Riverville Murder - Chapter 30
Case of the Riverville Murder
A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack
“Then let me show you at least one of Boston’s splendors. It’s close to closing, so let’s head for the Parker House for a couple of drinks, some dinner, good conversation, and then we’ll take you to the airport. Where is your luggage?”
“In a locker at British Airways terminal,” Sullivan answered. “I took the time to take it there before looking you up.”
Qualter called before the three left for the Parker House. “Where will you be in the morning, Boss? There are conversations on the recorder you will want to hear. Things are popping, and I think you will soon be hearing from Alice Nadeau. These conversations will give you a jump on her. We’ll be there at eight o’clock if you like.”
On the way, Scott gave Allan a summary of Qualter’s call and asked to pick him up for the eight o’clock meeting.
The evening with Frank Sullivan went on until ten o’clock, with swapping stories of adventures, humorous incidents, and family, all accompanied with Parker’s Single Malt. Allan had Pepsi. They made Sullivan’s flight, after the sumptuous meal, with time to spare.
Allan was waiting at seven-thirty when Scott walked through his front gate to Walnut Street.
“Are you OK this morning, Boss?” Allan asked.
“Are you asking if I have a hangover? If so, the answer is no. It’s all in the timing, Allan. Pace yourself correctly, and you will never get a hangover -- and that’s today’s lesson.”
Allan smiled as he moved the car away from the curb, thinking he hasn’t seen Scott that jovial for quite a while – since this case started, he decided.
Qualter and Guatino, waiting in the hall outside Scott’s office, Guatino holding a cardboard tray housing four cups of coffee, started jabbering about the recording as soon as they saw Scott.
Inside, Scott said, “OK, now, one at a time, tell your story, and let’s get the playback going.”
Rather than continuing, Guatino opened the case, rewound the wire, and started the playback. It consisted of several arguments and heated conversations. The first voices were those of Callan and Jason Atkins discussing Zebrine and Cressey.
Annie arrived and, hearing the voices, came into Scott’s office. She listened for a while and left. Annie retrieved a new steno-book from a cabinet, sharpened several pencils, and sat everything on the corner of her desk in anticipation. Then, she set about sorting the morning mail and wondering how long it will be before someone comes in with the recorder and how long it will take to do the transcribing.
Scott suddenly said, “Stop the machine. Do we have first names for Cressey and Zebrine?”
Qualter and Guatino glanced back and forth at each other with vacant looks on their faces before Allan spoke.
“Of course, we do. Cressey and Zebrin’s first names must be on the list we received from the DMV.”
“Oh, my,” Scott gasped. “If we forget things like this, we have too much going on. I wish Mark Simmons could be on-board. Well, wishing won’t make it real, so let’s get on with it. Thanks, Allan.”
They continued until Scott said stop. “Run it back, if you can, to the place where Nadeau gave them an ultimatum. They were discussing how the money will be used.”
Qualter found the spot, and they carefully listened as Nadeau said:
“Your total is way too much. I cannot justify that amount to my sources! Give me names and cut the amount in half. Then, I might have a chance. Otherwise, I don’t see how I can help you. Actually, you are in a much more vulnerable position than Nathan ever was. I’m sticking my neck out here. You and your friends have no money left to guarantee repayment, Goddard is in the pokey, funds confiscated, and you’re a poor cop. I shouldn’t even be talking to you just because Nathan was a friend.
“Come on, Allice, be reasonable. OK, I need the money as an inducement to recruit fillers for the organization. I don’t have names as yet. But I’ll cut the amount in half and make promises for the cash. You’ll get their names when I know them. Ned Zebrine and Chuck Cressey are in Providence right now putting out feelers through some friends there.”
A telephone ring is the next thing heard on the recording, and Scott again says, “Stop.”
Rewind, and take the machine to Annie. There is too much here to absorb by listening. However, we did get those first names I asked about. I’m going to have those two looked into.”
“Looks as if Miss Nadeau has the upper hand, Boss,” Allan added. “If she gives Callan money on a signed contract and stating the purpose, she’ll really have him. She has to be working for some government agency, or maybe the police commissioner.”
“You might have hit square on, Allan. What if the cops are on to him and haven’t told us?” Scott replied. I’ve known Dick Taranto, the assistant commissioner, going way back when he was a sergeant. If it weren’t vitally important, he would have asked for my help or informed me of the issue. Folks, I don’t think it will be long before we hear from Miss Nadeau.”
