“Come on, Sergeant Mackie, give me one minute.” Leandra Northman trotted alongside her prey. She wasn’t short, but Sergeant Oliver Mackie was well over six feet, and it took her two steps to keep up with one of his.
“Miss Northman, I can’t comment on active cases. You know that. Talk to the Public Information Office,” Mackie replied without losing speed.
She had less than twenty metres to make him stop. Mackie was one of the most approachable detectives she’d dealt with since she began her career with Central and Western Canada Broadcasting. He’d never played shy before. “Don’t you want to tell the public that the Winnipeg Police Service is working hard to solve these horrible murders? Or that you are following up on all leads? Or how glad you are that the Calendar Killer’s latest victim is recovering from her brutal attack?” A mutual friend of theirs, Bree Collingswood, was the first woman to survive an assault.
Mackie stopped in his tracks and then whirled on her. His usually pale face was tomato-red under his copper hair. Leandra didn’t want to piss off a potential source to the point where he blew his top, but getting anything on camera was better than going back to the studio empty-handed. He stared down at her and through grinding teeth said, “One, that was really low. And two, you need talk to the PIO about ongoing cases.”
Ten metres. If she wanted something to put on the air, she needed to switch gears. “Okay, I promise not to ask you about the Calendar Killer case. How do you feel about the rumours that the Crown is considering a significant sentence reduction for former WPS Sergeant Ryan Zane in exchange for his testimony in a case related to his own gun-smuggling conviction?” she asked.
“I’ve been up to Stony Mountain Penitentiary twice, and I haven’t been his only visitor. Somehow I don’t think Crown Attorney Courtney Fournier is going up there for the scintillating conversation.”
That earned Leandra a reaction she didn’t expect. “I’ll have to get back to you on that one,“ Mackie said.
Mackie continued up the front stairs of the station, leaving Leandra standing in the middle of the sidewalk. Her cameraman, Gabriel Ocampo, lifted the camera off his shoulder. “That was a bust.”
“No, it wasn’t,” Leandra argued. Mackie had given her a lot with his non-answers. She couldn’t use any of it for broadcast but she had plenty to follow up on.
The Winnipeg Police Service was currently dealing with a matched set of public relations black eyes: the Calendar Killer, and Ryan Zane. The former was an ongoing case. The latter was supposed to be resolved, and the department wanted it to be swept under the carpet until it faded from the news and community memory.
Mackie should have been surprised by her question. Shocked, even. Nobody liked dirty cops.
Ryan Zane was no exception.
He had been the inside man for the Nasty Boyz, a local gang who’d run the illegal gun trade in Winnipeg for several years. Then Zane had blown his own carefully-constructed cover in a raid gone bad. He’d tried to get another officer to take the fall, but Sergeant Eric Parker had proven his innocence and taken him down instead. Leandra had covered Zane’s trial and subsequent conviction. All that was left was his sentencing hearing, which had been postponed twice. Leandra had tracked Crown prosecutors to Stony Mountain Penitentiary prior to both delays. She knew something was up, but she didn’t have the details. Yet. Which was why she was digging for more information.
But that problem was more or less contained. Zane wasn’t in a position to do any more damage. His was an interesting story, but it wasn’t the primary one on everybody’s mind.
The Calendar Killer was the man of the moment. With six attacks and five kills to his name, the whole city was on pins and needles waiting for him to strike again. That time was coming soon. The serial killer got his name from picking his curvy, brunette victims on the twenty-first of the month.
They had a week to go.
Leandra was safe, relatively speaking. Her blonde hair and thin, tall frame didn’t match his victim preferences. Knowing that didn’t make her feel any better, though, as the twenty-first drew closer.
With no other cops in sight who would be inclined to talk to her, Leandra told Gabriel to drive back to the studio while she made notes.
“Do you think Sergeant Mackie knows anything?” Gabriel asked.
“About what? The Calendar Killer or the Zane sentencing agreement?”
“Yeah, he definitely knows something,” Leandra said.
She knew he wouldn’t spill his guts about the Calendar Killer case on the station steps. The police always held information back in cases like that. He was too good a cop not to. It bothered her that he hadn’t been upset to hear about Zane. It was like he’d already heard the rumours. It made her wonder what he knew, and what she could do to convince him to share his sources. “That’s what I’m going to find out.”