Uniformed Response: Book Two

Chapter Three

We waited a bit until Julian settled down and then I asked him why his father had returned home first, hadn't they traveled together? He told us that his clarinet teacher had been at the airport last night when they had arrived from England. They had run into her in the customs area and she had said she had just arrived back from Austria and had been so pleased to see him that his dad had let her take him to her house in Hadley, so they could talk about a musical competition she wanted him to perform in. He was really excited about the competition and with his dad feeling drained from his illness they let her drive them home and his dad said he was going right to bed when they dropped him off.

I took down her name and address for my notes and then had to ask Julian if he had any relatives in the area he could stay with. He told us that he and his father were all each other had for family since both he and his mother had been orphans, so no, he couldn't think of anyone he could stay with. I then asked him if his dad had had any scars or tattoos on his body, and he told us that there was a broken heart tattoo on his father's chest, over his heart, with the name Mary tattooed under it, his mother's name. He began to cry some more so Sam wrapped him in his arms as I went to see if the coroner had found a tattoo under the man's shirt. He told me he had, and it was just as Julian had described. It was his father on the bed, dead.

With that accomplished I then went to the charred remains of the kitchen and made sure the police department photographer had caught the scratches on the brass valve for the gas line to the hot water heater and we went over the shots he had taken of it on his digital camera and we agreed that the photos would be good and then I marked the valve for the forensics team just arriving to collect for evidence.

I then went back to the front porch stairs and asked Julian to go with Sam and take anything he wanted from his own room that the fire and smoke or water had not totally destroyed. Sam looked at me with that look so I nodded to him and while they went upstairs to see what if anything could be salvaged from his room I placed a call to our lawyer, Becca, who then called Helen Evans, the Western Mass head of the Department of Children and Family Services. About 20 minutes later I received a call from Helen myself, wanting me to verify that Becca was indeed acting on Sam's and my behalf and that we were indeed willing to take in Julian until a more permanent arrangement could be worked out for him.

I told her that not only were we prepared to take him in on a temporary basis, but we were sure our own two adopted boys would love to have Julian as a big brother longer than on a temporary basis, so we were prepared to complete whatever they needed for us to become his parents. She told me she was going to draft the temporary order right away and fax it to the police station and if we'd sign it and return fax it to her she would have our temporary custody papers for us before she left for the day and she would bring them to our house on her way home. She then told me she only lived in Granby and it would be no bother for her to do so. I thanked her for that and after we hung up, I called the station and asked the secretary to please call me when the faxes from DCFS arrived. I filled in Sam and we both went to Julian and asked if he would like to come live at our house with our twin boys who were seven just last month. He said he had nowhere else to go, and at least we wanted him and asked him, and not told him. We told him we had applied to be his temporary guardians and that if he liked living with us, we would do everything possible to make that a permanent custody arrangement, as we had with the twins although their situation was a bit different.

Sam had to go back to the fire station to make his report so Julian and I took what little he and Sam thought was salvageable from his room and we stowed it in the trunk of my car and we drove to the police station and as we walked in, the secretary called out to me that the faxed forms were just starting to come in. I thanked her and told her I was just going to download my report and we'd pick them up on our way out. I took Julian to my desk and he seemed very interested in my report and he was shocked when he realized I was reporting his father's death as a homicide. I went over all my notes with him and showed him the pictures the photographer had emailed me for my report and he told me that the valve was a new one, installed just before they left for England, along with the new hot water heater. I explained that only a wrench or pliers of some kind could scratch up brass like that and he got a very determined look on his face and asked if I was going to catch whoever had done that to his dad and I told him that it would be my number one priority. He hugged me and told me that if he could help, all I had to do was ask. I told him that he had helped a lot already, but if I needed him, I knew where to find him now. He chuckled for the first time all afternoon.

