An hour later, Josie was armed with Ginger Blackwell’s current address and Trinity had a nearly full stomach and a promise from Josie that if there was a connection between the Blackwell and Coleman cases she would be the first to know. Josie had warmed up Luke’s creamy lasagna and made a pot of coffee while sharing her theory that Ginger Blackwell’s case was not a hoax and that she had been set free, in large part, because of the intensive national coverage her case had garnered.
“She was raped,” Trinity said around a mouthful of lasagna. “By multiple men, she thinks.”
“You met her?”
“No. She only did press at the very beginning and wouldn’t be seen on camera. Too traumatized. By the time I got the assignment she had stopped doing interviews. But her husband did a lot of press. Nice guy. Devoted to her. I felt badly for them. Especially when the police started to say it was a hoax.”
“There are disappearances all over this country all the time,” Josie said. “Why did her case get so much attention?”
“Her husband had a relative—a cousin, I think—who went to college with a producer at a major network. It was one of those ‘I have a friend of a friend’ situations, you know? Anyway, the cousin got in touch with his old college buddy, asked him to do a piece on her disappearance at the national level. It wasn’t a hard sell. She was a gorgeous, small-town housewife who disappeared into thin air. People ate it up. The segment went viral and the other networks picked it up.”
“If there is the slightest chance that her case is connected with Isabelle Coleman’s, and if Coleman’s case were to get national attention, do you think they’d let her go?”
Trinity shrugged. She swallowed her
food and her face turned
serious. “Or they could kill her and dump her body. If Ginger was telling the truth, and let’s say it’s some kind of trafficking ring, I think they only let her go because she couldn’t remember anything. At least, that’s what her husband said. He said they drugged her.”
“Maybe they’ve drugged Isabelle too.”
“Why do you think the cases are connected?”
“I don’t. I mean, no reason. It’s just weird that three women would be abducted around here, that’s all.”
“I didn’t peg you for a conspiracy theorist,” Trinity said.
“I’m not,” said Josie. “I’m just saying it’s worth checking out. What if Blackwell tells me something that does connect to the Coleman case?”
Trinity’s eyes narrowed. “Does the chief know you’re running your own investigation now? Why are you talking to me about this and not Denton PD?”
“They’re pretty much at the limit of what they can handle right now,” she told Trinity. “Besides, I’d like to have some actual leads before I take this to the chief.”
“I don’t believe you, but I also don’t think the cases are connected.
You know the deal: if you find a connection, I’m the first to know.”
Reluctantly, Josie said, “Yes, that’s what we agreed on. I didn’t forget in the last hour. But why don’t you think there will be a connection?”
Trinity shrugged. “Look at June Spencer. Everyone thought she ran away, but she was in Donald Drummond’s house. We have no way of knowing anything.”
“Jesus. There are perverts everywhere. What if I’m right about the news coverage thing? Can you get national coverage for the Coleman case?”
Trinity leaned back in her chair and twisted a lock of hair around one of her index fingers. She stared at her empty plate thoughtfully. Josie had never seen a woman eat as much as Trinity Payne did, and she couldn’t weigh more than one hundred twenty pounds. “I can try. I still have some contacts in New York. Coleman’s perfect for the national news—a gorgeous, blond teenager with her whole life ahead of her—I’ll see what I can do.”
Josie was keying the Blackwells’ new address into Google Maps when Trinity asked her, “Come on, tell me. Is it true that June Spencer killed Sherri Gosnell with a fork?”
Josie froze and shot Trinity a cutting look. “Trinity, please.”
“Just tell me. When’s the last time you heard of someone being killed
with a fork? It must have been brutal.”
Josie went back to Google Maps. “There was a lot of blood,” she conceded.
“What do you think drove her over the edge?”
Josie shrugged. “I have no idea. I wasn’t in the room when it happened. She was already in bad shape when she got to Rockview. Are you sure the Blackwells still live in this place?”
She had pulled up the street view of the address Trinity gave her. Trinity leaned over to glance at the computer screen. “I’m sure they’re still there,” she told Josie. “It took them forever to sell their house in Bowersville. I can’t imagine them having moved again already. Good luck getting her to talk to you though.”