Riverville Murder - Chapter 33

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Case of the Riverville Murder

A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack

Chapter Thirty Three


Allan showed up at eleven o’clock as Scott and Dick Taranto were finishing compiling and packaging the transcripts. “Ah, glad you are here, Allan. We have a one-thirty appointment with Judge Millstone. We’ll leave when we finish here, have some lunch and go see the judge. It will be tight getting the warrants on the strength of the transcripts. I hope the judge is in a good mood.”

On the way, Allan said, “Boss, I have a question that might sound ignorant, so excuse me if it is. In the years before I was assigned to be your driver, I was in on some compelling cases. We met in a squad room and got orders from a superior and executed them. Only a couple of times did we have a full-blown meeting. I’m wondering why you have so many meetings and interviews?”

“No question is stupid if you learn something from it, Allan. This answer is, it’s the difference between investigation and detection, although the two often overlap.”

“When investigating a committed crime or one suspected of being committed, investigators study, examine, and probes all elements and people associated with a crime. Then he confers with other experts to build the best course of action and direction.”

“A detective, generally, is on the crime before an investigator. His job is to discover involved parties, to recognize falsehoods, detect the motive, and the overlapping part, determining if the offense has actually happened, then apprehend and make an arrest.”

“I see,” Allan said. “That’s the reason for all the mysterious banter with Miss Nadeau and the recent trip to Somerville. Thinking back, you actually investigated Mark Simmons before letting him into your circle. Even contacting Inspector Sullivan about Hofstadter, after you knew all about him, was an investigation of sorts, and so was the Simmons family meeting!”

“I think you have it, but remember that the functions of both can be blurred at times.”

“Now, get back to the task at hand, and don’t drive past the courthouse,” Scott joked, causing Taranto to laugh and told Allan not to pay any attention to Scott’s sarcasm, that it was an intelligent question.

Almost immediately, Scott and Dick Taranto were ushered into Judge Millstone’s elegant office. The judge blurted out,” I was wondering when I would hear from you again. You promised to keep me informed.”

“I know I did, your honor, and that is what I’m doing today. I have been swamped, what with a new turn in this case almost every day.”

“I understand,” the judge said. “Now, bring me up to date, but do it in ten to fifteen minutes.”

Scott set about condensing the last couple of weeks into a continuous stream of words, occasionally stopping to breathe and answer questions presented by the judge.

“Excellent, Chief investigator, done in precisely eleven minutes. Now, tell me why the Assistant Commissioner of Police is here with you and what you want from me,” Judge Millstone demanded.

Dick Taranto quickly answered, saying, “Since your question is regarding my presence here, I feel I should answer. Scott and I have teamed up to hatch a plan to finally end the C Street gang. Together we have worked diligently, almost through the night, in preparation for this meeting. Individually we investigated Captain Claud Callan of the Boston Police Force. Finding that my work could interfere with the state’s, we joined forces.”

Immediately Scott said. “Thanks, Dick.” And turned to the judge,

“Sir, in these envelopes are all of the recording transcriptions collated by date. Together they hold enough evidence against the gang’s leaders and others to put them away for a long time. We need your advice on the legality of using the recordings and/or the transcriptions as evidence. If you approve, arrest warrants are needed.”

Scott then explained that the FBI is actively working to arrest Gustloff Hofstadter and look into Danial Atkins’s activities, a possibly dirty police chief in Rhode Island.

“I suppose you are in a hurry, Scott? The judge asked. There’s an extremely large amount of material here. With the help of my staff, it could take a week.”

“We are monitoring Callan everywhere he goes and recording events at the Italian Club. We have addresses for all the actors in this drama. And state troopers stand ready to move in at the push of a button on a special radio. I think we can wait for a week. It won’t be easy waiting for your verdict, though. It’s been a long haul for me.”

“I’ll move things along as fast as accuracy allows. By the way, when this is over, I want to see a demonstration of this wire recorder phone tap and your extraordinary radio.”

“My pleasure, Judge. I guess we have taken enough of your day. I look forward to hearing from you.”

As they exited the courthouse, Allan stood, shielded by the car, looking at the buildings across the street. Scott noticed the pistol in Allan’s hand, held tightly to his leg. His head moving from side to side as he scanned the building’s windows and rooftops. Scott nudged Taranto and pointed out Allan’s activity.

