Leap Year Killer
- Leap Year Killer
Who could have guessed an unexpected encounter at a local bar in a lighthearted discussion about horoscopes would lead to the sudden disappearance of Maureen McKinsey?
Maureen was spunky and outspoken. She established friendships with her sharp humor and winning smile. Born February 29, 1992, she chose not to celebrate her birthday on February 28 or March 1 but savored it on the actual date of her birth. Every four years, Maureen joined her friends at O’Malley’s, where they danced Irish jigs, drank shots of whiskey, and consumed chasers of dark stouts.
When Maureen didn’t appear for work the next day, her coworkers presumed she was hungover. The manager tried to contact her, but it went directly to voicemail. Concerned, though a little irritated, Maureen had disregarded their company policy of calling in sick, and the boss let it slide. It only happened every four years.
Not being on the job again without a notification the following day, Maureen’s supervisor notified the police to do a welfare check. The property manager opened the apartment door. Nothing was amiss. From the looks of it, she had prepared for her big night out and left a few garments scattered around the bedroom. Otherwise, her apartment was in perfect condition.
Maureen McKinsey went missing without a trace. While relatives cleaned her living quarters, they found a cocktail napkin in the silverware drawer. With an unaccustomed scrawl, it said, “leap year babies are hot.”
Over time, the McKinsey case grew cold. The police set the reward for any details at $20,000.
* * * * *
Four years later, two thousand miles away, Luna Cappio sat in an Italian restaurant sipping on a dirty vodka martini, waiting for her boyfriend, Perry. They’d dated for six months. It was their shared birthday. Luna intended to introduce him to her large family.
Luna was married for five years to an emotionally abusive husband. It was a dream come true when she met Perry after the divorce. He was considerate, passionate, and supportive of her crazy ideas. There was nothing about Perry that reminded Luna of her ex-husband.
Their coincidental meeting at the magic convention looked to be fate. Perry was standing behind her while she talked to a tarot reader. The woman asked about Luna’s birth date, and she revealed she was a leap year baby. When the woman asked Luna if she celebrated yearly, Luna said no. Her birthdate was February 29th. She said it was God’s will. Why would anyone mess with it?
Everywhere Luna traveled that night, Perry appeared to be following. A little creeped out about being followed. She confronted him.
“Excuse me. Have we met before?” Luna asked. “Every time I look around, you’re there. Are you stalking me?”
“My apologies. I surmise it’s a coincidence.”
“There are no coincidences. Haven’t you read that book?” Luna giggled as she snapped her fingers, trying to remember the name.
“My name’s Perry. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop when you informed the tarot card reader about your birth date. It appears we share the same date, though I’m sure by how young you look, we are two birthdays apart.”
“1996.” She stared into his warm brown eyes.
“Ah, you’re a rat.”
“Chinese horoscope. I’m a dragon. 1988.”
Luna smiled. He didn’t look eight years older than her.
“Would you care for a drink?”
Luna hesitated. “Of course. Why not?”
They walked over to the bar. Perry turned to her and said, “Dirty vodka martini, two olives, right?”
“Now I know why you’re here at the magic convention. You must be psychic.” She laughed.
“Lucky guess. You’re put together; sophisticated. Your hairstyle, clothes, and even your birthday makes you special. Why not have a unique drink?”
That night Luna laughed. She hadn’t been that happy in over six years. Perry made her feel acknowledged and appreciated. The alcohol helped her loosen up, and she invited him to her room for a nightcap. He reached over and kissed her. Luna melted into his arms. Perry unleashed a passion in her she had never thought possible.
Afterward, Luna’s family saw a change in her. She became happier and more content with life. Perry completed her, and she hoped to propose to him on their birthdays with her family present. A woman can ask a man to marry her during a leap year.
The party started flowing into the restaurant. They hugged, pinched Luna’s cheeks, and told her how beautiful she looked. A group ordered wine and appetizers while waiting for their table for twelve.
Luna checked her watch, wondering what was taking Perry so long. His lateness was out of character. Their table was ready, and Luna stepped away to call Perry’s cell phone. It diverted to voicemail. She phoned his office, but they reported he hadn’t come back after lunch. They thought he’d taken the rest of the day off because it was his birthday.
Apologizing to her family, Luna left the restaurant and drove to Perry’s house. The foyer light was on, and she used her key to enter. It was eerily quiet. Perry always had music on when he was home alone. The silence unsettled her. Luna called out, “Perry?” There was no answer.
Not a thing was out of place during Luna’s inspection. The garage was empty, so he had to be in his car. Luna called his cell phone again. No answer. Her next calls were to the police and the local hospitals. Perry wasn’t anywhere to be found.
A few months later, the police discovered his SUV deserted two counties deep in the woods. Unusual for someone who was to meet a girlfriend for dinner. Forensics searched Perry’s vehicle extensively and found a cocktail napkin in the glove compartment.
If law enforcement agencies shared a nationwide database on missing people, they’d have recognized similarities in several other cases. The generic napkin had the words, “leap year babies are hot.” When the detectives showed the napkin to Luna, she didn’t recognize the handwriting.
Perry Edwards vanished without a trace, and no one ever heard from him again.
Luna set up a Facebook page asking anyone for information. It had over 2,000 members. Concerned people prayed for his safe return and asked for updates. Perry didn’t have any family. Luna moved into Perry’s house, hoping he’d walk through the front door into her waiting arms someday.
* * * * *
February 29, 1972, the night Annie Ryan was born, a rare full moon occurred on that leap year and wouldn’t happen again until 2048. This made Annie blessed. Or so one would think…