Say You're Sorry Page 61

“Voss was seriously impaired. He might not have been aware of what he was doing.”

Lance stopped. “I could see him stabbing her thinking she was someone else, but rape? That’s a whole different crime. One that doesn’t fit with Dean Voss’s personality at all. His wife doesn’t think he did it either, and she was afraid of him for other reasons.”

Sharp got up and walked down the hall to the war room. He stood in front of the whiteboard. “If it wasn’t Voss, then who killed Tessa?”

“The only other suspects are Jacob Emerson and Kevin Murdoch.”

“I respect your instincts. You and Morgan both have enough experience to know when you’re being lied to, but we have no evidence to support a case against Kevin except the timing of Jamie’s vanishing act.”

“You’re right.” Lance stepped up next to him and pointed to Jacob’s photo. “We know he sexually assaulted Tessa back in July. It doesn’t seem like a big stretch that he’d do it again. When she resisted, he got angry.”

“His father says he was home, and the GPS on his cell phone confirms that.”

“Either Phillip Emerson is lying or Jacob slipped out of the house without his father knowing. Kids do it all the time.”

Sharp scanned the board from one end to the other. “I think you’re right. Rape shapes the whole dynamic of the crime. Rape happens when a man sees something he wants and takes it.”

“Voss’s violence came from his fear, his paranoia, his delusions.”

“He hit his wife,” Sharp said.

“Yes. But even she said he was moral, that he would never have hurt one of his students. Rape is about power. It’s aggressive. Voss acted defensively, like a cornered animal.”

“A rapist has no regard for women. Jacob is an entitled little prick who already demonstrated his lack of respect for Tessa when he assaulted her unconscious body.” Sharp took Jacob’s photo and moved it to the center of the board. “We have no hard evidence that he killed Tessa. Yet we both believe that he’s the most likely suspect.”

“He was laughing in those pictures. He enjoyed humiliating her.”

“Your assessment of his expression is not evidence,” Sharp said. “Let’s backtrack. Jacob saw Tessa at the party. She was with Nick. This angered him. What if she refused to sleep with him when they dated? The only way he was able to have sex with her was to drug her. Yet she was obviously having sex with Nick, giving him what she’d denied Jacob.”

Lance picked up the thread of the theory. “He snuck out of his house. He brought a condom. He planned to rape her, to take what she wouldn’t give him but he was entitled to.”

“How did he know she would still be at the lake?” Sharp asked.

“That I don’t know. When he left the party, she was sitting in her car, crying. Maybe he just hoped she’d still be there.”

“She called his house that night,” Sharp reminded him. “Either it was Jacob who took the call or he overheard her conversation with his father. We don’t know what was said. We only have Phillip Emerson’s statement, which he could totally have changed to protect his son. What about the knife? Do you think he brought it with him to kill her?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he brought it to facilitate the rape, then she made him angry. Jacob doesn’t have the best self-control.”

Sharp and Lance exchanged a glance.

“We can’t prove any of this,” Sharp said.


“There’s one person who was at that party and not interviewed by the police.” Sharp hurried from the room. He returned with Jamie Lewis’s picture. He fixed it to the board with a magnet. “No one has seen Jamie Lewis since that night, not even her best friend. I spent all morning checking places on Tony’s list. I called all her friends, and I’m halfway through the locations Tony thought Jamie frequented. So far, I’ve found no sign of her. What if Jamie saw the murder and it scared her so much she left town?”

“It’s a possibility.” Lance rubbed the ache at the base of his skull. “I’m going to cruise by the Emerson house before I join Morgan at the hospital. I would love an opportunity to talk to the maid without the family around.”

“Watch yourself. Phillip Emerson is already screaming harassment.”

Lance shrugged. “He’s filed suit against the township. We’re private.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I do.” Lance went to his office to retrieve his keys. “What are you doing next?”

“I’m still working on the list of Jamie’s hiding places. I’m packing bribe money and considering asking a few of my retired friends for help. They know this town inside and out. If Jamie Lewis is anywhere in this area, I’m going to find her.”

“I’ll check in when I know something.” Lance headed for the door.

The Emerson house was quiet when Lance parked at the curb. Originally, he’d only planned to watch the house for a few minutes, but since the Emersons utilized their garage, it was impossible to see who was home from the outside. Lance used the telephoto lens on his camera to look through the windows. The only activity he saw was the maid dusting.

He watched for another ten minutes. No sign of Jacob or Phillip Emerson. Enough tiptoeing around these people.

Lance slipped out of the car, walked up to the front door, and rang the bell.

The maid answered. She was in her mid-fifties. She wore a plain gray uniform with a white apron. Her gray-and-brown hair was bound in a tight bun.

“Yes?” she asked.

“I’m here to see Mr. Emerson.” Lance smiled.

“You were here before.” She frowned.

“Yes. Is Mr. Emerson in?”

“Which Mr. Emerson?” she asked.

Lance was not going to be accused of harassing a minor. “Mr. Phillip Emerson.”

The maid shook her head. “No. I’m sorry. Mr. Phillip isn’t home. Would you like to leave a message?”

“Yes.” Lance offered her a business card. “Please tell him I’d like to speak with him.”

The maid took the card. “In the future, please call for an appointment.”

“Who’s at the door, Myra?” a voice called from the hall behind the maid.

Jacob Emerson stepped into view. His face tightened as he recognized Lance. “What are you doing here?”

“I just wanted to ask your father a few questions.” Lance smiled.

“You have balls. I’ll give you that.” Jacob pushed the maid aside. “I’ll handle this, Myra. Go back to work.”

With a nod, the woman backed away.

“There’s no use sniffing around here. You won’t find any evidence because I didn’t kill Tessa.” Jacob crossed his arms over his chest.

“The same way you didn’t molest her unconscious body?” Lance asked.

Jacob’s lip curled. “When my father gets home, he’s going to be pissed.”

He’s a minor. You can’t punch him.

But Lance wanted to smack the sneer off this kid’s face. “Is he out cleaning up more messes for you? That must be a full-time job for him.”

“You know nothing about us.” Jacob’s face flushed red. “My father is a great man. Right now he’s visiting a sick friend at the hospital. Take your accusations and get off our property before I call the police.”

But Lance was already headed toward his Jeep. Emerson was going to the hospital.

Where Morgan was visiting Nick.


With everything else that had happened on this case, Lance was not willing to bet Nick’s or Morgan’s safety on a coincidence.

Could they have been wrong? Had the man who’d stalked Morgan at the office been Phillip Emerson, not Jacob? He must have known that it was Morgan who’d petitioned for Jacob’s DNA. And he must have been angry. Parents will do anything to protect their children. How far would Phillip go?

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Rage pulsed inside him. It grew and fed on itself until it had a will of its own.

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