Case VII: Chapter 8: Interrogation & Arrest

Chapter 8: Interrogation and Arrest

Garcia sat at his desk for a long time, his head in his hands.  Hernandez’s report wasn’t a total surprise. Garcia had dealt with numerous cases of murder during his career with the Albuquerque Major Crime Unit.  And, in this particular situation, he was pretty sure that he already knew the prime suspect, Charles Arthur.  What troubled him deeply was that he would have to tell his friends at La Vida Aureo that there had been another death resulting from foul play on the premises. There was no point in delaying, so he called Isabella Duncan and asked if he could come to her office first thing tomorrow morning.

Matthew Dudley was waiting with Isabella when Lt. Garcia arrived.  “You are aware that we exhumed Mrs. Arthur’s body and our Chief Medical Examiner did a complete autopsy.  There is no doubt now that Mrs. Arthur was murdered and the blood-stained pillow Doc found is the likely murder weapon.  I’m very sorry that things worked out this way.  Once again, Doc, I want to thank you for being observant and actually finding these critical items.  I’m sure you understand that I’ll need to conduct a thorough forensic examination of Mrs. Arthur’s casita; I assume you still have the placed closed off.  I’ll instruct my guys to cause as little a disruption as possible. Again, I’m very sorry this had to happen here.”

“We understand completely”, Lieutenant, said Isabella. “Is there anything we can do to expedite your investigation?”

“I don’t think so.  And, I doubt that we’ll find much else in the casita, so we’ll try to be out of here as soon as we can. I’d like to be able to get something that leads us to the presumed stolen money and jewelry if that’s possible. I suppose the only good news is that we have a prime suspect in the person of Mrs. Arthur’s nephew Charles.  We just need to find something to connect him to the theft or actual murder.  There is no question that he’s a general sleaze-ball, added Garcia, but, unfortunately, I’ll need more than my personal opinion to convict him.”

Sgt. Armijo asked for the assignment to pick up Charles Arthur. “It will be my great pleasure,” she told Lt. Garcia.

“Remember, Bernie, we’re only bringing him in for questioning; we’re not arresting him, yet.”

“But, what if he decides to get frisky with me and obstructs me in the performance of my assigned duty?”

“Look, Bernie, I don’t like him much either.  But, if we want to nail this jerk, we need to play everything strictly by the book.”

“Whatever!  I’ll have him here this afternoon.”

Later, at Police Headquarters downtown, Charles Arthur was in the Main Interview room with Lt. Garcia.  Sgt. Armijo was observing from behind the two-way mirror. “Mr. Arthur, Garcia began, we want to ask you some additional questions concerning you Aunt’s death.  There are some details we need to clear up and need your help.”

“Look, Lieutenant, I’ve already told you that I had nothing to do with her heart attack.  I’ve admitted that I didn’t care for her very much and I might have raised my voice at her on occasion, but the doctor said she died of a heart attack.  Not my fault.”

“I understand what you said the last time we talked. Can you tell me exactly where you were two weeks ago? Where are you currently living?”

“What difference does it make?”

“Just answer the question.”

“My Dumb Ass Landlord kicked me out, so I’ve been staying with a friend.  I’ve been there about three weeks. I’ve been working on a big story for the paper and haven’t gone out much. Hell, I even had to pawn my car to keep going.”

“Except to the Neutron Bar?  Does this friend have a name? And, we’ll need the address.”

“You guys have no right to pry into my business.  Yeah, I go to the Neutron on occasion.  Sometimes I eat lunch or dinner there, depending on when Atrisca is working.”

“Is Atrisca the friend you’ve been staying with?”

“Yeah, she tends bar at the Neutron and lives a few blocks away in some crap apartment on 12th Street. Atrisca Dominguez.”

“And, she can verify your whereabouts and movements for the past several weeks?”

“Yeah, she will confirm everything I’ve told you.  What’s this all about, anyway?  Everybody knows my Aunt had a heart attack and I’ve already told you I had nothing to do with that.”

“Well, Mr. Arthur, we’re pretty certain that your Aunt was murdered and we’re just trying to determine where everyone was at her time of death.”

“What?   I thought the doctor said she died of a heart attack.”

“We’ve uncovered some additional evidence that says otherwise.”

“Look, you can’t pin that crap on me.  I’ve been nowhere near that place since that run-in with that Old Battle-Axe Harpy friend of hers. Remember, I don’t have a car.”

“We’ll be sure to check out your story with Miss Dominguez.  In the meantime, make sure you don’t leave town and be someplace where Sgt. Armijo can easily find you.”

“Yeah, sure. I guess I should bring a lawyer if I get invited in here again?”

“That might be a good idea, Mr. Arthur. Sgt. Armijo will drive you back to the Neutron. She can ask Miss Dominguez to come in while she’s there.”