In Interrogation Room 1 of the Somerville Police Headquarters, Bobby Clark sits wringing his hands and tapping his toes. An officer is at a desk in the Squad Room, making out an arrest report on Clark when his sergeant comes in.
“Where did you find Clark?” the sergeant asks.
“Clark was on a fire escape attached to the warehouse building that was the Compton Hill Gang’s hangout. I was patrolling with my partner when we were hailed by Buzzy. We pulled into an alley, and he told us of a break-in about to happen at that address. Buzzy said the word on the street was about a stash of guns the gang hid in the building.”
“Buzzy? Is that the homeless guy that’s been feeding the department tips once in a while? The sergeant asked.
“He’s the one, homeless in name only, though. He’s wealthy. I understand someone ran a check on him, and he just likes to live on the street and look like a bum. Buzzy, I don’t know his real name, was a big man in Silicon Valley – president of a company until the stress got to him and he had a breakdown. I guess he is harmless, but he needs a keeper, I think.”
“I’ve never met the man,” the sergeant said, but it seems he needs some psychiatric help. We could bring him as an indigent. When the court hears his story, he will, more than likely, be put in a hospital until he is straightened out.”
“Heck, Sergeant, Buzzy isn’t hurting anyone except the bad guys. I understand he helps-out at the Seamans Shelter – even donates money when needed. He has his quirks but is a responsible person, both civically and financially. I’d like to see him left alone, at least until he does something really goofy.”
“The whole thing, the guns and how you stopped the break-in, is interesting, but I’ll wait for your report before I start asking questions. Oh, and we’ll leave Buzzy alone.”
Two days later, Winston Grant, Somerville Chief of Police, called Scott and told him of the arrest and the guns.
“This Bobby Clark, just a kid of nineteen and no record other than juvenal, told of talking to one of the Compton Hill Gang named Dino Marcus. We now have Marcus in custody. He didn’t know just where the weapons were hidden. He did understand from overhearing a conversation that the guns were for a second shipment to Northern Ireland. Apparently, Marcus was a small cog in the gang and was invisible to us. He also mentioned hearing the name of a Captain Callan in association with Goddard. We have no clue as to who Callan is. I’m calling to find out if you know anything of a Captain Callan.”
“You bet your life I know about Callan. However, I don’t want to discuss it on the phone. By the way, just what did you find at the warehouse?”
About a hundred weapons – seventy-five thirty-eight caliber pistols, the rest are Thompsons along with ten thousand rounds of ammo. Don’t ask how much of each, please. We locked it all up in an old meat refrigerator at the warehouse and have twenty-four-hour guards watching over it.”
“Not as big as the earlier shipment that didn’t quite make it to Ireland. Have you called the ATF, or are they still hanging around?” Scott asked.
“Oh, sure. John Guilford, you remember him, will be coming here soon.
“You don’t know it, Winston, but you have made my day. I’ll come to Somerville the day after tomorrow if that’s OK. I’ll tell you about the captain, and I would like to talk to Dino Marcus.”
“Sure, Scott. You are welcome here anytime.”
“Allan, we are going to Somerville the day after tomorrow. Let’s leave at about ten A.M.,” Scott said as he hung up the phone.
“You’ve got it, Boss. From what I heard and the tone of your voice, you have something more on Callan.”
“With a cooperative witness, he’s a dead duck. I think we know what the money Callan wants from Nadeau is really for.”
The special frequency radio sitting on Scott’s desk squealed. Pressing the transmitting bar, Scott said, “Yes, Scott here.”
“Callan and the three lieutenants are at the Italian Club. Do you want to bag them today?” Qualter asked.
“No, we’re not quite ready. Anything interesting on the recorder?”
“No, Sir. Some arguing, a lot of cursing Alice Nadeau, and discussing whose running at Suffolk Downs. One thing though – a call Callan made before the others showed up. It didn’t have much meaning to me. Callan and another man, no name was mentioned, talked about getting more ammo for the tommies. Weren’t British shoulders called Tommies in the first world war?”
Scott silently chuckled and said, “That’s true, but that isn’t what they were talking about. It ties in with something I just learned from the Somerville police. You will know in a couple of days. Keep listening and see if you can get a name for the guy Callan talked with. I’ll be away the day after tomorrow but keep on with what you are doing. Annie will be here if you think something is essential and needs transcribing.”
