What is it like when those closest to you are not there any longer?
Friday, April 5, 2019, Early Morning
Kevin woke up Friday morning. At first, he felt constrained, but quickly realized a still sleeping Alex was holding him in his arms. Kevin grinned, then moved his shoulders up and down and around — but only for about two seconds. That was enough to waken Alex.
His eyes opened, he smiled, and seeing that Kevin was awake too, they kissed.
“Morning, lover,” Kevin said.
“You been awake long?” Alex asked.
“Nah. A couple minutes before I moved around a bit to wake you.”
“So, what’s next?”
“We’ll both get up, shower, brush teeth, etc. While we’re doing that, we can talk about whether we eat breakfast at home or go out somewhere.”
“Do you think that we might decide to go out for lunch or dinner with your uncle instead of breakfast?” Alex asked.
Kevin thought for a few seconds. “Yes, I expect he’ll want to take us to dinner. So, after we are finished with our ablutions, we’ll go down to the kitchen and wait for Graeme. We can have orange juice or coffee or a piece of toast while we wait.”
“Ablutions. It’s a fancy word that means washing up.”
“Okay, thanks for the definition. I’ll now forget that word until I see it somewhere.”
Kevin laughed. “Didn’t I tell you one time that I like unusual words?”
“You mean odd words? Strange words? Bizarre words? Arcane words?”
“Yup. Okay, up, up, up! Both of us!” Kevin tossed the blanket and sheet off them, and they got up and got ready.
When they walked into the kitchen, Graeme was sitting at the table, having a cup of coffee. “Morning, Kevin. Morning, Alex.”
“Morning, Graeme,” Alex said. Kevin repeated the greeting.
“What would you like for breakfast?” Kevin asked. “We figured it would be best to have breakfast here and maybe go out for dinner.”
“That sounds good. I usually have toast and coffee. What are you planning?”
“I thought I’d make scrambled eggs and bacon. We can have toast with butter, jam or peanut butter, whatever you’d want on it. How’s that sound?”
Graeme and Alex agreed.
As they were eating, Kevin asked, “Graeme, what would you like to do today?”
“What do you suggest?”
“We could go on an easy hike on Mt. Diablo. How’s that sound? Or we could go to Broadway Plaza and wander around the stores.”
“Let’s pass on the shopping and go on the hike,” Graeme said. “I can use the exercise. I haven’t been on a hike in… I don’t know how long.”
“It’s probably too cool now to go hiking without a jacket. Did you bring a jacket and shoes that are okay for you to wear when you’re hiking?”
“Yes. Let me bring them down. Will it be muddy where we’re going?”
“No. If anything, it’ll be a little dusty.”
“That’s okay. I brought my sneakers.”
“Let’s get ready to go,” Kevin said to Alex.
Friday, April 5, 2019, Mid-Morning
When all three were ready, Kevin asked Graeme which car he wanted to drive. “There are three cars in the garage,” he told his uncle.
Before answering, Graeme asked, “How long have they been sitting in the garage without being driven?”
“Maybe… eight months. Since my folks were killed. You want to look at them?”
“Yes. Do you have the keys to all three cars?”
“Yeah. Let me get them.” Kevin returned in less than a minute with a key ring with three sets of car keys. They went into the garage.
“I’m not sure any of them will start,” Graeme said.
“The Prius might because it has a lot larger battery,” Alex suggested.
“I agree,” Graeme said. “Let’s try it first.”
It started. Graeme backed it into the driveway, pressed the button to close the garage door, and Alex got in the back seat. Kevin went inside, got his house key, enabled the alarm, closed and locked the front door, then got in the Prius.
“Directions, please,” Graeme asked.
“I don’t have a clue,” Kevin said.
“I sort of know how to get there, but only sort of,” Alex said.
“Wait a minute — this Prius has a GPS, Kevin said. “Let’s try to figure out how to make it work. I’ll need it to work when I finally have my license.” Kevin and Graeme, with assorted ‘back-seat driver’ suggestions from Alex, got it to work. It turned out to be easy once they stopped randomly pressing buttons on the screen just to see what they’d do.
