Detective Hardin was frustrated but relieved to see the victim alive, although in shock. Laying back on the gurney in the ambulance was a male white, approximately five feet six inches with short blonde hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a white lab coat but the sleeves were drenched with blood. Surprisingly Detective Hardin noted that the bottom of the coat had only minor blood splatter. The ambulance was en route to the hospital.
"Do you know when this happened?" Hardin asked.
"I just woke up and my hands were gone!"
The detective noticed that the victim's wallet contained only credit cards, and a drivers license. Also missing was the clear vinyl insert that holds photos and business cards. Holding the wallet close to the victim, Hardin asked "Can you tell me any thing that's missing from your wallet besides the cash?"
"My family photos and my auto insurance card, and my hospital identification card."
"Are you a doctor?"
"Yes, I'm an emergency room triage physician."
"What do you remember about the last twenty four hours."
"I just finished a thirty hour shift at six-forty-five this morning. I was walking to my car and then I remember waking up in the street with no hands. No Hands!" the victim wailed with horror and despair. His future lay before him a dark hopeless wasteland of crippling school loan debt and uselessness.
Hardin immediate called dispatch to send officers to the doctor's home to notify the family and keep an eye on the property should the home be vacated for this emergency. Hardin's mind was churning with clues. The victim was perhaps sitting at a table when his hands were cut off, and the perpetrator bandaged the wounds before moving the victim after the attack. The victim's inability to remember might be drug or concussion induced amnesia, hopefully temporary.
Harden turned to the attending paramedic.
"Who bandaged the hands?"
"They were bandaged when we found him."
"Those bandages are evidence. I need to cover them with plastic bags and they will need to be carefully removed and replaced as soon as possible!"
The detective noted the time the witness discovered the victim as eight fifteen in the morning. They were returning to the same hospital where the victim worked and should arrive within fifteen minutes. Hardin's partner Jim Long was already there collecting security footage of the parking lot and any witness statements from patients, visitors and staff still in the emergency department waiting area. Still ahead was the fanning out of officers to the homes of other emergency department personnel that also finished a thirty hour stretch in the Emergency Department that morning.
The detective looked at the doctor whose hands were only just violently removed this morning, laying in the gurney, his head turned away to shield his agonizing sobs of anguish and pain. The ambulance was approaching the ramp. The paramedic started to gather up his gear for patient transfer. He quickly pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his coat hanging in the corner of the ambulance and stuffed it in his pants pocket. He felt around his pockets for an absent cigarette lighter and frowned, but noticed people smoking nearby just off the hospital property.
The ambulance bay was nearly empty when they arrived. The detective thought to himself 'at least he's not going to wait too long to be seen.'