a book with pages of noses. “This one,” he pointed. Sue sketched some more, adding shadow and contrast before asking Josh if he’d like to see the drawing. He thought for a while before nodding. She handed the picture to him. He glanced at the illustration for just a few seconds before giving it back. “It’s okay, Josh. What I’m drawing is what I think she looked like when she was alive. Hopefully, the police can show this sketch to people and see if anyone knows her name.” Josh reached for the picture again and pointed at her eyes. “Bigger. They were bigger than this.” Sue put her pencil to work. Josh paged through the book and looked at different pieces of faces before giving his approval to the final version. “You have a good knack for detail,” she said. She shook his hand, thanked him for his assistance, and turned him back over to his mother. “Josh was a huge help.” Sue showed Michelle the woman’s face. “Police will likely put this on television and in newspapers in the hopes someone recognizes her.” No women even remotely resembling the sinkhole corpse—Caucasian, age fifteen to twenty-three, five feet four inches tall, about 115 pounds—had been reported missing in Minnesota recently. So the victim was either from out of state, or no one realized or cared that she was gone. Already, detectives were swamped with queries from families of missing women across the country. The picture would help narrow the field. Josh definitely seemed calmer on the drive home. Neither mother nor son mentioned the sketch session, but Michelle Kueppers had a nagging feeling that the dead woman’s face looked familiar.
CHAPTER 15 C overing a case in Minnesota’s Amish country prompted me to buy a paperback bestseller with a demure blonde wearing a bonnet on the cover. I figured I’d learn more about their culture, and maybe it would be a fun read. That night, one chapter in, I realized I was reading a romance about forbidden love. An innocent young woman was torn between a world promising tranquillity and one offering titillation. Two appealing men symbolized her contrasting futures. The following pages assured me that the narrative was no bodice ripper—any sex that happened, happened offscreen. So far, the most explicit dialogue was debate over open-mouth kissing before marriage. By the time I went to bed, I’d gained some practical insights that I could share with Malik, such as the fact that only married Amish men grew beards. As I drifted to sleep, I made a mental note: bearded = married; clean shaven = single. I preferred a smooth chin myself, not that I was looking for a date in a wide-brimmed hat and a buggy. But I had admired how the author had hinted that physical labor led to physical perfection in Amish men. • • • The next morning, an email was awaiting me at the station with a forensic sketch of the sinkhole victim attached. No scoop. Thedrawing was being sent to all media with a standard request to ask viewers/readers to contact law enforcement if they recognized the victim. I printed the picture for the morning news huddle. Thoughts of what the woman’s face might have looked like before death, and her final moments of life, distracted me from the day’s headlines for a few minutes. Details of her facial damage had not been disclosed, only that her face was missing. I found myself mulling a centuries-old St. Jerome quote: The face is the mirror of the mind, and the eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart. What secrets might this murder victim confess? And were any of them enough to cost her her life? The medical examiner’s official cause of death listed “blunt force trauma to the head with fracture of the cranium, cerebral contusions, with subdural and intracranial bleeding.” For viewers, I’d simply rewrite the science to say the woman had died from a blow to the head. There was no sign of any murder weapon. And if evidence