“Seattle,” Will repeated.
“Riggins drove over to Seattle yesterday morning, came back today. We tracked him through his credit cards. You wanna guess the name of the hotel where he stayed last night?”
Will slowly turned to Faith. “The Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center?”
“It gets better: They searched his car. Found thirty thousand dollars in cash underneath the spare tire. All of it in crisp, new hundred-dollar bills.”
“New?” Will saw where this was going. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing distributed paper money in blocks that could be tracked through their serial numbers. “Tell me.”
Faith could barely contain her excitement. “All of the bills were distributed to the Sixth District.”
Will felt a matching grin on his face. The Sixth District of the Federal Reserve Bank provided paper money to Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and parts of Louisiana and Tennessee. He asked, “When were the bills released into circulation?”
“Not enough time to make their way to Seattle.”
“Not even close.” She added, “And even if there was enough time, there’s no way all the bills would be from the same block from the same district by the time they made it to the opposite corner of the country.”
Will felt some of the pressure lifting off his chest. Given a little more time, Faith would be able to trace the bills back to a particular bank. If that bank had Joe Jenner as a client, the right kind of judge could be persuaded to sign off on a warrant to search Jenner’s accounts. Even the best defense lawyer in the world would have a hard time rebutting testimony from the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. This was exactly the kind of evidence that juries loved to hear.
Will asked, “Is Riggins talking?”
“No. He lawyered up.”
“Please tell me the Idaho cops got a warrant before they searched his car.”
“Didn’t have to,” Faith said. “Paul Riggins is a registered sex offender.”
Will mumbled a curse. “Did the mom know that?”
“No.” Faith looked back at the monitor. Rebecca Brannon was sobbing into the microphones, begging for her daughter back. “But she does now.”
Yet again, Will sat across from Joe Jenner. He kept his arms crossed, hiding his watch. They were two hours over the correct time now. It was a huge jump, but Jenner had been in the bare interrogation room for so long they were praying that it didn’t matter. For Will’s part, today already felt like one of the longest of his life.
Jenner finally let out a long, bored sigh. “Well?”
Will told him, “The district attorney for the City of Atlanta is waiting outside.”
Jenner seemed unimpressed.
“She’s ready to make a deal with you, Joe. Just tell us where the girl is.”
Jenner did not respond.
Will laid out the evidence they had. “We know Paul Riggins took Abigail Brannon from his girlfriend’s home yesterday morning. Last night, he delivered Abigail to you and Eleanor Fielding at the Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center. You gave Riggins thirty thousand dollars cash for the girl.”
“You have no proof of any of this.”
“We traced the serial numbers, Joe. You should never use new money for this kind of thing.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Will laid out what Faith had told him a few moments ago. “The Federal Reserve in Atlanta sent a batch of new hundred-dollar bills to Bank of America’s central distribution center. From there, the bank sent it out to their branches. It’s money, so they’re careful with it. They track the serial numbers. They know where every bill is from the second it enters the system to the second it leaves. Which is why we know that the cash you gave Paul Riggins was withdrawn from three different Bank of America branches: Buckhead, Ansley, and Peachtree Battle.” Will crossed his arms over his chest. “We got a judge to let us peek at your accounts. Last week, you withdrew ten thousand dollars from three different accounts at three different branches: Buckhead, Ansley, and Peachtree Battle.”
For just a second, Jenner looked surprised. “You can’t prove it’s all the same.”
“Can’t we?” Will had to resist the smile that wanted to come. He liked hearing the panic in Jenner’s voice, no matter how quickly it dissipated.
“I was robbed.”
Will asked, “Did you file a report?”
“I didn’t have time.”
“You just let thirty thousand dollars walk off?” Will shook his head. “Why’d you have it in the first place?”
“I don’t believe that’s anyone’s business.”
“Be sure to tell that to the jury,” Will advised. “I guess you thought you were being smart by limiting each withdrawal to ten grand. Being a tax lawyer, you know that the bank is required to report any transactions over ten thousand dollars. And, of course, on internal flights, the TSA can’t legally limit how much cash you travel with.”
Jenner brushed some invisible lint off the sleeve of his jacket.
“Eleanor Fielding carried Abigail onto the plane. The girl was drugged. I imagine Paul Riggins has access to sedatives, seeing as he’s in and out of hospitals all day. Abigail slept the whole flight. You were two seats back, but you kept an eye on her the entire time, drinking coffee so you’d stay awake.” Will paused, making sure Jenner had time to absorb every word. “You took Abigail off the plane. You had it timed just right until Abigail had to go to the bathroom.”
Jenner’s mouth opened. Will was certain he was going to make a snide comment about small bladders, but he changed his mind.
Will continued, “Eleanor picked up her Mercedes at the North Terminal deck, then looped back around to the South Terminal, where she traded it for the Prius.” This had been the final piece of the puzzle. A quick search through records had located the Mercedes just where Will assumed it would be. “Meanwhile, you took Abigail out of the airport through the underground breezeway. You were supposed to hand her off there, but you saw me and panicked.”
Jenner’s eyebrow went up. He obviously didn’t care for the description.
“You had to improvise. You ran into the garage, hid behind some cars until I was looking the other way, then handed off Abigail at the top of the ramp. I couldn’t hear the engine because the Prius was going too slow.”
“That’s where we found your wig and glasses. You changed your appearance in the hopes that you’d be able to walk back into the airport, grab a cab, and go to the next meeting point.” Will leaned forward, crowding the space between them. “You can help yourself out of this.”
Jenner remained silent.
“Tell us where she is, Joe. That’s the only way you avoid serious jail time.”
Still, Jenner kept quiet.
“It’ll be easier for you if we find her alive,” Will said, hoping to appeal to the man’s self-interests. “If she’s dead, and the coroner shows pictures of her body, tells the jury what she’s been through …” Will braced himself for the awful things he had to say. “They’ll show the bruises on her wrist where you grabbed her. It’ll match the film of you dragging her through the concourse. They’ll show the bruise on her knee where she stumbled in the tunnel. The film will back that up. They’ll show her shoe. Her missing shoe.” Will took the little slipper out of his pocket. He threw it on the table between them. “The jury will see the film of you jerking her up when she reached back for her shoe. Maybe the coroner will have slides that show the damage to her arm muscles where you wrenched it.”