In the car, Taranto said, “This is the very place where someone tried to shoot you, Scott. Is that what you were looking for, Allan?”

Not knowing how to take the question, Allan simply said. “Yes, but remember, there are Mass State Troopers close by doing the same thing.”

Later that day, Scott said to Allan, “That was good thinking and readiness at the courthouse. Have you ever had to shoot someone?”

“No, I haven’t – a couple of close ones, though. I’ve often wondered if I could do that and how I would feel afterward.”

Scott placed his hand on Allan’s shoulder and said, I doubt there is a responsible cop, or military person, in the world who hasn’t had the same thoughts. When it gets down to the gritty shoot or get shot, you will act as you’ve been trained. You will have regrets, but when your mind sorts it out, they will fade away. Trust me, I know. And don’t think my hand wasn’t on my Webley Mark VI.”

Sunday morning dawned clear and cold as two FBI cars, containing four agents, pulled to the curb near Gustloff Hofstadter’s apartment building, a monstrous complex noted for its exclusiveness. One car could watch the underground garage exit, while the other kept watch on the front door. It wasn’t until ten-thirty that Hofstadter’s vehicle pulled onto the street. The agents followed until Hofstadter slowed and entered the parking lot of Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church.

An agent asked on the FBI radio, “Anybody know how long a Lutheran service lasts?”

An answer came back, “Depends on what Lutheran group that church belongs to, I’d say between forty-five minutes and an hour. My grandmother was a Lutheran.”

“OK, men, we have a wait. We can bag him as he comes from the church or continue to follow and see if he is up to anything today. I’m for following. I’d hate to see any bystanders hurt if things get rough.”

The same day, in a small town in southwestern Rhode Island, two FBI agents walk into a restaurant across from the police station, take a window table and order a large breakfast. An hour and a half later, they decide they have been there as long as possible without folks getting curious. They casually walk up the street and back again to their car.

“Newt, Let’s make a pass or two by his house and see if anything is happening there, the driver suggests.”

“Might as well, Bud. It’s sure Atkins isn’t here.” They drive past and see an older man and a younger one on the side yard passing around a football.

“Could that be Atkins and his son, the one hooked up with the C Street guys?” Bud asks his partner.

“Only one way to find out. Drop me off on the street behind the house. I’ll come through the properties and watch until you approach the older guy. Then, I’ll move in and handle the young one. Try to move your guy away from the kid.”

Bud brought the car to a stop, as to block the Atkins driveway. He got out and walked to the side yard, “Chief Atkins? May I speak to you for a minute or two?”

Atkins tossed a shovel pass to his son and walked toward the driver, while Newt walks swiftly through the properties to the kid. “Stand right here, son. That’s a Police Special, you feel. The FBI is arresting you for interstate racketeering. Place your hands behind your back and keep your mouth shut.”

When the chief reached Bud, looking at him inquisitively, Bud grabs Gant’s arm, forcing him to the pavement, and handcuffs him. “Davis Atkins, you are under arrest by the FBI on charges of interstate racketeering. Bud opens the car’s rear door, saying. “Get in the car, please.”

Newt follows suit with Jason Atkins, and they head for Boston, with Newt half-turned in the front seat to watch the prisoners.

Scott, sitting in his parlor after church with the boys, demands, “Now, don’t get the newspaper all messed up. There are things in it other than comics and sports, you know.”

The telephone sounded as Scott started reading the financial section. In the kitchen, Nancy picked up the phone, listened for a minute, and said, “Hold on, please, I’ll tell him – Scott, telephone,” she shouted.

The excited voice of Detective Qualter told Scott, “All hell is breaking out at the Italian Club, Boss.

“All right, calm down and start at the beginning.”

“Because things are coming to an end, we decided to work the weekend. We picked up Callan as he came out of that dump where he has breakfast. He went to police headquarters and stayed an hour. Then, went to the club.”

