Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Jardine staggered out into a light so bright it almost hurt his eyes. As he lurched drunkenly through the doors of the "Triple XXX" club and out onto the deserted streets his eyes screwed up and for a moment his face resembled some grotesque mole emerging from it's underground lair. He then realised that in order to drive the five minute journey home he would need his car keys. It took a few seconds for the thought processes to kick into gear whereupon he started rifling through his jacket pockets then inside to his waistcoat before finally trying the trouser pockets. Feeling something cold and hard and unlikely to be money in view of what he had passed across the bar he had his own little eureka moment and pulled out his keys. As he was congratulating himself on another fine piece of detective work, the realisation dawned on him, that he could not remember where it was that he had actually parked the damn vehicle all those drunken hours ago. So as driving was not an option he pulled his trousers back up to just above gut level as they had dropped down from there and were racing towards the pavement to the point of indecency! Fastening his belt but unable to negotiate the doing up of his top button on the slacks he wandered off into Market Street to get a taxi and then home.
Detective Chief Inspector Joe Easter had been a child prodigy. Everything that he tried, whether it was sport, Academic study, interaction with other people or just being able to pull the tastiest bird! He was always successful and had no time for finishing second in anything. Joe didn't subscribe to the "Competing is all" school of thought. He epitomised everything that winning was all about and used to espouse his dogma that "nobody ever remembers the runner-up" constantly. His faith in his own abilities knew no bounds, he was confident to the point of arrogance but he knew what he wanted from life and how to get it. On leaving school he could have picked more or less any career path he wanted which included trials with one of the big Yorkshire clubs playing their football in the Championship and rumour had it that Everton were very interested in signing him up such was his talent. So the fact that he ignored all of these potential "cash cows" and instead joined the Police force raised quite a few eyebrows especially those of mr and mrs Easter who trod a rather different path career wise. Their working lives were spent just the other side of the law, and some might have said, that they were villains pure and simple, but they did have the knack of being just out of reach when it came to arrest on the very many occasions that they were suspects in whatever criminal act had just been perpetrated. As career criminals it seemed unlikely, or so they thought, that their only son would join the Police force "The filth" as Vi Easter used to refer to them. Joe Easter had risen through the ranks from probationer, then Constable up to the position he held now of Detective Chief Inspector in just eleven years. This rate of ascent was quite astonishing and this would not be his last rise upwards through the force.
Just after six in the morning an upset mother, one mrs Ivy Hanson, made a telephone call to the local police station at Langdon Squawk. The woman was very concerned about her young daughter's whereabouts. She was aware though that Judith had only been missing for less than two days, basing this time line of forty eight hours on the fact that as she was at Spanish lessons on Monday and as today was now Wednesday by employing a simple process of elimination the amount of hours that were left was indeed forty eight. In view of these details mrs Hanson was loathe to cause a fuss and was in need of advice more than action. In truth mrs Hanson was sure that Bert had spoken to mr Collier at the Legion last night who had briefly conversed with his daughter Anita just prior to her having to rush out of the house to catch the ten past bus, as if she didn't catch that one she would be late for her new job in Millington that she had only started two weeks previous. Anita had said that Judith was there on the Monday night, might even have sat next to her she seemed to recall. So with Judith being seen two days ago it wouldn't appear that she had been missing for more than forty eight hours.
"I am sure there is nothing to worry about mrs Hanson" said a slightly fidgety WPC June Ogden, engaged as she was in the removal of several stray black hairs from the front of her otherwise pristine white blouse. WPC Ogden was genuine in her belief in the veracity of her last statement and was doing her best to soothe mrs Hanson.
"What I would suggest mrs Hanson is that you come into the station here and bring some recent photographs of your daughter with you so that we can issue them to our officers who can keep a look out for Judith, they can find out about her recent movements if she was last seen alone or maybe with a friend. Check out her usual haunts see if anyone there remembers anything and generally keep their eyes and ears open".
" She normally phones me after her class on Monday evening just for a bit of a chat you know , but not this Monday. I was sat by the telephone waiting and waiting, three hours or so I sat there and me being sat in the same position for all that time was not good for me veins. But I wouldn't get up and walk round just in case, you know, wouldn't have wanted to miss her call. I've bad circulation you see and it was giving me some jip I don't mind telling you. But then I see's that it's now ten thirty so I said to Bert, that's my husband, Judith's dad, that I was going to phone her so I did. Three times I called but she didn't answer, just had that blooming machine on and I wont talk to a robot when I can talk to flesh and blood in my Judith" she said, before taking in a gulp of air to replace some of the oxygen expelled during her outpouring to the WPC. The police woman had now eased her left shoe off and onto the floor, as for some reason the left one was a little tight, constraining her toes and pinching across the instep. As she kicked the errant shoe off she had to stifle a quiet, but still audibly perceptible- just, moan of pure pleasure at the relief that swept over her as she discarded the painful footwear. Then picking up the receiver which she had dropped into her lap just as mrs Hanson was beginning to speak on the telephone and in so doing was beginning her seemingly endless sentence, she once again reiterated what she had said when she first answered the phone:-
"As I said though, I wouldn't be at all surprised if your daughter has just decided at the last moment to go off somewhere, probably with a boyfriend. And as she is enjoying herself so much she has simply not given it a second thought that people might be worried about her whereabouts." Although very much out of character for Judith NOT to have called, nevertheless mrs Hanson had to concur with some of the things that WPC Ogden was saying. It WAS true that Judith on occasion was known to be a bit flighty and perhaps, not quite as reliable as she was at other times and had gone off somewhere, without as much as a text message, and had only got in touch when she had arrived at wherever the particular exotic location happened to be. Ivy was starting to feel a little less worried about Judith as she took in the WPC's words and thanked her for them.
