“How’s it going?” Elizabeth asked when Franco stopped by the nurses’ station to say hello.
“Pretty busy. I have to catch up on paperwork this afternoon.” His expression made it clear how much he didn’t enjoy that task.
“If you did it as you went along, you wouldn’t have to spend so much time playing catch up,” Elizabeth reminded him. She was far more organized with her charting and notes. She didn’t have the option not to be.
“I know, my beautiful, wonderful--”
“I’m not helping you.”
“I know that too,” he laughed.
“Hey--have you heard from Kiki today? She’s on the schedule, but didn’t show up and hasn’t called in.”
“That doesn’t sound like her,” Franco pulled his cell phone from his pocket. “No messages,” he said. He called her. “Kiki, let me know if you’re okay. They said you were supposed to work today and no one has been able to reach you,” he left a voicemail and then sent basically the same message in a text.
“No answer,” Elizabeth observed.
“And the message hasn’t been delivered,” he said, sounding worried. “So either her phone is off, or she’s not checking it.”
“Maybe she’s sleeping,” Elizabeth offered.
“I don’t like it,” Franco said. “I’m going to her apartment to check on her.”
“Wait,” Elizabeth said, “I’ll come with you. Let’s clock out for lunch and go straight to Kiki’s.”
They were at her apartment about fifteen minutes later. Franco knocked on the door and called her name. He waited a few minutes, but there was no response.
“I’m using my key and coming in,” he announced, as he slid the key into the lock. He pushed the door open and turned on the light.
Elizabeth screamed and Franco was stunned into silence by what they saw. Kiki was on the floor, naked and motionless.
Franco rushed to her side, pulling off his coat as he went. He covered her body, unable to bear seeing her like this. “Kiki, Kiki,” he called her over and over, cradling her head. Her body was unusually cool to the touch and he couldn’t find a pulse.
Elizabeth had already called 911 to report the scene. When she ended her call, she went to her husband and sat with him on the floor. He was crying hysterically begging Kiki to “wake up” and “come back.” Elizabeth already knew, but she checked for a pulse. Tears streamed form her eyes as she told Franco, “She’s gone.”
“No,” Franco resisted. “She can’t be gone. Wake up, baby girl. Please wake up. Please wake up,” he repeated.
Elizabeth didn’t argue with him. She had lost a child before. Franco and Kiki were as close as father and daughter and filled those roles in each other’s lives. She put her hand on Franco’s knee and just let him go through the emotions. He wasn’t going to accept the reality until he had no choice. She knew that all too well.
Only a few minutes had passed before Detectives Chase and Spencer were on the scene. Chase checked her vital signs. He shook his head. “She’s gone.”
The EMT’s arrived soon after. Chase told them she was dead, but they did their own check. He told the EMTs they could leave because Valerie had called the medical examiner to evaluate the crime scene.
“What are you doing?” Franco asked the paramedics. “You can’t leave her. She needs to go to the hospital. You have to help her. Don’t leave her!”
One of the paramedics gave him a sympathetic look, but they left.
“Mr. Baldwin,” Chase tried to get his attention.
“Stop them!” Franco told Chase. “She has to go to the hospital.”
“I’m sorry,” Chase said. “It’s too late. We have to treat this like a crime scene, gather evidence. I need for you and your wife to step away from the body.”
“She’s not a body,” Franco argued. “She’s my daughter. She’s not a body.”
“Mr. Baldwin, I’m sorry. I know you’re in shock. Could you both please step into the kitchen. We need to get statements, find out what you saw. And we need to leave the crime scene in tact as much as possible.”
Franco looked to Elizabeth and back to Kiki’s face and back to Elizabeth. He was lost. Elizabeth got up and took Franco’s hand, pulling him away from Kiki with slight force. “Let’s sit down,” she told him. “They need to do their jobs.”
Within minutes, the entire apartment was filled with law enforcement agents and the medical examiner had arrived.
