In a press conference Thursday morning, the Cook County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of Gary Pfeiffer for the murder of the Park Forest couple, Don and Susan Harlow. Pfeiffer was Harlow’s ex-husband, and a restraining order had been issued against him because he had threatened her life. He left his fingerprints on the sliding glass door, where he entered their bedroom, and a splotch of her blood was found on his shoes.
The Jordan Daily News rushed to make over for Thursday’s paper.
“Sounds like they’ve got this case sewn up,” Hoss said, as soon as the edition was released.
“Yeah, that’s good, I guess. I mean, that it’s not another unsolved murder,” Josie said as they walked to the break room.
“But . . . ?” Hoss said, waiting for Josie to finish her thought.
“Oh, I don’t know. I guess I’m glad the ‘Cornfield Killer’ hasn’t struck again,” Josie said, giving a television announcer’s melodramatic emphasis to her words. Hoss laughed.
“But now,” she said, “ I’m beginning to worry they will never catch him. It’s been almost three weeks now. Without any new clues . . . .”
Eddie Simms was thinking the same thing as he opened the paper and sat down to read it at his kitchen table. He took a long pull on his beer as he read about Gary Pfeiffer and the “crime of passion,” as Cook County officials were calling it.
He shook his head as he read. Any fool could have seen this wasn’t like the Cade County murders. Those television announcers had been wrong, as always. There wasn’t even a mention of the unsolved Cade County murders on the front page, so Eddie opened the paper to page four, where the story was continued, to see if there would be any mention there. He paused for another swig of beer as Mae came marching into the room.
“Edward Albert Simms,” she said as loud as her little voice would go. Then she thrust a dark revolver onto the newspaper in front of Eddie. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
“What’s this?” Eddie asked, a bit surprised.
“That’s the latest toy!” Mae stood with hands on her hips. “Dion and Beau were playing with it this morning in the back yard, chasing each other around. A black boy finds guns soon enough without you bringing one home to them.”
Eddie said nothing but grabbed the gun. He flipped open the chamber. It was empty.
“I know you have to carry one on your job, but you must keep it locked up from the kids. Can’t you just store it at work? Why do you have to bring that in here?”
“I’ll take care of it,” Eddie said, reaching out his large hand to caress Mae’s cheek.
“You’re not going to sweet talk your way out of this,” Mae said indignantly. “My babies could have been killed.”
“The gun wasn’t loaded,” he said and rubbed his thumb softly across her cheek. “I’ll take care of it.”
Mae huffed and left the room as quickly as she had entered. Eddie stared at the pistol. It was a Smith & Wesson .38, the same kind the sheriff’s deputies carried. He took a hefty swig of beer, and stared again at the gun. He had thought putting the truck away would be enough. After the deputies had stopped by that day, asking questions, he’d moved the truck to his friend’s body shop. He told Mae he was getting a camper top added to the back and would be using her car to go to work. With the truck hidden, Eddie had felt safe.
Now he knew he would have to do something with the guns as well. He wrapped the sides of the newspaper over the pistol and left with it under his arm.