"I will come into the station the day after tomorrow " said mrs Hanson. "I want to give her time to get in touch so with any luck I wont come in at all".
And with these words Ivy hung up the phone and was much less troubled by all of this and thought that this whole scenario was going to sort itself out and would prove to be one big mix up when Judith returned.
Anita Collier was not telling the truth about Monday, and her own whereabouts that night were also unknown. The one absolute truth that evening was that she was not anywhere near the language school. As Anita was still only just eighteen years old and really not very knowledgeable about the outside world due in no small part to her parents keeping her cocooned from all the nastier elements of life, she was not what would be called "street-smart" and could be susceptible to people taking advantage of her ( people meaning boys! ) and so they went to great lengths to weed out the undesirable ones and were not too shy about telling any of these potential suitors that they weren't up to speed and to keep away from their lovely daughter or else! One of these young men was the very antithesis of all they believed to be right and proper, both as a man and as a man who was interested in taking their beloved daughter from them and to remove her from the sanctuary of home. Tony Buckley was the name he used around these parts but was in truth only one of many pseudonyms that were called into play as and when the situation demanded. He was six feet five inches of solid muscle topped off with an extremely handsome face and a personality to match. He really could charm the birds out of the trees and women were mere playthings just putty in his hands. Anita worshiped him and even though it was forbidden by her parents she was secretly seeing him and she was with him on Monday at his flat in Lower Meath over twenty miles from the language school. This lie was going to unravel but by then it would be too late for Judith Hanson and the repercussions would be far reaching for those concerned with her welfare and everyone would feel the pain to some degree.
The Spanish course was made up of three twelve week blocks which began in January and ran through until the middle of October which allowed for three periods where the study of the language was paused to allow for people to recharge their batteries so to speak. And to get ready to begin the second part of the course. The course was run at the local municipal building which was actually an old church that had been converted. Perhaps religion wasn't as popular around Lower Letchford as once it might have been? Esespanol 1 nivelinicial or Spanish part one: was for people who were absolute novices and students who just wanted to learn the very basic rudiments so that instead of shouting slowly in idiots English at the waiter, now they could shout in idiots Spanish instead! And they would be doing their bit for anglo-Spanish relations by making the effort to "learn the lingo". Yes all in all these holiday makers flying to the Spanish resorts were a different class of sun worshiper in view of the fact that not only were they sitting courses up and down the country but they were also collecting their teach yourself Spanish DVD's which were to be found attached to such prestigious publications as "The Sun" at about the same time every summer just as the holiday weather of rain, rain and yet more rain begins in the UK.
Guillermo Escobar was a thirty one year old Argentinean Spanish tutor who exuded the confidence of a man who could speak five languages, at least two of them perfectly. He was also extremely good looking, very charming and had the sort of smile which would have put him on the front cover of dentists weekly had such a magazine actually existed! His ability to make even the most boring sections of the "Libro del alumno " course into something that was no longer dull and uninteresting but instead both informative and entertaining was a feat of epic proportions and one which belied his own rather less epic proportions, standing just five feet seven inches in bare feet. But even though slight of stature he was charismatic enough to be the centre of attention wherever he was in attendance. The fluency with which he spoke in English was something of a paradox within this learning environment when you considered that many of the students that were striving to master the romance language in a spectacularly short period of time were still trying to master their own language, which some of the group had been speaking for well over forty years without getting anywhere near the fluency of Guillermo Escobar.
"You look bloody terrible Andy" were the first words that Andrew Jardine heard on his arrival back at the station. Those dulcet tones belonged to WPC Ogden who was today wearing different shoes and as they seemed to softly caress her dainties rather than smash and bludgeon her pinkies with a seven pound hammer she was in a very good mood indeed.
Andy Jardine, with his now customary hang dog expression, face flushed, hacking up phlegm, was now turning one hundred and eighty degrees towards where the sound came from, still red faced due entirely to his ever rising blood pressure and certainly not because he was embarrassed, perish the thought, now faced his abuser Ogden, collected any thoughts he may have had and then countered with:-
" Listen Shortarse if I want your opinion I will chuffing well give you it! Now be a love and make us a cup of tea, four sugars in mine!" and with that he took his malodorous, sweaty corpulence off outside for a cigarette and to shoot the breeze with the Boyle brothers over by the bins. The bins being the designated area in which to engage in the filthy practice of smoking that is and not shooting the breeze.
