It was clear from what Pelzer asked that they had already spoken at length with Anne Rehmann, as well as the deputies that had responded to her office. Now they wanted to hear my side. I told them everything, starting with Riley Brodin accosting me in Nina’s bar. I had no doubt that Mr. Muehlenhaus and probably Riley, too, would be extremely upset that I spilled their secrets to the sheriff’s department. I was past caring. The sight of Mrs. R …
After the deputies arrived at the real estate office in response to my 911 call, I told them that the man who attacked Anne might have also attacked Mrs. R, and I begged them to send deputies to her condominium. They did, too, without much prompting at all. At the same time, I called Sarah Neamy and told her to check on Mrs. R, told her that I was worried. The deputies wanted me to remain at the office and answer their questions. Anne wanted me to remain, too, even though she was also concerned about her employer. Yet I was desperate to get to Club Versailles, so I blew them off, after first telling the deputies how to get hold of me and then telling Anne I would call later.
Even so, from the moment the deputies had arrived at the real estate office to the instant I pulled into the parking lot of the club, at least forty-five minutes had passed. Members of the sheriff’s department and the South Lake Minnesota Police Department were already on the scene. Officer Tschida was at the door to Mrs. R’s building. He tried to keep me from going inside, which was bad enough. Calling me an asshole and saying “The bitch is dead, there’s nothing you can do”—I lost my temper, something I hardly ever do. I smacked him in the mouth and tossed him off the stoop.
I found Mrs. R’s condominium on the fourth floor. The door was opened. I stepped across the threshold. Several investigators were already processing the crime scene. That’s when I saw her. Mrs. Rogers was lying naked on the floor, her body bearing signs of terrible abuse. Her wrists were bound with an electrical cord and tied to the leg of a heavy chair. Her ankles were also lashed together and attached to her sofa. A clear plastic bag had been pulled over her head and fixed in place with a thick rubber band. Her eyes were open and so was her mouth—she had died fighting for breath.
Tschida caught up to me then. He cuffed my hands and dragged me outside—although I don’t remember much about that.
Major Kampa didn’t speak a word while I gave my account, and Lieutenant Pelzer only interrupted to ask a few pertinent questions.
“What do you know about this ETA that was supposedly stalking Navarre?”
“I never heard of it,” I said.
“Do you think Navarre is a fraud?”
“I’m still working on it.”
“Navarre’s boat—the So?adora—is it on the lake?”
“Anne Rehmann said he left her dock early that morning. Other than that…”
I had a few questions of my own, starting with how the killer managed to get inside a secured building.
“Suspect gained entry through an unlocked balcony door of an unoccupied condominium on the ground floor,” Pelzer said. “After that he just walked up to her place. There was no forced entry, so she must have let him in.”
“I was on the phone with Mrs. Rogers last night,” I said. “She said she had to hang up because someone was knocking on her door.”
“What time last night?”
Pelzer closed his notebook. “The ME gave us a preliminary estimate of the time of death. Set it at about nine this morning.”
We both knew what that meant.
He had her for twelve hours, my inner voice said.
“Sonuvabitch,” I said aloud.
“Where can we reach you if we have more questions?” Pelzer asked.
“South Lake Minnetonka jail, I guess. Assuming it has a jail. They might transfer me to your pretrial lockup in downtown Minneapolis.”
Kampa examined the SIG balanced on his thigh.
“Fuck that,” he said.
I was surprised. The way his head whipped around to look at the major, Pelzer was downright astonished.
Kampa slid out of the car and walked purposely toward Tschida, my SIG Sauer still in his hand. He saw Chief John Rock and waved him over. They reached Tschida at the same time. Kampa showed my gun to both of them. I couldn’t hear what he said, but his words prompted Chief Rock to reach behind Tschida and smack him on the back of the head—an idiot slap. More words were exchanged, and Tschida half walked, half ran to the squad car. He opened the car door, pulled me out, unlocked the cuffs, and said, “Please, McKenzie, would you just get the hell outta here and don’t come back?”
A few minutes later, both Major Kampa and Lieutenant Pelzer joined me where I had parked my Audi. Kampa returned the SIG to me, handing it over butt first.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Without backup from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, the South Lake Minnetonka PD ceases to exist,” Kampa said. “I don’t work with screwups.”
“The book says you’re all done, McKenzie. This is a capital offense, and you don’t involve yourself in our investigation even a little bit or I’ll toss your ass for obstruction, ex-cop or no—you’re not even licensed. Understand?”