Despite her rough appearance, Atrisca Dominguez was very cooperative with Lt. Garcia. As before, Sgt. Armijo was observing the interview.  It was quickly apparent that Atrisca Dominguez didn’t think much of Charles Arthur.  “Thank you for coming in, Miss Dominguez.  We just have a few questions we’d like to ask about Charles Arthur.”

“No, problem, Lieutenant.  I was almost at the end of my shift anyway.  What kind of stupid trouble has Sir Charles gotten himself into this time?’

“At this point, Miss Dominguez, we’re not sure he’s in any kind of trouble.  We’re just trying to gather some basic information.  He claims he’s been staying at your place for the past several weeks. Is that correct?”

“Yes, He said his landlord was giving him a hard time and he needed a place to crash for a while.”

“And, can you tell me if he’s there all the time, or if you know where he is?”

“Not really.  I go to work at different times and sometimes he’s still sleeping when I leave.  It depends on where he’s been the night before.”

“Can I assume that means it depends on how much he’s had to drink at The Neutron?”

“He’s in the bar almost every night and sometimes he has too much to drink.”

“Is it possible, Miss Dominguez, that he could be gone away from your apartment for extended periods and you would have no way of knowing?”

“Sure, I guess so.  I’m just a friend, not his mother.”

“Could he use your car while you’re at work?”

“Probably, I would have no way of knowing unless all the gas was gone. Many days, I walk to work because parking in downtown is such a hassle.”

“What can you tell me about Mr. Arthur’s relationship with his Aunt?”

“I only know what everyone at The Neutron knows.  He hits her up for money pretty regularly and brags about it all the time at the bar. About a month ago, he was even talking about some fancy jewelry she has that he wanted to pawn. It’s pretty rude, if you ask me, the way he talks about her.  I imagine she’s some sweet old lady and he’s been taking advantage of her forever.”

“Well, Miss Dominguez, Mr. Arthur’s aunt is dead and we have reason to believe she’s been murdered.”

“That Stupid Shit!”

“I beg your pardon?  Is there something you’d like to tell me, Miss Dominguez?

“About two months ago, he went to see her to ask for money and I understand things got pretty nasty. Evidently, some friend of his Aunt was there and threatened to call the cops on him. He said this other women said she was going to get a TRO to keep him away.  When he got back to the Bar, he was really pissed.  He drank quite a bit that night and was making all kinds of crazy comments about what he was going to do to get even.  Most everyone in the Bar just ignored him, realizing he was totally drunk.”

“Miss Dominguez, we’re going to have to search your apartment and probably your car. Do you have a computer at home or one that you use at work?’’

“No, I don’t have a computer at home.  There’s one at work, but it’s in the Boss’ office and he gets pissed if anyone uses it.”

“Would Mr. Arthur ever have had access to that computer?”

“Now that you mention it, I caught Charles using it one evening after I had put him in the office to sleep it off.  Why, what does that have to do with anything?”

“Probably nothing.  I’m just trying to be thorough with my questions.  You’re free to go, Miss Dominguez.  Thank you for coming in voluntarily.  We’ll be in touch soon about conducting the search.”

When Sgt. Armijo returned to the station, Lt. Garcia asked her to come into his office.  “Well, Bernie, what do you think?”

“Jesus, Frank, if she’s one of his friends, I’d hate to meet one of his enemies!  I realize that almost everything she said is second-hand and circumstantial, but I’d say we’re getting closer to pinning this murder on Mr. Arthur, or Sir Charles as Dominguez called him.  What a piece of work he is!  By the way, what was all that about a computer?”

“Someone contacted Mrs. Arthur sometime before her death claiming to be her long-lost niece and evidently Mrs. Arthur sent her quite a bit of cash over several weeks.  It appears that someone hacked into her actual niece’s Facebook account to get the information necessary to fool Mrs. Arthur. That hacking took place from a computer in downtown Albuquerque, most likely from The Neutron.”

“Did our own computer nerds figure that out?”

“No, the lead came from another source, but our guys have confirmed it.”

“So, you’re thinking that Charles Arthur posed as this niece as another way to basically extort money from his Aunt?”

“Could be, that niece is actually Charles’ sister who lives in Boston. Anyway, we still don’t have any hard evidence.  Let’s schedule a forensic team to go through Miss Dominguez’s place as soon as possible.”

A few days later, Sgt. Armijo went to The Neutron Bar to inform Atrisca Dominguez that the forensic team was on their way to her apartment.  Sgt. Armijo was told that Dominguez had called in sick that morning, just before her shift was scheduled to start. When Armijo arrived at the apartment, she found Charles Arthur passed out on the couch, but no sign of Dominguez or her car.  She quickly called Lt. Garcia.

“Get Arthur to the detox unit at MDC without delay; that way we’ll know where we can find him.  Have the forensic team do a thorough sweep of the apartment.  I’m going to issue an All Points Bulletin for Dominguez and her car.”