Kevin keyed in ‘Mt Diablo State Park,’ and it displayed the route. When they had to take a detour because a road was being paved, they got the infamous ‘reorienting’ comment from the GPS. Regardless, they arrived at the top of Mt. Diablo within the fifty-nine minutes the GPS had estimated. There was an open parking space in the upper lot, so they took it and got out. The air was brisk, but the sun was warm.
Kevin had brought a trail map, so they studied it and decided where to hike.
All three took a lot of pictures. Alex commented, “These days, who needs a separate camera when you have one built-in on your phone?”
They spent almost three hours hiking. Graeme stopped and pointed. “Shhh!” Then he continued, whispering, “Look — is that a bobcat?”
Alex looked up the trail and nodded. The bobcat stood about twenty feet ahead, watching them.
Kevin took a half-dozen pictures, all but one using the telephoto lens on his phone’s camera. “I’ve never seen a bobcat in the wild, though I’ve seen them at the Oakland Zoo,” he said.
The bobcat yawned, turned, and leisurely walked up the trail, over a rise, and disappeared.
“That was amazing!” Graeme said.
“I agree,” Alex added.
“I got several good shots,” Kevin said. “Take a look.” He showed them one wide-angle picture of the bobcat when it was up the trail, then six telephoto pictures he’d taken, and finally one with the bobcat walking away.
“These are great!” Graeme said. “I’d like copies, please.”
Kevin smiled. “Sure. I’ll copy them to a jump drive.” He turned to Alex, “And I’ll give them to you, too.”
“How’d you get such great close-ups?” Alex asked.
“My LG phone has both wide-angle and telephoto zoom lenses.”
Friday, April 5, 2019, Afternoon and Evening
“Shall we start heading back to the car?” Alex asked. “I’m starting to get hungry.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” Graeme said. “Should we go somewhere and grab a quick sandwich?”
“Okay. How about Lettuce?” Alex suggested.
Graeme looked confused. “It’s a restaurant,” Kevin said. “They have great soup and sandwiches.”
“Good choice. Let’s do it,” Alex said. “It’ll be my treat since I made the suggestion.”
“I should get it,” Graeme said.
“I thought you were going to get dinner,” Kevin said with a grin. Then he continued, “Just kidding.”
“I was planning to get both, but if you insist on paying for lunch, that’s fine with me.”
“Then it’s settled,” Kevin said. “Lettuce, here we come.”
After they’d each eaten a half-sandwich and a bowl of soup, they returned to Kevin’s house and showered. Kevin and Alex told Graeme they wanted to take a short nap. Graeme said he’d do the same.
Kevin had a hard time falling asleep. Alex noticed that and realized his boyfriend was thinking about Saturday’s meeting.
“How about we eat at home tonight,” Alex suggested. “I’m not very hungry.”
“Okay. I’ll check with Graeme as soon as our nap is over.”
“You’re thinking about tomorrow, aren’t you.”
“Yeah.” Kevin shrugged his shoulders. “It’s hard to not think about the meeting. It’s like I’m a kid going to bed on the night before Christmas and can’t think of anything except tomorrow morning. I know, I know, this isn’t the same thing. But the anticipation is. Except this time, it’s teeth-grinding anticipation.”
“Do you think you can get to sleep?” Alex asked.
“I don’t know.”
Alex moved over and snuggled up to Kevin, and watched him fall asleep; he knew it would work! He closed his eyes and fell asleep, too.
After about forty-five minutes, Alex woke. He’d heard something, like knocking on wood. He opened his eyes and yawned. It was Graeme. Then Kevin woke up, too. “Hi, Graeme, he said. Are you ready for dinner? If so, I’m going to reheat something that Connie made. We’re really not hungry enough to go out. Is that okay?”
“Sure,” Graeme replied.
“Good,” Alex replied.
After they finished eating, they watched a movie, then the eleven o’clock news and went to bed.
Alex was concerned about Kevin’s ability to sleep with so much on his mind. He checked the clock radio to make sure the alarm was set. It wasn’t, and since Kevin had told him that the lieutenant from the Walnut Creek Police Department was arriving at ten forty-five AM, and Alex thought Connie usually arrived at seven-thirty, so he set the alarm to seven AM.
