فصل 07

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فصل 07

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Chapter seven

Patrick’s First Appearance

Cutter and Ted Grimshaw, chief investigator for the district, carefully examined the evidence from Patrick’s death. There wasn’t much. No one suspected murder when Patrick died, so there was no effort to gather physical clues. There were ten large color photos of the burned-out Chevy Blazer. After the car burned, there was very little left of the body in it, and that was buried. So now they had no idea who’d died in the crash.

Patrick had spent that weekend in an old cabin near the edge of the forest outside Biloxi. Sunday night, February 9, 1992, he called to tell his wife he was leaving the cabin. He stopped at Verhall’s Country Store and bought fifty liters of gasoline. An hour later, Patrick’s Chevy Blazer was found burning at the bottom of a steep hill twelve kilometers down the road. The fire was so hot that they couldn’t rescue the driver. They read the license plate, and at 3:30 A.M. Trudy received the call that made her a widow.

The next day, they discovered a shoe near the Blazer. When they showed it to Trudy, she recognized it as Patrick’s and cried.

His funeral was the following day.


Dr. Hayani was happy to sit and chat with Patrick. He enjoyed being close to this patient who was in all the news reports. He encouraged Patrick to talk about his experience.

“The torture was something I could never accurately describe,” Patrick said after an hour. “Sleep is impossible. I hear voices, then I smell my flesh burning, and then I wake up. And it’s not getting any better. They’re still out there, still after me. I can’t sleep. I don’t want to sleep. I’ll get tortured again.” He paused. “Doc, I need to stay here as long as I can. They’ll want to put me in jail - in a cell with other criminals. I can’t live like that.”

“But why do they want to move you?”

“It’s pressure, Doc. They have to slowly increase the pressure on me until I tell them what they want. If they put me in a cell with criminals, I’ll understand that I have to talk to them. If I don’t, I’ll spend the rest of my life at Parchman, the worst place in the world. But you can keep me here, Doc. Just tell the Judge I need to remain in your care, and I can stay here. Please, Doc.” Hayani couldn’t believe that this kind man could kill someone. “Of course, Patrick,” he said.


The boy’s mother was Neldene Crouch. She said her son had been missing since Sunday, February 9, 1992, the same day Patrick Lanigan died. His name was Pepper Scarboro. He was seventeen when he disappeared.

There was no good evidence that Pepper and Patrick had ever met. However, Pepper’s gun, tent, and sleeping bag were found in Patrick’s cabin in late February of 1992. The two disappeared at about the same time, from the same area. Cutter and Sweeney were almost positive that Pepper had died in Patrick’s car, but they couldn’t prove it.

Neldene, however, thought she could, and was anxious to share her ideas with the press. Her lawyer held a press conference. Neldene cried, and her lawyer suggested there might be legal action against Patrick Lanigan. He had obviously killed Pepper and burned his body to hide the evidence so he could steal ninety million dollars.

The press loved it. They were given pictures of young Pepper. Now there was a face for the dead body, and he became human. This was the boy Patrick had killed.

Patrick watched the story alone in his dark room. He and Pepper had met several times, beginning in January of 1992. They’d hunted together and talked. He wasn’t surprised that people believed he’d killed the kid.


For the third day, Patrick didn’t wash his hair or shave. The world was waiting to see him today. He wore the same clothes he’d worn every day. He didn’t wear socks; he wanted people to see the rope marks just above his ankles.

Sandy arrived at ten and gave Patrick a pair of dark glasses he’d requested. Patrick sat on the edge of his bed and tried to breathe slowly. “I never thought this day would come. Never,” he said.

“I’ll do all the talking,” Sandy said. “Just try and relax.”

Sheriff Sweeney knocked and entered with his assistants. Patrick put on the dark glasses and was led out of the building to a waiting car. Sandy stayed on his left, gently holding him by the elbow.

Patrick looked out the window as they drove through Biloxi, and noticed the changes since he’d left. He started to relax. Then they turned onto Main Street, and he was anxious again. In the middle of the old shops and stores was the large white building where he’d been a partner in Bogan, Rapley, Vitrano, Havarac, and Lanigan, Attorneys.

