MMM the begat began


Adam Eagle Creek’s wife Evelyn Atsila, after giving birth to five babies in rapid succession died in childbirth with the sixth one. They named him Geronimo, after Evelyn’s grandfather. And now there were six. Three boys and three girls. The oldest, was now 18 years old and a girl.  They had named her Adama after her father.  When faced with six kids and no wife, Adam was in a fix. He had a wrecking and reconstruction business to run. With no one to carry the load at home, his only contribution was to whimper and feel sorry for himself.  He had with all the good intentions in the world created a large family without thinking of possible consequences. In desperation and panic mode, he told Adama she had to become the mother figure for all of the surviving kids. Not yet ready to leave her siblings stranded with her grief-stricken father, Adama stepped into the breach.

On Saturdays, the one night of the week her dad was at home, Adama had gotten into a routine of visiting her Aunt Chloe Ann in Clayton, Washington.  Adam Eagle Creek’s sister was living alone in a small house left to her when her husband had been killed in a logging accident. For Adama getting away for even one night was a life-saving event.  Meeting other people or going to a movie relieved her from the strain of being a daughter/housewife and a surrogate mother for her five siblings. Being able to stay overnight in Clayton was a much-needed guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, when her grandmother had passed away during childbirth, she was one month into to her first pregnancy.

It was late that Fall when Adama first realized that one night of fun and relaxation had resulted in a big problem for her. With no husband and no chance of finding one in sight, the threat and promise of bearing a child seemed insurmountable. When her father found out, he got busy looking for any port in a storm.  What he found was Bruno Grimaldo, one of his nightly drinking buddies. Grimaldo was a 45-year-old, butcher, baker and ice cream maker and Adam made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.  Bruno had never married and even though he knew that he wasn’t the expected child’s father, after a night of extra heavy drinking, he reluctantly agreed to marry Adama before the birth. The bad news was that Bruno had an insatiable thirst for Dago Red, Thunderbird or any bottle or can that was already open. Edna Grimaldo was born shortly after the arranged marriage.

Ten years of daily alcoholic trouble was more than enough. Adama, after consulting with Edna divorced Bruno. Taking Edna with her, she moved back to the reservation settling in again with her dad and the rest of her surviving now adult siblings. With most of them either married or just shacking up and populating the house, it wasn’t an ideal situation but might have been manageable on a short-term basis. Everyone was just waiting and jockeying for space to see who would leave first. Nobody bothered to let Edna know that Bruno wasn’t her biological father.

For Edna living in close relationships with her aunts and uncles and a goodly number of cousins only slightly younger than her self, the formative years that followed were a horrendous mix of good, bad and indifferent.  At age eighteen Edna, hoping for something a little better, moved out of the still growing Eagle Creek clan. After a whirlwind courtship she decided to marry Roger Running Eagle.  Roger was already in the Marines and an Avionics Tech crewmember of a Helicopter Squadron. His unit had been assigned to serve as advisors to the South Vietnamese Army. The helicopter Roger Running Eagle was in crashed due to a mechanical failure.  Before the war officially began, Roger was killed without ever having met the enemy and his remains were never recovered.  As tragic and useless as Roger’s death was, it helped Edna escape the fever and congestion of the Eagle Creek household. Relief trumped grief.

Facing the reality of her situation Edna Running Eagle knew she didn’t want repeat her mother’s go back home pattern. After burying her short-term husband, newly widowed Edna decided to use her military survivor benefits and go to college and earn a nursing degree.



MMM phishing forward


Ben had called Mac and told him to meet him at the Hospital ER entrance. Getting there early, he was dialing his cell as Mac drove up.

“Did you find anything?”

“Nothing. No weapon. No spent shell casings. No sharp objects. No needles or other drug paraphernalia. Not one damn thing. This must have been a professional hit.”

“And what profession might that be?

“Mob ties, organized domestic terrorists, maybe even radical redneck, religious groups.”

“Well, the kids thought they found a drunk Indian, but my online search this morning said he was an Army vet who had recently got hired as a Security Guard at the Lucky Seven Casino in Airway Heights.”

“That’s a different twist. Where does that take us?”

At the ER entrance, the Triage Nurse stopped them again. Ben flashed her his badge and they were sent directly to the Nurses station.

“We need to talk to Nurse Running Eagle again.”

The Supervisor on duty said, “She’s with a patient right now. If you take seat over there by the vending machine you can get your coffee and doughnut. I’ll let her know you’re here when she’s available.”

Coffee in hand and killing time, Mac said,

“Do you think there’s any chance she’s gonna cop to knowing the guy?”

