that were inside and found out which home it came from.” Nelson pointed at the brown house facing the street. “We asked when they’d tossed it. The guy said he had his kid take it out around dinner time, five o’clock or so. It didn’t really help us out. The kid was too short to see inside. He wouldn’t have noticed if there was a body in there or not,” Nelson said.
“So, body, no one saw anything, and no evidence left behind,” Beth said.
Nelson removed his hat and wiped his sleeved bicep across his forehead. He put the baseball cap back on his head and snugged it down. “That’s about the extent of it,” he said. “We obviously didn’t know that we were dealing with some kind of serial killer. It was just a woman, dead, in a Dumpster. She didn’t even look injured.”
Something caught my attention from the corner of my eye. I looked at the Winnebago. The sun-faded curtain in one of the side windows of the RV moved. “You guys ever check the RV here?” I asked.
The two patrol officers looked at each other.
“Um, no, I don’t think so,” Nelson said.
“It looks like someone is inside of it,” I said.
“In that old heap?” Murray asked. “That thing looks like it’s been sitting there for ten years.”
“Could be,” I said. “Could also be someone living in it.”
I walked to the RV’s side door and rapped my knuckles on the metal. I heard footsteps inside but didn’t receive an answer at the door, so I banged my fist on it again. “FBI, open up.”
That was the first time I’d announced myself as such—the phrase didn’t yet sound natural in my ears. A moment later, the doorknob turned, and the door pushed open. A large, overweight man appearing in his sixties stood in the doorway in his underwear. Gray hair covered his chest, belly, and legs. His head was bald. A white beard took up space on his chin. In his right hand was a beer in a Chicago Bears koozie, in his left hand, a cigarette.
“Help you?” he asked.
I flipped open my bifold and showed him my FBI badge. “Agent Rawlings with the FBI. I have a couple questions. Mind putting on some pants for me, sir?” I said.
“I’m in my house. I’ll damn well stand here in my underwear if I want.”
I shrugged and stuffed my credentials back in my suit jacket. “Whatever. Do you live in this vehicle?” I asked.
“Yeah, and I pay to park here. So what of it?”
Beth took up a spot to my side and looked through the doorway at the man.
“Mind putting some pants on for me, please?” she asked.
“What’s the matter, princess?” He took a pull from his cigarette. “You don’t like the view?” he asked.
“Pants.” Beth snapped her fingers. “Now, or I’ll find something we can arrest you for. I don’t think you’ll be a fan of the Cook County Jail, arriving like that. Some people there might be fans of you, though if this is how you’re taken in.”
“Ugh, fine.” The man disappeared from the doorway.
I looked at Beth.
She shrugged and ran a hand through her dark hair. “What? I don’t want to stand here and stare at his hairy gut.”
He came back to the doorway a moment later in some orange-striped sweatpants and a T-shirt. “What do you two want, anyway?”
“Did you see or hear anything going on over by this Dumpster maybe a month or so ago?” I asked.
“I assume you’re talking about the body they fished out of there?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“I can’t be sure,” he said. “Which is why I didn’t bother talking to the cops that were here.”
“Why don’t you tell us what you’re not sure about,” Beth said.
“Well, I got woken up by a noise late the night prior to the cops digging around. Or early that morning, depending how you’re looking at it. It sounded like someone dumping something in the Dumpster. Well, it was either that or raccoons. I didn’t get up to look.”
“What time was this?” I asked.
“Maybe about four in the morning.”