He had loosened up a bit, now that he knew he wasn't going into a group home or worse, out on the street, and I guess seeing how much Sam and I really wanted to give him a home and to become a part of our family he felt justified in asking me some questions, like; were Sam and I really married? How long were we married? Where was our house? Were there other kids his age near us? What did it feel like to kiss another man? How do you know when to kiss another guy? I think he could have gone on and on until he had asked me what kind of lube was the best, but I cut him short after answering a few of his questions and told him we had to get the paperwork for DCFS completed and then get them to Sam so he could sign off on them before we faxed them back and then around 7PM we were expecting the head of DCFS to come to the house to give Sam and me the temporary guardianship papers, and to probably check we weren't making him sleep in the tool shed and to assure herself that Sam and I could provide for him.

We picked up the faxes from the secretary's desk and I filled out as much as I could and then signed where I was supposed to. Julian had a big smile on his face as I did that and then we went to the fire station to meet up with Sam. Sam had completed his report and had sent one copy to his chief and one to the state arson investigators. He smiled at Julian and gave him a warm hug and then sat at his desk and filled out his required information and once it was signed by both of us, he faxed it to Helen's attention. Once Julian had a tour of the fire station we headed for home, as both Sam and I needed a shower bad.

Sam had called home to talk with Jay and Ray about having an older boy come to stay with us and all they asked was if he was nice and Sam had told them that he seemed very nice and that he played the clarinet and his father had just died and Julian had nowhere else to go. He told me this much later that night before we went to bed. Julian and I pulled into the garage in a spot next to Sam's and when we went in the kitchen door the twins and Brian and Cal were all there to welcome Julian.

I won't say it was an enthusiastic greeting on either the boy's part or on Julian's, but once the ice was broken, the twins each grabbed one of Julian's hands and took him upstairs to pick a room while Sam and I retrieved his belongings from the trunk and began a wash for his soot smelling clothing. We had just started the washer when Cal and Brian came in and we all went up to see which room Julian had picked. We could tell which one it was when we heard someone playing "The Flight of the Bumblebee" from the room opposite the twin's room, the one Cal and Brian had used before Cal had moved into the guest cottage in back. We four older guys were standing in the doorway, enjoying the music and we all noticed the twins sitting on Julian's new bed just staring at Julian as he played, and played darn well for his age, really well. When he finished, he got a nice round of applause but nothing like the twins gave him. I thought their hands would hurt after their clapping. Julian smiled and took a little bow then thanked us for our approval of his playing. Of course, the twins wanted more, but Cal had had dinner ready for a while now and we knew that Helen would be here soon, so I suggested that the five of them go down to start their dinner and Sam and I would rush through a shower and hopefully join them before Helen arrived.

Cal and Brian got along great with Julian and by now the twins were big fans, so it was a lively table we arrived at after we had taken one of the quickest showers we had ever taken together. Once we had started to eat, Cal went down to the laundry room and started the first load in the dryer and another load of Julian's wash. I should have started both washing machines when I was down there, but I'm not that used to having two washers and two dryers and it completely slipped my mind at the time.

We were all helping to clean up after the wonderful beef stroganoff Cal had made when the front doorbell rang. It was, of course, Helen who was then introduced all around and the boys all seemed to gravitate to her and I asked if she would like a bit of Stroganoff, but she told us her wife expected her home shortly for a family meal with her and their daughters. Whatever tensions I had had flew right out the window at that, so I asked the boys to give Helen a tour of the upstairs while Sam and I looked over the guardianship paperwork she had brought us. Neither Sam or I could see anything wrong until Sam pointed out that it wasn't just the emergency placement papers she had brought, what we were looking at was custody paperwork for a permanent placement, which when the time came would make adopting Julian easier if that was what he wanted at that time. I looked again at the dates involved and she had given us three years to file for adoption. We eagerly signed where indicated and Sam said it was just about the same amount of paperwork as it took to buy a home in Florida.

Helen told us when the four of them came downstairs that we had a lovely home and we told her she should see the one in Key West. She laughed and said she had stayed at Angel's house many times and she and Terry loved to visit there. We told her that ours was the one just behind Angel and Ray's and she told us that we got a really nice house down there. We told her we had friends of Joe staying in it and if she ever needed a bigger house down there to let us know.

