The star crime-solving pair of Dr. Jake Rosen, world-famous pathologist, and top litigator Manny Manfreda, return in a gripping new thriller.
New York City is on high alert for a serial killer—a strange kind of thief who stalks his victims for the purpose of extracting a vial of blood, earning him the tabloid nickname “the Vampire.” As the attacks escalate to torture and then to murder, Jake and Manny begin to suspect there is a connection between the killer’s seemingly random victims. But how do they link it to a case that Manny’s been working for a kid whose high school prank-gone-wrong has earned him the moniker the Preppy Terrorist? They soon discover that their case is a tragic tale of corruption interlaced with cover-ups, conspiracies, death squads, and dictators who committed crimes that to this day go unpunished.
Chapter OneThe harsh buzz of the doorbell shocked the knife out of Annabelle Fiore’s hand.She jumped back to avoid being nicked by the blade as it clattered to the floor. Just what I need right now . . . chop off my own toe.
As Annabelle put the knife safely on the counter, the microwave clock rolled to 7:00. The Linggs were unfashionably punctual. She had been counting on their tardiness to give her time to finish making the salad.But Rosemarie and David weren’t expecting to be entertained. Her friends were here to distract her from pre- opening-night jitters, relax her—they’d be happy to sit in the kitchen while she cooked. Annabelle crossed the foyer and opened the door of her Greenwich Village brownstone. The final aria from Tosca,
piped through her high- end sound system, tumbled into the raindarkened street.“Welco—”A person dressed in black—not Rosemarie, not David—pushed Annabelle backward. A hand, gloved despite the balmy night, grasped her forearm. A steel- toed boot kicked the door closed.Annabelle opened her mouth. The quick intake of breath needed to scream accelerated her downfall. A cloying, harsh scent burned her nose and mouth as a thick square of damp cloth pressed into her face. The bold tones of the Roger Selden abstract paintings on the foyer wall faded into the distance. Annabelle’s knees buckled, and the gloved hand released its grip.Falling, she glimpsed a flash of metal.Her attacker’s fist opened, revealing a small glass vial. Annabelle’s last coherent thought formed. Why me, dear God, why me?
skeleton justiceChapter TwoGet back where you belong.
Dr. Jake Rosen could hear his boss saying it as he looked down at Annabelle Fiore. The opera singer’s olive skin had blanched to white; her arms lay stiffly at her sides. Jake reached out to touch her wrist. Her eyelids fluttered.The living are not your concern.
That’s what Pederson would say if he knew his leading forensic pathologist was at St. Vincent’s Hospital conducting a physical exam of a living victim. As deputy chief medical examiner of the City of New York, Jake spent most of his working hours at crime scenes or in the autopsy suite of the morgue. The chief ME, Charles Pederson, frowned on unauthorized field trips. Gently, Jake turned Fiore’s right arm to examine the inner side. There, in the crook of her elbow, was a tiny puncture where a needle had been inserted to draw blood. He studied it closely. No multiple attempts, not even much bruising around the site.The emergency room physicians and residents who had treated Fiore the night before wouldn’t have noticed this. They had saved Fiore the night before wouldn’t have noticed this. They had saved the opera singer's lofe by evaluating her injuries from a medical standpoint. To them, the lack of trauma at the blood-extraction site was good news: no treatment required, so they could focus all their attention on her compromised central nervous system. To Jake, that tiny, perfect puncture was significant. Whoever had attacked Fiore knew how to extract blood from a vein. This was not the work of an amateur. Not a random act of violence.His gaze traveled down the length of her arm. There, near the wrist, were three distinct bruises. Her assailant had gripped her arm tightly and held her until she stopped struggling. Just as with the first four victims.Jake hadn’t examined them, but he’d been briefed by Vito Pasquarelli, lead detective on the case. The first attack had occurred over a month ago. A young mother on the Upper WestSide had responded to a knock on her door in the middle of the day. The next thing she remembered was waking up groggy from ether-induced unconsciousness. She, and the police, had assumed the attacker had come to rob her. Except nothing was missing from her home.It wasn’t until hours later that she noticed