Case XIII: Legends, Lawyers & Lies
Chapter 1: Some Closures
It was a quiet morning at La Vida Aureo and Matthew Dudley was enjoying his second cup of coffee as he continued to read The Wall Street Journal. He had carefully compiled his list of maintenance items for the day and noted that there were no pressing issues. As he turned the pages, he realized how much he enjoyed the actual printed version and was thankful for the gift of the life-time subscription from Conrad Alexander, a former Resident. The majority of the articles in the Journal dealt with national or international issues of a financial nature, but there were always an article or two of a lighter nature. He glanced up from his paper when he noticed Paloma Angostura approaching.
“Buenos dias, Señor Doc, I am glad you are still here in the Dining Room. I want to share some good news with you.”
“Good morning to you as well, Señora. I could aways use some good news. To be honest, I am still not quite able to get Mrs. Aldridge’s murder completely out of my mind.”
“I share your feelings and my good news relates to that most unfortunate incident. I believe some of the animosity between Mrs. Branch and Señora Barela has passed. You remember that that kind man, Señor Alexander, made a significant donation to modernize the kitchen? Those improvements have been very helpful as I continue to engage the two ladies to work together. Mrs. Branch apologized for her unkind comments and both women have agreed to return to my kitchen and plan a festive meal for later in the month.”
“That is certainly a step in the right direction. Once again, your diplomatic skills have produced positive results. I hope Mrs. Branch also apologized to you for her accusations about your sister. I trust you also have good news about her health.”
“Thank you for asking about Deluviña. After so many tests, the Doctors at UNM Medical Center finally told her there is no evidence of cancer and that she is in remarkable health for a woman her age, despite a significant amount of osteoporosis in her spine. Fortunately, her mind is still very sharp and she has a large family around her for support. They encouraged her to return for periodic check-ups, but I doubt that will happen.”
“Would it be appropriate to buy a fancy cane for her? It seems like a small gesture for the unkind things Mrs. Branch said about her. It’s been a while since I talked to Hannah Halverstrom and she knows of a wood-working artisan in Placitas.”
“I’m sure Deluviña would appreciate a cane as long as it doesn’t look like one,” smiled Paloma.
Isabella Duncan approached the table where Dudley and Paloma were sitting with a broad smile on her face. “Good morning, Señora, Doc. I have some good news that I am eager to share.”
“I received a long e-mail yesterday evening from Warren Pearson stating that he has retired from Rice University and would like to make La Vida Aureo his permanent home.”
“That is good news, Isabella!”
“I agree, Doc. As you might expect, Dr. Pearson received a very generous settlement from our Homeland Security folks for all the trouble they put him through. He used a large portion of the money to create a permanent endowment at Rice University to sustain a creative writing program and encourage young authors. The remainder, which was substantial, will allow him to purchase a life-time contract to remain here comfortably for the rest of his life. He plans to continue writing and is interested in exploring the history of New Mexico and the Southwest as sort of the next chapter in his life.”
“Well, there are certainly many aspects of New Mexico and its varied history which would be of considerable interest to a man with his writing talents.”
“I don’t mean to sound presumptuous, Doc, but you might want to consider introducing Dr. Pearson to your so-called Curmudgeon Crew at Saville & Sons.”
“Let me think about that, Isabella. It might be an interesting additional perspective to the group.”
“While the three of us are together, I wanted to mention the effect Mrs. Aldridge’s murder is having on some Residents. We need to remain positive and grateful that she will have justice. Are there other things we should be doing as we move forward?”
“We should acknowledge Frida Savino and compliment her for the role she has taken with the Staff. Perhaps it was her direct involvement with the situation, but she has shown remarkable maturity and continues to be a source of strength.”
“Thank you for mentioning that, Paloma. I will make a point of expressing my personal gratitude to her when I come across her in the building.”
Isabella rose to leave and smiled at Dudley. “Well, Doc, isn’t it about time for you to finish your reading and get to work? I assume you would rather play House Detective, but there’s probably a leaky faucet somewhere in the complex that’s calling your name.”
“Ouch! Actually, Isabella, things are in pretty good shape, but I was just about to fold up my paper and look over my ToDo List once more.”
Isabella headed toward her office and Paloma to the kitchen.
As Dudley was folding the sections of the paper, he noticed a headline near the bottom of the front page: Major Shake-Up at New Mexico Power & Light.
Late last year, Donald Pearsall, CEO at NMP&L was charged with First Degree Murder in the death of Conrad Alexander, a former NMP&L Executive. Susan Otero, Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney was quoted at the time that they had a strong case against Pearsall and would proceed quickly to trial. The police had identified Pearsall’s fingerprints on the alleged murder weapon and were able to place him in Alexander’s apartment at the approximate time of the murder (Case IX, September 2015). Pearsall has maintained that he was meeting with John Smith, President of LRC Industries, a contractor for NMP&L at the time of Alexander’s death. Sebastian Manzanola, Pearsall’s Defense Attorney, claimed all the evidence against his client was circumstantial and all charges should be dismissed.
Albuquerque’s Major Crimes Unit was assigned the responsibility to interview John Smith and corroborate Pearsall’s alibi. When Lt. Frank Garcia went to Duke City Wreckage, he immediately recognized Smith as Manolo Velasquez Hocking, head of the notorious motorcycle gang, La Raza Cosmica. The gang had been under investigation for some time, but the Albuquerque Police had never been able to secure any convictions. Once in police custody, Hocking claimed he had been operating as LRC Industries under the specific direction of Pearsall to sabotage projects associated with NMP&L Clean Energy Initiative. He claimed that Manuel Uribe Vigil of NMP&L’s Board as the initial point of contact with Pearsall.
Once this new information came to light, Bernalillo County District Attorney suspended the murder charge against Pearsall and subsequently charged him and Vigil with several counts of fraud. Hocking has been charged with numerous felony offenses. The DA is also looking into Hocking’s possible role in the vehicle death of Mrs. Doris Connell.
NMP&L’s Board acted swiftly to dismiss Vigil from the Board and requested Graham Wright to extend his temporary role as Board Chairman.
The death of Conrad Alexander remains unsolved.
Dudley was stunned by this news, but was confident that Garcia would continue digging until he had uncovered everything. It pleased him that there would be justice for Conrad Alexander.