The Luna County Sheriff called the next afternoon in response to the APB, to report that they had stopped Atrisca Dominguez a few miles south of Deming, New Mexico on the Columbus Highway, the road leading directly to Mexico. A routine search revealed that her trunk was filled with camping gear and dried food.  The Sheriff told Garcia, “Miss Dominguez claims that she was going camping for a while to get away from an abusive boyfriend.  There are several very nice State Parks along that Highway, so I guess that’s possible. But, at the speed she was headed south, I have my doubts.”

“Thanks, Sheriff.  Please keep her at your station until I can get someone down there to escort her back to Albuquerque.  Also, please impound her vehicle and make sure no one touches it.  I’m not sure how this all fits together yet, but, at the very least, she’s a material witness in a murder case here.  Thank again.”

Lt. Garcia was sitting at his desk trying to mentally review all of the information regarding Mrs. Arthur’s murder.  He had his suspicions, but no concrete evidence. Atrisca Dominguez’s recent behavior only made things more confusing.  She no longer looked quite as innocent as she proclaimed. Garcia was certain she was involved, but he didn’t know exactly how.  His computer sounded an alert that he had received an email, which he decided to ignore; he was trying to think.  Glancing at the screen, he noticed the email was from Matthew Dudley, so he opted to read it. Dudley’s previous email had led him to the computer which had been used to hack Mrs. Arthur’s nieces’ Facebook accounts. Maybe this would be as helpful.

“If you’re still looking for Mrs. Arthur’s jewelry, try this link.  It will take you to a web site that, I’m told, specializes in black market goods where buyers and sellers can remain anonymous.”

Garcia went to the website and the specific page included in the link and found himself staring at what he assumed was Mrs. Arthur’s jewelry.  There were several individual pieces as well as the huge necklace.  At the bottom of the page, Garcia noticed that these items were offered for by a Seller called Alicia del Neutron.  “Gotcha,” shouted Garcia!

He quickly picked his cell phone and called Sgt. Armijo who was on her way to Deming.  “Bernie, when you get to the Sheriff’s office, arrest Atrisca Dominguez.”

“On what charge, Lieutenant?”

“Let’s start with Robbery and Breaking and Entering; I’m certain I’ll be able to add Murder by the time you get back. And, Bernie, make sure absolutely no one touches her car.”

Garcia then called Forensics and asked that a team be sent back to Dominguez’s apartment.  “Tell them to tear that place apart and go over everything very, very carefully.  I know you’ll find something that will put Miss Dominguez at Mrs. Arthur’s place.”

As he was hanging up the phone, a smile crept across his face and he reached for the phone and called Bernadette again. “Bernie, before you arrest Miss Dominguez, go to the Border Patrol office in Deming and ask for Agent Rodriguez.  Take him with you to Dominguez’s car and ask him to go through it thoroughly.”

“Whatever you say, Boss, but can you share a bit more information?”

“Yeah, I have a gut feeling that Dominguez has hidden the jewelry in her car and the Border Patrol guys know all the clever places to look.  I know for certain that Rodriguez has found literally tons of drugs at his station and finding the jewelry should be a piece of cake.  And, make sure to tell Alonzo that I said hello.”

“I love it.  Now, we’re getting somewhere.  How do you know Rodriguez?”

“C’mon, Bernie, most of the law enforcement guys in New Mexico are cousins or somehow connected to my family.”

Garcia was feeling much better about things and began to relax.  There was one more call he needed to make.  “Doc, Frank Garcia. That link you sent helped me break this case wide open.  I’m confident that we’ll have Mrs. Arthur’s jewelry in hand before too long and I’m certain that we’ll also be able to link Atrisca Dominguez directly to the murder.”

“What about the nephew, Charles Arthur?”

“I’m not sure of his role in all of this. Dominguez tried to convince me that he was the one who murdered his Aunt and stole the jewelry, but she may have been trying too hard.  We still have him in custody and I plan to pressure him to see if anything pops. We do have mounting evidence against Dominguez and that’s the most critical thing.  I know we’d both like to hang something on Charles and I’ll see what we can do.   But, I have to ask you, Doc, when did you become such a computer whiz?  We would not have been able to break this case without the two leads you provided, but that was pretty sophisticated stuff.  I never figured you for that kind of skill.  What gives?”

Dudley chuckled. “You’ll just have to trust me on this one, Lieutenant.  Just think of me as one of those reporters who won’t reveal his sources.  I’m just glad I was able to help.”

Agent Rodriguez easily found all of the jewelry hidden in the rear passenger door of Dominguez’s car along with several large bundles of money.  Sgt. Armijo thought about driving back that evening, but Dominguez was safely in the Luna County Detention Center and her car was secured in the Border Patrol garage.  Instead, she decided to accept Agent Rodriguez’s invitation to dinner. Sgt. Armijo drove back to Albuquerque the next morning with all of the stolen property and Atrisca Dominguez in handcuffs.  She was still smiling when she reached Albuquerque.

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