Authors note: This is a work of fiction. It does not reflect any actual events, and all of the characters are fictional. Any similarity to events or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
There is a real city of Oceanside, California. It’s San Diego County’s third largest city with a below-average crime rate.
The Grand Pacific Hotel is fictional, but during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there were at least two similar resort hotels that did exist, primarily serving railroad passengers and tourists as described in this book.
— Tom Morrow
Friday morning arrived and the two homicide detectives were laying out the groundwork for Professor David Cho in the conference room adjacent to the squad room. The first item on the agenda was to present what evidence they had collected at the scene including the gruesome photos of Mrs. Dobbins’ body and the autopsy report. Next, they would take the professor over to the house and show him the crime scene.
After he performed his magic, they would return to the station and go over his analysis. Even though they felt Dr. Dobbins was their number one suspect, they would withhold their candor and let the professor ascertain whom he felt might have committed the crime.
Around ten o’clock, a rather short man with round face walked into the squad room. His facial characteristics depicted him being that of Chinese descent. But his voice was nothing more than perfect English with no Asian accent. He looked around the room and spoke to no one in particular.
“I’m looking to meet with Detective Danny Sanzee, please.”
“Hey Sanzee. Your soothsayer is here,” one of the uniformed officers hollered. Danny, who was on the opposite side of the room and had his back to the door, quickly turned around and hustled over to meet the professor. He greeted him with a handshake and an open smile. The professor returned the gesture.
“Professor Chow, so glad you could make it. I’m Detective Danny Saenz. It’s actually pronounced Signs.”
“And I’m Professor David Cho. It rhymes with Who.”
They both looked at each other and chuckled. Danny then walked him over to the other side of the room offering him a cup of coffee along the way. He accepted and they proceeded into the conference room where the professor met Detective Joe Steins. They had a few moments of idle chitchat and then got down to business.
For the next forty-five minutes, the detectives brought the professor up to speed. Afterwards, they took him out to the crime scene and pointed to the wall with the spatters. Professor Cho looked closely. He speculated the spots were blood but wouldn’t know for sure until he downloaded the information from his brand-new high-tech camera. It would not take long once he got back to the station.
After looking over the room for the best angle to shoot, he opened his large metal suitcase and began retrieving its contents. While doing so, he asked Danny some questions.
“Have you attempted to use Luminol and ultraviolet lighting on this wall yourselves?”
“Well, no, we haven’t. When we asked our tech guys about using it to determine the pattern, they decided not to because they discovered there was a possibility it might smear the spatters making it even more difficult to determine a pattern. They simply didn’t want to compromise an already tough situation. But yes, they still use Luminol in the field but in other types of situations where they feel more comfortable and not further compromising the scene.”
“Yes, that’s true. In some situations, Luminol can safely be used. But keep in mind that Luminol is toxic, and it can dilute blood samples to a level in which DNA cannot safely be recovered. Also, Luminol can react to substances like bleach, rust, fizzy colas, and coffee causing false readings especially when someone tries to clean up the mess using a chlorine base cleaner. But I’m sure your tech person already knows this.”
“Yes, I’m sure he does.”
“Have you had an occasion to use the Luminol before?” asked Cho. “Yeah, several years ago. As I recall, there wasn’t a problem and the suspected perp was convicted and sentenced to thirty. But beyond that, we haven’t used it. I do know other detectives have used it with success.”
“Luminol can be used safely and probably will be for the foreseeable future until this new camera technology takes hold and more readily available. In a sense, you guys lucked out. I had a slight break in my schedule allowing me the time to come here. Otherwise, it might’ve been a few months. But, your supervisor seemed to have a compelling case that caught my attention. That helped, too.”
“Well, we appreciate it. At the moment we’re between a rock and a hard place and time is of the essence. Another couple of months and we might loose the case for good. We really need to act now.”
“Most departments do, but I see your urgency.”
“So, what’s so special about this camera?”
“Well, the outer workings of it really aren’t that complicated to operate. Just aim and plunge an external cable to open the lens. But the guts of the camera are complicated, and I won’t try to explain that. I’ll just try to explain what it does.