Chindi had required but a single kill shot to complete her mission. She then cleaned the gun, stuck it in her pocket and left the building. She tossed the alcohol wipes and her gloves into the burning barrel, waiting only for the surety that the flames devoured the evidence. Chindi got in her car and headed northwest to a remote landing strip where a plane was waiting to take her home. Her heart was lustful for gold and power. Such was the payoff for her deed.
Two men in white coats lifted what remained of the Sheriff of Graham County’s body from the aluminum gurney. Taking extreme care not to spill as much as a single drop of blood, they placed the body on a large sheet of thick plastic. Without a word passing between them they pushed the cart to the side and began wrapping the body tightly in it. They completed the task by securing the plastic shut with duct tape.
With the aid of Dr. Steinman they spent another hour removing every iota of evidence concerning the procedure that had just taken place. The three men scoured the room from top to bottom one final time making certain no confirmation of their actions was left behind.
Dr. Steinman spoke. “We’re done here. You know what to do.”
The men nodded in unison. One man opened the door, left it ajar and stepped outside into the desert air. The veil of darkness was creeping in quietly from every direction. The desert was at that special time of day when all was hushed. In an area as remote and unpopulated as Cochise it was highly unlikely anyone would see them. Still, caution was the most valuable currency. Glancing in all directions, the man waited until he was certain there were no witnesses to what would happen next. He reached into his pocket, took out his car keys, pointed them and with the press of a button popped open the trunk of the Lincoln Town car. Retracing his steps, the man re-entered the building.
“We’re good to go.”
The second white-coated man stood near the head of the dead sheriff’s body. The first man bent down to grab the plastic sheet at the foot end. Together they hoisted the body, exited the building through the open door and walked directly to the trunk of the car. A second piece of plastic covered the bottom of the trunk. On the edge of the plastic was an anchor and a pair of heavy metal chains. They laid the body down on top of the plastic and closed the trunk. Behind them Dr. Steinman shut the door to the building, locked it, grabbing the door handle one more time. Certain that it was sealed he walked to his car as if it were just any old day. A moment later he was heading down a dusty road in a westerly direction. In an hour and a quarter, driving at precisely the speed limit, he would be safely home with this incident but another foggy memory in a long line of illicit deeds.
Seconds later the men in the Lincoln Town car were headed toward their destination. It would take them one hour to get to Safford. Based on three nighttime trial rehearsal runs, in roughly eighty they would have climbed the road up Mount Graham to Riggs Lake. They had been instructed to pull into the trailer park just across from the Mount Graham Market. Once there, they would stop in front of lot six and flick their headlights twice. An unknown accomplice living in the trailer would turn his outside light on and off to acknowledge the situation.
The signal would set in motion a phone call to an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution just two miles down the road. The imprisoned computer hacker would then set a timer for seventy minutes. When that time had passed, the men in the Lincoln would be at the edge of the parking lot for Riggs Lake. The hacker inmate had one job, shut down for two hours the motion activated sensors that ran all the video cameras in and around Riggs Lake.
Two hours would give the men enough time, with an extra forty-minute window of room for error, to remove the sheriff’s body from the trunk, tie a heavy anchor around his waist and engird each arm with thick metal chains. An inflatable rubber safety boat had been pre-set for them at the eastern edge of the Riggs Lake campground. Rowing to the deepest part of the 11-acre lake would take no more than six or seven minutes once the body was loaded into the boat.
Loading and dumping the body went smoothly. A glance at their synchronized watches let them know they still had seventy-three minutes to get the inflatable boat off the lake. Once ashore they took out their knives and sliced large holes into the inflatable boat. They rolled up the deflated raft, placed it in an oversized baggie and tossed it in the trunk of the Lincoln Town car. Then, as instructed, they headed down the winding mountain road with their lights off. When they passed the two-mile marker, they turned their lights back on.
When the promise of a new day would begin, both men would be sleeping restfully, richer for the work they had just done.