Inside her car, she rolled down the driver’s side window. It was still early morning, but summer Arizona heat had no beginning or end. She just sat there thinking about what just happened in the lieutenant’s office. The lieutenant was right. Other than the vandalism/theft case, there really was no other case. It was pretty much open and shut. Sure, the circumstances of this man’s death seemed weird, but in police work unexplained things like this happen all the time. You process the scene, take care of the details and file your reports. Its easy to become desensitized to the tragedy of others the longer one stays with the department, but to Abigail, it seemed less human. It was just .. how we deal with it.
A good case in point was Deputy Tabaño. Only seven years a Sheriff’s Deputy and he has become this way. He tries to find the impersonal humor in these bad situations .. probably because if he didn’t, he would become too empathetic and sympathetic. Come to think of it, he did seem to be drinking more these days, but to his credit, he never missed a day on the job. His lovely and dedicated wife, Judy was his soul-mate, best friend and confidant. It took some time to find her, but they are perfect for each other. She would help him keep himself together, but it was a rough job at times.
Homeless and friendless people overdose on drugs or alcohol and die in alley ways and flop houses on a regular basis around every big city. Some are even former military veterans, perhaps stricken with undiagnosed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but all seem to feel without hope. Yet the only crimes they commit are vagrancy and what they do to themselves. It always seemed to Abigail that these kinds of people were running away or hiding from their problems. Nobody seemed to ever care about these sorts of victims. To an ordinary person it may seem that these people gave up on themselves, so why should anyone care about them? Some of them only had street names and no real identification. In that sense, they were truly lost.
Abigail thought about why people would just go missing, suddenly. The cases were as wide and varied as one could envision. There was no general rule or single reason - marital problems, legal troubles, money or the lack of it, criminal activity or fill-in the blank. As sad as it sounds, she was sure there will always be those people. Maybe some could be helped, but who could reach them all?
This ex-Marine victim was not one of those sorts. He was not listed anywhere as a missing person and had no police warrants, which meant nobody was officially looking for him. He showed none of those other characteristics either. He was not running away from something, but seemed to be traveling toward something, but just not feeling the need to check-in with anyone for some reason. Maybe he was the loner-type. He was a seeker and seekers travel. Maybe he wasn’t even sure what he was looking for, but he felt it imperative to try and find that missing something in his life. Maybe he felt he would know it when he found it. Too many questions were blazing through Abigail’s mind, but few answers were automatically forthcoming. She had to find a way to get inside this dead man’s mind. Surely, he couldn’t just be on some kind of permanent vacation. Could he?
From what she was allowed to read from his computer files, he may have been enjoying his retirement benefits and the free time away from a job, but using them for his personal quest. This theory made more sense to Abigail. One thing was certain, she needed to do some research into personal motivation - what makes people do what they do? To do this, she wanted to do some missing persons research. She still had two hours before class and the trip through traffic that time of day took about half-hour. At most, she had an hour for research, maybe a little more.
Abigail jumped out of her car leaving the window down and went back inside the Sheriff’s Offices. Her car with the open window would be safe enough in the Department’s own parking lot. On the elevator ride up to the Records Department, she tried to visualize how to attack this problem. She knew Barbara in Records and thought she might let her use their computers to do a file search. Closed files weren’t very access restricted. She wasn’t looking at specific cases, just seeking some common characteristics. She would start with Missing Persons reports and go from there. She could narrow the information search to exclude those missing children or elderly who may have Alzheimer’s. She would begin the search as narrowly as possible around the dead man’s own criteria and research only the files that had the best field reports and family interviews. The computer could do most of this in seconds, but slugging through basement files would take days. She would do that, if she had to. Even so, this would still take some time. Maybe she would skip class today.
It was Monday and well, .. you know how Monday’s are.
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