Dinner was almost ready when Beverly Thompson was snatched from her garage on a beautiful Wednesday evening early in February.
At forty-three, Beverly was still an extremely attractive woman with thick auburn hair that spilled down to her shoulders, framing an oval face highlighted by deep green eyes and a pair of medium-full lips. She watched her diet carefully and worked out as regularly as she could, and thus remained fit and trim at five feet, five inches tall and a hundred and twenty-one pounds.
On that Wednesday evening, Beverly was twenty-seven months into her second marriage. Her first—to a fellow law student—had gradually run out of gas and finally sputtered to an end seven years earlier. Thankfully, it had produced no children.
Through the first four years that followed the divorce, Beverly had dated gingerly, dedicating the bulk of her time and energy to her career as a medical malpractice attorney in a large firm in downtown Phoenix. But then she met David, a cardiologist who'd testified as an expert witness in a case that she'd won largely on the strength of his testimony. Following the trial, they had dated for four months and then lived together for another five before formally tying the knot.
At six-thirty that evening, Beverly called David and told him that she was finally leaving the office after finishing a particularly grueling deposition. He promised to chill some Bombay Sapphire gin and two martini glasses while he started dinner.
Forty-five minutes later, eagerly anticipating the first sip of the promised martini, Beverly punched the button on the remote to open her garage door. She waited for a moment as the door rolled up, then pulled her Lexus SUV into the garage. She parked, as she always did, to the left of her husband's Mercedes and then pressed the button on the remote to close the garage door behind her.
She was just stepping out of the car when she saw the man, dressed all in black, slip under the garage door as it rolled back down. Instinctively, she jumped back into the Lexus. With her left hand, she hit the button to lock all the doors; with her right, she laid on the horn.
In a heartbeat the intruder was at the door of the SUV, pounding on Beverly's window with
Beverly threw her hands up and the garage went suddenly quiet. Her right hand still in the air, she reluctantly opened the car door with her left. As she did, the kitchen door opened and her husband stepped out into the garage. But before David could even begin to comprehend what was happening, let alone react to the situation, the man spun and fired, hitting David twice in the chest.
David slumped to the floor and Beverly let out a piercing scream. The commotion attracted the attention of Chester, the German shepherd that she and David had rescued from a shelter, and who now came bounding out from the kitchen. Again the gunman fired twice, and the dog dropped to the floor, whimpering softly.
As Beverly continued to scream, the gunman jerked her out of the car, slapped her hard across the face and shouted, "Shut the hell up!"
The man spun her around so that she was facing away from him and wrapped his left arm around her chest, pinning her arms to her sides and effectively immobilizing her. With his right hand he set the pistol on the roof of the car. Then he pulled a rag from his back pocket, and clamped it over her mouth and nose.
Beverly struggled, the panic coursing through her body as she tried desperately to stomp on her assailant's foot with her right heel. Unfazed, he simply squeezed tighter and lifted her up off the ground, her legs flailing ineffectively as she tried to kick back at him.
The rag was damp with something that tasted slightly sweet, and she shook her head in a frantic effort to avoid breathing the chemical into her system. But it was futile. Within a matter of seconds she felt herself slipping away. And as she faded into an unconscious state, the last thing she heard was the gunman whispering softly into her right ear, "Hello, Beverly. It's very nice to see you again."