MMM discovery revealed


On the drive back to Wellpinit, the unusual silence was deafening. Missing the normal inane banter from the back seat, Edna broke the ice with,

“So what did you guys do today that took so damn long? Find something to shoot at?”

After a nervous, threatening sideways scowl from Sean and faced with a possibility of truth and consequences, Randy chose a diversion.

“Sean hit me in the eye.”

“Did not!”

“Did too, . . . almost!”

Braking to a shoulder stop, Edna leaned over the back of the seat.

“Show me, Randy. Let’s see your face . . . Nothing new! No damage done, I guess. . . I warned both of you about that.”

Pulling the Camaro back on the road, Edna breathed a sigh of relief and headed for home again. Mulling over the strain of yet another stressful day shift in the ER, her Mother’s intuition told her that the boys shooting each other just might be the least of her worries.

“Anything else I need to hear about?”

“It was my phone, Sean. Better tell her.”

“We found a body in the orchard and Randy called 911, Mom.”

“Yeah, that’s right, and, – and, – and Sean said we should run like hell so we did and that’s why we were late.”

“What did 911 say?”

“They said they knew where we were, someone would be there right away and for us to stay put!

“Well, that explains all the lights and sirens we met on the other edge of town.”

“Does that mean the Police will come looking for Randy?”

“Probably. What did the body look like?”

“It was under a blanket, propped up against one of the apple trees.”, volunteered Sean.

“Looked like a drunk from the rez. Nobody we knew. Couldn’t wake ‘em up”

“That’s when I told Randy to call 911.”

A pregnant silence took over for the rest of the ride home.

With Sean and Randy squirming in the back seat Edna was trying to piece together a believable tale if and when the Police got there.


MMM the search begins


“Dammit, Al. Stomach-pumping and analyzing the contents isn’t an autopsy. You gotta give me more than wine and meth. The DA isn’t gonna put up with your sociopsychobabble bullshit. Just because you’ve gotta an Indian on the table doesn’t mean he’s not entitled to due process. When can you give me the cause of death?”

“Well, since this department hasn’t been able to afford a Police Surgeon, I’ll call Doc Diamond and give him the honor. When he can get here I’ll file the results.”

“OK. I guess that’ll have to do for now. You know, Mac, I took this job thinking a sleepy town like Deer Park wouldn’t have crap like this going on.”

“A lotta folks on both sides of the border have made that same mistake, Ben. By the way do we know who called this in?”

“No, not yet. I’ll have to call 911 Ops and see what their system has”

The Emergency Call Center transcript indicated that from the time call came in on a mobile phone it had been tracked from the orchard as far as the Ford-Wellpinit junction. Contact was lost when the phone was either turned off or the battery died. The name on the transcript identified the initial caller as Randy Roadkill. Tracking the number brought up a different name on the mobile phone account.

“While we’re waiting for the ME report I’ll see what I can find out about the name on that account.”

“Roadkill and Running Eagle. Sounds interesting. What’s in a name, Ben?”

Ben’s cell phone search of the name produced Edna Running Eagle, Emergency Room Nurse, Tri-County Hospital, Deer Park, WA.

“Get in, Mac. We’ll swing over to the Hospital. She should still be at work.”

“Right. Maybe she can give us something to go on.”

The Police Vehicles Only parking spot at the Tri-County Hospital brought them directly into the Emergency Room entrance. They were greeted by the Triage Nurse’s,

“Can I help you?”

“We’re looking for Edna Running Eagle. Is she here this afternoon?”

“Is this an emergency?”

“No. We just need a minute for a couple a questions.”

“Then have a seat over there and I’ll check and see if she’s available.”







MMM waiting for the blow


Not finding anything but trees and bushes to shoot at, Randy had already wasted two of his last three BBs on a twisted trunk of one of the abandoned apple trees.

Whipping around, Randy shot his last BB at Sean.

Surprised by Randy’s slop shot, Sean fired back without aiming and hit Randy under his left eye.

“Sonovabitch! Whatya doing?”

“Ya hit me in the back. I was just returning fire!”

“You just missed my eye, asshole”

“Sorry, Man!”

“Yeah, right!”

Moving closer together again, Sean said,

“Whydya shoot that tree?”

“It looked like a bat hanging upside down.”

“Looked more like a broken branch with rotten apple on it. You’re always going off half-cocked.”

Practicing a perimeter sweep on the way back to the rendezvous point, Sean needed to interrupt the deadening silence.

“That pile of brush looks like somebody’s been out here with a chain-saw.”

“Waste of apple wood, but it probably burns good after it dries out.”

“What’s that on the other side?”


“Behind that clump of brush”

“Looks like an Indian blanket”

“I mean under it, dummy”

Lifting the edge of the blanket with the barrel of his gun,

“Holy shit! It doesn’t look very healthy!”

“Don’t touch’em”

“Damn! Let’s wake’em up. . . . Hey Chief. Wake up. It’s daylight. Open your eyes”

“The eyes are open, Randy. Better call 911”

Struggling to get his cell phone out of the back pocket of his cargo pants, Randy punched in 911.

