McGarrett's Errand of Mercy
by Liz Clare
McGarrett recognized the pink patent-leather shoes first. Since four-year-old
Kimberly Chang disappeared last Sunday, her description had been on every
newscast. From the beginning, McGarrett had held out little hope of recovering
the missing girl alive. Still, it didn't make it any easier to watch as HPD
rescue crews pulled the tiny body from the Ala Wai Canal.
He barely noticed the moored yachts bobbing festively in the canal as the
paramedics placed the dripping corpse onto the planks of the pier. Obscenely
bloated, naked but for the shiny pink shoes and sodden socks, Kimberly's
body bore little resemblance to the smiling child in the photographs her
frantic mother gave Five-O earlier in the week.
Swallowing against the rotten fishy smell, McGarrett knelt by her body for
the first clues that might lead him to her killer. Briefly, he met Doc's
eyes as the old coroner stooped beside him. Doc was a hard case. McGarrett
sometimes envied his clinical detachment--especially today. Retrieving a
well-chewed pencil from his coat, Doc pointed to the body:
"Throat slashed, Steve. Probably the cause of death, though we'll need the
autopsy to make sure it wasn't inflicted postmortem.. . ." Gingerly, Doc
turned the body on its side, and the sudden shock of recognition pierced
He stood up quickly and drew in a deep breath. Doc just kept looking at the
deep wounds carved into the flesh. Raggedly torn into the girl's back were
two words: HELP ME.
Doc looked up at McGarrett.
"Steve, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
McGarrett closed his eyes before answering, "Yeah, Doc. Yeah--the Schoolyard
Steve McGarrett didn't believe in unsolved cases. That was just one of the
tenets of police work he had learned from Lloyd Deford. All the same, Jenny
had to go to the HPD Archives for the Schoolyard Stalker file. For all the
heart-breaking hours they had spent on the case, it was maddeningly thin.
McGarrett slipped out the photographs of the four little girls, smiling up
at him in black and white from 1965. Deford said he would look for their
But forever hadn't been long enough for Lloyd Deford. And, after what had
happened to Deford, McGarrett had stopped looking.
Chin Ho Kelly helped McGarrett post the photos next to the one of Kimberly
Chang while Dan Williams and Ben Kokua leafed through the rest of the file.
There wasn't much. Doc's autopsy reports for the four girls. Interviews with
their families, which had turned up no significant connections between any
of the children. Statements of witnesses who had seen a couple of the girls
before they disappeared. And the inevitable crime-scene photos, and the weeping
gouges that said, "HELP ME."
"Here's what we've got, gentlemen," McGarrett began. Indicating the first
picture, he said, "Diana Pauhi, age 8. Disappeared, February 11, 1965. Her
body was found near Ala Moana four days later by a jogger." McGarrett himself
had interviewed the young man and eliminated him as a suspect. "Nude, throat
cut, no sign of sexual assault. And the same mutilations." McGarrett wrote
"HELP ME" on the board in his bold hand.
"I was on the HPD task force that worked with Five-O," Chin told the others.
McGarrett nodded tensely, remembering how Chin Ho, the only father on the
task force, had worked long nights and weekends running down parking tickets,
combing through trash cans, and working his street sources to try to turn
up a shred of evidence that could break open the case. Chin approached the
board. "On July 4th, Amy Borrego. Same M.O. Mary Ellen Fukiyama disappeared
right after school started."
"And the last one, Donna Fung, September 30th, 1965," McGarrett finished.
"Four little girls killed in eight months. This island was in a panic. And
then," he snapped his fingers, "the killings stopped. Just like that."
"We ran down a lot of theories," Chin recalled. "The boss--" Chin glanced
at McGarrett. "Deford thought maybe the killer moved away, but we kept checking
the mainland and never heard of any similar crimes. We tried the prisons
and the mental institutions, too, but never got a lead. Finally Deford figured
maybe the killer had died, and we even checked out dead men." Chin shrugged
Ben asked, "So, Steve, are you sure the Chang girl was murdered by the same
guy? Could be a copycat."
"At this point, Ben, we can't rule it out. We'll know more when we get the
autopsy results back from Doc." Briskly, McGarrett switched into command
mode. "Danno, I want you to interview the family. See if you can find anyone
with a motive to kill the girl, or any connection with any of the victims
from '65. Chin, I want you to go through the case files and put together
a list of our old leads and theories. Maybe the computer can come up with
something this time that we didn't have access to in '65. Ben, you get with
Doc and Che Fong and see what we've got in the way of physical evidence.
They should be able to tell us whether we're looking at a copycat or the
real Schoolyard Stalker."
McGarrett looked at each of his men. "I won't kid you, gentlemen. We're dealing
with a killer who's vicious, brutal, and absolutely brilliant. This is a
case Lloyd Deford never solved. I intend to."
The sun was already sending its final blazing salute over the horizon as
McGarrett hurried over to the governor's mansion. It seemed that the governor
was having a party. Limousines were disgorging fat cats and their elegant
wives onto the lawn, where a small orchestra and tables laden with hors d'oeuvres
vied for attention.
Many people thought McGarrett was vain about his appearance, but in this
crowd, he felt slightly disreputable. The tuxedo-clad governor cut a graceful
figure in the reception line. He spotted McGarrett and motioned him over.
"Sorry about all the monkey suits, Steve," the governor said seriously. "We're
having a reception for Madeline Robertson for all her work with the children's
"The senator's widow?"
"Yes, more's the pity. Since Robertson died four months ago, Madeline's been
even more involved in helping the children's foundation." The governor turned
to the slim socialite chatting serenely with his wife. "Will you ladies do
me the favor of excusing me for a minute?"