“Probably not. We don’t have any evidence, but that’s one line of questioning I plan to pursue.”


“Her family ties; parents, siblings if any, marriage, divorce, places she’s lived and travels, etc.”

When the skinned shin bike accident she was treating was finally under control, Edna Running Eagle returned to the Nurse’s Station in the ER. Muttering to the Supervisor on duty, she said, “I know it’s late, but I’m taking my lunch break now.
Ben interrupted them both with, “Sorry to interrupt your lunch, Nurse Running Eagle. We want you to stop by the office again. There are a couple more things we’d like to clear up.”

“You know I wasn’t with the boys when they found your victim. I thought you got what you needed from Sean and Randy.”

“We thought we had, too, but some other stuff has come up that has sorta muddied the waters a bit. We need to ask you about your extended family.”

Edna’s hunger and fatigue was getting the better of her social judgment.

“Wait a damn minute. Is this continued interrogation because we live on the reservation?”

“No. Not exactly. Just questions. This is a murder investigation. We have to eliminate as many possibilities as we can in order to limit the pool.”

“ The pool? Am I a suspect?”

“No. We know you were probably at work when the shooting occurred, but we thought you might have some information that could be helpful.”

“That sounds like a fishing expedition. Like you’re trying to find a way to pin something on somebody from the Reservation.”

“No way. It’s just a different line of inquiry.”

“Shooting fish in a barrel is the same as casting a wide net at the falls. You can’t see what you caught until ya drag ‘em in.”

“Alright. OK. You win for now. We’re not taking you in right now. I expect you to drop into my office at your earliest convenience for a few friendly questions. Just don’t leave town.”

Edna, swallowing any further angry words and smothering her smoldering thoughts, grabbed her brown bag lunch and headed for the break room.







MMM small town politics


After interrogating Sean and Randy, Ben and Mac were in a quandary trying to figure out what to do next. Sam Fitch, the most recent appointee to the position of Police Chief walked in and interrupted,

“Where are we on this dead orchard thing”

“The ME report identified the body and cause of death. Interviewing the boys didn’t add anything. It looks like we need to launch a full-scale investigation. No motive, no weapon and no witnesses. And we’ll need ballistics, DNA, all the tech stuff too.”

“It sounds like you are on the right track. Just make sure you keep me in the loop.”

Sam Fitch was promoted to Police Chief in 2011, shortly after his most recent failure to file a prompt investigative report on a cat burglary. With his flagging record of repeated mistakes and failures as a Senior Detective Investigator, this one more less guaranteed his promotion.

The Deer Park City Council’s unwritten and unspoken policy was to promote a failing detectives up the ladder to administrative positions. The policy decision was well established by historical precedent. The only real qualifications were the candidate had to be decent looking, be a likeable cuss and have the respect of the lower echelons of the town’s social classes. It was good fit for Sam Fitch because it gave him more authority and a limited need for rational judgment.

Fitch’s promotion was without prejudice or conditions, but it was understood by all concerned that if he screwed up the Chief’s job, the Council would have to resort to running him for Mayor or a spot on the Council. That would be the only way to absorb their collective bad judgment of character.

The Chief currently was taking his new position seriously. After studying the job description he had decided that his main job was to keep the populace informed and serve as a conduit to the media. Since his vocabulary and intellect were limited, he decided to use the Internet to get his HR and PR messages out.

Plowing on. The chief continued,

“I got a call from a reporter yesterday. I don’t know how they found out about it but you need to know your victim was wearing a t-shirt with a swastika on it. They were questioning me about Nazis.”

Ben countered with, “And last week The Herald-Review reported that crime rates have been going down. They published one of your PR tweets about materials being distributed.”

“When the reporter asked about racist/skinhead activity in Deer Park,

I told ‘em I couldn’t remember when we’ve had stuff passed out. We don’t want folks passing out printed material, but not necessarily because of content.”

“Did you read the content?”

“No. Nobody turned a copy in with the complaint.”

“Well then?”

“Then the reporter asked if I thought the content was important. I told him yeah but we’re more concerned about the safety of people passing stuff out. I couldn’t recall a time when Nazis had tried to recruit in Deer Park. Besides, people who pass stuff out are not breaking any city laws. They’re not violating the Green River ordinance.”

As Ben and Mac’s patience wore thin, they moved to end the Chief’s shameless self-promoting monologue.

Mac butted in, “Well, we need to get a move on. Ben told you the ME gave us a name and cause of death and not much else.”

