The Judas Judge
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In a remote New Mexico campground, six people are killed in an apparently senseless murder spree. Deputy State Police Chief Kevin Kerney suspects the slaying wasn’t random at all—but rather a calculated plot to eliminate one high-profile victim, retired judge, Vernon Langsford. In piecing together the judge’s shocking past, Kerney discovers the victim’s predilection for sexual indiscretions, a history of family betrayal and greed, and a dark marriage that ended mysteriously and violently. But as Kerney gets closer to the heart of a terrible crime, it’s a woman from his own past who emerges with a stunning secret of her own.Chapter One
Starting sometime after midnight, six murders had been committed along a stretch of highway in south central New Mexico. Soon after sunrise, Kevin Kerney arrived at the Oliver Lee State Park, where Sgt. Randy Shockley waited for him outside a motor home parked in an area that provided electrical and water hookups to recreational vehicles. Westward, across the Tularosa Basin, a band of low clouds mimicked the outline of the distant mountains, creating a mirage of shimmering vague foothills. The October morning was chilly, and a low sun softened the stark landscape, giving the desert a deceptively inviting impression.
Raised on the Tularosa until his parents’ ranch was taken over by the army and made part of the high security White Sands Missile Range, Kerney knew the clouds would soon burn off and the day would heat up.
He eyed the motor home. It was an expensive model with a retractable awning, an air-conditioning unit on the roof, and a detachable satellite TV dish mounted on a bracket. Under the awning were a small barbecue grill, a lawn chair, and a folding metal side table. The door into the cabin of the RV was open. Painted on the side of the rig, above the manufacturer’s nameplate, a bounding cartoonlike kangaroo floated in midair.
Sergeant Shockley held the crime scene log in one hand and a pen in the other. Kerney scribbled his name on the log and returned the pen. “Any witnesses?” he asked.
“No,” Shockley replied. He eyed the chief’s cowboy boots, jeans, and silver belt buckle, and repressed a smirk. “And nobody heard any shots. A camper discovered the body.”
“Where is he?”
“Sequestered inside the visitor center with the park manager. I have an officer with them.”
Across the way, a tight group of campers had gathered around a picnic table under a shelter to watch the action. Most were gray-haired, overweight, tanned, and wearing sweats and pullover tops to guard against the early morning chill.
“We’re holding everybody who stayed overnight until we can take their statements,” Sergeant Shockley said. “Some of them aren’t happy campers.”
Kerney smiled thinly at the joke. Shockley, a shift commander and the evidence officer for the Alamogordo District Office of the New Mexico State Police, smiled back. With nine years on the force, Shockley still had a cockiness about him that most cops lost after working their rookie season on the streets. He was thirty-two years old, stood five-nine in his stocking feet, and carried a hundred and forty-five pounds on a compact frame.
Shockley’s record was clean. Divorced with no children, he served as an officer survival trainer at the state police academy when recruit classes were in session, and had a reputation as an instructor who enjoyed putting a hurt on cadets during hand-to-hand training.
Kerney knew about Shockley because the sergeant was the target of an internal affairs investigation. He inclined his head toward the motor home. “Who’s been inside?”
“Me, a paramedic, the man who found the body, and the park ranger. The radio message from Major Hutchinson said you were the primary investigator on this one.”
“Until we get more people here,” Kerney said. “Let the park manager and the witness know I’ll take their statements as soon as I can.”
“How many dead people do we have, Chief?”
“This one makes six.”
“Looks like somebody went on a killing spree.”
“So it seems. Where’s the body?”
“In the back of the RV,” Shockley said, “on the bed.”
Kerney nodded, went to his unit, and got his gear.
At two a.m., Kerney; his second-in-command, Nate Hutchinson; and a team of agents had left Santa Fe by helicopter and flown the short hop to the Valley of Fires Recreational Area outside of Carrizozo, the scene of the first homicide. A retired couple from Iowa had been murdered in their sleep and robbed. The team had been working their way south ever since.
At the Three Rivers Petroglyph Recreation Area, a machinist from California had been killed in his travel trailer by a bullet through the heart, and at a campground near the boundary of the Mescalero Indian Reservation, a retired army master sergeant and his wife had been shot dead.