After Helen had left, we realized that the documents she had left with us were signed by the same Family Court Judge that had granted Ray and Jay's adoptions. It was certainly a good feeling to know that sometimes it is who you knew that got results, especially if it benefited a child.

Julian had a somewhat restless night, as was expected, and he did calm down once one or both of us went to check on him and we held him until he calmed down again. He seemed reluctant to let us buy him items to fill out his wardrobe until Cal told him that he didn't have to worry about the expense, that we could definitely afford it and when it again came time for school, we'd outfit him with new school clothes, too. He was beginning to fit in nicely by the next weekend and then we had a cookout for the neighborhood so everyone could meet Julian. There were two boys about his age down the road and they all seemed to know each other from school and one was even in the school band and would be in his seventh-grade class when the summer vacation was over.

Back at work that Monday we had gotten a report from the arson investigator for the state police and Eddie delivered it to my desk at the station. We went over it together and noticed that the tool used to change the setting on the gas valve was a pair of ordinary pliers. When we went over both Sam's and my notes, we found no mention of any tools being found anywhere in the vicinity of the water heater closet, or for that matter in Mr. Blitz's room, which might have indicated suicide. The autopsy report came in shortly after noon and it indicated that Julian's dad had a large amount of sleeping pills in his system as well as a noticeable amount of Scotch.

It was later in the day when I needed a break from Mr. Blitz's death that I looked over some of the reports that had been filed by the patrolmen and the other detective during my week off for the honeymoon. In the patrol reports were three reports of a suspicious car in the Blitz neighborhood apparently called in by a neighbor. All three times it was the same car, sitting in the Blitz's driveway, only one occupant visible to the caller, a neighbor from across the street, a Mrs. Lewis. She had reported the car just sitting there, backed into the drive so the license plate was not visible. She had not recognized the make of the car, only that it was a 4-door light green sedan.

That night we talked Julian into going shopping with us as Cal and Brian had offered to watch the twins for us. He soon got into the shopping thing with us and we had our own fashion show as he had to try on so many things and when it came to shorts or swimwear Cal told him to get the shorts made from skinny jeans and they'd not look baggy on him with his slim build. For swimwear he told him to stay away from the jams and board short styles, they were just too baggy on him. He asked what type of underwear he had on and Julian shyly told him bikini style and Sam told him to look at the Speedo trunks or a racing style. With the bikini underwear on he could try them on as there was a law in Mass about trying on swimwear without underwear on. He tried the skimpy racing style on first, but he really liked the tight shorty trunks when he tried them on.

Unbeknownst to us, the kid had a fantastic thin build, long and lean like a professional swimmer, even with the wide shoulders of Michael Phelps. The kid looked great in the trunks, there was no denying it. His problem would be not getting a hard on as he was now, it really showed under the tight stretchy material. Sam must have noticed because he ran down the aisle and grabbed a low-cut full pouch jock or two and added them to the cart. When Julian returned with his regular clothing on Sam took him a few feet away and explained why he had added the jocks to the cart and that any time he wore those trunks swimming he had to wear the jocks under them to prevent giving a free show to all and sundry. He told him he looked great in the trunks and to pick out two more pairs. Julian and Sam shared a laugh. We bought him a laptop before we left the store and he had to have it connected to our Wi-Fi before he could go to sleep. We got hugs from him that night when he went to bed.

The next day, Tuesday, I got a call from Helen, asking if I knew a Susan Petri. I said I didn't, but for some reason, the name sounded familiar. Helen said the woman had not asked for me, she was looking for Julian Blitz Jr. I asked her to hold a moment because something had just clicked in my mind and I grabbed my notes from the arson scene and there it was, Julian's clarinet teacher was named Susan Petri. I explained to Helen that with everything going on Julian probably just hadn't gotten in touch with her yet. I told her not to worry that I would have Julian call her tonight. Helen thanked me and told me it was not their policy to divulge any information regarding their placements, but to make sure I talked with the woman, as she sounded quite frantic on the phone.

