(This story is part of a continuing series, An Assault in Venice. Part 1 starts here.)

Although Cagney worked the night shift, she stopped by the following afternoon. She was going to visit Jeanette at the hospital and came to see if I wanted to go with her. It was two days after the attack, and Cagney was on the case. The night before I had given her a copy of the notes I’d taken from my conversation with John Edward, and she said she had an idea of who the perp might be. She’d spent all night looking through the computer to no avail: the guy she had in mind was already in prison. I followed her to the unmarked vehicle in front of the house.

“Should I sit in the—” I pointed to the back seat.

“You’re riding shotgun, partner,” she said, smiling.

I opened the door. There was an antiquated computer console between the seats, and a rifle jutting up from alongside it. A bouquet of flowers lay on the passengers’ side. I picked them up and got in. “You got her flowers?”

She nodded. “It’s the least I could do.”

I shook my head. “I don’t think you’re a cop,” I said. “I think you’re an angel.”

Detective Melissa Mora had been on the Los Angeles police force for just over 20 years. She lived alone. She rescued pitbulls. “You should think about getting one,” she said. She had three rescues at her house for which she was trying to find homes. “They’re actually the sweetest, most loyal dogs you can imagine. They’re incredibly gentle dogs. People don’t realize that.” She proceeded to tell me about the three she was taking care of, clearly trying to entice me.

“I have a commitment problem,” I told her.

When we arrived at the hospital, the police photographer was already there. Jeanette had been moved from the ICU and into her own room. I introduced Jeanette to Detective Mora.

“Melissa,” she corrected me.

Jeanette took her hand. “Wow, you’re beautiful.”

“She said we can call her Cagney.”

Jeanette started to laugh, then winced. “Don’t make me laugh.”

The photographer had Cagney hold up a ruler next to Jeanette’s face as he snapped pictures of her from every angle. Cagney noticed bruises on Jeanette’s arms and shoulders, which she had the photographer document.

She asked Jeanette to recount the events of her day, as much as she could remember. Jeanette gave details about walking to the beach in the morning and having breakfast. She spent the afternoon at the house. The last thing she remembered doing was going to the grocery store across the street to pick up some things for dinner.

Cagney glanced at me. We were both thinking about what John had told me: She stopped at a store and he was there. Something she did made him snap, and he followed her home.

“Did you talk to anyone while you were there?” Cagney asked her.

Jeanette shook her head. “I don’t remember.”

My new partner and I stopped for dinner on the way home. She pulled out her notebook in which she’d recopied all of the information we’d gotten from John. “We can start by questioning the neighbors. Take particular note of anyone who has a small dog. If you know your postman, ask him about people who live in the area. And we’ve got to pull the surveillance tapes from the grocery store.”

Roger that. I didn’t say that out loud.

“Are you going to be talking to your psychic friend again?” she asked.

“I can call him when I get home.”

Cagney dropped me off and walked me up to Rob and Amy’s door. “I know you’re all scared and feeling unsafe,” she said. “I’ve ordered extra patrol of the area. A police car will drive by the house about every half hour all through the night, every night.”

“Thank you,” I said, my eyes filling with tears. “For everything.” I hesitated and then wrapped my arms around her and hugged her.

My conversation with John that night produced these results:

  • She does not know him. She went to a store. She might remember seeing him there. She said something to him.
  • He’s a burly, stocky male with dark hair. He wears a distinguishable ring on his right hand.
  • He’s an animal. He can hide like an animal and pounce like an animal.
  • He has bursts of rage. He attacks women who are androgynous—women who are tall and powerful, not petite.
  • He was beaten up by his mother.
  • He lives close by in a barrio community.
  • He doesn’t have a job.
  • People may have seen him but not connect him to the attack.
  • He may go after prostitutes. Question the prostitutes in the area for leads.
  • Talk to the SPCA about dead animals, particularly dead cats. He chokes cats.
  • There is DNA evidence in the room. Hair follicles, fingerprints.
  • He attacked her and left quickly thinking, what have I done?
  • He kissed her on the forehead before leaving.
  • She will have excruciating headaches.
  • She will begin to have flashes of the attack in about 21 days. Tell her not to drive for at least 30 days—she may have a flash while driving.
  • Tell her she didn’t draw this to her. Keep telling her that. Tell her there will be a positive end to all of this. Possibly work related.

…to be continued, but first, a word about stats…or go to Part 7