Major Hutchinson’s team was stretched thin at the three crime scenes, so Kerney had taken the latest call. There was no way of knowing if it would prove to be the last.
He put on a pair of plastic gloves and went inside the motor home. The man in the sleeping nook wore only boxer shorts. Tan lines on his body stopped midway up the arms and formed a V below the neck. His torso and legs were a startling pale white in comparison.
Somewhere in his seventies, he had a full head of gray hair, good muscle tone, and two bullet holes in his chest. Above a hint of jowls, his features were angular, with thin lips and a long, narrow nose.
A large black bloodstain on a neutral gray blanket had dribbled onto the carpet. One round had caught a heart valve, and a blood spray three feet long had smeared the window and wall above the bed.
It was Friday, and Kerney had planned to fly to Kansas City to spend the weekend with his wife, Lt. Col. Sara Brannon, who was enrolled in the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. But that wasn’t going to happen.
Under the plastic glove on his left hand Kerney wore a gold wedding band with lapis and turquoise inlaid in a triangular pattern Sara had picked out as part of a matched pair. She had canceled her last trip to Santa Fe due to a mandatory weekend training exercise, and it had been a month since they’d been together. Aside from their honeymoon trip to Ireland in April, the most time they’d been able to spend together was four days in July. Since then, only quick weekend visits back and forth between Santa Fe and Fort Leavenworth every two weeks had been possible.
Kerney had gone into the marriage knowing it would be a part-time, long-distance relationship, and so far he hadn’t voiced any complaints. But a month was a long time, and Kerney had to shut down a desire to grumble about it. He shook off his ill-humor and got busy.
He took photographs, did a crime scene sketch, and searched for evidence. He found no spent rounds or sign of forced entry, and went to take statements from the park ranger and the witness who’d discovered the body. Nate Hutchinson arrived just as Kerney finished up.
Known by his nickname Hutch, Nate ran the day-to-day operations of the criminal investigations, narcotics, intelligence, internal affairs, and alcohol and gaming enforcement bureaus. He had droopy eyelids that gave him a sleepy look often mistaken for boredom by those who didn’t know him, close-cut brown hair showing a hint of gray, and the ramrod carriage of a Marine drill instructor.
“Got anything, Chief?” Hutch asked.
“The victim’s name is Vernon Langsford, a retired lawyer from Ruidoso, age seventy-six. The park ranger said Langsford was a volunteer camp host. He worked three days a week and was on call at night after the park closed. When he wasn’t passing out information to tourists and campers, he liked to play golf at the local courses. He was shot twice in the chest at close range.”
Hutchinson cocked his head. “Twice? All the other victims were killed with one round. Why two shots for Langsford?”
“I don’t know. There’s no sign of a struggle. His wallet and jewelry were taken, along with a small, portable color television.”
“That matches the MO at the other crime scenes. All the other victims were just tourists traveling through, Chief. Why did our killer take out a camp host?”
“I haven’t a clue. From what I’ve been told, nobody heard shots at this location.”
“Without a doubt,” Kerney said, looking at the travel trailers within shouting distance of the motor home. “Why was Langsford killed quietly and not the others? Besides that, why waste time on this victim when there were more accessible targets closer to the access road? I’m almost certain the killer walked from the locked gate to Langsford’s RV. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Maybe Langsford’s RV was the first one he could get into,” Hutch said.
“Spree murderers don’t operate that way,” Kerney said. “They get on an emotional high, act indiscriminately, go for easy kills, and then move on.”
“Are you saying Langsford was deliberately killed?”
“That could mean we’ve got multiple murders to cover up one crime.”
“That’s my best guess at this point,” Kerney said. “And if no more victims surface, I’ll bet the farm on it. Start deep background checks on all the victims. Look for anything that could point to a motive for murder. Pay particular attention to Langsford.”
“You’ve got it, Chief.”
Kerney glanced at Randy Shockley, who was assisting an agent taking statements from impatient senior citizen campers. “Is Agent Duran at the district office?”
“He’s standing by.”
