"Talk murder to me," Vega said, playfully jostling his friend on the shoulder. Byron Lewis looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

"It's family matters." Lewis replied "Besides, what do you know about murders?' Vega stirred his coffee with his plastic straw, then took a long sip. Lewis looked at his friend with annoyance until he was finished with his show.

"Henrietta and I watch that crime show, True Crime." Vega said "It's really gotten under our skins, and I've got to say I've picked up a few things. Rehashing what happened will let you see different perspectives." Lewis scoffed.

"You want me to tell you how my cousin was murdered because you and your wife watch some crime show?" He said with disbelief. Vega nodded like that was the most logical thing in the world.

"You're ridiculous," Lewis said.

"C'mon man," Vega said, leaning against the back of his chair. "You know you want to." Lewis let out a big sigh and looked around the cafe. It was filled with people. Not a single seat was empty. Everybody was talking with one another, having a good time. Nobody would overhear their conversation.

"I'll tell you everything I know" Lewis leaned in and whispered to Vega. "You can try your best to crack the code." Vega smiled, pulled out his phone, opened the voice recorder app, and hit play. Lewis rolled his eyes.

"What?" Vega said, "Henrietta would kill me if I didn't get this." Lewis shrugged his shoulders.

"My cousin, Marceline Lewis, was killed by strangulation somewhere between 10-11:30 pm in her living room. She had just gotten back from her vacation in the mountains with her girlfriend, Anne Pana, who was the one who found her dead the next morning. Marceline dropped Pana off at her house somewhere around 9:30 pm. Anne reported she seemed shaky and nervous. Pana said Marceline grabbed her by the shoulders and told her to sleep with a knife next to her. Marceline's only neighbors, Mr. Cable and Mrs. Cable were out of town for their Anniversary, which they spend in Aspin. Marceline was found with her Canon camera around her neck, which Pana confirms was there when she was dropped off at her house. You can look at the pictures on it here." Lewis grabbed his backpack that hung on the back of his chair, unzipped it, pulled out a manila folder, and handed it to Vega. Vega reached for it timidly and laid it on the table. "There were no fingerprints or odd shoe-prints in the house." Lewis finished.

"Wow," Vega said. "That was an information dump. Who are the suspects?" Lewis huffed out a sigh and looked out the coffee shop window.

"That's the thing," Lewis said. "Nobody knows right now. Pana was the main suspect until a group of friends walking in the neighborhood confirmed they saw Pana leave Marceline's car at 9:30. It's a dead end." They both took an uneasy sip of coffee. "It's horrible. My Aunt's already under enough stress cause of her colon cancer. It's reached stage 4 this year. And now this?" Lewis put his head in his hands. Vega patted him on the shoulder.

"Tough stuff man. Is there anything you think is odd about the case? Something that doesn't fit?" Vega said, keeping his voice low. Lewis shook his head a little side to side but then stilled. He bit the inside of his cheek.

"Well," He began. "Hear me out on this." Vega nodded.

"When I entered her house I smelled men's cologne. But it seemed stale. It wasn't a fresh spritz of cologne. And obviously, she was dating a woman . . ." His sentence died off at the end. Vega tilted his head to the side.

"It could be some stale cologne from a police officer." Vega said "Or," he leaned in closer to Lewis. "She could have been having an affair!" Lewis's face turned white. He quickly took a glance around the shop to see if anyone was paying attention to their conversation. They were not.

"Actually," Lewis said, drumming his fingers on the table. "During New Years Marceline got blackout drunk, so I took her to my place. I was getting her out of the car and she grabbed my arm out of nowhere. It scared the living shit out of me. Anyways, she stared me dead in the eyes and said without a slur to her words that she had a sugar daddy. Then she passed out." Vega's eyebrows shot up past his bangs.

"A sugar daddy?!" He whispered

"A sugar daddy," Lewis replied.

"Shit" Vega said


They sat in silence. Vega slumped in his chair and rubbed his eyes. Lewis turned to look out the window again.

"Well it has to be him," Vega said, breaking the silence. "There's no other person and it makes sense. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Marceline a bartender? And didn't she pay for her mom's medical bills? No way she could've paid for those with bartender money. Clearly, her sugar daddy thought she fucked up and was not having it. Those men are psychos." Lewis continued to stare out the window.

"I thought about that too," He replied. "But I reached another dead end." He turned back to look at his friend. "This entire case is a disaster." Vega shook his head and grabbed the manila folder on the table. He started looking through the photos.

"Holy shit."

"I know," Lewis said. Photo after photo was naked pictures of Anne Pana. All of them were different from each other.

"I didn't know a person could bend that way," Vega said.

"Neither did I."

"Does Pana know about these?"

"She knows that Marceline took them. I don't think she knows the police have them."

"That's messed up."

Vega kept on listing through the photos, making different faces as he looked at them. Then he took one out and scanned it thoroughly. He opened the folder back up and scanned another photo quickly.

"This doesn't make sense." Vega finally said. Lewis sat up straight.

"What doesn't?" he asked, crossing his arms over his chest. Vega handed him the folder and the picture he took out. On the picture stood a small wooden cottage with yellow shutters. Tree's surround the cottage with a small garden bed upfront. The picture was taken from across the road. Lewis opened the folder, took a peek at the photo inside, and closed it.

"I don't get it." He said. Vega took the photo of the cottage from his hands and pointed to the bottom right corner of it.

"There's a date on it," Vega said. "This photo here says 6/24/2019, but the photos in the folder range from 6/12/2020 to 6/18/2020. Those were clearly taken on this trip but that photo of the cabin was not. And also, there's no mailbox in front of the cabin and there are no address numbers anywhere. That's a little suspicious." Lewis tightened his grip around himself.

