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He really was trying to be helpful, thought Jake. Still, something was bothering him about the information the guy was handing them. It was almost like he was trying to be too helpful.

Jake berated himself for thinking poorly about Larkin, after all, with everything he had witnessed that night it was no wonder that he wanted the bastard caught. At least that was what he had told the detectives. He had even come in voluntarily to answer questions, they didn’t have to ask him to be there.

He let the other team members ask the questions while he quietly made notes. But when Larkin couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get specific enough about which bar he and the mysterious John had picked the girls up in, Jake voiced his dissatisfaction with an impatient sigh and a snort. And he got a disapproving look from his superior for that.

“I don’t remember, we went to several nightspots, I don’t remember which one we were in when we met Holly and Beth. All I know it was somewhere in Westchester.” He whined. Larkin fixed his watery eyes on Jake. “I am so sorry, I really wish I could remember.”

Jake excused himself from the room, he’d get the notes from the rest of the interview from one of the detectives.

Larkin had worked with a police artist and now Jake had a sketch of the perp. He also had a photo of Holly and an artist’s sketch based on a reconstruction of Beth’s face. He sent those pictures over the wire to the local Westchester police along with a list of the clubs Andrew had named. Now if only someone would recognize the missing man and give them some clue as to his whereabouts.

Meanwhile he had pulled several missing persons files on descriptions matching the two girls; sometimes the victim’s identity was an important lead as to who the murderer was. There were a few files that came close, but so far nothing had matched.  Jake was suspicious by nature, and in this business it was best to check out everything, so he ran any information he had on Andrew Larkin through the computers as well. The man came up squeaky clean.

It irritated Jake that Larkin didn’t have even a traffic violation on his record. Something about Larkin bothered Jake and he was hoping to find something out about him that would justify his dislike of the other man. He just couldn’t figure it out.

The forensics team had found evidence that the car found at the scene was the same vehicle that had carried the two girls and Larkin. There were inconclusive signs of a fourth person. Only Larkin’s prints were on the steering wheel but that only confirmed the story that he had related to them. The carpeted floor mats were filthy and it seemed impossible to get a clean copy of any shoe prints. The well-worn cloth-covered seats didn’t give up much evidence either.

The team was thorough about collecting any evidence from the car in the hopes that they might get some leads on the identities of the other three occupants. The tires were well worn but scrapings were made from the treads to see if there was any telltale substance that might lead them to a garage, industrial parking lot, construction site or anywhere that Larkin might not have remembered driving to that night.

The lab techs collected shoeprints and fingerprints from all the responding emergency service workers and had diligently weeded those out of the prints found in the cabin. It was time consuming but necessary. Still, although they were able to pick up another man’s shoe prints, they had nothing else to go on.

Curiously neither of the girls seemed to have carried a purse with them, at least they didn’t have one at the crime scene. Both female victims had been dressed in similar gauzy robes with no underwear or footwear. What should have been their normal street clothes were missing and Jake wondered if the absent man had taken those items with him as some sort of perverted souvenir. It wasn’t unusual for the police to find a victim’s personal effects among a killer’s treasured possessions, a trophy collection of sorts.

Without any hard evidence, the trail was already feeling cold. Jake was frustrated at the lack of clues. The crime was definitely one of the more heinous he had ever encountered, he rarely felt as jolted as he did now. He couldn’t explain the strange foreboding he had about this case or the frantic need to solve it immediately.


Final Sin was an
Honorable Mention in the Fiction Category of the 
2010 NY Book Festival 

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Matt was looking down over the dark water as they were being buffeted by the winds.

It’s always choppy over here,” shouted Tony, the pilot. “You get used to it after a while.”

They had just finished their pre-flight check when they got banged out on an emergency transport job. The patient, a diabetic male in his forties, was in distress after being pinned under a car in a freakish accident. The bulk of the damage was centered on his back after the car fell off of its jack. His urine was filled with blood and he needed immediate transport to a level one trauma center.

North Carolina’s Outer Banks had a reputation for beauty and serenity. Several old fishing villages dotted the barrier islands along with spacious homes and bed and breakfasts. Matt was thinking of taking Sudah and Aden there for a weekend jaunt soon.

Luckily the area was served by a state of the art hospital center so any injured or sick could be treated there without the hour-and-a-half commute a car would need. With a serious trauma, patients could at least be stabilized, and air transportation used to one of the trauma centers inland.

Have you ever been out here before Matt?” Frank was a thirty three year old critical care flight nurse who had grown up in the area.

Nope. First time.” Matt had not ventured far from New York where he grew up until he decided to move his family to North Carolina after a job offer from NC Air EMS.

