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Chapter 7

The motto on the side of the new Westerly Police cruisers read, PRIDE, INTEGRITY, AND COMMITMENT-to which the police chief always added in his mind, Tight-lipped. Indeed, if there was one quality the citizens of Watch Hill appreciated in their chief, it was that he knew how to keep his men quiet. And as the secluded seaside community had long been a vacation retreat for the rich and famous, there had always been an unwritten rule in the department that officers should turn on their cruiser lights and sirens only when absolutely necessary. Over the years, the Westerly Police had even developed a sort of informal code in order to avoid the attention of local reporters, who were constantly monitoring the police bands with the hopes of catching a juicy story.

Yet following the disappearance of Tommy Campbell-the juiciest story to hit Watch Hill in decades-unbeknown to the police chief, one of his officers had jumped on the take-five hundred dollars cash, no questions asked, to be paid upon delivery of any credible, first dibs info relating to the wide receivers whereabouts. Thus, when rookie WNRI Channel 9 Eye-Team Investigator Meghan ONeills cell phone rang with a tip that Tommy Campbells body had been found down at Watch Hill, the ambitious young reporter knew that her money had been well spent.

And so it was that, as Cathy Hildebrant concluded her examination of The Sculptors Bacchus, ONeill and the Channel 9 Mobile News Room pulled up outside of Earl Dodds wall of high hedges. The stretch of Ocean View Highway in front of the mansion looked to be deserted, and for a moment the Eye-Teams star investigator thought she had been duped. However, when she caught sight of the two Rhode Island state troopers standing guard beyond the iron gate, when she glimpsed the line of unmarked FBI vehicles that snaked up the driveway, Meghan ONeill called in the confirmation to Channel 9 herself.

Yes, that up-and-coming anchor slot was as good as hers.

And although the Westerly Police Chief would never have believed it, although only a handful of his men had known what really was going on in the wealthy investment bankers topiary garden before the state police arrived, as soon as the two troopers saw the pretty redhead scramble out of the van, they knew a local boy had rolled.

Ill call it in, said one of the officers. You go tell Burrell. And in a flash his partner was off across the lawn as the other radioed for backup.

I want to be live in thirty seconds, said ONeill, straightening her blouse and taking the microphone. Well start here on the sidewalk, and then you follow me to the front gate. With only a year on the Rhode Island beat under her belt, Meghan ONeill learned early on that it was best to get the cameras rolling as soon as possible-that people behaved better when they knew they were being recorded.

And judging from the look on the troopers face at the end of Dodds driveway, her two-man crew needed to get things moving fast.

Theyre ready for us back at the station, called the driver from the van, and the cameraman began Meghan ONeills countdown.

Breaking news in ten, nine, eight

Taking her cue, ONeill positioned herself by one of the stone pillars that flanked the entrance to Dodds property-her cool exterior betraying none of the nervousness, the excitement raging within her.

Five, four, three

The audio cut into her earpiece right on time with the cameramans silent one count-audio that ONeill had been waiting to hear ever since she landed the Eye-Team gig fresh out of college:

-have some very big breaking news. Channel 9 has just learned that Tommy Campbell, the missing wide receiver for the Boston Rebels, has been found dead about a mile from where he disappeared back in January. Lets bring in our Eye-Team Investigator Meghan ONeill, who is first on the scene, first to break what sounds like a tragic turn of events in this shocking case. Whats happening down there, Meghan?

Good afternoon, Karen. Im here outside the estate of wealthy Watch Hill resident Earl Dodd. Although we have yet to receive official confirmation from the authorities or from Campbells representative, anonymous sources close to the investigation told us that early this morning two bodies were discovered somewhere on the grounds behind me, and that one of these bodies has been identified by relatives as the missing Boston Rebels wide receiver, Tommy Campbell.

Im sorry, but you said two bodies, Meghan?

Thats right, Karen, said ONeill, making her move to the front gate. All we know right now is that another body was found with Campbell s, but who this person is, if in fact his or her identity is known at this point, our sources could not tell us. Im not sure if you can see behind me, Karen, but it looks like both federal and local authorities have been on the scene for quite some time now. Keep in mind that information is pretty scarce at present, and given that there has been no official statement made as of yet, we havent been able to confirm whether or not the authorities believe foul play was involved.

But this certainly is some incredible news, Meghan. Have your sources told you anything about the circumstances surrounding the discovery? Where or how the bodies were found? Perhaps how the victims died and what connection they have to this-you said his name was Dodd?

Thats right, Karen. Earl Dodd, a wealthy investment banker whose family has lived in the area for generations. Our sources were unable to confirm such details as of yet, including whether or not Dodd is somehow connected to Campbell s disappearance or the discovery of his body. But here we have a Rhode Island state trooper whos been standing guard by Dodds front gate. Officer, is it true that a pair of bodies has been found on the grounds inside, and that one of these bodies has been identified as the missing Rebel wide receiver, Tommy Campbell?

Before the trooper could fumble over a reply, a voice from behind him answered on his behalf.

The FBI will make a statement later this afternoon, said Special Agent Rachel Sullivan. Well keep you updated as to when its time for a press conference.

A pair of FBI agents hung a blue tarp across the front gate.

Well there you have it, Karen, said ONeill, unfazed. Investigators are still being pretty tight-lipped about whats happening. Im sure our viewers are aware of the kind of worldwide attention this case has gotten ever since the wide receiver disappeared before the Super Bowl back in January. We have known for some time that, given Campbell s notoriety and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, the FBI has been handling this case from the beginning. And now, Karen, judging from what our sources have told us and the number of federal agents on the scene, I think its safe to say that this case has taken a turn for the worse down here in the sleepy seaside community of Watch Hill.

I think wed all tend to agree with you, Meghan. And certainly, if what youre saying is true, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Campbell family. Hats off to you and the Channel 9 Eye-Team for being the first to break this incredible story. Youll keep us updated as things progress?

Thank you, Karen. And yes, our Channel 9 Mobile News Room will remain here on the scene to bring you the news first as it breaks. Back to you for now, Karen.

Thank you, Meghan. Well there you have it, folks. Meghan ONeill, first with what is sizing up to be perhaps the biggest story of the year. Keep it tuned to Channel 9 for all the latest news on what appears to be a tragic turn of events in one of the most bizarre cases in recent memory. Once again, for those of you just joining us-

The audio in Meghan ONeills earpiece cut out just as what looked like the entire Westerly Police force-lights flashing, sirens wailing-rounded the corner.

Youre going to have to clear away from that gate, maam, said the chief of police, emerging from his car. And get this van the hell out of here.

And while Westerlys finest proceeded to cordon off the street outside of the Dodd estate, little did the chief of police know that-even as Meghan ONeill and her crew set about removing their equipment-the producers at WNRI Channel 9 and about a half dozen other New England stations were already mobilizing their news choppers.

No, there would be no way to keep things quiet now.

Chapter 6 | The Sculptor | Chapter 8