Laura Hayward is a New York Police Department detective captain in the homicide division. She has a long history as an associate and collaborator with Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast. Despite a strict "by-the-book" professional policy that often finds her at odds with Pendergast's somewhat consequentialist approach to police work, she has a begrudging respect for the FBI agent and continues to assist him in official and non-official capacities.
Appearance and Mannerisms
Laura Hayward is a petite woman with pale skin, rich blue eyes (originally clear brown in her first appearance in Reliquary) and blue-jet black hair. She has a thin well-endowed 5'3" figure and a deep contralto voice that belies her smallish frame. Despite her stature, she exudes a natural self-confidence and sense of authority.
Hayward has a master's degree in forensic psychology from New York University. Her thesis was on caste structure among the "mole people" living in the tunnels under New York City; she had a related article published in the Journal of Abnormal Sociology just prior to the events of Reliquary.
Hayward practices shotokan karate and sometimes does exercises in her office. She is also semi-fluent in Spanish.
Hayward is married to NYPD Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta. The couple met while investigating the New York Underground Murders in Reliquary, while Hayward was still a sergeant. When another murder investigation in Brimstone brought them together again, they began a long, off-and-on relationship that finally led to their engagement in Two Graves and marriage just prior to the opening of Blue Labyrinth.
Early Life and Career
Laura Hayward was born in Macon, Georgia, the second child of a welder father and a mother who was a homemaker. Her older brother was killed in action in a "friendly fire" incident when she was eight years old. She would lose both of her parents to cancer within the next two years, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother. An eighteen-month stint as a substitute dispatcher for the New Orleans Police Department solidified her interest in a law enforcement career and prompted her to enroll in the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Hayward eventually joined the New York City Transit Police, and became a sergeant in the NYPD's homicide division when the Transit Police merged with the department. Following the events of Reliquary, she turned down a promotion and left the department to focus her efforts on her degree, graduating from New York University with a master's degree in forensic psychology, she returned to the NYPD, where, through a combination of drive, merit, and fortuitous timing, she was made the youngest female captain in the history of the department. Following a series of related high-profile cases involving the Pendergast brothers, Hayward accepted a lateral assignment to the commissioner's office, but after back-office politics result in her being passed over for a coveted task force appointment, she returned to the Homicide Division.
Hayward made her first appearance in Reliquary, showing up unannounced in Lieutenant D'Agosta's office, wanting to speak to him about the New York Underground Murders. She shared some rumors that she had heard in her time as a "rouster", about half a dozen murders among the homeless matching the MO of the Pamela Wisher case. She expressed her frustration with her commanding officer, Captain Jack Waxie, who did not believe the homeless murders were worth investigating.
Hayward led an exploratory excursion with D'Agosta and Waxie into the tunnels to investigate the scene of one of the murders. There they found a blood-soaked mattress and the head of the victim, Shasheen Walker. As they gathered the head and some of Walker's effects, the homeless began to throw glass bottles and stones. Waxie panicked, while D'Agosta earned a modicum of respect from Hayward for keeping a cool head.
Later, Hayward was officially assigned to the Underground Murders case and helped D'Agosta catalogue and map the homeless murders. At this time she first met Special Agent Pendergast, who had returned to New York after learning of the similarities between the recent killings and the Museum Beast Murders.
As the death toll climbed, Pendergast began to make trips into the deep tunnels in search of information. He and D'Agosta both recognized Hayward as an expert on the underground homeless and a mutual respect grew between the three of them. With the help of Al Diamond, a city engineer, they located the center of the killings in an area of tunnels called the "Devil's Attic". They also determined that the murders were the work of several killers working in tandem.
When a plan was made to flood the tunnels by draining the Central Park Reservoir. Hayward was assigned to help roust the homeless from the tunnels near the reservoir. The squad was attacked by a mob of mole people and the panicked commanding officer ordered tear gas fired, quickly making the confined space uninhabitable. Hayward teamed up with another former transit police officer named Carlin and led the squad to safety.
Back on the surface the two helped disperse a group of angry New Yorkers from the Take Back Our City movement who had come to fight the homeless. Hayward and Carlin arrived at Central Park just in time to see the reservoir flood and overflow into the Great Lawn.
Laura Hayward reappeared in Brimstone as a captain in the NYPD Homicide Division, where she was reunited with D'Agosta and Pendergast during the investigation of the devil killings and subsequently began a relationship with D'Agosta. While the case led D'Agosta and Pendergast to Italy, Hayward found herself in the midst of a potential mass riot in Central Park: a tent city had sprouted in the southeast end of the park headed by Wayne Buck, a charismatic end-of-days preacher with a messianic complex. As tensions between Buck's followers and the New York City police reached the boiling point, Hayward figured out Buck's biblical motivation and defused the situation by playing into it, earning the admiration of the mayor and NYPD brass. Upon D'Agosta's return from Italy, Hayward asked him to move in with her.
When a presumed-dead Pendergast reached out from beyond the grave to involve D'Agosta in the hunt and capture of Diogenes Pendergast, Hayward grew increasingly frustrated with the effect is was having on D'Agosta's career—and their relationship. After a string of particularly unique murders of past Pendergast associates, Hayward began looking into them herself. Unfortunately, her "by-the-book" tendencies led her to follow Diogenes's carefully prepared trail exactly as designed, arriving at his intended conclusion: Pendergast himself was the killer, using "Diogenes" as an alternate personality.
She made a final plea to D'Agosta to turn Pendergast in, which went unanswered. Her revelation of Pendergast's guilt later brought the full attention of the FBI, who quickly took over both the search for Pendergast and the investigation of the associated killings. However, thanks to a reluctant tip from D'Agosta, it was the NYPD who found and arrested Pendergast, much to Spencer Coffey's chagrin.
Hayward later visited the incarcerated Pendergast with new information: two of his purported victims were quite insistent that he was not the perpetrator, while a third corroborated that Diogenes was, in fact, very real and very much his own person.
Facing her own doubts about her conclusions, and with several of Pendergast's associates affirming her suspicions that Diogenes had framed him, Hayward began taking a deeper look into the murders Pendergast was accused of committing. She was also tasked with investigating a pair of seemingly unrelated murders surrounding the opening of the Tomb of Senef exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. She eventually came to the conclusion that D'Agosta had been right all along: Diogenes was not only responsible for everything she had pinned on Pendergast, but based on a profile from Eli Glinn and Effective Engineering Solutions, he wasn't finished yet.
Desperate, she sought D'Agosta's help, finding him at the EES offices, where she was shocked to discover that Glinn and D'Agosta had liberated Pendergast from Herkmoor Correctional Facility earlier that day. Against every instinctive fiber in her being, Hayward accepted Pendergast's assistance as the three of them raced to the Tomb's opening party, where she played a central role in disrupting Diogenes's plan.
Later, she arrived unannounced as D'Agosta waited for his disciplinary hearing to begin, reaffirming their relationship and filling him in on the fallout from their adventure with the Pendergast brothers: all charges against Aloysius dropped by both the FBI and NYPD, warrants issued for Diogenes, and a six month leave from the Bureau for Aloysius.
- Despite revealing that her mother died of cancer when she was eight in Brimstone, when Hayward's cell phone was called in Fever Dream, she mentally notes that few people know that number, listing her mother among those that do.