Alex got back in bed, cuddled up to Kevin, and wrapped him in his arms. Kevin mumbled, “I love you,” then fell asleep with Alex holding him.
Saturday, April 6, 2019, Early Morning
Alex woke when the clock radio played a song he didn’t recognize. He reached across Kevin and turned off the alarm, which caused Kevin to wake up.
“Morning,” Alex said.
“Morning. Why’re we awake so early?” Kevin mumbled, and then yawned.
“Today is Saturday. It’s the day of the meeting. Connie will be here to fix us, and Graeme, breakfast. You said she was bringing donuts.”
Kevin yawned again. “Not donuts. She’s bringing bagels. For the meeting.”
“Better. Not as fattening.” Alex grinned.
“Alright, alright! I give. You’ve succeeded in waking me up. Let’s get up and shower and etcetera.
When they got downstairs, Graeme was at the kitchen table talking with Connie.
“Morning,” Kevin said. “Morning,” Alex said.
“Morning,” Graeme and Connie responded.
“What would you like for breakfast?” Connie asked.
“Scrambled eggs and bacon. I’ll put some sourdough bread in the toaster oven,” Kevin said.
Graeme nodded, “Same for me.”
“Me too,” Alex said.
They ate breakfast without talking about the meeting. All three realized it was a topic that shouldn’t be discussed in front of Connie.
Connie set the bagels and cream cheese on the side table in the dining room. “There are two pots of coffee staying warm on the stove,” she said. Is there anything else you need me to take care of?”
“No, thanks,” Kevin replied. “I’ll see you on Tuesday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.”
“I will. Thank you, Kevin. Nice to have met you, Graeme, and you too, Alex.”
They said goodbye, and she waved and left.
“Well, now that we’re on our own until quarter to eleven, is there anything you want to do? Or to talk about?” Graeme asked.
“I don’t think so,” Alex said. “I don’t know what to talk about, and we don’t have enough time to go anywhere. Maybe I’ll see what’s on TV. Is that okay?”
“Sure,” Kevin said.
“Okay, I’ll watch TV in the family room,” Alex replied. “Maybe there’s a baseball playoff game.”
“What do you want to do, Graeme?” Kevin asked.
“I think I’ll read. I’ll sit on the patio outside in the back.”
Kevin nodded. “Alright. I’m going to read, too. I’ll sit in the living room. That way, I’ll be close to the front door when Lieutenant Richardson arrives.”
Saturday, April 6, 2019, Late Morning
It was a few minutes before ten forty-five when Kevin heard the doorbell. He walked to the door and looked through the peephole, then opened the door.
“Yes. Lieutenant Richardson?”
“Yes. This is the department stenographer, Barbara Lee.”
“Hi, come on in. We’re going to meet in the dining room because the table there is larger, and there’s room for all of us.” Kevin pointed to the table. “Where’s the best place for you to set up, Barbara?”
“Somewhere close to an electrical outlet, and with room on the table for my stenograph machine.”
Kevin pointed at the end of the table, furthest from the door to the kitchen. “This is probably the best location. There’s an outlet in the wall behind where you’ll be sitting. When anyone wants to get up to go to the bathroom or get coffee or a bagel, they won’t have to squeeze behind you.”
“This will be perfect. I’ll set up now. This stenograph machine also has a voice recorder with a multi-microphone unit that I’ll put in the middle of the table. It will record the meeting.”
“That’s clever,” Kevin said.
Lieutenant Richardson asked, “Where do you want to sit, Kevin?”
“If it’s okay, I’d like to sit at the other end of the table nearest the door to the kitchen. That way, my uncle Graeme can sit on my left side, and my friend Alex can sit on my right side.”
“That’s fine. I think it will work best if I sit on the same side of the table as George Bradford and Lynn Camorly of the FBI.”
“That’ll be the side where my uncle Graeme will be sitting. Then Alex’s father, Tom Burney, Dr. Ranse, and Mr. Macintosh can sit on the opposite side of the table next to Alex.