“We’re going to get heavy media attention on this, Hutch. Get the public information officer down here from Santa Fe ASAP. Have him release a statement saying we’re handling the cases as a multiple murder spree. He can fill in the blanks from there. If he has questions, I’ll be around.”
“You’re not going to Kansas?”
“Not a chance.” He lowered his voice and leaned into Hutch. “Where does Duran stand with his investigation on Shockley?”
“He’s just about got it wrapped,” Hutch replied. “Can you backstop him, Chief? I can’t spare anybody.”
“Does Shockley know the axe is about to fall?”
“He doesn’t have a clue.”
“Tell Duran I’m on my way.”
Hutchinson left, and Kerney raised his eyes to the sweep of mountains, his gaze settling on Joplin Ridge, high above Dog Canyon. Long before the park existed, he’d come here as a boy on camping trips with his father to explore the freshwater springs and seeps that enabled lush plants and trees to thrive at the edge of a desert filled with yucca and mesquite. Spindly, eight-foot-tall ocotillo shrubs climbed the flanks of the rocky Sacramento Mountains, masking any hint of the existence of the hidden springs.
Now Dog Canyon was part of the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park. Kerney had grown up hearing stories about Oliver Lee from his grandfather, who ranched on the west side of the Tularosa Basin in the San Andres Mountains back when Lee controlled the water in Dog Canyon and a million acres of free range. To this day, people argued over whether Oliver Lee was a hero or a villain in the range wars that erupted during the late nineteenth century. The living descendants on both sides of the feud kept the quarrel going. It had become a peculiar form of entertainment that spilled over into local politics, bar fights, and business dealings.
Kerney nodded at Sergeant Shockley as he passed by, and thought glumly of needing to call Sara to cancel his visit.
After leaving a message for Sara and talking by phone with his boss, Andy Baca, chief of the state police, Kerney left the crime scene and drove to the district office. Alamogordo had once been a sleepy desert railroad town, but with the opening of the air base during World War II and the establishment of White Sands Missile Range after the war, all that had changed. Now the community went boom and bust and boom again on annual congressional defense appropriations.
A major four-lane highway cut through the town along the east side of the Tularosa Basin, and a commercial strip stretched beyond the city in both directions. There was the usual assortment of bars, pawnshops, cut-rate furniture stores, and used-car lots that catered to servicemen mixed in with motels, fast-food franchises, and gas stations that served the highway traffic.
Thanks to the establishment of a permanent training station for the German Air Force and the consolidation of stealth bomber and fighter squadrons at Holloman Air Force Base, the city was enjoying a comeback from the deep defense budget cuts that had occurred at the end of the Cold War. But in spite of banners on light poles proclaiming local attractions and community events, the main strip still looked seedy.
The state police district office was in a building that housed several other state agencies on a major street near the old downtown area. Kerney parked in the back lot, rang the bell, and the dispatcher buzzed him inside, where Agent Robert Duran waited for him.
A small-boned, wiry man, Duran competed in cross-country and marathon races, and had recently transferred from criminal investigations to the Internal Affairs Unit.
“What did you get from Shockley’s ex-wife?” Kerney asked.
“According to the ex, he was always bringing stuff home after his shift. Booze, office supplies, a nice luggage set, a brand-new chain saw–stuff like that.”
“Oh, yeah. Lots of those. He had a locked closet in the garage where he kept the goodies. When he moved out last year, he took everything with him. She saw him load up at least ten handguns, several long rifles, and a shotgun when he left.”
“Did she give a statement?”
“In writing, Chief.”
“Did Shockley tell her where he got the weapons?”
“He said he traded for them, or bought them used.”
A handgun Shockley had reported as returned to the owner had surfaced in a recent El Paso armed robbery, and Kerney asked if Duran had talked to the owner.
“Couldn’t do it, Chief,” Duran said. “He died six weeks before Shockley sent the dated and signed receipt to Santa Fe. Shockley forged the owner’s signature on the form.”
“Did the perp who used the gun identify Shockley as his supplier?”
“He never met Shockley, but he gave me the name of the Juárez gunrunner who sold him the pistol. I had a nice long chat with the guy. Once he understood that I wasn’t going to put the Juárez cops onto him, he fingered Shockley as one of his illegal weapons suppliers.”