“Right. Let’s get on it, Mac. You go out to the crime scene and see if we missed anything. Keep an eye out for a gun or a shovel or anything else that might help. I’ll go over the Hospital and see if I can get anything out of the nurse. I don’t want to bring her in for questioning just yet.”


MMM identified


Michael O’Brien was born in Ronan, Montana. His grandfather was an Irish immigrant who had married a Native American woman of Cherokee lineage in Oklahoma. Shortly after the marriage and to get away from the dust bowl the newly weds moved West to the Flathead reservation in Montana. Their only son, Patrick O’Brien, followed the family tradition and married one of the local beauties from the tribal school in St. Ignatius.

In due time Patrick and his wife also found a shanty and settled down in Ronan. In order to keep body and soul together he bought into to a truck-based business route selling bar snacks. Pickled eggs and sausages, pepperoni and mixed nuts were standard fare in bars and saloons without a meal menu or a kitchen. He would start on Monday driving west on what was then US Highway 99 from Missoula and stop in every town that had a bar. The western end of the route was Clayton, Washington just North of Deer Park on Highway 395. Getting back late Saturday night, he would spend Sunday evenings counting his inventory to figure out the week’s profit. Getting up early on Monday morning he would hit the road again. It wasn’t a glamorous business but it paid the rent with a little bit left over.

As the result and only beneficiary of this union, Michael O’Brien’s childhood was a serial mix of good and bad as might be expected for a quarter breed kid on the Flathead reservation.

When Michael graduated from High School with no chance for employment and no money for more education he enlisted in the Army. Home on leave after his first tour of duty in Iraq, his father took him to his favorite watering hole in Pablo for a beer. While celebrating his son’s safe return his father revealed that Michael had an older half sister somewhere in Washington State. He said the baby girl had been the product of one of his many overnight trips to Clayton on his bar snack route. He said he had paid for the birth but due to tribal differences and animosity hadn’t had any further contact. He said her given name was Edna. Michael told himself he needed to find this unknown sister. Writing Edna on a napkin he stuffed it in his back pocket.

After surviving his second tour of duty, this time in Afghanistan, Michael decided to not take any more chances. When he got a Good Conduct medal and an Honorable Discharge he headed for home. Looking for work was still a problem. His qualifications and experience consisted of how to wear a uniform and handle a weapon. When his unemployment finally ran out he decided to answer an ad in the weekly Ronan Times. The Lucky Seven Resort and Casino owned and operated by the Kalispell Tribe was hiring. The property was located in Airport Heights a suburb just west of Spokane, WA. Michael O’Brien got hired as a Uniformed Security Guard. His first assignment as a mobile perimeter guard included a civilian Humvee minus the armament. He promised himself that he would use his first free weekend to head for Clayton, WA to look for his half sister.

One of the fringe benefits of being employed at the Casino was working security for the main stage acts playing there on a seasonal basis. When Benny and the Banshees got there in October of Michael’s first year working the events, he was over the top with anticipation. Due to his childhood interest in Native Americanism tribal history he had followed their rapid rise to national attention in the wake of the grunge movement’s lava flow.

As the one and only Inland Empire’s Grunge Band the throwback Spokane Valley Native American garage/grunge group had achieved some notoriety. Their loud and proud shows featured Banshee screeching vocals, lead guitar work replaced by tribal flute, Irish Bagpipes for rhythm guitar and Tom-tom and rattles did the percussion work, all amplified. During the 90’s in an abortive attempt to rise once more they were popular for a couple of summer months at Powwows throughout the Northwest.

When the first Banshee show at Lucky Seven Casino was over, Michael O’Brien made sure he got one of their signature T-shirts with their logo on the front and back. Before returning to the road after one all-night rehearsal and a huge argument, the group had settled for a Native American swastika peace sign surround by a red white and blue circle for a logo.



MMM a starting place


Swinging the Camaro into the Courthouse parking lot, Edna and the boys stopped by the Deer Park Police Station as promised.

“When we get there, we need to locate the Police Department. You two need to answer the Detective’s questions, quickly. We have to get home for dinner.”

“OK, Mom.” Sean and Randy mumbled in unison.

“Remember, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. No colorful story-telling, you hear?”

“Hey, Mom. We didn’t do anything wrong or illegal”, said Sean.

“Right. We just ran away before they got there. There’s no law against that, is there?” Randy added his defensive two cents worth.

“Not that I know of, besides I already explained that to them. I told them you ran away because you were spooked by the body.”

Parking the Camaro in front of the Courthouse, Edna announced,

“OK, we’re here. Make your answers honest and short. Don’t answer any questions they haven’t asked.”

