Alicia Jenkins is Missing
By Jim Gray
Mary Jane Kelly and Freddie LeBeau sat on a bench at the Rampart Division Station in Los Angeles waiting. "You’d
think they would take this more seriously, Freddie," Mary said.
"They seem pretty busy."
"Hi, I’m Detective Avery," Jane said, walking up to them and offering her hand, "Please follow me."
The detectives and the young couple gathered in an interrogation room and took seats. "Now, what can we do for
you?" Avery asked.
"We’re not sure," Mary Jane said. "Our friend Alicia Jenkins is missing and we can’t find her."
Detective Carl Brooks, Avery’s partner, stood and paced the floor, "How long has she been missing?"
"The last time I saw her was after work last night around 6:30 and she didn’t show up today," Mary Jane said.
"You work together, where?" Avery interjected.
"Yes, at WorldKo Savings on Alvarado."
"What was her mood?" Brooks asked.
"She was in a rush to get her car, said the garage closes at seven. I guess she was okay, she seemed very quiet all
day Friday," Mary Jane said.
"Usually in these circumstances a person surfaces within twenty-four hours. What makes you so sure she’s missing?"
Brooks asked.
"Alicia is prompt and never misses work. Besides we were supposed to leave for Vegas this afternoon."
"You called her?" Avery asked.
"Yes," Mary Jane said, "I called her cell and her boyfriend’s cell too. His name is Richard Cross, lives at 400 South
Westlake Avenue, third floor, not sure what the apartment number is."
"And?" Avery asked.
"Both phones were out of order or something?" Mary Jane said. "Freddie and me went over there after I got off work
today when we couldn’t get hold of them."
"So?" Brooks asked.
"No one answered the door," Mary Jane said, her voice quivering. "Her car was not in her parking space behind the
building, but Richard’s Mustang was there, so we figured, at least, that he was home."
"Avery," Brooks said, "We’d better check this out?"
"Wait," Avery said, "Do you think something bad has happened?"
Mary Jane began to cry and Freddie, trembling, tried to comfort her and said, "They have been friends since
elementary school, they talk every day."
"It’s not right, he did something to her. I just know it," Mary Jane managed to say between sobs.
"Why do you think that?" Avery asked.
"More often than not," Freddie said, his voice shaking, "he treats her with disrespect."
"And?" Brooks interjected.
"He bosses her around, makes all of her decisions. He’s a bully," Mary Jane said.
"Yeah, we wanted to spend the weekend on the beach in Oxnard, but he insisted on Vegas," Freddie said, "and it’s
hotter than forty Hells in Vegas in the summer."
"Did you notify her parents?" Brooks asked.
"I called her mother in Fresno about ten this morning," Mary Jane said.
"The mother hadn’t heard from her?" Avery asked.
"No, so I called her back after we went over to their apartment. Mrs. Jenkins, Alicia’s mother told us to report her
missing. She’s on her way down; should arrive soon." Mary Jane said, wiping away her tears.
"OK, we’ll check out Richard Cross. So in the meantime, you guys go home and if you hear anything, call me," Avery
said, handing Freddie her card.
"Oh, I have this," Mary Jane said, handing Detective Avery a snap-short of the four young adults.
"Thank you," Avery said.
"That’s Alicia on the right, next to Richard," Mary Jane said.
***
Detective Jane Avery sat across from Richard Cross, who was weeping, and said, "Just start from the beginning, tell us
where Alicia is, okay?"
"I told you." His words were slurred and he used his handkerchief to wipe his eyes. "I don’t know where she is."
"How much have you had to drink today?" Avery asked.
"Not much."
"It’ll be easier on you, if you tell the truth." She placed her hand on his arm.
Brooks entered the apartment through the open door. "Next door neighbors don’t have anything to add," he said with a
sigh.
"Look at me, Richard," Avery said, "we’ll be taking you down to the station now."
"I’m not going," he said. "I know my rights!"
"It’s a formality, Richard," Brooks said.
"Am I under arrest?"
"We’re bringing you in for questioning," Avery said, "since you won’t answer any here."
"Wait!" Richard said. "I think she left me. She didn’t come home last night. We’d been fighting lately."
