Another Excerpt from my WIP (32)

The following is another excerpt from my work in progress, Jen McDowell—Private Eye; Business is Booming, a Jen McDowell Series. This is a draft. I’m at 61k words now. I’ve decided to restructure my chapters and manuscript (maybe today). If you want to catch up, order the novella The Throuple Private Eye—Hate Crimes, on Amazon ($2.99). The link is https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084LTTHGN. Enjoy.

CHAPTER 18

When Jen returned to the office, she found Molly and Marty working on their computers. This time Marty was not using Jen’s desk but was using the coffee table. “Sup?” Jen asked.

“We’re working on the kidnapping case,” Molly answered. She noticed Jen glance at Marty.

“Marty is helping me.”

“Well, we’re not putting him on the payroll,” Jen said with a smile. “You can pay him however you want.”

Molly shot Jen a nasty look. “It okay,” Marty said. “School doesn’t start for a couple of weeks, so I have time on my hands. Besides, it’s an interesting case.”

“Tell me what you’re thinking,” Jen requested.

“Okay,” Molly said. “We’ll have to make a few assumptions. First, I don’t think the kidnapper drove all the way to Atlanta from Texas to sell a baby girl to a sex trafficking ring. She could have sold the child in Texas or Mexico. From what we discovered, $10,000 is far above the offering price for a new-born.”

“So why drive to Atlanta?” Jen asked.

“I think she sold the baby to a black couple here in Atlanta,” Molly replied. “If the child was sold to a sex trafficker, we’ll never find her.”

“But why pay that much to adopt?” Jen asked. “Don’t couples adopt for a lot less through organizations like Catholic Charities?”

“Yes,” Molly answered. “That’s true. There must have been a reason for the couple not to use Catholic Charities or even a private adoption agency.”

“Here’s what I found out,” Marty jumped in. “Not everyone gets approved to adopt. If one of the adopting parents is a felon convicted of child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, child pornography or sexual assault, it is highly unlikely that their home study will be approved.”

“So, you think that they paid $10,000 because someone was a felon?” Jen asked.

“Could be,” Molly answered.

“What other assumptions did you make?” Jen asked.

“If we go with the adoption theory, then we must assume it’s a black couple who can afford to pay $10,000. We must assume, at least for now, that they still live in the Atlanta area or at least in Georgia. If they moved outta state, it’ll be hard to track them down.”

“Okay, I’ll buy that,” Jen said. “Now how do we proceed?”

“The child would be six years old now,” Molly answered. “Plus, her name was probably changed. We don’t have a picture we can use, but there is that tear drop birthmark. That’s our best clue right now. The child should be in school. Maybe a teacher will recognize the birthmark.”

“We can circulate the picture of the birthmark to as many teachers as possible and hope someone knows the girl,” Marty added. “Maybe we’ll get lucky.”

“There must be hundreds of teachers in the Atlanta school system.”

“Here’s what I found out,” Marty said. “the Atlanta school system has 91 learning sites, including 58 neighborhood schools, 6 partner schools, 18 charter schools, 2 citywide single-gender academies, and 3 alternative programs. That doesn’t include private schools or parochial schools.”

“We’ll try to reach all of them,” Molly said. “We can also reach teachers through the various teacher associations like the National Education Association. Their affiliate in Georgia is the Georgia Association of Educators. Hopefully, they’ll help us.”

“What if she’s home schooled?” Jen asked.

Molly froze. “I hadn’t thought about that. I don’t know?”

“We’ll figure something out,” Marty interjected. “I assume home schools have to be licensed somehow. There’re also pediatricians. The child must have needed a doctor at some point, maybe vaccinations or a physical for school. Maybe Doc can help us connect with them.”

“There’s also minsters or Sunday school teachers,” Molly added.

“What about the police report?” Jen asked.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” Molly answered. “There’s no report in the APD. The case is being handled by Texas. Marty checked into it.”

“I didn’t have much luck there,” Marty added. “The Houston police said that it’s still an open case. They referred me to the cold case department. I called them and left a message. However, I did pick somethings from the news.”

Marty turned to Molly. “Go ahead,” she said.

In the news reports,” Marty continued. “The police found Olivia Smith in a local motel. She committed suicide. She left a note that said only that she was sorry. There were baby items but no baby and no clue what happened to her. They did find almost $10,000 in cash. They think Smith sold the baby.”

“I contacted the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children,” Molly interjected. “They have Kidist in their database, but they have no new information. They said they’d help any way they can, but we’re on our own here.”

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