“The car just went straight into the brick wall without slowing down. It was as if the driver meant to do it!”; The distressed samaritan reported to the traffic cop. “The collision was so intense that the fuel tank ruptured on impact. There was gasoline spilled all over the ground. I ran over and tried to help him but he turned to face me and grinned like a maniac. Blood was pouring down his face from a gash above his eyes. When I tried to open the door to help him get out, he actually reached over and locked himself in! The whole thing was chilling!”
“I understand. Witnessing a fatal accident can be very traumatic. Is there anything else you can remember?”
“Yes sir. Fearing for my own safety, I stopped trying to coax him to leave the wreck and just moved away to a safe distance. He obviously had no intention of getting out of the car. When the car’s engine compartment ignited and flames filled the interior, I swear he began laughing hysterically! Honestly officer, I believe the man was mentally disturbed and just wanted to die.”
“Anything is possible”; The officer admitted. “but we have to examine all angles. The head trauma that you mentioned might have disoriented him; to the point of hallucinations or seizures. We can’t afford to assume anything as we document the details. Once the fire is fully extinguished, I’ll run the VIN number to find out who he was. The detectives assigned to the case will investigate all the possible contributing factors. First of course, I’ll need to notify his next of kin.”
While identifying the victim from his charred ‘cremains’ proved to be a daunting task, locating his next of kin was even more difficult. Reginald H. Gruber wasn’t married, had no living family in the U.S.; and only a few distant relatives in remote parts of Europe. For all practical purposes, he was alone in the world and had exited the same way.
Due to the suspicious circumstances detailed in the police report, the detectives decided to hold an official inquest into the traffic fatality. Efforts to interview his coworkers at DNAtech industries met with considerable resistance. The paramilitary research organization had one of the highest levels of government security in the nation. Ordinarily, top secret credentials were required to even make it past the guard shack.
Official calls placed to the laboratory met with an immobile wall of red-tape resistance. Only the most determined investigation team would pursue such a fruitless case. There were no angry relatives demanding an explanation for the tragedy but the investigators didn’t appreciate being told that they were not ‘authorized’ to look into the case. They were sworn to perform their assigned duties, no matter what.
It would’ve been far less troublesome to conclude that Reginald Gruber just died in a traffic accident. Every person on the team had a full caseload but the chief had taught them to never cut corners. To close a case prematurely was to deny the victim justice. The detectives were determined to obtain answers for the victim’s erratic behavior. If it was only a suicide, there were many far easier ways to achieve that exit strategy. The available facts and stonewalling from DNAtech were troubling and didn’t add up.