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
Back at the station, Joe was at his desk going over his notes when Danny walked in. Detective Lieutenant Brad Hastings motioned for him and Danny to come into his office. Hastings was an eighteen-year veteran cop in his mid-forties, large frame, square-jawed, and a slight paunch to his belly. His moustache and sideburns were already gray.
The team of Saenz and Stein had earned the distinct reputation for being thorough and closing their cases. Hasting trusted their assessment and their ability to get the job done in an orderly fashion so they could hand it over to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution.
Shortly after Joe and Danny brought Hastings up to speed, they decided to return to the beachfront home. They wanted to study the scene again before the house was cleaned and returned to the owner. But for the moment, the doctor remained in the hospital.
Like a writer editing and rewriting a script, both detectives believed in reviewing the crime scene numerous times in hopes it would help provide sufficient evidence ensuring a successfully closed case.
Once arriving at the house, the two detectives walked into the bloody bedroom. The first thing Danny decided to study was the walls near and around the couple’s king-size bed.
“What’re we looking for, pardner?” Joe asked.
“Anything the field evidence team might’ve missed. But more specifically, I want to take a look at this wall,” Danny replied, studying the dark brown paint.
“Hell, I don’t see anything but a dark wall,” Joe replied.
“Yeah, that’s all I see, too. But I want to take a closer look. How about handing me the photographs the techs took.”
Thanks to the technology of digital cameras, photographs became available to investigators as soon as the memory chip from the camera was downloaded into a computer and printed onto glossy photographic paper now available at any office supply store.
Stein handed over the manila folder carrying twenty photographs of the house interior. Danny shuffled through the pictures looking for the ones of Harriet’s body on the bed and of the headboard. Just some of the wall above the headboard could be seen. No picture of the entire wall had been taken.
“Are these all we have?” he asked.
“Yeah, that’s it.”
Danny looked at the photos of the headboard next to the wall and then turned his attention directly to the wall. He got closer lightly dragging his left hand from point to point.
“I don’t see any photo evidence of blood specks on the wall above the headboard; yet, I can see some right here,” Danny said, pointing to specs that appeared to be very faint blood spatters.
“I can see how they might’ve been missed. Hell, I didn’t see them until just now when you pointed it out,” Joe said.
“That’s why they call us detectives. We’re supposed to see stuff no one else does,” Danny said with a sarcastic chortle following the faint bloodstains up the wall. They appeared to stop about halfway up.
“You have to look very close, but you can see a line of spatters. But they fade out just about right here. You really need a magnifying glass to see this stuff.”
“Like Sherlock Holmes, huh?”
“No, I’m serious, Joe. This is significant.”
“Well, if we can tell where the perp was standing when he beat Mrs. Dobbins, we might be able to determine the type of weapon the perp used. I’m sure these spots on the wall are blood.”
“You think maybe the perp used a golf club?” Stein suggested.
“Possibly. Why don’t you look around to see if Dobbins has a set of clubs around here somewhere?”
“Probably does. Don’t all doctors play golf on Wednesday afternoons at the country club?” Joe quipped with a chuckle. Danny remained silent still looking at the specs on the wall.