She missed the bus by moments, turning the corner and running into the shelter only to see the rear end of number four zero nine, scheduled to arrive at three fifty pm, disappearing into the murky shadows half way down the road. Now she would have a half an hour wait in the cold and was stuck at the grotty bus stop with the rain whipping around the flimsy metal side. And to make it worse, there was a decrepit looking derelict stinking to high heaven from piss and god knows what sitting there leering at her from the middle of the only seat. Shit, if it wasn’t bad enough that she was running late for her afternoon shift, now she was going to be half frozen and wet into the bargain. Oh fuck it.
If things weren’t bad enough the foul smelling old fart was staring at her, his face breaking out into a leer as he patted the seat and mumbled to her that she should sit down next to him and he would keep her warm. As if, she thought, moving toward the edge of the footpath to peer up the road into the gloom in the hopes that a bus might be in sight but no such luck. The drunk, chancing his luck as she turned her back on him, took this opportunity to lurch to his feet and lunge at her from behind in an attempt to grab at her while he fumbled for his fly.
Oh god this can’t be happening she told herself, but before she could take a swing at the creep a car she had noticed pulled into the curb further up the road came slowly to a halt in front of her, the tinted window gliding slowly down and a face leant forward to peer through the narrow opening. ‘Are you all right, do you need some help?’ The voice was soft, well-spoken and extremely welcome. ‘Can I give you a lift?’ it asked politely.
She hesitated for a moment but looking up the road again there was no bus in sight and anything was preferable to sitting there being molested by the disgusting figure now cowering at the back of the shelter. ‘Thanks that would be great. I just need to get up to High Street if you don’t mind.’
The door opened silently and she slipped in to the front passenger seat glad to be in out of the cold and away from the loathsome creature now mumbling to himself again. ‘Are you sure you don’t mind?’ she asked. ‘Not at all, trust me it will be my pleasure,’ the voice responded as the window closed and the doors locked automatically, ‘my pleasure entirely.’
‘Mitzie, Mitzie! Where the bloody hell has she gone? That bloody dog is so disobedient. Really you should take her to one of those obedience schools. She never bloody well comes when I call her.’ ‘That’s because she doesn’t like you darling, you just don’t have a way with her like I do,’ his companion was laughing as they trudged along the narrow overgrown path.
‘Really Margaret when you said lets go for a nice Sunday afternoon stroll I didn’t anticipate you dragging me half way along the river in all this mud looking for your silly mutt. That was not what I thought you had in mind at all.’ ‘Oh yes, and exactly what did you have in mind? No wait, let me guess – a stately walk of ten minutes or so straight down to the pub is more in your line isn’t it? Come on, stop grumbling. I think I can hear her barking over there behind that clump of bushes. She’s probably half way down a rabbit hole and can’t even her us. I promise if you get her then we will go to the pub, my shout. Now be a dear and just go have a look will you, the sooner we get her the sooner we can get going.’
‘Mitzie,’ he called again annoyed at having to scramble through the thick muddy undergrowth after all the rain there had been over the last few days. Everything was soaking wet under foot and his shoes were already leaking, not to mention that the bottom of his pants were soaked through. Parting the branches of the thicket he managed to force his way through and came up short on the river bank.
‘Did you find her, is she there?’ Margaret’s voice called from the path. ‘Stay where you are, don’t come here.’ He picked up the dog after untangling it from the broken branch its collar was caught on, and heedless of further damage to his shoes and clothes, he stumbled back ashen faced onto the path where Margaret was waiting.
‘Have you got your phone? Give me your phone,’ he ordered her, his face green and sweating. ‘What is it? What the hell is wrong?’ Before answering he shoved the dog in her arms and turned quickly off the path only to heave and vomit into the bushes. ‘Call the police,’ he mumbled in between bouts of retching, ‘and for god’s sake stay where you are.’
Crime scene tape stretched across the path keeping the few curious onlookers from getting anywhere near the remains that were now being photographed by forensics along with all the other routine investigations that accompanied a find of that kind. Margaret, Mitzie and their shaky companion had been bundled into a squad car by an over worked and apathetic Detective and taken to the station for further questioning and a strong cup of tea.
All routine and just another case of a body of a woman showing up in that part of the park, one of three over the last two years that fitted a pattern but gave no clues to who, what or why they had been murdered, too commonplace in this day and age to even make it into the local papers.
Another unsolved incident to go into the archives, one of many and not the last so Detective Chief Inspector Donald Shark of the CID, known to his crew members affectionately as Jaws, concluded as he sat in the pub that night with a few of the others that had been there today. All were attempting to wind down and forget the sights and smells that were all too much a part of their lives.
It sucked but it was a job. The passion had long ago disappeared; the horror lingered at night in the dreams that haunted them all. Who needs it, there has to be something better, he just had to find it he thought to himself while downing his third whiskey and admitting that it was too late in his life to change careers now and truth be told, he didn't really want to anyway.
‘Oi Destiny, where are you off to then,’ Rusty Neils called out as a well-dressed and good looking member of the rowdy group stood up to leave. Rusty’s real name was Len but because of his red hair, well it was obvious he would be called Rusty, Rusty Neils. Everyone in the squad had some kind of nick name; it was par for the course. Destiny was David Trahern’s. He was called that because he was deep and philosophical, something that the others normally would think was a load of bollocks but in his case they put up with him because of the brilliant photographic work he did and the fact that at nearly every crime scene he had attended since joining them almost three years ago now, he would survey the scene with different eyes, the eyes of a photographer sharp and keen, spotting details that others had missed or just not noticed.
