index finger of the right hand.
This killer is one ignorant son of a bitch. It is one thing to commit a murder. It is worse to defile and humiliate the victim. But to have the forethought to try and frame someone by dipping Allen's dead finger into his blood to write out that clue, well, that took some hatred towards both Allen and his friend Ace. I now took this murder personally.
Hatred. That was it. Greyves was shot twice right off the bat due to the trajectory on the body. That could have occurred as soon as the front door had closed. So there are at least two knife wounds postmortem, the bashed-in skull, and then all this vandalism to the victim. This attack seemed very personal. There was no forced entry to the downstairs door. No footprints or pry marks to the apartment door. The offender had a key or was let in by Graves or someone else. Allen was not blasted at the door like some wild home invasion. Nothing seemed out of place in the hallway. Nothing seemed out of place anywhere in the room.
Indeed, everything I learned during detective training and everything I had read along with the encyclopedia of murder: Practical Homicide Investigations, pointed to a knife attack usually being very personal. Horrific, brutal knife attacks and deaths are frequent in domestic disturbances, generally because of the proximity to a knife. Knife attacks occurring in familial relationships were numerous, even in the LGBT community. On the contrary, they were quite high. It was something to consider.
I noticed two circular stains had lightened the surrounding beige carpet underneath both hands of Greyves. I knelt to get a closer look and could smell bleach. Perhaps the killer covering his DNA tracks? Or so he thought. Using bleach was no guarantee that a forensic scientist could not pull a DNA profile from the sample. I was going to have the hands bagged by the Evidence Recovery Team when they arrived.
I started working my way out from the body and examining the scene from a broader perspective. On the west wall was cast-off blood starting about three feet off the floor and fanning upwards in an arc for another three feet. A mirror hung on the wall to the north near the door, which also had blood cast off. Two feet away from the victim’s feet stood a glass and chrome shelving unit. Upon closer inspection, I could see that the blood spatter was not on top of the individual shelves. It was underneath them. Allen was on the ground, either blood flew off the hammer, or cast-off from the knife, caused the spatter on the bottom side of the shelves. Another good clue that this was a very personal murder.
A white linen shade that covered the window Officer English had entered had a blood smear at about five and a half feet off the floor. I walked over and used my Kel-Lite to pull the shade away. It gave me a view of the outside walkway and the front doors to several other apartments. I began to surmise after the shots rang out, the killer stopped what he was doing and peered out the window to see if anyone had been alerted.
A more disturbing thought was that the killer could have watched the police search the hallways when they responded to the first call back at 1:30 in the morning. By pulling the shade again, the killer did not realize he had left a blood smear behind. That might help. I noted the stain so that the Crime Scene people would take the sample.
To Be Continued...