Detective Sam Wallace received the call to investigate a possible homicide while she and her partner, T-Bone Ochoa, were having breakfast at the Village Inn on 22nd Street. T-Bone finished the last of his coffee and said, “Gang or drugs?”
That was a running joke between them. Gangs almost always meant drugs and drugs almost always meant gangs. People did kill for other reasons, but in Tucson, it was mostly the drug trade.
Wallace looked around the restaurant at the other early risers. Mostly a white crowd, mostly older. A few people obviously grabbing a bite before going off to office jobs. She tucked her wallet into her back pocket and said, “I’m guessing drugs this morning. Not a lot of gang activity in this area.”
T-Bone smirked, his brown eyes shining. “Twenty bucks, it’s gang.”
“Okay,” she shook his hand.
The scene of the crime was just down the street, where 22nd Street went over the Pantano wash. Although she was the senior partner, she had T-Bone drive so that she could get first impressions of the scene. They pulled into a neighborhood of condos, and parked at the edge of the new Pantano Wash Park, which ran along the sandy wash from Broadway south, just past Golf Links Road. An ambulance and the M.E. pulled up behind them. The crime scene processors pulled up a moment later.
Traffic along 22nd Street was moving along, morning commuters hadn’t noticed anything happening down in the wash. From the edge of the wash, it took her a moment to see the scene.
“Who called it in?”
“A lady out walking her dog,” T-Bone answered, and gestured toward the patrol officers who were talking to a white-haired lady in her mid-60s and her tiny black-haired poodle. One of the officers bent down and patted the dog on it’s curly head.
“Any other witnesses?”
They walked down the bike path to where it dipped under the bridge. T-Bone shook his head no and they climbed the fence and skidded down the incline to the bed of the wash.
It’d been raining and the wash had flooded only a day or so ago, so any marks other than water were clear.
T-Bone pointed out a footprint and the crime scene tech dropped a yellow numbered card next to it and took a picture
Out from under the shade of the bridge, about 20 feet, between two scrubby bushes, a severed arm lay on the sand.
The tech started to take more pictures.