The next morning, Scott, surprised at seeing Guatino and Qualter waiting at his office, asked, “What are you guys up to so early this morning?”
“We have the name of the guy who talked about tommies with Callan – thought it important enough to bring in the recorder. Also found out tommies means Thompson machine guns.”
“It’s no wonder you didn’t know what they are. The Thompsons were outlawed some time back. They played havoc in the hands of crooks in the nineteen-thirties. The military and some government agencies are the only ones allowed to use them now. Set up the recorder, and we’ll have a listen.”
“It appears Callan knows about the confiscation of the guns, Boss,” Allan said as they listened.
Annie came in, and they all stood around Scott’s desk listening. About two minutes into the playback, Annie said, “I’m not a stranger to colorful language, but that Callan is a foul man. I’ve never heard such talk. I’m leaving.” And she stormed out of Scott’s office.
As soon as Scott heard what he wanted, he buzzed Annie, “Please get Alice Nadeau for me. Try her home first, and then her office.” Then, turning to the men, said, “It’s time to end this cat and mouse game with Miss Nadeau.”
“Hello, Alice. I have new information that makes it essential we get honest with each other. I want to meet with you today and get it all out and above board. What time is good for you?”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you are talking about,” Alice responded. “But I’m not opposed to seeing you today. I’m free from two to three at my office.”
“Fine, I’ll be there at two o’clock.”
“Do you actually think she will respond to the new info?” Qualter asked.
“If she doesn’t. I’ll get an obstruction of justice warrant and arrest her. She will be forced to reveal her employer and what the game is. Now, you two, if you can locate him, get back on Callan. I want to know everything I can before I arrest him.”
Allan pulled into the parking lot next to Nadeau’s building at ten of two.
They are greeted like old friends and offered coffee -- or something more robust. “It’s nice to see you both,” Alice said as she motioned them to plush leather chairs. Looking around, Scott could not help noticing the office is expensively decorated, to the extent of what appears to be two Monet’s on opposing walls.
“Are those Monet’s?” Scott asked. “The style is his, but I don’t recognize them.”
Smiling with delight, Alice, somewhat surprised, replied, “Why, yes, they are. You don’t recognize them because they have never been cataloged. Until they were gifted to me, they were never outside the family’s possession. They were willed to my great uncle, but he passed on. The Monet descendants, rather than have them put to auction and end up with strangers, gave them to me.”
“They are wonderful,” Scott said, “But now to business, and what I say is sure to surprise you. The money Callan wants from you is not for recruiting new gang members. Its intended use is to purchase a stash of illegal arms hidden away by the Compton Hill gang in Somerville. I have no knowledge of where Callan intends to sell them other than the name Gus Hofstadter, who, momentarily, is not known to me. The weapons are presently locked up and guarded by the Somerville police. Rumored it is a second part of the thwarted shipment to Northern Ireland, and because of the murder of an ATF agent, the ATF has been called back in.
“Through a tip, a young man is in jail in Somerville on attempted robbery of the weapons. I have some questions about the arrest. It might not be legal as he was caught on the fire escape and not actually breaking in the building. He is a low-level member of the Compton Hill bunch, and I’ll be questioning him soon to determine if there is any association between Hofstadter and Goddard or the Somerville gang.
“My goodness, haven’t you been busy?” Nadeau said. “I don’t know how you came by all this. Believe me, I wasn’t negotiating for any personal gain. The effort was to get Callan to agree to a loan. It was necessary, for prosecution purposes, to have it look legitimate with a signed contract. This new information will nullify all my work. And, for your information, I did not approach Captain Callan. Knowing about my friendship with Nathan Goddard, he thought I might help him and asked for a meeting. I talked to some people about it and was asked to follow through and report back to them.”
“You do realize that you have diluted my efforts to keep you off the witness stand, as promised. The thing I can do now is to try and keep your relationship with Goddard out of it.”
Alice thought for several minutes before nodding affirmatively.
“Now, I need two honest answers,” Scott said. “Do the names Gus Hofstadter, Dino Marcus, and Bobby Clark mean anything to you? And the big one, for whom are you doing this dangerous thing that can also be detrimental to your business?”