“He called everyone to get there ASAP. Most weren’t even out of bed. It took about two hours for them all to get there when Callan drop the bombshell. Hofstadter thinks the FBI is after him, and in Rhode Island, the FBI has arrested David and Jason Atkins. Callan found out because they are being held at the BPD  Right now. That’s how. Callan and the lieutenants are arguing about what to do. Callan wants to hang in because they are FBI grabs and probably have nothing to do with him. He reminded them that Jason’s old man is as crooked as they come and works all over New England. Ned Zebrine and Chuck Cressey want to skip out and get lost in New York or Los Vegas, but Callan says they can’t give up what’s left because Wadsworth will probably be dead in a few days, and they will have the guns to sell.”

Scott thought for a minute, then said, “I didn’t think Harry would act that fast. As you can see, it puts us in a position of rushing to make our arrests. I wish he had told me. It will take a week to get the warrants from Judge Millstone.”

“Why not just grab them on suspicion, Boss. That will give us forty-eight hours anyway, and you don’t need warrants.”

“Perhaps, Buck, I don’t think they are going anywhere. The lure of money from the guns will keep them together. I’ll call Judge Millstone first thing Monday anyway and get an opinion.”

“Can you and Al stay with Callan the rest of the day and come to my law office in the morning?”

“Will do, Boss. Hold on, Boss, Hofstadter just arrived. He wants to know what is so important on Sunday that his service called on his car phone. Just cursing now by Callan – something about the guns.”

“I’m glad you’re so devoted, working on Sunday. Stick with them. See you tomorrow.”

No sooner did Scott hung up when Dick Taranto called and started telling Scott about the FBI.

“I know, I know,” Scott interrupted Dick. “My Italian Club crew decided to work this weekend and called me earlier. Hofstadter is still free. He is at the club. You can bet the FBI guys are waiting outside. I just hope they don’t do anything crazy and blow everything.”

“Can you get ahold of Harry and ask him to back off from Hofstadter?”

“I was about to try when you called. I just finished talking to Qualter,” Scott replied.

“OK, I’ll hang up. Let me know what happens.”

Scott found that Harry Malison was nowhere to be found and left call-back messages, and contacted Qualter on the Salinger radio.

“Buck, do you see anything there that looks like FBI agents?” Scott asked.

“Yea, Boss, a couple of guys at the far end of the parking lot. They pulled in after Hofstadter.”

“I want you to get over to them and ask them not to arrest Hofstadter today. It will mess up the state’s plan to eradicate the C Street gang. Show your badge first, and tell them you are working on my orders. One of you stay at the back of the car. There is a chance they are Hofstadter’s men. Get back to me on this, please.”

Twenty minutes later, the radio sounded, and Qualter said, “They didn’t like it at all, Boss. It seems they have been on Hofstadter since very early this morning. They couldn’t get him where it was safe for bystanders. However, they agreed but said they will take it up with Malison and left.”

“I hope they do,” Scott said. “I have a bone to pick with him myself. Anything going on there?”

“A big one. Hofstadter told Callan the guns will be here sometime Tuesday. The theft will happen at four A.M. Tuesday morning. Seems like the thieves have scouted the building and hope to enter through an abandoned air intake on the roof and leave through Loading Dock C. They must know where the guns are hidden.  Maybe you should let Chief Grant know.”

“Absolutely, first thing Monday. Great job, men. Come to the statehouse tomorrow.”

Allan arrived at Scott’s early and rang the bell by the gate. The gate onto Walnut Street opened before him, and Scott met him at the front door. Come in, Allan. Have I got news for you!”

Scott poured coffee for Allan and told of the previous day’s happenings, expressing his surprise at Harry not informing him of his plan.

“No rest for the wicked, as they say. From what I know of Harry Malison, his actions are entirely unlike him. It will be interesting to hear why. Allan said, “I feel sure he has valid reasons, don’t you?”

Scott shrugged and raised his eyebrows at the question.

At Scott’s office later, everyone is listening to the recording from Sunday’s surveillance when Harry Malison entered.

“Scott, the events yesterday concerning Gustloff Hofstadter were unfortunate. My agents should not have left but waited for Hofstadter to leave that club. I had no choice other than act quickly concerning the Atkins men and Hofstadter due to Washington’s directive. There is more to Hofstadter than you know.”

“If you say so, Harry. Knowing this would have made for a more relaxing Sunday for several people.”

Lifting both arms heads high, Harry said, “It was out of my hands, Scott. Orders are orders – you know.”