“By the way, I have the floor plan of the house that you said the district attorney wanted.” Kevin handed Lieutenant Richardson a thick envelope containing the floor plan.
“Thank you. The district attorney wanted it.”
Alex and Graeme walked in just as the others arrived. Everyone was introduced. Kevin pointed and told them where each would be sitting.
Kevin stood up. “I’d like to thank all of you for coming to this meeting today. I hope we’ll find out more about who the killers were and why it was done. Even though everyone was introduced, I think it’s a good idea for each of us to introduce ourselves. I’m Kevin Young. My parents, sister, and twin brothers were murdered on Tuesday, January twenty-second, almost eleven weeks ago.” He pointed to Alex.
Alex introduced himself. Next came Alex’s father, Mr. Burney, Dr. Ranse, and Mr. MacIntosh. The stenographer introduced herself, then Agent Lynn Camorly of the FBI, Agent George Bradford of the FBI, Lieutenant Mack Richardson of the Walnut Creek Police Department, and finally Graeme Young, Kevin’s uncle.
“There are coffee and bagels in the kitchen. If anyone would like something, we’ll take a short break now. Anyone?” Graeme got up first. Several others followed him into the kitchen, including Kevin and Alex. After selecting coffee and a bagel, they returned.
Lieutenant Richardson was the first to speak. “I’ll get the meeting started. Thank all of you for coming. There’s a lot to cover. If you have questions as someone is speaking, pretend that you’re in the third grade and raise your hand. When I recognize that you have a question, I’ll point at you or state your name.
FBI Agent Lynn Camorly raised her hand. Lieutenant Richardson pointed at her.
“Again, I’m FBI Agent Lynn Camorly. My question is for Kevin. Do you have surveillance cameras installed?”
“Yes. I’ve had a new surveillance system installed, and it includes surveillance cameras.”
“The interior as well as the exterior?”
“Yes, both. This meeting would be recorded right now if the camera was enabled. The interior cameras aren’t enabled in case something confidential is discussed.”
“Thank you,” she responded.
Agent Bradford stood up like someone who was about to make a presentation.
“Alright. We’ll move on to the case. I want to cover some background first,” Agent Bradford said. “After the background, we’ll expand to the current status. Finally, we’ll cover what will happen next.
“The Walnut Creek Police Department prepared a report, written by the officers who were investigating — with the FBI and the CIA — the murder of Kevin’s family.”
Mr. Burney raised his hand. “With the CIA?” “How are they involved in this case?”
“That’s part of the details of the case that I’ll explain,” Agent Bradford replied. “First, I want to distribute the report that describes the evidence that was found.” Agent Camorly handed out copies of the report.
“This is how the case started,” he said.
“At about eleven-thirty AM on Tuesday, January twenty-second, one of the neighbors was walking his dog and noticed that the Young’s front door was open. He thought that was unusual, went to the door and rang the doorbell, and called out. When there was no response, he called 911 on his cellphone and waited for the police. A Walnut Creek policeman arrived in about ten minutes to do a welfare check and discovered five bodies in the backyard. He immediately called for assistance.
“The investigators determined that three armed men had gained access to the house by picking the lock on the front door. The alarm system hadn’t been turned on. The family was at home; there was no reason to have it armed. Fingerprints that matched none of the family members were found on the front doorjamb, the inside front door handle, and the sliding glass door from the family room to the backyard.
“The members of the Young family were restrained by the armed men. The coroner’s report stated that each of them had been injected intravenously with what he estimated to be five grams of sodium thiopental in aqueous solution, which caused each of them to be rendered unconscious within a few seconds.”
Kevin had listened to what Agent Bradford was saying, and he thought, ‘At least they didn’t feel any pain.’ He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He was successful holding back his tears.
“After being drugged, they were moved to the back yard where they were placed face-down on the lawn and each shot three times into the back of the skull. The bullets came from three 9mm pistols; each pistol was used once on each family member.
There were gasps from Kevin and those who he’d asked to be at the meeting.
“Because none of their neighbors had heard gunshots, the police presumed the killers used silencers.
“The estimated time of death was approximately one hour before the bodies were found. The conclusion was these weren’t murders; they were assassinations.”
