Draft54

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CHAPTER 54

Judge Karl Porter was directly descended from Alfred and Caroline Por- ter, who were part of the first wagon train to set down roots in Head- water. In any other town of the West, where family trees actually fork, this would be as prestigious as tracing one's family back to the Mayflower.

From his corner office on the second floor of the courthouse Judge Porter could look down upon his ancestral family home on the north bank of the river. Most of the land of the homestead had long been sold off for the homes and apartments of the northwest quadrant of town.

The courthouse was five blocks away from the sheriff's office on the same island in Squaw River that formed the heart of the town. The sheriff was in Porter's chambers again, making another run at Paul Bergin, and this time, Porter suspected, he just might get him.

The judge glanced once more at the Affidavit in Support of Arrest War- rant submitted by Sheriff Walker. On a personal level he didn't like where this investigation was going. Until the schism Paul had been the deacon of the Church and the Bergins, just like the Porters, were Headwater Old Guard.

The Church of Green Dome had secrets, the judge well knew. Something happened last summer to bring three agents of the Bureau sniffing around. After a few weeks they had abandoned their trailer outside of town but the death of this girl brought them back.

Special Agent Mark Felt was seated at the table next to the sheriff. The judge already learned, the last time these two men appeared before him, that Felt had assumed responsibility for the case. He asked Agent Felt why his name did not appear on the Affidavit.

"Your Honor, when I assumed overall direction of the case for the Bu- reau the Sheriff had already acquired a quantity of evidence. The Af- fidavit before you summarizes the entire case to this point and only Sheriff Walker could testify as to how all the facts were obtained."

"And do you foresee a time when the Bureau will no longer be acting in cooperation with local law enforcement here in Headwater?"

"Certainly, Your Honor. The individual or individuals responsible for the crime will likely be transported for arraignment in Kansas City."

Judge Porter said, "Then with the view of hastening that blessed day please lay out your evidence."

Mark Felt nodded at the sheriff. Roddy opened a briefcase and removed a knife in a cellophane bag, a page from Felt's notebook, and two closeup photographs of these. The sheriff said, "Your Honor, Mrs. Ruth Bergin, the wife of Paul Bergin, was kind enough to allow Special Agent Felt to take an impression of her right thumb and as you can see, it perfectly matches the single thumbprint we dusted on the knife found at the crime scene."

"What in the name of God would make Mrs. Bergin give you her thumb- print, Sheriff, and why isn't she named as a suspect?"

"I think, Your Honor, the answer to both questions is the same. She was shocked to find her set of kitchen knives had gone missing on the morning of garbage day."

Judge Porter growled while he chewed on that item for a moment. Yes, the sheriff, or Agent Felt, or both, would have led Mrs. Bergin to think her own husband was framing her for murder. Still, what's done is done, and it was legally airtight. "What else do you have?"

The sheriff reached into his briefcase and removed two more photo- graphs. 'Your Honor, Paul Bergin's vehicle is parked at the Temple and is under surveillance by my deputies. You can see here that his tire tread matches the tracks we found at the scene of the homicide."

"The judge looked at the photographs and remembered that under wartime rationing Paul Bergin could only own four tires plus one spare. Karl realized the sheriff did have enough to justify an arrest warrant. He could hardly refuse after signing one for the out-of-towner, Robyn Zinter, on much less."

"The court finds probable cause to believe a felony offense, to wit, the unlawful killing of Kimberly Zinter with malice aforethought, has been committed. The arrest of Mr. Paul Bergin at any hour of day or night is so ordered."

Karl Porter's law clerk began typing it up.

"Special Agent Felt, will it be sufficient to confine your search for more evidence of the crime to the home of Paul Bergin?"

Felt replied, 'No, Your Honor. If Mr. Bergin was a layman his house would have been enough. But as a member of the Church leadership he has physical access to the whole Temple.'

"Very well, these are the rules of the People for your search: Let's assume Bergin is hiding evidence in the Temple. When you make the ar- rest you will obtain his keys. Any door that is locked, but his keys can open, you may enter and search."

"Thank you, Your Honor. The Bureau accepts this limitation on the search."

"Proceed with caution, Agent Felt," he said. "The Church of Green Dome is the very lifeblood of Headwater, and the Church was already going through its most difficult passage in nearly eighty years before this happened."

"The words of Dr. Wahkan and Sheriff Walker have already sensitized me to the plight of the Church, Your Honor," said Felt, "and I will take great care. But if those troubles somehow led to the killing of Kim- berly Zinter, and the perpetrator turns out to be a member of the lo- cal clergy, I don't know how even more trauma can be avoided."

Special Agent in Charge Clyde Tolson was waiting in the second-floor courtroom with Special Agent Sullivan when the sheriff and Felt emerged from the judge's chambers. "It's not carte blanche," said Felt when he handed Tolson the documents, "but it's the best we could do."

When Tolson finished reading he said, "Edgar knew what he was doing when he put you on the case. For six months we couldn't get one foot in the Temple door."

Mark Felt hoped he only heard that wrong. It sounded like Tolson did- n't give two floating turds for the dead girl.

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