Monday, May 06, 2013

Vintage Vegas Crime: Dead & Stinky

I try to keep my crime stories to myself, but sometimes they just come up. Last week, for instance, my friend and co-worker was grief-stricken over the death of a beloved pet.

Early in the day, she said, “Tell me something gruesome so I won’t be sad.”

(I worked for Las Vegas Metro for over 20 years. I wasn’t a cop, but I did work in the Crime Lab's office for 10 years. Yes, that Lab, before “CSI.” I have a few gruesome stories, and my friend loves true crime.)

“Dismemberment would be good,” she suggested.

So I told her about the dismembered body in the car that was towed into the Lab’s garage. In summer.  

On that hot day, a white sedan was unloaded into the garage. The smell of dead body filled our building almost immediately.

The door to the garage was directly across the hall from the door to our conference room. So, behind one door we had the very smelly car with the parts of a chopped-up person in the trunk (legs and arms and such), and behind the other door we had a conference room full of left-over food from a party we’d had at lunch.

Everyone in my office knew that one of us was going to have to go down there, brave the stinky dead body fumes, and put the food away. 

While we were in the midst of avoiding the inevitable task of cleaning up the left-overs, our Captain’s secretary staggered into my office. I’ll call her Pam.

“WHAT IS THAT SMELL?” she gasped, hand over her nose, eyes watering. “And HOW are you all WORKING?”

We summarized: dead body parts in a trunk, 110°, garage.

Pam was a veteran Metro employee, but she had only been in the Lab for a couple of years. We had also just moved into a new building with a garage attached to our offices. For several previous years, we’d enjoyed a building with a detached garage, an arrangement everyone preferred for just this reason.

“Try rubbing Vicks under your nose,” I told her. “Open your door. Turn on your fan. You’ll get used to it.”

Unconvinced, Pam went back to her office.

A few minutes later, my peripheral vision picked up something outside my window. I took a closer look.  In front of our building, out by the parking lot, Pam was leaning against a handicapped parking sign in an “I might pass out” sort of way.

I walked outside and asked her if she was okay. “I don’t know how all of you are working,” she told me.

“Does this mean you won’t be helping me clean up the food in the conference room?” I asked her.

(I know, I know. I couldn’t help myself. That was mean. Shame on me.)

Pam looked seriously nauseous.  I don’t remember if she answered my question, and I’m pretty sure she went home early. I went back inside and cleaned up the conference room.

Later on that day, after the car was towed away and the garage was hosed down, someone from a local government agency (whoever it was that got all the calls from the people in an apartment complex just east of our building) showed up to ask questions about what was generating such an awful smell. My Captain smiled at the guy, showed him her badge, and shooed him away.

If I recall correctly, the man responsible for the dismemberment was eventually convicted, probably at least in part because of the evidence collected that stinky day.

I had to think of more stories throughout the day to distract my pal from thinking about her dearly departed dog friend. After another dismemberment tale and a couple of murders, I was able to segue from gruesome to funny. Clearly, however, sometimes you can have both.

Are you a fan of true crime or police stories?
Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver at flickr