"So you got rid of her?" Brooks asked.
"No, I would never do anything to hurt her," he sobbed. "I love her, she’s everything to me. We were supposed to go
away today."
"We’ll go the station now," Avery said.
"But…I told you…" he began.
"You didn’t tell us everything," Brooks interjected.
"When was the last time you saw her?" Avery asked.
"Friday morning, she was leaving early for work. Said she was dropping her car off at the garage on the corner for an
oil change," Richard hiccupped.
"And," Brooks said.
"I said that I’d see her after work, but she just stormed out, pissed because we had been arguing."
"What were you arguing about?" Avery asked.
"Everything, her junky car, the trip to Vegas, the messy apartment that she thinks I should help clean. I mean, I pay the
fuckin rent, least she could do is vacuum some." he said and pounded the coffee table with his fist.
"Hey, young fella, lighten up, we’re not your enemies," Brooks said.
***
"Jane," Carl said, "while Cross cools his heals, let’s check the facts."
"Right on, Sergeant Joe Friday!" Jane laughed.
"Very funny. Look, we have the last person to see her, the mechanic, at approximately 6:45 on Friday evening."
"So, we’ll check out their alibis, LeBeau, Cross and the girl, what’s her name?" Jane asked.
"Mary Jane. How could you forget that?"
"What about her car?" she asked, ignoring his question.
"Got the info from the mechanic, so I’ll get the word out on it. Now all we have to do is locate Miss Jenkins," Carl said.
"OK, I want to ask Cross a couple of questions as soon as he sobers up." Jane said.
***
"Richard," Avery spoke in a soft voice, "we have a few more questions."
"When can I get out of here?" Richard asked.
"Answer our questions and it’ll be soon," Brooks added.
"Where do you usually park your Mustang?" Avery asked.
"I rent a garage next door."
"The address," Brooks said.
"I don’t know, but it’s behind the old house to the south of my apartment, can see it from my windows."
"Is it locked?" Avery asked.
"Yes."
"The key," Brooks said.
"It’s on the ring with my car keys."
"And the ring?" Avery asked.
"I don’t know, I couldn’t find my keys this morning," Richard said.
***
"I have a bad feeling," Avery said on their way back to Westlake Avenue.
"Women’s intuition?" Brooks chuckled.
She smiled at him. "Yes."
They found the run down Victorian home next to the square cement block building that was 400 South Westlake
Avenue: parked and approached the front door. The porch steps squeaked as they climbed the stairs. Brooks rapped
on the door, waited; then an elderly gentleman opened the door.
"Yes," he said.
"Police," Avery said, showing her badge.
"What can I do for you?" the man asked.
"We’re investigating a missing person…"
"Nobody missing here," the old man said.
"May we see the garage that Richard Cross rents from you?" Brooks asked.
"Mr. Cross is missing?" the man asked.
"No, his girlfriend is," Brooks said.
"Hattie," the man turned and called back into the house.
"What?" a woman’s said.
"Police, want to look in the garages," he said.
"Okay," she yelled back.
"Right this way," he said, closing the front door and leading them down the stairs. "Faster this way," he added, walking
up the driveway.
The garages, three in all, old wooden structures that had seen better days were lined up at the rear of the property.
That’s Richard’s," the man said, pointing to the center garage.
"Please wait here," Brooks said, as the detectives pulled on their rubber gloves. They approached the garage with
caution, checked the latch, which was open and found a lock on the ground with a set of keys beside it.
Brooks opened the double doors, revealing a tan Nissan, one matching Alicia Jenkins’s car. "Is there a light in the
garage?" he asked the elderly man.
"The switch is on the left, inside the door," the man said.
Brooks flipped the switch, a single low wattage bulb lit the interior and, with the late afternoon sun, it was well
illuminated. Avery took the right side of the vehicle and peeked into the front seat window. She gasped and stepped
back.
Brooks came up on the driver’s side and peered through the window.
You’d better call it in," Brooks said. "It looks like it’s going to another long day."
***
"Hello," Avery said, juggling her cell phone. "Mary?"
"Yes."
"It’s detective Jane Avery, can you meet us at the station?"