The LZ was lit up on the grounds of the hospital and Tony was preparing to put the chopper down. Matt and Frank remained quiet. All three were communicating through the headsets in their helmets; the sound of the rotor above them would have made it too noisy to talk otherwise.

It was still his first week in the new job and only his second living in the area. It amazed him that Sudah was so supportive even though he practically yanked her and the baby from New York. She stood by him, never questioning his decision and saying goodbye to their friends without even a tear. He was going to do everything he could to make sure this worked.

Matt felt the EC 145 bank hard to the right as Tony brought the bird around. His harness held him securely in the seat. He smiled as he watched the landscape grow bigger and realized that he was finally in his dream job.

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He entered the autopsy suite passing the heavy wooden sign next to the door. It said, “Hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae”. Once before when Jake had been here, he had asked for a translation of the Latin words and was told, “This is the place where death rejoices to teach those who live.” He was anxious to learn and he hoped Holly would be anxious to teach. He had high hopes that they could learn something, anything that would lead them to the murderer. Two men were waiting for him as he donned a surgical gown and protective eyewear.

Holly’s body was already lying on the shiny, aluminum dissection table. The table, a little more than waist high, was edged with an aluminum channel to allow blood and fluids to drain away from the body. The room was uncluttered and glaringly bright. It was a stark reminder of the lifelessness of the cadavers stored in the drawers along the wall. Soft music played from a radio on the counter in contrast to the harsh reality of the body lying motionless on the sterile looking table. Jake was always impressed with the clean up after an autopsy, the table always looked totally fresh and unused in time for the next patient. And there was always a next patient to fill the spot. That supply never seemed to end.

Dr. Ramos, the pathologist in charge of the lab, explained that one of his residents had already taken care of Beth, the charred corpse, early in the morning. He would complete his report and get it to Jake as promptly as possible. The first-year-resident assigned to assist Ramos with this autopsy was looking ever so proper in his starched white lab coat and was nervously readying a number of quart-sized jars for organ tissue samples to be sent to the lab for toxicology tests.

The doctor donned clean gloves before adjusting his goggles. “Pretty messy scene last night, huh?” Ramos spoke with ease, almost as if he was chatting with a familiar friend over a card game. Well into his sixties, the study of body parts and what they could tell you about how a person lived and died had always fascinated the doctor. He was well accomplished in his field and his word was highly respected in all the circles of investigation and trial. The doctor lived by the words on the door and truly believed that the dead rejoiced in communicating with him.

Although it was Ramos’ responsibility as Medical Examiner to pen all final autopsy reports, in recent years he had often allowed younger pathologists and first and second year residents to perform the more mundane procedures. He was personally overseeing this autopsy on Holly as a favor to Jake and to help speed along the findings and bring closure to his investigation. Dr. Ramos had the utmost respect for Jake Carlson, he had always been a man of his word who always sought the truth and justice for the victims. Ramos also got a special kick out of Jake’s interest in the autopsies and his own regard for listening to what the dead had to say.

It was a shame, mused Ramos that Jake hadn’t chosen medicine as his career, but then again, he was very good at what he did. If he weren’t so good, he never would have made it to the rank of Commander, especially as early as he did. Carson had certainly been a few years younger than his two most recent predecessors had been when they earned their titles. In the good doctor’s opinion, if that old goat sitting in the Chief’s chair ever decided to retire, Jacob Carson would probably find himself heading up his department.

Jake sighed. “Yeah. Unfortunately, with all the people who responded, all the trampling through the place, I can’t shake the gut feeling that we missed something.”

A crime scene should remain undisturbed, victim’s bodies should remain where they’re found, there shouldn’t be any bloody footprints belonging to rescuers. While so many of the EMS and fire personnel were careful not to disturb any more of the scene than they needed to, it had been impossible to maintain the complete integrity of the scene. Too many shoeprints to get anything clean, too many clothing fibers left by responding police and rescue workers, and the fire department destroyed evidence as it put out the fire.

It made Jake feel more than a little guilty and certainly sinister that he would have preferred no survivors that had to be removed from the cabin. Of course he wanted survivors, he corrected his thoughts silently, he just wished they had all been outside of the cabin when they were found. “Now we’ll have to waste time getting shoeprints and all from everyone who was there.”

“I’ve already begun my external examination. We’ve recorded the height and weight, her clothing and the general appearance.” The girl had been dressed in a torn, gauzy white shroud similar in shape to a judge’s robe, or graduation gown, and it had emphasized her youth.

The gray-haired doctor motioned that he was once again turning on the tape recorder to dictate his findings. “We have multiple lacerations and avulsions of both breasts, while there was profuse bleeding, no arteries or veins were compromised. This appears to be a non-fatal injury.  There are also severe contusions and rope burns circling both wrists and ankles, these appear to be consistent with a struggle. There was no evidence of tissue samples under the victim’s nails. Some light bruising around the mouth and laterally on both cheeks are in conformity with the type of gag the police report described.”

