It had been a long Wednesday for Tom and Frank trying to find and follow suitable leads – any leads that would assist in the murder of the two young female victims.
They were troubled by the fact that the crime scenes were too clean, and the paucity of available witnesses for each murder was more than a coincidence. They suspected they were dealing with a well-rehearsed and well-prepared offender, who possibly had knowledge of law enforcement and crime scene procedures.
After returning from their exhaustive inquiries, Tom parked their unmarked police vehicle in the parking bays reserved for police vehicles. He glanced at the in-car digital clock before exhaling. It glowed 8.42pm. Such was their determination to find a case-breaking lead, they hadn’t stopped for dinner.
Tom turned off the ignition and looked across at Frank, who met his tired gaze. Both men were frustrated at the lack of evidence, and after working a thirteen hour shift, they were no closer than when they started.
‘I just hope we don’t get any more victims, partner…We’re struggling with these two,’ Tom said. Both men exited the vehicle.
Frank heaved open the glass front door and allowed Tom to pass through first. While making their way through the foyer both men glanced to their right. A male and female stood at the general inquiries counter talking to a uniform police officer who was taking notes. The female was crying and was being consoled by her male companion.
Tom reached the back of house door first and opened it for Frank to pass through. ‘Ladies first,’ he joked as Frank ambled by. Before moving to follow Frank, Tom casually glanced back towards the crying female. Something caught his attention. He remained unmoved, still holding the open door while he continued to monitor the couple at the counter.
He looked back to Frank who ambled down the corridor away from him.
‘Frank…’ Tom called to his partner. Frank stopped and turned. Tom jabbed his head towards the inquiries counter.
Frank moved back towards Tom, ‘What’s up?’
He lifted his chin towards the counter. ‘That couple just handed the officer a large color photograph…Judging by the woman’s emotions, it’s either a missing person report…or god help us….another victim.’
‘Or both…’ Frank reluctantly conceded. He stepped passed Tom into the foyer.
Both Detectives approached the General Inquiries counter.
‘Excuse us Officer,’ Tom said. He then addressed the grieving couple. ‘My name is Detective Tom Carter and this…is Detective Frank Williams.’
The couple’s pleading eyes greeted him with sadness.
‘Forgive me for intruding on your discussion with the Officer here…but I noticed you handed a photograph to the officer just now.’
The male responded. ‘That’s right. It’s a photograph of our daughter.’ He lifted his chin towards the officer at the counter and continued, ‘He asked if we had a recent photo of her.’
‘This is Mr and Mrs Chapman,’ the uniform officer began. ‘Their daughter Felicity has been missing for three days Detective. On Sunday evening, about…7pm…?’ the officer asked the male.
The male nodded his verification.
The officer nodded back before continuing. ‘Yeah, 7pm…she left to catch a bus to visit her boyfriend in Del Mar, but the boyfriend said she never arrived. They are worried coz they haven’t heard from her since. They said she isn’t answering text messages and all calls go to voice mail,’ the officer said.
Tom regarded the distressed parents. ‘Has she done anything like this before?’ Tom asked. ‘You know…stayed away for extended periods of time…not told you where she is…?’
Both shook their heads in unison. The male responded. ‘No never…that’s why we are so worried.’
‘Did you have an argument or disagreement with her before she left?’ Tom said.
‘No, nothing like that,’ the male replied firmly.
‘Do you mind if I ask how old your daughter is?’ Tom inquired.
‘Twenty-two,’ the male replied.
Tom briefly exchanged a knowing glance with Frank before Tom continued with his questions to try and ascertain whether this young girl could potentially be victim number three.
‘And…she normally resides at home with you both…?’ Tom said as a question.
‘That’s correct,’ the male replied.
Tom addressed the officer. ‘When you have finished here can you bring all the details through to me in our office.’
The officer nodded. ‘Will do.’
Tom and Frank excused themselves to return to their office. Tom suddenly stopped and turned back towards the couple.
