In this first of two parts, new author Michelle M. Leslie takes an in-depth look at a baffling case for the detectives...Logan especially. The second part will appear in apocrypha's summer edition.
11:00 p.m. October 7
Lauren McDermot opened the front door to her home. Her hands were full of packages, but with some careful maneuvering she managed to close and lock the door behind her.
"I'm home," she called as she walked into the living room. "Where is everyone?" She carefully put the packages on a chair then took off her coat and tossed it over the back. "Dave?" she called as she walked into the kitchen feeling puzzled over the stillness of the house. She turned on the kitchen light as she entered, but seeing nothing out of place, she turned it out and proceeded back to the living room. She gathered her packages and began climbing the stairs, slowly at first, then more quickly as she began to feel anxious about the quiet in the house. The lights were on as she entered the bedroom to put down the packages. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed that the drawer of the night stand was ajar. Knowing that something was definitely wrong she quickly turned and made her way down the hallway to her son's room. The door was open, the lights were on, but her son was not there.
She turned, more frantic now, and hurried to her daughter's room. She stopped in the doorway and screamed. There, lying in a pool of blood, was her husband Dave. But where were the children?
"I don't understand," Lauren cried as she sat on the couch watching the officers from the Crime Scene Unit search for evidence. "Who would do something like this?"
"Was your husband expecting any visitors tonight Ma'am?" Detective Mike Logan of the 27th Precinct asked.
"No, I don't think so," Lauren said, wiping the tears from her eyes. "I needed some time to myself, you know? He said he would stay with the kids."
"Have you or your husband ever received any threats?" Logan asked.
"Dave was a lawyer. People always said things, but we never took any of it seriously," Lauren replied.
"Did your husband have his own practice?" Logan inquired.
Lauren shook her head. "He worked with Hogan and Mills on Madison Avenue."
Logan wrote down the name in his steno pad. "We'll need a picture of the children."
Lauren walked over to the fireplace and took down a double 5x7 size frame from the mantle. She looked at it lovingly, then handed it to Logan. "Gage, he's eight, and Megan just turned two. They must be so scared," she added, sitting back down on the couch and crying into her hands.
"Hey, Mike," Detective Briscoe called from upstairs. Logan motioned to officer Mackey to stay with Lauren as he proceeded upstairs.
Upstairs the coroner was preparing to remove Dave McDermot's body from the girl's bedroom.
"What'd ya got?" Logan asked.
"We found this in the kid's room," Briscoe said as he held up a child's bloody t-shirt. The two detectives exchanged a glance as if to say it wasn't going to be an easy case to deal with.
"You want to show that to her?" Logan asked, motioning downstairs.
"No," answered Briscoe, "and I don't want to tell her we found bloody fingerprints in the bathroom either."
"You think whoever did this took the time to clean up afterward?" Logan asked in jest.
"I think whoever did this, tried to cover his tracks, panicked and then got sloppy," Briscoe replied, handing the shirt to Logan. "You tell her."
"Detectives, we found something here you might want to see," Officer Burrell of the Crime Scene Unit called from the bathroom. "We found these in the trash," he said, holding up a plastic bag filled with bandage wrappers. "And this was wrapped in a towel in the laundry hamper." He showed them another bag that contained a large carving knife.
"Sloppy," Logan said.
"Very sloppy," replied Briscoe.
October 9, 10:00a.m.
"Cause of death, three shots to the heart with a nine millimeter," Logan reported as he and Briscoe stood in Captain Donald Cragen's office relaying information about the case.
"Yeah, and it just so happens the McDermots own a nine millimeter," Briscoe added.
"He was shot with his own gun?" Cragen asked.
"It looks that way," concluded Briscoe.
"So, the shooter had to know where the gun was," Cragen suggested.
"Mrs. McDermot said the gun was kept in the night stand drawer which was always locked," Logan reported.
"O.k." Cragen began "so the shooter not only had to know where the gun was kept, but also where to find the key to unlock the drawer."
"Right, and how many people do you tell where you keep a locked gun in your house?" Briscoe said.
"CSU lifted three set of prints from the drawer," Logan said as he read from the case file. "Dave and Lauren McDermot, fingerprinted for a gun permit, and their son, Gage, fingerprinted at school for Ident-A-Kid."
"And?" Cragen asked.
"Her alibi checks out. She was out shopping with a friend all evening," Logan replied.
"What about this knife?" Cragen asked.
"Wiped clean," Logan added.
"Anything on the kids?" Cragen wondered.
"We have sightings all over town," Logan began. "East side, West side, uptown, downtown."
"Yeah, these kids really get around," added Briscoe.
Detective Profaci knocked on the office door as he entered the room. "St. Luke's just called. Someone brought in a kid matching the McDermot boy's description."
"I'll call the mother," Cragen said, picking up the phone receiver as Logan and Briscoe hurried out of the office.
"He's pretty banged up," a nurse said as she escorted the detectives through the crowded ER.
"Banged up how?" Logan asked.
"Multiple contusions and abrasions, burn scar on the lower back and oh, yeah, then there's the stab wound," the nurse added sarcastically.
"He was stabbed?" asked Briscoe.
"Sliced is more like it," the nurse replied. "He needed twenty-six stitches across the belly." She pulled back the curtain of the cubicle.
Gage McDermot sat on the gurney. His face and upper body revealed signs of years of abuse. "Gage, honey, this is Detective Logan and Detective Briscoe. They want to talk to you, o.k.?"
The boy looked from one detective to the other. "Am I under arrest?" he asked shyly.
"No, of course not," Briscoe assured him "we just want to talk to you."
"About what I did?" Gage asked.
"What did you do?" Logan asked.
