The Medical Murder Mystery Ch. 03

The chronological order of my stories is as follows:

Todd & Melina series, Interludes 1-5, Sperm Wars series, Russian Roulette series, Case of the Murdered Lovers series, Case of the Murdered Chessplayer series, The Swap series, Interludes 6-10, The Murdered Football Player Series, Case of the Black Widow series, Teresa's Christmas Story, The Case of the Black Badge series, A Case of Revenge series, Teresa's Summer Race, The Trilogy series, Dark Side Of The Force series, Caught In The Act series, Case of the Murdered Bride series, The Credit Card Caper series, The Hot Wives Investment Club series, Seriously Inconvenienced series, Case of the Paper Trail series, Christmas Mystery Theater, The Porno Set Mystery series.

The Medical Murder Mystery, Ch. 1-3.

Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.

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Part 11 – Obstacles

4:00pm, Tuesday, January 6th. I strode into Interrogation-1, where Darla Clifford was sitting with her lawyer, H.J. Lynch of the firm Chase, Lynch & Berry, P.C. John Clifford had come to the Station, but was informed that he could not act as legal representation for his wife, as he was also a suspect in the Searles case. I advised him to retain his own legal representation, and quickly.

Also in the room was Detective Martin Nash and Detective Diana Torres. Lt. Ross and Lt. Perlman were watching from the anteroom, as was Paulina Patterson. Sitting in Interrogation-2, waiting for a lawyer, was Darla's lover. His name was "Dr." Paul Wicker.

"It's unbelievable." said the lawyer Lynch as he sat next to Darla. "How in the world do you expect that we will accept this abuse of this prisoner? Arresting her on evading police charges is a joke enough, but suspicion of murder? I am going to tear you a new one in the hearing, Commander. You're really starting to piss me off now."

"Best news I've heard all day, Counselor." I said flatly. "The more pissed off you are, the better my case obvious is, despite your bluffs. But there has been no abuse of this accused person, Counselor, and if you say it again, I'll go to the judge and have you removed from any association with this case. What's it going to be, Lynch?"

"You think this is a fucking bluff?" roared Lynch, leaning over the table at me. "I mean it, Troy, I am going to fucking barbecue your ass in Court, and then I'm going to be making police abuse complaints to the Town & County Council. Then I'm going to sue the hell out of the County over this if they don't fire your sorry ass-"

"And if you lose, will you accept disbarment?" I asked. "Because that's where I'm headed with you, Lynch. Keep up your threats and I'll have you before the Bar so fast it'll make your head swim. Now are you prepared to apologize for your claim of abuse, represent your client, who has some serious felony charges facing her, or do you want to go cry about it to the Council?"

The air grew thick and heavy as I stared at the lawyer. The silence was deafening, and I kept it, not continuing. Finally I said "I asked a question, Counselor… are you prepared to apologize for your false claim of abuse, then represent your client in a professional manner, or are you going to leave and pursue a complaint against me with the Council? I've got all day and night to sit here and wait for you to answer."

"I want to speak to my client alone." said Lynch.

"No. Not until you answer my question." I said. "No more legal shenanigans, Lynch: are you going to apologize for your slander, then represent this client, or are you going to go right now and file a complaint against me with the Council? Whose bluffing now, Lynch?"

At that moment, ADA Paulina Patterson came into the room. "I've already called the judge with a complaint against you, Lynch. He wants to know your basis for your claim that the Police Department has abused this suspect. Until you prove it, you're off this case and no longer able to represent this suspect."

"Don't say a word to them." Lynch said to Darla. "Request new legal counsel." The lawyer then got up and left.

"I want new legal counsel, and I will not answer any questions without a lawyer present." said Darla Clifford. I afforded her a telephone to call for new counsel, then had her taken back to her cell until that counsel arrived.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Okay, Dr. Paul Wicker." I said as I entered Interrogation-2 with Martin Nash, Sgt. Rudistan in the room also. Wicker's lawyer from Chase, Lynch & Berry was seated beside him. She was a tall, dark-haired woman, and had a bitchy attitude. Paulina was watching this one from the anteroom, as well.

"I have advised my client to answer none of your questions." she said. "With what is he being charged?"

