It was a beautifully warm Saturday afternoon in East Hampton, New York. The sun was glistening off the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, waves just the perfect height for surfers in early Spring. A few people sat on beach chairs basking in the glow while others wandered through the chic little town looking in boutique shop windows and stopping for a latte.
The scene inside the exclusive beach house on Oceanview Drive, however, was quite a contrast to the glorious panorama outdoors. It was nothing short of gruesome.
Inside that house lay wealthy divorcée Linda Myers Bronson, sprawled out on her kitchen floor. Judging by the impressive crossbow bolt protruding from the middle of her chest and the copious amount of blood on the gleaming Italian marble floor beneath her, she was most definitely dead.
The police showed up after being notified by Linda’s friend, June Parker Singleton. Apparently Linda failed to show up for their usual Friday lunch at ’The Palms’. June said she’d been trying to reach Linda since then but all her calls and texts went unanswered.
Nothing looked out of place in Linda’s house – no sign of a struggle, robbery, forced entry or even a shattered window. The police were certain Linda was killed by either someone she knew or allowed in.
Linda’s cell phone was on the kitchen table; police checked messages and calls but there was nothing even remotely unusual or suspicious. Then they discovered a landline phone with a recording machine on a bookshelf in the study. A little red light was blinking, indicating there were messages. The detective in charge, Tony Collins, was anxious to hear what was on that machine.
There was the usual greeting recorded by Linda followed by a message from the landscapers letting her know they’d be planting the new arborvitaes on Monday. Another message from the local jeweler informed Linda that her pearl necklace had been restrung and she could stop by at her convenience.
Detective Collins listened to the next message but it was Linda speaking:
“This is Linda Myers Bronson. I need a job done.”
Silence. The detective pushed the play button and Linda’s voice came on again:
“What does it matter how I got your number? You were highly recommended and I’m willing to pay top dollar.”
Again all was quite before Linda spoke:
“Please, I don’t need to know about your various equipment; that means nothing to me as long as everything’s done right. It must be taken care of quickly.”
The pattern of conversation continued in the same manner with only Linda’s voice on the recordings. It didn’t take a genius to realize that for some bizarre reason the comments from the person she was talking to had been deleted. Two questions remained: who was Linda talking to and why was their part of the discussion deleted? The detective continued listening:
“Yes, that price is fine. The cost doesn’t concern me. I understand; cash only.”
“A date? Well, as I mentioned before, as quickly as possible.”
“Oh, that soon!”
“No, that’s not a problem. I’ll be home.”
“The address is 7 Oceanview Drive in East Hampton. What time will you be here?”
“I don’t care if your other clients are okay with a two-hour window. I want to know the exact time you’ll be here.”
“Oh, and use the rear entrance into the kitchen. I don’t want my rugs getting dirty.”
Detective Collins listened to the recordings again, unable to hear even a trace of sound between Linda’s comments. “I want this tape machine bagged and brought down to headquarters” he barked.
“Hey, Detective” one of the cops called out. “You might want to take a look at this. I found this folder in the victim’s desk.”
The folder contained medical records and reports from Linda’s doctor.
Collins whistled, slapping the folder against his hand. “Well, I’ll be damned. According to these reports it looks like our victim was practically dead already. She had cancer everywhere and about two weeks to live.” Closing the folder the detective added “Looks like she decided to end it all and hired somebody to take her out. A classic case of suicide by murder.”
Returning to the kitchen Collins took a close look at the bolt still sticking out of Linda’s chest. Common, no distinguishing marks, available in any hunting or sporting goods store. He’ll have forensics go over this baby with a fine-tooth comb. After all, somewhere there’s a killer.
“Goddamn! I gotta admit it. This lady had some set of balls!”