This is the thirteenth part of a fiction serial, in 1490 words.
Tom Henderson had been running around in his car all afternoon. He had managed to contact four of the most active burglars, all men he knew well. He didn’t think for a second that any of them would have done the job in Waterloo Close. It was too messy, and they would never attack anyone who discovered them, when they had an easy exit through the back door. Three of them had decent alibis, but Kenny Fletcher claimed to have been at home all weekend nursing a toothache, and had nothing to back up his story except an obviously swollen face. When it was almost seven, he popped into Super Fry in the High Street, and bought fish and chips to take home. It was one of the few places open on Sundays.
She was still sitting on the sofa, awake but vacant. He switched on the TV for her, and gave her the food on a tray. After a while, she had only eaten a few of the chips, so he tried to make her eat more. “Come on Karen, try some of that fish before it gets cold. It will be good for you”. She nodded, but just sat with her fork dangling over the plate. Tom ate his own meal, which was now cold, but as he went through into the kitchen to put the kettle on, his mobile phone started ringing. He answered in his usual way. “Henderson”. It was Sally from work. “Tom, it’s Sally here. Briefing at nine, make sure you’re there. Did you get anything on those burglars?” Tom sighed. “Nothing solid sarge, just one with no alibi, I will be there at nine”. He turned back to his wife. “Got to go back in soon, love. Try to eat some more, eh?”
Lucy was busy in the kitchen, trying to distract herself from worrying about her story. She was hoping that her short interview with the policeman would be the end of it, and she would never have to divulge where she had really been. Her main task was to prepare a nice meal for Alex, and try to reestablish some sort of relationship with her distant husband. He suddenly called from the living room. “Lucy, come and see this. It’s on the news”.
Alex turned up the volume as his wife joined him on the sofa. A serious-looking young woman was delivering a report from the end of their street, a huge microphone held up in front of her face. “Early information suggests that a young man, Allan Sinclair, was alone in the house. He is believed to have disturbed a burglar, and was killed in what appears to be a struggle following that. Allan is known to have been suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, and had the mental age of a child. He attended Lynwood Special School until recently, and was currently unemployed. Police continue to search the surrounding area, and the investigation continues. Paula Underwood, BBC news.” As the news changed to a report of a road accident on the M25 near London, Alex muted the volume. Lucy shook her head. “How do they know all that? We have lived next door to them all these years, and had no idea. Special School? Asperger’s? June never said a word. Who told the BBC?”
He smiled. “They have their sources. Probably someone inside the local Police.” Alex picked up the newspaper again, and flicked through the magazine section as Lucy went back to her cooking. But he wasn’t reading, just thinking. If the report was correct, that would explain why the boy seemed sly, uncommunicative, and rude. Also why he didn’t work, and played the same music constantly. Perhaps he hadn’t been the boy Alex had imagined he was at all. So be it, collateral damage. His parents should have spoken up earlier. He checked the TV listings, as there was a film he wanted to watch later.
Superintendent Singh had to leave to get back to the city. He had nominated Inspector Mullins to run the enquiry from there, and to keep him in the loop. In turn, Mullins told Sally Wilcox to act as the senior investigating officer, at least as far as collating all the information and evidence. “It’s a chance for you to make a great impression with a big case, sergeant. But naturally the Superintendent will oversee everything, and all decisions must be run by me first, understood?” Sally nodded excitedly. They would call it career development, she knew that. But the reality was they were sticking it all on her, making her defend her reputation, and earn her money. She would show them though, and solve the case, whatever it took. She rang Emily at home. “Hi darling, no idea when I will be back. it’s all kicking off here, and we have a full team briefing at nine. Don’t wait up”.
Eduardo was using his smartphone to access the online dating site. It had cost nothing to register, but he would be charged for any contacts made, and messages sent. Right from page one, he found so many possibles. Wealthy widows, lonely singles, professional women, and divorcees with children. He applied some more search filters. No young dependent children, women aged over fifty, and no living no further away than the city. He couldn’t afford to own a car, so they had to be somewhere he could get to easily. Once the page reloaded, there were still almost one hundred options. It never ceased to amaze him how many lonely females were looking for love.
The conference room was crowded by the time the briefing was due to start. Tom had got there early, hoping it wouldn’t drag on too long. Sally had put up photos, maps, and cards with names, all attached to the huge whiteboard. She had used a blue marker pen for names, and a red one for other information. Inspector Mullins waved his hands for silence, and the assorted officers and technical staff settled down as he spoke. “We all know Sergeant Wilcox, and she will be presenting what we have established so far. Please give her your full attention, and take notes.”
Sally took a deep breath, and turned to look at her colleagues.
“Thank you sir. Right everyone. We have the murder of a young disabled man, Allan Sinclair. He was in the house alone we think, as his parents were away camping in their motor-home until this morning. He appears to have disturbed a burglar, and been incapacitated by being hit on the head with a chair leg from a broken chair next to the body. Then his killer has finished him off by using the chair leg to choke him, suggesting that he recovered from the first blow, and a fight ensued in the hallway. It is possible that he didn’t intend to kill Allan, but that’s what happened. Time of death is around nineteen hundred hours on Friday, so he was lying undiscovered all weekend.
The post-mortem was done on the hurry-up, and as you can see from the photos behind me, he sustained a powerful blow to the head, and has severe bruising to his neck and throat. Splinters and varnish from the chair leg have been found on both injuries, and the official cause of death is strangulation, using the chair leg to obstruct his airway.
So far, we have no fingerprints other than those of Allan and his parents. A search of the front and back had been carried out, but was no help. The FLO will talk to the Sinclairs about what might have been taken from the house, but my guess is that nothing was stolen, as he was disturbed. We have very little to go on, so we have to take the other routes available until we get more detailed forensics.
I want you all to think about your criminal contacts. Hassle your informants, delve deep in your minds to think about who might be a suspect for this. Then there is everyone who knew the victim. Class mates, school friends, relatives, and neighbours. And lets not forget Mum and dad. They were supposedly away, but we are checking that with the campsite. Local witnesses, let’s go hard on that, and you two guys checking the CCTV, make sure you have requested everything. There are only eight houses in Waterloo Close, and it’s a dead-end street. Anyone using a vehicle would have had to turn around at some stage, and someone must have seen them come and go. Jog their memories, keep asking them. Get them in to look at mugshots. You know the drill”.
Inspector Mullins nodded as she finished. “Thanks, Sally. Now the rest of you, forget about going home tonight, we need to get on this while it’s still hot. Get to work, and get results.”
Tom Henderson slumped down in the uncomfortable plastic chair. It was going to be a long night.
To be continued…