“How many weapons did Shockley sell him?”
Duran consulted his notebook. “During the last two years, Shockley sold him approximately sixty weapons: mostly handguns, all in cherry condition. The dealer paid him an average of four hundred dollars for each gun, sometimes more.”
“Did you recover any of them?”
“No, but I got a partial list of makes and models from the guy—as much as he could remember. I compared it to Shockley’s evidence reports. What Shockley said he’d returned to the rightful owners, he was mostly selling.”
Duran closed his notebook. “The Juárez buyer isn’t willing to cross the border and testify, if and when we go to trial, Chief. In fact, I had the distinct feeling he would disappear as soon as I left. I tape-recorded his statement.”
“You’ve got enough to make your case without him.”
“I’ve got more we may be able to use. There’s been a spike in the number of stolen cars reported by the district over the last three years, beginning right about the time Shockley got his sergeant stripes. I asked the intelligence unit to do an analysis. Most of the cars were stolen on Shockley’s swing and graveyard shifts. When he worked days, nighttime auto thefts dropped dramatically.”
“Do you have anything connecting Shockley to the auto thefts?”
“What about the money trail?”
“That, I’ve got. Shockley plays the market. He has four separate Internet brokerage accounts. His total investment over the past three years exceeds one hundred twenty thousand dollars. He sure hasn’t been investing that kind of cash with his take-home pay.”
“Inheritance?” Kerney asked, thinking of Erma Fergurson, his mother’s old friend who had left him a 6,400-acre ranch, which was about to be sold to the Nature Conservancy. Even after all the taxes were paid when probate closed next month, Kerney would still have more money than he’d ever dreamed possible. Considerably more than Shockley’s low six-figure market accounts.
“That’s unlikely, Chief. Both parents live in Carlsbad. His father works as an auto mechanic, and his mother at a day care center. There’s no family money that Shockley could tap into. Additionally, the ex-wife didn’t know anything about Shockley’s adventures in the stock market.”
“Do you need more time?”
“I’d rather not wait, Chief. I can always bring additional charges later. I did a quick inventory of the evidence room this morning. Two handguns that should be there are missing. I think a search of his unit and his apartment will turn them up.”
“Did you get a warrant for his apartment?” Kerney asked.
“Signed by a judge this morning,” Duran said.
Kerney knew Duran’s presence at the district office wouldn’t go unnoticed for long. The back channel network could have already passed on the information. “You’d better move.”
“I’ll pull him in now,” Duran said. “Will you do the house search for me, Chief?” He held out the warrant.
Kerney nodded and took the paperwork.
“Don’t talk to Shockley without backup.”
“There isn’t anybody I can use. Every available agent is working the homicides.”
“Bring in a uniform to assist you.”
Duran thought about it for a minute. “Pete Bustamante. We worked patrol together in District Seven. He’s solid.”
“Okay. Under my orders, have dispatch instruct Shockley and Bustamante to report here immediately for a special assignment.”
Randy Shockley pulled onto the state highway and checked his rearview mirror. Pete Bustamante was on his tail, following him to the district headquarters. Shockley knew Chief Kerney’s orders were bogus. The dispatcher had called him by cellular phone to report that Agent Duran had been snooping around in the evidence room and looking through his paperwork. The dispatcher had no further information, but Shockley knew what was up: Internal Affairs had uncovered his weapons scam. There could be no other reason for Duran’s search.
Maybe the auto theft scheme hadn’t been detected. He flipped open his cell phone and called Jake’s Towing Service. “Has anybody been coming around asking questions?” he asked, when Jake answered.
“Anyone like who?”
“A cop, you stupid shit.”
Jake laughed. “You know I hate cops, Randy.”
“Answer the fucking question.”
“I haven’t talked to any cops, or anybody asking a lot of questions. I would have told you if that was happening.”
“When did you move the last vehicle?”
“Four days ago,” Jake replied. “Delivered and paid for. We got fourteen thousand dollars for it. Do we have a problem?”
“I’ll get back to you.” Shockley hit the disconnect button and punched in his ex-wife’s number. “Maureen.”
“I told you never to call me, Randy.”
“Has anyone from the department talked to you recently?”