"I killed my dad," Gage replied.
The detectives exchanged a look of disbelief.
"Gage!" Lauren called as she entered the ER. She ran to her son and smothered him with hugs and kisses. The boy, however, did not respond to her with the same affection. "Honey, are you o.k.? What happened? Where's Megan?" She bombarded him with questions without giving him a chance to reply, all the while petting his hair and caressing his face.
"Mrs. McDermot, can we speak to you for a moment?" Briscoe asked as he gestured for her to follow him. He walked several feet away from the cubicle and Lauren and Logan followed.
"Did he say anything?" Lauren asked impatiently. "Did he tell you what happened? What about Megan? Your Captain just said..."
"Mrs. McDermot," Briscoe interrupted, "Your son just told us that he killed your husband."
"What?" Lauren responded in disbelief. "That's crazy, he's just a little boy. You can't possibly think...?"
"Did your husband ever hit your son, Ma'am?" Logan inquired.
"No, of course not," Lauren answered sternly. "How could you even ask me such a thing?"
"Well," Logan said just as sternly, "In case you haven't noticed, your son was beaten and stabbed."
"I don't know what you're implying, but my husband would never hurt the children," Lauren insisted.
"Well, we'd like to ask him that question, with your permission of course," Logan said angrily.
"I don't know," Lauren said.
"Look, your son may be a witness to your husband's murder and your daughter's disappearance, if we don't talk to him, we may never know what happened to them, do you understand?" Logan asked.
"Maybe I should call a lawyer first" Lauren said.
"Fine." Logan said.
The interrogation room at the 27th precinct was cold as Logan began questioning the young suspect. "Can you tell me what happened the night your dad was killed?" He asked.
"I was in my room," Gage began. "He came in. He was drunk."
"Drunk?" Lauren interrupted. "This isn't right, my husband didn't drink."
"Ma'am, please," Logan said, urging her to be quiet. "What happened when he came into your room?"
"He was mad," Gage said. "He started yelling at me. He hit me. He had a knife and he said he would kill me if I didn't..."
"This is crazy," Lauren interrupted again, more angry this time. "I can't listen to anymore of this. Gage..." she said, taking him by the arms and turning him towards her. "Why are you saying all these horrible things? You know they're not true."
"It is true," Gage demanded.
"I don't want him to answer anymore questions," Lauren told Logan. "Not till our lawyer gets here."
The door of the interrogation room opened abruptly. "Anything my client has said is inadmissible," Bob Maxwell, the McDermot's attorney said as he walked in and put his briefcase on the table. He snapped the locks and opened the case then pulled out a paper and handed it to Logan.
This is an affidavit from my client's psychiatrist. It states that my client has been under his care for six months. It also states that Gage McDermot suffers from delusions and is mentally unstable, sometimes inflicting injury in himself or others to get attention," he continued. "Any statements my client has made are the result of these delusions. I would like him released now so that he may be placed in the care of professionals who can provide the care that he needs."
"Look," Logan said, flinging the paper onto the table as he stood up. "Your client may be a material witness in a homicide and a kidnapping. If Mrs. McDermot wants to know who killed her husband , or if she wants to know where her daughter is, then we're going to have to talk to the boy."
"Of course we want those answers," Maxwell said. "But you'll have to get them without the help of my client. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to take him home. Let's go Lauren, Gage."
Lauren stood up and took Gage by the arm to lead him out of the room.
"No!" Gage shouted as he pulled away from her and ran to Logan for protection. "You got to help me," he cried, pulling on Logan's jacket. "They're going to kill me. Don't let them take me away. Please!"
"Whoa, whoa, calm down kid," Logan said.
"Don't listen to them," Gage cried. "They're going to kill me!"
"Gage, stop this right now," Lauren said as she tried unsuccessfully to restrain her son.
"I'll tell you everything," Gage continued his ranting. "Please don't let them take me."
"O.k., o.k." Logan said reassuringly. "Listen to me, no one's going to take you anywhere, just relax."
"You see," Maxwell interrupted. "The boy's crazy."
"You, shut up," Logan said, pointing his finger at Maxwell.
"I'm not crazy!" Gage screamed. "Don't listen to them!"
"Gage, honey, listen to mommy..." Lauren tried again to restrain her son, but he pulled away from her.
"Don't touch me!" he shouted and dove under the table to get away from her then crawled out the other side. He grabbed his backpack that was hanging on the back of the chair, quickly unzipped it and pulled out a nine millimeter handgun. He pointed it at his mother, his hand shaking uncontrollably. "Don't touch me or I'll kill you, too."
"Oh my God," Lauren said. "Gage, what are you doing?"
"Stay away," warned Gage.
"Sweetheart, put that down." Lauren took a step toward her son. He fired a shot at her, just barely missing her head. Logan acted fast. He grabbed her and threw her to the floor while Briscoe and Maxwell both ducked behind the table. Gage stood, still pointing the gun at his mother, ready to shoot if she made another move.
"Kid, put down the gun," Logan said. "You don't want to hurt anyone. It's o.k." He slowly took a step toward the boy. "No one here's going to hurt you. It's o.k., just put the gun down."
"Nobody believes me," Gage whined.
"I believe you," Logan assured him as he took another step. "But, I can't help you if you don't put the gun down."
The door to the room opened abruptly and Capt. Cragen entered to see what the commotion was all about. "What the hell...?" he stopped when he realized what was happening and Logan waved him off.
"They're going to take me back there," Gage cried. Tears were beginning to build up in his eyes and he wiped them away. "It's bad there."
"No one's going to take you anywhere," Logan assured him. "You can stay here and we'll talk. All you have to do is put the gun down and it'll be all over."