There were more gasps.
“Our investigation included an effort to determine why the Young family would have been targeted for assassination. They couldn’t find a reason.
“Kevin Young hadn’t been at home; he had planned to go to a friend’s house for a birthday party. At about ten o’clock he got a ride with another friend, and they left to go to the party.
“The car bringing Kevin home arrived at four-fifteen in the afternoon, about four and a half hours after the bodies had been discovered.
“The Young home was considered a crime scene until it was released by the police crime lab.
“The investigation continued with the assistance of the FBI office in San Francisco.
“After the funeral, the police crime lab personnel returned to the house and asked for Kevin’s assistance. They wanted to compare the inventory they took during the initial investigation with Kevin’s knowledge of things of value that were missing.
“A thorough search of the premises showed that nothing had been disturbed in any room of the house, and as far as Kevin Young could tell, nothing had been taken. The police determined that it hadn’t been a home invasion; there would have been items missing if that had been the objective of the three men who broke into the house.
“When asked about a safe, Kevin had told them that as far as he knew, his parents didn’t have one. A safe wasn’t found on the premises.
“Kevin said his uncle Graeme was the architect who’d designed the house, so he might know about a safe if there was one built-in. Graeme Young was by the lead investigator from the police department who was told there was no built-in safe in the design of the house.”
Agent Bradford turned to Graeme Young. “Is that correct?”
“That’s correct. We did not install a safe in the Young home, nor did we include space for one that could be added in the future.”
“Thank you. A safe could have been added by the contractor who built the house. The Walnut Creek police got in touch with the contractor and were told that a safe was not added during construction.
“Kevin told the investigators that he heard his father say they had a safe deposit box at one of the local Wells Fargo bank branches. The police contacted the banker the Young’s used and, after obtaining a search warrant, inspected the contents of the safe deposit box. They found personal papers, including the family members’ birth certificates, the Young’s marriage license, the deed to the home, the family members’ passports, social security cards, and similar documents, and retrieved them as evidence.
“Kevin’s attorney, Jonathan MacIntosh, said Kevin needed his birth certificate, passport, social security card, and the deed to the house. We have them here. Lynn, please return those documents to Kevin.”
She opened her briefcase and handed Kevin a manila envelope. “Kevin, please verify that these are the correct documents. If they are, please sign and date this receipt, retain the copy, and return the original to me.”
Kevin carefully examined all four items, signed the receipt, and handed the original to her.
“I’ll continue now,” Agent Bradford said.
“The Walnut Creek police finished their investigation into the backgrounds of each member of the Young family, including Kevin Young. Since nothing had been stolen, at least as far as Kevin could tell, there was no apparent reason for what had happened.”
Mr. Burney raised his hand. “Could the killings have been a mistake? Could some other family been targeted and the Young family murdered by mistake?” he asked.
Agent Camorly replied. “Originally, we weren’t able to determine if the wrong house or the wrong family had been targeted. However, our continuing investigation found evidence that led to a different conclusion. We will go over our findings in detail after a short break.”
Saturday, April 6, 2019, Late Morning
After taking a break for coffee, soft drinks, water, bagels and cream cheese, and to use the bathroom, Agent Bradford continued.
“The investigation by the Walnut Creek police and the FBI, with the assistance of the CIA, have been successful and have determined who the killers were, and they have been located and arrested. Our investigators have also determined the identity of the persons who were the planned targets of these killings. It was not the Young family.”
“To explain why the Young family members had been killed, it’s necessary for me to describe the result of the continued investigation by all three agencies.
“I’m sure everyone here has heard of witness protection programs. These are used to shield witnesses of a crime by moving them into a guarded safe house so they can be protected and available to give testimony at a trial. Most witnesses in witness protection programs are protected by local or state police services, and usually, the protection ends when there has been a verdict in the trial.
“There is a separate United States Federal Witness Security Program, usually referred to by its acronym, WITSEC. It’s sometimes called the United States Federal Witness Protection Program. Most witnesses in the WITSEC program are protected by the United States Marshals Service. Those witnesses may be relocated to safe houses in another location if needed.