the tiny needle mark in the crook of her arm. The police shrugged it off. She hadn’t been harmed. It was weird, but weird was status quo in New York. File a report and move on.Then it happened again. A teacher in the Bronx, an investment banker in Battery Park City, a foreign tourist attending a pharmaceutical conference in midtown. None of them seriously hurt, all of them thoroughly freaked-out. It didn’t help that somewhere along the line the tabloids started calling the stalker “the Vampire.”Although Jake didn’t subscribe to the media melodrama, skeleton justice he did understand the public’s fear. New Yorkers, blasé aboutdrive-by shootings and shoves onto subway tracks, were terrified by a guy with a needle. He’d seen it often enough in his medical training—hulking football players who stoically endured compound fractures, then passed out when the nurse arrived to give them a tetanus shot; gang members who survived knife fights, only to whimper when it was time to be sewn up. Needles were scary.And now the Vampire had nearly killed someone, a famous someone, not with his needle, but with an overdose of ether. Jake pulled a stethoscope from his pocket. He’d had to search to find one; it wasn’t an instrument he had much use for in the normal course of his day. Fiore stirred slightly as he listened to her heart. The beat was steady, but the rate was slow, consistent with having been drugged into unconsciousness. This is where the Vampire analogy fell apart. Vampires, the kind who lived in Transylvania and flapped around in black capes, didn’t anesthetize their victims. And apparently, New York’s vampire wasn’t too adept at it.Of course, even a trained anesthesiologist could easily make a mistake with ether. That’s why it wasn’t used much anymore. And if you were administering the drug via a soaked rag, getting the dosage right became even more problematic. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that an overdose hadn’t happened until Fiore, the fifth victim.Annabelle Fiore’s central nervous system had been seriously depressed. She would have died had her friends not arrived shortly after the attack. The effects still hadn’t worn off. Jake would have liked to ask her some questions, but although she stirred slightly as he examined her, she was only semi-conscious. An interview would have to wait.Jake turned away from the hospital bed just as a short, rumpled man entered the room.“Hey, you made it!” Detective Vito Pasquarelli shook Jake’s hand enthusiastically. “Thanks for coming. Have you looked at her?”“Yes. It’s hard to draw much of a conclusion, given that I didn’t get to examine the others. But if their blood- draw sites were as perfect as Ms. Fiore’s, I’d say you’re dealing with someone with some medical training.”Pasquarelli nodded. “What about the ether?”“Hard to know if the overdose was accidental or intentional.He seems to have given her quite a bit more than the others.” Jake ran his hand through his hair, moving his style further along the scale from casually wild to unkempt. “But here’s a thought that occurred to me. I know you said none of the victims is acquainted with any of the others. But you might want to ask them if they have any ties to a person who works around laboratory animals.”“You mean like rats and mice? Why?”“When researchers conduct experiments on animals and then have to autopsy them, they often kill them with an overdose of ether. That’s the most common use for the drug these days.” Vito perked up as they walked toward the elevator. “And a medical researcher would know how to draw blood, right?”Jake nodded. “And how to test it. Which is what I’d like to do.”“Our CSI guys already did that. No trace of drugs in any of them. Nothing hinky.”Jake grinned. “Funkiness is in the eye of the beholder. Send the samples over to me. I’d like to run my own tests.”“You got it.” The packed elevator arrived and the men descended in silence.“What do you think he
does with it?” Vito asked as the impatient crowd pushed past them into the lobby.“I think he tests it, just like I’m going to do with it,” Jake said.The detective looked relieved.Jake raised his hand in a mock toast. “Unless he drinks it.”From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Skeleton Justice by Dr. Michael Baden and Linda B. Kenney. Copyright © 2009 by Dr. Michael Baden. Excerpted by permission of Vintage, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Michael Baden
