Landwehr's cell phone rang just after a nurse stuck a needle into Cindy's arm and started the saline drip that precedes surgery.
"This is Landwehr," he said.
"You're not going to believe what we just got," Gouge said.
Never miss a local story.
"It's a letter from BTK."
Landwehr said nothing for a moment.
"Why?" he asked.
"It's got the BTK signature," Gouge said. "Wegerle's driver's license. Photos of her in her bedroom."
"Where did this come from?"
"Hurst brought it to us."
"Bring it to me."
Landwehr closed his phone and looked down at Cindy.
His detectives sometimes teased him. "Kenny's getting excited," Otis would say, mocking him. Landwehr had a cool head. He said nothing now to Cindy. He preferred to see things for himself.
Gouge and Otis drove to Riverside mostly in silence.
They had studied the Wegerle case thoroughly in the past four years. They knew no cop had ever taken a photograph of Vicki lying dead on her bedroom floor. Otis's own paramedic wife, Netta, had told him that. The firefighters had carried Vicki's body out of her bedroom and into the larger dining room the moment they found her; they needed the extra space to start CPR.
So these images had to have come from the killer's stash.
But had the letter come from the killer? Otis was doubtful. Maybe some ass----had found BTK's trophies and was playing with the cops. Maybe it was a son, or a nephew, or somebody who had bought the killer's house.
Whoever he was, he knew secrets that only the cops and Vicki's killer knew. Only the killer could have shot these Polaroids....
Cindy did not ask Landwehr about his phone call, and he did not tell her. He was always getting calls. He had worked on more than 400 homicides. Maybe 450 -- he had lost count.
The doctors were going to start the surgery in minutes. Landwehr looked up when Gouge and Otis walked into the room. Gouge had photocopies in his hand.
Nurses were working around Cindy's bed, asking her how she was, making sure the saline dripped properly. Landwehr led his detectives out of the room....
Landwehr went back into Cindy's room. She studied his face.
"What's up?" she asked.
"Just some work."
She rolled her eyes.
"Come on, Kenny. Two of your guys walk in here, in the surgery room, dressed for work, with papers in their hands."
"Well, what is it?"
"We just got a letter they need me to read."
She studied his face. "It's from BTK, isn't it?" she said.
He sighed. "Yeah, it is."
... Until this ended, there would be little time for his wife and son.
I'll be lucky to see James today, or tomorrow, or for weeks to come. I'm going to have to live in my office until we catch this ass----. And we might never catch him.
The nurses took Cindy to surgery moments later.
Landwehr took out his cell phone again.
While we hunt BTK, will BTK hunt us?
He's seen my picture on television. What if he follows me home? What if he sees James? And Cindy?
What if he kills somebody just to show us he can do it?
Landwehr called his commanders and gave them the news.
When he hung up, he quickly made another call, to his former partner on the Ghostbusters, Paul Dotson, now retired from the WPD and working as police chief at Wichita State University.
"Come over here right now," Landwehr said.