Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Fletcher: A Simple Case of Murder

The Crime Scene

"To the left," Fletcher said behind him. "The bedroom's down the hallway. First door on the right."

Quickly, but cautiously, Lehman moved down the hall, his body turned on an angle to present the smallest target, his right arm hovering close to the holster. He reached the doorway to the bedroom and leaned his head around. Again, there were signs of recent activity in the room, the bed was made, but ruffled, like someone had been sitting on it. A pile of clothes, shorts and underwear lay on the floor near one corner of the bed.

Lehman turned to look over his shoulder at Fletcher, making sure he knew where the man was. The young man was standing at the entrance to the hallway, a panicked look on his face. The officer turned back and entered the bedroom.

She was lying on her stomach, naked from the waist down. Her head was turned away from him and she looked as if she was searching for something under the bed. Whatever she was looking for didn't matter anymore, because she was dead. Near her right hand was a 45-caliber Smith & Wesson automatic pistol. On the nightstand next to the bed was a loaded magazine and several bullets.

It was clear from the condition of her body that she had taken a bullet to the head. The cerebral artery is the major source of blood to the brain and when that artery is severed, for several seconds blood continues to be pumped by the heart into the brain cavity. As a result, head wounds bleed like no other. The blood that covered the floor around the woman's head was dark and thick, a viscosity approaching tomato sauce. That meant it was oxygen-rich arterial blood from deep within her body. It also meant that she had lost a lot of blood and had been dead before Lehman had entered the house.

Mick Fletcher came up behind him.

"I couldn't see her breathing," he repeated. "She was loading the gun and it must have gone off. I can't believe she would have killed herself."

He tried to push past Lehman, but the officer stopped him.

"I'm sorry, sir. I can't let you go in there. We'll need to leave the scene undisturbed for a little while."

"Then she's...dead?" Fletcher asked, a tremble in his voice.

"I'm afraid so. I'm sorry."

Fletcher's eyes welled with tears and his adam's apple bobbed in his throat.

"Oh, my God," he said.

"Will you please come with me outside? I'll need to call for some assistance."

The two men went outside, leaving the scene undisturbed. As they were walking outside, Lehman saw a high chair and the belongings of a young child.

"You have a child, sir?" he asked.

"Yes, a daughter. She's three. My wife was pregnant. She just found out the other day."

"Where is your daughter now?"

"She's with her grandmother today. Oh my God! How am I going to tell her?"

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