Just a little something to whet your appetite. Nine more days!
As Bill Frazier had predicted, there wasn’t much that was helpful in Rick Ramsey’s personnel file. There were, however, a couple of intriguing findings.
Ramsey’s one-page resumé was included. Jon read it, frowning, then waved the page at Kevin. “Why would a guy with a master’s degree in public health turn to truck driving?”
“He has a master’s degree?”
“Yup. Bachelor’s in health science and a master’s in public health, both from Sacramento State.”
“Maybe the money was better. Maybe he had the urge to travel.”
Jon snorted. Kevin said, “Yeah, I don’t believe that either. Whoever’s staging all of this called his old buddy Rick and ordered him to change careers.”
“Probably paying him over and above what he’s making from Southland.”
“That, or he knew something about Rick that was coercive. Are his references listed there?”
“Nope, says ‘on request.’ Do you have ‘em?”
Kevin scanned through the employment application. “Here they are.” He laid the page where both he and Jon could see it. “You want to do the talking?”
“With pleasure.” Jon dialed the first number, and put his phone on speaker.
The voice that answered was male, raspy, and elderly. “Yell-ow.”
“Hello. Is this Mr. Burmeister?”
“That’s right. Who’s this?”
“This is Jonathan Eckhoff with the City of Palmdale, California. I’m calling about Rick Ramsey. He’s applied for a part-time job as a coach in our city’s recreation department, and I’m checking his references.”
Kevin chuckled at the smoothness of Jon’s deception. Burmeister said, “A coach, eh? Well, I never knew Rick to have anything to do with kids, but I reckon he’d be okay.”
“How do you know Mr. Ramsey?”
“I was his neighbor for a couple of years before he moved down there. Nice guy, no wild parties. Had a few girlfriends.” Burmeister chuckled. “Lookers, all of ‘em. But never caused any problems.”
“Mr. Ramsey never had any trouble with the law that you were aware of?”
“Nope. Kept his nose clean, from what I could tell.”
“Is there anything else you can tell us about Mr. Ramsey that might help us make the hiring decision?”
“Naw. Only knew him for the past couple of years, but he seemed okay.”
“All right. Thanks for your time, Mr. Burmeister.” Jon said goodbye and hung up.
Kevin said, “Only knew him for two years.”
“Mm hm. Not much to go on there.” Jon dialed the next number.
A woman’s voice answered, “Alameda County Public Health Department.”
Jon raised an eyebrow at Kevin. “Hello, this is Detective Jonathan Eckhoff with the Los Angeles Police Department. Could I speak with Leslie Chambers?”
“Do you know which department she’s in?”
“No, ma’am, I’m sorry.”
“Okay, hold on.” There was a click, and Jon and Kevin were treated to a repeating series of admonitions, in both English and Spanish, about vaccinating their children and getting their flu shots.
Kevin said, “Alameda County.”
“What about it?”
“Jason Poe was from the Bay Area before he moved to Alamogordo.”
“Huh. Think Poe and Ramsey knew each other?”
“Dunno. But if they were both working for the owner of the conversion camp…maybe.”
The phone clicked again, and the woman’s voice returned. “I’m sorry, sir. Ms. Chambers doesn’t work here anymore.”
“Oh, that’s too bad. Could you transfer me to your human resources department?”
“Sure. Hold on.”
Jon and Kevin waited through another message about vaccinations. Then a different woman said, “HR.”
Jon introduced himself. “We’re doing background on a potential witness to a crime down here, and we believe that he used to work for you. The name is Rick Ramsey.”
“He’s not a current employee?”
“Okay, hold on.”
They held on. Kevin said, “If this keeps up, I’m gonna have to go find someone’s kid to vaccinate.”