Thrill Kill
the baby.”
    Sinclair’s mind raced—three summers ago—the year after he returned from Iraq.
    “She was equally adamant about not telling us who the father was,” Gene said.
    “Where is Madison now?” Sinclair asked.
    “She’s with us,” Cynthia said. “When Maddie was six months old, Dawn signed over legal guardianship to us and left.”
    “She left her?” Sinclair said, and immediately regretted his reaction.
    “What kind of mother would abandon her daughter?” Cynthia said, choking through sobs.
    “She was confused—troubled,” Gene said. “She felt her destiny lay in San Francisco. But she came home several times a year to visit Maddie, always for several weeks in the winter to encompass Christmas and Maddie’s birthday, and again in the summer. She was a great mom when she was here, but always toward the end of her visits, she grew restless. Said she felt suffocated.”
    “She felt suffocated!” Cynthia exclaimed. “Anyone can play mom for a few weeks at a time. Try raising three little girls when two are in diapers at the same time, when your husband’s gone twelve hours a day, and there’s two feet of snow on the ground, and the temperature never gets above—”
    “Honey, I know it was hard,” Gene said. “But it’s the past.”
    Sinclair caught Braddock’s eye. She wrote postpartum depression / childhood abuse? on a slip of paper and slid it in front of him. He nodded in agreement.
    Sinclair asked, “When did you last see Dawn?”
    “She came home the first week of August,” Gene said. “The county fair is a big thing out here, and Maddie was finally old enough to walk on her own and enjoy it.”
    “Did Dawn talk any more about her life or what she was doing?”
    “She said she’d be finished with school in a year or so and was working on plans for her future,” Gene said.
    “You weren’t there,” Cynthia said, with an edge in her voice. “You were hanging out with the farmers at the equipment demos. Maddie was petting the lambs and baby horses at the 4-H exhibit when Dawn asked her if she wanted to come and live with her in San Francisco.”
    “That must have been a surprise,” Sinclair said.
    “I took her aside and told her in no uncertain terms that Maddie was not leaving Mankato to live with a San Francisco hooker,” Cynthia said. “I regret my choice of words, but I was angry. I was scared for Maddie. I knew at that point I needed tobegin adoption proceedings so she didn’t drag Maddie into her demented California lifestyle.”
    “Honey, I told you that was unnecessary,” Gene said. “That we could all discuss it as adults.”
    “Unnecessary?” Cynthia’s voice cracked.
    Sinclair heard her crying over the phone and pictured Gene trying to comfort her.
    “Unnecessary?” Cynthia said again between sobs. “If we had allowed her to take Maddie, she’d probably be dead, too.”
    “I think we better stop,” Gene said. “Can we talk again in a day or two?”
    Braddock spoke for the first time. “I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m wondering if you could send us a copy of Maddie’s birth certificate, medical records of her birth, and some of her photos?”
    “I’ll e-mail it to you,” Gene said. “Sergeant Sinclair, I’m sure Dawn is looking down on us right now, knowing the search for justice in this matter could not be in better hands.”
    Sinclair hung up the phone and kept his eyes on his desk, letting Gene’s final words sink in. When he finally looked up, he saw Braddock looking at him intently.
    “Is there something I should know?” she asked.
    He grabbed his mug and walked to the coffee pot. He pulled out the pot, sniffed it, and put it back, turning off the burner. “She called me from the jail when she was arrested on the B-charge six years ago,” Sinclair said, referring to 647b, the penal code section for prostitution. “I was new in homicide and asked her if she had any information on any murders. She said maybe, so I pulled a copy

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