It wasn’t just that either that earned him the name as on almost every occasion he would quietly pronounce in his soft well-spoken voice, as he looked at the remains of some poor sodding victim, he would declare it was their destiny.
At least David’s name was a bit more flattering than Ian McCafferty’s. He was known as Socks chiefly because at every chance once back at the office he had he would kick off his shoes and his feet stank. Frank Banks was known as Money and Robin Ward was known as the boy wonder. It was all stupid really but helped them to bond; you couldn’t do that line of work without being in tight with those that you worked with, depended upon for support, and in some cases, your sanity.
‘So where are you off to then, got a hot date?’ Rusty chided, the snickering from the group at the table rolling off David’s back. In the nearly three years he had been with that particular squad no one had ever seen him with a bird despite the fact that they fell all over him. He was the one that always dressed immaculately, tailored suits, shoes polished, and hair cut into the latest styles and looking sharp. He even went to a gym, worked out and went for runs after work to keep in shape. He could have been on the cover of a magazine he was so good looking and well turned out. And didn’t they all give him shit for it but still, they admired him and liked him and that said a lot.
‘No mate, I’m knackered. I’m off home, see you all in the morning,’ he responded as he downed the last of his Southern Comfort, crunching the remains of the ice hurriedly and took his glass over to the bar to save the overworked pretty barmaid Betty a trip to their table where no doubt one or more of his colleagues would attempt to hit on her. ‘Night all,’ he nodded to them and was gone.
‘Do you reckon he is gay?’ the boy wonder asked Jaws as a matter of interest. Don shook his head and thought for a moment. ‘Could be but somehow I don’t think so. I think he is just looking for the right one, you know, he still believes in that sort of thing. Got to be someone really special to put up with being married to one of us, just have a look at the statistics, two out of three marriages in the job end in divorce,’ he took another sip of his drink thankful that he had his Iris waiting at home to go to and then he continued on. ‘He could have any bird that he fancied, take Betty here, she is fairly panting for him but no deal or not that I know of. Then again do you remember PC Lucy Barnes, she was gorgeous and had the hots for him something shocking but no deal? It takes all kinds and let’s face it, he does a bloody good job, he knows his stuff.’
‘If you ask me he got burnt when he was younger and never got over it, you know one of those childhood sweetheart things that leave you scarred,’ Socks said, much to the surprise of the others at the table. Socks wasn’t exactly known for being terribly thoughtful about anything to do with love or women. He was on his third marriage and even that was pretty shaky. The fact that he was old school and believed that a woman should be barefoot and pregnant might have had something to do with his not so successful marital history and that was why his remark caused so much wonder from the others. You just never knew about some people despite how they came across.
‘So Boss, any ideas on today’s find?’ Money was asking as he took the recently vacated seat that David had occupied next to Jaws. Don rubbed his nose, a habit that he had when he was deeply concerned about things. ‘You know until we get the autopsy report and follow up on that charm bracelet found under her body that we can’t get a move on but it’s funny, there is something about this one that…’ ‘Another round Jaws?’ Rusty interrupted much to Money’s annoyance, ‘Betty’s about to call last drinks, one for the road?’ ‘No mate, it’s been a long day, think I’ll head home too. Iris will be waiting supper for me. I’ll see you lot in the morning, don’t be late we have a lot to do.’
Coroner’s report –
Age: approximately 23 years
Weight: 8 stone 2 lbs
Cause of Death: Strangulation
Other injuries: multiple burn marks to arm, legs and face, lacerations to upper torso and lower torso, genital mutilation, vaginal and rectum contusions. Left hand third finger missing believed to be crudely amputated.
Injuries found to be pre and post asphyxiation
Possible cause: cigarette burns, sharp knife serrated edge
Sexual activity: Evidence of vaginal and anal penetration pre and post asphyxiation coitus
DNA match: N/A
Finger print match: N/A
Position: body found face down, arms and legs bound with barbed wire behind back
Identity: Julie Dawn Brown
Address: living with parents at XX Summer Hill Road
Missing persons file: Reported missing 23rd November 2007
Date of Death: Between November – December 2007 approximate
Next of Kin: Notified
Personal Case Notes – DCI D Shark:
Victim lived at home with parents. Was quiet, well liked, no apparent enemies. Not involved with the wrong crowd. She belonged to a small group of friends all from sound middle class background, no criminal records found. Tight knit family, parents inconsolable, from all accounts they had never had any trouble, no rejected ex-boyfriend and no other back ground history to indicate perpetrator was known to victim. Victim left for work in afternoon to go to telecommunications sales job in call centre as per normal routine. When she didn’t show up at work her parents were contacted and they called in a missing person’s report that evening. Witness described seeing a girl fitting her description running for a bus but it has been established through the bus company security footage that she did not take the 409 bus due at 3.50 pm bus on route 37.
No other sightings after this time. The weather at the time was wet with heavy rain and cold winds, light and visibility mediocre.
Body located some three miles from bus stop in Fairburrow Park on the banks of Skippington River.
Charm bracelet found beneath body identified as not belonging to victim. The bracelet has been sourced to most major one pound shop outlets and markets, generally popular item and worn predominately by teenage girls, one charm attached: half a heart