Danielle Ramos is a new Dallas County deputy sheriff who recently left the El Paso Sheriff’s Department to move forward with her life following her divorce. The detective’s first murder case in Dallas County thrusts her into the world of a past serial killer who had decided that after twelve years, now is the time to start killing again. Danielle is merely in the way.
Not only does she have to wrestle with a pushy sergeant and an ex-husband, she must also face her worst fears as she comes face to face with the serial killer dubbed “Pennyman”.
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Saturday May 23, 1992
Sheila lay helpless in the back floorboard of the car. The tape around her ankles was so tight she could not move her legs. Though she had not seen the demented face of the man who held her hostage, for twenty minutes she had been crying, sobbing and pleading with him to let her go. But tape over her mouth now muffled her sobs and with her hands also taped behind her back, she was helpless to do anything. In a futile attempt to free herself, Sheila twisted and turned her body, catching her hair in the metal screws connecting the seat to the floor board. She felt the sharp pain in her scalp as some of the tangles were ripped from their roots, her muffled screams stifled by the tape and making her throat hurt. The smell of the car’s stale carpet assaulted her nose and she closed her eyes, praying this was a nightmare from which she would soon awake and find herself safe at home—never to go out again.
The car made a slow right turn and Sheila again tried valiantly to loosen any of the bonds that held her prisoner. She knew she did not deserve to die and tried to put such a horrible thought out of her mind but there was no reason that she could think of why she had been singled out for this horrific experience. But the truth was that she had been singled out; singled out from many others in her apartment complex. Normally there was little trouble at the Briar Ridge Apartments. A car would be burglarized now and then, or someone’s bicycle would get ripped off but there had been little to warrant any fears—genuine or otherwise—for concern by any of the occupants, let alone the women. Whoever held her now had done his homework well. He had obviously watched from afar and noticed only slight variations in her routines. Clearly he knew she was not married and that there was no permanent man in her life; the ideal target.
Sheila had not given a second thought to the car parked next to her and was oblivious to the madman inside; a maniac man of an intensity the like of whom had not been seen in Dallas for years. Noiselessly and without witness he had grabbed Sheila from behind just as she extended her arm out to unlock her car door. There was a brief struggle and a still-born scream in her throat but she was no match for the unknown man’s brute strength and the pungent rag he placed over her mouth and nose. In an instant she was beyond the stage of light-headed and with a moan, fell limply into arms that heaved her into the back seat of a nondescript vehicle before driving away.
May 29, 1992 1:57 pm
The large, sleek powerboat inched its way toward the shore as the young man, crouching on the bow, jumped into the waist high water with rope in hand. The boat’s driver shut off the chugging outboard and in the immediate silence called out to his friend. “Tie it to that shrub,” he said pointing toward a large mesquite tree about thirty feet from the shoreline, “and hurry up. We’re wasting time…and it’s hot out here,” he half hollered as he touched his brow with the coolness of his beer can. The shirtless man tied the rope to the tree then headed into the heavily wooded area. He had needed to go to the bathroom soon after leaving the dock…and two beers certainly hadn’t helped the situation.
Finding a large, naturally protected area, he stood in the quiet and looked back toward the boat. He could barely see his friend, so he knew the park police were not likely to catch him while nature called. As he finished his business and turned to leave, the wind shifted slightly and came from behind him. He was overwhelmed with the foul odor of something rotting… something large he figured, by the stench it was producing.
The man expected to see some animal, maybe a deer, as he carefully negotiated the trees and heavy underbrush. Instead, he discovered the gruesome sight of a young woman’s body already in advanced stages of decomposition. Covering his mouth he recoiled from the mixture of the horrendous smell and the sight of the woman’s decaying body covered with all kinds of flesh-eating insects. He took a step back then turned and ran frantically back to the boat, vomiting as he reached the shoreline. The vision had unknowingly been burned in his mind forever.