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Chapter 36

Two weeks later

Sam Markham sat at his desk in downtown Providence. He felt sick as he watched the police video for at least the hundredth time-pausing, rewinding, and playing in stop motion every move The Michelangelo Killer made. As with the video of Steve Rogers, the team in Boston had immediately set about enhancing the footage, and Markham could see everything that had happened in front of the Temple of Divine Spirit-not only the calm, methodical way in which The Michelangelo Killer slaughtered the two policemen, but also the Channel 9 Eye-Team logo streaking out of camera range.

Markham remembered seeing the van on the highway that night-oh how he remembered! Felt the urge to vomit every time he thought about how close he had been to the killer-just a few yards across the grassy median. But more than watching over and over again the brutal murders of the two Exeter policemen-murders for which the supervisory special agent felt partly responsible-what really made Markham sick was that, as was the case with the video of Steve Rogers, he could get no clues from it-could not determine anything other than the make of the van and the killers size and height.

Yes, even though The Michelangelo Killer was dressed entirely in black-a black ski mask, black gloves, and a tight fitting long-sleeve black shirt-Markham could clearly make out the killers physique against the white of the phony Eye-Team van: about six-five and very muscular-a bodybuilder, just as the celebrated profiler had suspected all along.

Of course, in the two weeks following the shocking exhibition of The Michelangelo Killers Piet`a down at Echo Point Cemetery, the ballistics tests on the killers.45 caliber bullets and the leads on the van-a Chevy 2500 Express model that most likely was the same one reported stolen three years earlier-had so far turned up nothing. In addition, a still from the police video had been released on the Wednesday following the discovery of the Michelangelo Killers Piet`a, but the public had given the FBI nothing but red herrings.

The public.

Markham sighed and closed his computers video player. And just as he expected, when he clicked on the Internet Explorer icon, the first picture on his AOL homepage was of Michelangelos Piet`a. The media firestorm that followed the discovery of the grisly scene in Exeter made the fallout from The Michelangelo Killers Bacchus seem like a snowball fight. Indeed, as soon as the real Channel 9 Eye-Team van showed up outside of Echo Point Cemetery, it seemed to Markham as if a war had broken out-the news choppers hovering above and the media frenzy outside the cemetery gates reminding him of a scene right out of Apocalypse Now. There was no keeping anything from the press this time-not even the most telling details of The Michelangelo Killers Piet`a, which the killer had actually signed.

Yes, unbelievably, The Michelangelo Killer had chiseled another message into his work-this time not to Catherine Hildebrant, but to the public in general. Markham remembered from his reading of Slumbering in the Stone that the Rome Piet`a was the only work Michelangelo ever signed-the legend of which claimed that, upon overhearing a visitor to the Chapel of St. Petronilla attribute the statue to another artist, Michelangelo returned later that night and chiseled in Latin a message on the sash across the Virgins chest: Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made this. Hildebrant went on to state in her book that the legend was fictional, and that the signature had been there from the beginning. A bold stab at fame, she had called it. Michelangelos most blatant attempt ever for public recognition. And although Sam Markham had since learned from Cathy that there was still much scholarly debate as to the reason why Michelangelo signed his Piet`a, both of them agreed that there could be no doubt as to the reason why The Sculptor had signed his.

The Sculptor from Rhode Island made it.

Just like the legend, Cathy had said to Markham when she first laid eyes on the inscription. Hes telling the press what to call him. Hes correcting them.

And the press obeyed.

They called him The Sculptor now in the papers and on TV, on the Internet and on the blogs and the sick homepages that had sprouted up in dedication to him since the discovery of Tommy Campbell. Indeed, the media seemed to talk of nothing else; and Markham felt a palpable anxiety every time he turned on his computer and his television. Worst of all was the publics infatuation with Catherine Hildebrant-the woman Sam Markham now knew he loved; the woman that the public loved for her now indisputable connection to The Sculptor. Yes, once the media got wind that the pretty art history professors ex-husband had been used for the body of The Sculptors Virgin Mary, the FBI knew they could no longer keep her sheltered from the press, knew they could no longer mask the connection between the killer and her book. And thus, the FBI also knew they could no longer use her effectively as a consultant on the case.

At least not in public.