“Early on in the negotiations, I heard Hofstadter’s name mentioned by Ned Zebrine, but Callan managed to shut him up quickly, and I never heard it again. The other two names are not familiar at all. Now, before I answer the other question, I have one of my own. How do you know so much about the money, negotiations, and this Hofstadter?”
“Through a revolutionary new listening device and recorder, we were asked to test.”
“So, it’s more than hearsay, being a recording.”
“Yes,” Scott said with a slight shrug. “There is some question if that type of thing is legal – privacy invasion, and such. However, a notarized transcription of recordings has been accepted as evidence.”
Alice continued, “For some years, I have worked anonymously with the state’s internal revenue department. I’ve been able to help them bring forward several tax fraud cases. Not having any previous suspicions about Callan, they suggested I talk to the police commissioner and set up a meeting with them. On the tax people’s say-so, the commissioner asked me to go ahead and be extremely careful.”
“I can understand why,” Scott replied. “The commissioner and his assistant are the only people in the police department who know about Callan being a dirty cop. I’m just astonished they didn’t let me in on your efforts.”
“I can’t answer that. You’ll have to take that one up with the commissioner,” Alice said, sounding dejected.
“Richard Taranto is an old friend of mine, so I intend to. He’ll give me a straight answer.”
“Thanks for being cooperative, Alice. You’ve confirmed what we assumed about your connection with Callan. I had no idea who you were working for, but I was always sure it wasn’t for yourself. Again, I’ll do all I can, through legal action and personal favors, to keep you out of the whole thing. In the meantime, may I suggest you end contact with Callan. Despite the weapons now being confiscated, Callan will probably continue his quest for money. He isn’t accustomed to living on a policeman’s pay. He is also dangerous if he gets angry. There is little doubt he is responsible for the attempt on my life and the shooting of officer Mark Simmons. Should you feel you are in danger, I can provide protection for you with a phone call.”
“Thank you, Scott. I really disliked having to keep you in the dark, and I’m glad it’s over. Yes, I’ll call for help if I feel threatened.”
Later at his statehouse office, Scott updated Matt Hart on the recent revelations regarding Nadeau and the weapons in Somerville.
“This case, from its very beginning, has more twists than a corkscrew. I’m glad you can keep it all straight,” Hart said. “Why don’t you leave Assistant Commissioner Taranto to me? I doubt he knows the latest, much less the depth of evidence we have against Callan, and might let us take it all over. He will always be here for testimony if needed. Besides, he’s a long-time friend of yours. I’d hate to see anything happen to that.”
“I don’t know, Matt. Being a friend, he might take it better from me. However, you’re the boss, so do it your way. One thing, I’ve promised Alice Nadeau anonymity. If she doesn’t get it, it will end her use to the tax people, although I question its legality, and kill her business future. Please impress that on Dick Taranto.
In Scott’s office, Allan sat, coffee in hand, watching a flock of pigeons on the ground, fighting for food. Scott came in, and Allan turned and said, “I got a coffee for you. I hope it isn’t cold.”
“I’m sure it is OK, thanks.”
Allan walked to Scott’s desk and pulled a chair close. “How did it go with Mister Hart?”
“Everything is fine, but instead of me talking to Dick Taranto about Callan, he wants to do it. I think he’ll be much firmer with his demands to leave the Callan problem to us. His excuse is the possibility of injuring my friendship with Dick if I talk to him. I Didn’t argue about it. Perhaps he’s right. Anyway, it’s been a stressful day. Let’s head to my house and have a Scotch. The boys will be glad to see you.
The minute Nancy saw Allan, she said, “It’s been too long, Allan, I hope you like beef stew.”
Despite Allan’s persistence that he hadn’t come to have dinner, Nancy insisted.
“Don’t argue, Allan. When her mind is made up, you’ll get nowhere, Scott said as he handed Allan a Scotch over ice.
A horn sounded at nine-forty-five just as Scott finished his breakfast. He grabbed his briefcase, kissed Nancy, and went to the waiting car for the trip to Somerville. “Had a great time with the boys last night, thanks. And Nancy’s beef stew is terrific”, Allan said as the car moved from the curb.
Ernie Whitenack was born in 1928 in Springfield, Illinois and moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1930's. He is a Korean War veteran, worked as a photographic illustrator for 43 years and is now retired. Oh, and in case you didn't notice.... he's a pipe smoker too.
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2020
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