For the last few days Bert Hanson had been complaining to anyone who would listen about an awful putrid stench that seemed to be coming from the other side of the allotments. This ungodly smell wasn't too much of a problem if the wind was light or it was blowing back towards the old gas works, the source of the noxious unpleasantness Bert had decided but when the prevailing winds were from the east and blowing across from the gas works it was really an indescribable smell. Bert had other things on his mind at the moment though such as where was his daughter and who was she with and when would she get in touch?
"Andy I want you to meet your new partner. Allow me to introduce Detective Chief Inspector Joe Easter who comes to us highly recommended and right from under the noses of those reprobates at Q division Announced the Chief Superintendant and beckoned Easter into the office where Jardine was already offering his hand in the time honoured fashion.
" It's good to meet you Joe and I for one don't believe anything that those cocksuckers down at Q division say about you!" said the fat policeman jokingly as his beady little eyes scanned from top to toe the athletic young Detective standing in front of him.
"Nor do I believe what everyone including the cleaners and the catering staff are saying about you" came the retort from the young Detective. They say opposites attract and the two Detectives were certainly as different as the proverbial chalk and cheese. So based on that logic they hit it off straight away. With the social niceties out of the way the two officers of the law repaired to Jardine's office to begin tackling the back log of work. Obviously the major criminal activities were top of the pile, murder, armed robbery, rape were the most urgent then violent attacks that didn't end in death and then your common or garden fraud, embezzlement, minor robberies and towards the bottom of the pile:- people who are considered missing at this moment, but who haven't been AWOL long. Anonymous neighbours calling with tip-offs of Mr Statham being picked up to go to work every day at five thirty from the corner of Vincent Street and Ripperton Road whilst still signing on to get his benefit and his rent paid no doubt!
"This one here is still up and running I believe" said Jardine as he picked it up out of the tray and started reading the details aloud for Easter's ears.
"Young girl called Judith, Someone I can't read this writing - no I can't make head nor tail of it. I think that's an aitch what do you think Joe?" and with that he passed the paperwork to Easter. Easter involuntarily moved his right hand to his chin while scrutinising the name, at first it seemed to Jardine that he held the item too closely to his face for reading anything, let alone this illegible scrawl that both men were trying to decipher. No result from that distance, he then extended his left arm out fully which again yielded nothing and then finally at a point in between the first two he hit pay dirt.
"Hanson, it's Hanson you were right about the aitch but as for the rest of the letters-SHOCKING!"
"Yes I think one or two here could do with some writing lessons, you know just the basics like how to fucking write someone's name correctly!" Jardine broke wind very loudly, with his emission being not only very audible to the people in and around the vicinity of his office, but the stench was at once so all pervasively smelly that it caused one poor soul who was just reporting a missing skateboard to wretch to near vomiting. She was taken from that place, quite unable to breath, her face crimson and tears streaming down her chubby cheeks, into another room, where she finished her report ,then rushed off out into fresh air ,where she made a full recovery, but alas the stolen skateboard was never recovered.
The strength of the acrid pungency borne of Andy Jarvis's nether regions had at last lost some of it's impact and slowly the aroma was waning to the point where it was now possible to breath in once again. Andy Jardine had finally ceased his uncontrollable laughter. And was now regaining his composure. Whereupon he picked up the missing person file and again started reading.
Judith Hanson had now been missing for close on four days. There was only one confirmed sighting of her prior to her disappearance and that was stated by Anita Collier who said she had seen Judith at Spanish lessons on the Monday night. Where had she gone from there and perhaps more importantly who had she gone with? Joe Easter once more picked up the by now well worn file and started again examining the details on the document paying particular attention to the few statements made by the parents, a vagrant who said that he stopped her and asked her if she could spare any change for food on the Tuesday. This statement was viewed with suspicion as the person making the statement was well known for being an alcoholic and drug abuser and just last year he walked into a Police station in Framley, the next town along the coast, about eight miles from Jardine's station in Lower Meath whereupon he gave himself up for two murders, one that took place in Ripley a further six miles from Lower Meath which was proven beyond any doubt by forensics to have occurred between seven and nine PM on Tuesday the fifteenth of April 2003 as well as admitting murdering another victim who was killed seventeen miles from Lower Meath in a small place called Gullwing which took place on Tuesday the fifteenth of april 2003 at between six thirty and eight thirty according once again to forensics. He was nearly arrested and charged with wasting Police time but it would have served no useful purpose so when he had sobered up they just slung him back out onto the streets with a warning not to do anything like that again. And then the last statement from Anita Collier saying she was seen at the Spanish lesson last Monday, Joe Easter looked at these words very closely and knew something was amiss but couldn't fathom out what it was. Anita Collier, he ran the name through his own personal computer - his brain and nothing came up for a few moments, then he remembered that name "Anita Collier" was the name that the girl answered to on that Monday night when Easter was questioning the motorcyclist about routine matters of a driving nature and she was riding pillion. They were questioned at about seven thirty in Lower Meath a distance of more than twenty miles from the Spanish school which precluded her from being anywhere near the class so she could not have seen her and she was lying so that put a different slant on everything.
