Office of the Director of Security
Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
Kidnapping Day 2, 2:30 pm
Twenty-five and a half hours after Larry had been taken, there was not a whole lot to go on in the case of the missing Regular Guy. The disappearance of one-half of The Regular Guys, who also happened to once date the first lady of the United States, seemingly had every cop in the Colorado River Basin mobilized, as well as every reporter with a credential.
The FBI, which usually only gets involved in adult kidnappings when it has reason to believe a state line has been crossed, took command of the investigation on the somewhat flimsy grounds that Las Vegas was just a half-hour from the Arizona and California borders and 90 minutes from Utah and who knows what in the hell is going on. An army of investigators from both the FBI and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department had blanketed The Strip asking questions, looking for clues and generally following the established investigatory technique prescribed for a kidnapping.
They had come up with absolutely nothing.
Ron Thomas, Director of Security for Caesars Palace, was sitting in his office with Special Agent Sam Rider of the Las Vegas office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sam was 6-2 and a trim 200 pounds with permed brown hair. He spent a lot of time lifting weights. The FBI had dispatched him to be the liaison with the hotel and to coordinate whatever information Ron Thomas happened to pick up.
Ron was on the phone with an underling in the security department who was informing him that the security officer who had been assigned to the VIP lot when Larry had been snatched had not shown up for work today.
Ron was curious as to exactly why it had taken them all day to relay this information to him, but that was a problem for another day. He shared this tidbit with Special Agent Sam Rider.
“Well, let’s go pick him up then!” Sam said. “Case solved!”
Ron chuckled. He had known Sam for a few years and knew Sam had a wit. What he didn’t know was if it was Sam’s way of distancing himself from the crimes he worked, or if he really thought crime was funny.
Ron turned to his computer, clicked the mouse a few times and then tapped the keyboard a little. Soon his printer was whirring. He took the sheet of paper from the printer, scanned it for a couple of seconds and then handed it to Sam.
“Here, look at this,” Ron said. “Look when he was hired.”
Sam scanned the sheet for a couple of seconds, then whistled.
“Wow,” he said. “Seventeen months ago.”
“That’s some good planning.”
“Assuming he’s involved and was in on it from the beginning, yeah. It shows considerable organization and forethought. Where’d he live?”
The question was rhetorical; Sam looked for and found his address on the sheet.
“This is near the college. Probably one of those residential hotel suite deals.”
“Interesting. Let’s go check it out.”
Pair-O-Dice Residential Suites
Paradise Boulevard, South of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
Kidnapping Day 2, 3:00 pm.
Special Agent Sam Rider, accompanied by Ron Thomas, director of security for Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino, walked up to the desk clerk on duty.
“Name’s Rider,” Sam said, showing his FBI credential. He let the desk clerk take a long look at it and thought it was highly likely the desk clerk couldn’t tell the difference between a legitimate FBI credential and one pulled out of a cereal box; after an appropriate interval he put the case back in his pocket. “We’d like to talk to someone in charge.”
His tone implied he was highly doubtful the desk clerk he was now looking at could possibly be in charge.
The desk clerk, still shell shocked from seeing a real, live FBI credential, muttered something, turned around, and left. A minute later a rumpled looking man with glasses and most of his gray hair came out from an office behind the front desk.
“FBI, huh?” he said. “Well, if you’re looking for Larry, he hasn’t checked in here.” The manager laughed a little bit, to show everyone it was a joke.
Sam and Ron looked at each other.
“We’re not looking for Larry,” Sam said.
“We’d like to see Tommy Montalvo’s apartment,” Ron Thomas said.
“Are you FBI, too?”
Ron shook his head. “No.”
“Gotta badge, or something?”
Ron took out a leather folder and produced his private detective’s license. It was a valid one, and while he didn’t make a living as a private detective, he thought it would be better than showing him his Caesars Palace business card.
“Okay,” the manager said significantly as if both men had just passed stringent identification exams. “Who is Tommy Montalvo?”
“Lived in 235,” Ron Thomas said.
“Oh yeah. Nice guy. Sorta quiet. Left yesterday.”
“Left yesterday, you say.” Rider said.
The manager nodded.
“Did he leave a forwarding address?”
“I don’t think so. I can’t remember him getting any mail here. I’ll check though. What’s this about?”
The manager had been running these sorts of places long enough to know that when the fuzz came around the day after a guest had checked out it wasn’t to make sure the tags were still on the mattresses. But he punched some keys on a keyboard, looked at the screen for a while, and shook his head.
“No. No forwarding address.”
“We’d like to see his room,” Special Agent Sam Rider told the manager. His tone was friendly but implied this was not really a request and that Special Agent Sam Rider fully expected to be inside Tommy Montalvo’s room within sixty seconds.
The manager made and then gave them a key.
The room had yet to be cleaned by a maid, it had been cleared out. And pretty well, too, almost as if he wanted to leave no trace of himself.
Special Agent Sam Rider and Ron Thomas got busy searching. Since the room was empty except for the furniture the hotel had put in there, it wasn’t the most difficult search in the history of law enforcement. After a few minutes, Sam turned the mattress over and a piece of scrap paper came fluttering out.
“Oh my, what do we have here!” he exclaimed, sounding as if he had just walked in on a lady bathing.
“I’d say it looks like a piece of paper,” Ron Thomas said as Sam bent over to pick it up.
“Probably the address where Larry is being held.”
Sam retrieved the slip of paper and displayed it proudly, as a child might display his first art project. It had a phone number written on it.
“Local area code,” Ron Thomas said.
“Yeah. It’s a cell, too. You can tell by the prefix.”
Ron looked at Sam.
