At Providence's Gate
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Chapter Sixteen

 

     Dan Foley arrived at the diamond exchange just ahead of Maggie Wong.  In fact, he had just stepped out of the unmarked car he usually shared with his superior officer, Sergeant Hammond.

     Dad let you have the car today, huh Dan, she teased.  Hes going with Ina to bring her father home from the hospital, he replied brusquely. I know, I know, just being an asshole this morning is all, Maggie said.

     Actually the veteran insurance investigator was not in good humor at all and Foley thought he knew why.  If the three of them were unable to turn over Jason Biggs, AKA John Boucher along with the diamonds and money he stole, her company, Great Western Indemnity, stood to lose a hefty five million dollars.

     What the young detective didnt know was that Maggie was on her phone with her boss, Dennis Stuart for two hours this morning discussing the case.  If required to pay, Great Western would be eating the entire amount, the company had not had time to farm out shares of the policy to other companies.  Usually several companies acquire parts of these huge policies to lower their liability.  But Dennis told Maggie someone at Great Western dropped the ball and this wasnt done when the San Antonio Diamond Exchange increased its coverage less than a week ago.

     This made her boss suspicious and he told his best investigator to spend as much time checking out the possibility that the principals in the company may have had Boucher himself steal the diamonds.  She told him that was absurd, that old man Weinstein had spent the night in intensive care and according to Matt Hammond, he didnt appear to be faking his distress.

     Dennis Stuart didnt care, it was Maggies job to protect Great Western and shed better do it.  In the face of such intransigence, Maggie just began responding to her bosss orders with, Yes sir, yes, sir, which irritated him to no end. Finally he said, Look Wong, you are the senior person on the ground there in San Antonio, You are the best we got, but I dont mind telling you weve got some panicky directors up here in Dallas and shit flows down hill. Looks like Im at the bottom of the hill, right Dennis, Maggie finally said. 

     Dan and Maggie were finally seated in Abes office, yearbooks in hand and VCR running HEB security tapes.  They had been watching the monitor about ten minutes when Maggie said, Stop the tape!  Dan quickly pushed the pause button and Maggie said, Run it back 30 seconds or so and put it on slo-mo.  The young detective complied and both said Stop it. simultaneously. 

     No doubt about it.  There was Mel Dixon at checkout number 4 with a bag of HEB sugar, 12-pack of beer and bag of ice.  Mark it Dan, Maggie said excitedly, and hope we arent looking at the late Mel Dixon.

     Dan told Maggie to hold the fort.   He was going to the police photo lab with the tape to see if the picture on the video could be enhanced.  Just then, Ina, Matt and Abe walked into the room.  Daddy, this is Dan Foley and Maggie Wong, the people we told you about, Ina said to her father who went to his desk and sat down.

     I hope you get my diamonds back, was all the subdued owner of the exchange could manage to say. Sir, said Maggie, No one wants that more than I do this morning.  Dan explained about the tape showing Mel Dixon, one of Jason Biggs friends buying sugar at the HEB near the alarm company just hours before the accident that eliminated Alamo Alarms ability to observe the exchange moments before the robbery occurred.

     Hop to it Dan, said Matt, and while you are over there, stop by our office and get the file thats sitting in the middle of my desk.  It has as much as I could find out last night about Biggs three buddies.  If I am right, two of those guys are dead.  Lets hope its not Dixon.

     Foley had not been gone an hour when he quickly returned to the exchange.  The excited detective told his older and calmer supervisor that Missing Persons was investigating the cases of two guys in their early 20s who came up missing the day before.  Their names are Albert Vance Bateman and Franklin Gerard Carr.  Bingo, thought Hammond, this Dixon character is still alive!

     Just then Maggies mobile phone began playing La Cucaracha.  She depressed the green talk button and said, This is Maggie Wong.  Ina and Abe looked on as  Maggie quickly opened her notebook and began writing.  As Matt completed his call with Foley, he saw that the pretty insurance investigator was engaged in a conversation that consisted mostly of her saying Yes. Over and over again.

     Ive found Melvin Quintain Dixon, junior and senior, she proudly announced.  and, they are both very much alive.  How in the hell Hammond began.  Easy, said Maggie, a smile on her lovely face, I had an assistant search the local college and universities for a M or Melvin Dixon and voile,  there he was, a junior at Trinity University majoring in International Banking.

     What about the senior Mel? Matt asked.  Hes the president of the City Commercial Bank and lives in Alamo Heights, said Maggie.  His son lives there too, in an apartment not half mile from where the accident that killed his two friends occurred.

     Matt looked at his team and said, Well, this is our first big break, you dont happen to have Mr. Dixons class schedule do you Ms. Wong?  Hell be getting out of his History of the International Monetary Fund class in 30 minutes, she said with a look of sincere satisfaction on her face.

     Lets go Foley, Matt said as he walked toward the door. What about me guys? chimed in Maggie?  This is police business, Ms Wong, Matt shouted as he left the room.