Andy Jardine and Joe Easter had some calls to make starting with Anita Collier to establish why she was lying about Judith being at Spanish class last Monday. It was just after seven on Friday morning when the Detectives drove up the driveway to number 355 Saint Bernadette avenue. Anita must have seen them drive past the window as she answered the front door.
"Good morning miss, Anita is it?" asked Jardine rhetorically
"Yes that's right and who are you gentlemen?" she asked the fat one directly.
"I am Detective Chief Super Intendant Jarvis and this is Detective Chief Inspector Easter and we are from the Merry Hill police divisional squad. We are investigating the disappearance of someone we believe to be a friend of yours namely Judith Hanson"
"May we come in miss? Enquired the slim Detective.
"Yes of course, come in please" she intonated as she signalled for them to enter the house.
"Please go through into the sitting room and make yourself comfortable officers"
"Would you like a cup of tea or coffee ?" she asked of both men. Jardine gestured a refusal by shaking his head, and then expanded on the refusal of Anita's offer:-
"No thank you miss we've both just had one back at the nick"
"You have one by all means miss and then we would like to ask you some questions regarding, what, if anything you know about the whereabouts of Judith Hanson" Anita's face dropped almost to the floor, or so it seemed. And her already pale complexion became even more wan then ashen and finally verging on grey. The young girl was looking very unwell but as she sat back in her father's reclining chair sipping from a glass of water and collecting her thoughts Anita was about to offer her explanation. As she began her account of what she knew as well as why she lied, to her horror she could hear the distinct jangling sound of a number of keys being sorted through in order to find the two keys for the front door. Anita's father was letting himself in and wasn't going to be very happy that two Detectives were in the house questioning his beloved daughter. She heard the front door close and her father take off his hat, scarf and coat and hang them all up on the stand, stoop down to pick up the mail that Anita had twice walked over and then speak loudly.
"Anita where are you love who does that car belong to?" as he uttered the last syllable he had opened the door to the sitting room and was upon them.
"Ooh hello we've got company then have we Anita dear?" he said on the realisation that the room was full of strangers. He glanced quickly at first one Detective, then the other before making eye contact with his daughter and waited for answers.
"Dad these gentlemen are police, they are here investigating the disappearance of Judith and I am just helping with their enquiries" on hearing this her father interjected:-
"Still missing is she? mind she won't have gone far I bet, a little bit too headstrong for my liking". And as he said this he stared directly at Anita:-
"But what can you tell them that you haven't already?" he asked her out of rhetoric
"I mean you saw her at Spanish last Monday didn't you love ?" as he spoke these words Anita's head dropped and she stared directly at her feet.
"Well sir there would seem to be some sort of mix up over this detail and we are merely trying to clarify when it was your daughter actually did see Judith" stated the fat one. The slim one kept his thoughts to himself at that moment.
"I don't understand officer what does he mean clarify, clarify what Anita?" and as he spoke again he studied her face for clues: "What does that mean Anita? " you lied to them did you? You lied to your mother and me? How could you lie why would you lie Anita darling ?"
"I had no choice dad I knew you would have been upset if you knew where I was and who I was with ". And she sank back into a chair, tears streaming down her face, mascara wet and congealed surrounding puffy eyes making her look like she had gone ten rounds with the heavy weight champion of the world. It was all over in a moment they had known she gave false information and now they knew why. So that was the end of their interrogating Anita Collier, and no there was no point in charging her with anything, not that they could have anyway in all probability. so they left.
The smell from the gas works was even more overpowering than yesterday thought Bert Hanson as he was tending to his prize cabbages on his allotment. A small dog was showing a more than usual amount of interest in an old shed that was just over and to the right from Bert. Within walking distance from the allotment in fact. The mongrel had been digging and barking since at least six this morning when Bert arrived, perhaps he should go and see what is upsetting this dog so much. Mr Hanson's thoughts were interrupted by the shrill whistling cry of a kettle ready to burst! Ah tea he thought and he quite forgot about the smell, the shed and little yapping dogs.
Guillermo Escobar was extremely adept at finding out about personal details of his students lives and was genuinely charming when doing so. As the students had been on the course for close to three months no one was the least bit suspicious when their Spanish tutor asked them to write down where they lived, who they lived with, what their home turf was like etc. All these private details would have remained private had a stranger asked for them but as this was not a stranger as such but someone they knew and this was just homework!
All of the class regularly complied with Guillermo's requests and over a short period of time he could see which of his pupils were living alone and who were the most likely to be consensual if there was a liaison. Judith Hanson lived alone had no other neighbours in the vicinity and her only living relations were her elderly parents who lived over two miles away from her. Escobar was hatching a plan.
"I think we should go back to her house again Andy" said Joe Easter
"For what?- we've been there already and nothing that was found suggested foul play, far from it" Jardine took a huge draw on his cigarette, let the mellow flavour of nicotine and eight thousand other toxic carcinogens permeate within his mouth and waft over his stained teeth. Making sure that he kept the whole of the last drag from the Malborough inside his closed mouth until the very last moment before exhaling in a glorious cloud of smoke the filthiest mixture that man has made so very accessible to everyone whether smokers or not.
