He took his own sweet time with the report, reading both sides, saying at last, ‘Do you believe in karma, Detective Ziegler?’
‘As in fate?’
‘As in be sure your sins will catch up with you.’
‘I believe it would make our work a lot easier if karma caught up with all the bad guys.’
Ryland Nelsen dropped the report on his desk, leaned back in his chair and laced his hands behind his grey buzz cut. ‘Cast your mind back to last December. You arrested a young woman name of Edie Collier.’
Summer thought for a moment. ‘She tried to boost a couple of cashmere sweaters from Meier and Frank, the store detective challenged her, she made a run for it. I was cruising the area, helped chase her down. She got thirty days’ county time plus two years’ probation.’
‘She got county time for shoplifting? All my arrests should go up before that judge.’
‘She was already on probation for another shoplifting offence, plus she had a bunch of priors. She pled guilty at arraignment and the judge told her he was going to give her a short, sharp shock, stick her in jail over Christmas in the hope it would straighten her out. But I guess it didn’t.’
Summer also guessed that Edie Collier must have gotten into something much more serious than shoplifting if she had come to the attention of the Robbery Unit, which investigated thefts involving use of a weapon or threats implying the presence of a weapon; mundane property crimes like shoplifting were handled by uniformed police and precinct detectives.
‘I don’t know if it straightened her out or not,’ Ryland Nelsen said. ‘I do know that a couple of fishermen stumbled across her in woods way the hell south of here, near Cedar Falls. Know where it is?’
‘I’ve driven past it.’
‘On the I-5. Me too, but I never stopped. Anyhow, she was badly injured from some kind of fall, and she died before the paramedics could get her to hospital. The local police are treating it as a suspicious death. They identified her from fingerprints and found out that her last known address was in Portland, and their Sheriff put in a call to the Chief’s office, asked if someone in the Bureau could inform Edie Collier’s parents and persuade them to make the trip to Cedar Falls for formal ID and disposition of the body. And, well, the request bounced down the chain of command to the officer who last arrested her.’
‘Me,’ Summer said, with a falling sensation.
‘You,’ Ryland Nelsen said, pointing his forefinger at her and cocking his thumb gunwise. ‘During your time in uniform, were you ever asked to do a next-of-kin notification?’
‘No, sir. We left that kind of thing to detectives.’
‘And just three weeks ago you got your detective’s badge . . . See what I mean about karma?’