Curious to know what happened in Iris Trenton's Attic and
how Det. Michaels first encountered the crafty criminal?
Iris Trenton, a famous thief and escape artist, has eluded capture for nearly six years. Known for her trademark puzzles left at each scene, she has baffled many the world over as they have tried and failed to solve her clues.
Fresh off passing the detective exam, Conrad Michaels is out to prove his promotion was warranted. Impressed by the young upstart, his captain assigns him the latest Iris Trenton crime and with it, her latest puzzle. Either Michaels will fail like everyone else and be humbled by the learning experience or he will solve it. It's a win/win in the captains’ book as Michaels was beginning to get under the skin of the more seasoned detectives.
Burning both ends of the candle for two weeks, Michaels is close to accepting defeat. Calling it a night he goes to leave when he accidentally spills his coffee all over his desk and the puzzle. "Damn it!" He exclaims as he rushes to grab the Iris Trenton notes and the puzzle. As he goes to dry off the puzzle, he notices that there are now words on the puzzle. The liquid must have revealed them! Jotting the words down, it appears to be an address with a date/time....It's tonight!
Wasting no time, Det. Michaels grabs a few uniformed officers and races off to see where this address may lead.
Arriving upon a large mansion in upstate New York, the officers cautiously enter. The estate had been shuttered for nearly 10 years since the passing of Elizabeth and Marcus Trenton. The Trenton’s were globally known philanthropists. Using their immense wealth to open hospitals and care centers in every country, it was a tremendous shock when the couple was lost during the earthquake in Haiti. That was about the extent of what the detective knew about the couple and certainly no one had ever made the connection between them and Iris. Trenton, while not the most common surname, is not exactly rare either. Plus, with the world knowing Trenton was not Iris's real last name there wasn't a reason to look closer before.
As they searched though the detective noticed things were not as they appeared. Normally, a home such as this would have had the typical sheets draped over the furniture and the like to keep dust from settling in. There was not a thing covered...and yet no dust. Which maybe there was a caretaker who regularly cleaned but then there were the portraits to consider....or lack thereof. Every single picture frame had been emptied but still on display. Why preserve those and nothing else?
Entering the dining area, the table was set for five. As Conrad approached, he saw that each plate had a place card with a name on it.
Det. Andrew Sarcon
Special Agent Kyle Dawkins
Lt. Harvey Ross
Inspector François Laurent
Why did these names sound so familiar? And then it hit him as he read the last place holder........Det. Conrad Michaels.
Over 30 different agencies and hundreds of investigators had worked on the Iris Trenton case at some point. That is not even including the open cases that are suspected to be her handy work.
What these names have in common is not only to have been assigned the Iris Trenton case respectively, but each had contributed significant to the overall mystery that was Iris Trenton.
Det. Sarcon, out of San Francisco, had been given the lead after multiple reports that most of the championship trophies the city's local sports teams had won were stolen. The most intriguing part of the case was the championship rings given to the players on those teams began to go missing.
It was long thought to have been a highly skilled coordinated group. How could one person pull off these thefts in so many locations on so many victims? Then while working the case for the SFPD,
Sarcon had discovered the repetition of the letter "i" at each scene. It was Sarcon who first theorized a single thief. The paper coined the name "No i in team" bandit due to the team aspect of winning championships and such.
Since the thefts crossed state lines, the FBI got involved. Special Agent Dawkins requested to head the investigation. An accomplished profiler, Dawkins noticed that every female recipient of a championship ring from the sports organizations never reported a theft. This included those whose husbands had passed away and the wife was now in possession of the hardware. A very thin lead to go on of course given the extremely low percentage of women that were in possession of championship rings/trophies for these teams, but Dawkins had a hunch. The "No i in Team" bandit was a woman.
Lt. Harvey Ross, an investigator with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI/OSI), all but confirmed Dawkins theory when an aircraft prototype being tested at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany went missing for several days. It was found in a canola field painted hot pink with the initial’s "IT" embellished in gold across the side. When Ross and his team opened the cockpit, they found a large briefcase inside. Locked with a 3-digit lock, it was fairly simple to open with "920", the number equivalent to I & T, as the combination. Inside the briefcase was an abundance of evidence that destroyed the careers of countless military personnel. Several were known assault allegations with little to no evidence to support the claims, while some were surprises that led up to some of the highest-ranking military officials.
The find naturally made Lt. Ross's career but it is what else he found that ultimately tied this all to the other cases...a long, thin, metal box had been found inside the aircraft as well. Since he had poured over the specs for days, he knew it was not supposed to be there. Taking it to be analyzed, it was determined to be a puzzle box of some sort that could only be opened by solving the puzzle. There were distinctive grooves along the sides but otherwise nothing to help determine how it is to be opened. Sharing the find resulted in a solid connection between this case and the missing championship trophies as well as established a better criterion on which cases were related or not. Every "puzzle box" was gathered up and sent to the FBI.
An overzealous and impatient lab tech decided to try and break one of the boxes open. A parchment was inside but what was not accounted for was a colorless gas that dissolved the parchment instantly serving as a failsafe if the mechanism is tampered with.
Then there was François Laurent proving beyond a shadow of a doubt
not only that the suspect was a woman but her identity as well.
Inspector François Laurent was getting off shift when he smelled the smoke. While he tried to pinpoint where it was coming from; a large explosion erupted at the apartment complex not 100 yards away.