Cathy had recovered quickly from her knock on the head-seemed to awaken with a newfound strength, a newfound understanding of the role she must now play in catching the man who had become so obsessed with her. She had insisted on seeing The Sculptors Piet`a at the morgue in person, had examined it with an even more discerning eye than she had the Bacchus down at Watch Hill-even though she was well aware it was her ex-husbands body holding up the Virgins flowing robes. Markham was in contact with Cathy a dozen times a day-spoke to her on his cell phone during the countless hours she spent doing research for him on the computer, while he followed up on his leads all over New England. Yes, Cathy seemed to be holding up well, but Markham was very worried about her. She was safe, of course, in protective custody-had been moved immediately upon her release from the hospital to an FBI safe house just outside of Boston. But Markham was afraid of the toll the ordeal was taking on her, was worried about that moment when the totality of what happened to her ex-husband-what happened to the others as a result of her book-really hit her.

Dont worry, whispered a voice in his head. Shes a fighter-just like her mother.

Rachel Sullivan had given a statement to the press in Boston a week earlier, in which she officially released the names of the victims whose body parts The Sculptor had used for his Piet`a.

There were four in all.

Of course, the FBI knew from the beginning about Rogers, whose headless, handless body-sans breast augmentation-was still awaiting release to be flown back to Chicago for burial by his family. As for the other victims, once the medical examiner removed the paint from the victims fingertips and forensics was able to get some solid prints, the FBIs Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) returned a match on the Virgins hands and those of the Christ figure-respectively, Esther Muniz (aka Esther Munroe, Esther Martinez) twenty-eight years of age at the time of her disappearance, a resident of Providence, and Paul Jimenez, eighteen (aka Jim Paulson) from Boston and Virginia Beach.

Both were known prostitutes.

The fourth victim was also a prostitute, and after the FBI Forensic Science Unit released a photograph of the Virgins head-digitally altered and colored to make the victim appear as she might have been in life-authorities quickly confirmed an anonymous tip that the victims name was Karen Canfield (aka Karen Jones, Joanie Canfield)-originally from Dayton, Ohio-nineteen years old when she disappeared off the streets of Providence three years earlier. DNA testing matched her head to the breasts found on Steve Rogerss torso.

Of the two women, only Muniz had been reported missing by an abusive boyfriend who, shortly after his girlfriends disappearance, had died in a botched drug deal. In addition to being a prostitute and a convicted felon, Muniz was also on the books as a habitual drug offender, and had three children by as many fathers.

All of her children had been in foster care since the day they were born.

Canfield, aged fourteen at the time she ran away from Dayton, was last seen by her alcoholic mother five years before her disappearance. Canfields mother told the FBI that she had no idea her daughter was even missing-and from what Markham could gather, most likely would not have lost any sleep even if she had. As was the case with the movements of Paul Jimenez in Boston, the details of Karen Canfields life in Providence were at this point still sketchy-the sad but typical nowhere story of a runaway-turned-underage-stripper-turned-crackhead-turned-prostitute-and a weeks worth of investigation had turned up enough for Markham to see the Dead End sign at the end of that street. Indeed, the handful of Canfields former acquaintances with whom the FBI had so far spoken claimed that she had often talked about getting clean and going to live with an aunt in North Carolina; and thus, when she stopped appearing on the streets of South Providence, they had just assumed that their friend had moved on-never even thought to report her missing.

The one bright spot in the tragedy that had been Karen Canfields life was that her estranged mother requested her daughters head and breasts be sent back to Dayton when the FBI was through with them.

Paul Jimenezs family, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with him; and thus, the FBI would hang on to his body and Esther Munizs hands indefinitely.

Markham quickly scanned his e-mails, promising himself he would get to them upon his return from Boston-after the teleconference with Quantico, in which he and Burrells team would once again be briefed on the ongoing forensic and coroners reports, as well as the joint investigations that had begun into the lives of the latest victims. Yet Markham could not ignore the nagging feeling that it was all a waste of time; he could not ignore that little voice in the back of his head that told him The Sculptor was too smart to allow himself to be caught that way-that is, by allowing himself to be traced to his material. Indeed, it seemed to Markham that The Sculptor had thought of everything: from the phony license plates and the fake satellite dish on his Eye-Team van, to the way he left absolutely no trace evidence in the material he used for his sculptures-other than that of which he was obviously consciously aware.

But there must be something hes overlooked, Markham thought. Something that perhaps goes all the way back to the murder of Gabriel Banford, or to the theft of the Piet`a at St. Barts; something that The Sculptor had done when his plan was not yet fully formed-or perhaps something from the period when he was still experimenting.