“I have to leave for work.”
“Don’t fuck with me, Maureen.”
“Go to hell, Randy,” Maureen said with a hint of peevish satisfaction as she hung up.
Shockley checked his rearview mirror again. Bustamante was still there. He punched in the number for the district attorney’s office and asked to speak to the administrator. Nicole Prince came on the line. “I hope you don’t want to speak to any of the ADAs, Randy. Everybody who isn’t scheduled for court is out at the crime scenes. Isn’t that something?”
“It sure is,” Shockley said. “I’m checking on a warrant. Did anything come in for signature this morning?”
“One of your Santa Fe agents showed up with an affidavit approved by my boss himself. He took it to Judge Witcher.”
“Thanks.” He waited until he got to the edge of town before dialing Bustamante’s cell phone number, and watched in the rearview mirror as Pete picked up. “I’ve got to swing by my place for a few minutes,” he said. “I’ll catch up with you.”
“Okay, Sarge,” Pete said. “See you there.”
Shockley made a quick turn off the main drag, waited for Bustamante to pass out of sight, then floored the unit, hit the emergency lights, and cut through traffic running a silent code three. At his apartment building he did a slow drive-by, looking for cop cars or unmarked units. From the parking lot he could see no activity outside, and no sign of Duran, Kerney, or other officers.
He stopped by the manager’s office and asked if anyone had been by to pick up a key. The woman said no, and Shockley gave her a bullshit line that he was expecting a friend from out of town who was going to stay with him for a few days.
As he hurried to his apartment, Shockley tried to figure out what had gone wrong. All the weapons he’d boosted had been unclaimed for at least a year, and he’d sold them in Mexico to a Juárez dealer for shipment to Central America. Everything else he’d filched during his tenure as evidence officer had been sold at El Paso flea markets, where nobody knew him.
If he could clean out the weapons stashed in his apartment before Duran could serve the warrant, he might be able to avoid prosecution and hard time. Duran would have nothing more than a paper trail to go on. With a damn good lawyer the department might settle for his resignation to avoid embarrassment.
Shockley could live with that.
Inside the apartment he grabbed the .38 caliber four-inch Ruger, a sweet Colt 9 mm, and his cash box. He couldn’t chance stashing the stuff in his personal vehicle, so he would have to dump it. He didn’t like the idea of throwing away four thousand dollars in cash and a thousand dollars worth of weapons, but there wasn’t any choice.
He checked his watch. Five minutes had passed since he’d peeled off from Bustamante. He couldn’t use the apartment Dumpster—that would be the first place Duran would look after searching the apartment. A trash bin at the supermarket a few blocks away would have to do.
He stuffed the guns and cash box into a half-full kitchen garbage bag, tied it off, and headed for the front door. Outside, he found Deputy Chief Kerney standing behind the open driver’s door of a unit.
“Where are you going, Sergeant?” Kerney had his semiautomatic hidden out of sight behind his leg.
Shockley smiled. “I just stopped by to take out the trash, Chief. They pick it up on Fridays.”
“Drop the bag and keep your hands where I can see them.”
Shockley kept smiling. “What’s this all about, Chief?”
“Drop the bag.”
Kerney stood at an angle behind the open door of the unit, presenting the smallest possible target. Shockley didn’t move, and Kerney studied him. The bulletproof vest under the uniform shirt bulked up Shockley’s compact frame, and his eyes scanned Kerney carefully.
“Are you hiding a gun behind your leg, Chief?” Shockley asked.
“This doesn’t have to get out of hand, Sergeant. Do as you’re told.”
“What are you talking about?” Shockley shifted his weight slightly and watched for a response. There wasn’t one.
“I think you know,” Kerney said.
“No, I don’t.” Shockley moved his right arm slightly to test Kerney’s reflexes one more time. The chief didn’t seem to notice.
“I have a warrant to search your apartment.”
“Search my apartment?” Shockley said, feigning amazement. He dropped the garbage bag at his feet and held out his hand. “Let’s see it.”
“I’ll show it to you later,” Kerney said.
Shockley had watched Kerney hobble around on a bum leg at the crime scene. Chances were good, given Kerney’s physical condition and age, that the chief didn’t possess Shockley’s survival skills, eye-hand coordination, and speed.