"We may have missed something, who knows?" replied Easter
"And anyway what other leads do we have?" this sentence was followed by a silence from Andy which seemed out of place and was quite bothersome in it's way.
"Okay kid you have it your way back to chteaux Hanson at full speed"
Once again they used the spare set of keys that they had got from Mrs Hanson and let themselves in to the small cottage. And once again everything seemed to be as it should be. Judith Hanson was a very tidy woman and it would seem had to have everything in it's place. They could glean nothing of any value with regards to clues and so left the house bereft of any new ideas or leads with which to continue in their pursuit of Judith, or as time moved on, continuing the search for her corpse.
Bert finished his cup of tea and by god if that dog wasn't still causing a commotion over by that blessed shed he thought. With that he got out of his chair, folded it up and put it inside his small shed. Although he would only be five minutes he nevertheless put the padlock across the door and lent his shovel up against it, which was an odd way of doing things, baring in mind the money the tool cost him you would have thought he would have left that inside the shed then padlocked it. And he knew the folly of that but what the hell he would be back before you could say missing shovel and with that comical thought he smiled to himself and made towards the barking dog. The stench that was blighting his enjoyment of the daily tending to his allotment was becoming even more appalling as he got closer to where the mutt was still digging and yapping at the old abandoned shed.
Mr Hanson had not returned home by teatime and Mrs Hanson was now worried as he was never late, and obviously because of his heart condition and what with Judith still being missing. She had all these thoughts going round and round in her head. She couldn't avoid it she had to know what was wrong and as Bert had the car she couldn't drive and there was no bus where she was and nor could she gat a taxi so she had to call the police.
Normally an old aged pensioner going walkabouts or whatever at tea time wouldn't have rated that highly on the list of crimes to solve, but bearing in mind this was the Hanson family whose daughter was still unaccounted for, and in view of the fact that not only was the gentlemen in question over seventy years old and with a heart condition, he was after all, Judith's father, then this call however trivial, at first put out to all available officers in the area was not given too much time for it to filter down to the police underlings before the order was usurped by two Detectives without any clues regarding Judith who were now driving to the scene.
A small group of people were gathered around the old shed where not only was the small dog still digging but now there was the body of a seventy year old who on opening the door of the old shed and finding the contents therein had suffered a massive heart attack and expired there and then.
"Can you please move out of the way there is nothing to see here" the younger Detective offered to the small audience that had come from far and wide just to gawp. How they were able to stomach the, by now truly awful smell of death was a mystery to the policemen.
"Move away please or I'll fucking well nick the lot of you" the fat Detective cut in with.
"Now what's it to be? Requested Jardine. The crowd eased slightly away from the spectacle that was one dead old man and the corpse lying within the confines of the now opened shed. Soon the ambulances arrived, the crowd dispersed and the whole area was cordoned off.
Ivy Hanson, The red eyed sixty eight year old bewildered mother of Judith wife of Bert now in a state of severe shock, was given a cup of tea by WPC Ogden who wisely couldn't begin to think of anything to say as she passed the cup into her trembling hands. The frail old woman had just lost everything she ever loved and was on the verge of losing her sanity. Bert was dead that was a fact. And now she was awaiting confirmation that the dead body found in the dilapidated out house was her daughter Judith. Deep in her heart she already knew that it was her little girl, her only child murdered by some maniac, and since the Detective Chief Superintendant had told her about the bracelet that was found on the body her fears were proven to be right. The bracelet was a gift from doting parents to a much loved daughter on the occasion of her eighteenth birthday and every charm had a specific meaning.
The autopsy was straight forward enough for the old man but the girl's corpse was very much more difficult:-
"Well is it her or not?" asked Andy Jardine who together with Easter was watching the coroner's every move whether making deep incisions in the torso or any other routine dissection of the body that was necessary in a post mortem to establish the required facts. The female was very difficult to identify for two reasons. Firstly the body was in such a n advanced state of decomposition and putrefaction and secondly most of the face was eaten away by scavangers. Added to that the ravages of heat on a body, sweltering in the height of summer under a glass roof with sunlight shining directly through the glass onto the corpse and you have a recipe for a rotting body to try to identify.
"Well my opinion at this time is that it is ninety nine per cent certain to be the missing Hanson girl however my one caveat being that there is still a slight doubt until we have gone through her dental records as and when they arrive." was the coroner's eventual reply.
It was confirmed later that day when the dental records had been checked that it was a well nourished Caucasian female of between seventeen years and twenty five years of age. She was murdered by person or persons unknown using some sort of ligature and yes this was Judith Hanson.
"Right listen up you lot, the murdered girl was killed on or about the sixth of august which was a Thursday and was three days before we thought she had been seen at the Spanish classes on the Monday which has since proven to be false and of course we now know irrefutably this never took place unless it was her ghost!" the fat policeman barked to his troops, who were one and all facing front following the facts and likely scenarios that were represented by pictures of various people some connected to the crime some possibly not and post it type notes of illegible scrawl all over the two boards that stood in the middle of the room.
"Any names in the frame yet governor?" asked Detective Constable Albert Patrick whilst scribbling down notes feverishly.