Dr. Michael Baden is the former Chief Medical Examiner of New York City and is presently the chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police. He received a B.S. from the City College of New York and an M.D. from New York University School of Medicine. He trained in internal medicine and pathology at Bellevue Hospital Medical Center where he was intern, resident and Chief Resident. He has been a medical examiner for forty-five years and has performed more than 20,000 medicolegal autopsies. He has held professorial teaching appointments at Albert Einstein Medical School, Albany Medical College, New York Law School and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
He was Chairman of the Forensic Pathology Panel of the U.S. Congress Select Committee on Assassinations that re-investigated the deaths of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1970s. He was the forensic pathologist member of a team of U.S. forensic scientists asked by the Russian government to examine the newly found remains of Tsar Nicholas II, Alexandra and the Romanov family in Siberia in the 1990s. He has been an expert witness for prosecutors or defense attorneys in trials involving Medgar Evers, John Belushi, Yankee Manager Billy Martin, Marlon Brando’s son Christian, O.J. Simpson, Jayson Williams, Kobe Bryant, Robert Blake, Phil Spector and Las Vegas hotel owner Ted Binion. He has investigated deaths in Croatia, Serbia, Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Monaco, Colombia, Panama, England, Canada, Zimbabwe and other countries for attorneys and human rights groups. He has taught homicide courses for police, judges, attorneys, and physicians in most of the 50 states as well as in China, Taiwan, Kuwait, Australia, France, Italy and other countries. He has been on the board of directors of a number of drug abuse and alcohol abuse treatment programs where he attempts to apply what he has learned from the dead at the autopsy table to the betterment of the living.
Dr. Baden has also served as President of the Society of Medical Jurisprudence and Vice President of the American Academy of Forensic Science. He has been author or co-author of more than 80 professional articles and books on aspects of forensic medicine and two popular non-fiction books, Unnatural Death, Confessions of a Medical Examiner and Dead Reckoning, the New Science of Catching Killers. He is the host of the HBO Autopsy series, now in its twelfth year, which explains how the various forensic sciences assist in solving crimes. He is the forensic science contributor for Fox National News. He has also discussed forensic science issues on The View, Conan O’Brien, Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, CNN, Court TV, Forensic Files, Discovery Channel, CNBC, MSNBC and many radio shows.
About Linda Kenney
LINDA B. KENNEY
Linda B. Kenney is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Rutgers School of Law and Rutgers University. Following graduation from law school, Ms. Kenney served a judicial clerkship with the Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division, Judge John F. Lynch. She then entered private practice with the law firm of Meyner and Landis in Newark. In 1980, Ms. Kenney was appointed Assistant Prosecutor for the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office where she served as a trial team leader and the lead attorney assigned to the Sex Crimes Investigative Unit. During her tenure with the Prosecutor's Office, she prepared and tried numerous criminal cases including those involving murder and the death penalty. Ms. Kenney was awarded an “AV” rating through Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating that one can attain. This rating signifies “that her legal abilities are of the very highest standard and that her professional ethics and conduct are above question.” In fact, in an Opinion issued by the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Ms. Kenney’s work was characterized as “exceptional, fine and outstanding.”
Ms. Kenney has been very active with professional and service activities and has served on the Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees and the Brookdale Community College Foundation. She also served on the District Fee Arbitration Committee and was appointed chairperson of that Committee by the Honorable Chief Justice Robert N. Wilentz. She has also been appointed a mediator for the Federal District Court of New Jersey. She has served as a Master for the C. Willard Heckel Inn of Court sponsored by Rutgers University and is an active member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Additionally, Ms. Kenney has appeared as a legal guest commentator for MSNBC, CNN, Court TV, and CNBC. She has lectured in China to the Public Security University (Beijing), Croatia, and Kuwait.