He brought his extended right arm closer to his sidearm. “I have a right to see the search warrant.”
“Don’t push your luck, Sergeant.”
Shockley laughed. “I don’t operate on luck, Chief.” He heard the first faraway sound of a siren. “Backup?”
Kerney nodded. “Agent Duran.”
“What am I busted for, Chief?”
“Agent Duran wants to ask you a few questions.”
“Why don’t I just talk to him at the office?” Shockley said, taking a side step that gave him a better angle on Kerney.
“Stay put, Sergeant. Clasp your hands together at the back of your head, and we’ll stay nice and calm until Duran gets here.”
“Whatever you say, Chief,” Shockley said, without complying.
“Hands at the back of your head.”
Shockley gauged the distance. Kerney was twelve, maybe fourteen feet away. His vest would stop Kerney’s rounds, and if he moved quickly, the chief might miss him completely. He heard the sound of Duran’s siren closing fast.
“Don’t be stupid, Shockley. Do it now.”
“I think I’ll just wait for Duran,” Shockley said, visualizing the moves he would make. He would have to draw and fire in one smooth motion. He practiced the sequence mentally: a quick step to the left, hand to his holster, draw, fire twice, drop, and roll.
“Hands behind your head,” Kerney repeated.
“How come you don’t wear a uniform, Chief?” Shockley asked, eyeing Kerney’s boots, jeans, and cowboy shirt as he inched his hand closer to his weapon. “You’re a deputy chief, for chrissake. You should be wearing a spit-and-polish uniform with three stars on your collar. Make the troops proud.”
“Don’t try to goad me.”
“Hell, I thought you were some sort of cowboy wannabe when you showed up this morning. I almost laughed in your face.”
Shockley locked his eyes on Kerney’s face and in one fluid motion he spun sideways, drew, braced his weapon as he came up on target, and fired. He caught a fleeting image of Kerney’s weapon pointed at his head before white light exploded inside his brain.
Kerney walked to Shockley’s body and kicked the weapon out of his hand. The gun skidded twenty feet across the parking lot. His two rounds had torn holes in the sergeant’s neck and eye, and blood was pumping out of a carotid artery, spraying over Shockley’s uniform shirt.
Kerney had seen a lot of dead bodies over the years, but never one of a cop he’d shot. His gaze traveled down to the gold shield on Shockley’s chest, the stripes on the sleeves, the hash marks above the cuff, the gray piping on the black trousers, the highly polished shoes, covered with a sheen of dust. The blood splatter on Shockley’s face was dark brown. The sight made Kerney want to puke.
“Jesus Christ,” Robert Duran said. “What happened?”
Kerney turned and found Duran at his shoulder. He held out his weapon. “Take this.”
Duran obliged and Kerney walked away.
“Where are you going, Chief?”
“Give me a minute.”
At the side of the apartment building, Kerney quickly lost the food in his stomach. He stood up, leaned against the wall, and didn’t move until his heart stopped thudding against his chest.
The helicopter lifted off from the pavement and two Otero County deputy sheriffs moved their units to let traffic back on the side street behind the parking lot to the district office. A semi-truck pulling the mobile command center Chief Baca had ordered sent over from Las Cruces made a tight turn into the parking lot.
At least half the workers at the nearby Otero County courthouse were either hanging out windows or watching the action from the sidewalk. The crews of six television-station vans parked in a side lot were busy filming the chopper’s departure, and the only thing that kept the assembled reporters from blitzing the district office were the barriers and uniformed officers the PIO lieutenant had put in place to hold the media back.
Three passengers from the helicopter—Chief Andy Baca, Deputy Chief Elias Giron, and Maj. Kurt Hagerman—converged on Nate Hutchinson. Giron ran uniform operations for the department, and Hagerman was his zone commander for the eastern sector, which included Alamogordo.
“Where is Chief Kerney now, Hutch?” Andy asked, barely glancing at the captain and lieutenant from the Alamogordo office, who waited nearby.
“Detained by the city police. The district attorney is taking his statement.”
“Who let the city butt in on this?” Andy asked sharply, his normally low-key temperament worn thin from the events of the day.