"We have at this early stage of the enquiry only two, possibly three suspects whose whereabouts on the dates just mentioned will have to be ascertained, and see if any alibis that will doubtless be forthcoming can be corroborated"
"Joe here has got all the details of this murder along with a couple of relevant photos which he will issue to you all as you leave." Joe positioned himself left of the door in readiness to give the A4 size paperwork to the officers as they left the room.
"Right fucking well get out there and find this fucking killer!" were Jardine's last words on finishing the briefing. Andy Jardine swivelled round to face Easter and as he did he made a gesture with his hand informing him that he was off out to the bins for a quick fag and he was gone.
It was Monday, early evening and Joe Easter and his overweight partner were driving into Great Kegsley and to the Municipal building to interview students from the Spanish class and their tutor one Guillermo Escobar. They arrived at the usual start time for lessons only to find the part of the municipal building used for Spanish was locked up with a notice on the doors stating that due to a death in the family tonight's lesson was cancelled signed Guillermo Escobar.
"This could be just a coincidence, after all it's not yet common knowledge about Judith" speculated Easter
"I've been in this game too long to believe in coincidence" Jardine snapped back.
"Go around to the front and see whoever is on the front desk and get the details of everyone in this Spanish class, oh and while you are at it get Escobars as well"
"Right away chief!" said the slim Detective as he leapt into action and sped around to the front desk.
The key once again was pushed into the deadlock, turned 180 degrees until a click then opened the front door of the house belonging to Judith Hanson, no longer missing but dead. The forensic team arrived just as the Detectives had entered the cottage, now that the house was potentially a crime scene in a murder case. The Detectives were again looking for that elusive clue with which to crack this case and trap a killer. The inside of the cottage was so clean and tidy that it seemed an injustice to be pulling it asunder but pull it they did. The forensic team were dusting everywhere for latent prints but so far nothing.
"Joe have we done last number redial I can't recall?" said Andy Jardine to Easter as the people dusting continued dusting around the fat Detective.
"Yes first thing we did when we came in here the first time boss".
"What about the one in the bedroom?"
"That too second thing we tried gov" Andy knew that there had to be something to find here but he didn't know exactly what or where.
"Here gov what about the pad by the telephone?" the pad that was by the phone was not out in the open but had fallen down behind some books and was concealed by three issues of Homes and Gardens magazine. Joe picked it up there was no writing visible on the top sheet but on closer scrutiny Joe discovered a faint impression etched into the first sheet which was obviously, prior to the pad being found, the second one underneath the top sheet which must have been torn out.
"We better get this to the lab gov and see what the forensics chaps can uncover" Joe excitedly intonated to Andy.
"Well done Joe nice piece of detective work lets go!"
The pad was subjected to laboratory testing by an expert in graphology who managed to reveal the message that was almost invisible to the naked eye but was anything but invisible to the technician and his box of tricks. This was going to be the breakthrough they needed and so it proved to be:-
"Thursday 9.30pm The old stables, Westing street Guill- that must mean her tutor" the younger Detective found himself telling the handwriting expert on receiving the full message from him. Joe rushed into Andrew Jardine's office:
"I think we've got a potential major suspect here gov in Guillermo Escobar he met Judith according to her note so we had better bring the bastard in now!"
"That might prove more difficult than we thought as he seems to have gone to ground." Andy calculated.
"We'll have to put out a call to all ports and airports and alert the Met to be on the look out for Senor Escobar he will not get out of the country he'll not get far at all my son"
The hunt was on for the Spanish teacher who was now the main suspect in the murder of Judith Hanson. It was surely only going to be a matter of time before Escobar turned up. And the two Detectives left nothing to chance following up every lead, no matter how unlikely the tip may have seemed.
The autopsy threw up yet another possibility of Judith suffering more degradation as there was evidence of sexual congress prior to her death. Whether or not it was consensual would never be known by anyone, except the killer. But the odds of him admitting to rape as well as murder were negligible. Six days and nights passed without hearing anything then just as leads were running down from a river to a trickle came the news they were waiting for. A dog walker was making her way through Thicket Wood and caught sight of a very rapid flash of colour behind the trees. Feeling fairly confident that it was not an animal she phoned the Detectives straight away.
Within fifteen minutes seven vehicles, twenty one officers, two Detectives and assorted minions were all over Thicket Wood closing in on their quarry. As the police cordon moved in towards where the figure was seen darting from behind one tree to behind another, the area in which a fugitive could conceal himself was ever diminishing and as the full weight of the law edged closer to the suspect there was no longer a place for him to go and just seconds later came the inevitable cry of:
"Get down on the ground keep your hands out where I can see them!" They had found and were now searching, handcuffing and then arresting Guillermo Escobar.
"Guillermo Escobar you do not have to say etc etc..........." Joe carried on reading him his rights before he was bundled into the back of a police car and whisked away to the station for Jardine and Easter to begin their questioning of the Argentinean.
