“That door at the end of the corridor is where a lot of our seasonal clothes and shoes and such are stored,” Phoebe said. “Like I told you, we had that space constructed especially for us to live there. We need some place to store some things, so we had that room built. Think of it as a big closet, I guess.”
“The hall in the house runs along the exterior of the building,” Hank said. “It goes to the other side of the corridor and connects with Mark’s room.”
JD was lost in his thoughts as he considered the situation. “The hallway runs completely along the exterior of the building?”
“Yes,” Hank turned toward him and slowed his pace. “What are you thinking?”
“Just that it might have been possible for someone to scramble the security system electronically from outside before coming in to put the hat on your bed.”
“Well, we thought about that, JD,” Phoebe said. “That was our question too. But the security chief told us there was no way to fool the time stamp. There should have been a gap of time that didn’t exist. You know, like a jump in the counter or something. But nothing like that happened.”
“The tapes never stopped recording, either,” Hank said. “There’s no section of just snow or lost recording time other than the fraction of a second when it’s static-y. Then it clears up and everything’s fine.”
“Everything’s fine,” JD said, shaking his head. “Hm. That’s odd.”
Hank raised his brows and nodded. “That’s what the security chief said too. When we told him we were hesitant to call the cops, he did his own investigation. They didn’t find much, and it snowed before he could thoroughly check the grounds. There were tracks, but … well, there are people cross-country skiing, hiking, walking around out there, all the time. Tracks are hard to follow, and a lot of them were lost in the snow. He didn’t see anything near the windows in the corridor, though.”
“And they verified that the tape length — the physical time — matches the time stamp?”
Phoebe and Hank froze mid-stride, and stared wide-eyed at each other.
“JD, I don’t know if that was done,” Hank looked at him with deep gratitude in his eyes.
“It’s probably nothing, but it’s worth looking into. Is there an inordinate amount of blank tape, or does the tape run longer by time stamp than it should? Do the time stamps match the following tapes? That sort of thing. Just another avenue to check.”
“That’s outstanding thinking, JD,” Hank said, grinning broadly. “Outstanding.”
JD wasn’t flattered. “It’s probably nothing, and will likely come to nothing, but you may want your security chief to check into it. Did you yourselves see the tapes?”
Hank nodded. “Oh yes. I made sure we saw it. Both of us. There was nothing to be seen, but we watched it.”
JD nodded, staring but not seeing. “I’d be interested in seeing those tapes. And the ones of the … tragedy.”
The Kileys nodded grimly. “We thought so. We have them ready for you.”
“All right. Anyway … we should finish up. I think my associates are tired.”
Wendy and Dillon were shuffling about, Wendy with her head on Dillon’s shoulder as he yawned hugely without covering his mouth. A tiny line of spittle shot from under his tongue and squirted onto the carpet. Hank and Phoebe looked down, giggling. JD blushed and wished for instant death.