"Only if you'll introduce me to the gentleman," said the slender woman, locking
brown eyes on McGarrett's.
"Of course. Mrs. Robertson, this is Steve McGarrett, Hawaii Five-O," the
governor said. Madeline's handshake was firm, cool and dry.
"It's a privilege to meet you, Mr. McGarrett," Madeline said. Her eyes searched
his face appraisingly. McGarrett had known the late state senator well--he'd
had more than a few battles with Randolph Robertson over Five-O's budget
at appropriations time. But Madeline he knew only from the society pages.
The senator's wealthy widow was one of the main contributors to the children's
hospital--and the governor's campaigns. "Are you the policeman investigating
the case about that poor little girl?"
McGarrett nodded. She was an interesting-looking woman, with a supple, athletic
build and an unguarded gaze. McGarrett was willing to bet she wouldn't be
without a man for long. Maybe he would have a chance to get to know her some
The governor disengaged from the party long enough for McGarrett to brief
him on the case. McGarrett emphasized his belief that the Schoolyard Stalker
from '65 was responsible for the Chang girl's murder.
"Let me make this clear, Steve," the governor told him. "My office has been
fielding calls all day from the national press and panicked citizens. The
Schoolyard Stalker case left a scar on these islands that took years to heal.
Now it's been ripped open. I don't care if you have to turn this island upside
down and inside out, Steve. You must catch this man."
The spectacular illumination of the full moon and its attendant clouds went
unappreciated by McGarrett as he dragged himself through the front door at
404 Pi'ikoi. Undressing, he carefully hung his black suit up. It was shot.
He needed to have Jenny take it to the dry cleaners this week.
Steve McGarrett permitted himself few indulgences. A long hot shower was
one of them. He especially needed it tonight. McGarrett stood with his head
bowed under fingers of pulsing water, long warm rivulets running down his
lanky body. He let himself imagine the day's frustrations--the nightmarish
corpse of Kimberly Chang, the governor's incessant demands on Five-O and
his men, the memories of Deford--running down the drain along the soap lather
and the day's sweat.
A few minutes later, McGarrett, now wearing his big white terry robe, put
some Stan Getz on the stereo and sank onto the sofa. He'd opened the window
to let the fragrant breeze cool the apartment and dry his limp black hair,
and retrieved a cup of yogurt from the fridge, though he wasn't at all hungry.
What he could really use was a pretty lady to rub his neck. But it was too
late to call the most likely candidate, and besides, McGarrett didn't want
to burden the lady with his mood about this case.
McGarrett made himself eat. A good run on the beach tomorrow and he would
be ready for this case. In truth, he admitted to himself, it was the weight
of failure that was pressing in on him tonight. When working a tough case,
he often asked himself how Lloyd Deford would have handled it. This time
he knew. Five-O had put everything they had into the Schoolyard Stalker case
ten years ago, and come up empty. Now another kid, subjected to God knows
what and then killed. And how many more this time, McGarrett?
This guy couldn't be that smart. In 1965, the psychiatrist's profile of the
Schoolyard Stalker said he was probably some loser, working at a low-level
occupation. But yet, he had lured four--now, five--children into his car
and to their deaths, without giving up a single decent lead! Deford hadn't
believed it was possible for this guy to outwit his famous "Five-O boys,"
Steve McGarrett, Ted Hada, and Julian Kala'oka, not to mention Chin Ho Kelly
and the rest of the HPD task force. And McGarrett didn't either. Somehow,
they had all missed something.
They wouldn't miss it this time. He was proud of the Five-O he'd built. Tomorrow
he, Danno, Chin, and Ben would start over with this case. McGarrett stretched
his legs out and rested his head on the back of the sofa. It felt good to
close his dry, burning eyes, and he allowed sleep to replace his weariness.
Doc droned on and on, explaining the wounds to McGarrett and Danno. The body
was splayed on the dissecting table now. The table was angled to carry body
fluids into channels for disposal. McGarrett felt angry and sick. He kept
thinking that the girl looked like a side of pork at the Chinese market.
He clenched his jaw hard and looked at Danno instead of the girl. As he had
expected, Danno's face was implacable.
McGarrett had worked with the best of men, first in the Navy, then with Five-O.
Of all of them, he considered Dan Williams the sanest and steadiest he'd
known. Danno had superior technical abilities and superb investigatory skills,
but more than that, he had nerves of steel and a core of essential decency
that the inhumanity of their work had never even touched.
"Doc--Doc--" McGarrett finally interrupted. Doc stopped talking and looked
at McGarrett quizzically. "In a nutshell, please."
"I did the autopsies in '65, Steve." Doc gestured to some garish photographs
lying a few feet away on another lab table. "There's no doubt about it. The
wounds are identical. The same killer who killed the girls ten years ago
killed Kim Chang."
"That's enough, then, Doc. Send your report over to my office as soon as
possible, please." McGarrett turned to go, then stopped abruptly. "And for
God's sake, Doc, put this baby girl back together so her family can have
some kind of decent funeral."
McGarrett slammed out of the lab and walked with long strides down the corridor.
He wanted to get back to the office and crunch every detail of the case file
through his brain. He wanted to get out of the office and interview every
neighbor and shopkeeper and motorist within 10 miles of the Chang house.
He wanted to bring in every criminal psychologist. He wanted to check out
every released prisoner and mental patient and military man, and to investigate
everyone who had ever lived on Oahu and recently returned.
Danno, much shorter than McGarrett, had to hurry to catch up. Danno didn't
ask him if he was all right. That was another one of the things he liked
Go to Part 2