SPOILER ALERT! Read this only after you have read Dead Dreams, Book 2 "Gone Missing".
What happened later
It was strange to have so many strangers writing me, some even suggesting how I should have handled my situation. A few lamented that I should have taken pictures of the incriminating photographs. Yes, the court heard about these. But, of course, I wasn’t able to produce anything. When I found them at EBS, I had an hour or so to react, and my sister’s life was in the balance and would continue to be threatened if I had tried to fool Todd in any way. I couldn’t live with myself if Lilly was harmed on account of those pictures, even if they could have saved my skin.
Naturally, Todd and Keith denied the photographs’ existence when questioned by local police, and since then both seemed to have dropped off the face of this earth. Even the picture Jim had taken was not proof enough that what I’d confessed about the photos were true. Sussman flew all the way here to the US and was put on the stand. He swore he saw the photos, but again this was hearsay, the prosecution argued. It was not conclusive that they existed. It also didn’t help that Terry Nathan was dead, or that the European P.I. Sarah had hired was never found, since Sarah was a whiz at covering her transactions.
After they confirmed the body, still rolled inside the rug I’d had in front of my bed, was Sarah, forensics found a hair follicle stuck to the rug. It matched the single piece of evidence Jim had collected that first time he’d scoured our apartment. They also found, under Sarah’s nails, epithelial cells from another male.
Judge Conners signed the papers needed to have Mrs. Mott’s remains dug out, and the evidence showed that she’d indeed been poisoned. The same chemicals used to trigger Jackson Anderson’s heart attack were found in her system. I couldn’t sleep for days thinking about how Mrs. Mott’s remains should have been left to rest in peace. I even called Wendy long-distance about it. She’d calmed me down and insisted that Mrs. Mott, whom we found out was a Christian, was probably in heaven and would have wanted to help, if she could have told me.
Surprisingly, Martha, Jackson’s Southern belle secretary, came up to see Jeremy one afternoon. She remembered a man who’d met Jackson the day before he passed away. It had completely slipped her mind until she’d come across the composite the police artist had drawn up according to my description of the fake Jackson. Even Fremont Bank’s records had not captured his image, due to the angle at which he’d positioned himself while he’d been there. But, the real Jackson had a secret camera installed in his room, and the fake one must not have known this. In fact, before the police had found out that Jackson was murdered, Martha, in her efficiency, had everything packed away, including the camera surveillance and the recording device.
The closed circuit video Jackson kept of all persons coming and going caught the man’s image. He turned out to be the fake Jackson I’d met at the Fremont Bank. Facial recognition identified him as having had a criminal record, and his DNA matched the epithelial cells found under Sarah’s nails.
Poor Sarah. Had she known it was her own contacts who’d turned on her? All the money in the world had not protected her from deception and evil.
Once the authorities caught up with the fake Jackson, identified as Ray Eddie, they brought him in, and he confessed to having been hired by Sarah for the original scheme, just as Jim and I had theorized. Unfortunately, Ray was unable to confirm who had out-bid Sarah, as that person’s identity remained anonymous. Was it Todd? Stu McIntyre? (Stu McIntyre, too, had remained evasive throughout my year-long trial.)
We may never find out who orchestrated Sarah’s murder, but Ray’s confession cleared my name. The only charge left was fraud. For that, Judge Connor penalized me with twenty months of community service. That I’d turned myself in had worked in my favor and showed that I was not a flight risk, that I had repented.
Now, I await my first day of community service. I can’t imagine what’s in store, but I’m actually looking forward to contributing something back to life. Perhaps I still have something good to offer.