"Aiding and abetting a wanted person in evading the police, and lying to police." I said. "When he was asked where Darla Clifford went, he denied knowing her, he denied anyone had been in his office with him, and that was at the same moment two officers came in his front door while Mrs. Clifford was being arrested coming out his back door. He could not possibly have not known she was in the room with him, not to mention that our Crime Lab technicians executed a rape kit, and his semen was leaking out of her. I'm sure that was consentual sex, but it does sort of show they knew each other… and in the Biblical sense."

I leaned forward as I continued: "Also, I'll have to hear from him directly that he's taking the Fifth. And he might want to consider answering some questions before he does that. I'll also mention this: we're going to be looking into Dr. Wicker's prescription-writing practices. If we find the least thing wrong, we'll have both the Feds and State agencies all over him like white on rice. If he cooperates, we might just find it a waste of our time to crawl up his ass."

"Come on, Commander," said the woman, "these charges are nothing. What's he going to get, community service at worst?"

"And his medical license revoked." I said. "He won't be writing any more prescriptions of any kind… and I still have probable cause to investigate him to the limit of the power of the Federal and State Governments. But it's your call, Paul."

"Let me have a minute with him." said the woman. We left the room.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

By now, the lawyer for Darla Clifford had arrived, and we had jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. The new legal eagle was from the powerful law firm of Gresham & Mason, P.C. "This is going to be fun." I said to Paulina before entering Interrogation-1 again.

"Okay, Counselor, we've videotaped ourselves reading your client her rights. I understand that you have talked with her about her situation?" I said as I sat down on the other side of the table from them.

"Yes, Commander." said the lawyer. He was a big man, not necessarily fat but looking like he was once an offensive guard for an NFL team. His hair was gray-white, and very short, sort of like Detective Wes 'Coldiron' Masters of the Midtown Police Department. "I'm not going to get into a legal pissing contest with you like that idiot from that amateur firm. But I'm going to be asking for and expedited hearing and bail."

"Ankle monitor will be a necessity, and God help her if she tries to leave the County." I said, knowing that denying Darla Clifford bail would be a pipe dream, and so I was trying to get what I could. The lawyer whispered something to Darla, and she nodded.

"At this time, Mrs. Clifford," I said, "I will offer the opportunity for you to re-invoke at a future time if you wish to make a statement or answer questions now that will help us."

"We reject that offer." said the lawyer. "Mrs. Clifford has invoked and will answer no questions, as is her right."

"Very well." I said. "Do what you have to do." I had the uniformed officer return Darla to her holding cell, knowing this powerhouse, wily lawyer would have her out by midnight, hopefully with ankle monitoring.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"The receptionist Jill is ready to talk." said Cindy Ross as I came out of I-1 into the anteroom. "Her lawyer is from Succup & Payne, and cannot believe she's been held this long."

"She's cracking, though, isn't she?" I said. "Okay, bring her into Interrogation-1 when Darla and her lawyer leave."

"Amazing how much better that guy was than that fuckwad Lynch." Cindy said.

"I could not agree more." I said.

A few minutes later I was facing Jill the receptionist. Her lawyer, a thin woman with heavy, thick glasses that looked like the poster child for the National Organization for Women, was with her.

"Commander," the lawyer started, "do you really mean to press these silly charges against my client?"

"Well," I said in my folksiest manner, "I might be persuaded to forget about her lies this morning… if she'll tell the truth and the whole truth now. I already know what happened, and I'll know if even one syllable she makes is a lie."

The lawyer whispered to Jill, who said "But he's accused me of lying to police already. I'm not going to fall into that trap."

"Jill," I said, "you better think about this. I just said I would not press charges if you come correct with truthful answers to my questions, and I just said it on videotape; I can't take it back, no judge would ever accept that. But also remember that this is a murder case here, not jaywalking. Your year and a half at Nursing School, at great expense, will be for nothing because I'll make damn sure you never work as a nurse or in any medical capacity, ever. What's it going to be, Jill?"

Even the lawyer was surprised at Jill's reticence, and whispered to Jill to consider speaking. Finally, her face in pain from having to do it, Jill said "Okay, what do you want to know?"

