Sharon got up and moved towards her office, "With me," she pointed back and both Andy and Provenza to follow.
Andy was the first to speak, relaying the details he got from Julio. "We didn't find the car earlier because it was parked several houses down. Apparently there was a party at a neighbor's two nights ago, she must have had trouble finding a spot. We're not sure why she didn't just park in the driveway. But that fits with our timeline and Kendall's TOD."
The room fell silent as they processed the information, none of this was good news.
Provenza tapped his fingers on the back of the chair. He broke the silence by asking the question that was on their minds, "Are we going to talk about what this means if it is her?"
Andy jumped in, "If we start our investigation off by assuming who the victim is going to turn out to be, we could lose valuable time going in the wrong direction."
Sharon nodded in agreement, since taking on his new role she and Andy had taken their being on the same wavelength to a new level. A level that brought a new degree of annoyance for Provenza who shook his head in response. "Yes, I get that. BUT have we thought about the hurricane that's going to descend on this office if we're right? Believe me," he said sarcastically, "I don't want it to be her. That's the last thing I need, but my gut says it's her and I think we're just postponing the inevitable."
Sharon stood up behind her desk, "We aren't postponing anything Lieutenant. We don't have an ID and until we do we can't act on a theory - not with this case. So as soon as we get the car towed back here please have CID get to work printing the car and see what we come up with, while we wait for results from Morales."
"Fine," he waved his hand and walked out of her office.
Andy smirked and shook his head, "Don't worry about it. He's just upset because Patrice comes home tomorrow and this case is messing with his mojo."
Sharon made a little hmpf sound, her voice dropped an octave, "Well he's not the only one whose plans have been hijacked." Andy gave a filthy smile in return and stepped out of her office. There wasn't anything either of them could do about their ruined plans right now, except solve the case and get back to their mini stay-cation.
As Sharon collected her things and met Andy outside her office, she stared at the murder board again considering the bombshell that was dropped an hour earlier. She tapped Andy on the shoulder, startling out of his thoughts, "Morales is ready for us with the prelim."
"Has Julio called is the car back?" She asked Provenza.
"Yeah, he sent a text a few minutes ago. The print shed was full, but I called down and moved us to the front of the line," he replied standing up from his car and grabbing his blazer. It was too hot to wear it here, but given that the morgue was literally a freezing meat locker it was necessary.
Sharon turned her attention to her third Lieutenant, "Mike? I'd like you to go down to the print shed and give the techs a hand. Do we have the prints from the California State Bar to compare with our victim?"
Tao stood up and grabbed his jacket from behind his chair, "No, the prints aren't on file."
Provenza screwed his eyebrows together and turnaround to face Tao, "What do you mean they aren't on file? She's a lawyer. They'd have her prints, it's required."
He shrugged and shook his head, "She must not be, at least not anymore. If you're not active they destroy those files, so we can't pull those to check. We're going to have to go the old fashion way."
He let out a frustrated sigh, "If we have to wait for dental records or DNA on this one—"
"I know, not good," Tao finished for him and headed out.
When the trio finally made it to the morgue, Provenza was still stewing, "Why did he call you?"
Andy quickly went after the bait, his arms waving in the air, "Maybe because you're annoying. Or maybe he knows I'd actually answer my phone? Or maybe he knew that my team could include the plates in our search for the victim's last known location?"
Sharon shook her head, "Are you done?" She paused waiting for them to respond, which they did reluctantly, "Julio is certain about the car?"
Andy moved towards Sharon and handed her his phone, so she could read the message, "He took a picture of the registration, it's definitely her car. Whether it is the same her in there, I can't say, but I think there's a good chance it is."
Provenza plopped on the bench waiting for Morales to call them back, "What are the chances the car belongs to our victim? Is it possible that our Jane Doe just borrowed the car?" He already knew the answer to that, they all knew. Until Morales verified it though, they held out hope that they were wrong.
Sharon gave him a pointed look. "Yeah. I know," Andy looked over when he heard the door open.
"The doctor will see you now," Morales stated with a hint of extra sarcasm. Sharon knew he was probably just as annoyed to be working on a Saturday as she was.
No matter how many autopsies she had attended during her nearly twenty-five years with the LAPD the initial smell still knocked her back a step. She could tell that the body was a few days old by the unmistakable scent of decomposition. The woman's normally slender frame was beginning to bloat, the skin had taken on a waxy complexion. As she moved closer, she could see how matted her hair was from the blood. Just as Provenza had reported the woman's face had been significantly beaten, they wouldn't be able to make a visual ID.
Not wanting to waste anytime, Andy jumped to the question on everyone's minds, "So Doc is it her?"
Morales gave him an unamused smirk, "Is it who? I just got the body, or did you not see the three bodies out in the hall."
Sharon gave Andy a quick glance and shook her head, "Is it Ann Mason?"
