Her Last Goodbye Page 4

Too young to provide an alibi.

“So you’ll help me?” Tim looked hopeful.

Morgan shared glances with Sharp and Lance. They were both on board. She looked down at the baby. He needed his parents. “Yes.”

The decision felt right. Better that she take the risk of representing the wrong client than turn her back on someone who needs her.

“Oh, thank God.” Tim relaxed as if the strength had gone out of his body.

“Now, tell us what happened Friday night.” Morgan gestured to a legal pad on Sharp’s blotter. He handed it and a pen to her.

Tim repeated his opening statement.

“Who was she supposed to meet?” Morgan asked.

“Her friend Fiona West,” Tim said. “They’ve been close since we moved here two years ago.”

“How did they meet?” Morgan made careful notes.

“Yoga class,” Tim said. “Before Chelsea had William, she went to yoga twice a week. Balanced Yoga. It’s next to the bank on Second Street.”

Tim took a shaky breath and continued. “When she didn’t come home, I called her. She didn’t answer. I sent texts and left messages. When she didn’t respond, I called her friend. Fiona said Chelsea never showed up at the restaurant. She assumed something had come up like the last time they’d had plans. Then I tracked Chelsea’s cell phone to her car. It was parked down the road from the train station in Grey’s Hollow. I called 911, then drove up and down that road until the sheriff’s deputy came. I didn’t see anything. As soon as it got light out, I searched again.” He struggled to hold back a tear as he glanced down at his son. “Good thing William likes car rides.”

“Is there any reason your wife would have gone to Grey’s Hollow or taken the train somewhere else?” Sharp asked.

“No.” Tim’s face tightened with frustration.

“Why is the county sheriff handling the case and not the Scarlet Falls PD?” Sharp asked.

“I called 911 from Grey’s Hollow,” Tim explained. “The sheriff’s department responded.”

Grey’s Hollow didn’t have a police force. Crimes in that section of the county were investigated by the sheriff’s office. Typically, once a department had a case, they kept it.

Tim continued. “Sheriff King says there’s no sign of foul play, and it isn’t against the law for an adult to leave home. That’s why I came to you.”

Lance shifted his position. “Has the sheriff’s department looked at her phone and computer?”

“Yes,” Tim answered. “They have both her laptop and phone. But I already looked at both devices and found nothing. I doubt the sheriff’s office has anyone more qualified than me.” Arrogance laced Tim’s tone.

“They have a protocol to follow,” Morgan said.

Tim wasn’t giving the county forensics techs enough credit. They were highly qualified.

“What exactly do you do, Tim?” Lance asked.

“I’m a wireless telecommunication engineer,” Tim said. “My employer, Speed Net, is working with the university on research to develop the next generation Wi-Fi.”

Maybe Tim had a reason to be a little arrogant about his tech skills.

“Must be interesting to work on the cutting edge,” Sharp said.

Tim shrugged. “It is. It’s also demanding.”

“We’ll need your employer’s contact information,” Lance said. “And we’ll want to interview your boss and coworkers.”

“All the information is in here.” Tim slid a file from his diaper bag and set it on the desk.

“I doubt the sheriff will give you her electronics back just yet,” Sharp said. “That’s too bad. I know you’re a computer expert, but we’d still like to look at your wife’s digital history. I’m sure you’re great with computers, but we know what to look for.”

“I’m willing to try anything,” Tim said. “Chelsea’s laptop and phone both backup to a cloud account every twenty-four hours. I can access everything that was on her computer from mine.”

“Perfect. Do you know what kind of initial physical search the sheriff conducted of the area where you found your wife’s car?” Lance asked.

Tim sniffed and reeled in his emotions. “The police searched the neighborhood. They drove along all the roads for a few miles in each direction. They put out some sort of alert to other police departments. They brought in a dog.”

Sharp rubbed his buzz cut with a palm. “The dog didn’t pick up anything?”

Tim shook his head. “Nothing.”

“Do you know what the sheriff is doing now?” Sharp asked.

Tim shook his head. “He doesn’t tell me much.”

“We’ll contact the sheriff and get an update,” Morgan assured him. “Do you know if the sheriff’s department interviewed any of your neighbors?”

“He did,” Tim said. “A few people dropped by to let me know.”

There were up to ninety thousand active missing persons cases in the United States at any given time, but missing adults often took a back seat to missing kids, homicides, robberies, and assaults. Without clear evidence of foul play, it was unlikely Chelsea’s case would take priority.

“Did you check your credit card statements for a train ticket?” she asked. Chelsea’s car had been parked so close to the train station.

“Yes. The last charge on her credit card was at the grocery store last Thursday,” Tim continued. “The police looked at the surveillance tapes from the train station. They said no one who looked like Chelsea got on the train that night. She never carried much cash. If Chelsea wanted to take the train, she would have bought the ticket online. That’s what we usually do.”

Unless she didn’t want anyone to know where she was going.

But Morgan didn’t say it. There wasn’t enough evidence to make assumptions. The sheriff’s office had made the usual ones, and that by-the-book approach hadn’t found Chelsea. It was time for some fresh blood—and brains—on the case. She didn’t want Tim to have to live in limbo for the next twenty years.

Morgan glanced at Lance. His face was a tight mask, but emotion clouded the blue of his eyes. Since his father had gone missing many years ago and had never been found, this case would bring up unpleasant memories for him.

Tim tapped the file on the desk. “I brought copies of everything the police asked for: phone records, a list of her family and friends, our employers, bank and credit card statements, social media account information. I copied everything I gave to the police.”

The baby began to fuss, starting with bleating cries that quickly escalated to wails.

“I’m sorry.” Tim removed a bottle from the diaper bag, unstrapped the infant, and picked him up. He offered the baby the bottle. “But I’m at least grateful that he’s decided bottles are OK. The first two days Chelsea was gone were a nightmare. I thought he was going to starve.”

The baby drank in greedy gulps. Tim sat back, and Morgan’s heart squeezed.

Sharp took the folder and opened it. He thumbed through the papers. “Does Chelsea have an alcohol or drug problem?”

“No,” Tim said. “She hasn’t even had a glass of wine since she got pregnant with William. Friday night would have been her first. She’s fitter than I am. She runs almost every day. She loves to hike. As a couple, we’re about as boring as it gets.”

Sharp made a note on a legal pad on his desk. “How long have you and Chelsea been together?”

“Five years,” Tim said. “We met senior year of college in Colorado.”

“Why did you move to New York?” Sharp asked.

“I was offered a job with Speed Net. The move was a little risky, but the company has enormous growth potential. The payoff could be huge. We only had Bella at the time.” Tim’s gaze dropped to the baby. “In hindsight, leaving Chelsea’s family has been really hard.”

Morgan stared at the baby for a few seconds, empathy tugging at her. “Tell me about Chelsea’s family. Is there any friction there?”

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