Case III: Chapter 6: Los Stupid Boys
Based on his initial interview with Ms. Felicio’s women friends, Garcia realized that he must look into her daily jogging routine. If the comment about bringing young men back to her room was correct, it was possible that one of them might be able to shed light on her recent movements around the time of her death. Garcia knew that there was a more effective way to gather information from a group of guys hanging around a popular jogging place and sent Sergeant Bernadette Armijo to the Albuquerque Academy grounds.
After Bernadette had only run a lap and one half, a group of young men wearing running gear were standing along the fence and spoke to her as she jogged past. “Hola, mamacita, como esta? Would you like some company as you run along? We could protect you?”
Bernie pretended to ignore them, but gave them a look that encouraged them to follow along. She stopped a few yards away and turned to face these young men. “My friend Carmine told me this was a good place to jog because of the scenery and the local “talent”. You guys wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”
They all smiled and one particularly handsome and muscular guy said, “Ah, we know Carmine. She’s a great lady.” He did not try to hide the “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” gesture he shared with his buddies.
While they were talking, Bernadette had maneuvered the group into an area along the fence where they were essentially cornered. As soon as she had them all “boxed in”, she made her move. It looked as though she was reaching to adjust the headphones on the iPhone she wore on her belt when she produced her APD badge. The guys’ eyes grew suddenly much wider as they tried to process her unexpected move. “Look, honchos, I just want to ask some questions. But, I will interpret a run as an indication of something approaching guilt. So, let’s just have a friendly little chat. What do you say?”
The guy who appeared to be the leader spoke first. “Look, we haven’t done anything. Carmine comes here almost every day and does her jog around the perimeter of the grounds. Nothing interferes with that. On her “cool down” lap, she typically walks up to one of us and starts a conversation. It usually ends up with her inviting that guy to come to her place for the evening. I was the first guy she approached and I went there a couple of times. Then she asked me if any of my amigos would be similarly interested. So, like the good friend I am, I began to turn my “homies” on to this action. That’s it; no harm, no foul is the way I see it.”
“Where does she take you Romeos?”
“She lives in an apartment that’s part of that retirement village a few blocks from here, La Vida Something.”
“And then what happens?
“Well, you know. She didn’t invite me there to discuss world politics.”
“You’re telling me this woman just invites a stranger back to her place for what? Sex?”
“Yeah. What’s wrong with that? I mean, look at us. We’re pretty awesome guys; we’re certainly better equipped to satisfy her than the old farts at her retirement home!”
“OK, sure. I can see that you’re a real prize. It that all that’s involved; just sex? Nothing else, you know, like money, drugs, that kind of stuff?”
“No, just straight sex. The only drugs I’m aware of are some kind of muscle relaxant she says she takes after she runs. She says it keeps her flexible and I can certainly attest to that! She’s a great ride for an older lady, wild, desperate, you know.”
“I’m glad to see that there are still gentlemen in this world, said Bernadette sarcastically. Each of you write down your contact information and then show me some ID to verify the information. I am sure all of you upstanding citizens would tell me the truth, but I just want to be sure.”
“What’s this all about anyway?”
“Carmine was found dead a few days ago and we’re gathering information from everyone she came in contact with during the past few weeks.”
“Holy shit! None of us had anything to do with anything like that. It was always just go to her place, screw and leave.”
Bernadette gathered all the contact information and jogged back to her patrol car which she had parked inconspicuously a few blocks away. She would relate her discussions and comments to Garcia later. These jokers appeared to be so self-absorbed, she doubted anyone of them would contemplate murder. “Sometimes I worry that being a policeman keeps me single, she thought to herself, but not on days like today!”
The next morning, Sgt. Armijo sat in Lt. Garcia’s office to relate her experience with “los stupid boys”. Garcia’s phone rang and it was George Hernandez with the preliminary results from the autopsy and toxicology analyses for Carmine Felicio. “Frank, it is clear that a broken neck was the cause of death and I’m pretty sure that she fell down the stairs backwards because several of her vertebrae are also cracked and there is some bruising on her back consistent with bouncing down the stairs.”