The car stopped in front of the courthouse, where a crowd of reporters, photographers, and cameramen was waiting. Patrick lowered his head and tried to hide among the Sheriff’s assistants. They walked him quickly into the courthouse as the press called out questions: “Patrick, what’s it like to be home?” “Where’s the money?” “Who burned in the car?”

Sandy and Sheriff Sweeney stayed with Patrick in the jury room. “Are you OK, Patrick?” Sweeney asked.

“Yes, sure, Raymond, thanks.” He sounded scared, and his hands and knees shook.

There was a knock on the door, and a pretty girl entered and said, “Welcome back, Patrick. Judge Huskey would like to meet with you. He’ll be here in a few minutes.”

She and Sweeney left and closed the door. Finally Patrick was alone with his lawyer. “A couple of things. First, Leah will contact you soon. I’ve written her a long letter, and I’d like you to give it to her.”

“ОК.”

“Second, there’s a small machine for finding bugs, called a DX-130. It costs about six hundred dollars. Get one, and bring it with you whenever we meet. We’ll get rid of bugs in the room and phones before each conference. Also, hire someone to check your office twice a week. It’s very expensive, but I’ll pay for it. Any questions?”

“No.”

There was another knock, and Judge Karl Huskey entered. Patrick smiled. He was desperate to see his old friend.

“Good to see you, Patrick,” Huskey said warmly as they shook hands. “How are you?”

“I’ve had better days, but it’s good to see you. Even in these circumstances.”

Huskey was glad to know that his friend wasn’t dead. He was worried about the capital murder charge. They could deal with the divorce and other lawsuits, but not murder.

“Do you plan to enter a plea of not guilty?” he asked.

“Yes, I do.”

“Then it will be a routine first appearance and will take less than ten minutes.”

Judge Huskey was often sympathetic toward ordinary people who’d committed awful crimes. He wanted to help, to forgive. But this was Patrick, his old friend. He almost had tears in his eyes. He kneeled next to him and said, “Patrick, I can’t be the judge for this case, for obvious reasons. Right now, I’ll handle the matters before the trial to make sure you’re protected. I’m still your friend. Don’t hesitate to call.”

“Thanks, Karl,” Patrick said, biting his lip. Karl stood and headed for the door. “Are there a lot of people out there?”

“Yes, Patrick. Friends and enemies. They’re all out there.”

Crowded courtrooms were not uncommon for trials, but no one could remember such a crowded room for a simple first appearance. The press had taken the best seats. Many lawyers were there just to see Patrick. The papers had been full of stories about him for four days. The torture story had increased their curiosity.

Charles Bogan and Doug Vitrano sat together. They’d wanted to sit in the front row to make eye contact with Patrick and threaten him quietly, but they were in the fifth. A few other lawyers had come to give Patrick their support. Escape was a common dream of many small-town lawyers. At least Patrick had had the courage to chase the dream.

Many other people were present who’d hardly known Patrick but now suddenly claimed to have been his friends.

The door opened, and Sheriff Sweeney entered, holding Patrick by the elbow. Sandy followed. Patrick walked slowly, head down, across the room to the defendant’s table. He sat down, his shoulders low, chin down. Sandy put his arm on his shoulder.

The door opened again, and T. L. Parrish, the District Attorney, entered alone. He walked to his table next to Patrick’s and sat beside Sheriff Sweeney. Behind him were agents Joshua Cutter, Brent Myers, and two others.

Judge Huskey entered and sat down. “State against Patrick S. Lanigan. Would the defendant please rise?” Patrick slowly stood. “Mr. Lanigan, I’m holding a copy of an indictment against you by the grand jury. It states that you murdered a human being, name unknown. Have you read this indictment and discussed it with your attorney?”

“Yes, sir,” Patrick announced.

“What is your plea?”

“Not guilty.”

“Your plea of not guilty is accepted. You may sit down.” He paused. “Any questions from the attorneys?”

The lawyers said nothing. Parrish stood and said, “Your

Honor, we would like to put the accused in jail as soon as possible. As you know, he’s at the base hospital now -“

“I just talked to his doctor, Mr. Parrish. He’s receiving medical treatment. As soon as his doctor gives permission, we’ll move him to the jail.”

