If you haven’t been following this story, here is the link to Chapter One.
Campus Crimes Series Book 1 — Featuring Darcy Knight, Coed Detective
“We’ll need to take statements from each of you, but separately,” he said, then looked across the room to where Lucas was just coming back through the window. “Luke, take Mr. Billings into the hallway, if you will, and get his statement. I’ll talk to Miss Knight in here.” That was another thing I liked about the sergeant. He remembered people’s names.
Lucas grabbed his notebook from his pocket and smiled at the janitor. “Mr. Billings,” he said, motioning toward the hall. “After you, sir.” Poor Mr. Billings was still shaking a little, and I’m sure he was glad to just get out of the room. I looked at Sergeant Harris and asked, “Is it all right if I sit down at one of the desks?”
“Sure, go ahead. I’ll be as brief as I can.” So I took a seat on the front row of student desks, and he propped one foot on the desk beside me and started entering data into his notebook.
“So you are the person who called 911?”he said, looking at me with his no-nonsense police officer face.
“Yes sir. But …” I paused because I wasn’t sure if I should tell him what I was thinking about telling him. But it was too late to back out because just the fact that I hedged made him even more determined to know what I wasn’t saying.
“Go on,” he prompted. “But what Miss Knight?”
“Well … I was just going to say that I didn’t actually call 911 immediately. I mean … I … I was so shocked to see that person climbing out the window and … well … then … to … to see ─ ” I suddenly realized hot tears were rolling down my cheeks, but I couldn’t seem to do anything about it. I swiped at my cheeks, but the tears came even faster.
To my surprise Sergeant Harris pushed a handful of paper tissues into my hand and said, “Just take it easy, Miss Knight. You’ve had a shock. Just take a minute to collect yourself and then we’ll talk.” I nodded my head to let him know I understood what he was saying and tried to mop off my face.
I couldn’t help but breathe a small sigh of relief as he stepped away from me and headed toward the hallway to check on Lucas and Mr. Billings. But just as he stepped into the hall the coroner arrived, and they both come back into the room and headed for the professor’s body. Two other officers whose names I didn’t know had been hanging around during all the proceedings, just in case they were needed, and Sergeant Harris finally had something for one of them to do.
“Phillips, take Miss Knight out to that lounge area at the end of the hallway and get her some water or whatever she needs while I finish up things in here.”
“Yes sir,” the younger officer answered and turned toward me.l Sergeant Harris looked at me as well. “Miss Knight, I’ll be back with you as soon as I can.”
“Yes, sir, Thank you,” I answered. I’m not sure what I was thanking him for, but it seemed like the right thing to say. Never having experienced anything like murder before, I had no idea what proper protocol was. And it goes without saying that I hope I never have enough experience to learn the right way to deal with it.
Once I got to the lounge area and looked at the vending machines, I suddenly realized I was parched and water did, indeed, sound like a good idea. I dug through my purse to find the right money to buy a bottle and then tried to settle into one of the hard plastic chairs to wait, hoping the extra time would help me collect my thoughts.
I naturally wanted to remember everything that might help the sergeant, but, at the same time, my mind was whirling with the question of who would want Professor Sommers dead. He was quite a congenial man, and a good teacher. Of course, I didn’t agree with his judgment concerning my recent research paper, but I did enjoy his classes and had already learned a good deal from him this term. I didn’t know any students who called him names behind his back or gossiped about him – as they did several of the other faculty. All in all, I couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around someone as quiet and ordinary as a college professor would have the kind of enemies who would shoot them in cold blood.
After about twenty minutes of that kind of thinking, I realized that my shaking had stopped. And I didn’t think I’d be doing anymore crying, but the exhaustion was about to take me over. Just as I started wondering if I could get by with leaning my head back and closing my eyes, Sergeant Harris walked in and took a chair across from me.
“All right now, Miss Knight, let’s get your statement, shall we?” Lucas joined us then, having finished with Mr. Billings, and both officers sat facing me in equally uncomfortable chairs. Sergeant Harris checked his notes and began. “Now, I think it will be easier on you and us if you just start with why you came into this building at this time of night, and walk us through your experience, step by step.”
I took a steadying breath and, hearing my Grandma in the back of my mind saying, “Buck up, and face the music, girl,” I began: “Well, when my friend Nadia and I were crossing the campus to the parking lot, I saw that the lights were on in the admin building, and I needed to talk to Professor Sommers about my research paper. So I told Nadia I was going to come in and see if he was in his office.” When I mentioned Nadia, I couldn’t help but look right at Lucas, but he was all business, so I returned my attention to the sergeant.
“And what time was that?” asked Sergeant Harris.
“Oh, I’m not sure. Well … it must have been close to 9:00 because our class ended at 8:30, and we had stood around talking to friends for about fifteen minutes before we left the science building. And I remember Nadia saying that she would probably be in bed by the time I got home so not to call and wake her up.”
The sergeant nodded. “Go on.”
I then proceeded to tell him, step-by-step, what had taken place. When I got to the part when I looked toward the professor’s desk and saw him in that position, I stopped and added. “So that’s what I meant when I said I didn’t call 911 immediately. I was so shocked that I couldn’t really think for a minute, and then all I could think about was to yell for help from someone here in the building. The janitor came running, and as soon as he saw the situation, his first words to me were, “Call 911,” and then I realized that I should have already been doing that. But even when I tried, my hands were shaking so badly that I hit a wrong button and had to start the call over. I’m sorry I wasn’t thinking more clearly. I was just so shocked … and … scared, I guess.”
Sergeant Harris nodded again, and Lucas spoke. “That’s understandable, Darcy.” I was surprised he addressed me by my first name, but maybe since he and Nadia were starting to date, he considered me more of a friend as well. It helped me. Just that little bit of personal response made me feel a little less weird.
“Okay, now,” Sergeant Harris said, “Let’s go back over the moment when you first saw the person climbing out of the window. Think now, Miss Knight, and describe to me every little detail you can remember.”
“I think I already did, Sergeant,” I began, but we were interrupted by a woman’s loud voice from the hallway.
“What do you mean I can’t come any further? My office is down this hall, and I have every right to be here. What’s going on anyway?”
To be continued …