My First Case as a Detective

In March, we had gotten the first call that a body had gone missing. A kid, 19 at the most, ran his motorcycle into an SUV. His parents couldn’t find him at either the hospital he was supposed to be at or the one the ambulance had been rerouted to.

The case went to the Attorney General’s office and I forgot about it until June when an elderly man who should have ended up in a cardiac ward disappeared. Then two gunshot victims. A window washer who lost his balance. Seventeen in all.

In every case, the ambulance had been rerouted during transport. Different hospitals, different drivers, even different ambulance services. And then I found the link; the dispatcher, Travis Prinze, had handled each call. The warrant to search Prinze’s rural residence came through faster than any I had seen.

I expected a necrophiliac’s playground, a cannibal’s cold storage, or even the sick lair of a human dollmaker. It was so much worse. Each room was strewn with rotting flesh and electrical wires. On the coffee table, a hand clenched and released; exposed nerves and muscles clamped to grimy cables which ran to a small generator. A full torso and legs sat in the kitchen, rhythmically walking, blood spurting from holes where the arms and head should be. I could hear moaning from one of the bedrooms. Inside was a severed head, the arteries and veins connected to a dialysis machine. A wire ran from a hole in the cranium to a twitching hand.

When I entered, the moaning stopped. The head locked eyes with me and struggled to croak out two words.

“Behind you.”

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