“There are also people who are not witnesses to a crime but are United States citizens or foreign nationals who have information of value to United States government agencies and who need to be relocated somewhere unknown to foreign agencies that might want to do them harm. They aren’t expected to appear as witnesses at a trial. This is also done under the WITSEC program, but protection rarely is deemed necessary, so it’s seldom provided.
“The people under this program are sometimes responsible for selecting where they will live, where they will work, and often pay their own living costs.
“A family under this version of the WITSEC program lived in Walnut Creek. There were two adults and three children. At least one of the adults had information that had been of high value to United States agencies. What information and what agencies I do not know. What I do know is that protection was not deemed necessary.
“We know it was that family that was the actual target of the killers of the Young family members.”
Again, there were gasps and some comments between Kevin and those with him. Several raised their hands to ask questions.
Agent Bradford knocked on the table. “I’m going to continue and at this time ask that questions be held until I’ve finished. I expect most of your questions will have been answered by then.
“Fingerprints found at the Young’s home were matched to three men who were in the IAFIS database. IAFIS is the abbreviation for the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The three men were hired assassins who came from Russia through Chechnya, then to Canada, and then to the United States. They had Russian passports — with false names, we discovered — and they carried fake credentials that listed them as having diplomatic immunity from the Russian embassy in Washington, DC.
“Initially, the investigators had been surprised that the killers hadn’t worn gloves during the commission of the crime. The FBI concluded that it was because they had planned to leave the country the same day as the murders. They arrived in San Francisco from Toronto, Canada the evening of Monday, January 21, 2019, cleared customs, rented a car with a falsified international drivers’ license, and drove to one of the airport hotels, where they spent the night.
“While at that hotel, one of them made an international phone call to Sweden.
“The next morning they drove to the Young’s address, killed the five members of Kevin’s family, then returned to the San Francisco airport and attempted to check-in for a flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong. They used different falsified passports, Canadian this time, that had invalid U.S. arrival stamps. That was discovered during TSA screening, and they were taken into federal custody. Despite their claim of diplomatic immunity, when TSA checked the State Department database, using their identification from the IAFIS database, they were not listed as having diplomatic immunity.
“Since their fingerprints in the IAFIS database matched the fingerprints found at the Young’s home, the FBI charged each with five counts of aggravated first-degree murder. They were not charged for a home invasion. That’s because the FBI didn’t want a lesser charge to be used as a rationale for the killers to ask for a plea bargain. They were retained in custody because of the charges, and because, as flight risks, they were not eligible for bail.
“One of the three men entered into a plea bargain with the prosecutor so his sentence would be life imprisonment without the possibility of parole instead of a death sentence. He referred to himself as ‘the boss’ of the other two men. This ‘boss’ provided the FBI with the identity of the person who had paid them to murder the family that was in the WITSEC program, and he was the one who phoned Sweden from the hotel. That’s when the FBI learned of the phone call.
“The individual who hired the killers was in Sweden. Because he had a Russian passport and was on Interpol’s watch list, Swedish federal law enforcement agents were keeping him under surveillance. When they received the BOLO from Interpol, he was detained, and Interpol and the FBI were notified. The US Justice Department issued a request that he be extradited to the United States as an uncooperative material witness to the murder of five people, two adults and three children. A Swedish judge agreed to the extradition request, and he was turned over to FBI agents who had flown to Stockholm to collect him. When he arrived in the USA he was charged with five counts of capital murder for hire, a more serious crime than the original uncooperative material witness charge and one that, if he were convicted in Federal court, would make him eligible for the death penalty.
“The question that remained unanswered was: why were the members of the Young family murdered?
“There had been a planned assassination. The family the killers were supposed to assassinate lived at 159 Cutter Drive in Walnut Creek, not at 159 Sutter Drive in Walnut Creek, which was the home of the Young family. Lynn will hand each of you a page that will help you understand what the Russian words and characters I’ll describe.