“I assume, George, that “bouncing down the stairs” is a medical term?”
“Well, she didn’t slide! Would you prefer the medical explanation that “she took a header” off the landing?”
“Thanks, George. How about the tox screen?”
“Oh, you’re gonna love this. She had so much muscle relaxant in her that I don’t see how she was able to walk, much less navigate stairs. And, as a kicker, there was also the presence of alcohol, maybe a glass or two of wine. ”
“I know, from talking to her friends and from the interviews Bernie did, that she routinely took muscle relaxants so she could jog regularly”
“Maybe so, but based on the levels I found in her blood, she would have been totally non-ambulatory at the time she fell. That’s a medical term meaning she was “completely wacked out”.”
Garcia was digesting this information and sharing it with Bernadette when his phone rang again. “Lt. Garcia, it’s Isabella Duncan at La Vida Aureo. I have some interesting information about Cesar Ramirez and his time at Sandia.”
“Thanks for following up, Isabella, I’m eager to hear what you’ve learned.”
“Well, our Resident Romeo had a similar reputation at Sandia, but it appears that most of his so-called reputation was just self-promotion. It looks like he was the primary source of the rumors about his numerous conquests. My friend told me that there was one rather nasty incident, however, that resulted in his departure. Apparently, he was actually having an affair with a co-worker, a married woman, but it was likely consensual. A Department Manger discovered this situation and decided that Cesar needed to be punished. She believed the persistent rumors about his numerous affairs and said she didn’t want to see anyone hurt. So, this Manager reported his “inappropriate behaviors” toward her to Human Resources and demanded that he be fired “for cause”. But Cesar had learned through “pillow talk” that this Manager had a long history of affairs with men under her supervision. All of this information was presented to Human Resources, including the true nature of Cesar’s “reputation”, which significantly undermined the Manager’s claims. In the end, the Manager was simply placed on a brief internal probation and Cesar was issued an apology by the Company. Although Cesar’s affair was consensual, it still violated company policy and was cause for termination. Cesar’s pride was wounded and he threatened to sue to expose the hypocrisy related to the Manager’s behavior. To avoid a public relations nightmare, Sandia offered Ramirez a sizeable sum of money in return for his silence. He also agreed that the “official version” of the settlement would be that he received a generous early retirement package for his years of outstanding service to the company.”
“Wow, whistled Garcia. That certainly sheds some light on his behavior. I see now why he was less than cooperative in his initial conversation with me. To be falsely accused like that would certainly make one gun-shy. The monetary settlement probably also explains how he could afford to live at La Vida Aureo,”
“I didn’t think it was appropriate to ask about the amount of the settlement. My friend was already telling me far too much. She did say, however, that it made him much better off than his normal retirement as a technician would have been.”
“A technician? He told me he was a senior manager.”
“Well, Frank, I seriously doubt that settlement required him to give up promoting himself, particularly his overwhelming appeal to the ladies”, chided Isabella.
“You’re probably right. Given that and the fact that he was not honest with me before, I I really need to have a more serious interview with him as soon as possible. I have a feeling that he knows more about the events surrounding Ms. Felicio’s death than he admitted; he claimed that he barely knew her or her friends. But, he gave Doc a very detailed description of all four women and Doc also observed Ramirez arguing with Ms. Felicio. Thank you very much, Isabella. You have my commitment that I will get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible.”
“You’re welcome, Lieutenant, please keep me informed and let me know if I can help in any way.”
Lt. Frank Garcia called Cesar Ramirez immediately and asked him be available at 3:00 o’clock that afternoon. “I have some additional questions for you, Mr. Ramirez.”
“I said I told you everything I know. I see no point in any more questions.”
“Mr. Ramirez, it’s your call. We can either talk at La Vida Aureo, or I can have an officer bring you downtown to police headquarters and we can talk here.”
Ramirez was waiting at a small table near the back when Garcia entered the dining room. His arms were folded across his chest and he did not look particularly pleased to see Garcia.