I had some of the pieces now. All I had to do was fit them together, then figure out what was missing that made the necklace worth more to Caiazzo than a book valued at almost twice as much.
One thing I needed to do, if it was possible, was to find out what happened to Hugh Williams, the man who had brought the necklace to Philips. When I got to the office and found the door locked and the security box armed, it took me a minute to realize why. It was Saturday and we closed at noon, just like the banks. Duh. I knew that.
I settled down at my desk to do what I'd promised Ms Bell I would, way back last night. Damn had it been that recently? When this is over I'm going to grab Ricky and take a long vacation on a secluded island just to rest and recuperate.
I started by calling the two hospitals in the city. Neither one had a Hugh Williams listed as a patient. Of course if he'd been found, beaten and unable to talk—or worse—they wouldn't tell me. Confidentiality issues would be in place to keep a patient safe from an unknown assailant who might try to finish the job.
Then I booted up my computer and went to city jail's website to see if he was listed as an inmate. He wasn't, but that didn't surprise me. The same held true for the county jail.
Next, I called the morgue. They didn't have his body, or any unidentified remains that could be him. All that told me was, if he had been killed, the killer or killers had undoubtedly buried him somewhere afterward.
Finally, I got in touch with a detective I knew on the police force, Tom Sharp. I'd passed on information to him a few times that I'd come up with while pursuing cases, so he was willing to help me out in return. Sometimes.
"Tom," I said when he answered my call, "it's Walt Murphy."
"It's been a while."
We chatted for a couple before I asked, "Can you see if you have anything on a Hugh Williams? Thirty-one, no DOB, approximately five-ten, five-eleven, brown hair, blue eyes."
"Why are you looking for him?" he asked cautiously.
"The usual, a missing persons case. His girlfriend might have filed a report, but I don't think so from what she said."
"Okay. I'll run a check and get back to you if I find out anything."
I hung up, hoping it wouldn't take too long. When the phone rang ten minutes later I was, I'll admit it, a bit disappointed to see Ricky's name come up on the ID. But only a bit. After all, it was Ricky. He said he was just about to leave work and wanted to know if I'd be free by dinnertime. I told him I'd sure as hell try to be, and I'd let him know if I was going to be late.
It took another half hour before Detective Sharp called back. He had some interesting things to say about Hugh Williams.
"To start with," he said, "there are two warrants out for him for failure to appear in court on speeding charges. He was also charged with shoplifting but that was several years ago. He did thirty days and paid his fine. Now comes the big one. He was arrested for burglary and was sentenced to three years because it was a first offence and his boss, the man he stole from, stood by him. He got out two and a half years ago."
That jibed with what Ms Bell had told me. She said she'd met him two years ago.
"What did he steal?"
"A small sculpture valued at two thousand dollars."
"And he only got three years? Didn't that put it in the felony grand theft category?"
"As I said, his boss stood by him. A gallery owner by the name of"—I heard papers being shuffled—"James Eber. Williams might not have been caught if he hadn’t tried to sell the piece on EBay and Eber saw it there."
"You're shitting me."
"Nope. I'd say Williams isn't the smartest banana in the bunch. Why Eber was willing to go to bat for him is anyone's guess."
Now on that I'd agree with him. The question was, how did Williams get involved with Caiazzo to the point of being able to steal the necklace from him? If that's what really happened.
I was starting to get a strange feeling about this whole thing. Okay, a stranger feeling. It had never felt quite right to me from the get-go. Too many—coincidences. Yeah, I'd managed to come up with explanations for them, but there was no real proof to back them up.
"You still there, Walt?" Tom asked.
"Yeah, sorry. Just thinking."
"I won't say the obvious," he replied with a laugh. "Okay, you have what I know about Williams, so if there's nothing else you need…"
"Nope, and thanks."
"No problem. Talk to you next time you need my…services." He chuckled and hung up.