“The pattern of the lacerations and the tearing of the breasts seem to have been done with a common variety garden tool. We are comparing the markings to some of the hand tools found at the scene.” The abandoned tool shed was located at the perimeter of an old farm that had been sold to a developer for new housing. Like most of the suburbs, active farms and open land was giving way to an increased population.

Dr. Ramos removed the thin white sheet that had covered the young girl’s body. “I noted the absence of any body hair on the trunk, including the pubic area. She seems to have been freshly shaved. There also appears to have been vaginal bleeding.” He gently inserted a speculum into the cadaver’s vagina and adjusted the light behind him. Jake was impressed with the respect Dr. Ramos showed in his handling of the young victim’s remains.

“There appears to be several lacerations and contusions along the inner membranes. My impression is that a hard object penetrated the victim, possibly something jagged. I am going to swab the vaginal canal for any evidence of fluids.” If any semen was present, then the DNA would be run through the computers.

Remembering that Julie had told him about Andrew Larkin telling her he had sex with Holly, Jake made a mental note to have Larkin called in for a DNA sample for comparison. He watched as several swabs were bagged and labeled for the lab. He spotted a small amount of a white chalky substance on the side of Holly’s knee. “Doc, what’s this?” Jake pointed making sure not to touch and contaminate the body.

“I don’t know.” Ramos walked around the table to Jake’s side. “Only one way to find out.”  The doctor scraped the white substance with a cotton swab and dropped it into another plastic specimen bag to send to the lab.

Dr. Ramos finished his examination of the outer body. Then he picked up a shiny knife and cut a large Y-shaped incision into the girl’s chest with a sharp, long blade and separated the fractured ribs that were not uncommon after CPR compressions. Since dead people didn’t bleed, there was only minimal oozing along the incision.

After cutting the cartilage that held the remaining ribs to the sternum, Ramos folded back the skin to expose Holly’s heart and lungs. “This girl was a heavy smoker.” He directed Jake’s attention to the less than pink lung tissue he had just sliced into. “Her heart is somewhat enlarged and shows some signs of cardiomyopathy,” he looked up at Jake to explain, “that’s a muscle weakness.”

“After the heart is weighed, I’m going to have some tissue samples sent to histology. Since the police report indicated that there had been cocaine use reported, I’ll ask them to look for some amounts of Benzoylecgonine in her body.” Benzoylecgonine was a telltale and lasting ingredient found in cocaine, an element that sometimes could be found up to a few weeks after its use in a person’s bladder.

The examination continued with an ongoing litany for the tape recorder. Ramos indicated that, since the girl’s stomach was nearly empty, death had been several hours following her last meal, possibly a full day or more. The information bothered Jake, but he wasn’t sure how important it was or not. Larkin had indicated meeting the girls in a bar, Jake figured they’d have ingested at least drinks, pretzels or popcorn. If she had been a frequent cocaine user, that could explain why she hadn’t eaten recently.

“She appears to have a small needle puncture in her antecubital fossa,” the doctor pointed towards the crook of the girl’s right elbow. “But there are no track marks or other visible punctures to suggest any illicit needle drug use.”

A little bit more than two hours after Jake had entered the room Dr. Ramos and the resident had returned the bulk of the organs to Holly’s body cavity and the resident was busy sewing up the Y-incision. Various samples of tissue were packaged and on their way to the lab for study. “Based on my initial examination, the apparent cause of death was cardiac arrest. Contributing factors would include an enlarged and weakened heart and severe blood loss.”

Dr. Ramos let the resident finish sewing the cadaver closed and preparing the body for release while he went to wash up. “So Jake, are you up joining me for lunch?

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It was 1985 and the little town I loved in was horrified at the murder that captured newspaper headlines. The site of the murder was just a few minutes from my home.

Using my EMT skills, I used to work in the infirmary of a local summer day camp in those years. Every day, as I drove to work, I went past the driveway leading to the smokehouse where the victim’s body had been burned beyond recognition. The police caught the murderer and the trial replaced the actual murder headlines.

But each time I passed the mailbox at the end of the crime scene driveway I was filled with an unease, there were nights when the horror at what had occurred there just wouldn’t leave my mind and I would lay awake staring at the ceiling.