The large intimidating entrance doors to the Courthouse opened into an even larger rotunda. The ornate hemispheric stained glass dome above lit up the place adding to it’s overall feeling of impending importance. Once inside, they found a directory on the anterior wall. The Police Department office number and arrow directed them to the City Jail and Ben Perrini’s office.

Coming out of the door, Perrini, greeted them,

“Thanks for coming in. Mrs. Running Eagle you need to wait here. We want to talk to the boys alone.”

“I understand. Sean, go with Detective Perrini and Randy, you go with the other man. Let’s not spend too much time on this. I’ll need to feed you guys on the way home.”

In the first interrogation room, Ben pointed Sean to a chair at the table and began the questioning.

“Sean, can you tell me what you were doing in the old apple orchard?”

“We just like to runaround and hunt for stuff, like squirrels, rabbits, rats or whatever. We got BB guns for Christmas.”

“How did you happen to find the body?”

“I saw it first. Looked like a blanket covering a pile of brush. Didn’t know what it was.”

“How did you find out what it was?”

“I told Randy to lift the blanket.”


“When he lifted one edge, I saw it. At first, we thought he or it was asleep.”

“What made you think that?”

“It or he was propped up leaning against the tree and when Randy told him or it to open his eyes, I told Randy the eyes were already open. That’s when I decided he must be dead.”

“Do you remember seeing any blood, wounds or weapons.?”

“I didn’t want to get that close but Randy said it looked like a drunk Indian. And that’s when he called 911.”

“What happened next?”

“We were scared and I knew we were late meeting up with Mom. I wanted to run.”

So that’s what you did?”

“Not exactly. When Randy said the 911 operator said stay where you are help’s on its way, I told him, No, we’re already late, lets get to hell outta here”

Meanwhile in the other interrogation room, Mac was asking the same questions and getting the same answers. Over an hour of more or less intense and threatening grilling produced nothing of use. When they compared notes it became obvious they were barking up the wrong tree and Edna and the boys couldn’t get out the door fast enough.

Mac with all the discretion of a bull moose, checking in with Ben for direction,

“Dr. Rice, I presume. . . . . . .Where now for a clue ? ”

MMM Medical mumbo jumbo


By the time Ben and Mac got back to the Court House the FAX in Ben’s office had already coughed out the ME report.

“The report says the victim’s name was Michael O’Brien.”

“What’s the cause of death?”

“Gunshot wound to the chest.”

“Where did we get the idea somebody bashed his skull in?”

“Who knows? Somebody is always saying, “blunt force trauma”. Maybe they’ve got a multiple choice form and that’s at the top of the list.”

“Does it say the Vic was a Native American?””

“Look for yourself, Mac.”

MEDICAL EXAMINER REPORT                             # 12- 20- 043

Name  Michael O’Brien
  DOB  April 16,1972 DOD February 4, 2004
  Age 32 Years County Spokane
  Race Native American Date of Exam February 9, 2004
Sex Male Time of Exam 0830 Hours


  1. Gunshot Wound to the Chest
  2. 1. Entrance Left chest, intermediate range
  3. Path of the projectile: Skin, left anterior 5” intercostal space, pericardial sac,       right ventricle of heart and lower lobe of right lung
  4. Direction of projectile: Direct front to back
  5. Exit: None; fragments of projectile recovered in Pericardial sac and right pleural cavity6
  6. Associated injuries: Entrance wound perforations of  Pericardial sac, right ventricle of heart, lower lobe of right lung with bilateral pleural hemorrhage7
  7. Postmortem radiograph: metallic fragments of projectile identified
  8. Cause of Death: Gunshot Wound to the Chest
  9. Manner of Death: Homicide

“That’s what we needed. What’s the rest of it on the floor?”

“More of the same. Clinical crap. ME has to report all of it for the Health Department and issue a Death Certificate. I don’t know if any of it is relevant for legal purposes.

“ Well, check it out. What do we do next?”

“The nurse and kids aren’t here yet, so read it.”

Daunting as that promised to be, Mac picked up the next page . . .


The autopsy is begun at 8:30 A.M. on January 12, 1986. The body is presented in a black body bag. The victim is wearing a Brown T-shirt with a swastika in a circle printed on the front, camouflage cargo pants and combat boots.

The body is that of a normally developed Native American male measuring 72 inches and weighing 173 pounds and appearing consistent with the stated age of thirty-two years. The body is cold and unembalmed. Limbs are equal and show no evidence of injury. Lividity is fixed in the distal portions of the limbs. The eyes are open. The irises are brown. Pupils measure 0.3 cm. The hair is black and braided 10 inches in length.