"No. It'll never be over. Not until...You don't understand," Gage rambled "I can't do it anymore. I can't."
"What?" Logan asked. "What can't you do?"
"I can't. I can't," Gage slowly raised the gun and pointed it at his own head. "I can't."
"Whoa, wait a minute," Logan urged, not believing his eyes. "You don't want to do that."
"I have to," Gage said, tears now rolling down his cheeks. His hand still trembled as it held the gun against his temple. Logan watched it intently. "It's the only way to make it stop."
"Gage, listen to me," Logan said as he knelt in front of the boy. "I want you to give me the gun. Just hand it to me. I won't let anyone hurt you, I promise." Gage searched Logan's face to see if he could be trusted. "Just give me the gun," he said again, reaching out slowly to take the gun from the boy's hands. "It's o.k." Gage slowly lowered the gun and carefully placed it in Logan's hands, then he put his head in his hands and broke down crying. Logan handed the gun to Briscoe, each one being careful not to leave their own prints on the weapon. Logan looked at the boy, his heart aching for him. What would drive a little kid to want to kill himself?, he thought. He didn't know how to comfort him. Lauren tried to comfort her son but he sought it from Logan instead, wrapping his arms around his neck, and for the first time he felt safe.
"What the hell's going on here?" Cragen demanded to know as he walked into his office followed by Logan, Briscoe and Paul Robinette from the DA's office.
"The mother wanted to take him home and he freaked," Briscoe replied.
"So, he pulled a gun on her?" Robinette asked.
"It was in his backpack," Logan responded.
"Yeah, a nine millimeter," Briscoe added, "Just like the one that killed his old man."
"What are we saying here?" Cragen questioned "That we have an eight year old killer on our hands?"
"I'm thinking it was self defense," Logan replied.
"Where is he now?" Robinette asked.
"With Olivet. The kid was hysterical," Logan explained. "I mean, he put a gun to his head. He was going to blow his brains out."
"The lawyer said he was unstable," Briscoe added.
"Was there anything else in the backpack? Anything that might lead us to the girl?" Cragen asked.
"We found some computer disks and, get this, two thousand dollars, all in tens and twenties," Briscoe reported.
"Two thousand dollars?" Robinette asked. "Where does a little kid get that kind of money?"
"I don't know, maybe he's been saving his allowance," joked Briscoe.
"What about the mother?" Cragen inquired.
"She still swears the father never hit the kid," Logan answered.
"Well, maybe he didn't," Cragen replied.
"The mother?" Robinette asked.
"Well, it would explain why he's terrified of her," Cragen responded.
"Talk to her," Robinette said.
"This is ludicrous," Maxwell said. "You have the murder weapon with Gage's fingerprints on it, he confessed to killing Dave and taking Megan. What else do you want?"
"An explanation would be nice," Logan said.
"You want an explanation?" Lauren asked. "All right, I'll give you an explanation. My son is mentally ill. He has violent outbursts and he likes to hurt people, not on purpose, there's just something in his mind that makes him 'want to get you before you get him'. Is that a good enough explanation for you, detective?"
"That would explain why your husband was killed, but it doesn't explain how your son got those bruises all over his body," Logan said rather coolly.
"All right. Dave did hit him," Lauren finally gave in. "When he got out of control, just to...you saw how he was, what he did. When he gets like that there's no controlling him. Sometimes it's hard to stay calm. I mean, what would you do if he was your son?"
"I wouldn't beat the crap out of him," Logan said.
"Where is he? Why can't I see him?" Lauren began to cry. "He needs help. Can't you see that? Why won't you let me take him somewhere where he can get the help?"
"The DA wants to charge him with murder and kidnapping," Logan said.
"What?" Lauren said in disbelief.
"Right now he's with our police psychiatrist, who's trying to find out if he's really as crazy as you say. As for you, you knew your husband was abusing your son and you didn't do anything about it, that makes you just as guilty of child abuse as he was," Logan said nastily, as he stood up and walked out of the interrogation room where Cragen and Robinette were waiting. "This lady ought to be locked up, not the kid," Logan said. "If you ask me the guy had it coming, and so does she."
"Mike," Cragen warned "You're supposed to be objective here."
"Yeah, right," Logan said as he walked out of the room leaving the other men behind.
October 11, 9:00a.m.
"He's confused, but he's not delusional," Dr. Elizabeth Olivet began as she sat in Executive Assistant District Attorney Ben Stone's office.
"Did he kill his father or not?" Stone asked.
"He said he did," Olivet answered.
"And do you believe him?" Stone asked.
"Yes. But he doesn't think he had a choice," Olivet said in the boy's defense. "According to Gage, he tried several times to report the abuse that was going on at home. Nothing happened. In his mind, the only way to stop it was to kill the father."
"And the little girl?" Stone inquired.
"He's hiding her, to protect her," Olivet answered.
"But, if the father's dead, who does he have to protect her from?" Robinette wondered.
"It's clear the mother's involved somehow, to what extent I don't know. He doesn't trust her and he's very frightened of her," Olivet replied. "In addition to the physical abuse, I think he's been molested as well. He showed all the signs. This is what he's protecting his sister from."
"In your opinion, did he know what he was doing was wrong?" Stone asked.
"Yes," Olivet replied. "He knows the difference between right and wrong. He felt trapped, the father was in the process of beating him when he ran to get the gun."
"You think it was self defense?" Stone asked.
"Most definitely," Olivet answered. "There was something else that I thought was a bit strange. He mentioned something about an organization that the McDermots were a part of. An organization that bought and sold children. He wouldn't explain, talking about it made him very uncomfortable."