“Thank you, Judge.”

“If there’s nothing else, this hearing is closed.”


When they offered her 50,000 dollars, Trudy agreed to talk to a TV journalist. The show was Inside Stories, which was very popular. Her daughter, Ashley Nicole, sat on the sofa with Trudy. “Look real sad now,” journalist Nancy De Angelo told the little girl. “We need tears from you,” she told Trudy.

They chatted for an hour about all the terrible things Patrick was doing to them. Trudy cried when she talked about the funeral. She had suffered through the months and years afterward. No, she hadn’t remarried. No, she hadn’t heard from her husband since he’d returned. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to. No, he’d made no effort to see his daughter. And she cried again. She hated the thought of divorce, but what could she do? And the lawsuit, how terrible! This nasty insurance company really wanted to destroy her. Patrick was such a terrible person. If they found the money, did she expect to get any of it? Of course not! She was shocked by the suggestion.

On TV, the interview was twenty minutes. Patrick watched it in his dark hospital room. It made him smile.


Sandy’s secretary was cutting out his photo and the story of yesterday’s court appearance from the New Orleans paper when the phone call came. She found him immediately.

It was Leah Pires. She said hello and asked if he’d had his office checked for bugs. Sandy said yes. She was in a hotel room a few blocks away and suggested that they meet there. Sandy was excited to hear her voice and would do whatever she wanted.

Leah greeted him with a smile and poured coffee for both of them. “How is he?” she asked.

“He’s getting better. The doctor says he’ll be fine.”

“How bad was it?” she asked quietly.

“Pretty bad.” He reached into his case, removed a file, and handed it to her. She looked at the photos and cried.

“Poor Patrick,” she said to herself. “Poor baby.”

“I’m sorry,” Sandy said. “Here’s a letter from Patrick.”

She finished crying and poured more coffee. “Are any of the injuries permanent?” she asked.

“The doctor thinks they’ll get better with time.”

“Mentally, how is he?”

“He’s OK. He doesn’t sleep much and has bad dreams. But he’s getting better. I guess he’s lucky to be alive.”

“He always said they wouldn’t kill him.” She paused and changed the subject. “Let’s talk about his divorce.” She stood, walked to a drawer, removed a thick file, and placed it in front of Sandy. “Did you see Trudy on TV?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Patrick hates her. She’s a bad person, and she was unfaithful to him the whole time they were married. It’s all in this file. The last year they were together, Patrick hired an investigator to watch her. There are photographs of her lover, Lance Маха, coming and going from Patrick’s house when he was away. There are also pictures of Lance and Trudy sitting by Patrick’s pool - without clothes.”

Sandy took the file and looked through it until he found the photographs. He smiled. “This will help.”

“Patrick wants the divorce, you understand. He won’t fight it. But she needs to be silenced.”

“This should keep her quiet. What about the child?”

“Patrick loves Ashley Nicole, but there’s one problem. He’s not the father.”

“Who is?”

“Probably Lance. He and Trudy have been together for a long time. Even in high school.”

“How does he know he’s not the father?”

“When the child was fourteen months old, Patrick obtained a drop of her blood. He sent it, with a drop of his, to a laboratory for DNA tests. He’s definitely not the father of the child. The report’s in the file.”

Sandy had to walk around and think. He stood at the window and watched the traffic. “If he doesn’t want the child, why are you mentioning this?”

“You talk about this only to her lawyer,” she said. “You show him the file, all of it. Then they’ll be anxious to come to a settlement.”

“What type of settlement?”

“She gets nothing.”

“What could she get?”

“It depends. It could be a small fortune, or a large one.”

“It would be helpful if you guys would tell me more.”

“We will. I promise. But first, we’ll take care of the divorce. Trudy has to give up any claim to anything of Patrick’s. Get that done, and we’ll chat again next week.”

It was suddenly time for Sandy to leave. “How long will you be here?” he asked.

“Not long,” she said and handed him an envelope. “That’s a letter for Patrick. Tell him I’m fine, I’m moving around, and I haven’t seen anyone following me.”

Sandy took the envelope. Leah was nervous and was anxious for him to leave. She forced a smile and said, “You have a job to do. Patrick and I will worry about the rest.”

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