“While interviewing ‘the boss,’ an FBI agent who speaks Russian discovered that the individual who hired the killers had given ‘the boss’ a street map of Walnut Creek printed on a computer from Google Maps, and a piece of paper with a sloppily handwritten address which was transliterated into the Russian alphabet as 159 Кэттэр (Cutter). Because of sloppy handwriting using the Russian cursive forms of the letters, the first letter of the street name was misinterpreted by ‘the boss’ as the Russian letter C which sounds like the English letter S. The wrong address was transliterated into the Russian alphabet as 159 Сэттэр (Sutter).
“To find the location, ‘the boss’ gave the hotel receptionist the map of Walnut Creek. He read the name of the street and asked her to highlight it on the map. The street she highlighted was Sutter Drive since that’s what he read out loud to her.
“The killers went to the correct house number but on the wrong street.
“The Young family members were murdered because of sloppy handwriting. It was not the Young family that was targeted to be killed.
“According to the CIA, the family that lived at 159 Cutter Drive and was in the WITSEC relocation and protection program was moved to an undisclosed location after they were advised of the murder of the Young family by the CIA. There was limited publicity about the crime because the CIA needed to protect the other family that was in the WITSEC program.
“I hope this information helps.” (I think something should be said, briefly, about WITSEC investigating how the address in Walnut Creek was leaked.)
Saturday, April 6, 2019; Afternoon
Kevin sat, staring out the window behind Barbara Lee.
“So my family was murdered because of a language fuckup,” he mumbled. He turned and looked at Alex. “I thought I’d get some closure and satisfaction from learning what really happened. I got the closure, I sure as hell didn’t get any satisfaction.”
Agent Bradford overheard Kevin’s last sentence. He tapped on the table.
“It’s time to talk about what will happen next.
“We’ve said this murder case is part of a more important case. We cannot discuss details of that more important case at this time. We’ve been advised that all information related to that case is sealed. That’s all I can say about that.
“There are four defendants in this case. The three killers, one of whom is referred to as ‘the boss’ and who agreed to a plea bargain, and the Russian who hired them, who was identified by ‘the boss’ as a result of his plea bargain. We are working with the CIA to determine who gave the orders to the Russian who hired them to assassinate the family in the WITSEC program.”
Mr. Burney raised his hand, and Agent Bradford pointed at him.
“Is there a possibility that the Russian might be offered a plea bargain if he gives up the name of the person who gave him the assassination orders?”
“That’s possible, but I don’t have any information about that. We will be handing off responsibility for that part of the case to the FBI office in Washington, D.C.”
Kevin raised his hand.
“Where will the trials be held? Is there any possibility it would be in San Francisco?”
“Yes, it’s possible, but it could be moved to a Federal court somewhere else.”
“Would I be called as a witness?”
“No. You weren’t actually a witness, Kevin.”
“I know. I just wanted to make sure. I do not want to be a witness.”
Agent Bradford stood. When he had everyone’s attention, he said, “Are there any other questions or comments?”
No one raised their hand, and no one said anything.
“If you do have questions or comments in the future regarding this case, please contact Lynn Camorly. You’ve each been given her business card.
“We’ll provide updates when there are results. Please email your name, address, and phone number to Lynn to receive updates. Her email address is on her business card.
“A written transcript of the meeting will be distributed to each of you.
“Thank you for being here. The meeting is finished.”
Everyone stood. Kevin and those he had invited shook hands with the two FBI agents and the two from the Walnut Creek Police Department.
“Would the four of you who Kevin invited please stay for a minute,” Graeme said. “There are some things we should discuss.”
After they took seats, Kevin stood. “I want to thank all of you for coming to the meeting today. Your support has been invaluable. I know I’m going to have to think long and hard about what was presented today. But — the FBI, the CIA, and the Walnut Creek Police did an excellent job investigating what happened and discovering who was responsible for the deaths of my family members.
“I’m sad about losing my family. I know it was a stupid mistake that resulted in them being murdered.
“I think that the killers and the Russian who was captured in Sweden will be tried, convicted, and sentenced. That depends on what happens in court, of course. I hope they each get the death sentence. Except for the one they called ‘the boss’ who got the plea agreement.”