"Wasn't Dave McDermot an adoption lawyer?" Stone asked of Robinette.
"Check into the adoption records, see if there's anything there that's unusual."
October 15, 7:00p.m.
"What exactly are we looking for?" Logan asked as he shuffled through files that had been subpoenaed from Dave McDermot's office.
"Something that might tell us if McDermot was conducting illegal adoptions," Robinette, who was seated adjacent to Logan's desk, replied.
"Hey, Mike, did Mrs. McDermot say anything about them having any other kids besides Gage and Megan?" Briscoe asked as he too looked through some files.
"No, why?" Logan replied.
"Well, according to this, they adopted a four year old girl and a two year year old boy last May," Briscoe reported.
"Then when are they?" Logan asked.
"And, in 1980 they adopted three girls, ages three, four and six. With Gage and Megan, they should have seven children," Briscoe said.
"Is there anything in there about the two kids we know they do have?" Robinette inquired.
Briscoe searched through the papers. "Here," he said. "Megan Marie, adopted on September 13, 1996. We have a birth certificate and everything here." He flipped through some more files. "Gage Michael, adopted May 5, 1991."
"I got the same thing here," Logan added. "The same couple, Sharon and Leonard Cavanaugh, adopted 11 kids between 1980 and 1995."
"Mike, you know anyone named Shannon O'Brien?" Briscoe asked.
Logan thought a moment, going over all of his past relationships in his head. "Yeah, I think I dated a woman by that name once. Why?"
"Well, it looks like you're the proud papa of a bouncing eight year old boy," Briscoe announced as he handed Logan the birth certificate. Logan snatched it from his hand and examined it carefully.
Logan knocked on the door of Shannon O'Brien's home. He didn't know what had brought him there. Was it his curiosity or his anger? He and Shannon had dated for about six months. He liked her a lot, but was never quite sure if it was really "love". They had a great time together, then all of a sudden it was over. She dumped him without any explanation. He hadn't seen or heard anything from her since then. He guessed now he knew why. The curtain that covered the window in the door was pushed aside and a woman peered out. She quickly opened the door when she realized it was Mike Logan.
"Mike," Shannon said, surprised to see him. "What are you doing here?"
"I have to talk to you," Logan replied.
"Come on in." She stood aside and let him into the apartment. "It's so good to see you. How long has it been?" She showed him into the living room and gestured for him to sit down but he declined.
"My guess? About eight years," Logan said.
"So, what's going on?" she asked, sounding like she wanted to catch up on everything that she had ever missed with him.
Logan took the birth certificate out of his coat pocket, looked at it, then handed it to her.
"What's this?" Shannon asked as she took the paper. Then, realizing what it was, looked up at him. "Where did you get this?"
"It turned up during an investigation," Logan explained. She looked back at the paper to avoid Logan's cold stare. There was an awkwardness now between them. "Do you have something you want to tell me?"
"I...I...look, I know what you're thinking," Shannon stammered nervously. "But what good would it have done? What were you going to do? Make an honest woman out of me?" she joked. "I gave up the baby because I thought it was the best thing for all of us."
"So, it's true?" Logan asked. "You did have a baby and I'm the father."
"It's true," Shannon said. "I know I should've told you, but..."
"Yeah, you should've," Logan interrupted. "I think I had a right to know that I had a kid out there somewhere."
"Why? Look, Mike, I liked you. I may have even loved you," Shannon began. "But it never would have worked between us. I didn't want the responsibility of raising a child and neither of us were into commitment. It would have been disastrous for all of us. Think of what we would have done to this kid emotionally," she exclaimed.
"It couldn't be worse than what the people who adopted him have done," Logan remarked.
"What does that mean?" Shannon asked, confused and looking back at the birth certificate. "How did you find this?"
"The people who adopted him. They abused him. He shot his..." He stopped unable to say the word 'father'. "He's in trouble and needs help. I thought..."
"No," Shannon said sternly. "No, I can't." She handed him the birth certificate. "I gave him up once because I didn't want a child, that hasn't changed. I'm sorry, Mike, but I can't."
"Don't you even care what's happened to him?" Logan asked angrily. "I mean, this is your kid."
"I don't have a kid," Shannon shot back. "I gave him up. Whatever's happened to him has nothing to do with me. It's not my problem."
"Not your problem? How can you say that?" Logan asked. This was not the same Shannon O'Brien he remembered. She was always the first to offer help to anyone. He couldn't believe she didn't want to help her own child.
"I don't want to have this conversation anymore," Shannon said becoming very uncomfortable with the situation. "I think you'd better go." She walked to the door, expecting him to follow her, but he didn't.
"Did you pick out the name?" Logan asked.
"What?" Shannon asked, unsure how to respond to the question.
"Gage Michael Logan," Logan answered. "That's the name on his birth certificate." He stopped and waited for her to respond. She hesitated, then slowly walked back into the room.
"Why are you doing this?" She asked sympathetically. "Can't you just forget you ever found that piece of paper and just let it be?"
"No, I can't," Logan said. "And I don't know how you can just forget that you had a kid."
"I haven't forgotten," Shannon insisted. "I think about it almost every day but it's not part of my life. Having a child is not who I am. I have a career, I'm engaged to a great guy and we've decided that kids are not something we need in our lives right now," she explained, but it sounded more like she was trying to convince herself more than Logan.
Please, do both of us a favor and forget this ever happened. Put it behind you and get on with your life."
"I can't," Logan said. "I've seen this kid. I know what these people have done to him. And I know what will happen to him if he gets thrown into the system. I've seen it happen to other kids and I don't want it to happen to him. I can't let it."
