Death Lives In The Water – Snippet 14

It was a long day. Three divers had arrived early that morning. They were ready to go in and insisted on starting at Big Bass Pool. When they slipped into the river, they were startled by the force of the current once they got out beyond the pool. One of them swam back and grabbed an underwater scooter from the back of the van. He once again slipped into the swift flowing river and turned on the bright lights on the scooter. The other two divers took either side of the river, and the three worked their way downstream, searching for clothing, body parts, or anything else of interest. While the current was swift, the Martins’ Way was only about fifteen feet deep from Big Bass to where it re-joined the Mississippi, approximately two and a half miles south. At its widest, it was about ten yards, narrowing down to about twenty feet as it turned east toward the Mississippi. The divers made two passes, one down and a more difficult one back up to Big Bass Pool, but found nothing of interest. They did note at least four different points along their way that appeared to be underground channels leading westward from the river. However, a test of the currents showed very little if any movement of the water in these channels.

When the three emerged from the river, they engaged in a long and heated discussion with Meadows and Murdoch. The latter two wanted the divers to go back with the fiber optic camera, but the divers were insistent that a search downward from the wells would be more productive. One of them, Jerry Barton, had grown up in this area and was familiar with the underground waterways that crisscrossed the region. He was certain that examination of the wells and the river north of Big Bass Pool would be by far the best use of their time and resources. The divers won the argument. With Jerry at the wheel, they drove out in the van, searching for wells. They started at the textile mill, north of town, and carefully examined the waterwheel. Nothing had caught on the paddles or on the shore. After a quick examination of the river at that point, Jerry decided they should do a pass down the river to Big Bass Pool and back up to the mill, just to be thorough. They called Meadows and informed him of their plans. It was Meadows who suggested that the others search for wells in the area and mark their locations for the divers to search with their fiber optic camera.

But Meadows planned to stop at Jenkins’ Farm and run the camera down that well first. He quickly filled in Jerry about Rory having last been seen at the pump house and told him if they found anything they would call the divers immediately. Jerry asked him to call either way.

Jim, Zak, Meadows, and Murdoch all drove up to the Jenkins’ Farm. Helen Green and her two partners were at Big Bass Pool, searching in full daylight in case anything had been missed the night before. The other two CSIs who had ridden up with the divers also stayed at Big Bass, on the off chance that fresh eyes might spot something missed earlier.

The pump house was locked just as Jim had left it. He fished the key out of his pocket and opened the doors. In the dim light inside they could barely make out the metal disk lying beside the open well. Jim could have sworn he left that disk mostly covering the opening. He began searching through the photos on his phone. Helen stopped them from entering while she and Bill took multiple pictures of Rory’s half eaten lunch and the scuff marks that led toward the well opening. Once they were satisfied that they had photographed and mapped the area, Jim and Meadows began feeding the fiber optic camera down into the water. After an hour of searching, watching, and retracing the well area and into the waterway below, they all agreed there was nothing to be found. Jim told them how he had left the cover over the well and showed them the pictures on his cell phone. They were all perplexed. Helen compared his pictures to the present state of the dirt leading up to and around the opening, and there was no apparent change beyond the tracks the two men left on the far side when the fed in the camera.

“Guess it’s time to start searching the other wells,” said Helen. “How many do you suppose there are?”

Zak piped up. “The mill has records. They mapped all the underground waterways and marked all the wells. It is being transferred to a large map that will be at the front when you first enter the mill, once it is opened to the public.”

“Then let’s get up there and get those maps,” said Whiteman. “The sooner we get on this, the sooner we’ll have some answers.”

The senior manager of the mill restoration project was reluctant at first to provide the maps and well locations without a warrant. However, when the situation was explained, and he was assured by both Meadows and Murdoch that the mill had no culpability in Rory’s unfortunate demise, he agreed to call Saul Grossman and ask for permission to give them access to the mill’s records, both on-line and hard copy.

Jim looked around while they waited. He had never been to the mill before, and his first impression was how big it was. The portion they were in was a one-story lobby of sorts. Men were constructing display cabinets, while others replaced worn or damaged woodwork. Jim could see through the windows to the main floor where the now silent looms stood waiting to be once again powered. The area was at least two if not two and half stories high, with catwalks over the looms, just barely above their tops. He promised himself to return later when operations had resumed and have Bull show him around.

Grossman finally called and gave permission for the group to examine the maps and geologic surveys. Zak promised to keep tabs on the materials and make sure they were returned in good condition. The team spent the rest of the day mapping out the wells, designating which team would go where. They had three fiber optic cameras and thus were able to designate three teams. They all decided it would be best to get some rest, organize what little evidence they had found, and get an early start the next day.

After a full day of thorough investigation of every well in the area surrounding Harper’s Landing, the divers again entered the Martins Way, this time starting at the water wheel that would soon power the textile mill and moving south to Big Bass Pool. However, just ten feet from the waterwheel they encountered a steel mesh grating across the entire river. There they found a torso, mutilated and missing arms, legs, and head. Tattered remnants of clothing clung to the body, including ripped and torn jeans. After taking multiple pictures, the divers brought the remains to the shore, where the CSI team took over. In one of the back pockets of the jeans they found a wallet with a picture ID for Rory O’Connor. They bagged the torso, got Jim as coroner to sign the forms, and the remains were sent with the CSI van to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Jefferson City. Examination might reveal the cause of death. Two days later the Medical Examiner’s report was faxed to Jim. Autopsy revealed that he had died of drowning. The mutilation had occurred post mortem. Comparison of DNA from all of the various body parts with the Army DNA database confirmed that they were the remains of Rory O’Connor.