     Maggie ran past Matt and Dan, blocking the back door with her beautiful body, Wait a minute, she shouted, If it was not for me, you guys would still be standing around with your thumbs up your asses trying to figure out which of these three characters was still alive.  You owe me!

     This is police business, Maggie, Hammond said as he put his hand on her shoulder. Look, my company stands to lose a huge amount of money and I earned my ticket to this ball game.  The quicker we talk to this guy the faster we find the diamonds.

     It was Foley who finally broke the impasse by saying, Didnt you say Maggie is a human lie detector, Matt?  Okay, you can come along, but you stay back during the arrest.  The three jumped in the unmarked police cruiser.  Red and black strobe lights in the grill flashing and siren wailing, the trio made their way the four miles or so to Trinity University.

     With Foley driving, Hammond stayed on the radio arranging back up and Wong called the campus police and requested an escort to take them from the front gate to Emmons Hall.  A squad car and two San Antonio Police Department uniformed officers were waiting with an officer from the university.  With 10 minutes to spare, it was decided that Matt, Maggie and Dan would drive as close as they could get to the building Dixon was in.  A uniformed officer would stand on each end of the building in case anything went awry.

     Four police cars were lined up at the main gate to the university, a campus cop car, two SAPD cruisers and Hammonds unmarked police care.  As the officers were about to begin the short trip to Emmons Hall, a remote studio satellite truck from Channel 12 fell in behind the last vehicle.  Matt got out of his car, the fourth in line as reporter, Carol Garcia got out of the truck, asking Matt what was going on.  Matt told the short pixie-looking journalist that he couldnt talk right now.

     The pushy ambitious reporter started to argue about freedom of the press and Matt putting his hand up said, Look Carol, I havent got time to talk.  You can follow us, but when you see me turn on my flashers you stop and stay in place until you hear me say on the radio, We are going in. Then you may get as close as you want.  You are monitoring our radio frequency, arent you?

     Carol acknowledged she was and Matt simply said, Good, and got back into his car and the convoy took off.  About half mile from Emmons Hall, Matt put his flashers on and the television news truck pulled to the side of the road.  Matt picked up his hand-held radio, switched it to low power and said into its mouthpiece, Thanks Carol, you wont regret cooperating on this one.  See you in a bit.  Then he got on his cell phone, called the police public affairs office and requested an officer get over their ASAP to babysit Garcia and her crew.  He also told the chief of public affairs that he felt this might be an opportune time to release more information to the press and he got the green light to do it himself after Dixon was in custody.

     When they arrived outside the second floor classroom, the IMF history class was still in session.  Hammond decided it would be safer to take Dixon down before he had a chance to get into the hallway.  He and Foley entered the room with Dan standing in front of the back door to the room and Hammond approaching the professor who was standing about 20 feet from the front door.

     Professor, I need to speak with you for about 30 seconds, Hammond said in a low but authoritative voice.  Bringing the puzzled educator closer to the front door and keeping his back to it, the experienced detective said, Shake your head yes or no, that is Mel Dixon sitting in the third row fourth seat, right professor?  He shook his head yes and Matt immediately went and stood in front of Dixon.  Drawing his 9 mm Glock and pointing it directly at the now terrified student, Matt forcefully said, Keep those hands on the desk where they are Dixon, dont even think about moving, dont even breathe.

     At the same time, Dan made a beeline to stand behind Dixon who literally pissed his pants.  Cuff him partner, Hammond shouted and instantly his younger partner pulled Dixons arms behind him and clicked the cuffs around them.  As soon as Maggie saw the prisoner was subdued, she entered the room.  Matt stood and looked at the shocked students and said, My name is Sergeant Matt Hammond from the San Antonio Police Department.  I want everyone to leave this room in an orderly fashion, right now. No questions, I will arrest anyone who does not comply.  When the professor, now braver than before began to express his disagreement, Matt simply said, That goes for you to Doc.

     With the room cleared, Matt radioed the two uniformed officers outside and told them to post themselves outside the doors to the classroom.  He made Mel Dixon sit silently until they were in place.

     Finally, with the room secured, Matt Hammond sat in a chair across from Mel Dixon and said, Melvin Quintain Dixon, Jr., you are under arrest for the destroying private property, automobile theft, felony burglary, and capital murder in the death of Officer Jaime Bravo of the San Antonio Police Department.  You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.  You have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?

     Mel Dixon had gone from being a bright student from a prominent banking family with a promising future to being a pathetic creature facing the possible death penalty if convicted.  He looked up at Hammond and stared into his eyes for a few moments before averting his gaze back to the desk in front of him.  I want a lawyer, he stated in a zombie-like voice.

     Matt was about to tell the two uniformed officers to take Dixon away when Maggie said, Detective Hammond, may I speak to you for a moment?  The two retired to a far corner of the room and Maggie appealed to Matt to let her say something to Dixon.  Not question him, simply tell him things he knew already.  Maybe when he realizes how much we know, she reasoned, hell change his mind about talking.  Matt agreed to let Maggie try her little experiment as long as if and when Dixon requested an attorney again, she would immediately stop talking.