“You shouldn’t have gone private; you’d know these things.” Ron had been in the Secret Service before tiring of government work and going to Civvie Street.
“So what do you do now, call the number and tell whomever answers to come turn themselves in?”
“No, I tell them to wait right where they are, we’ll be right there.”
Sam and Ron looked at each other.
“Triangulation,” they said together.
“That might actually work,” Ron Thomas said.
“Assuming this isn’t the number of some chick he met at Cheetahs,” Sam said.
Sam got his mobile out and punched a couple of buttons.
“Amy, it’s me. I’m in a sleazy hotel room. Does that give you any ideas?”
Special Agent Sam Rider listened briefly, then smiled.
“I didn’t think it would. Listen, I need two things. Find out everything you can about this phone number” – Sam read the number to her – “and share the results only with me. Two, we need some techs at this sleazy hotel room.”
Sam read the address to her off of the telephone on the nightstand.
“Anything I need to know?” he asked.
Evidently there wasn’t. Sam said thank you and hung up. They finished searching the apartment but found nothing else. Neither did the crime scene techs, save for numerous examples of Tommy Montalvo fingerprints, which had already been taken when he had registered as a gaming employee with the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Office of Special Agent In Charge Tom Grant
Las Vegas Office
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Las Vegas, Nevada
Kidnapping, Day 2, 4:35 pm
Tom Grant, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Las Vegas office sat behind his desk and looked at Special Agent Sam Rider and Ron Thomas, director of security of Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino.
They had discussed the phone call to Ray Evans earlier today from Larry and one of his kidnappers, and he had just been briefed about what the pair had found this afternoon in Tommy Montalvo’s hotel room.
“Interesting,” Grant said. “Could be nothing; could be something.”
“There’s only one way to find out,” Sam said. “We need the cell company to work with us. I think this could be something. This is probably not his number, but he’s called it and he may call it again. He calls it, we get his number, and, if it’s a mobile, we can triangulate it and get his location.
In theory, triangulation was rather simple. By using the known speed of radio signals the distance a working cell phone was from a cell phone tower could be calculated. One such distance wasn’t much good because a user could be anywhere on that particular radius. For example, if a caller was determined to be 1000 yards away from Tower A, then he could be anywhere on a circle that was 1000 yards in radius from Tower A. However, if you had distances from three or four towers those circles would intersect fairly close to each other, giving the phone’s location.
In practice, however, triangulation was rather difficult to pull off. Triangulation equipment can be confused by signals reflecting from buildings, water and communication towers and other obstructions. Plus if that person were in a crowd it would be impossible to pick him out.
Making the in-practice aspect of this triangulation more difficult was the fact the number they had probably wasn’t even Tommy Montalvo’s, but rather a number that had been found in a room he had just gotten through inhabiting for 17 months.
“There is a high degree of probability this is nothing,” the chief said.
Sam nodded. Even he admitted this was a pretty rosy best-case scenario.
“Yeah, but it’s somewhere between possible and likely he’s involved in this,” Sam Rider said.
“Have you called the number?” the chief asked.
“No,” Sam said. “‘FBI’ popping up on Caller ID might scare whoever it is.”
Ron laughed. The agent in charge looked at Ron. Tom Grant was not a humorous man and disliked civilians anyway, even if this one had once been Secret Service.
“Use a payphone.”
“I don’t know. I could wing a wrong number or even get him talking about himself, but if this is something, only members of the team have the number; any sort of unexplained phone call could get them suspicious. Assuming this number is of someone involved, which we don’t know.”
Just then Sam Rider’s mobile rang.
“It’s probably that number right now, calling to confess,” Sam said, reaching for his phone. He looked at the Caller ID screen. “Oopsies, it’s my office.”
“Where are you?” his secretary, Amy Bayer, asked.
“In our gracious chief’s office,” Sam Rider said.
“Okay, I got the info on the phone you asked for. I’ll be right up.”
In a few moments, Amy Bayer knocked on the door of the office of Special Agent in Charge Tom Grant. She entered immediately after knocking.
“Good afternoon, sir,” she said, addressing the chief. “I have the information Special Agent Rider requested.”
Grant made a ‘let’s have it motion’ with a hand.
“That number belongs to a mobile owned by a woman named Hannah Smith. Her address and other info are on this sheet.” Amy Bayer handed sheets to the three men.
“Doesn’t say anything about her being a kidnapper, does it?” Sam Rider asked as he read his sheet. There was nothing extraordinary on it.
Amy Bayer laughed.
“I’m afraid not.”
“Well, she is the only link we have to Tommy Montalvo, who is our only link to the kidnappers. Both links are so tenuous it isn’t even funny.”
Everyone sat and considered matters for a moment.
“Chief,” Sam said. “I’d like to get a tail on this girl and see what we find out. It’s not as if we’re overflowing with clues right now.”
“No, and that’s causing no small amount of problems with the press. God, they’re insatiable! I hope you appreciate me running interference for you with them.”
Actually, Sam Rider did appreciate it. No one knew who Sam Rider was and this allowed him to worry only about working a kidnapping and not worry about the fact a good portion of the world was waiting and wanting to see Larry found safe and sound.
“Let’s get a tail on her and see what we find out,” Sam Rider said. “Also, we need to know who calls this phone and who she calls. And she probably has a landline too that we could tap. We have to find this Montalvo character.”
Special Agent in Charge Tom Grant nodded his concurrence.
“I’ve already talked to the president twice today and he’ll probably call again later tonight; every law enforcement resource in the world is available to us. I’ll take care of it.”
Chapter 23 – Part I
Chapter 23 – Part III
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