"Yesterday, Monday," I said, "Darla Clifford kept her appointment with Dr. Searles. Did Darla leave angrily, leave quickly, leave abruptly?"

"She came out really fast." said Jill. "I can't say what her face looked like, it was kind of inscrutable, like she had some purpose. She walked out fast."

"Did Dr. Searles say anything on the way out, try to stop her?" I asked.

"She came to her office door and said 'Please, Darla, we really need to talk about this'." Jill said. "Darla just walked on out as if she had not heard anything."

"I see." I said. "And did Dr. Searles mention to you what the issue was?"

"No."

"Did you peek at Dr. Searles's notes?" I asked.

"I answered this question before, Officer: that file never made it back to the pile." said Jill, as if exasperated. "I did. not. see. it. As far as I know, Dr. Searles re-filed it herself."

"Had she done that in the past? Or was this a totally unusual event?"

"Unusual." Jill said. "Dr. Searles hated using the computer, but she knew she pretty much had to maintain the data digitally as a matter of law. She would always have me transfer the notes and information to the computers. But I'm telling you the truth, straight out: I never saw that file, and I assume Dr. Searles re-filed it herself."

"One more thing." I said. "Did Dr. Searles use the computer to do research on medical things in order to become more aware of problems?"

"I think she did that mostly at home." said Jill. "Once patients started coming in, it was non-stop until the last patient left."

"And her appointments were from 11:00am to 7:00pm or so?" I asked.

"Give or take." said Jill. "She'd be glad to come in earlier if a patient needed an earlier time, even as early as 8:00am. But most of her patients were the wealthy people in the County. They did not care to get out of bed that early, so Dr. Searles adapted, and usually had a later schedule."

"Did she have any early appointments today?" I asked.

"No sir." Jill said. "First one was at 10:30."

"Thank you, Jill." I said. "You're free to go, but you are still a material witness. Do not leave the County without notifying the Police Department. I am sure your lawyer here will explain why it would be a good idea to respect that."

With that, I got up, as did Martin Nash, and we left the room. I went and found Cindy. "Lt. Ross, have someone go pick up Dr. Caroline Muncey and bring her here, to Interrogation-A, or -B, whichever is empty. I'm not arresting her, but I want to talk to her…"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The lawyer for "Dr." Paul Wicker got tired of waiting for me. She had her client take the Fifth, which he did. She then hurried over to the Courthouse to get an expedited bail hearing… which Judge Folsom denied, saying he'd have his turn in due course. Meanwhile, Dr. Caroline Muncey had arrived.

"I don't understand why I have to come down here." Dr. Caroline Muncey said as she sat down in Interrogation-A. I was seated with Diana Torres on the other side, with Cindy watching from the anteroom, and Officer Lydia Green observing from the inside.

"Thank you for coming, all the same, Dr. Muncey." I said. "The main reason I asked you to come down was so that we could videotape this interview. That is for your protection."

"All right, what do you want to know?"

"Dr. Muncey, I need to know the full truth here… you were planning to start your own practice and leave Dr. Searles's group, weren't you? And maybe you still are, but my point is that you were a lot more definite than you let on earlier."

"That is true." said Dr. Muncey. "I didn't want to say it where the other doctors might get wind of it. I'm hoping to get my practice up and running, then take my patients' files with me. If the other people got wind of what I'm doing, they'd block me from taking the files, and I'd have to start from scratch."

"I see." I said. "But they seem to know you're thinking about it."

"I was careless with my words early on." Muncey said. "I spoke out loud just as an concept, nothing concrete. The next thing I know, Gloria Searles is calling me into her office and saying that I could leave if I wanted, but I could not take the patient files… and if I tried, she'd take legal action. But we all know that if I got those files out of there, they'd essentially be mine."

"So you were making copies? Taking data off the computers?" I asked.

"Oh yes, I was copying digital data for weeks." said Caroline Muncey.

"What kind of damage would it do to the group financially if you left?" I asked.

"It'd hurt… I'm about 30% of the patients. Guy Hartwell is 30%, and Yelena is 35%. Dembo is 5% at best. Technically, Gloria was 100%, as all patients came to us as a referral from her, so I'm talking about the others."

"I understand." I said. "So let me ask this: was any doctor underperforming, or performing in a way that could bring a malpractice suit?"

