News from the Philadelphia Inquirer
Young Girl Goes Missing, Kidnapping Suspected
Eight-year-old daughter Samantha Rayne is suspected of being kidnapped Monday in broad daylight as she traveled from her school bus stop to her home. Samantha did not arrive home yesterday after departing her school bus, and she has not responded to calls to her cell phone. The Philadelphia Police are asking for eye witnesses to come forward with information if they saw anything suspicious in the area of Thorndike Street where the girl was last seen by her bus driver at 2:30pm. “Samantha Rayne is 4 feet tall, weighing approximately 55 pounds. She has shoulder-length blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing pink sweater and blue jeans, and had a Philadelphia Eagles backpack” said Lieutenant Daniels of the Major Crimes Unit at a press conference Monday night. “Anyone with any information on Samantha is encouraged to call the Philadelphia tip line immediately.”
Samantha Rayne’s father Martin also appeared at the late press conference with his wife Melissa. “We’re offering $5,000 for any information which will lead to the whereabouts of our daughter” he said, barely able to suppress his tears. “Please…she’s our only child,” Mr. Rayne continued, “we just want her back safe and sound.”
Samantha Rayne Still Missing, Reward Increased
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania—Samantha Rayne still remains missing since Monday the 7th, and police say while citizens have called in with information, they have produced no viable leads. The Rayne family issued a written statement which in part says: “Our pleas go out to whoever took our daughter. We will pay anything you want for her safe return. We are increasing our reward from $5,000 to $10,000 for information which leads to her whereabouts. Please help us bring Samantha home.” A candlelight vigil for Samantha is being organized by her classmates for tomorrow evening at Grabel Elementary School at 6pm.
Joey and Dan both get calls from Lt Landsman that they need to come in right away. Landsman apologizes to Joey for calling him in on a weekend when he’s not on call, but Prez is the detective on call, and this case is going to be a red ball and the brass are calling for a veteran to be assigned. The little girl who went missing earlier in the week was found dead this morning at a scrap yard in northern Philly. Dan is told that he will be a second on the case, and to shadow Joey and watch and learn how red balls are handled. Joey meets with the Lt and the Deputy Ops briefly, and he is told that this is a high priority case and that despite the city’s financial woes, the mayor’s office has approved unlimited overtime for this case. Meanwhile, Barry is called in the morning by the Chief ME and also told about the case, and that he should meet her at the crime scene.
Joey arrives first on the scene, followed shortly by Dan and then Barry. The police’s CSI team is already there taking pictures and gathering evidence. The Chief ME is there too, waiting for the all clear to more closely examine the body and then take it to the lab. The little girl is lying face down on a pile of scrap. The front skin of her face has been peeled off and then nailed to the back of her head, upside down. It’s a disturbing scene to say the least, even though there’s little blood.
Joey takes the whole scene in. He notices a set of tracks leading up to the site, as well as a security camera on a pole overlooking the yard’s front gate. CSI has already taken a molding of the tire track. Joey and Dan head off to talk to the owner, who says he showed up in the morning and opened shop like usual. The front gate was locked and nothing appeared amiss. The owner’s dog started barking and that’s when he noticed the little girl. He called 911 immediately. Dan asks if anyone else has keys to the front gate, and the owner says his cousin Remmy does, who also works at the place. The owner also provides the security tape from the previous evening. Joey and Dan then proceed to talk to the uniforms out front cordoning off the crime scene and keeping onlookers back, and ask them to canvass the area to see if anyone saw anything unusual last night.
Barry’s examination of the body reveals that the little girl died from a throat slice across the neck. He places the time of death between 10pm and midnight. The lack of blood at the scene suggests she was killed elsewhere. There are multiple lacerations on the girl’s extremities, suggesting she was tortured before death, and the torture started on the same day she was kidnapped. The ME’s then get the girl into a body bag and bring her to the morgue to do an official ID and autopsy. It only takes a short while to confirm the girl is in fact Samantha Rayne, and the autopsy reveals the girl was fed and given water, but not much. Based on the throat slice, the killer was right handed and used a single edged blade of medium length (longer than a scalpel, shorter than a kitchen knife). The girl’s face was removed with the same blade, and was not done with much precision (i.e., this person has no medical training).
Once informed of the positive ID, Joey and Dan drive to the victim’s parents’ house and tell them of her daughter’s death. It’s a short stay as the parents are obviously distraught and are not up to answering any questions at the moment. The detectives offer their sympathies and promise to do everything to bring Samantha’s killer to justice.
Joey and Dan head back to their office. Dan goes over the surveillance tape and conducts some research to see if there are any other similar killings in the region. Joey looks over the files on the kidnapping which arrived from Major Crimes. The tape shows headlights approaching the gate at 11:35pm, but then something moves in front of the camera and remains their for about 20 minutes. Then that something moves again, revealing the front gate of the scrap yard closed and locked. Dan compares the gate lock chain before and after the camera is blocked, and the chain has certainly shifted. His computer search reveals no similar crimes in the region.
After awhile, Barry calls and asks the detectives to come to the morgue so he can go over his findings instead of having the officers wait for his official report to be filed. After conversing, Joey and Dan decide to call it a day, but not before the officer in charge of the canvass calls. There wasn’t much in the way of witnesses, but someone in an adjacent apartment remembers seeing a car in the scrap yard around midnight. This is confirmed by an employee of the convenience store across the street, who recalls seeing a dark sedan at the gate around midnight. He recalls seeing only a single occupant, but didn’t get a good look at the driver.