obligations of impartial conduct

r | child abuse | child death

What I remember the most is when they pulled him off life support. She leaned over and kissed his forehead.

"You won't need your strength where you're going," Donna said. "So I need you to leave it here with me."

-

Of course there are details. Lots of details. His defense attorney will be more than willing to tell you about all of them. I'm not even going to mention his name.

There are other names that are important. Nathaniel and Douglas and Park and Malcolm and Sidney and Tyrell. And Nicolas. Who doesn't really deserve his own sentence - no, that sounds wrong. They all deserve their own sentences. Their own paragraphs. Their own biographies. Multi-chapter books detailing every moment of their young lives. And all the things they'll never do.

Wh-what I meant was, he wasn't any more or less special than the others. But he's . . . the one I remember the most.

-

They were divorced by then. Nicolas was at his father's for the weekend, and he was dropped off at his mother's place a little after five in the afternoon, that Sunday. Josh says that she should have been waiting outside; she says that he wasn't supposed to be back until seven. He didn't walk up to the door with his son, because her car was in the driveway and it was a good neighborhood. Josh says he waited until Nicolas was inside. She says she never heard the door, but that he'd never leave before making sure their son was safely in the house.

Donna called him around 7:15. She called the police about five minutes later.

It took us a week to find Nicolas.

-

You can't . . . you can't be too sensitive in this job.

No, that's not right.

You can't - if you let yourself . . . you -

I cry every time I find a body.

-

He wasn't dead.

But it wasn't for lack of trying. The prosecution showed pictures of his body at the trial, along with pictures of the others, in spite of the defense attorney's protest. It was too inflammatory, he said. Maybe it was. But the evidence - in all my years in this unit, I don't think I've ever had such a strong case.

His skull . . . it wasn't round anymore. And you could tell what he had used to beat the shit out of him. From the indentations.

I told her that she didn't want to go in there. She cursed a lot, even though I don't think she was the kind of woman who usually did that.

She went in. And then she threw up in the hall.

-

He died. I don't know if they hated each other before this, but I'm pretty sure they hated each other afterwards. The media did article after article after article, but I didn't read them. Donna stood at his grave for . . . it felt like hours. She had this bouquet of lilies, I think they were, and she just stood there, plucking the petals and tossing them in.

It was . . . I don't know. I cried. Her ex cried. Everybody cried.

It took us almost eight months to find the killer. He had slaughtered three before Nicolas and three after. There was a copycat killing, a mother who wanted to get rid of her son so she could marry her boss. Hundreds of tips. Dozens of pedophiles were dragged in. Harassed, they say, but I find it hard to empathize with child rapists.

His attorney made a big deal over how he was arrested. Yes, his landlady lied. No, he didn't rape her. But his DNA went into the database and the match was unmistakable. Being falsely accused of one crime doesn't make you innocent of the ones you did commit.

-

Twelve people said he was guilty and he was sentenced and we really didn't think he'd get anywhere on the appeal. His claims were ridiculous. Even if I was racist, Vivian is black, and she's the one who found the . . . mementos. Why would she plant them? I still maintain that the jury convicted him on the evidence. They may have sentenced him based on those photos, but the evidence was there.

As for what happened between me and Donna . . . that was months after the trial. She had talked about moving back to Wisconsin, or maybe DC. I didn't even know she was still in New York.

The first thing that I noticed was that she wasn't wearing her ring. She had been, wh-when it happened. I didn't ask; some people just have trouble letting go. But by then, it was gone. It might have been gone by the trial. I really don't know.

I offered to share a cab, and you know what happened after that. You saw the pictures.

-

I don't think that he was set free because of the news stories declaring that I was having a 'sordid affair' with her. I think he was set free because the appellate judges are morons.

And it wasn't a sordid affair.

And if it had been my son, I would have shot him. When I saw her there, I almost expected her to shoot him. I almost wanted her to shoot him. His defense attorney got between them and the bailiff was there and there was a flurry of motion. All I really saw were his hands and her hair.

She should have shot him. I wish she had.

But she just held up Nicolas's picture and told him, "This was my son." Over and over. "This was my son, this was my son."

-

And you know the rest.

(fin.)