In 1984, Ms. Kenney reentered private practice where she concentrated on litigation especially related to complex employment, civil rights, and criminal matters. Ms. Kenney has been involved in a number of high profile cases, including:
· the racial profiling case against New Jersey State Police, which settled for nearly $13 million and resulted in author/fellow attorney, Johnnie Cochran, describing her as “brilliant.”
· the pretrial hearings involving Michael Skakel, which resulted in an upper court ruling finding that certain statements of witnesses were protected under the privileged communication doctrine.
· legal action by the first female captain of a wide-body jet for Continental Airlines for pornography in the cockpit, which resulted in changes in airline procedures and monetary compensation for her client.
· the exhumations of the last victim of the Boston Strangler and the alleged Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, which found that DNA from the victim did not match that of the Boston Strangler.
· membership on three national and international forensic investigative committees, which included serving as the forensic legal specialist for the Mashantucket Pequot Indians to investigate the hanging of aboriginal inmates in Australia.
· participation in the team of forensic scientists attempting to locate, for Wayne Newton, the body of his ancestor Pocahontas in order to return her to the United States for the four-hundredth anniversary of her saving the life of Captain John Smith, which will occur in 2007.
· involvement in numerous cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court and federal courts, making new law with regard to civil rights and employment cases.
· prosecuting one of the earliest cases in New Jersey in the early 1980s involving the reinstatement of the death penalty.
· representing the Spring Lake First Aid Squad in a headline will dispute case involving a widow, $7 million, and a podiatrist.
Where did the idea for the Vampire come from?
Many times in today’s world the hysteria surrounding a crime creates fear, headlines, and sleepless nights. What better nightmare could there be than strangers having their blood sucked from them as they engage in everyday, normal activities? Since we are big fans of 1930s horror movies, including Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, we thought it fitting that there be a tug-o-war between fact and fiction.
What sparked your interest in the DirtyWar?
Between 1976 and 1983, the Argentine government attempted to eradicate all dissident voices from the country. They did this through a campaign that included savaging families and kidnapping children. These children were called "los Desaparecidos" (the disappeared). Investigations into what happened to these children were triggered by grandmothers crying out for forensic science to solve both thewhereabouts and the identity of the missing children. Michael was consulted in the "los Desaparecidos" cases. Subsequent international outrage and releases of secret government documents revealed that the parents of these children had been killed and the babies placed with generals and other high ex-Peron officials and raised as their own. DNA was very helpful in matching grandparents with the kidnapped grandchildren who assumed incorrectly that their parents were their biological parents.
Are any aspects of the Vampire’s crimes inspired by your real-life work?
Yes. Michael has had cases where the perpetrator drank the blood of the victim. In fact, several memorable cases involved the killing of a loved one by another loved one, as well as dismemberment of the body and the killer collecting and drinking the blood of the victim. It has been opined by some who study the criminal mind that this ritual may even have a religious significance -- drinking the blood of God.
In SKELETON JUSTICE, the authorities are distracted from seeing what is actually happening by a fixation on terrorism and Islamic fundamentalists. Have you seen this happen as you’ve investigated and tried cases?
This type of fixation is "racial profiling." Linda has been involved in the lead case in the United States concerning racial profiling and has tried numerous cases involving discrimination. We both find that once the police fix upon a suspect, it can affect an impartial investigation. Obviously, there are over 230 wrongfully convicted people in this country, as demonstrated by the Innocence Project (www.innocenceproject.org). The people convicted in those cases are victims as much as the actual victims of the crimes. Many times this mindset has resulted in the real criminals going free. Unfortunately, this narrow focus in investigating cases has been around for a long time. In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens pointed out that "The Constables, and the Bow Streetmen from London, for, this happened in the days of the extinct red-waistcoated police were about the house for a week or two, and did pretty much what I have heard and read of like authorities doing in other such cases. They took up several obviously wrong people, and they ran their heads very hard against wrong ideas, and persisted in trying to fit the circumstances to the ideas, instead of trying to extract ideas from the circumstances."
