DI John Oros’ was on call this weekend, and was hoping for a silent phone. Give him a chance to recover from his stinking cold, caught during an early morning raid with the Territorial Support Group on Monday.
It was not to be though. The gruesome discovery in the small park separating Royal College Street and St Pancras Way, came with clue – a confession. The Duty Officer had authorised the TSG call out, who were already knocking on doors at the flats in Farrier Street.
‘Multiple stab-wounds to the chest,’ noticed DS Oliver Sklena.
His small framed body lay lifeless. Eyes wide open in terror, having witnessed his very own murder only a few hours ago.
‘I am guessing 3-5 hours,’ said the FME. ‘We’ll have to wait for the coroner’s report. The killer delivered downward blows to the chest. With the victim being about 5 ft 7, you are possibly looking for a female. Maybe someone he knows and trusts to meet here in the middle of the night. There are no signs of a struggle or anything to suggest he was not killed elsewhere and carried here.’
‘So,’ said Oros, ‘no ID, description does not much and missing persons, no witnesses apart from the dog walker, and possibly a female killer.’
‘In a nutshell - yes,’ said Sklena. ‘SOCO are running the note down to the Yard for an urgent manual fingerprint search. The area car is on a blue light run to the science lab with the DNA. The DCI is aware and has set up the Major Incident Room in Holborn nick. We’re meeting at 9 am for briefing.’
‘What about CCTV?’ said Oros looking up for cameras.
‘Uniform have gone to collect the tapes for the Kentish Town Road cameras.’
Just before 9, Oros was feeding the Holborn canteen coffee machine with coins. With an Americano in hand, he climbed down the flight of stairs to the incident room. The DCI had already gathered a team for the Murder Investigation Team. The indexer was feeding the hungry intelligence computer with data. Camden had no known female killers, so the net had to expand.
‘We may have a lead,’ opened DCI Natasha Dason. ‘A John Thomas from Mansfield Road. TSG have secured the premises for a section 18 house search. He was a stock broker, and a loner. He had given a Jane Thomas as his next of kin to his GP. She is a long distance cousin. A locate and trace marker has been put on PNC. John, you and Sklena go to St Pancras Mortuary for the PM.’
‘It doesn’t get any easier,’ said Sklena on the way to the morgue. They were both lost in their own thoughts.
The Doctor cut the skin straight down the sternum and along the bottom of the neck. Oros looked away when he took the big cutters to the ribs. It reminded him of life’s futility.
‘Seven downward thrust to the left side of the chest. Collapsed lung and a puncture wound to the heart. You are looking for a 6 inch serrated knife. There are no skin traces under the fingernails and no bruising, indicating that no struggle took place. Time of death, between 0130 and 0200 hours. Cause of death - massive internal bleeding. By the way Oros, traces of a curry were found in his stomach.’
Sklena was already on the phone, despatching DCs to the local restaurants. He looked excited as he put the phone down.
‘CCTV recording show him and a female walking down Kentish Town Road, crossing Prince of Wales Road. That was last night, around 1245 hours. They disappear and then get picked up again at Royal College Street crossing towards the park. The cousin has been located but does not match the description of the female on CCTV.’
‘Let’s go and talk to her,’ said Oros.
Jane was a petite woman - much like her dead cousin. She was visibly upset, sobbing as she was trying to catch her breath.
‘She’s in shock,’ said Dason. ‘Her girlfriend is on her way. We’ll take a video statement off her later.
Anna, Jane’s girlfriend, was much taller and fuller. Her expression was very matter of fact, showing little emotion, even when she consoled Jane.
‘Done some checks on Anna,’ said Sklena. She has one previous for shoplifting. The only thing boss…have you seen her left hand? There is a small cut in the small of her left palm.’
‘We’ll interview her under caution,’ replied Oros.
‘I am DI Oros and this is DS Sklena, the time now is 1945 hrs. We understand you own a bookshop.’
‘Yeah, that’s right. I have small shop in W1.’
‘Can you tell me how you got that cut on your hand.’
‘I got it ‘cos I’m a reader. I’m and avid reader of texts. And that worm, used to text my girlfriend – but I read them all. I love you, he said; I want to get to know you better, he said; I want to spend time with you, he said. I could not ignore it. She was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I was not gonna let her go.’ Her voice was full of venom and spite.
So I phoned him, and said I was her best friend, would like to meet you – I said,’ she hissed. ‘We arranged to meet at my bookshop. I just knew it was him. Deep, masculine, expensive aftershave. Suave and full of confidence. I had read every book on how to deceive the victim, how to weave a web round him. He was not going to take my lover away with his silly jokes and face full of fancy creams. My answer was there before me – on my shelves,’ she said through clenched teeth.
‘He was not looking for a relationship Anna. He was her cousin, just her cousin,’ said Oros.
‘What? But I thought…that can’t be,’ said despondently falling back in her chair.’
‘Anna, I am arresting for murder,’ said DI Oros.
She hardly heard him cautioning her. Her head was spinning as the realisation of events hit her hard. She cannot remember being booked into custody, nor can she recall the long shriek that echoed on the stony walls of Holborn when Jane was told.
Anna looked up at the shelves in Holloway Prison’s library. All stocked up neatly. Three years had passed and she had read most of them…
...for the answer is in the books.