"So, what do you want me to do?" Shannon asked getting hostile. "Do you want me to show up all of a sudden and say 'hi, I'm your mommy?' No, I know, you want to play daddy," she said attacking Logan with her words. "And what part of your life are you going to give up to do that? Your career? Your social life? It'll never happen and you're kidding yourself if you think it will."
Logan took out the picture of Gage that he had gotten from Lauren McDermot. He looked at it briefly and then showed it to her, standing behind her shoulder as he did. As he studied the photograph he saw his own smile on the boy's face. No one would have guessed by looking at the picture of this smiling, happy looking kid, that he was being abused. He looked deep into the hazel eyes, and it was there that he saw a glimpse of something. A sorrow much like his own. "Look at this picture," he said. "I think he looks like you." The boy had his mother's dirty blonde hair, that was combed neatly for the picture, and a little button nose. There was no doubt in Logan's mind that this boy was created by him and Shannon O'Brien.
Shannon took the picture from his hand, turned and angrily slapped it against his chest. "You have to go. Now," she insisted and walked to the door and held it open for him. Logan slowly walked to the door. He waited, hoping she would say something, change her mind, but she didn't. She just looked at the floor. He left her standing there.
October 16, 8:00a.m.
Briscoe, Stone and Robinette were mingling around in Cragen's office discussing what to do concerning the McDermot case. Logan knocked and entered. The other men stopped their discussion and looked at him.
"What's going on?" Logan asked and the men all exchanged uneasy glances.
"It turns out, Mrs. McDermot was right about her son not being mentally stable," Cragen reported.
"What do you mean?" Logan asked.
"Her lawyer sent us a copy of his medical records," Cragen began. "He was institutionalized for six months last year," he handed Logan a file. "He drowned his little brother in the bathtub."
"What?" Logan asked both confused and offended about what he had just been told. "And you buy that?"
"We have a sworn statement from the boy's psychiatrist," Stone said. "He admitted to it during a therapy session."
"No, I don't believe that," Logan said in the boy's defense. "He's not a killer. These people abused him, they'll say anything to make themselves not look guilty."
"And they can get a doctor to falsify records?" Stone inquired sarcastically.
"It happens," Logan said defensively.
"Look, Mike," Cragen stood up from behind his desk and walked toward Logan. "I'm taking you off this case and giving it to Profaci and Lee."
"Donnie," Logan said.
"You're too close to this thing," Cragen said. "I know you think this might be your kid and your objectivity may be a little off center."
"This is my kid," Logan said again in defense. "That's how I know he couldn't do this." He said, waving the folder in Cragen's face.
"Mike, you saw this kid put a gun to his head, he doesn't act rationally," Briscoe added. "You don't know how far he could go. He could have done it, and he did kill his father, he admitted that."
"It was self defense. Olivet confirmed that. Or don't you even believe our own psychiatrist?" Logan said angrily.
"Yes," Stone began. "I think he killed the father in self defense. He was being abused. I'm not disputing that. But a little girl is still missing and he hasn't been forthcoming about her whereabouts. It's possible he could have harmed her as well."
"I don't believe this," Logan said as he paced the office. "What about the McDermots? What about all those other kids they supposedly adopted? Why aren't we questioning them about their whereabouts, or do you think he killed all of them, too?"
"Mike," Cragen warned.
"This is crap," Logan snapped. "He's a victim and you're making him out to be some kind of serial killer. Jesus, he's a little kid. You don't know what these people are capable of. Did you ever think that maybe she killed her husband and the little girl and maybe he's covering for her?"
"And why would he do that? If she was abusing him, he wouldn't protect her," Stone said.
"Maybe he's scared of being next," Logan responded.
"Look, we're not getting anywhere here," Cragen said. "Profaci and Lee are picking up the kid from children's services, they're going to bring him down here, we'll question him and see if we can't get this thing solved."
"I want to be there when you question him," Logan said. "And I want a guardian-ad-litem appointed and to be there during questioning."
"Mike," Cragen started.
"What? If he's going to be treated like a criminal, he's entitled to have someone to protect his rights. Right?" Logan questioned.
The phone rang and Cragen quickly answered it. "What?" he snapped into the receiver. "What?! Absolutely not. Under no circumstances is anyone to go near this kid. Yeah." He hung up the phone. "Someone just tried to snatch the kid."
Logan turned and bolted out of the office.
"Mike!" Cragen yelled after him, but he was already gone.
Briscoe motioned to Cragen that he would handle it and followed Logan out of the office.
Detective Profaci met Logan and Briscoe as they were walking down the hall of the children's home where Gage McDermot was staying under protective custody. He greeted them "Mike, Lennie."
"Where is he?" Logan asked immediately, worried about the boy he thought was his son.
"He's in here," Profaci said, leading them down the hall to a large open room, "He's o.k. Just a little scared. This is Ms. Hutchins, she saw the whole thing."
"I'm Detective Briscoe, this is Detective Logan," Briscoe said, flashing his badge. "Can you tell us what happened?"
"It was a couple, a man and a woman. Tried to take him right off the playground. Would have, too, except the kid started screaming bloody murder. It scared them off before we catch them," she answered.
"What about a car?" Briscoe asked.
"Big, dark blue or black. Nobody saw the plate. Sorry," she said.
"Thank you," Briscoe replied as Profaci wrote the information down in his steno pad.
Logan walked into the large open area and over to the window where Gage was sitting. He squatted down beside the chair.
"I don't want to stay here anymore," Gage said.
"O.k., you don't have to," Logan assured him.
"Gage," Briscoe said, joining them by the window. "Do you know the people who tried to take you? Have you ever seen them before?"
"Mr. and Mrs. Kellerman," Gage replied.