     The insurance investigator with three degrees in psychology walked slowly over to where Mel was sitting, his head dejectedly bowed, his eyes staring at the floor. Mel, I want to tell you some facts and see if you might change your mind about talking.  We know your two best friends in the world are dead, burned beyond recognition in a horrible fire that you witnessed.  We also know for a fact that you bought a bag of HEB sugar, ice and a 12-pack of Shiner Bock beer at the HEB near the Alamo Alarm Company, that you did put sugar in the fuel tank of the back up generator for Alamo Alarm. 

We know you did conspire with, aid and abet in the theft of diamonds and money from the San Antonio Diamond Exchange.  We know that Jason Biggs, AKE John Boucher did, sometime between midnight Tuesday and 4 am Wednesday, steal five million dollars worth of diamonds and cash from the diamond exchange. 

These crimes have resulted in the brutal murder of a police officer and the untimely deaths of two rogues who assisted in its perpetration.  We know more and there also is a lot we dont know.  If you will help recover the diamonds and cash, we will make sure you are treated fairly.

It had been a soliloquy  delivered in a cam and unthreatening manner.  Maggies whole purpose in the exercise was to let Mel know he wasnt dealing against a bunch of stupid boys.  The authorities found him and would locate John Boucher in due time.  The suggestion was implicit that if he cooperated, he might be able to get a much lesser sentence than if he play it close to the vest.  Mel Dixon simply sat and listened to and reflected on what this soft-spoken young lady had said.  Then, desperately torn between getting everything off of his chest and his misguided loyalty to Jason or John or whoever he was today, Mel looked up at Maggie and said, Ill think about it, I think Id like my lawyer now.

Officers, take Mr. Dixon downtown, Maggie said to the two uniformed policemen before Matt Hammond had a chance to.

As Dixon was led out of Emmons Hall in front of hundreds of his fellow students, Carol Garcia was on the air live after having been introduced by the stations toothy good-looking anchor man.  Thanks Bob, she said when her engineer gave her the cue, Im standing next to Emmons Hall at Trinity University where an arrest has been made, we understand in the murder of police officer Jaime Bravo, brutally murdered a little more than 48 hours ago.  It has not been made clear if the person who was arrested is the alleged killer or an alleged accomplice, but a spokesman for the SAPD told me exclusively that lead the detective in the San Antonio Diamond Exchange heist, Sergeant Matt Hammond will be giving us a statement momentarily.

Bob started to ask a question and Carol interrupted him saying, Bob, two police officers are bringing a young man in handcuffs out of the hall and evidently to one of the patrol cars behind where we are set up.  Im going to try to talk to the man

Sir, sir, Carol Garcia, Channel 12 takes you there news, whats your name? she asked, shoving her microphone in Dixons face.  The young man simply put his head down and continued toward the police care, the news camera and Carol Garcia following.

Finally the reporter said, Well Bob, to recap, a young man who you just saw pass by us, has been arrested in the case of the big diamond heist and the vicious murder of SAPD officer Jaime Bravo.  He refused to talk and was put in a police car and whisked away.

Im being told now that Sergeant Hammond has come outside and will be here to make a statement in a matter of moments.  The camera panned to where Matt was standing looking at some scraps of paper in his hand.  Carol saw two radio journalists running toward where the detective was standing and she noticed a reporter from the Express-News getting out of her car.  Well, she though, at least I managed to scoop the other TV stations.

Carol and her cameraman approached Hammond, hoping he would start before one of the three other competing television stations arrived.  When she got within two feet of the veteran cop, he took her microphone, saying, Thanks Carol.

My name is Detective Sergeant Matt Hammond from the San Antonio Police Department.  I am the supervisor of the team investigating the theft of nearly five million dollars worth of diamonds from the diamond exchange and the brutal murder of Officer Jamie Bravo.  For the past two days we have been trying to piece together a very difficult puzzle and as a result of our investigations we arrested a few minutes ago a Melvin Quatrain Dixon for conspiracy to commit felony theft and capital murder.  Mr. Dixon was one of at least three accomplices who assisted John Boucher, whose real name is Jason Biggs.  I just learned a few minutes ago that the two men who died when their truck hit a transformer pole on Broadway at 12:08 am Wednesday morning have been identified by dental records and other means.  They were Frank Carr of San Antonio and Al Bateman of Live Oak.  We continue to seek John Boucher, who we learned is really 21-year-old Jason Biggs.  Biggs and his accomplices all attended Alamo Heights High School.

Matt concluded his impromptu press conference with Detective Foley holding up a large photo of Biggs and telling all citizens to be on the look out for him.  As Matt, Maggie and Dan left the campus, they had a satisfying grin on their faces.  The meeting with the media and the arrest of Mel Dixon buoyed their spirits.