The cell phone barked back,

“I’ve got your location. What’s going on?”

“We’re in the old orchard in Deer Park.”

“I know where you are. What do you need?”

“ We found a body and it looks dead.”

“Helps on the way. Stay where you are. EMT and Police will want more information.”

“Let’s get the hell outta here, Randy”

“They said, Stay Put, Sean!”

“No way, stupid. Mom’s waiting for us right now.”

When Medic One, Engine # 2 and the Police got there, Sean and Randy had already made it back to be picked up.

“I told you guys not to be late. I’ve been sitting here since 3:15.”

Neither thought it was a good idea to mention this latest adventure.

Sitting silently in the back seat of the Camaro, they were well past the hospital when Edna saw the lights, heard the sirens and pulled over for Medic one, Engine # 2 and the Deer Park Police Chief’s car.

“I wonder what that’s all about?”

“Yeah. I wonder.” said Sean as he elbowed Randy.

“Me, too.”

“Probably another DUI. There’s been a rash of them in the ER lately”

MMM ongoing investigation


After three hours of weather and traffic, Colin McKenzie pulled in to the parking lot at City Hall in Deer Park. Anxious and concerned about the driving conditions, Ben Perrini was waiting at the front door of the building.

“Glad you could make it down. Mac.”

“ It was a crappy drive, Ben, but I made it. What’s goin on?”

“We got a body and not much else. The Medical Examiner says thinks the body’s been there at least over night, estimating time of death around midnight Monday.”

“Any clue about the cause?”

“ME says he thinks it might be a combination of too much Thunderbird plus some pills he hasn’t had time to look for.”

“He thinks he has an Indian on the slab and that’s why you called me?”

“Yeah, that and the pigtail and no facial hair. And he says that it’s not all there.”

“What else is missing?”

“A couple of fingers, the left foot and the nose. It looks like the work of an amateur surgeon and a dull knife.”

“Well, that shit is not in my area of expertise, Ben.”

“Right, I called because of the Indian thing, Mac. I guess we’re goin have to give the ME the time to do his job.”

By the time Al Rice took the job of Spokane County Medical Examiner the job description had changed a bit.

Starting in about the 14th Century, Pope Clement had ordered autopsies of victims of the Black Death. He wanted to find out what was causing the plague. In the following centuries the seriousness of the process was influenced by alcohol and the incompetence of the judge. The office evaporated along with the solemn nature of death and the fumes from the gin of the jury. Inquests were held in taverns and all sorts of public gathering places. These were simply farces played out for human consumption. The cause of death was determined by a jury influenced by a coroner’s deliberations. And needless to say the coroner was in turn influenced by money and political and personal issues.

Now, Al Rice as the County Medical Examiner is running a separate department. It’s not under the supervision of either the Police Department or the County Sheriff’s Department. Determining the cause of death is not a legal decision.

“So what does the autopsy give us?”

“I checked stomach and intestines and found nothing other than a whole lot of  fortified wine. From what I can see it looks like blunt force trauma, a helluva crushing blow to the back of the skull coupled with a stab wound on the left side of the neck probably did the job. Unconscious and puncture of the aorta he would have bled out in about 15 minutes or less.” ; was Rice’s first unofficial verbal report of autopsy.

“Whataya think the weapon might be?

“Maybe whoever it was brought along a spade to bury him and then chickened out.”


MacIntosh Murder Mystery continues


Edna Running Eagle took pride in never being late to work. The trip from the reservation to the hospital always took anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic and road conditions. The shortest way was from Wellpinit to Ford, 231N to Springdale, then 292 to Loon Lake before getting on 395. Most of the time was spent just getting to Ford.

On Tuesday, 6:30AM she and the boys jumped in the Camaro and hit the road and sped towards Deer Park.

As Sean and Randy got older, they often spent days and nights roaming around an old overgrown, now defunct apple orchard. Edna usually dropped them off there when she went to work and picked them up after her shift. This time they got there early and Edna reminded them.

“I’m off at 4:30 and you two need to be here waiting not later than 4:45. Got it?”

“No worries, Ma.

“Yeah, synchronized our watches with the kitchen clock before we left.” echoed Randy.

As the boys approached the orchard, the smell of wet and decaying leaves greeted them. Both were packing BB guns they got for Christmas. They planned to spend the day hunting for squirrels. The smell piqued their curiosity and added to the excitement of the hunt. Under foot the crunch of twigs and branches sounded like walking on broken glass and made sneaking up on anything impossible.

In the early 1920’s before the depression, an ill-advised investor launched an untimely attempt to plant and harvest a crop of McIntosh apples. The hardy spreading apple trees were expected to be moderately vigorous and bear annually or in alternate years. The investors knew that the fruit grew best in cool areas where nights are cold and autumn days are clear. Deer Park situated on a mostly level plateau seemed to fit the bill. However, promised irrigation plans never materialized. Abandoned and overrun the orchard continued to grow without water, except for rain and snow in season.