"Around 6/24/2019 Marceline took her ex-girlfriend, Victoria Wright, to the mountains. They broke up during the trip." Lewis replied. "I have no idea why there are no mailbox or address numbers."  

"Marceline took her new girlfriend to the exact same place she took her ex? Which happened to be some nowhere place in the mountains with no identification?!" Vega asked confused. "There's definitely something more to this." Lewis shook his head and grabbed his coffee with both hands.

"I appreciate your help but I don't think it'll get us anywhere. I'm going to trust the detective on this one." Vega gave Lewis a look of disbelief.

"Are you kidding me?" Vega said loudly. "I just uncovered some top-notch shit. Who's this detective of yours anyway?" Lewis made a shhh noise and put up both his hands. People were looking at them.

"I'm sorry for offending you man. I'm just under a lot of stress right now." Lewis said. "His name is Detective Harvey Fields. He does most of the detective work in the Boulder area." Vega took out his phone and quickly typed in the Detective's name. He clicked on the first link that popped up. 

"It seems like this guy does a lot of missing person cases." He said, scrolling down the website. His thumb hovered over something and then he quickly clicked on it. He read whatever was on the screen.

"Byron," Vega said, sliding over his phone to Lewis. "You have to check this out." Lewis sighed and read. His heart immediately sped up. 26-year-old Victoria Wright found missing. Let for mountains of 6/23/19, never returned. Last spotted by elderly couple biking on the highway. Open case. 

"I had no idea," Lewis said, his eyes were still glued to Vega's phone. "Which is weird because they would've definitely suspected Marceline as a suspect. They would have interviewed her and the family would have known. I would have known. Or she must have kept it a secret."

"Something is going down in that cabin," Vega said. "And there is no way in hell that an elderly couple spotted her driving down the highway at 70 mph." Lewis had to agree on that one. 

"Did Anne say anything else about Marceline acting odd? Besides her being nervous and shaky in the car?" Lewis thought over this.

"Yes," He began. "Pana was interviewed about the overall trip and had to recount a few events. She remembers Marceline waking up sometime late at night. Maybe 12ish-1ish. Then she came back and was very quiet and reserved. The next day they left the house a day too early" Vega stirred his straw around his cup.

"She was checking something out. That has to be it." Vega said. "She's been there before she must've been checking out some room." Lewis drummed his fingers on the table again.

"Pana also talked about the house. She said she liked it and thought it was a neat place, just very hard to get to." Lewis said. "She also said that some rooms were locked. But that's just regular AIRBNB stuff."

"Or behind one of those locked doors was a torture room! That's what Marceline was checking out in the middle of the night!" Vega exclaimed. "That sounds very sugar daddy like." Lewis rolled his eyes.

"Don't be stupid."

"I'm trying to think outside the box. And I have a theory"

"Alright, shoot." Vega cleared his throat.

"Imagine you're a sugar daddy. A well-established man with a lot of money, but a psychopath on the inside. You don't want to get your hands dirty. So what do you do? You get a sugar baby who desperately needs a lot of money. Now you have someone to do your dirty work, but what is your dirty work? Kidnapping young women and abusing them. What do you need for that? A cabin in the middle of nowhere which is very difficult to find and has no identification. How do you get them there? Get your sugar baby to get them there. But something must have gone wrong this time because Marceline left a day too early. Marceline went to the torture room. Her Sugar daddy was already there, waiting. Marceline knew it was wrong and fled. She didn't know what happened to Wright. So she dropped Pana off at her house, warned her, and knew her end was coming when she arrived at her place." Vega finished his speech glowing. Lewis was speechless. He tried to open his mouth to speak several times but just couldn't. Vega smiled.

"Genius, right?" He asked. Lewis couldn't even nod. A few more moments passed in silence until Lewis finally asked:

"But who's the sugar daddy?" Vega ran a hand through his hair.

"I do have a theory on that as well." He cracked his knuckles. "The murderer would have obviously had to be in Marceline's house. That's a known fact. But no odd foot-prints or fingerprints were found. My guess is that one of the policemen is the sugar daddy. Or better yet, The detective himself. It is a bit suspicious that all the missing person cases Harvey Fields takes on are females, females between the ages of 20-25. And nobody suspects the detective" Lewis, again, didn't have any words. Vega took a victorious sip of coffee. 

 A few weeks had passed since Vegas and Lewis' conversation at the coffee shop. During the first week, Lewis hired a private investigator. Lewis sent the investigator the audio recording that Vega made. Over the course of 3 weeks, the investigator found that everything Vega said was true. Fields was Marceline's sugar daddy, he was a sugar daddy to many others too. Each year he made his sugar baby's vacation with a "partner" at the vacation cabin. On the last night of the vacation, Fields would make his sugar baby leave, keeping the "partner" for himself. Marceline was caught up in this act herself. She was his sugar baby for 2 years, the first "partner" she left for Fields was Victoria Wright. After she left her for him she was tormented, but she couldn't leave. No one paid her as well as Fields did, and she needed enough money for herself and her mother. But when she went on vacation with Anne Pana, things were different. It seems that she had fallen in love with Pana. So she fleed. When she dropped Pana off at her house she knew Fields was already at hers. Fields knew where Pana lived and Marceline didn't want him to kill her, so she went home. There Fields was waiting for her, wearing gloves. After he killed her he walked back to his car, which he parked 4 blocks away. Detective Harvey Fields was arrested on 7/17/2020.

 Lewis called up Vega in amazement after Detective Fields was convicted.

"How did you know? How the hell did you know?" Lewis asked him. He could feel Vega's smug smile from the other end of the line

"True Crime mother fucker."

July 25, 2020 03:29

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