Thursday, February 16, 2017

Post Zero: The John Carlson Files

The Setup:
In my field you don't track down cases. No, wait around long enough and one will come up and wrestle you to the ground.
As it often does the latest one started with an "unofficial visit" from one of Chicago's homicide detectives. He gave me the run down, explained they were at a loss after two weeks of investigating and that the higher ups were starting to lose enthusiasm.  In cases like these most of the suits and beat cops are relieved when the case fades away but there seems to always be one who can't let it go. Word gets around and I get another knock on my door at the behest of "someone you helped out". I'm never sure if they come to fulfill their duty or pass it off. Either way it's work and more importantly it's a paycheck that shows up as a line item on a budget somewhere under the heading "contracted experts". 

I forget the kids name, we'll just call him Detective Dave. He came wielding an anorexic manila folder that held little more than the initial reports and some newspaper clippings. Truth be told I'd gotten most of the briefing before hand via the cable news networks. It went something like this:

[Elisa Lam, a Canadian citizen of Chinese decent,  was found dead in the water tower atop the infamous Cecil Hotel her in Chicago. Lam, who was vacationing in the United States, has been determined to have not suffered sexual assault, was not under the influence of illicit narcotics, and her blood alcohol content indicated she was sober. While traveling checked in regularly with her family in Canada. On the day she was due to check out of the Cecil her family did not here from her and contacted LAPD.
The day of her last sighting she was noted to be alone by hotel staff. A book seller in the area recalled her visit to his store, noting Lam's friendly demeanor.  With few leads and no probable cause the police were unable to enforce a wider search of the hotel premises.
During the intervening weeks the police released the unsettling security footage of Lam on the hotel elevator. Additionally, after patrons reported problems with the drinking water, hotel maintenance performed a routine check of the hotel's water tower. This was when Lam's body was discovered within the tank. 
Hotel security records show no access to the roof via either of the electronic keypads required to access it. There is no permanent ladder access to the tank. No suspects have been apprehended, no further leads have come to light.] 

What wasn't covered in that folder,  though it was likely on it's way to urban legend imortalization, was the John Carlson Trifecta: Spooky, Unsettling, and Unexplained. The Trifecta pays my bills and keeps detectives sheepishly shuffling into my office.

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