Detective Carl Hamilton shielded his eyes against the blaring blue lights and flashed his badge at the police of-ficer. The man moved aside. Hamilton stepped off the paved, two-lane highway just outside of Havre, Montana. Orange tape blocked off the crime scene, hidden by the darkness of early morning. He ducked under the tape and pushed his way into the dry shrubbery.
A sergeant shone a flashlight on his face and asked, “Are you Detective Hamilton?”
He gave a short nod.
“I‟m Shirley White.” Pressing her hand to her nose, she turned her attention back to the ground.
The stench of rotting flesh was strong. “Ma‟am. What have we found?”
“It‟s a girl. We think it‟s one of the four you‟ve been looking for.”
Carl‟s stomach knotted. “Cause of death?”
“We‟ll have to perform an autopsy, of course, but it appears to be a gunshot wound. Is it one of them?”
“Where is she?”
“Under the bushes.”
He crouched down and moved the bushes aside, breathing through his mouth. This never got any easier. The branches parted to reveal a young girl, features distorted by death but still recognizable. The open eyes stared blankly up at him. He released the branches and stood up, giving a nod. “Yes. It‟s one of them.”
The case had just gone from a kidnapping to a homicide. And there were three girls still missing.