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."We're done here." Jake motioned toward the car."Let's go to Dahlonega.If we get there early, maybe we can get finished early and won't be so late getting to Florida."An hour and fifteen minutes later Jake pulled into the entrance of the Mt.Hope Cemetery in Dahlonega, Georgia.The older part of the cemetery was built on a hill that overlooked the historic town and campus of North Georgia College and State University.It soon became apparent that Dahlonega law enforcement had treated this incident as a serious crime, protecting the scene with the same care and diligence as Arlington and Andersonville.Jake pulled the car to a stop near the yellow flagging tape that cordoned off the scene.Jake noticed a man in uniform walking in his direction.He was mid-thirties with dark hair cut in a flattop and a physique like a linebacker."May I help you?" The man called out as Jake and Francesca got out of the car."I'm Jake Pendleton.This is Francesca Catanzaro." Jake motioned her direction."We're looking for Sheriff Klicker.""I'm Klicker." He looked at his watch."I wasn't expecting you so soon but earlier is better than later."This sheriff had a professional, calm demeanor and seemed the polar opposite of the sheriff in Hiawassee."You two come on." The sheriff motioned by swinging his whole arm."I'll give you a full briefing."Klicker led them to an old section of the cemetery where a wrought iron fence was attached to the top of a small two-foot high concrete wall outlining a large family burial plot of at least a dozen headstones."This is the Elliot family plot.Roy Elliot Sr.was a pillar in the community back in the 30s and 40s.And this…" Klicker pointed to a destroyed brick vault.The vault was half above and half below the ground.The concrete vault cap had been busted and moved to the side."…is Roy Elliot Jr.'s grave.Or what's left of it.""When did this happen?" Jake asked."Three nights ago.One of my officers was patrolling and saw a car up here.Figured it was teenagers making out.Been known to happen from time to time.He followed the access road this way." His finger outlined the deputy's route following the road."Then the car sped away from here and out the exit over there." He pointed toward the main gate."He used his spotlight to scan the area, noticed the broken capstone, and called it in.""Did he get the license plate?" Francesca asked."No, I'm afraid not.He couldn't identify the make and model in the dark either.Just headlights and taillights."Jake walked closer to the grave.The casket was covered with a tarp."Elliot still in there?""Haven't moved a thing, it's exactly like we found it.The perpetrator broke into the sealed part of the casket and moved the remains.""You think it was kids.Practical joke, maybe?" Jake asked."Not many practical jokers would go to this much trouble.They had to have brought along a hell of a big sledgehammer to break that glass, it's pretty thick.And there are some other peculiar things about it as well.""Such as?" Francesca had deliberately stood back but now she walked over to the grave, lifted the tarp and looked in."Let me show you." Klicker pointed to small circular areas that had been marked to keep people out."We had two people digging." He pointed to the footprints inside the marked off areas."We took impressions.I have one of my officers searching a database to match the tread to the brand of shoe.Notice anything substantial?"Jake looked at the footprints."Two people with small feet.Could be kids.""Or women," Francesca interrupted."I recognize this tread.The multi-directional raised tread pattern is characteristic of hiking shoes.Looks a lot like the tread on my Keen hiking boots.Not a lot of kids wear hiking boots""That's what we ascertained as well," Sheriff Klicker said."I'll have my deputy run down the Keen tread.""What about fingerprints?" Jake asked."Did you lift any from the scene?""Unfortunately, no.""Gloves or wiped down?" Francesca asked."Gloves, for sure.Even then, with these surfaces, prints would have been difficult to lift.But we gave it the old college try." Klicker rubbed his chin."I was surprised to get a response on my LInX report so fast.What else is going on?""Similar case in Hiawassee." Jake leaned down next to Francesca and lifted the tarp.Broken glass littered the bottom of the casket, Elliot's mangled remains covered in shards of glass.His mind was racing with questions.Not for the sheriff, but about who would be raiding World War II caskets after nearly seventy years and why? It was the 'why' that troubled him the most."Except the sheriff in Hiawassee had already re-interred the remains.At least he had sense enough to take pictures.That's all we got to go on." Jake paused."Was Elliot white or black?""Is that relative?" Klicker asked."We also had disturbed graves down at Andersonville and at Arlington.""Mr.Elliot was Caucasian."Jake stood and Francesca followed suit."Sheriff, we need a copy of everything you have so far and we'll get out of your hair."Sheriff Klicker handed Francesca his folder."This was for you anyway.I have another copy at the station.One question though if you don't mind me asking?""Not at all," Jake said."Are you guys Feds or something? I got a call from the governor's office telling me to cooperate fully and assist any way I can.""We're not Feds so I guess that put us in the something category.Our assignment came through different channels." Jake looked at Francesca then back at the sheriff."The governor said it came from the top.Does that mean what I think it means?"Jake lowered his head momentarily and smiled at the sheriff's question.He gathered himself and said."All I'll say is this.Two World War II soldiers' remains were disturbed at different United States national cemeteries within a three-day period.You take it from there."18Jake and Francesca made it to the airport hours ahead of schedule.Fifteen minutes later the Citation lifted off from Gainesville, Georgia destined for the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport on Amelia Island, Florida [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]