"Did you find her?" Mary asked.
"We’ll talk at police headquarters," Avery said, "Did Mrs. Jenkins arrive?"
"She called me a few minutes ago. She’s been in an accident up on the Grapevine."
"Is she okay?"
"Just a fender-bender, but she can’t drive ‘til its fixed, so she’s staying overnight," Mary said, her voice shaking.
"We’ll see the two of you right away, we have more questions," Avery commanded.
"All right," Mary said.
"Carl, Mrs. Jenkins was…"
"Jane, I heard ever word. You should turn the volume down."
"Yeah, sure."
"You know you shouldn’t use a cell phone when you’re driving," Carl joked.
"Gonna arrest me?"
"I should."
"You know, the worst part about this sordid affair will be telling the mother about her daughter’s death," Jane said.
"I know, so it’ll be you to break the bad news, right?" Carl said.
"Thanks a lot," Jane said
"She’ll take it much easier from a woman then from a big black man like me," Carl said.
"Playing the race card on me again, Carl?"
"It works for me," he chuckled.
"The good news is, we can put off telling Mrs. Jenkins ‘til tomorrow and, if we’re lucky, we’ll have this solved by then,"
Jane said.
"Right," he said.
"Yeah," she said, "I’d like to be soaking in a hot bath with a glass of wine, but no, I’m going to play good cop and try
to…."
"Good cop, bad cop, you’ve been watching re-runs of Cagney and, what’s her name, lately," Carl laughed.
"You know me well," Jane laughed with him.
"I could be washing your back and pouring the wine, then after the soak, we could retire to the bedroom and ravage
each other’s bodies," Carl said.
"In your wildest dreams, partner," Jane said.
"We’d be good together," he said.
"Good, as in a sexual harassment suit," she joked.
He gave her a sideways leer. "I should be suing you for being so sexy."
Jane brushed her long locks aside and have him a slight smile.
They arrived at the station and parked. "Before we go in, let’s plan our strategy," Carl said.
"Plan? I thought we’d play it by ear, you know, let Mr. Cross hang himself," Jane said.
"So, you’ve got it all figured out?" Carl said.
"In these cases, it’s almost always the husband or boyfriend,"
"Jane, I think its Freddie."
"Freddie?" Jane came back at him. "How did you come to that conclusion?"
"Didn’t you see his nervousness during our conversation earlier?"
"So, nervousness doesn’t make him guilty."
"It makes him a suspect," Carl said, "and besides, all three are suspects, until proven otherwise."
"Stop that kind of talk, you sound like an attorney," Jane said, "and you know how I feel about them."
"Hey!" Carl exclaimed, "my wife is a lawyer."
"You should remember that fact when you’re ogling me," Jane laughed.
"Ogling beautiful women is a man’s hobby."
"Back to work, big boy," Jane said.
***
Richard Cross, sober now, sat before them, and seemed more responsive than the earlier questioning session Avery
and Brooks had subjected him to.
"Tell us again," Avery said, "where were you at approximately 6:45 p.m. Friday?"
"I was home asleep. I think," Richard said.
"A little early for sleep," Brooks said.
"Well, I may have passed out," Richard admitted.
"May have?" Avery said.
Richard shrugged.
"Avery, stop pussy-footing around," Brooks said.
"We’re on to you, Richard," Avery pressed.
"On to me?"
"We’ve found the body," Avery said.
Richard’s color changed. "She’s dead?"
"Yes," Brooks added.
Richard reeled back, his eyes turned up in his head. Then he fell forward, spewing vomit onto the tabletop, as Avery
jumped out of her chair, avoiding the splash.
***
"The pasty look, rolling eyes, good acting, but puking on the table, that got to me," Brooks said, shaking his head.
"Missed me by inches, gross, I tell you," Avery said.
"You think he’s innocent?" Brooks asked.
"Carl, I don’t know what to believe," Jane said, "but as soon as they get the room cleaned, we’ll bring in Freddie, okay?"
"Yeah, but this time, I want to be the good cop," Brooks smiled.
"No way, Carl, you’ve had your chance in the past and you blew it," Jane said, as the janitor walked out of the
interrogation room.
