OFFICE OF THE MEDICAL EXAMINER
Seaside County, N.J.
Forensic Pathology Summary
Body No. 244: Talbot, Anne Marie
Body is clothed in a green, acetate-rayon dress which has been scorched, melted and destroyed along the tops of both shoulders. Burns are visibly consistent with position of body to portable charcoal burner and fire damage at scene.
A hand-lens examination of the burned fabric reveals loose fragments of victim’s carbonized tissue. Body is wearing no undergarments, stockings, or shoes.
I glance up at Franny. “Talbot didn’t strike me as the kind of woman who dressed commando.”
“Maybe you raped her and kept her panties as a souvenir,” Franny says.
So much for playing Sherlock. Back to my perusal.
I think Franny’s mad she didn’t get to award me her previously offered carrot.
Body is that of an adult female Caucasoid, sixty-five and one-half inches in length, one-hundred twenty-nine pounds in weight. Outward appearance consistent with stated age of thirty-four years. Hair and eye-color are indeterminable due to carbonization and/or destruction of all indicative facial and cranial tissues. Portions of the left sphenoid bone, left eye orbit, the left zygomatic bone and arch, as well as the left portions of the maxilla and manible are exposed and burned.
Visible contusions on victim’s neck suggest manual strangulation prior to burning, although condition of surviving tissue prevents observation of typical asphyxia results, i.e., broken facial capillaries and/or cranial hemorrhaging.
Examination of oral cavity reveals absence of all teeth and indications of prior elective removal. Matches dental records of stated victim.
Visible carbonization and destruction of tissue on thumbs and fingers. Suggests effort to prevent or delay identification.
Back and buttocks unremarkable.
There are no tattoos or significant scars.
Rigor mortis is firmly established. Lividity is prominent and consistent with position of body at scene.
The internal examination tells me more than any normal person would want to know about liver weight and stomach contents, but a couple of phrases catch my eye. One, the doc’s exam of the respiratory system “strongly indicates manual strangulation as cause of death,” and two, all of Anne Marie’s burns were “administered post-mortem.”
Choke dead, then burn. Kinda like kicking a dead horse. Suggests a lot of anger to me.
“What I find interesting is that the woman may not be Anne Marie Talbot at all,” Zimmer says. “You don’t even know the victim’s eye color.”
Guess Mr. Z was reading over my shoulder.
“The DNA results are due tomorrow,” Franny says.
Mr. Z shoots up from his chair, nods for me to stand beside him. “Then call us when your intuition becomes reality. Mr. Carr is done with your questioning for today. And he will no longer accept protective custody.”
“The body is Anne Marie Talbot,” Franny says. Without getting up, she points her right forefinger at me. “And if he didn’t kill her, he knows who did.”
Mr. Z glares at her. “The truth is, Ms. Chapman, you are angry with my client over his testimony before the Grand Jury this morning. That anger caused you to falsely imprison Mr. Carr for several hours today. At present, I am only considering charges, but I can assure you there will be serious legal consequences if this department continues using emotion to guide its actions.”
Franny doesn’t blink. “Are you curious what I think is interesting about this forensic summary?”
Zimmer clutches my arm. We show Franny our backs as he reaches for the doorknob. Mr. Z’s manicured fingernails are as perfect as clear plastic.
“Only two reasons I know to have your teeth surgically removed,” Franny says. “Singers sometimes do it for the sound, to change their tone or timbre. Prostitutes do it to give better blow-jobs.”
I try to stop--gee, that’s interesting about the teeth--but Zimmer pushes me through the open doorway. My right heel skids a few inches in protest.
“I think you found something in Talbot’s past and tried to blackmail her into changing that report,” Franny says. She finally pushes herself up from the walnut table. “When Talbot wouldn’t cooperate, wouldn’t let Shore off the hook, you killed her.”
Over his shoulder, Mr. Z says, “You should be in Hollywood writing screenplays.”
Franny peeks into the hallway as we’re walking away, but Zimmer’s hand is still on my elbow. Two uniformed cops strut side-by-side toward us down the otherwise empty passage. A window behind them casts moving, undefined shadows between us. Their shoes click ominously on the marble floor.
“You’re going to jail very soon, Carr,” Franny says. She brushes a thick strand of blonde hair behind her ear. “Murder. Conspiracy. At the very least, perjury and lying to a state prosecutor.”
“Good day, Ms. Chapman,” Mr. Z says.
“And maybe that A.A.S.D. report on Shore should be part of my court filings on Bluefish this afternoon.”
I don’t understand her threat until Mr. Z explains on the courthouse steps. If Franny includes Talbot’s preliminary A.A.S.D. report in the complaint against Bluefish, Talbot’s co-mingling charges against Shore will be public record. Accessible to the newspapers.
If the reporters dig it up--and it sounds like Franny will make sure they do--the headlines alone are going to bury us.
My shares in Shore Securities won’t be worth the price of a first-class stamp. Only scholarships will put my kids through college.
I’ll be back living in a freakin’ camper.
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