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Home > The Sky Is Falling(10)

The Sky Is Falling(10)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

"Chief Burnett, didn't the house have an alarm system, and if so, was it turned on?"

"According to the butler, it was always turned on at night. The burglars found a way to circumvent it. We're not sure yet how."

"How did the burglars gain entrance to the house?"

Chief Burnett hesitated. "That's an interesting question. There were no signs of a break-in. We don't have the answer to that yet."

"Could it have been an inside job?"

"We don't think so. Gary Winthrop's staff has been with him for many years."

"Was Gary Winthrop alone in the house?"

"As far as we know, yes. The staff was off."

Dana called out, "Do you have a list of the stolen paintings?"

"We do. They're all well known. The list has been circulated to museums, art dealers, and collectors. The minute one of those paintings appears, the case will be solved."

Dana sat down, puzzled. The killers must have been aware of that, so they wouldn't dare try to sell the paintings. Then what was the point of stealing them? And committing a murder? And why didn't they take the money and jewelry? Something doesn't add up.

The funeral services for Gary Winthrop were held at the National Cathedral, the sixth largest in the world. Wisconsin and Massachusetts Avenues had been closed off to traffic. Secret Service men and Washington police were out in full force. Inside, waiting for the service to begin, were the vice president of the United States, a dozen senators and members of Congress, a Supreme Court Justice, two cabinet officers, and a host of dignitaries from around the world. The police and press helicopters beat a tattoo in the sky. On the street outside were hundreds of onlookers who had come either to pay their respects or to get a glimpse of the celebrities inside. People were paying tribute not just to Gary, but to the entire ill-fated Winthrop dynasty.

Dana covered the funeral with two camera crews. Inside, the cathedral was hushed.

"God moves in mysterious ways," the minister was intoning. "The Winthrops spent their lives building hopes. They donated billions of dollars to schools and churches and to the homeless and the hungry. But just as important, they selflessly gave of their time and talent. Gary Winthrop carried on the great family tradition. Why this family, with all its achievements and generosity, has been taken from us so cruelly is beyond our knowledge. In one sense, they are not really gone, for their legacy will live on forever. What they have done for us will always make us proud...."

God shouldn't let people like that die those kinds of horrible deaths, Dana thought sadly.

Dana's mother called. "My friends and I watched you cover the funeral, Dana. For a moment there, when you were talking about the Winthrop family, I thought you were going to cry."

"So did I, Mother. So did I."

Dana had difficulty getting to sleep that night. When she finally did fall asleep, her dreams were a wild kaleidoscope of fires and automobile accidents and shootings. In the middle of the night, she awakened suddenly and sat up. Five members of the same family killed in less than a year? What are the odds?

Chapter Four

WHAT ARE YOU trying to tell me, Dana?"

"Matt, I'm saying that five violent deaths in one family in less than a year is too much of a coincidence."

"Dana, if I didn't know you better, I'd call a psychiatrist and tell him Chicken Little is in my office saying that the sky is falling. The police investigated each of those deaths carefully. They were all accidents. Do you think we're dealing with some kind of conspiracy? Who's behind it? Fidel Castro? The CIA? Oliver Stone? For God's sake, don't you know that every time someone prominent is killed, there are a hundred different conspiracy theories? A guy came in here last week and said he could prove that Lyndon Johnson killed Abraham Lincoln. Washington is always drowning in conspiracy theories."

"Matt, we're getting ready to doCrime Line. You want to start with a grabber? Well, if I'm right, this could be it."

Matt Baker sat there for a moment, studying her. "You're wasting your time."

"Thanks, Matt."

TheWashington Tribune 's morgue was in the building's basement, filled with thousands of tapes from earlier news shows, all neatly cataloged.

Laura Lee Hill, an attractive brunette in her forties, was seated behind her desk cataloging tapes. She looked up as Dana entered.

"Hi, Dana. I saw your broadcast of the funeral. I thought you did a great job."

"Thank you."

"Wasn't that a terrible tragedy?"

"Terrible," Dana agreed.

"You just never know," Laura Lee Hill said somberly. "Well - what can I do you for?"

"I want to look at some tapes of the Winthrop family."

"Anything in particular?"

"No. I just want to get a feel of what the family was like."

"I can tell you what they were like. They were saints."

"That's what I keep hearing," Dana said.

Laura Lee Hill rose. "I hope you have plenty of time, honey. We have tons of coverage on them."

"Good. I'm in no hurry."

Laura Lee led Dana to a desk with a television monitor on it. "I'll be right back," she said. She returned five minutes later with a full armload of tapes. "You can start with these," she said. "There are more coming."

Dana looked at the huge pile of tapes and thought, Maybe I am Chicken Little. But if I'm right...

Dana put in a tape, and the picture of a stunningly handsome man flashed on the screen. His features were strong and sculpted. He had a mane of dark hair, candid blue eyes, and a strong chin. By his side was a young boy. A commentator said, "Taylor Winthrop has added another wilderness camp to the ones he has already established for underprivileged children. His son Paul is here with him, ready to join in the fun. This is the tenth in a series of such camps that Taylor Winthrop is building. He plans at least a dozen more."

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