When Sam and I arrived home, the boys were all out in the pool with Cal and Brian. Julian was showing the twins and B&B how to properly swim, and doing a great job of it too. Cal and Brian were keeping a close eye on the students and applauded their progress.

I asked Julian to come out of the pool for a moment and we sat on a lounge chair and I asked him to call his clarinet teacher. He looked at me funny and said that his dad had almost taken him out of Miss Petri's class the night she had driven them home, the night his dad had died in the fire. He told me that his dad had thought Miss Petri had begun to be possessive of him and was too clingy. He thought he would get him a teacher from the University to tutor him.

Julian told me that the competition she had told them about that night on the drive from the airport wasn't until the next Spring, not in the early Fall as she had been going on about and when she said that she would take Julian to Mexico City for the competition a few weeks early, that was when his father had told her that he would have to do some heavy thinking on that, but that Julian would not be going out of the country without him. He said that when they arrived at the house his dad and Miss Petri went into the house and she came out about 20 minutes later and said that she and his father had worked everything out and he wasn't to worry. Julian had told me that he had printed out the competition schedule only that afternoon, using the laptop we had just bought him and our printer. I asked him for a copy of the printout and he scooted into the house and returned quickly with the two pages. He said the more he thought about it, he really didn't want to study with her anymore. She was always touching him and kissing on him and it was making him really uncomfortable.

I thought about what he had told me for a while and I asked him if he wanted to continue in the pool where the twins and B&B were practicing what Julian had shown them. He got a big grin on and said "sure" as he headed back to his awaiting class.

I sat there thinking about what Julian had told me and what Helen had described as a "frantic" Miss Petri on the phone. About a car lying in wait at the Blitz house before they arrived home, or was it waiting for the father and son to come home? Why was she frantic to learn where Julian was? Why had she spent 20 minutes in the house with only Mr. Blitz, why had she told Julian to wait in the car?

After a few minutes more outside, Cal went in to get dinner ready to serve and the boys got out of the pool and headed in to rinse off the chlorine and get clothes on for dinner. On his way to the guest cottage to do the same, Brian stopped and sat alongside of me on the side of the lounge chair and asked if it was alright to be spending so much time with Cal at the cottage. I told him as long as it was Summer, I wasn't going to complain, and as long as it wasn't causing him problems at home and he was happy and safe. Brian told me he knew it was right, he felt it in his bones that Cal and he were made for each other, he told me at first he was afraid it was just an obsession, but Cal convinced him that they were indeed meant for each other and that when his classes started at the University Cal was going to help him study and get settled into college life, but if it was alright with us he'd like to live here at the cottage with Cal.

I muttered that it was certainly alright with me, as long as it was alright with Glenn and Eddie and Sam put his seal of approval on their mutual obsession. He ran off into the cottage to ready himself for dinner and I sat there with the word "obsession" whirling around in my head. I sat there on the side of the lounge chair mulling over in my mind what Julian had described with Helen's description of the phone call as being "frantic", and I could only come to one conclusion. I called my Chief and relayed my suspicions and asked for a search warrant and one more piece of information. He was at the office still and relayed to me the information I had asked for, Miss Petri owned a light green Toyota 4 door sedan and he was leaving the office with a search warrant to bring to the night judge at the courthouse for his signature.

The Chief would call me as soon as he had the signed search warrant in hand and then my plan would be put in place, but first I had to coach my two accomplices as to what I wanted to happen as I met with the Chief.

With everything set up I warned my home team to record everything, in fact, start the recording and speak into the microcassette as they dialed the number. The next incoming call was the chief saying we had a search warrant and permission to tape a phone conversation at a specific phone number for one time only to begin in two minutes time. I wished my home team luck as they did me and I was off to meet the Chief at our rendezvous point, along with our four night patrol cars and their officers for backup.