“OK, I’ll buy that. Right now, I have to warn Chief Grant in Somerville and talk to Dick Taranto. I’d like you to go to the conference room with Qualter and listen to the latest recording. That will bring you up to date. Then we will discuss a joint action to get Hofstadter and the rest – if you agree.”

Allan sat at his usual place by the window listening, and later as Scott made call after call, to Matt Hart, Dick Taranto, and Chief Grant, updating all on the events of Sunday. “Too bad you weren’t born with a built-in telephone, Boss,” Allan said.

“At least everyone knows, and Grant can alert those at the warehouse. My boss agrees to a quick joint state and FBI action at the Italian Club. To top it off, Grant wants me to come to Somerville today and look over the security and talk to the FTA.”

Harry Malison returned after listening to parts of the recording. “I see your concerns about getting Callan and that crew all together. More important, though, is your protection. Do you have enough?”

Yes, I do, but right now, the thing is that the State’s Attorney has agreed to a joint action soon. What are your objections, Harry?”

“None, after hearing the recording. In fact, I think it’s a good idea – More men and a coordinated attack should make it simple.”

Glad you agree. Now, I’m needed in Somerville. You get your logistic brain working on a plan of attack. Use Annie at my other office if you need help, and we’ll talk later.”

Allan pulled onto the highway to Somerville after navigating the Boston streets. After driving several miles, the police radio called, and a voice said, “We think you are being followed. It’s a maroon Cadillac with three people. Move to the right lane and be alert. We will attempt to get on their left side. Keep the radio open for more instructions.”

Allan sped up and moved to the right lane, loosening his thirty-eight special in its shoulder holster. “Get down, Boss; it looks like trouble.” Scott got down as he pulled his Webley. Allan sped up again when he saw the Caddie approaching. As it came almost parallel to Allan, he applied the brakes, and the Caddie went past, allowing them to see the three men. One in the back seat – two in the front. The one in the front had, what appeared to be, an Uzi machine gun.

“Boss, When I move, you concentrate on the back seat. I’ll take the front. Then I’ll Jam the breaks to a sudden stop. Hopefully, the state car can jam them off the road.”

Allan lowered the windows and accelerated quickly. As they closed on the Caddie, Allan saw the man having trouble getting the Uzi out of the window. Allan raised his thirty-eight and put two rounds in the man’s forehead. The Uzi fired upward, shattering the windshield and causing the driver to swerve. Almost simultaneously, Scott firing his Wembley through the rear side window, smashed the metalwork around the back window of the swerving car, its power spraying the gunman with sharp shades of steel and glass. Another round entered his throat, ultimately killing him. The driver attempted to get away, but the state car was in the right position to force the Caddie off the road. After it was over and more state troopers appeared and took charge, Allan continued on to Somerville.

Scott turned to Allan, saying, “Looks as if you answered your own question about using your weapon.”

“Truthfully, it’s all a blur. I guess I acted on instinct. Maybe I can put it all in sequence in a couple of days.”

“Only partly by instinct,” Scott said. “Don’t underestimate your training and your need to save both our lives. You did it perfectly, My friend. You’ll be getting a medal -- and a raise if I can manage it.”

In Summerville, Scott, Allan, and John Guilford are in the warehouse being shown around by Chief Grant. “Well, what do you think of the security and positioning of police?”

Scott responded, “I don’t know how much more you can do. Although, if it were me, I’d like a master switch for turning on very bright lights at strategic places. It can startle intruders and might disorient them – to say nothing of a visual advantage. The crooks are going to be using flashlights and aren’t expecting anything else.”

Later, John Guilford questioned Scott and Chief Grant about the Provisional IRA connections to the weapons.

Grant motioned to Scott for an answer. “I think that PIRA contact is over,” Scott offered.  “Gus Malone, the Provo contact, is presently in Interpol’s hands, and Global Mortgage and Loan no longer exists. Callan has no interest in Ireland. He needs money to keep the gang going and for recruitment. Naturally, there might be others somewhere in the U.S. with a PIRA interest. I don’t know any.”

“That is certainly reasonable, Scott, and I’ll pass it up the ranks,” Guilford said. “I would like to hang in the fringes of this operation, as before, just to witness the finale.”

“Fine with me,” Scott said. “Be at my law office at eight o’clock tomorrow. We will be doing the final strategy for the arrests, which might occur that afternoon or evening.


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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