"Do you know why they wanted to take you away from here?" Briscoe asked.
"So I wouldn't tell you anything about them," Gage responded.
"Like what?" Briscoe asked.
"They're evil. They like to hurt kids," Gage said.
"What do you mean?" Briscoe asked.
"Lennie," Logan said, standing up and walking a few feet away to talk to Briscoe in private. "What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to find out what happened. And I'm trying to keep this kid from going to jail," Briscoe said. "Look, Mike, if you want to help this kid, you have to forget the fact that you might be his father and treat him just like anyone else involved in an investigation. You can't question him and protect him at the same time. Let me handle this o.k.?" He walked back over to the boy and pulled up a chair and sat in front of him. Logan stood close by. "Gage, Detective Logan and I want to help you. In order to do that, we need you to tell us everything you can about the Kellermans and we really need to know what happened the night that your dad was killed. And most importantly, we need to find Megan. Can you help us do that?"
"I can't," Gage said. "They'll kill me if I tell."
"Who?" Briscoe asked.
Gage didn't answer, he just looked at the floor.
"Listen, Gage," Logan said. "If you tell us who you're afraid of, we can arrest them. We can protect you so they won't hurt you or Megan again. Do you understand? They'll go to jail."
"I can't," Gage said.
"Gage, if you don't tell us where Megan is, you could go to jail. Do you understand that?" Briscoe told the boy. "It's kidnapping."
"But what if I don't know where she is?" Gage asked.
"You said you did," Briscoe replied.
"What if I don't, exactly?" The boy asked again.
Logan and Briscoe exchanged a frustrated look. "Well, how can we find out, exactly?" Briscoe asked.
"I'm hungry," Gage said changing the subject. "Can we get something to eat?"
The waitress filled the glasses on the table where Logan, Briscoe and Gage sat enjoying a pizza at Ruffino's Pizzaria.
"O.k. What about this one?" Logan began. "What's big and gray and carries a trunk?"
"An elephant on vacation. Everybody knows that one," Gage said smugly. "I got a better one."
"Why don't you save it for later," Briscoe said, as he tried to change the subject once again and try to get some information out of the boy. "We need to talk about Megan," he said. "You said you knew where she was."
"I don't," Gage said, shyly shaking his head.
"But you know who does, right?" Briscoe urged. The boy didn't answer. He just sat looking down at the table, avoiding the stares of the two detectives. "Gage," he continued, "Nothing bad will happen if you just tell us the truth." Slowly the boy's eyes looked up at Briscoe. He wanted to tell them. He wanted to tell them everything, but he was afraid. Detective Briscoe was wrong he thought to himself. Something bad would happen if he told. Someone would be killed. "The sooner you tell us, the sooner this will be over and you can go home," Briscoe said. "You want to go home don't you?" The boy shook his head. He didn't want to go home. Not to that home anyway.
"All right, look," Logan said, realizing it was his turn to try to extract information from the boy. "I'm going to tell you what we think happened. All you have to do is answer "yes" or "no", o.k.?" The boy nodded. "O.k. We think, that on the night your dad was killed, he was hitting you. We think that happened a lot. Is that right?" The boy swallowed hard and nodded. "We think that he was going to hurt Megan and you tried to protect her and you shot him," he paused waiting for the boy to reply. The boy again nodded his head, instructing Logan to continue theorizing. "Then you got scared and you panicked. You didn't know what else to do so you took Megan and hid her somewhere to make it look like the two of you had been taken by someone else. But you were hurt and needed to go to the hospital. You couldn't take her with you, and you wouldn't just leave her by herself, so you left her with someone, right?" The boy looked at Logan and saw that he understood. He nodded again. "Who did you leave her with?"
For a moment the boy didn't speak. He still wasn't quite sure if the two detectives could be trusted with his secret. Once he told he knew there would be no turning back. It would all come out in the open. There would be nothing he could do to stop it then. And, once the secret was out, he knew there would be those who would stop at nothing to cover it back up again. He didn't have many choices, he knew that much for sure. He could continue to cover the secrets and live the rest of his life in fear or he could finally expose the evilness that surrounded him. "Claudia," he finally said, making his choice without even realizing it. "Claudia Sheffield."
"Where can we find her?" Logan asked.
"451 108th Street, apartment 12," Gage answered.
Logan nodded, assuring the boy that he made the right choice. "Good," he said.
"But Megan's not there anymore," Gage said. "They would've looked for her there."
"Who?" Briscoe asked, discouraged that this new lead may be going nowhere.
"Lauren and Maxwell," Gage replied. "Claudia helped me to hide her so they wouldn't ever find her."
"And why would you and Claudia want to do that?" Logan asked. For a moment the boy was silent. He studied Logan's face trying to think about how would he react when he found out. Would he believe him? Or would he be like all the others and think that he was being told some crazy elaborate story, made up to get his parents in trouble. The secret was so close to being revealed, he didn't want to turn back now, but he was scared. Scared of what THEY would do when they found out he had told. It didn't matter, he thought, he had to tell them. He had to tell them everything or it would never stop. Yes, he was going to tell Detective Logan and Detective Briscoe what the McDermot's had really been up to all those years.
All of a sudden a look of fear came over the boy's face. He watched a man intently as he entered the dining area and proceeded to walk past the table where the three sat. The man sat in the booth directly behind them and Gage turned in his seat so that he could watch the man's every move. Logan and Briscoe exchanged a puzzled look but dismissed the boy's strange reaction . They had gotten what they needed, they thought, to wrap up this case.
"Let's go," Gage said turning quickly back around on the bench seat and pushed on Logan to get out of the booth. "Hurry, hurry!" he said as he dropped down under the table and crawled out of the booth. Once out, he stood and took Logan by the arm and began tugging, repeating himself over and over "Let's go."