The chief and I both had our shoulder mics on and the station personnel were recording and the chief and I both had the new shoulder cameras on as well, also recording to the receiver in the station house. The mics were supposed to be extremely sensitive and we could hear the expressions of undying love through the door, so we hoped the mics were catching her side of the conversations she was having with Julian and Sam on the other end of her phone. Sam was to have called her, not giving his location or last name and once she gave him a reason for her attempted search for Julian at the DCFS office, he was to let Susan talk to Julian who would try to get her to admit just what had happened at his father's house the night she drove them home from the airport.

Other than getting her to admit on tape one way or the other, what I wanted most was her pair of pliers, the ones she used to turn the valve on the gas line to the hot water heater. Forensics would be able to match the serrated "teeth" marks from the pliers on the brass valve. When we heard her getting frantic. when Julian was apparently at the point in his script where he tells her he has decided to get another clarinet teacher, that she just doesn't trust him enough to even tell him what went on in his father's house the night she drove them home from the airport, she started to tell him that his father was about to take a sleeping pill and go to bed when she asked him for a glass of water from the kitchen. She took several sleeping capsules from his bottle and broke them into his drink. Once he returned with her water, she drank some as he threw back his now doctored scotch. She then asked to use the bathroom and he told her where it was and said good night, as he was really tired and wanted to get to bed.

When she came out of the bathroom, she made another doctored drink and took it up to him where he lay semi-conscious and fully clothed on the bed. She made him drink the full glass of scotch mixed with the rest of the pills and then went downstairs to see how best to destroy the house and any evidence left behind. She said she did it, so Julian could come live with her and she would then be the mother he had never had. She said she remembered how a neighbor when she was younger had a gas explosion in his house, so she searched for the hot water tank because the stove in the kitchen didn't have pilot lights. She found it seconds later in a closet and using her bicycle pliers from her purse she opened the valve on the gas line as far as she could. She returned the pliers to her purse and closed the closet door and went out to the car to take her boy home with her for the night.

When Julian insisted on going home late in the morning, she drove him to the end of their block and implored him to call her later, and that was how Julian had walked up to his fire-ravaged home and found out his father was dead.

The chief chose that moment to ring her doorbell and holding his badge in one hand and the search warrant in the other he identified himself and told her, as she opened the door he was executing the search warrant and we stepped into the doorway as she attempted to get around us and flee into the yard, not seeing the 8 uniformed officers standing in a row across the front of her yard. As she tried to get out between us, I cuffed her to the front porch railing and pushed a stool over to her to sit on as we searched and thought better of it and placed her under arrest for the murder of Mr. Blitz and the arson destruction of his home. I read her rights and left her in the care of four of the most intimidating officers we had and had the other four accompany us in our search for the pliers in the house. I found them on her kitchen table along with her spilled purse, it looked like she had been looking for something and had just dumped it out on the kitchen table, Once bagged and tagged we began to search for any other clues and in her den there was a computer armoire and the inside of the doors on the cabinet were covered with pictures of Julian and her screen saver was a picture of him also. She had a bedroom freshly set up as if for a young teen and there was a framed picture of Julian on her bedside table. It was really creepy, and we got it all on film, both video and stills.

After the forensics team arrived I called home and told them we had her and everything from what she said when Julian asked what had happened in his house that night until they heard the doorbell ring, Sam laughed and said they had heard everything after, too, because she hadn't broken the phone connection when she went to answer the doorbell so even her attempted escape had been heard and my reading her her rights had been heard, Julian, crying for his dad now, thanked me and said he owed me a hug when I got home to them later, Sam did too. Miss Petri was by now raving on the front porch, but what she was saying was not anything intelligible, but the officers standing guard over her were making sure it was being recorded.

We were concerned she would try to harm others or herself so a call was made to a local hospital and the circumstances were explained to a psychiatric ward doctor who sent out a specialized ambulance crew who specialized in collecting people who were involuntarily detained for psychiatric reasons, the judge who had issued the search warrant having been contacted and he then issued the order for her to be detained in the psychiatric ward to be evaluated. The Chief sent a deputy to the courthouse to retrieve the order, so the ambulance crew and the attending doctor would be in compliance once they arrived and took custody of Miss Petri.