"Clean as a whistle," he said.
***
"Freddie," Avery said, "tell us, where were you at about 6:45 p.m. Friday night."
"I was home alone," he said, casting his eyes down.
"Let me at ‘em!" Brooks shouted.
"Hold on, big guy," Avery said.
"I’ll beat it out of him," Brooks said.
"We know where you were," Avery spoke in a hushed tone.
"I was home," Freddie repeated.
"Alicia’s dead, you killed her," Brooks said.
"No. No," Freddie said, still avoiding eye contact.
"You can’t lie to us. We can have you take a polygraph test," Avery lied.
"I know my rights," Freddie said.
"Okay Brooks, place him under arrest for murder and read him the rights," Avery said, continuing with the soft touch.
"No, she was alive when I left her…" Freddie said breaking into tears.
Brooks took the card from his vest pocket and read the whimpering Freddie LeBeau his rights.
"I wish to remain silent," Freddie finally said.
"Suit yourself, but…" Avery interjected, "I’d hate to see you get the needle."
The frightened suspect gasped and said, "Needle?"
"Yeah,’ Brooks said, "they strap you down to a table in front of fifty witnesses and shoot you full of poison. Excruciating
pain, I’m told."
"I tell ya, I didn’t kill her," Freddie pleaded.
"Tell that to a jury," Brooks said.
Freddie looked at Avery and asked, "What should I do?"
"First, Brooks, get a stenographer in here, then you can tell us everything. We’ll go to bat for you, keep you off death
row," Avery said.
"But I didn’t…" Freddie began.
"Hold it for a minute," Avery said, "we’ll wait for…"
"Hi, I’m Sally," the stenographer said setting up facing the suspect.
"Okay, tell your story," Brooks said.
"I was aware that Alicia and Richard were having problems," Freddie began.
"What kind of problems?" Avery asked.
"Let him tell his story, Avery," Brooks said.
"Alicia was always flirting with me, so I thought that we might get it on, but every time I tried, she’d rebuff me," Freddie
said.
"What about their problems?" Jane asked.
"Mary Jane told me, they were about to split up, so I thought that this would be a good opportunity for me to get a little."
Freddie seemed to be into himself, showing some self-confidence, the swagger some young men used when they’re
bragging of conquests, notches on their belts.
"A little of what?’ Avery questioned.
"For God’s sakes," Brooks said, "stop with the questions!"
"Well…" Freddie said, "I…"
"So you waited for her and when she didn’t go along, you killed her," Brooks said.
"No," Freddie said, "I didn’t kill her."
"Just finish the story," Jane said.
"We were drinking in Richard’s apartment, he was getting hammered," Freddie continued, "and when Alicia called, I
answered his phone."
When Freddie hesitated again Brooks said, "What time was that?"
"I don’t know exactly, but around seven. She sounded pissed ‘cause Richard’s car was in her parking space, so I
suggested that we put her car in Richard’s garage, because we’d all be leaving in his Mustang for Vegas in the
morning.
"She agreed, so I took his keys and went down in the alley to meet her. When we got her car into the garage, I closed
the door and got into the car with her. We made out for a while, but when I wanted more she said ‘No.’ I got mad as hell
and slapped her. She screamed, so I choked her a little to shut her up."
While Freddie was getting his breath, Avery asked, "So then you raped her?"
"Yeah, but afterward when she started to cry, I left."
"Then what?" Brooks asked.
"I went home."
***
"You believe him?" Carl asked.
"Unfortunately, Carl, I believe both, so where’s that lead us?" Jane sighed.
"The coroner won’t do an autopsy until Monday, so we will have to wait for any forensic evidence," Carl said.
"What about Miss Sunshine, Mary Jane?" Jane asked.
"You think she’s capable of murder?"
"Hell, I don’t know, but we’ll have to question her," Jane said.
"What will be our approach?" Carl asked.
"We’ll play bad cop, bad cop. If she hadn’t blabbed Alicia and Richard’s dirty laundry, maybe Freddie wouldn’t have
tried out his stud service?"
***
"Comfy," Brooks asked.