After calling it in, he rushed in to help evacuate the building. Hearing a distinct crying he found a little girl on the 10th floor. Not more than 2 yrs. old she was beneath her bed clutching a plush doll that looked like it was supposed to be Mickey Mouse but clearly was not Disney made. Laurent grabbed the girl, called out for anyone else in the apartment, a beam came down blocking his path deeper into the apartment so not to risk the girl's safety went back down to first floor. By this time, the fire department had arrived. He was treated for smoke inhalation at the hospital and after being discharged inquired about the little girl. The doctor said child services had come but that shortly after the girl's parents showed up to claim her. That was to be the end of it except 3 days later a young woman showed up at the department asking to speak to Inspector Laurent. She claimed to be Rebecca Renton and that her brother Jac Renton along with his wife, Madelyn, had died in the Soleil Brille apartment fire. They had a two-year-old little girl named Iris.
Laurent spent the next three years turning whatever stones he could to find out what really happened to this little girl. It became a conspiracy theory as child services claimed a clerical error had destroyed the file opened in regard to the girl. The case worker who handled the issue suffered a stroke and could no longer communicate. The nurse who had treated the girl and spoke to the "parents" died in a car accident. He was never quite the same after that until 23 years later when a heist of the Rodin Museum shared the calling card of the renamed "No i in Team" bandit. After some of her other exploits made the news the public began calling her "Karma" due to some of the effects her heists had on her so called "victims". Karma had stolen a priceless Rodin piece that was being featured. Laurent didn't really get high profile cases anymore, but he still had friends within the department.
One night a few of the younger inspectors were having a drink when the subject of "Karma" came up.
"That Trudeau guy is such an ass." Inspector Marcon said.
"The Canadian Prime Minister???" Laurent asked puzzled.
"HA! No, I am talking about the Ronin Museum's top donor and board member, Alex Trudeau. He has been hounding us nonstop about the heist. No one else in the world has been able to catch Karma but we should have had it done in a couple days according to him. He's a billionaire though so you know the world runs on his time."
"The puzzle box Karma left for us hasn't made it any easier either"
as Marcon shows Laurent a picture of what looks to be a large metal container with each side adorned with a large rodent carved into the metal.
"Yeah and did you see him ranting about that mouse to the Minister. I've never seen Minister Bordeaux so incensed" Lieutenant Moreau laughed.
The rest laughed....but Laurent was no longer with them.
Making his way to his office he was trying to convince himself he was being rational. Alex Trudeau 25 years ago owned the Soleil Brille apartments, there was a huge story about him because of the lawsuits filed against him claiming negligence in the upkeep of his property. That wasn't enough to connect his missing girl from over 20 years ago but the image of the rodent had made Laurent go white. It was an exact match for the stuffed animal young Iris had been holding.
From there it didn't take the French authorities long to place a young woman in her 20's at the Ronin Museum days before the heist. Scouring camera feeds a coffee cup was recovered with DNA evidence. It came back negative to any matches across every major database around the world. Laurent still had the contact information for Rebecca Renton though.
Much to his dismay, he learned Rebecca had passed away recently but her son still lived in his mother's home. Laurent didn't give away what he suspected but informed Rebecca's son that they may have discovered what happened to his cousin but needed a dna sample to run against. He didn't know off hand if there was anything that could help but assured Laurent that if there was it would be in the attic along with all of the keepsakes Rebecca Laurent had kept. Sure enough inside an old family photo album was preserved a lock of little Iris Renton's hair.
The DNA match was confirmed. "Karma" was Iris Renton.
After her real name leaked to the press, Iris made a historical gesture to correct her name by sending a note to the authorities in Boston.
"I think you forgot something
An hour after the note was received over
50 tons of tea was dumped into the Boston Harbor.
Detective Conrad Michaels backed away slowly and was about to call his men to exit the mansion when a loud thud came from above.
"Murphy is up there!" one of them shouted.
Racing up to several flights of stairs they found a smaller set of stairs at the end of a long hallway. Peering in, Murphy was on the ground with a form on top of him.
"Get off of him now!" the uniformed officers exclaimed; guns drawn as they entered the room.
"WAIT! WAIT! HOLD YOUR FIRE!" Murphy squealed as he removed the body from above him.
Michaels enters the room flashlight in hand.
"It's a mannequin boys" Michaels chuckled.
Holstering their weapons, the rest of the men go to help Murphy up.
"Sorry from down the hall I could see light emanating from under the door. When I came in it was flickering in and out badly. As I came further in the light just shut off and I must have tripped over this mannequin."
Michaels examined with his flashlight the light bulb that Murphy said had been flickering. Having been around electricians his entire life there did not appear to be anything wrong with the bulb.
"Here detective" as one of the other officers reached to pull the light switch.
"No..." but it was too late. The light came on but with it the door shut, and the windows closed. It was a trap. Unable to open the door, Michaels searched around and it's when he saw the letter....
Detective Michaels should have known that whoever opened one of Iris's puzzle boxes would be in for a surprise but he wasn't expecting this. The Attic looked like any attic you've seen: old furniture, random boxes, suitcases, weird framed pictures. This wasn't stuff one displayed for company but there was something more. On several pieces of furniture among other items were locks.
Taking the note Iris left and reading it carefully Det. Michaels began searching for something.
"um Detective Michaels....what are you doing?" Murphy asked.
"A clock, find me a clock....never mind found it." Grabbing an old table clock; Michaels began to intensely examine it. "AHA" he exclaimed, pulling a key from the back of the clock. Looking around he found a key lock that might fit. Opening the lock and drawer, Michaels found what he expected, another clue.
"Boys, if we want out of this to have a shot of catching her it looks like we have to play her game. Start looking for things out of place or that may have other meanings. Anything and everything could be a puzzle. We work together and we might just do this. We have 58 mins left before Iris is in the wind."
*To Read Unabridged Version of A Spot of Tea