With Miss Petri in custody and key evidence secured the forensic team was well on their way to completing their tasks, the Chief and I were writing up our notes on the case on the now cleared front porch. Once we were both done, we both went back to the police station and filed our reports and we called it a night and returned to our homes.

My greeting was effusive as first Julian gave me the promised hug, and one for his father too. After he had calmed down, he went up to bed and Sam and I had a few moments to catch up on all that had happened tonight, and I had a chance to thank him for his part in getting her to open up and admit to Julian what she had done to his father. I did this in our bed before we fell asleep in each other's arms.

Julian fitted in just fine in that first full week and just as I thought he had set aside his woes for his private time alone; the coroner released his father's body for us to arrange his internment. It brought all the anguish up again for him and it was the twins that helped him the most. They would crawl up in bed with him if one of them heard him sobbing in the night and with them to comfort him he would be able to fall asleep.

We all decided on cremation for his father as there wasn't anything to indicate he wanted anything else, so the funeral home that had handled Ray and Jay's parents' remains were chosen to carry out the funeral arrangements with the MCC church where Julian and his father had attended services.

There was only a brief notice in the paper as we were trying to keep the press and TV news stations away as much as we could. Julian's father's death had garnered some publicity and when Miss Petri had finally been arraigned in court there was even more, so we were going to keep his funeral very low key.

Julian knew exactly where his mom had been buried in a cemetery some states away, so we instructed the funeral home to make the arrangements for his father's ashes to be interred with his wife and his name, birth and death dates be added to the headstone.  After this had been taken care of, we all drove there on the following weekend, so Julian could say his final goodbyes.

Cal and Brian stayed with him at the grave while Sam and I tried to keep the twins occupied just a bit away from the grave. Cal told us later that Julian explained everything to his parents and that he had helped the two guys who had taken him in catch Miss Petri and that she was being charged with his father's murder and arson resulting in death. He told them that he thought they were wonderful men and that they already had two adopted little boys and he hoped that one day they would make him a real member of their family.

We were vacationing in Key West in mid-August and there didn't seem to be anywhere hotter or more humid on Earth than it was there. It was a couple of months into hurricane season and we had traveled down with Helen's blessing since Julian was not an adopted son, but one placed with us by her office, we had to get their permission to take him out of state.

Cal and Brian were not with us on this trip, Cal had already started his post-grad classes and Brian was getting into buying his books and getting a head start on his reading for the first semester. He was going to be using this week to actually move in with Cal, with our, and Glenn and Eddie's, approval. Glenn had confided in Sam and me that apart from making out wherever in the house and whenever they wanted, it was starting to sink in that they really missed having someone to care for living with them.

Cal and Brian had a few phone and email conversations with Stu and Rico about the boys as Stu and Rico had volunteered to try and keep the lads all busy, when they weren't actually at work, as Sam and I had a few projects to do around the house and we had hired a contractor to add hurricane shutters to the house and a retractable cover for the pool installed all on the week we were there. Sam wanted a car for when we were there and we were told if we bought locally then we could arrange for the dealership to do the maintenance work with or without us there.

We arrived on Friday night and we were to leave the following Friday afternoon. Stu picked us up at the airport as he had the biggest car, an older Rav4 SUV, and with our luggage we barely all fit. Julian was amazed by Stu's size and Stu seemed proud of the effect he was having on Julian. The younger boys told Julian that Stu was really big, he should see him in the pool. We arrived in time for dinner and Rico had gone all out and had made chicken quesadillas and salad for all of us. Dinner gave Julian a chance to get to know these older guys and vice versa. I was glad everyone was getting along as Julian would be using one of the upstairs bedrooms next to Stu and Rico and they'd be sharing a bathroom also. Of course, there were other bathrooms if one needed one in a hurry, so we were pretty sure everything was going to be working out for everybody.

Comments, suggestions, and even criticizms appreciated at Art West