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Cold Case

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The van was better than the trunk of her car at least, but Therese no longer had any feeling in her arms or legs.  It was good to no longer feel so much pain, but she knew that the longer her limbs remained numb, the more long-term damage was being done. At this point, fighting back would be near impossible.  Tommy had replaced the gag and the blindfold before lugging her body out to the new vehicle earlier that morning.  He had commented on her wet state and the smell, but he made no move to change her clothes.  Therese was initially grateful that he had refrained from drugging her again, though as she laid there lost in her thoughts, she started to reconsider that.  Right now the oblivion offered by the Rohypnol might actually be welcome.

For a while, Therese had tried to listen for clues and to pay attention for any sign of a location, but it was too difficult to keep up with any sense of direction from her prone position in the back.  A darkness was overcoming her mind and she felt herself wanting to give up. She was trying so hard to stay alert, to keep her wits about her, but the longer they drove, the further away she felt from safety, from home, from Carol.  The dark thoughts would enter her mind that no one would find her, and she would fight to push them out. 

Her mind wandered to all the dead women and the pictures flashed in her visual cortex of the crime scenes.  She tried to make it all make sense with what she now knew about Tommy.  She was right about the two unsubs, Harge and Tommy.  Carol had been right about one being dominant and one subordinate, but it didn’t quite fit with what she was seeing.  If Tommy wasn’t the killer, and if he was waiting for Harge, then surely he was the subordinate one. If Tommy was the rapist, why hadn’t the woman in Baltimore been raped?  That would mean that Harge had acted alone, but why? Had he planned that? Or maybe Tommy was setting Harge up? Therese also wondered why Tommy hadn’t attacked her yet. Why was he waiting for Harge to assault her? It all pointed back to the dominant/subordinate idea.

She was thinking in circles now.  Her brain needed more information.  She needed to hear them speak to one another, or to see some interaction.  Of course, the minute that the two of them were together meant that she would die.  One thing that was clear to Therese was that Tommy was getting increasingly frustrated the further they drove.  He was waiting for something and she assumed it was something from Harge.  Tommy said they were going to Iowa.  Why the hell were they going to Iowa?  What was there aside from corn fields? That didn’t make sense either.  All the other murders had been in big cities.  Were there any big cities in Iowa?  She tried to picture a map, but couldn’t. 

“We’ll stop soon.”  Tommy finally spoke for the first time in hours. She couldn’t respond, so she just laid there, feeling cold and numb, her mind circling back around to wanting oblivion.

 

<><><><><> 

 

Hargess Aird was calm and smiling as officers led him to the interrogation room, removing his handcuffs.  He said nothing, but looked around at the grey walls, metal table and chair, and the obvious two-way glass on the wall.  He was certain that Carol was behind the glass, so he stared her down as he took a seat at the table.  He couldn’t wait to face her, to torment her, so he was slightly taken aback when Special Agents Genevieve Cantrell and Jennifer Jareau entered the room, introduced themselves and laid out several file folders on the table.  Ridiculous to delay the inevitable, Carol, he thought to himself.  This was a waste of time. Women were so easy to manipulate.  There was no way they could connect him to any of this, of that he was certain.  This was all a game and he was smarter than both of these cunts.

“Mr. Aird,” Gen began politely as she sat in a chair directly across from him, “Did the police read you your rights? Do you know why you were brought in today?”

He smiled at both of them.  “Yes and I can’t say as I do, but I imagine my ex-wife has something to do with it.”

Gen and J.J. looked briefly at each other, but said nothing, before turning back to Harge.  “Why do you think that?” J.J. asked.  She smiled at him and batted her eyes. 

Is this bitch flirting with me? Harge thought for a moment before returning her smile.  “You know how exes can be.”

Gen opened a case file and slowly pulled out 5 photos, turning them so he could see.  “Do you recognize any of these women?”

He didn’t look down at the pictures, choosing instead to maintain eye contact. “Should I?”

The women waited silently, staring.  Several minutes passed before Harge’s impatience got the better of him and without looking down he slammed his hand down on one of the pictures. “That is Abby Gerhardt, she was friends with my wife.”

“Ex-wife.” J.J. corrected him and his jaw clenched.  He did not like being corrected by a woman, his body language made that clear.

“What about the others?” J.J. continued.

