Officer Tatum finally ended his day. Aside from the break in at the Smith house today, his little town rarely brought any excitement to his policing duties. He pulled off his cap as he arrived home and hung it on the coat pegs just inside the mud room. He slipped out of his boots and took in a big sigh. The air smelled sweet of sugar, butter and vanilla.
‘Hey honey! How was your day?’ his wife hollered from the kitchen. Jessica’s sweet voice was always music to his ears.
He stood up and turned the corner to see her at the oven, baking away. “Another experiment for the bakery?” he cooed as he tried to sneak a cookie off a tray.
Jessica turned to him. “Billy, get your hands off those!” she teased as he quickly bit into the shortbread. “What am I going to do with you?” she brightly exclaimed as she moved in for a quick kiss.
“Love me, of course! My day was the usual, except a break in down at the old Smith place. We don’t even think perp meant to break in. The poor girl had just moved in this week and she didn’t even know him.”
“Did you catch him?” Jess inquired.
“No. According to the victim, he kept hollering the name Joelle. Do you remember anyone by that name?”
Jessica pondered, “You’d think someone here would remember a name like that. We’re a pretty small town.” Jessica appeared to be racking her brain. “I seem to remember a Johanna Langford….do you think that could be who he was looking for?”
Billy froze solid. Before Jessica, he and Johanna had briefly dated. “It might be… I remember some folks called her Jo L.” He stopped short about how Jojo hated being called Johanna. Jessica didn’t need to know about that. “She ended up marrying Gary Smith and lived in that very house a few months before she passed away a couple years ago. Gary couldn’t handle it and left town shortly afterward.”
Jessica looked at Billy. ‘So she was our age? I wonder if we might know the person who broke in. Why would someone break in to someone’s house when they are already gone?” Jessica paused, thinking for a moment, then asked, “What did she die from?”
Billy recalled to Jessica how she met Gary in some whirlwind romance after her former boyfriend John was dramatically hauled away and placed in jail. Within 4 months, she had passed from complications from her pregnancy.
“I wonder if Gary lost his mind and came back. He did take it hard when she passed away. But why?” Billy put down some notes for him to follow up on in the morning. “Can I please have another cookie?” he sweet talked to Jessica, batting his eyes. Jess just rolled hers as she handed him another shortbread.