"Do you want to have a solicitor present Mr Escobar?" asked Joe Easter whereupon Escobar responded with:-
"Si quisiera si mi presente del abogado" the two policemen looked at each other and then turned to the suspect and Jardine shrugged his shoulders and gave a quizzical look towards Guillermo who, obviously suffering from stress over all that had just happened had forgot about which language to speak in and had reverted back to his mother tongue which was no use to either Joe or Andy as neither spoke Spanish.
"Can you please respond in English Mr Escobar as otherwise we cannot make head nor tail of what you are saying."
Guillermo Escobar realised his mistake and offered his apologies and said:
" I am sorry gentlemen but in the heat of the moment I forgot. I will speak in English from this moment on."
The solicitor that Escobar had requested was now there at the station and asking for some time alone with Guillermo to run through the facts. This time was allowed and the brief took the suspect into another room. With the basic facts now imparted to Mr Toolhan the pair returned to the incident room.
"For the record it is now eight thirty three PM and Mr Toolhan, Mr Escobar's legal advisor has now entered the room and is currently in conversation with his client." Jardine spoke into the recording device and waited for the OK to continue but kept his hand over the switch, ready and waiting for the resumption of the process.
Mr Toolhan asked his client if he was OK to carry on and he was ready, on receiving a yes, he turned to the fat Detective and gave him the nod, to which signal his chubby sausage like fingers responded by engaging the switch resuming the interview.
"Right then, in your own words tell me about your relationship with Judith Hanson." Escobar looked to Toolhan for any sign that he should or should not respond, taking the solicitor's nondescript glance as "carry on" he began his testimony:
"She is one of my students, er sorry I mean she was one of my students"
"I think that she was a little more than your student wasn't she?" Easter probed.
"I mean you did meet her on the evening of Thursday sixth of August 2003. What was that all about then, extracurricular activity?" Easter would not let go with this line of questioning so continued:-
"What happened that night then? Give us the whole caboodle. Don't hold back, spare us nothing what happened?" and with that he sat back down and faced the suspect.
"You don't have to answer these questions Mr Escobar and for the moment I would suggest you don't" Toolhan advised.
"No it's alright I have nada to hide que significa, this was what was going on that night" Suddenly an extremely loud ringing from a siren blasted out! It was the fire alarm going off, nobody knew whether it was a real situation or just a drill but not wishing to take risks the room emptied immediately with all the protagonists previously engaged in the investigation process walking slowly and calmly out of the building and into the yard.
The fire drill was a bloody nuisance but at least it gave Jardine a chance for a cigarette which he snapped up. The desk sergeant walked outside to the people lined up in the yard:
"Everything is back to normal now. The drill was a success and you can all return to your offices, thank you for your cooperation." which was the green light for everyone to get back to what they were doing.
"For the record we are now resuming our questioning of Mr Escobar the time is now nine forty one PM.
"Continuing on the same subject matter the night in question please do carry on with your story." The Spanish tutor took a gulp of water, wiped some sweat off his brow and began:-
"As I said Judith was not really a friend, more an acquaintance, who I met just the one time on Thursday evening." Easter picked up his cup of coffee and drained the last dregs into his mouth, then grimaced as his taste buds got the full hit.
"So where did you go.? What did you do? Did you have sex?"
"We went for a walk across the heath and into Thicket Wood then stopped where the heath meets the moors near where her dad had an allotment." Guillermo was sweating profusely and needed to pull up his shirt to his face and thrust his face into the cotton material to dry off.
"Oh and we were at the Old Stables near Westing Street which is where we fed some sugar to the two old horses that are kept there."
The questions went on for over five hours with Escobar denying he had anything to do with Judith's murder. He maintained that she was alive when he left her cottage, (after they had consensual sex), at about four thirty in the morning. He was back home less than thirty minutes later and went straight to sleep as he hadn't done much sleeping whilst in bed with Judith.
The seven hours spent interrogating Escobar was over with no results coming out of it. But there was more time yet. First though armed with a search warrant the two Detectives entered the teacher's home. The place was a tip, complete mess, the sort of untidiness that suggested the person who lived there was not too bothered about people visiting as nobody did. They would be either eating out or getting in takeaways but never cooking at home. They were probably once upon a time a student at college or uni who lived the itinerant lifestyle and just never grew out of it.
"Hey look at this!" one of the policemen shouted. Andrew Jardine looked to where the sound came from. The constable had taken out a drawer that was full of socks and underpants and on tipping them out onto the bed newspaper cuttings from five years ago fell out as well. The newspaper was Argentinean and although the story was a complete mystery to all the officers inside the house, being written in Spanish. The pictures that accompanied the stories were of the same young woman, who, they guessed had been murdered. The paper was folded up and put in with other evidence that had so far been collected.
"Governor, Thompson has learnt a bit of Spanish in his time why not show him that paper."
"Good idea son, here y'a Thompson get your peepers round this." Joe passed the paper folded up to PC Thompson who promptly unfolded it and tried to work out just what the story was about.
"Well what news for us constable?" asked Jardine impatiently. Thompson scrutinised the newspaper before putting it on the bed, flattening it out and beginning:-
"Well sir, this is Argentinean it is the "Goya Daily News" as far as I can see. I think it says that the young lady is from Goya and was last seen dancing the night away in a nightclub called "Palacio Alsina" which was in Buenos Aires, no sorry the club was in Goya which is in Buenos Aires sir."
