Read an Excerpt
By ROBERT SCOTT
PINNACLE BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Robert Scott
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHAMMER BLOWS
Grays Harbor County, Washington
On March 17, 1999, Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office (GHSO) detective Lane Youmans was at home watching television. By 1999, Lane had been with GHSO for twenty-two years. Starting as a deputy patrolling the county's roads, he eventually worked his way up to the detective division within GHSO and had seen just about everything in his time at GHSO, from petty crimes to violent murder. In a county of nineteen hundred square miles, Lane's job took him from the suburbs of the city of Aberdeen to the wilds deep within the forest. Some of the back roads were little more than dirt trails winding down through blackberry thickets, alders and Sitka spruces. In this area it was little wonder why Washington had the nickname of the Evergreen State.
By 1999, Aberdeen was mainly famous for one of its former citizens, Kurt Cobain. Cobain had gone on to international fame in the band Nirvana, with his iconic lyrics and tormented persona. Kurt had both loved and hated the area, and it was as much a part of who he was as the fog and forests of Grays Harbor. Cobain would travel upon the world stage, from New York to London to Tokyo, but there was always a bit of Aberdeen that stayed within him, from his days down along the Wishkah River.
The evening of March 17 was winding down and Lane was thinking of going to bed, when the telephone suddenly rang. He picked up the receiver and heard Patrol Sergeant Keith Fouts's voice on the other end of the line. Fouts said that a woman had been savagely assaulted at a milking parlor on a dairy farm in the small town of Oakville, on the southeastern side of Grays Harbor County. The victim was thirty-one-year-old Frankie Cochran. Frankie was still alive, but just barely, having been struck in the head numerous times with a hammer. She was in the process of being airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in hopes that she could be saved. Harborview was a Level 1 trauma center and had the best hospital in the region for someone suffering from a massive head injury.
Even though the prognosis did not look good for the young woman, Sergeant Fouts told Lane that Frankie had been able to identify her attacker before slipping into a semicomatose state. Units were now out looking for the individual who, she said, had beat her with the hammer. Then Fouts asked Lane to come out to the crime scene and process it.
Lane put on his cotton jumpsuit, shoulder holster, department baseball cap, and kissed his wife good-bye. He knew that he was in for a long night of crime scene processing. Climbing into his vehicle, Lane started driving east from his home in Hoquiam toward the crime scene, about twenty-five miles away. He didn't go very far, however, before he received a message that a suspect had been detained in downtown Aberdeen. The suspect was a man named David Gerard, and he had just been arrested at a 7-Eleven mini-mart on B Street. It was the same David Gerard who Frankie Cochran had indicated was the person who had attacked her.
Lane drove to the 7-Eleven and spotted a burly young man sitting in the backseat of Sergeant Fouts's patrol car. A tow truck was called to the scene to hook up Gerard's vehicle, which was in the 7-Eleven parking lot, and then haul it to a police compound. Once it was there, it could be thoroughly searched later. Lane knew from experience that it was a good idea to impound a suspect's vehicle early on in the process to determine if it had been at a crime scene or not. In this case the vehicle was a four-door red-colored Ford Escort.
When Lane got out of his vehicle at the 7-Eleven, Sergeant Fouts told him that the suspect, thirty-six-year-old David Gerard, had apparently attacked his ex-girlfriend Frankie Cochran with a claw hammer as she worked milking cows. Allegedly, Gerard had beat her savagely with the claw hammer on the head and left her for dead. Beat her so hard, in fact, that it had caved in a portion of her skull. Frankie had lain on the cold, wet concrete floor of the milking shed for two hours before dairy owner Eugene Clark found her lying there. Clark immediately called 911, and Fouts went out to the dairy to find Frankie lying in her own blood, frozen water and cow excrement. Incredibly, it was the combination of icy water and cow excrement that had kept her from bleeding to death. These unlikely elements had acted as a kind of compress on her severe wounds. Even more incredibly, after two hours of being immobile, and near death, Frankie had opened her eyes and informed Deputy Fouts, "David Gerard did this to me!"
An all points bulletin (APB) had been put out for the arrest of David Gerard at that juncture, and within a short time frame, an Aberdeen police officer spotted Gerard's vehicle in Aberdeen. Gerard was driving around aimlessly on the backstreets of north Aberdeen until he pulled into a 7-Eleven store, where he was immediately arrested.
As Sergeant Fouts transported Gerard to the GHSO main office in Montesano, Lane stayed at the 7-Eleven store and photographed the exterior of the Ford Escort. When the tow truck arrived, Lane followed it and the Ford Escort to the Aberdeen auto yard on the south side of town. He waited until the operator unhitched the vehicle, and once the Escort was parked at the lot, Lane placed official DO NOT TOUCH stickers on the doors and windshield. Lane also contacted Detective Matt Organ and Detective Ed McGowan, of the GHSO, since they were just then heading to the sheriff's office building to question David Gerard. Both Organ and McGowan were good detectives with a lot of years of experience in law enforcement. They'd both seen their share of murder and mayhem in Grays Harbor County.