He shook his head in annoyance, "I don't know who that is, or if that is our Jane Doe. She's pretty messed up as you can see. I've taken a 10 card and we are running the fingerprints now, but I'm not a magician I can't make results appear out of thin air just because you ask for them Lieutenant."
Before he could respond Morales continued, "Here's what I can tell you. She's 5'7 about 135. I'm putting her age somewhere between late 20's, early 30s. Her hands are well-manicured, err well they were. She did put up a fight, so I've taken samples from under her fingernails." Sharon moved in closer to take a look at the woman's hands as she continued listening, "She's had some work done, botox filler in the lips, veneers, but nothing that has a serial number attached to it, but the work was well done - expensive."
"That does sound like her," Andy started to say.
Sharon turned her attention back to Andy, "Yes it does, but until we get the fingerprint report back let's keep an open-mind," looking towards Morales again, "Cause of Death?"
"Ah yes, I know Kendall told you maybe asphyxiation" he moved over to the Lightbox and flipped it on to illuminate the x-rays, "Remember this is just a prelim I'll need to finish my autopsy to be sure, but I'm pretty sure I can rule that out. There are marks on her neck consistent with someone putting a cord around her neck, but as you can see here her hyoid bone is intact. Also there's this," Morales pointed to a line on the x-ray, "a fractured skull, the occipital lobe" He turned away from the Lightbox and moved back to the body, "What I think happened is your suspect came up from behind and put the cord around her neck. She struggled and as he yanked her head fell back on something hard."
"And the beating?" Andy asked gesturing to the face.
"She was still alive when her face was pummeled in. The fracture would have caused bleeding and swelling to her brain, in particular to this area here," he pointed to the back of her head, "her brain stem would have swelled cutting off oxygen and eventually causing her body to lose control of her breathing, heart rate, etc. It would have been slow, she would have felt everything."
Sharon stood up and began moving around as she worked through her thoughts, "This looks like a lot of rage. It feels too personal," she turned towards Provenza, "we can rule out robbery or break in?" She knew the answer, but needed the confirmation.
The Lieutenant nodded his head, "Yeah, there weren't any signs that the house had been ransacked. The TVs, computers, and whatnot were all still lying around. We'll have to ask the homeowner to do an inventory to be sure, but I think it's safe to rule it out." He knew it wasn't the answer she wanted to hear, but it was the right one based on his years of being a detective.
She had a final question after seeing the pictures of the torn skirt, "Any signs of sexual assault?"
"Thankfully no," he lifted the sheet up, "There's no sign of bruising or tearing. She may have had sex prior to death, we took swabs, but there's no evidence to suggest it wasn't consensual."
That was a relief to hear, considering the horrible death she suffered to have been spared that was at least something for the family, "Thank you Doctor, sorry you had to work on a Saturday," Sharon said suddenly switching gears as she often did, "Please let us know if you come up with anything else."
Morales nodded and returned to his work, "As always, you'll have my full report soon."
Andy followed Sharon out and began removing their blue protective gowns, Andy shook his head, "Anything's possible, but I think we need to be prepared that it's an accurate ID. Even if it isn't, she's involved now because it was her car the victim drove to the house. This doesn't feel right Sharon, something definitely feels off."
"Lieutenant, I think it's time to send someone out to her condo," Sharon offered.
He nodded and pulled out his phone to start dialing as Sharon and Andy moved towards the elevators intent on getting back to the murder room to check in with the rest of the squad.
"Sanchez. When you're done playing soccer mom, swing by Le Park Condominiums on Empyrean Way. Yeah 10122 unit 102. I don't see how she could afford to own it - maybe a rental? Maybe Goldman? Who knows! Then get back here." He hung up without waiting for a reply.
Sharon silently placed her head in her hands, this case had the potential to be not only a nightmare but a political minefield. She made a mental note to brief both Assistant Chief Mason, and Pope — Mason wouldn't have the history or knowledge to know about the quagmire that they were about to step in. "If we do get a positive ID, I want to go back to the crime scene. We need to make sure that we've followed every protocol. I have a feeling Goldman is going to jump on this the moment he finds out." They were going to need to do this completely by the book, they couldn't risk another lawsuit hitting the LAPD in connection to Ms. Mason.
As the stepped in Andy punched the number and touched her arm, "Do you think we can keep it under wraps for awhile until we can better sense of what exactly we are dealing with?"
She let out a deep sigh, this wasn't going to be a quick and easy case that would let them get back to their time off, "That's my plan, and I intend to get the Chief's buy-in on that, but I don't think we will be able to keep a lid on it long. This has implications well outside our division, and once those people have been notified—" her voice shuttered as she thought through all the potential ways this could end. She didn't see a way that it wouldn't end badly. "Okay, run through the details again," she asked.