When I wrote Final Sin I used a mental image of the crime scene that had haunted my town and I developed a different crime, a crime that included a body that had been set on fire. But that is where the similarity ended…

… Deputy Sheriff Commander Jake Carson has his hands full with the investigation of a brutal multiple homicide, a troubled son and a vindictive ex-wife when he meets young, free-spirited paramedic Julie Jennings. He is immediately drawn to her and finds himself unexpectedly falling in love. Julie finds herself just as drawn to him. When Julie becomes the subject of an obsession, it puts both of their lives in extreme danger… Romance…danger…adventure…suspense…another great Chelle Cordero novel sure to grab readers from many genre!

Final Sin was an Honorable Mention in the
Fiction Category of the 
2010 NY Book Festival 

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Final Sin is available in Print, E-book & Audio

Now Available in Spanish and German translations!

Book Discussion Packet


by Chelle Cordero


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A Non-Stop Thriller that Will Leave You Longing for More

reviewed by Tracy Riva 

I sat down to read Hyphema late one night. I thought I would start it, read for about thirty minutes and then go to sleep; instead, I stayed up till almost four in the morning reading it. Immediately immersed in the story, the tension never let up enough for me to even consider putting it down and coming back to it later.

Matt is an air ambulance EMT, a flight medic. He has just moved his son, and his Pakistani wife, to a small town in North Carolina from New York so he could have this job. The job is his dream job and Sudah, his wife, couldn’t be more supportive. She is patient, caring and so obviously in love with Matt and their son that it just spills over onto the page. She’s the kind of person I’d like to have for a neighbor, but not everyone, even within the circle of Matt’s work buddies and their wives feel that way, but Sudah handles the anger and prejudice with grace and softly spoken words meant to soften hearts and break down the walls of misunderstanding…

Matt and Sudah face obstacles that severely test their relationship and their marriage. I do not want to go into anymore of the specifics here, but while Matt and Sudah’s relationship plays an important role in the book, the story is much more of an extremely well written thriller and I definitely recommend reading it.    (read the full review)


“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” ~ Aristotle


“Some people spend their whole life wondering ‘Did I make a difference?’ — Some people don’t need to wonder.” ~


“Every day, you’re called upon to help others through one of the most frightening times of their lives. Every day, you’re called upon to provide a sense of security and relief during chaotic and challenging situations. Every day, you’re called upon to do the work that only a select few can do. Every day, you’re ‘Called to Care‘.” ~ EMS Strong website


“Air goes in and out. Blood goes round and round. Any deviation is a problem.” ~ Anonymous


“You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ~ John Bunyon

     National EMS Week               May 15-21, 2016

Celebrating the men and the women
who answer the call

Hi. I rode as a volunteer EMT for nearly 30 years before “retiring” (my whole family is career and/or vollie 1st responder), my FT occupation is a freelance writer. I write a monthly column in a trade newspaper about EMS issues – I am planning an upcoming column on EMS burnout and would love a few comments to quote (not necessarily identified): If you are or were an EMT or Paramedic, have you experienced feelings of burnout? Did you quit because of it? What do you feel are the strongest indicators of burnout? What contributes to burnout? What do you recommend responders do to avoid burnout?
Please comment below or send an email to
Thank you so much for your help.

A Portrait of a Responder

A paramedic rests his head on his arm and leans against the ambulance’s back door for support. The stretcher is missing and discarded items lay forgotten on the floor, remnants of what obviously was a chaotic, traumatic scene. Closer inspection reveals a teddy bear seated in the back of the ambulance, making the scene even more heartwrenching.  (read more)

(article from    )

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It’s been a long road…

In 1972, NBC-TV paved the way for EMS awareness with the ground-breaking show ‘Emergency!’ (starring Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe). The show depicted paramedics providing a high level of pre-hospital emergency care; at the time there were only about a dozen paramedic units operating across the United States. The show dramatically changed the way America viewed Emergency Medical Services. Amazingly, there are folks who believe that EMS only began with ‘Emergency!’ – They don’t realize that an emergency medical response system began in this country as far back as 1865 and was run by the Army.  (read more)

(an EMS Issues article from   )

The History of EMS Week
The U.S. Congress authorized the Emergency Medical Services Systems (EMSS) Act of 1973. In 1974, President Gerald R. Ford signed this bill and appointed David R. Boyd as the director of the Division of Emergency Medical Services Systems (DEMSS), Public Health Service, Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Boyd convinced President Ford to proclaim “Emergency Medical Services Week” and to host a White House Conference on EMS. Gerald Ford is the “Hero” of the national EMS story, a true believer who supported EMS during difficult political, economic, and budgetary times.  (read more)

(information from      )

EMS Novels Bundle Pack [Kindle Edition] by Chelle Cordero

Living, Breathing, Writing

My Weekly Writing Workshop  (Living, Breathing, Writing) for Kindle has been discontinued. But you don’t have to miss out, go to for a copy of 60+ Days to Live, Breathe, & Write