Again, he never lowered his eyes to look at the pictures.  “No,” he lied.  “I mean one of them isn’t even a face. How could I recognize someone based on pictures of a neck?”

“Well I think it would be easy to recognize your handy work on someone you know.” Gen let the corners of her mouth curl up slightly as awareness hit Harge.

“What did that old woman say?” He let out in an outburst.  “Florence is lying! Mother was there, she will tell you!”

The women waited for Harge to calm back down before continuing. “Thank you for confirming you recognize Florence Wesley and know about what happened to her.” J.J. said smoothly. 

Gen was laughing now.

“What’s so funny, bitch?” Harge snarled.

“I’m sorry, but did you just say your mommy was there?” She leaned forward to taunt him further.  “Do you still live with your mom? You’re what…40? I mean that’s pretty pathetic.”

His face was now a dark red color and his blood pressure increased.  “I moved back home temporarily after the divorce.  It allowed me to spend time with my daughter,” he growled.

“Oh yes, Rindy.” J.J. picked up where Gen left off in humiliating Harge.  “Tell me, why did you lose your parental rights again? Is there a reason you need help caring for her?  I mean…are you incapable of being a good father?”  She tilted her head and smiled at him again.

Harge leaned back in his chair, and crossed his arms.  He realized they were toying with him and he needed to stop responding. The women stopped laughing and the room got serious again. 

“Look, Mr. Aird, I’m not going to mince words with you.  We know you were involved in the death of Abigail Gerhardt, Renee’ Collins, Amy Young, Sandra Cuevas, and Amanda Robbins.  We also know that you were involved in the disappearance of Agent Therese Belivet.” Gen said as she pointed to different pictures on the table.

“Who?” He played dumb.

“Help us with the return of Agent Belivet and we can work out a deal.” J.J. offered.

“You know ladies, I am a master of the deal and right now, from what I see, you don’t have anything to offer…nothing I need.  If you had any evidence, I’d be in jail, not sitting here making small talk with you.” He turned his eyes over to Gen, “So why don’t you go get me a drink, coffee with two creams?” He smirked.

Gen understood he was trying to reassert himself as the dominant alpha male in the room.  He needs to feel powerful and we emasculated him all too easily. She stood and walked across the room towards the door. “I think all we have is hot cocoa, seems more appropriate anyway.”

J.J. stood, gathering all of the files, saving the photo of Abby for last.  Aaron Hotchner knocked and waited a couple of seconds before opening the door.  He could read the disappointment on Harge’s face; he was still waiting for Carol.

“J.J. we just got word that the warrants came through.” She nodded and looked back at Harge.  “Do you know what that means?” Harge didn’t respond.  “It means we now have the right to search your personal belongings, cell phone records, business records, and financial records.  This is your last chance to share any information willingly to help yourself.”

He looked past her to the mirror, still believing Carol was behind it.  “Fuck you.”

J.J. joined Gen and Hotch in the hall.  “Well that was fruitless.”

“On the contrary, he never actually professed his innocence.  An innocent man would have fought the allegations, declared that he didn’t do it.  He never even tried.  Now we just need to find the evidence to actually connect him to the murders.  In the meantime, we can still take him back to Virginia and arrest him for the assault, but we won’t be able to hold him once he’s processed.  He’ll make bail easily.”

Hotch pulled out his phone and called Garcia.  “Speak to me, oh fearless leader!”

“Garcia, I need you to do a deeper dive than you already have.  Focus on any and all records in the days leading up to Therese’s abduction.  Look for any texts, calls, or social media of any kind.  He is communicating with his partner somehow and we need to find it.”

“Yes sir!”  She hung up and went to work just as Carol returned and entered her office.

“Anything new?”

“Agents have been assigned to Florence’s apartment; warrants came through; and I’ve pulled up all the information you asked for.  I’m going back through everything and could use your help.  You would know better than me if something is odd.”

Carol sat down next to Garcia. “You are amazing, Penelope. Ok let’s start with the geographic profile.  Pull up his travel locations around the times of the murders on a map for me.”

Within seconds the information was on a screen in front of them.  “Do you see it?” carol asked. 

“See what? They don’t match….wait a minute.” Garcia’s mind started to catch up.  “It’s like he was next door!”

