King Stephen, the Silver man and Greta the Witch

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Chapter 23 – Police dogs

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Common, the Police Dog Section arrived. There was a Police Training College nearby and some of the Police dog handlers had actually trained on this Common. They allowed the dogs to sniff Keith’s jacket, and a dog’s tug-toy that had belonged to Patch. Amit had borrowed the tug-toy from Maud Maxwell’s house. The Police dog handlers, held on to the extended bungee leads as the two alsatians and two beagles took the scent and headed off across the common.

The Hampshire Police Chief Constable had also called in a specialist unit from the Metropolitan Police or ‘Met’ as they were known in London. The Met’s firearm officers were trained marksman, and their job was to follow the dogs.

Amit sat in a control vehicle with the Hampshire Chief Constable. Amit had been up all night, grabbing a few hours sleep in his car. It was soon clear from the radio messages from the dog handlers that the Police dogs could not pick up any strong sent. Instead the Police teams divided the Common in a grid pattern, and began a search by walking in lines abreast looking for any clues. It was going to be a long drawn out process, Hazeley Common was a large area. The size of a small town.

Amit was still smarting from his dressing down by the Chief Constable after his off-the-cuff remark to the press about Keith Maxwell, which had caused such unnecessary speculation that the scientist was dead. The Chief Constable had been forced to hold a press conference last night to rectify the situation, but the story about the beheading had leaked, and the Chief Constable was clearly suspicious that may be down to Amit as well. Amit was keen to make a good impression, and he sat trying to analyse some of the new information that had come back from the Police labs overnight. He looked at his notes.

The strange scientific instrument had been identified as an advanced Geiger counter that was used to measure radiation. It had been borrowed by Keith Maxwell from his work place, but nobody they had spoken to knew what he wanted it for. He had borrowed it from one of his co-workers, who knew how to operate the instrument, and was on his way. They wanted to check in case there was some radiation on the common. However, this seemed unlikely. The co-worker had discussed with Keith how to operate the unit, but Keith had only said to him that he wanted it for some sample analysis of a project he had been working on with NASA. The scientist knew no more.

The additional blood on the ground that forensics could not identify initially was from a dog. Speculation was that it was Patch’s blood. The vet the Maxwell’s used was being contacted to see if they could get any match. This also seemed unlikely. The only other bloods were from the two murdered women, no other human blood was present. No trace of any horses’ blood had been found. They now had photographs of Patch, and also the two horses that the two murdered horsewomen had been riding. He ticked these items in his notebook.

The only other significant lead was about the arrow that had killed one of the women. It had been described by the pathologist as ‘if it had come from the middle ages’. The arrow was clearly an antique, and it was on its way to the Royal Armouries in Leeds to be examined by an expert in historic armaments. A young Police constable was driving the arrow on the 200-mile road journey to Leeds. There were fingerprints on the arrow, but they did not match any on record. This had led to speculation that the weapon used for the decapitation was also an ancient weapon. From examining the injuries, the pathologist had described the weapon as a ‘very sharp, large sword or similar’.

In his difficult discussion with Maud Maxwell and her sister last night, Amit had deduced that Keith Maxwell had never had any involvement with archery or swords or any form of weaponry. Amit could see no link and no motive for Keith Maxwell to carry out these brutal murders. He was not looking forward to briefing the Chief Constable.

The live TV coverage on the morning news showed the Police dogs and their handlers setting off across the common. A Sky News TV helicopter was in the air, and after some frantic phone calls was talked down by the Police. They didn’t want it advertising the positions of the dogs. But the Police phone calls could not prevent a constant buzzing of light aircraft over the common. Amateur pilots used the airfield on Sunday’s to keep their flying hours up to date. The pilots had something new to look at for a change. The large white tents covering the murder site with Hampshire Police blazoned on their roofs in large letters, were easy to pick out from a low flying aircraft.

The Chief Constable had now taken personal charge of the operation, and held a press conference that was broadcast live at 8.05 AM on the major news networks. Maud Maxwell had slept very little and now sat with her sister on the sofa watching the broadcast live. She was wearing her dressing gown over her nightdress and sipped at a mug of sweetened tea. The Policewomen had changed shifts, and a different uniformed Police officer was now stationed outside the front door. Her sister had taken her a cup of tea. The Chief Constable was a distinguished man in his fifties, he wore a dark blue Police uniform with an impressive row of medals sown onto his breast. On his head, he wore a Police cap with gold bradding. He said in his distinctive Welsh accent, ’first our sympathies go out to the families and friends of the victims. We are using all resources at our disposal to ascertain what happened yesterday morning on Hazeley Common. We have also been given every assistance by the Metropolitan Police. Search teams are now out probing the Common and have been doing so since first light. We ask the public to stay away from the search area until further notice. We wish to question Dr Keith Maxwell in connection with these murders but we are also following other lines of enquiry. If anyone see’s Dr Maxwell they should contact the Police immediately. No one should approach him, he may be dangerous.

The idea the Keith maybe dangerous, brought a renewed bout of sobbing from Maud Maxwell.

The press conference was an impromptu affair that was being held in the car park at the entrance to Hazeley Common. The BBC Breakfast News reporter was the first to catch the Chief Constable’s eye and asked the question that was on everyone’s lips.

‘Chief Constable, do you believe Keith Maxwell killed the women?’

The Chief Constable frustrated them all with his answer, ‘At this time I have nothing further to say, but I will brief you again when we have made progress with our enquiries. Thank you and good morning.’

With that the Chief Constable walked away. Maud’s sister turned the TV set off and took her sister upstairs to get dressed.

Amit’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He had put the ring tone on silent. It was a call from the young Police constable who had driven the arrow to Leeds. The young constable was over excited and at first Amit couldn’t register what he was saying, so he asked the young man to repeat what he had just said, ’Professor Templer who is a specialist in arrows from the middle ages confirms that the arrow is either from the 11th or 12th centuries. He will confirm the date tomorrow when they have completed some carbon dating tests.’

Amit wrote the information in his note book, but couldn’t register any connection. He decided to ask the investigation team to check the records to see if any arrows had recently been stolen from collectors or museums.

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