Chase left the officers to do their work and approached Franco and Elizabeth, who were in the kitchen. He could tell Franco was distraught and Elizabeth was doing her best to hold herself together for his sake.
“I need you to walk me through what happened. Tell me everything you can.”
Franco was silent. He wasn’t even blinking.
Elizabeth took the lead and told him that she hadn’t shown up for work, Franco had tried to reach her, she hadn’t responded, and they came to check on her.
“How did you get inside?” Chase asked.
“They lived together before Franco moved in with me. He pays her rent. Kiki wanted him to keep a key in case she lost hers or needed him to come over and fix something.”
“I’m not sure I understand the relationship,” Chase said.
Elizabeth nodded. “Franco and Kiki thought they were father and daughter over 20 years before her mother said Silas Clay was her father. Silas died soon after Kiki met him and Franco’s just the father she knows and loves. He was paying her tuition for medical school. He takes care of her, like nothing ever changed.”
“Was she covered with the coat when you got here?”
Elizabeth shook her head. “She was naked. Franco covered her up.”
“I know this is technical and not something you want to think about, but we’ll need to get hair and DNA samples in case anything transferred from the coat to the body.”
“I understand,” Elizabeth said. “You have to rule out any foreign samples.”
“Does he understand?” Chase asked. Franco had gone from outward grief to complete silence.
“He found his daughter naked on the floor and dead. No, Detective Chase, he needs time to come to terms with understanding that.”
“Did you notice anything about the body before it was covered?”
“I’m not sure. There may have been blood on her stomach. There was something red.”
“Mr. Baldwin,” Chase got his attention. Franco turned to him, but his expression was hollow. His eyes were bloodshot. “Did you notice anything about her body before you covered her up?”
“I didn’t look,” he answered. “I realized she was naked and I had to cover her up.”
“I understand,” Chase replied. “What happened when you sat down with her?”
“She was too cold. She wouldn’t answer. She wouldn’t wake up. I begged her to wake up.” His eyes filled with tears again. “Is she really gone?”
Chase was sympathetic. “I’m sorry. Yes, she is.”
“Why?” he asked.
Elizabeth wrapped him in a hug.
“We’re going to find out,” Chase answered. “Do you know of any enemies she had? Anyone who would want to hurt her?”
“Dr. Bensch,” Elizabeth answered immediately. “She won a sexual harassment case against him and he was fired.”
Chase nodded. Bensch did seem to be a prime suspect.
“Ava,” Franco answered, softly. “I had a meeting with Ava a few weeks ago and she was infuriated with Kiki for sleeping with Griffin. She said she would get retribution and Kiki deserved whatever was coming to her. I didn’t think she meant it. Ava talks big, but doesn’t usually follow through. She and Kiki fight and make up and fight and make up again. And Griffin? He’s hardly the love of Ava’s life. He’s not worth fighting over, much less killing over.”
“Dr. Munroe,” Chase clarified.
Franco nodded. “Maybe he did it. He’s shown over and over again that he’s not the squeaky clean good guy he blew into town pretending to be.”
“What else can you tell me?” Chase asked.
“Her little sister is Avery Corinthos. If Sonny pissed off someone, they could have taken it out on Kiki. Her uncle is Julian Jerome. He has or, at least, had mob ties.
Chase nodded. “That’s actually a lot of leads. Thank you.”
“Carly,” Franco added. “She blamed Kiki for Morgan’s mental problems for a long time. When Kiki couldn’t handle his bipolar disorder anymore, she broke up with him. That was the night he died. Carly hated her. Jason Morgan hates me, but he would just kill me, not someone I loved. That’s not his style. Unless Carly told him to kill her. Then he wouldn’t flinch.”
Chase was overwhelmed. “I hope the evidence can narrow this down. I know neither of you are in an emotional state to drive safely, so I’m going to have an officer drive you to the station to make official statements.”
“We need to call the hospital,” Elizabeth realized. “We just clocked out for our lunch. They think we’re coming back.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Chase offered. “You have enough to deal with right now.”