After a couple of hours of aimless scouting and roaming with nothing but derelict apple trees for company, Sean stopped dead in his tracks. Randy, following too close behind was brought up short and bumped him. Separating to relieve the tension the bump had created, Randy tried to reconnect.

“Let’s head back.”

“Not yet, OK?”

“Well, shit, Sean. It’s getting colder.”

“It’s February, Randy. Supposed to be cold. There’s snow on the ground.”

MacIntosh Murder Mystery

Report #101 filed

9:30AM from Valhalla Apartments, Unit 34, 505 Second Street, Nelson, BC, Canada

Call me “Mac”. I’m Colin McKenzie, Staff Sergeant, RA 28998847. In accordance with the Geneva Convention, that’s all that’s required.

When Ben Perrini called this morning, I was having my first cup of coffee and watching TV. It was the usual depressing breaking Vancouver 9:00 News on CBC Channel One. Ben’s call was a welcome interruption. After briefly exchanging old times trivia, Ben said he had a dead Native American on a slab in the lab and needed help with identifying it. He said he thought that my job as Provincial Forensic Investigator could add a real value to his investigation. I have some discretion as to working hours and I wasn’t due at the office in Trail until Noon. So I made a tactical decision and told him I should be able to make it to Deer Park by around 4:00 PM.

Ben and I met each other for the first time in Boa Loc, Vietnam in 1962 when neither of us was supposed to be there. We were both part of a shadow incursion military mission sent by the US to advise and aid Saigon in it’s struggle with Hanoi for control of the country. The war wasn’t officially acknowledged until either late 1961 or the middle of July 1965, depending on who you want to believe. The United States Department of Defense has said no obvious and verifiable start date exists. By late 1961, the United States began a transition from advice and support to a direct combat role. This led to the participation of U.S. military personnel in South Vietnamese operations. For Ben and those of us who survived or didn’t by mid-1965, combat dominated and remained the major, but not the only role of US forces in the Vietnam War until 1971. July 1965 was when the US made a commitment to win the war. Our job was to help the US complete its transition from advice and support to direct combat.

Ben was the Avionics Tech and I was the port side door gunner on a Marine Sikorsky Seahorse Utility Chopper. Looking back, it seems like a miracle that we’re both still here. When we finally got home our job skills were limited and focused. The only training we received was how to wear a uniform and carry and use a weapon. And the only jobs that sort of fitted that skill set were in law enforcement. Transitioning from search and destroy to serve and protect was awkward and difficult. We’ve both survived Vietnam and a career in law enforcement, so far.

When he called this morning, Ben said he thought my experience with the First Nation Band’s St’at’ima Chief’s Council in BC might be helpful. Driving down to Deer Park gave me plenty of time to try and remember what might work.

A Macintosh Murder Mystery

REPORT #100 filed

Around 3:30 PM on Tuesday, two young brothers found a body in an abandoned apple orchard east of Deer Park. Due to their ages, the 911 call to authorities aroused a growing storm of misinformation and false reporting. According to Chief Sam Fitch, the whole orchard has been designated a crime scene. Detective Ben Perrini said he would be looking into the situation. After a cursory exam on site by the Medic One crew, Lager Mortuary transported the body to the Police lab for an autopsy. Spokane County Coroner, Al Rice has been contacted to determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant an inquest. All officials announced the need for a prolonged investigation.

The brothers, Sean O’Toole and Randy Roadkill are separated in age by eleven months. If it wasn’t for Sean’s tousled-red hair and Randy’s black pigtail hanging down his back, anyone could have taken them for twins. Fourteen years old and armed with angular but friendly faces, both woke up early on Tuesday, anxious to scan and prowl the ever-widening reaches of their neighborhood.

Their mother, Edna Running Eagle is without a doubt the most attractive and under-appreciated Native American woman on the Spokane reservation. Before the boys were born, Edna worked the day shift as an RN in the ER of the Tri-County Hospital in Deer Park. She has regularly unwound after work by socializing and drinking at her favorite watering hole in Clayton on her way home. Sometimes she would get lucky and meet some guy with a motel room closer to the hospital. She would spend the night in the motel instead of driving back to Wellpinit, where the local HQ office of the BIA is located. The year before Sean and Randy arrived Edna got lucky two months in a row.

Born on the Fourth of July, 2001, Sean’s father was a fifty-year-old redheaded Irish immigrant traveling sales rep for Dunbrook Athletic jackets. Randy was born about eleven months later and his sperm donor was a reluctant alcoholic from the Kalispel reservation. Edna couldn’t remember if he had mentioned his name before falling asleep. Since both of these half-breed offspring were collateral damage, she named them to the best of her memory and went back to work. Having been born so close in time the boys bonded early for protection and fun.

Tuesday’s foray into the orchard had been in the planning stage for a week. Both of the boys were anxious to try out their new BB guns.

“ First one in the car, gets the first shot!”, yelled Randy.