‘Oh…one more thing…’ he asked with his hand cupping his forehead. ‘Is your daughter a member of a gym?’
The male and the female looked at one another; their expressions clearly confused by the question. ‘Ah…yes she is as a matter of fact…I’m sorry, but why is that relevant?’ The male asked.
‘We need to know everything about your daughter if we are to try and locate her,’ Tom said with a feigned smile. ‘Do you happen to know which gym she attends?’
’Of course. It’s the same gym we all go to…Its Um, Club Fitness in Bay Park.’
Tom nodded once and smiled at the couple, returning his best poker face. ‘Thank you very much for your time,’ he said before turning to walk to his office. His silent gaze met Frank. Both men knew the odds were, they had just met the parents of victim number three.
Matt stepped from his morning shower feeling refreshed. He reached for his towel. As he did so, his mobile phone vibrated on the bathroom bench top. He pressed a button on his phone and noticed it had identified text message exchanges between Alicia and Jason.
Matt left the mobile phone lying on the bench while he accessed the text messages. He dried himself while he read the messages. Not liking what he started to read, he stopped drying, threw the towel over his shoulder and lifted the phone to read further.
Standing naked in front of his steam covered mirror, Matt read the message. It was from Jason to Alicia.
“Looking forward to our highly physical workout this afternoon…but we’ll get training out of the way first. Ha Ha.”
“Ooh u r soooo bad…wait…no u r quite good actually…”
Matt rolled his eyes, sickened at what he read. What’s worse, Alicia was exchanging these offensive text messages from down stairs, while Matt took his shower.
He dropped his phone back onto the bathroom bench. He shook his head as he leaned on his hands and stared at his reflection in the foggy mirror. This was very difficult for him. He was usually a man who confronted his problems head on, often in a no nonsense manner.
On this occasion though, he had to play the naïve husband who supposedly had no idea his wife was screwing around with her trainer. What he really wanted to do was snap this Jason’s neck. But he had a plan, and if he wanted it to come to fruition, he had to be patient. After all, he no longer considered her his wife once she betrayed him and continued to do so.
Alicia had finished preparing breakfast and was patiently sitting at their outdoor setting on the rear balcony when Matt made his way down stairs. Her smile was welcoming as he walked out onto the balcony. She poured him a hot coffee.
‘Nice shower?’ She handed him his fresh brew.
Matt slid into the seat opposite her. He took a deliberate whiff of the tantalizing aroma wafting up from his appetizing cooked breakfast.
‘Looks scrumptious.’ He picked up his cutlery. ‘So where’s training being held today?’ he asked.
‘I don’t know at this stage, maybe a park, but Jason warned me it will be a physical workout though,’ she smiled.
Matt lifted his eyes to Alicia in response to her comment, knowing what he had just read in the text message. ‘Just how you like it….’ he said at the deliberate double entendre.
Part of Matt’s plan was to appear like the loving husband and they the perfect couple, so when she was found dead, he would not be looked at as a suspect. He couldn’t be – everybody knew he adored her. All evidence would point to her being the unfortunate, untimely victim of a serial killer, and if all went to plan, Jason would be fingered as that killer.
He needed to be seen out more with her if he was to successfully perpetrate the charade.
‘I was thinking…’ Matt began as he knifed through his French toast. ‘With both of us having the weekend off…why don’t we eat out tonight…? You know, a restaurant and whatever cuisine you desire.’
Alicia’s face lit up from his suggestion. ‘That would be lovely. We haven’t been out for dinner for…I don’t know how long,’ she said. ‘It will be like a Friday date night,’ she suggested.
Matt smiled. ‘A Date night…’ he repeated. ’I suppose it would be, you’re right. Any preferences…?'
'What about Chinese…?'
‘OK then…it’s a date.’ He grinned. ‘I’ll book us a table later today…say…8 o’clock?’
‘Eight o’clock sounds lovely. I can’t wait.’