HEAD–CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM: The brain weighs 1,303 grams and within normal limits. The lungs weigh: right, 355 grams; left 362 grams.

CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM: The heart weighs 253 grams, and has a normal size and configuration.

RESPIRATORY SYSTEM–THROAT STRUCTURES: Except for wounds the lungs are unremarkable. The oral cavity shows no lesions. There are no injuries to the lips, teeth or gums.

GASTROINTESTINAL SYSTEM: The mucosa and wall of the esophagus are intact and gray-pink. The gastric mucosa is intact and pink without injury. Approximately 125 ml of partially digested semisolid food is found in the stomach. The duodenum, jejunum, ileum, colon and rectum are intact.

TOXICOLOGY: Sample of right pleural blood and bile are submitted for toxicology analysis. Stomach contents are saved.

SEROLOGY: A sample of right pleural blood is submitted. Routine toxicology studies were ordered.

URINARY SYSTEM: The kidneys weigh: left, 115 grams; right, 113 grams. The kidneys are anatomic in size, shape and location.

GENITALIA: Adult male, within normal limits and there is no evidence of recent sexual activity.


  1. One (1) brown T-shirt, size XL
  2. One (1) pair camouflage cargo pants, size L
  3. One (1) Seiko wristwatch
  4. One (1) leather wallet – MT DL, expired Visa, 12 dollars cash
  5. Samples of Blood (type AB+), Bile and Tissue (heart, lung, brain, kidney, liver, spleen).
  6. Fifteen (15) swabs from various body locations.
  7. One postmortem CT scan.
  8. One postmortem MRI.


Time of Death: Body temperature, rigor and livor mortis, and stomach contents approximate the time of death between 11:30 PM on 02/03/2003 and 1:30 AM on 02/04/2004.

Remarks: DPPD Detectives were notified of findings upon completion of examination.

Alvin Rice, M.D.
Spokane County Coroner’s Office
February 10, 2004

After 15 minutes of shuffling pages, grimacing and grunting, Mac begins with,

“OK. I read it. Can’t say I know what the hell he’s talking about. Didn’t go to Med School.  Now what?”


MMM looking for a lead


Answering the page, Edna walked into the Emergency Room and was met by two detectives with badges and ID in hand. At 2:45 PM the shoot from the hip impromptu Q & A session began.

“I’m Ben Perrini, Deer Park Police DI and this is Sergeant Mac McKenzie, RCMP. We’d like a moment.”

“So, what’s on your minds?”

“Well for starters, are you Mrs. Running Eagle or Mrs. Roadkill?”

“It’s Nurse Running Eagle and except for smelling like cigarette smoke, you both look fairly healthy. What are you doing in the Emergency Room?”

“We’re investigating a death in the dead orchard. The names Running Eagle and Roadkill have come up. Phone number on the 911 transcript.”

“Well, as I said. My name is Running Eagle and Roadkill is the name of one of my sons. Randy is 14. His brother, Sean is 15. We have an ATT mobile family plan. Does that answer your questions?”

“Good to know, but not entirely. The Roadkill phone reported the found body but left before EMT and the Chief got there. Did your sons tell you anything that would help identify the body?”

“They were late being picked up at the orchard, so we took off for home in a rush. When I asked for an explanation, they mentioned finding a body. Both were scared. Sorta PSTSed by the sight. I had to pry it out of them.”


“It was under a blanket. Randy said he thought it might be from the reservation, but no one he recognized.”


“Sean said something about a brown T-shirt with a logo on it.”

“What logo?”

“He said it looked like maybe a Nazi sign in a circle.”

“You mean a swastika?”

“Yeah. In a circle.”

“Anything else?

“Camouflage cargo fatigue pants and combat boots.”

“What else were you able to pry out of ‘em?”

“The eyes were open.”

“Right, not uncommon for a corpse.”

Butting in, Mac asked, “Was it an Indian or not?”

“The boys thought it was. You’ve got the corpse. What do you think?”

“It’s at the Medical examiners. We’re waiting for the report, identity, cause, time of death, all the legal details.”

“OK then, are we through here? I’ve got bedpans to empty, rounds to make and patients ringing in for God knows what next.”

“We need to talk to your boys. When can we do that?

“I get off at four o’clock. Pick’em up about a half hour later.”

“That’ll work for us. Just stop by City Hall and the Police Station. If you’re not there by five, we’ll come looking for you.”