When Bethany Crutchfield failed to show for Sunday brunch, and her father’s phone calls remained unanswered, it became apparent that his concern was justified regarding her welfare. Police officers from “America’s Safest City,” Irvine, California, discovered a gruesome homicide scene which established Bethany as the first in a series of murders that would ultimately span over two decades.
Lincoln 9 takes place in a city whose reputation for safety and affluence overshadows the fact that the relatively few homicides are among the most vicious and complex cases of human brutality. This is a story of three such cases, combined into a fictional plot and characters, but based upon actual crimes and police officers who risked their lives to bring justice to the perpetrators of these heinous acts of violence.
The story follows the career of Lieutenant Scott Hunter, the consummate cop who ultimately leads a team of detectives in connecting the clues toward solving these murders. His talents not only instilled confidence in the members of his elite unit, but drew the attention of an attractive co-worker remarkably matched in interest and intellect.
The ground level apartment was dark, with the shades drawn, porch light on, and there was no response to the doorbell, heavy knock, or the usual police announcements. MacNeal and Nemeth walked to the rear, and found the elevated window ajar only an inch, but enough to slide it to the left, fully open. Not wide enough for Nemeth, whose fondness for bagels left the girth of his frame capable of reaching only the window’s edge and his Sam Browne gun belt blocked further access.
MacNeal, on the other hand, epitomized compactness, but would need a boost to reach the bottom of the sill. With a quick lift from Nemeth, MacNeal’s upper body disappeared through the drawn curtains, and within a moment stood in the darkened master bedroom straining for night vision. Scanning for threats, MacNeal’s head snapped right, catching a nude feminine silhouette lying on her back on the queen sized-bed, toes canted outward 45 degrees, and separated the width of a yardstick. Her head was propped with a pillow, and wrapped with a water soaked bath towel, covering all facial features.
MacNeal sprinted to the front door, threw the deadbolt, and darted back to the bedroom yelling “927” to his partner, signaling “unknown trouble, or possible dead body.” He threw the light switch up, taking a mental note to remind detectives that the switch was off upon his initial entry into the room. Nemeth lumbered across the threshold, hearing MacNeal’s tone change from urgency to resignation, with his pronouncement of “927-D,” indicating a dead body. Nemeth found MacNeal leaning over the bed, holding the now unraveled towel in his left hand, revealing the battered face, fixed eyes gazing at the ceiling, and matted blonde hair cascading to the shoulders.
Nemeth glanced at the pooling blood, marking the bottom side of her extremities and commented, “Post mortem lividity.” MacNeal retorted, “Don’t need lividity to show she’s dead, man. Check out the strangle marks around her neck, and the trauma to her skull.” Nemeth knelt down to peer at the small, framed photo on the nightstand, depicting the victim with a brunette of equal beauty clothed in bridesmaid’s attire. “She was a looker, Jim,” Nemeth said flatly as MacNeal keyed his pack-set radio calling for a supervisor. Quickly surveying the scene for evidence, the officers thought the apartment’s rooms displayed troves of clues, but detectives would ultimately determine what was relevant. For the moment, however, MacNeal and Nemeth’s job was to lock down the scene and canvass neighbors.
About the Author
Dave Freedland is a 34-year decorated law enforcement professional having served with the Irvine Police, and the Orange County (California) Sheriff’s Departments. Following a competitive athletic career culminating with the award of “UCLA’s Most Valuable Gymnast,” he graduated first in his Sheriff’s academy class. While serving with the Irvine Police Department he worked in a variety of assignments including Detectives, Patrol, Training, Internal Affairs, SWAT, and retired at the rank of Deputy Chief. As a SWAT team leader, he supervised operations for numerous barricade and hostage incidents, and was the recipient of several awards including “Police Officer of the Year”and the “Meritorious Service Award.” As a SWAT commander he was recognized for his contributions in the establishment of the country’s first county-level counter-terrorist unit incorporating SWAT, bomb disposal, and hazardous materials disciplines. He currently trains and teaches martial arts in Orange County, having attained a 5th degree black belt in Japanese Shotokan karate.