My first case as a detective with the Portland Police Department was a university student who had been dumped on the west side of the Willamette River. She was splayed out on the narrow river bank behind some apartments, her blood mixing with the rising tide and forming a crimson streak into the water. Her throat was cut. A long, clean cut that was only deep enough to sever the veins and arteries that would kill her. This was almost surgical. The student wasn’t assaulted in any way, and her purse – still filled with credit cards and cash – was near the body. I worked the case with two other detectives for three months. We had no leads. Eventually, the case was closed and we were reassigned.
A year later, I took a vacation to San Francisco. I was making coffee in my hotel room when the local news featured a story of a teen boy who had been found dead near Estuary Park in Oakland. His throat was cut, wallet still in his pocket. In the back of the shots on the news was an Amtrak Station, just like my case in Portland. I searched the internet for more murders: Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Los Angeles, following the Amtrak route and moving up toward Oakland. I booked a ticket on the northbound Coast Starlight immediately.
Last night, while I sat in my sleeping car wondering if I had cut my vacation short for nothing more than a coincidence, a folded half sheet of paper was slipped under my door. In a messy, scrawling script it read:
“Let’s take a ride and see what’s mine.” -The Passenger