Forgotten in Death (In Death #53) by J. D. Robb

“We looked the other way there,” Urly added. “She was harmless. She’d make little flowers or paper animals out of litter, pass them out to anyone who gave her some change, you know?”

“Got a name?”

“No, sir. She used the Chelsea Shelter mostly in the winter or bad weather. Or flopped in one of the condemned buildings here like a lot of them. She didn’t hustle or hassle, but she kept a little book, and wrote people up for rule violations.”

“What kind of violations?” Eve asked as she got out her Identi-pad.

“Jaywalking, littering—she was fierce about littering—shoplifting, trespassing, not picking up your dog’s poop.” Urly shrugged. “She’d write down a kind of description of the violator, the violation, the time and place. She’d hunt up a cop and read off the page. Ask us to make a copy.”

“Mostly, we would, and we’d thank her, give her a couple bucks,” Getz added. “We all called her CC—for Concerned Citizen.”

“Spotty on the ID data, lot of blank spots. But she comes up as Alva Quirk, mixed race, age forty-six. No fixed address. No current employment. No family listed on her ID. We’ll do a run there.”

“Alva,” Urly repeated. “Lieutenant, if it turns out she doesn’t have family, the cops in the Tenth would take care of having her cremated. She was kind of a mascot.”

“I’ll make sure you’re notified. TOD, zero-one-twenty. COD, blunt and sharp head trauma. ME to confirm.”

Eve heard the clomping, recognized pink cowgirl boots. “Peabody,” she said without looking up. “Just in time. Everybody, seal up, and let’s get her out. I can get her up,” Eve said before Getz could climb in with her. “I can get her up and pass her to you.”

It was a process, and not a pleasant one, but Eve slid her arms along and under the plastic, got a grip.

Even deadweight, the victim couldn’t have been more than a hundred pounds.

Urly reached over, took some of that weight, then Getz and Peabody helped lift the legs.

They laid her, the sheet still wrapped around her lower body, on the ground in front of the dumpster.

Eve crouched down to check the multiple pockets of Alva’s faded gray baggies. “No book, no nothing.”

“She usually had a backpack, but she kept the book and a pencil in her pocket.”

“Not there now.” She looked back at the dumpster, thought: Fuck.

She looked up at her partner. It still took her an extra instant to adjust to the red tips and streaks in Peabody’s dark, now flippy hair. In fact, Eve thought she registered a few more of both streaks and flips.

“Peabody, Officer Getz is going to take you to the wit who found her. Get his statement. There has to be some security around this site—get copies of any discs or hunt up any security guards. And make sure whoever’s in charge knows this site is shut down until I say otherwise.”

“I got it.”

“Let’s open up the rest of this plastic.”

When she and Urly unwrapped the lower body, Eve saw the stub of a pencil in the ragged cuff of the baggies.

“Pencil stub, caught in the cuff of her pants,” she said for the record as she took out an evidence bag. “Dropped it when she got bashed and it got caught in there. Someone didn’t want to be in her book. I’m not going to find the book or her backpack in that dumpster. Gotta look, but the killer took all that. Missed the pencil, but this was a rush job.”

She sat back on her heels a moment, because she could see it. “Murder weapon may be in there, but smarter, if they were going to leave it, to wrap it up with her. We’re going to find the kill site. Cleaned up some of the blood, but it was dark—even with the security lights, you wouldn’t get it all. And he was sloppy, didn’t wrap her nice and tight, so she started coming out of the sheeting, dripped some blood.

“Maybe she was flopping here for the night. They’ve got the buildings locked up, fenced off while they’re doing what they do, but it’s familiar here, so she comes here for the night. Nice night, who wants to be ass to elbow in a shelter on a nice night? Hears something, sees something. Can’t have that, gotta write that down for my police friends.”

“Oh crap, Lieutenant, that sounds right.”

“Illegals deal, rape, mugging—it’s not going to be littering or dog shit. He could take the book, but what’s to stop her from telling somebody? Only one way to fix that. Where did he get the crowbar? Because that’s what it’s going to be.”