(preview of the text!)
...One of his duties on the serial killer task force was to go over reports and see if he could link them to CKK crimes. He got new reports every day. Americans killed one another a lot.
Most reports could be dismissed as unrelated, even if they got into his roundup due to location, timeline, and a rough victim profile. If someone was arrested, he’d look over the suspect. So far, he’d thrown out every case with a money motive (the CKK was almost certainly stalking strangers for emotional reasons, not financial ones) or a sexual motive (the CKK didn’t rape) or a personal motive (they hadn’t identified any person common to the three known victims by way of work, church, hobbies, neighborhood, PTA membership or anything else).
A few made it into his “unlikely, but maybe” pile. Those included crimes where the victims were a tight match—white males, usually middle to upper class, usually between the ages of 25 and 65, killed alone—with no strong suspects. Again, he’d deem them tenuous unless there were other factors present.
The factors that would elevate a crime to the point where he got other investigators to look at it included: Killed during abduction but body moved; no sign of struggle; mutilated corpse; messaging; tight forensic discipline; and sometimes, just his intuition.
Naturally, every case with electrocution got examined closely. That was nationwide. Since the media had revealed the CKK’s method of choice, there’d been a slight uptick in electrocution murders, but it was still very, very rare. Murder by voltage required a high degree of premeditation and most people smart enough to assemble a high-wattage killing machine could figure out that using it would probably get them investigated more, not less.
Mike had been on the CKK case since the very beginning, examining the victims Joe Markham and Drew Finster. Markham was killed in 2012, Finster two years after, but it was Roesser who’d seen the overlap in method. Finster died in Illinois and Markham in Indiana, so the FBI got involved coordinating the sheriff’s department that had jurisdiction in Indiana, as well as the small-town police department in Illinois, and the relevant state police forces.
Roesser was almost sure the CKK had done research and pinpointed regions that were lightly policed, or else had underfunded law enforcement. Even without that, there were a lot of factions and involved parties. Communication was a constant chore.
Almost immediately, a Wisconsin case was proposed as a likely early victim. As far as Roesser was concerned that victim, Carl Sarrantos, was still uncertain. Sarrantos had burns characteristic of a hand-held eletroshock weapon, but had died from smothering. The body mutilation was crude, and the posing was minimal. Still, it could be the same perpetrator with unformed, unrefined methods. Privately, he kept thinking about how, when you make pancakes, the first one in the batch is always a little sloppy. Regardless, Wisconsin wanted in on the data sharing and speculation too.
There hadn’t been any really solid CKK matches in 2015, leading to suspicion that the killer had been locked up for another crime, but Mike thought it could be any number of reasons—got sick, got back on meds, got a new lover, tried to quit for a while… hell, got busy at work and couldn’t schedule it. Dr. Beneventi scoffed at that, saying “Compulsives are never too busy. They can always fit it in. You ever meet an alcoholic who quit drinking because he was too busy, hm?” But Mike wasn’t sure the CKK was compulsive, either. He was determined to speculate as little as possible.
Whether CKK acted from necessity or just desire, late 2016 had seen an uptick. Morris Daniels (Illinois, December), then Addison Carver in the spring of 2017 (killed in Missouri, body dumped in Illinois), and Gerald Sudlow early in 2018 (killed and found in Ohio).
The investigation had become a full-blown task force long before their fifth state got involved, and Roesser felt just fine about having someone else be the face and brains of the operation. Mike liked being the eyes.
There was nothing like those first hours on a new crime scene, looking for differences, looking for similarities, trying to decide if it was right or not, trying to see if this was another piece for their puzzle or just another false lead, another one-off, another random act of violence.
It was Mike’s favorite part of the job, that first look.