The Vengeful Heart
Chapter One Excerpt: 5
Capt. Craft had known next to nothing about AIDS, or how blood specimens are processed at medical facilities. But he quickly got up to speed.
We found out, he says, that you cant just walk into a hospital and steal a tube of blood thats contaminated with the AIDS virus. Thats not the way the samples are marked.
I learned that he most likely had taken the virus, and the hepatitis C, from one of his own patients. He then would have had to spin down the sample in a centrifuge to separate the plasma, which would have been light pink, just like a B-12 shot. So when we searched his office, we basically were interested in finding out what patients he was seeing at the time, and whether we could trace the course of the infections through the records.
The investigators found Dr. Schmidts centrifuge in his procedure room, where his staff took blood and prepared other tissue samples testing. Nearby were two spiral-bound notebooks, or jot books, as Schmidt called them. One listed the names of all patients whose blood was drawn from March 1, 1993, to December 10, 1993. The second contained the same information from August 15, 1994, to July 13, 1995, the date of the search.
Inside the jot books, Craft noted that next to the patients names and the dates their blood was drawn, handwritten notes indicated the type of blood tests to be performed.
Each entry also was accompanied by a little sticker with a code number on it. This, he knew, was called the accession sticker. Another sticker bearing the same reference number accompanied the specimen to the lab for tests. When the lab work came back, all the doctors staff had to do was compare reference numbers to accession codes to match patients to their test results.
When Craft asked Schmidt for the jot book containing entries for December 11, 1993 to August 15, 1994, the doctor said he didnt know where it was.
Next, the team searched the doctors personal office. When we opened his desk, it was full of everything shed ever given him, Craft reports. Coffee mugs. Shirts. Cards and letters. Pictures of her. Pictures of their son. All of those things. We pulled all of it as evidence.
They also found a 1993 pocket calendar on top of Schmidts desk. Inside were photocopies of sexually explicit photos of Janice Trahan.
There was a locked door behind Dr. Schmidts desk. Whats back there? Craft inquired.
Its just a storeroom, said the doctor. I keep old records and wine in there.
Craft opened the room and discovered that this time Dr. Schmidt was telling the truth. The storage room was filled with cases of wine that he gave away at holiday time as gifts to other physicians. There were several boxes of old records inside, as well.
By this time, Crafts team of crime-scene investigators had been working for two or three hours. They were getting kind of cranky, as Craft puts it, and were ready to pack up and leave. However, Dr. Schmidts blood still had not been drawn, and the captain intended to thoroughly search the storeroom, no matter how long that required.
Well probably have only one opportunity to do this, he told the rest of the team. One shot. Unspoken was the fact that so far nothing theyd turned up was apt to convince a jury that Richard Schmidt had tried to kill Janice Trahan.
The storeroom search yielded nothing, eitheruntil Craft was nearly done. He opened one of the few remaining boxes. There were records from 1982 on top. Deeper down, Craft found more ledgers and notebooks from the early 80s, nothing useful at all. But when the captain got to the very bottom of the box, he found a familiar-looking spiral-bound notebook, identical to the jot books next to the centrifuge.
Inside were entries dated December 14, 1994, to August 4, 1995, with several pages left blank at the end.
I think you just found a smoking gun, a member of the search team remarked.