45 minutes later, three more oblong crystals were found in the bushes by the shoreline. Immediately the Sheriff’s ‘crystal connection’ went from a far-fetched theory; to a near probability. “What kind of maniac would senselessly mutilate innocent people and then leave mineral clusters as a bizarre ‘calling card?’”; The sheriff wondered. “Who or what would even have the superhuman strength necessary to commit such brutal crimes? None of it adds up.” The spiked levels of radiation around the crime scenes was equally puzzling.
First he requested a roll call of all mental asylums within a two hundred mile radius. Then he organized a search team with bloodhounds to comb the countryside for signs of the suspect. Lastly, he instructed divers to drag the lake for bodies, first thing in the morning.
“If the press gets hold of these strange details then the headlines will be calling him: ‘The radioactive crystal killer’; or something ridiculous.”; He grimaced. His investigators needed to hold back unknown details in order to weed-out false confessions. Every leaked detail worked against them. The townsfolk depended on them for public safety; yet they was no closer to catching the murderer than they were from day one.
Soon public opinion would turn against his department. When that happened, State police would shut them out of the investigation and take over. Those depressing thoughts plagued him far into the night. It had been an extremely frustrating day. “Small towns are only supposed to only have small-town problems.”; He lamented.
The next morning, relatives of Cindy Weeks filed a missing person’s report. The Sheriff investigated her case personally since she had last been seen on a nature trail about 3 miles from the crime scene. The young lady was 19 years old (and legally able to come and go as she pleased) but her parents were insistent that she was responsible. They insisted that she would have phoned if she had made plans to spend the night elsewhere.
Normally after hearing an ‘angelic’ description of a teenager from naive parents; he would have told them there wasn’t anything he could do until 48 hours had passed. However, under the dire circumstances, he had to investigate immediately. Time was of the essence in these matters. With any luck, she would simply turn up (safe and sound) after spending a clandestine night with her boyfriend. Sheriff Wright hoped that was the case. He and the rest of the search team combed the nature trail where she was last seen, as a precautionary measure.
It wasn’t far into the search before signs of a struggle, a long blood trail, and another ‘posed’ crystal pointed to the worst for her. Fortunately, no body was discovered so there was still a (minor) chance of finding her alive. All they could hope for was that Miss Weeks had somehow escaped the ‘crystal maniac’ with survivable injuries.
Sheriff Wright’s next course of action was to check with Ralph about the two newest bodies. As expected, they had met with the same fate as the first unidentified victim. Ralph could offer no new information since he had so little to work with. In a rare moment of cooperation, the Sheriff encouraged Dr. Gentry to ‘keep at it’.
As if he didn’t have enough to worry about, a large mob of reporters surrounded his car. They were all shouting and trying to get an official statement. He gave the standard, “I can offer no information at this time until the investigation is complete”; brush off. Then he added; “My men are working around the clock to find the person, or persons responsible. Please remember that I am personally involved. I live here too. I promise to make an official statement as soon as I can.” With that public appeal for room to do his job, he made it to his car and roared off in a cloud of dust.