Yes, Markham felt instinctively that The Sculptors latest exhibit had somehow gotten him off course-that hed had enough information to catch The Michelangelo Killer from the beginning.

Slumbering in the Stone, Markham said to himself. It was Cathy who led me to the exhibition of The Sculptors Piet`a-her book that got me so close I could have spit on him that night. Perhaps everything I need to catch him is right there.

Suddenly Markham understood that he did not need to hear anything more from Quantico. He already knew that the preliminary coroners reports would show that Steve Rogers and Paul Jimenez had died from an overdose of epinephrine, and that the glossy white Starfire paint which had covered The Sculptors Piet`a would show traces of finely ground Carrara marble-marble that undoubtedly had been pulverized from the stolen Piet`a at St. Barts. Perhaps something might be learned from the heavy starched canvas The Sculptor had used for the Virgins robes, or the rock of Golgotha.

But still

Slumbering in the Stone, Markham said to himself. The key has to be in Slumbering in the Stone.

Markham checked the time in the corner of his computer screen-would have to leave soon if he was going to make the meeting in Boston. He was torn; he felt like he needed to stay in Providence-just knew that the answer to catching The Michelangelo Killer was right there on his desk, right there in the book in his briefcase. But Markham also knew he needed Cathy; and Christ was he tired-couldnt think straight. He had slept for only a couple of hours in his office between working on his computer and reading over and over again the printouts from Boston and Quantico. He had spoken to Cathy before drifting off-had whispered her to sleep with I miss you and Ill see you tomorrow instead of the three words he had really wanted to say-those three words he had not said to another woman since the death of his Michelle. They had slept together in the same bed only once in the two weeks since they first made love at Cathys East Side condo, stealing kisses and passionate exchanges here and there when the coast was clear at the safe house. If Bill Burrell and his team knew about his affair with Cathy Hildebrant, if they thought it improper, they werent saying. And to be honest, Sam Markham didnt give a shit if the whole fucking Federal Bureau of Investigation knew. No, in the two weeks since he first began to admit to himself his love for Cathy Hildebrant, Markham began to feel more and more that he was working not for them, but for her.

The only e-mail Sam Markham chose to open that morning was from Rachel Sullivan. He responded with a short Yes to her question as to whether or not he wanted to donate to the fund she was organizing for the slain officers families. She was a good egg, that Sullivan, and a damn fine agent-would soon be a SAC herself, Markham thought; she was doing a bang-up job of scraping the shit from the toilet bowl that was South Providence. No doubt she would be giving a presentation today on her missing persons report-had already informed Markham that, after weeding through the databases, she was presently working with a list of at least eight names of prostitutes who were known to have disappeared from the Rhode Island area in the last six years, and whose circumstances might tie them to The Michelangelo Killer.

Eight, Markham had said to himself. How many are The Sculptors? And how many others went unreported?

Markham felt his stomach knot at the thought of The Michelangelo Killer going shopping for material on the streets of South Providence like it was Wal-Mart. But a smart place to buy, Markham thought-a typical hunting ground for serial killers because so many of their victims go unnoticed. But whereas Markham knew that most serial killers hunted out of the need to satisfy some kind of selfish sexual or psychological urge, he also knew that The Sculptor only hunted out of a need for supplies.

Put me down for 500, Markham added in his e-mail, and then shut down his computer.

Five hundred dollars, he said to himself. Two hundred and fifty each for their lives. Pathetic.

At that moment, Markham would have given his whole salary to the policemens widows. But at the same time he understood that anything more than his five hundred dollars would make him and the FBI look guilty. He had attended the double funeral that week-actually wept when he saw the slain policemens children place their flowers on their fathers caskets. In hindsight, it had been foolish for the FBI to put out an APB-foolish to unleash the cunning Sculptor on a couple of unsuspecting locals.

But then again, two weeks ago, how could the FBI have known what they were really dealing with?

A killing machine, Markham thought. Built like the fucking Terminator, and who wont stop until he finds his man.

Yes, as vivid as were those teenage memories of Arnold Schwarzenegger blasting his way through the streets of LA in pursuit of Sarah Connor, Special Agent Sam Markham could see so clearly the man for whom The Sculptor would be searching next-a dark and grainy movie in his mind, in which a ski-masked Terminator chased a marble white statue through the streets of downtown Providence.

A movie starring Michelangelos David.

Chapter 35 | The Sculptor | Chapter 37