Mary Jane hesitated, then said, "Yes, thank you."
"Let’s start from the beginning. The last time you saw Alicia, was at 6:30 on Friday night?" Avery asked from her seat
directly opposite Mary Jane.
"That’s correct," Mary Jane said.
"You said she was in a strange mood?" Avery questioned.
"Elaborate," Brooks said.
"Well, I told you, she was…" Mary Jane paused.
"Cat got your tongue?" Brooks said.
"I don’t understand, I’ve already told you guys this," Mary Jane squealed.
"Mary Jane," Avery continued, "we’re on to you."
"I don’t know what you’re talkin…" she blushed and did not finish.
"We know about Alicia and you know too, so let’s have it. Are you going to be truthful or do we have to listen to all this
bullshit?" Brooks slammed his fist down on the table and Mary Jane jumped, then backed her chair away.
"I don’t know anything," Mary Jane said tearfully.
"Murder One is what we’re going to charge you with," Avery said, standing.
Mary Jane began to whimper. "I didn’t kill her."
Avery took Brooks by the arm and let him to the corner of the room. "I’m going to call her bluff, okay?" she said in a
whisper.
"Go for it, sweetheart," Brooks whispered back.
"You were the last one seen with her," Avery said.
"Who saw me?" Mary Jane cried.
"Well, at least the boys are off the hook," Brooks said. "Should I read her her rights?"
"Mary Jane, do you have anything to add, before he reads you your rights?" Avery asked.
"Yes," Mary Jane said.
"From the beginning, tell us everything now," Brooks said.
"First, I’d like to know what’s going to happen to me," she replied.
"If you play your cards right and come clean, you may be charged with manslaughter," Avery said.
"You have the right to remain silent…" Brooks began.
***
"I’m on overtime, you know," Sally said.
"Yes," Avery said, "Now, can we continue?"
Mary Jane said, "I was drinking with friends over on Bonnie Brae and Seventh Street, can’t remember the place, as
they keep changing the name. Anyway, I couldn’t stop thinking of how upset Alicia was, so I called her cell, no answer,
so one of my friends dropped me off at home."
"Where’s home?" Brooks asked.
"Freddie and me live across the street from Alicia and Richard. I spotted Freddie coming down the driveway. You know
where Richard parks his car. He was running and instead of crossing the street to come home, he ran down to Sixth
Street, so I followed and couldn’t find him, then I went back and looked into Richard’s garage.
"She was in her car and I opened the door, I smelled sex in the air, put two and two together, got so upset that I
smacked her good. She whimpered and I told her off."
"What did she say?" Avery asked.
"She mumbled something about being raped, I got mad, cause she always flirts so much and I hit her again."
"You killed her?" Brooks yelled.
"No, she was alive when I saw her last, Freddie must have gone back to finish her off. After all, he raped her, you
know?" The girl said trembling
"And what time was that?" Avery asked.
"I don’t know exactly, but around seven thirty, eight maybe," Mary Jane said.
"Okay, continue," Avery said.
Mary Jane was openly crying now and had to take time to compose herself, then she said, "I went back down to a bar
on Sixth, had a few drinks, then went home to sleep."
"Freddie was there?" Brooks asked.
"No,"
"What time was that?" Avery asked
"Around midnight. I went to bed, had to work Saturday. Freddie came in sometime in the middle of the night, but I
pretended to be asleep, cause I was too pissed to talk to him."
***
Monday afternoon:
"How’d the mother take it," Carl Brooks asked.
"Not too well, she passed out while viewing the body. We had to call the Paramedics," Jane Avery said, added. "We
have a dilemma, the coroner sets the time of death at about three in the morning, apparent heart attack from some
rare condition."
"So young to have heart problems," Brooks said.
"True."
"So, where does the case stand?" Brooks asked.
"Your guess is as good as mine, but we have two confessions, rape, assault, sexual battery and in the girl’s case, Mary
Jane, simple misdemeanor assault, " Avery said.
"We’ll turn this over to the DA," Brooks said.
"I’ve already done that and I might add, the next time we have to inform the next of kin, we’ll do it together and you’ll be
doin’ the informin’," Avery laughed.