What happens when you bring together the best independent forensic lab in the country, one of the leading pathologists and criminal profilers in the world, and a Federal agent with a very unique skill set, and a gun loaded with Slayer bullets?
Welcome to Witch Hollow!
The body of a six-month-old baby is found in the snow-covered alleyway behind a rural veterinarian clinic in Virginia, and the calling card left at the scene indicates this crime might be part of a terrible, unexplained ritual. Faith and her team are called in to investigate, but Faith’s got a secret, and a personal stake in this case. When they uncover the truth, it will shake Faith to the core, and bring her up against a secret she can’t hope to keep forever.
Anger followed shock and horror across his face, before he crouched beside her. “How can you tell?”
She had to swallow. This was getting far too close to home. “This woman gave birth within minutes to hours before she was killed. What’s left of the abdomen is still distended, and there’s still evidence of both cervical and pelvic dilation. Given the amount of dried blood and lack of direct puncture injury—“
“Okay, I get it.” He glanced up, his gaze sweeping the empty storage unit. “There’s nothing here. Why would a woman who’s about to give birth be in an empty storage unit?”
Faith kept silent, watching him. She knew him well enough to know he often thought aloud. She continued to watch him as he rose from his crouched position and slowly paced the length of the wall. The furrow of his brow as he came to an abrupt stop told her something troubled him.
“What are you thinking, Jonathan?”
“There was a bed here.” He gestured to the general area of one back corner. He crouched again, lifting something in one gloved hand to dangle from his fingers as a scowl darkened his features. “Hey, Mac?”
“Do you see any signs Jane Doe there was bound?”
Faith lifted one wrist, then the other, and moved to the woman’s feet. “Yes. Both wrists and ankles show bruising consistent with long-term restraint.”
“Goddamn bastard,” Jonathan growled, even as he gestured for one of the techs to bring him an evidence bag. “He kept her chained to the bed. How long, do you think?”
She shook her head. He knew better than to ask that. “There’s no way to know until I have a chance to do a full autopsy and inspection of the tissue and bones.”
“Best guess, Mac. That’s all I’m asking for. Give me somewhere to start.”
Faith sighed, but leaned closer to the ankles. “Judging by lividity and the deep welts in these bruises, I’d estimate at least several months.” Her gaze shot up to him, then, as a terrifying thought grabbed hold. “You don’t think she’s been here for her entire pregnancy, do you?”
The grim set of his features was all the answer she needed. As her gaze returned to the woman on the floor before her, Faith acknowledged how dangerous this case just became.