Logan and Briscoe finally obliged and stood up from the table. As Briscoe paid the bill, Gage tugged at Logan's arm and led him out of the restaurant. Briscoe followed.
"Hey, what's the matter with you? Cut it out," Logan said, slightly annoyed.
"We got to get out of here," the boy replied, still tugging on Logan, wanting to get as far away from this place as he could. "Hurry!"
"Calm down," Logan said, taking the boy by the arms. "What's wrong? What are you afraid of?"
"He's one of them!" Gage said with panic in his voice. "He's following us. He's going to kill me!"
"Who?" Logan looked around. He saw no one suspicious, and had no idea what the boy was talking about. "Who's following us?"
"That man. In there. He knows I was going to tell! We got to leave now, c'mon!" Gage shouted and pulled away from Logan and ran into the street. A car horn blared and Logan pulled the boy out of the way of the oncoming car and back onto the safety of the sidewalk.
Logan, both angry at the boy's carelessness and relieved that he wasn't hurt, shook him by the arms and shouted "Don't ever do that again! You want to get yourself killed?!" A strange feeling came over him, a feeling of fear. Fear of losing his son that he hardly knew. He was so overcome with this feeling that he didn't know how to react. Fear wasn't an emotion that Logan had a lot of experience with. He was always outwardly tough and inwardly strong. He wasn't a man who showed his emotions openly. Only a few times that he could remember and they all involved his partner Max's death. No, this was something completely unknown to him. All that he could think to do was hold onto this boy and never let him go. Now that he knew this little person existed, he couldn't imagine a life without him. He grabbed the boy into his arms and held him tightly. He felt trembling coming not only from the boy's body, but his own. Now they had both been scared.
"I don't want to die," the boy cried. "Please don't let them kill me."
"It's all right, you're safe," Logan comforted him.
"Is everything all right?" asked the man who terrified Gage in the restaurant, as he now stood beside Briscoe. "I saw what happened."
"Everything's fine," Briscoe answered. "Thanks."
"You better be careful, young man," the man said patting Gage on the head. "You could get hurt."
"Have a seat right there," Logan told Gage as they walked into the squad room. "And don't move."
The boy sat down in a chair beside Logan's desk and watched the two detectives as they walked into Cragen's office and closed the door behind them.
"Where the hell have you been?" Cragen shouted, slamming down the receiver of the phone he was just talking into. "Profaci's been back for two hours and Stone's been on my back all morning wanting to know where this kid is."
"Well, we were trying to get some information out of him," Briscoe reported. "I think we finally have something."
"And?" Cragen waited for more information.
"He told us who has the little girl, but, I'm not sure if it's a reliable lead," Briscoe reported. Cragen again waited. "The mother may be telling the truth, this kid's not playing with a full deck."
"What the hell does that mean?" Logan asked, offended by his partner's description of his son.
"C'mon, Mike," Briscoe began. "You saw what happened at lunch."
"That doesn't mean anything," Logan replied.
"You want to clue me in here?" Cragen asked.
Logan sighed as Briscoe relayed the details of the pizza parlor incident to Cragen. "I mean one minute he's cracking jokes and the next he's all paranoid, screaming that we're being followed and that someone's trying to kill him."
"What about this mother?" Logan broke in trying to change the subject and direct the conversation back in the direction he thought it needed to go in. "Anyone question her about those other five kids?"
"She's in interrogation right now," Cragen answered. "She swears she doesn't know anything about her husband's business."
"Yeah, just like she swore she didn't know he was beating the kid," Logan retorted. "Look," he continued, "she's covering up something, so is the kid. There's more to this thing than we think."
"Nothing else matters right now," Cragen insisted. "Our main priority is to find that little girl. Now what did you get out of the kid?"
"He said the girl's with Claudia Sheffield, she used to be the babysitter," Briscoe replied.
"So, what are you waiting for?" Cragen asked. "Pay her a visit."
"He was just about to tell us more when he freaked," Briscoe continued. "I think if we keep at him, the whole story might finally come out instead of little pieces here and there."
"All right," Cragen agreed. "I'll have someone else pick up the girl. Let's put some pressure on this kid and put an end to this mess before it gets worse, all right?"
"Am I under arrest?" Gage asked as he sat innocently across the table from Cragen.
"Did you do something that you should be arrested for?" Cragen asked.
"I killed my dad. I already told them that," Gage answered.
"That's right, you did" Cragen replied. "But Detective Briscoe and Detective Logan think that you still have something that you're hiding about that night. Something that you were just about to tell them before you got scared and ran out of the restaurant."
"Where's Detective Logan?" Gage asked.
"He'll be in in a minute," Cragen said. "He won't mind if you tell me and Detective Briscoe. What did you want to tell him? Something about Megan? About where she is?"
"Did he go to see Claudia?" Gage asked avoiding Cragen's numerous questions.
"She's coming down here," Cragen answered. "We're going to talk to her, too. See, so anything you don't tell us we'll have to get from her. It will take us a lot longer to close this case but eventually we will find out everything that we need to know. So, not telling us what you know isn't going to help anyone. You see?"
"I want to tell you, but..." Gage paused.
"But what?" Cragen asked.
"I don't think you'll believe me."
"Sure I will" Cragen coaxed.
"We had to hide Megan so no one would ever find her. 'Cause if they did they'd sell her," Gage said.
"Lauren and Maxwell. I killed Dave. But they're just as bad. If they would've found her they would have sold her to some guy in New Jersey," Gage replied intelligently. "He collects kids and... makes them do bad things."
"What kind of things?" Cragen asked.