“You know… It’s strange. I’d been thinking that I wouldn’t be able to cope with learning why my family was murdered. But maybe because I know who the killers are and they’ll be tried and convicted, I don’t feel the same way anymore. There are two other things, as well. One is school. I’m doing well in school, and I’m enjoying it more than ever. The second is more important.” He turned and looked at Alex. “I have a boyfriend. The most caring, wonderful, sexy boyfriend ever.” Alex smiled from ear-to-ear. Then they leaned together and kissed.
Mr. MacIntosh smiled and nodded at Alex, then at Kevin. “So, what’s next,” he asked.
Kevin replied, “Well, I guess it’s back to the usual for all of us. School for Alex and me. Work for the rest of you.
“Dr. Ranse, you didn’t say anything during the meeting. We’ll discuss it on Wednesday?”
“Yes. As you know, I prefer to listen.” She smiled. “You’re right, we’ll discuss it at our session on Wednesday.
“To use terminology typical of the teachers at Edison High School: you’re excused, Dr. Ranse. And thank you for coming to the meeting today.”
She smiled, picked up her purse, and waved. “I’ll see you on Wednesday, Kevin. Goodbye to all of you. I’m pleased we were able to meet.” She turned and left.
“Unless someone else has a question, or has something to tell us, we will officially end today’s meeting, and you’re all excused.”
“Thank you, Kevin,” Mr. MacIntosh said. “I don’t have a cat at home. But I do have a wife, and I’d like to get home and find out what she’s fixing for my dinner; I hope it isn’t too much of a surprise. It was nice meeting everyone. I was impressed by the people from the FBI. And you, Kevin, as well. I’ll say goodbye now.”
“I’d like to invite Tom Burney and Alex Burney to join Kevin and me for dinner,” Graeme said. “Tom, I’d like you to pick the restaurant since I don’t know what’s good around here.”
“Can we split the bill?” Alex’s father asked.
“I’d rather pay the bill. I was supposed to take Kevin and Alex out to both lunch and dinner, my treat. Alex ended up paying for lunch, and Kevin fixed dinner using some meals that Connie had prepared. So, it’s my turn.”
“Okay,” Tom Burney said. “Do you like Thai?”
All three said an enthusiastic yes.
“Then I suggest Kacha Thai. It’s excellent. Spicy, but not fire alarm spicy.”
“Sounds good,” Graeme said. “Do you two agree?”
Kevin and Alex both repeated their enthusiastic yes.
Tom Burney said he’d drive to the restaurant. He found free parking in the Main Street garage, a short walk to the restaurant.
They all enjoyed the meal, then walked to Lottie’s Creamery for some ice cream to cool off the heat of their meals. Tom Burney insisted on paying for the ice cream.
When they got home, both Kevin and Alex said they were tired and went up to bed.
Kevin wanted to talk, and Alex knew this was something his boyfriend needed.
What Kevin wanted to talk about wasn’t the meeting. He wanted to talk about what he should do next. They sat in bed, leaning against their pillows stacked against the headboard.
“I’ve lost my family. I live alone. Connie comes three days a week, and that’s good. But other than on Saturdays, while she’s here, I’m at school. You, Laura, and Jeff come home with me three days a week, and that helps.
“What I’m saying is that I need some guidance from my friends, especially you, about how to successfully and happily live alone.
“Another thing is I want to do something to remember my family.” Kevin started to tear up. “I just can’t think about what to do.”
They talked about things he might do. None seemed appropriate.
Kevin suddenly sat back. He realized what he wanted to do.
It was the backyard. He’d take the area where his family had been killed and have it dug up. Then he’d have a pond put in, with five trees, one for each member of his family, and flowers. And a bench to sit on. Like the Japanese Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it would be an area for sitting and contemplation. A remembrance garden! He’d have to add that as the last item on his list.
No! He was finished with the list. He’d tell Dr. Ranse he didn’t need the list anymore. And neither should she.
He smiled, and that felt very, very good.
He and Alex pulled their pillows into position for sleeping. Then Kevin turned off the light, and they cuddled together. Two boyfriends, in love, sleeping together.
Life could be lonely, especially when your family was abruptly taken from you. But Kevin had a boyfriend now, and his life would continue.
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