"Anything else Thompson what about the other cutting, the small one under that big one."
"No I don't think so it looks to me like a rehash of the same story but, wait a minute, FUCK ME!"
"What is it son have you just orgasmed?" Jardine enquired in a jocular way.
"The name governor, look at the bleeding name!" Joe snatched the smaller newspaper cutting up from the bed and pored over it.
"Where's the name then ? What's it say then constable what's it say?"
"The Argentinean police are very keen to interview a Senor Guillermo Escobar from Goya in connection with this murder."
"Surely not another coincidence Joe?" Andy Jardine suggested sarcastically.
The search went on for another two and a half hours until the sun was coming up to reveal the dawning of another beautiful day. All was right with the world and Detective Jardine and Detective Easter had got their man they thought. The newspaper evidence was compelling, but the icing on the cake was the little trinket that was hidden behind the clock on the mantelpiece which turned out to be one of the missing charms from Judith's bracelet and which by some type of telekinesis was now found here, in the hovel of one Guillermo Escobar.
The officers entered the interrogation room looking chipper and offered Escobar and his brief liquid refreshment. Andy Jardine couldn't help but whistle and give the occasional knowing glances to the two gentlemen sat opposite the Detectives at the table.
"Guillermo Escobar do you recognise these items that were found at your home yesterday during our search?" as he said that Easter placed first the newspaper onto the table, and then the charm down next to that. Escobar his face bereft of colour now looked searchingly towards his solicitor for guidance, but there was nothing forthcoming from Toolhan.
Escobar's demeanour changed, the confidence with which he could charm anyone who met him was now completely gone. He had the haunted look of a man who knew the game was up. His goose was cooked, his herring was pickled and his eggs were scrambled!
"Guillermo Escobar I am arresting you for the murder of Judith Hanson you do not have to say anything but it will harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court, anything you do say may be given in evidence."
"Do you understand what I've just said Mr Escobar?" asked Joe Easter there was no response.
"Now under caution, can you finally give us the truth about what took place on the sixth Mr Escobar." He sipped some more water breathed a sigh of abject acceptance of the situation and began:
"I had asked Judith if she had wanted to go somewhere with me on the Thursday because she was muy linda, que significa, how you say very pretty. She seemed very nice and we just clicked, I guess, and she also appeared to be keen to see me so that's what was planned, a night out locally and leer, er excuse, I mean see what developed." Joe told him to go on:
"So we went to the places that I have already mentioned, we had a lovely time, but then it all changed and I do not understand why. We were getting on very well, how you say, getting on famously so I kissed her and she responded and very soon we were petting heavy, I think you say, everything was fine until I tried to undo her brassier and el merde creer hit de ventilador. I was aroused by her actions and tried to take our lovemaking further but she rejected me and so I snapped and punched her full in the face, then again and she looked up at me with her big brown eyes before dropping to the floor in a heap. I knew I should not have struck her but she was mocking me by leading me, a thirsty man to water, only to stop me from drinking."
"I have tried very hard not to make the same mistakes that I have made before, very hard, but by then I had completely lost my sanity and battered her more and more until she was unconscious. I waited sitting in the long grass for some minutes, and then she stirred and was coming round. I have needs like any man so I had to have her there and then, so I did. I ripped off her undergarments, removed her blouse and brassier and thrust into her body with my penis. I think she was really loving our lovemaking and so was I." Escobar sipped some more water from the cup and continued with his testimony:-
"It all went too far that's all that happened. I knew that after we made love I would have to kill her, it was something of an occupational hazard for me. I was sure that she would have told everyone about our lovemaking and gotten me into trouble. I couldn't allow for her to tell on me and maybe cost me my job which I love. After our lovemaking ended I could sense she was delirious with pleasure, and why wouldn't she feel that? I am considered to be an amazing lover by any of the many women lucky enough to share mi cama that's my bed I think." Andy was by now feeling that this story was about to come to it's inevitable horrible conclusion and prompted Escobar to please continue:
"Judith was very sleepy after I made love to her so I thought now I kill her. I removed my own rather expensive cravat or you may say scarf, it's not important I think no? I wrapped the cravat around her neck and got a hold of both ends and started to twist, then twist some more. I twisted and twisted until her strangled cries had stopped and I heard her larynx shatter and her eyes rolled right back into her head and she was dead. I then dragged her still warm corpse over through the long grass towards the building I mentioned earlier. I bundled the body into the out house and tried to cover it up somehow with some old smelly carpet that I found near there and there was a piss stained mattress which I managed to stuff into the shed or whatever you call it. I was going to burn her but I had forgotten my lighter so I didn't."
"I did get a memento of the whole great evening, a keepsake if you like, from Judith, it was a small gold charm which you have already found but I am hoping you will return it when all this stuff is over."
Thirteen months after Judith Hanson was murdered Guillermo Escobar was found guilty of her savage slaying and was sentenced to life behind bars with the recommendation that he serve at least forty two years before being considered for parole.