“Exactly.  The murder in New York, Harge was in New Jersey; the Philly murder he was in Atlantic City and so on.  If you pull up his rental car records, I’m betting the mileage will correspond with him driving to the actual murder location and back!”

“Carol Aird you are a freaking genius!” Penelope was giddy for about a second and a half before her face fell.  “How did we miss this?”

“He was far enough away to not make it obvious.” Carol explained.

“Ok, now it is my turn to wow.  I figured out he was paying for the rental cars on a business account and that got me thinking, what if he is using that account to pay for other things?  And I may have found something.  Is there a reason a real estate developer would need a private web server?” Garcia said in her super speedy way.

Carol shook her head. “I can’t think of one.”

“If I can break in to his server, I may be able to find how they’ve been communicating, but I’ll need a few minutes.  While I do that, can you look over all of these phone numbers?  Tell me what numbers you recognize and which you don’t.”

Carol was scrolling through a long list of numbers dialed out of Harge’s phone.  She had to look up a few, but most were either family, office, or travel related, but there was one that didn’t come up on her search.  “This number, Pen.  It doesn’t come up when I do a search and I don’t recognize it.”

“Probably to a burner phone, hold on.” She twisted over to a second computer and started typing furiously.  “Carol! That’s it!” She screamed.  “This phone is on and while I can only track as it pings off of different towers, it is clearly going west! This has to be him! I can give the cops the most reason road he was on!”

“Wait! Garcia, hold on.” Carol had to scream over her to get her attention. “When you send the information, tell them to track and follow at a distance!  They are NOT to engage!”

“What? Why? Carol they could get her.” Penelope was at a loss.

“If they stop that van, he’ll kill Therese and then himself.  He isn’t going to let himself be taken alive.  We need him to believe everything is going to plan and then we can set a trap.”

“Okay, but are you sure?”

“We profiled him as the subordinate partner.  He wouldn’t risk disappointing Harge, so yeah, I’m sure.”

“I think we need to call Hotch.”

“Absolutely.”  Carol pulled out her phone and filled Aaron in on everything they had found in the past thirty minutes. 

“So we know the general area, but not his exact location?” Hotch asked.

“It’s a burner, so the best I can do is triangulate based on pings, but as long as the phone stays on, I should be able to track the van.”

“Carol’s right about his state of mind.  I’ll have J.J. contact the local precincts and highway patrol.  If they find him, they need to keep their distance until we can get there.  Garcia, send me that phone number, as well.  I have an idea.”

Carol’s eye’s lit up, as if reading his mind.  “You have Harge’s phone!”

“I do.” He acknowledge. “Where does it look like they are heading?” Harge asked.

“I mean, his last ping was south of Chicago.  Iowa? Maybe?” Garcia guessed.

“Carol, using what you know about how far he would typically travel from your profile, tell me what is close.”

She looked on the map she and Garcia had already pulled up for reference.  “Cedar Rapids? Des Moines?”

“Des Moines is larger and we have a field office there.  I’ll call them. Garcia, is there any way to see any of the past messages?  I want to send his partner a message, but we have to word this right or he’ll know we’re on to him.”

“I can’t see the messages on the burner.  I can contact the cell company on Harge’s phone, but it’s going to take some time.”

“Do it. If we can get him to meet us where we are ready and waiting, we’ll have a better chance of saving her, but we’re only going to get one chance at this,” Hotch explained.

“Hotch, have you had any luck with breaking Harge?” Carol finally asked. She knew that J.J. and Gen were incredibly skilled profilers and both were excellent interrogators, but she worried Harge would shut down since he wasn’t speaking directly to her.

“We’ve made progress.  I’m about the send Gen and J.J. back in and we’ll do our best to see if they had already had a planned location to meet.  In the meantime, I need you both on a plane to Iowa.  Get to the field office and help get them ready.  We’ll need S.W.A.T., and recon.  You know I can’t let you into the field, Carol, but I know you’ll want to be close by when we go in.”

“Thank you, Hotch.”

“Don’t thank me yet.  Let’s get her back safely first.  Send me those text messages as soon as you get them, Garcia.”

Hotch hung up and both women stood to leave.  “Wait, what about that private server?” Carol reminded Penelope.

“We can pull it up on the plane. Let’s go! Wheel’s up!” She could help but giggle. “I’ve always wanted to say that.”