Caroline paused, then said "This is going to be speculation, you understand. I have no proof, just hearsay." I nodded and Caroline then said "I think Dr. Dembo was flaky. He's from Europe, and a lot of the female patients were not comfortable with him. I'm not sure if he was coming on to them, but he rarely got repeat business. I think Gloria really wanted to get him out of the group."

"Could she have done that? Could you as a group get rid of Dembo?"

"Oh yes." Caroline said. "And it would't be all that difficult."

"Is Dembo the reason you wanted to leave?" I asked.

"Part of it." Caroline said. "I also was having trouble getting patients from other sources. If they came in, they were accosted to see Gloria first, which they did not want or need to do. I also was going to be on full-time staff with the University Hospital, which your wife helped me to get."

"And where were you last night?" I asked. "All night."

"I was… not alone." said Carolyn, then after a pause accented with my expectant look at her, she said "I was with Zoe Singer."

"You're dating her?" I asked, surprised.

"We hooked up last Friday night, and she's stayed over for the last several days.." Caroline said. "Just a hot encounter that's lasted several days."

"Okay, thank you for your time." I said. "You're free to go, but please don't leave the County without notifying the Police Department. Our officers will give you a ride back home."

After she left, I said "Damn. So much for the impartiality of the Fire Marshal in all of this."

"Good thing the Sheriff himself was also there." Cindy said as we walked down the hall to my office. "So, anything else for tonight?"

"Naah." I said. "You can go. I know you've got a lot of work to do with your gym, since Melina's out on maternity leave, so to speak. If you need to take some time, just let me know."

"Thanks." Cindy said, following me into my office. "By the way, any ideas on this case? I thought for sure Darla Clifford was involved, but you just established some possibilities with the other doctors."

"True." I said. "I'm waiting for all the phone records, which Myron will have for me tomorrow. I'm hoping to establish some patterns of communications. I also have Myron checking this Paul Wicker's numbers to see if any burner phones can be traced back to someone associated with Gloria Searles."

Just then, I got a text. "Laura is telling me to come see her at Melina's. Want to go with me?"

"Sure, I'd love to see the new baby." said Cindy. I texted Laura that Cindy and I were on our way.

Part 12 – Realizations

"Oh, he's so beautiful." said Cindy. "Thank goodness he looks just like his daddy." She was teasing Melina.

"Good job of kissing up to the new boss, there, Partner." I said as I took little Danny from Cindy. "But he is a good looking young man, almost as good looking as my boy."

"No bias there, I'm sure." Daniel said, grinning. "So, can we mention this case in front of everyone?"

"Sure." I said, seeing no reason why not as I handed the baby back to Cindy. "Though I don't know if Laura and Melina could stand the boredom."

"I'm curious." said Laura. Melina just nodded.

"Unfortunately, we don't have much yet. I'm still waiting for data." I said. "By the way, Daniel, Caroline Muncey claimed to be in bed with Zoe Singer last night… which puts a damper on Zoe's impartiality." I saw Daniel's face fall.

"Yeah, it sure does." he replied. "Good thing I was there, also. Damn, why didn't she tell us she was with Caroline Muncey?"

"I wouldn't be too upset about that." I said. "Zoe very likely did not realize Caroline's association with the case."

"I know we won't get any theories out of the Iron Crowbar." Daniel said. "But what about you, Cindy? By the way, call me Daniel in this family setting."

"Sure, Daniel, thanks." Cindy said. "First, let me say that I got Vice involved in the Paul Wicker and Lockhart situations. Christopher Purvis and Julie Newton are working on it, as well as their data people, Sonali and Lainie. They've contacted the IRS, State Tax Division, and the FDA, DEA, and State NTF. The NTF told us to pound sand, which doesn't exactly shock me. The FDA and DEA are playing it close to the vest, but the tax agencies are cooperating with us on data, provided that we keep them in the loop and we'll probably have to give them first shot at any busts if we find anything."

"Think there's a drug ring going on there?" Daniel asked.

"Possibly. I'm thinking more in the line of prescription drugs than the street stuff." Cindy replied. "We get a little thread like this, we pull on it and see what happens. Maybe we'll get a break and get to a larger ring."

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