After securing the Ford Escort at the auto yard, Lane drove to the sheriff's office in Montesano as well. Detectives Organ and McGowan were already in the process of interviewing David Gerard, and Detective Organ stepped outside of the interview room for a moment, telling Lane that Gerard denied assaulting Frankie Cochran with a hammer. In fact, Gerard was now saying that he'd spent the day driving around the Loop, which was the nickname for Highway 101, which made a large loop around the Olympic Peninsula. Lane knew that driving the entire Loop could take up to six hours, a good alibi for Gerard if it held up.
Detective Organ briefed Lane about all the details he was able to get out of Gerard so far, and then Lane took off for the crime scene in Oakville, which was being protected by Deputy Dan Wells. While on the way to Oakville, Lane suddenly remembered having heard on the evening news that Highway 101 had been blocked by a landslide, north of the town of Shelton, for the previous two weeks. David Gerard had to be lying about driving the entire Loop if it was still blocked. It would have been impossible to have done so with that landslide lying across the road. There were absolutely no roads that crossed the peninsula through Olympic National Park from one side to the other. It might have been possible to take a side road around the slide area, but Gerard insisted that he had never left Highway 101 the whole time.
Lane hurriedly picked up his cell phone and called Matt Organ about this important detail and asked Organ to contact the state highway patrol to confirm that Highway 101 had been blocked when Gerard claimed to have driven the Loop. Lane recalled later, "I thought, if it was blocked, that blew Gerard's alibi clear out of the water!" Then Lane's next thought was "It didn't look good for the victim. This could soon be turning from an assault investigation into a murder investigation."
Lane reached Clark's Dairy at around 11:00 P.M. and Deputy Wells was still protecting the crime scene. The sky was cloudy, and the temperature was in the 40s. Lane put on his rubber boots, grabbed his camera and shoved several extra rolls of film into his jacket pocket. He also grabbed a handful of rubber gloves and put them into a pocket on the back of his jumpsuit.
Deputy Wells escorted Lane to the milking parlor, where the assault had occurred. There were no cows in the milking parlor now, but Lane could hear them mooing in a holding pen nearby. Lane later noted, "Most of the seventy cows had not been milked, and they were not happy."
On one side of the parlor was a sliding wooden door, and past the door was a concrete ramp leading down into a holding pen, which was now empty. On the floor Lane spotted a large streak of blood running down the manure-covered ramp. Some blood was spattered on a wall of the milking parlor a few inches above the floor, and at the base of the ramp were several blood-soaked towels. There were also a pair of rubber boots partially covered with manure sitting upright, side by side.
Amongst the blood and cow manure, about midway down the ramp, Lane spotted something glittering in the beam of his flashlight. He picked it up to examine the object, and noted that it was an earring in the shape of a heart, which appeared to be gold in color. On one side of the ramp there was a handrail, and on the other side he found a clear vinyl apron that had blood smeared on it. There were also medical wrappers and debris scattered on the floor near the apron, tossed there by medical personnel who had arrived on scene to try and save Frankie's life.
Lane photographed the scene from various angles, trying to avoid stepping in important areas, and also trying to keep from sliding in the slippery manure. He then stepped back into a holding pen, cow manure up to the ankles of his rubber boots, to look over the whole scene. The night air was cold enough that he could see his breath, and the cows were mooing louder and louder, obviously distressed at not having been milked.
The one overall thing that Lane noticed from the scene was that there had been a great deal of violence connected to this ex-couple. As he said later, "There was a rage-an explosion of violence. I had seen this before, at another crime scene, at another time. I stood there silently in the cold, and the crap, and the crying cows, and stared down at the ramp leading into the milking parlor. Suddenly it hit me-an epiphany, just like you see in the movies. David Gerard. David Gerard! I knew that name. I knew it from another very violent scene where four people had died!"
Chapter TwoBETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH
Whether David Gerard was linked to other crimes, at the moment the paramount thing for Lane Youmans and the other detectives was to process the Frankie Cochran crime scene. After thoroughly photographing the milking parlor and collecting evidence, Lane let Eugene Clark back in to milk the cows. Lane then loaded evidence into his green Jeep Cherokee, took off his rubber boots and turned on the heater to warm up after such a long cold spell in the milking shed.
