~ 26 ~
Interlude Number Three: The FBI gets involved.
Shortly after Captain Blake called the FBI and filled them in on the latest events including a fax of the two pictures taken from the young teenager’s cell phone, he was told that they would be taking over the case and not to make any more moves until the Agent in charge had arrived. Within the hour Special Agent Pagano walked in the door with his team.
Robert Pagano looked around the very small police station with four desks and a jail cell in the corner and shook his head. He was always taken aback when he visited small places like this. How these small towns could function with little to no funding always amazed him.
“Special Agent Pagano, I’m Captain Pat Blake, how do you do?” the Captain offered his hand so Robert shook firmly.
“Bring me up to speed, Captain.”
“There’s not much more to tell I’m afraid. I sent two of my officers to the scene and they have been interviewing people who worked at the store but none of them say they saw Mr. Carter in the store at all.”
Robert opened up the file he was holding, “The girl, Jennie never claimed to actually see him in the story either though, so it’s possible he never entered. What about the suspect? Did he look familiar to anyone?”
“There was one older lady who said she thinks she had seen him maybe once before, but she didn’t have a name or anything. I sent my other two officers across the way to the Wal-Mart. The Target is relatively new so there’s a better chance that he might have been a visitor to the Wal-Mart instead.”
Robert nodded, “That was good thinking.”
Pat started to feel a little better having to work with the FBI after meeting this guy. He had heard stories that they weren’t always the most pleasant people to deal with. “What’s the status with the families?”
Agent Pagano looked up from his notes. “We have been in steady contact but as of now none of them have gotten any ransom demands or anything.”
“Do you find that unusual?”
“Not so much unusual as troubling.”
“Think that means they don’t know he’s famous?”
“Either don’t know or don’t care which means he was kidnapped for a different reason entirely and you know as well as I do, those don’t usually have very happy endings.”
Pat nodded, “Did anyone make a positive ID on Carter?”
He nodded, “His fiancé said it was him.”
“How much do they know, the other families I mean, the other four?”
“That all we have is Carter for the time being.”
Pat nodded, “And what about the press?”
“It’s been tricky but as far as I know, they aren’t aware of anything beside the fact that the guys are missing.” He paused and took out the picture of the suspect driving the truck. “This guy’s face doesn’t show up on our database or any other one for that matter. We were hoping we could get an ID on him that way, but no luck. He’s like a ghost. Not even a Driver’s license.” He handed the picture back to Captain Blake, “You’d think, in a town this small someone might know who he is.”
Pat looked at the picture long and hard again, hoping that maybe he’d have a moment of recognition. Did he ever have to lock this guy up for anything? Unfortunately their office wasn’t equipped with much state of the art things like facial recognition software. The only way they would know if he was ever arrested was by going through all the mug shots and that’s what he had been doing while waiting for the FBI to get there, with no luck.
Robert handed out pictures of the suspect to his team and told them to go canvas the local hangouts, knock on doors and ask anyone if this person looked familiar. “If he’s local, someone has to know who he is.”
Pat agreed, “If he’s not?”
“Then we have a problem.”
“What about cell phones?”
“We tried the GPS, but none of the phones were turned on which means…”
“They were probably ditched.” Pat finished the FBI Agent’s thought.
He nodded, “We’re hoping to find the van.”
“And let’s hope no one is dead inside when we do.”
The FBI had been contacted by the band’s management about three hours after they had gone missing. No one had heard from them and not a single one of them had picked up their phones. Special Agent Pagano brushed it off telling them that on average people have to be missing for at least 48 hours before you could even file a report. Of course due to the celebrity status of the people in question, he couldn’t dismiss it outright, so he told them that if they got any kind of a call that seemed out of the ordinary to contact them immediately.
The band’s family member’s had other plans. One of the wives decided to go to the local news station and report the guys missing knowing perfectly well that people would go nuts about it and it worked because within an hour of that happening, Special Agent Pagano was called into his boss’s office and handed the case.
He had driven up to the hotel the Backstreet Boys were supposed to be checked in at and talked to all the family members, staff and management. He really hadn’t thought much about this except that it was a big waste of time, but after talking to everyone, he got the sense that for all of them to not call at all was a little more than a coincidence. He had hoped that by now either a ransom demand would have come into play or an accident would have been reported, but it did seem like they had just disappeared into thin air.
His cell phone ringing pulled him out of his thoughts.
“Pagano.” He nodded as he listened to one of his agents at the local strip club. He claimed that the suspect was seen there at least once a month. One of the strippers identified him as a man named Tim but she had no last name. He always paid with cash, was a great tipper and he never drank anything more than water.
He wrote the name Tim under the man’s face. “Well at least that’s a start.”
Pat looked at the name, “Tim?”
“Apparently he likes strippers.”
“Who doesn’t?” Pat joked, “While you were on the phone we also got an ID at the Wal-Mart. He goes at least once a month and buys mainly groceries and occasionally DVDs and books. He always uses cash and is always very polite to everyone. No one knew his name though.”
“Sounds like he makes a trek into town once a month, wonder where he’s coming from.
“No idea, but they said they hadn’t seen him yet this month.”
“That’s because he headed into Target this time around.” He looked at the picture again, “Captain Blake, what else do you have in your lovely town that one might want to visit if only coming once a month?”
Pat thought about it for a few minutes, but nothing came to mind. “Really all we have worth anything is the strip club, our two department stores…there is a little diner not too far from the strip club. Maybe they should try there.”
“Have you ever had to deal with a high profile case before, Captain Blake?”
“Can’t say I have.”
“Well, let’s hope things get resolved before it comes to that because once the press gets involved it turns into another ballgame.”
Robert nodded and called his Agents to check out the eatery. He really hated high profile cases like this one. He wanted to make sure he had as much information as possible before the sun rose and reporters got wind of what had transpired. He was kind of afraid the loose canon who had went to the media earlier would do it again first thing in the morning. If that happened he had to be prepared for the firestorm of activity that would meet this small little unequipped police station.
“Do you really think the press will get wind of this?”
Special Agent Pagano nodded, “These guys are pretty popular and one of the wives is pretty impatient.”
“The one who went to the news station?”
He nodded, “Yeah, I understand her frustration, but it might end up hurting them instead of helping. When she heard Carter was seen in that truck she flipped out. Most of them did, especially the fiancé.” He looked around the station again and peaked into the very small interrogation room, “Is this the only one you have?”
Pat nodded, “The other room’s our break room and that door is the bathroom. This is it.”
“We might have to consider expanding to a different location if this turns into a full blown search and rescue or if we apprehend the suspect.”
Pat nodded as his phone rang, “Excuse me a second, this is Captain Blake…”
Robert watched Pat’s face as his eyes grew wide and he searched for paper on his desk. “Where?” He jotted down some information and then handed the paper to the FBI agent. “We’ll be right there! Thanks, Carla!”
“Maybe this will be resolved before the sun comes up after all.” Pagano said as he read the note about two of the band members showing up at the local hospital.