Page 17 of Just Me

CHAPTER EIGHT

Special Agent Connor couldn’t comprehend that this student, this hacker, had been able to access the phone so fast. Had it really been locked? he wondered. How on earth had she managed to do such a thing?

It was standard protocol that phones were sent to the techs, who would then run programs, and hours or days later, would usually be successful in opening them. For the last few years of his career, that was how this step had worked.

Now she had turned that upside down in just a few seconds.

He glanced at Minnett, seeing her own shock reflected in his eyes.

Now that the phone was open, it could provide valuable information. That was especially the case since the other victim’s phone hadn’t been found.

The young MIT student was staring down at the phone, looking strangely happy, as if she’d been briefly able to forget about her surroundings: the sharp-sour disinfectant smell, the shrouded bodies with one sheet pulled back, the bright lighting, and the chill in the air.

“How did you do that?” Minnett asked curiously. “How did you unlock it so fast?”

Cami sounded proud as she explained. “This particular phone has a programming weakness. It’s possible to overload the system, and by doing that, you can bypass the password request if you do it fast. But there are a lot of different ways for every phone. Some models are much more difficult than others. I got lucky here.”

What was she saying? Connor frowned as he tried to make sense of the process she’d used. “Let’s go outside,” he suggested, realizing that the autopsy room was not the place for this discussion.

He saw Cami look extremely relieved as they all stepped outside. She’d been very out of her depth in the autopsy room. To give her credit, he thought briefly and surprisingly, at least she’d tried. She’d given it a go.

It still had an institutional feel in this side office, but he guessed that to her, it was more normal. There were two desks, a few chairs, and a bookshelf.

“I’ll leave you to it,” Minnett said, rushing back into the autopsy room. Connor turned to Cami.

“You saved us some time here,” he added, giving credit where it was due, even if his voice sounded grudging.

“What about the other phone? Was it nowhere?” she asked him.

“It was nowhere to be found. Our techs did try to track the number. It was turned off. So, in that case, the only thing we could do, which we’ve done, was to request all the information on the messages, texts and so on. That we’ve done, but there’s an inevitable delay.”

Cami raised her eyebrows. Connor could see she was coming to the same conclusion as the team: if this killer had taken a phone, it could mean there was information on the phone he didn’t want them to know.

“Right, first things first. This phone. I want to check out the numbers that have called in, the texts, the photos,” Connor said, his hand on the phone as if he were already reading from it.

“Well, go ahead.” She handed him the phone.

He took it, feeling amped. This had given them a massive head start. Now to find out if any of the messages, any texts, anything he could see, were suspicious.

“I’m going to do a run through the numbers and the texts first,” Connor told her. “I’m looking for anything out of the ordinary, anything threatening.

Now that he was in the phone, Connor knew he was on familiar territory, and was confident of where he needed to hunt. He was also aware that there was a ticking clock on how long he had to get it done.

He was very aware that hacking into the phone had given Cami the reprieve that she’d needed. She hadn’t been useful in the mortuary room at all, he had been thinking while she was there. She’d hung back, looking nauseated and completely out of her depth. She’d been too afraid to contribute. He’d dealt with young agents and interns before, and it was all about attitude and willingness to overcome their nerves and cope with the realities of the job. None of them had behaved the way she’d done.

Before they had left the room, Connor had been ready to make the call to Fraser, saying that he wasn’t prepared to work with her anymore, that she didn’t have what it took and never would.

But then she’d opened the victim’s phone. And that was something he would never have thought possible. It was a critical move. If it wasn’t for her, they wouldn’t have gotten the information so fast.

So, he guessed they were going to be working together for a while more, because after showing how capable she was in that regard, and using her initiative in trying, he couldn’t exactly complain.

Now, with his focus on the texts, Connor went hunting in the terrain he was familiar with.

Scrolling through the texts, he saw most of them were routine. From friends, family, and saved numbers. You got a sense of what to look for. What about this one?

Now this was suspicious, Connor saw, his attention focusing on the message string. He frowned. It was one-sided. And it was certainly a threat.

“What is it?” Cami asked, as he raised the phone to show her.


Tags: Blake Pierce Mystery
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