Lane headed back to the sheriff's office in Montesano, where he placed the evidence bags, which contained milking boots, apron, bloody towels, earring and blood samples, in the old jail exercise room so that the blood and manure could dry. After that was done, he contacted Detective Matt Organ. By this point Lane discovered that Organ had arrested Gerard for first-degree assault, which was the same category as attempted murder in Washington State. Lane asked Organ what Gerard had said when confronted with the fact that the Loop had been closed by a landslide for the past two weeks. Organ chuckled and replied, "He said, 'Well, that's the way I went.'" Organ then added that Gerard offered as an alibi that he had called a friend named Polly Miller from the town of Forks, midway along the Loop. Of course, it was an impossibility that he had driven the entire Loop because of the landslide.
The detectives contacted Polly Miller and she told them, "It was so weird. Out of the blue, David Gerard called me and announced that he was in Forks. It didn't make any sense. He was always driving to different places, but he had never called me like that before!"
Lane and the others assumed that Gerard had telephoned Miller after assaulting Frankie Cochran, trying to set up an alibi. But even calling from Forks did not explain how he could have completed the whole Loop. He had to be lying.
The next step for the detectives was to check Frankie's condition at the hospital, and things did not look good in that regard. Frankie had been airlifted 110 miles to Harborview Medical Center in an attempt to save her life. When Lane called Harborview, he found out that Frankie was in the head trauma unit and was booked in under an alias. This had been done, as in many domestic violence situations, in case the "loved one" decided to drop in and finish what he had started. Harborview was a huge facility, sprawling out over an entire city block, with fourteen floors. Because of the alias, someone would literally have to go from floor to floor, trying to find the person they were looking for if they didn't know the alias the person was listed under.
Lane phoned Harborview and identified himself as a Grays Harbor County detective to the intake nurse. Only after the intake nurse was convinced that Lane was, in fact, a GHSO detective, he was given Frankie's assumed name and where in the hospital she was located.
Lane Youmans and GHSO sergeant Dave Pimentel, who was in charge of GHSO's Investigation Division, drove to Seattle and parked in the law enforcement parking lot at Harborview. Lane grabbed his camera and notebook, and they headed for the head trauma unit. Once there, they presented their credentials to the nurse, and Lane asked one of the nurses about Frankie's condition. The nurse told him that Frankie was in very serious condition after having undergone surgery. The repeated hammer blows to the right side of her skull had broken loose a fist-sized piece of skull. During surgery the doctors removed that piece of skull and saved it for later replacement. They then covered the hole with Frankie's own scalp and stapled it closed.
The doctors also repaired Frankie's right forearm and put a metal brace on her fractured jaw. A half-inch stab wound on the right side of her neck was stitched up as well. Sergeant Pimentel continued talking to the nurses about Frankie's condition, while Lane went into Frankie's room. She was in and out of consciousness, her head and jaw heavily bandaged, as well as her arm. Lane photographed Frankie lying in her hospital bed, and he lifted up the bedsheet to check for other bruises and injuries. Lane said later, "I suddenly felt uncomfortable doing this. I was used to photographing dead bodies, and looking under sheets or clothing for wounds. This had always been no big deal-just part of the job. But here I was, dealing with a live victim, and I felt that I was somehow violating her privacy. I had photographed hundreds of live victims before as well, but I had always asked permission first. Frankie was a borderline case. Not dead, but not much alive."
As Lane was photographing her, Frankie woke up. Her eyes were partially open, and her right eye was blood-red. Sergeant Pimentel came into the room, and Lane leaned close to Frankie, asking, "Who did this to you?" Frankie replied, "David." Lane then asked, "What is his last name?" Frankie said, "Gerard."
Lane asked Frankie what David Gerard had hit her with, and she replied, "A hammer." All of this reinforced what Frankie had told Sergeant Fouts earlier. Both Lane and Pimentel wanted this on the record, just in case Frankie didn't make it. And from the looks of her and the doctors' reports, it wasn't a sure thing that she was going to survive.
It was obvious to Lane that Frankie was in a lot of pain, and heavily medicated. He decided they had put her through enough already, and they'd gotten a firsthand witness statement about her attacker and the weapon he had used. As Lane noted later, "It was really touch and go for her. If things turned sour later, we could speak for her, to be her voice and testify in court when David Gerard went to trial. As things stood, she might not only never make it to trial, she might not be alive."
Lane Youmans knew that in Washington State, David Gerard could be brought to trial within sixty days, unless the defense lawyer asked for more time. Because of that, the prosecution would have to be ready, just in case, and everything that Lane and the other detectives gathered now would be vitally important. They would have to get medical records describing Frankie's injuries, search Gerard's vehicle and apartment in Aberdeen, find the hammer he had used to attack Frankie and the clothes he had been wearing when he attacked her.
Excerpted from BLOOD FRENZY by ROBERT SCOTT Copyright © 2010 by Robert Scott. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.