The press plays an interesting role in the book, advancing theories before real conclusions are reached, inciting some public fear, and complicating matters for Manny and Jake (and the suspects). Do you feel the press can interfere in these ways when it comes to actual cases, as they do in SKELETON JUSTICE?
"The press, Watson, is the most valuable institution if you know how to use it." So said Sherlock Holmes. However, the press now needs to use legal cases for their benefit also. In George Clooney’s 2005 film about Edward R. Murrow, Good Night and Good Luck, the hero will risk his own popularity, future and livelihood for principles, ethics and truth. Today the media’s job involves obtaining Nielsen ratings in the TV world and selling newspapers in the print world. We believe that traditional reporting has become, in many instances, exploitative. In this country, the media many times will use the emotional value of a potentially high profile case early on--often assisted by leaks from police and district attorneys--before conclusions are reached, thereby not only polluting the jury pool and vilifying those who disagree, but often leading to the trumping of science by emotions. Since both of us do commentary on TV, we try to be as objective as possible and relay to the viewer the undisputed facts and the actual science.
What’s next for Manny and Jake?
Manny and Jake will return in Dead Storage. As with Remains Silent and Skeleton Justice, one of the backdrops to the case they will work on will be a historical wrong. In this way, we hope future generations, through Manny and Jake, will not forget past injustices. Without giving away too much, there will be some interesting surprises about who Manny and Jake really are in the next book.
What are you working on in your non-writing lives these days?
Michael has been working on a number of cases of United States military personnel brought up on court marshal charges for killing Iraqis--the intent by U.S. officials is that these trials will help pacify local villages, where autopsy evidence is often incorrect. In fact, Michael has been to Kuwait and Iraq, flak jacket, hard helmet and all. Linda was asked by the Innocence Project to assist in the retrial of the case, on a pro bono basis, of Tennessee v. House, a high profile murder case where the defendant is a man named Paul Gregory House. Mr. House’s murder conviction was reversed after he spent twenty years on death row. The United States Supreme Court granted him a new trial on the basis that the DNA found on the victim did not match Paul Gregory House. It is important that the local public defender and I attempt to right this injustice and obtain either a dismissal of the charges against Mr. House or a not guilty verdict by a jury of his peers. Mr. House is very sick with Multiple Sclerosis and we hope to clear his name completely before his health deteriorates further.
UPDATE ON PAUL GREGORY HOUSE, May 12, 2009: This morning, the judge dismissed the murder case against Paul Gregory House wherein Mr. House had maintained his innocence for twenty-two years. In part based on DNA evidence, the United States Supreme Court concluded in 2006 that "no reasonable juror would have found House guilty." Based on additional investigation given to the prosecutor by the defense along with several more rounds of DNA testing performed by the State -- all which turned out to be even more exculpatory -- the State of Tennessee finally agreed with the defense and asked that all charges be dropped. This has probably been the most important case Linda has worked on in recent years as it shows that people who were once thought to be guilty in the media and the press can be proven innocent decades later based on science and the diligent work of defense attorneys.
We are also working on curating an art exhibit with a short documentary that involves photographs, artifacts and other historical documents, along with a hands-on installation which allows patrons to physically see what it’s like to be a witness, investigator and juror in a criminal case, and to understand why wrongful convictions occur. Additionally, we hope thatManny and Jake will be on a TV screen soon as we helped draft several screenplays for a weekly series pilot.
You have a large collection of crime memorabilia – including the original “alienists” notes concerning Richard Loeb, of Leopold and Loeb, as well documents related to presidential (or other) assassinations and the only death warrant Bill Clinton signed off on as Governor of Arkansas. Any new additions that excite you?
Fittingly enough, we now own a first edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker, along with an original French lithograph of a bat skeleton. We have also added several Presidential warrants for pardons.
From the Hardcover edition.