"He makes them have sex with him," Gage replied matter-of-factly.
For a moment Cragen wasn't sure if he understood what the boy was trying to tell him but the look on the kid's face was too intense to have just fabricated a story like this. He felt it had to be true, but he needed more details to be absolutely sure. "Do you know this man?"
"His name's Walter, Walter McGinty. Dave used to adopt kids through his agency. Then he would sell the kids to Walter for a lot of money. Then Walter keeps the kids and has people pay him to have sex with them, or sometimes he just sells them the kids and gets more from Dave."
Cragen was both stunned and sickened over what he was hearing. The story was either the result of a very messed up mind or it was true. He had to know how this boy knew all this, so he asked.
"I know kids that have gone there and never come back," Gage replied. "I've seen the pictures he's taken of the kids that go there. Pretty sick stuff. That's why I had to kill Dave. He was going to sell Megan. I've been to Walter's, I couldn't let them do that to her. I had to do something to stop him."
Cragen was still entertaining the idea that this was all make-believe but he said to Briscoe "let's check out this McGinty."
"Are you going to tell them that I told?" Gage said with fear in his voice.
"No, we're not going to tell," Cragen assured him.
"They'll kill me," Gage insisted. "Like the others that tried to tell."
"Marie and Todd. And Ravina," Gage answered.
"It's o.k. We're not going to tell." Cragen said. "And Detective Briscoe is going to check out this Walter, now the only thing that we still need to know is where exactly is your sister?"
"Ohio," Gage said. "I contacted some people through the Internet. They wanted to adopt a little girl, so I printed up adoption papers and Claudia pretended to be her mother and flew her out there. They have Megan. They're going to take good care of her. You don't have to worry. I checked them out first. They're good people, they have three other kids. Boys. They really wanted a little girl. She's going to be happy there," he explained.
"Happy or not, that's not the point," Cragen said amazed at the boy's knowledge and mature attitude. "The point is that you didn't have any right to do that. Neither you nor Claudia have custody of that little girl, you're not her parents, and what you did is kidnap her and that's a felony and you could both go to jail."
"But..." the boy tried to plead his case but was cut off by Cragen.
"No buts. Where is she? What are the people's names?" He said losing his patience for this game. "Where?" he shouted angrily, clenching his teeth.
Cragen didn't believe him, Gage thought. It was all an act to get him to tell him where Megan was so they could give her back to Lauren. He was tricked into trusting them. They had no intention of helping him or stopping what was happening to all those kids, him included. Cragen and Briscoe, maybe Logan too, were just like all the others. They hadn't believed him either. Maybe they couldn't. Maybe it was too grotesque for them to think that it could actually be true. Of course, that was it, it was too horrible to imagine that people like Walter and Maxwell and the McDermots existed in this world. People who hurt and used defenseless children for their own gain. Who would want to believe a thing like that? Who could picture that there were people out there who craved having sex with children, who molested and raped them and tortured them every day of their lives and murdered them if they tried to stop it? No normal person could believe it. And if they did, then maybe they would be too ashamed that they could have done something to stop it but didn't.
But it was true. All of it. Gage had seen it happen to other children. It happened to him. Too often. He knew, if no one else did, what kind of evil lurked out there in the world. He had seen its face.
"You don't believe me," Gage finally said, tears swelling up in his eyes. "I knew you wouldn't."
"Gage, listen, it's not that I don't believe you, it's just that we have certain procedures that we need to follow before we can do anything about these accusations. We need some kind of proof. Do you understand?" Cragen explained. "We can't just accuse people of this kind of thing without something to back it up. Now, we're going to check out everything that you told us, but we need to take care of getting Megan back first. So please, tell us the names of the people who adopted her?"
It was no use to try to fight it anymore. He had told Captain Cragen everything that he knew about the child prostitution ring that was being run by the McDermots. There were no more secrets, except the one that was protecting his sister, Megan. Nothing could hurt her anymore, though, he thought. The police would follow through with the claims against McGinty and the others and he and Megan and Claudia would be safe. There wasn't anything else to be afraid of so he told.
Ben Stone stood with Logan in the interrogation room lobby, listening to the interview inside. Neither one knew what to say about what they had heard. Logan had dealt with cases of child molestation before, but this was different. That was his kid in there making those kinds of accusations. He remembered back to the photograph of Gage that he had shared with Shannon. He thought about the look he saw deep in the child's eyes. The same pain and torment that he had experienced at the hands of Father Joe Krolinsky. His son was molested because he wasn't there to protect him and it was eating away at him.
Cragen and Briscoe exited the interrogation room into the lobby. They had been friends with Logan for many years. They'd seen each other through some rough times but neither knew how to comfort their friend after this new revelation.
"If it's true," Stone began, "We'll call it justifiable homicide."
"And if it's not?" Logan asked.
"Murder two," Stone answered. "What about this girl? Can she corroborate his story?"
"We're picking her up now," Cragen replied.
"Well, let's hope she can," Stone said.
The door of the lobby opened. It was Detective Profaci, who always brought them the latest news on a case. They could tell right away by the look on his face that he didn't have good news.
"Oh, what now?" Cragen said, not able to take anymore wrinkles in the case.
"They found the girl," Profaci said. "She's dead. Someone cut her throat."
"All right," Cragen said quickly changing the plans. "See what we got on this McGinty and hold the mother and the lawyer, too. No one leaves here till we get to the bottom of this. And check out these people in Ohio, Marty and Anita Cologne. Let's get that little girl back here." He patted Logan on the shoulder and looked through the window into the interrogation room where Gage still sat. "Talk to him, Mikey," he said and walked out of the room.
end of Part One
read Part Two