“By the time we got to Shockley’s apartment, the city cops had secured the area and wouldn’t let us in. I couldn’t even talk to Agent Duran until they’d finished with him. That took two hours.”
“Has the dispatcher admitted to tipping off Shockley about the IA investigation?”
“She admits only to telling Shockley that Duran was waiting for him at the office, and that Chief Kerney had left the premises.”
“Fire her ass. I want her gone within the next ten minutes.”
“We can’t fire her without taking progressive discipline, Chief,” Capt. Willie Catanach, the district commander said.
“I wasn’t speaking to you, Captain,” Andy said. “But since you’ve chosen to enter into this conversation, let me make a couple of things clear. I’ve got lawyers up in Santa Fe who will gladly defend the department against any wrongful termination suit. I’m going to let them do their jobs. Speaking of which, let me say something about your job. What Sergeant Shockley was allowed to get away with goes way beyond misplaced trust or sloppy supervision. Chief Giron and Major Hagerman are now in charge of this district. You and Lieutenant Vanhorn are relieved of duty. My office will inform you when and if you can return to work.”
Catanach flinched as though he’d been slapped in the face, and Vanhorn’s expression turned to stunned disbelief. Neither man moved.
“You heard the chief,” said Elias Giron, who’d been chewed out privately by Andy for not having adequate evidence policies in place. “Lieutenant, give the captain a ride home. Captain, I need your car keys.”
Catanach fished the keys out of his pocket and gave them over.
As the men moved away, Andy swung his attention to Hagerman. “Major, get a relief dispatcher in here now, and fire that woman.”
Andy put his hand on Nate Hutchinson’s shoulder. “I want internal affairs to review all district evidence inventories. If this shit can happen in Alamogordo, it can happen anywhere.”
“I’ll get it started, Chief.”
“Elias, I want you with the city police chief, right now. Hold his hand or sit in his lap if you have to, but don’t let him out of your sight until Kerney is turned loose. If you get the slightest hint that he’s planning to play political football with Kerney, call me right away. Tell the DA the minute he’s finished with Kerney, I want a meeting with him before he does another damn thing. Be diplomatic.”
“I’m on it,” Giron said, as he walked to Catanach’s unit.
Some of the tension left Andy’s face. “You can brief me inside,” he said to Hutch, as he glanced at the midday sun in a cloudless sky. “I keep forgetting how damn hot it gets down here in the fall. It feels like summer in Santa Fe.”
He shook his head as he moved toward the door. “Six murders and a dead dirty cop, all in one day. Unbelievable. Did Agent Duran see the shooting go down?”
“He got there after the fact.”
“How is Kerney handling it?”
“According to Duran, he’s hammered.”
“Jesus, who wouldn’t be?” Andy said.
--Reprinted from The Judas Judge by Michael McGarrity by permission of Signet, an imprint of New American Library, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2001 by Michael Garrity. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission. “McGarrity gets betters and better.”—Tony Hillerman
“The Judas Judge rivets attention...a book that’s hard to put down.” —Publishers Weekly
“A roller-coaster ride...[and] so much more than a murder mystery.” —Colorado Springs Gazette
“Taut and convincing...I read this one in a single sitting.” —Chicago Tribune
“There are some devious minds at work in The Judas Judge...which loops with serpentine grace through the ranches, railroad towns, Indian reservations and open spaces of [New Mexico]. McGarrity’s portrait of the region is a strong one, built on meticulously detailed intelligence gathered, sifted and analyzed for unspoken secrets and lies by the author’s own deeply cunning mind.” —The New York Times
“McGarrity’s novels keep getting richer. [The Judas Judge] rivets attention...by gradually uncovering secrets hidden by a large cast of well-drawn suspects.” —Publishers Weekly
“A seamless story that will keep you turning the pages.” —Colorado Springs Gazette
“With each succeeding mystery, McGarrity is ever more sure of his central character, Kerney. Richly textured in setting and character, this series gets better with each outing.” —The Dallas Times Herald
“The Judas Judge is solid evidence that a good series...can actually becomes even more satisfying. Quite a page-turner.” —Library Journal
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