Chapter 7 (December 2013 – Live by the sword, DIE by the sword)
They were all gathered in the incident room waiting for Lt-Col - or just plain “Chief” or “Supt”, referring to his old rank - Sheffield. He didn’t mind either way. He wanted to be “kept in the loop about this one”. His favourite saying and he was extremely intrigued by this case. The peculiar incidents of the past few days that seemed separate, but at closer inspection, were connected in some way, intrigued them all.
At least, Jim was back on his feet and although his nose still looked like a Christmas decoration against his pale high cheeks and sunken eyes, he says he was “hundred percent”. Just before bursting into another cough-attack. His usual wispy, fair hair seemed to have given up the fight against baldness, and those that were still left, lay defeated to one side. The top of his head peeked triumphantly through. However tall and sinewy this guy was, one just had to look in those bright green eyes to realise that he wasn’t to be fooled with. Lieutenant Jim Cruse was an intelligent investigator whose observatory skills often cracked tough cases.
Latisha was chattering and laughing away as per usual, keeping the rest entertained till such time the chief decided to show. Her nails were an oxygen-deprived blue today, with a little red dot on each tip, and she used them to great effect every time she wanted to bring home a point. ’You think murder and mayhem’s difficult to cope with, try a bloody teenager. Since Adie turned fifteen it’s like Satan living with us. And this bloody little boyfriend she’s got on hold. I tell you, Peter already put the fear of God into him,’ she laughed her contagious laugh which could be heard, Deric swore, on the outskirts of Gauteng, before telling, with embellishment, how the little bugger was dripping with sweat as Peter told him that if he dared to make Adelaide pregnant, the baby would grow up to be an orphan, for he, Peter, would skin and “braai” his little ass ala “Fried green Tomatoes”, and Adie would be locked away like a princess in a castle until she was fifty or when Peter dies – whichever comes first.
‘Poor little sod,’ Monty said while fiddling around the equipment on the desk, ‘it’s hard to be a teenager and a guy.’
‘Poor little sod, my ass,’ Latisha said loudly, ’you men are way to liberate with your equipment. All male-species wants to sow their wild oats younger and younger these days. Apparently: fashion! Not that any of them are willing or able to look after the “oats” once it takes to ground.’ Then held one hand up to Monty as he was trying to respond, ‘don’t you worry, I know all about sexual active teenagers and all that crab. But, my motto is “If you can’t feed them, don’t breed them.” We’re not living in the dark ages anymore, there’s enough in the chemist to keep you from getting pregnant and mess up your whole life just for a little pleasure.’
‘Aah, but what pleasure!’ Sheffield said as he entered. He smiled at all. Everyone was familiar with the Chief’s little Achilles-heel namely, beautiful women. He’s onto – only, up to now - his second wife, but was in hot trouble quite a few times already with her when his responding time to beauty went from zero-to-hot-loins in three seconds flat. He finds the opposite sex irresistible. And they found him, apparently very charming as well. Truth be told, he was quite handsome in a rugged, middle-aged sort of way.
‘Lead the way Frederic,’ everyone smiled at that. The secret of his name was out in the open and was amusing to all, ‘Sorry to keep you waiting.’
’For Chief Sheffield and Jim’s sake, I’m starting with this strange tale from the very beginning.’ Deric said as Monty got ready to “power-point” the details onto the screen.
As Deric recapped the events, leading up to the conclusion that all were linked, even though it didn’t seemed like that at first, Monty effortlessly reflected it on the white background.
Chuba Jackson – convicted rapist and murderer – escaped – found murdered in a boathouse on the Hartebeespoort-dam, Monday 30thSeptember 2013. Owner of property: Mervin Shear – alibi – in America at the time – confirmed. “Green-Fingers” a garden-service found the body after a suspicious odour made one of them investigate. On Jackson’s buttocks the words ‘MONSTER and MASH’ were written. In his left ear a piece of paper was found with the word: TALION
A picture of the crime scene was posted underneath the description.
‘Maybe I should borrow that picture and show it to Adie’s boyfriend.’ Latisha said dry and humourless. ‘The poor, hormone-driven, pimple face would be scared out of sex for life.’
They all tried to suppress a smile however, the details were gruesome.
‘What does that mean - Monster Mash?’ Brooke Sheffield wanted to know.
‘At first we didn’t thought it was connected to anything-’
‘Sorry, carry on, I’m interrupting.’ Sheffield said graciously.
‘Thanks, you’ll see in a moment – Monty…’
Brenda Blignaut requested Captain Offbach to East Memorial via Mila Jordan – 9th October 2013. Wanted to know if they’ve found Chuba Jackson – use the words: “Do you like ice-cream?”
Mila Jordan – young student phoned.
Brenda Blignaut’s picture was posted.
‘You think she was delirious?’ Jim asked, ‘you’ve mentioned that she drifted in and out of a sort of coma.’ All this was new to him since he had been down with the flu the day after they found Jackson’s body in the boathouse. ‘Well, too much of a co-incidence, I guess.’ He answered his own question.
’I couldn’t say she wasn’t delirious, but I’ve got the feeling she knew exactly what she was talking about, even though it was just a few phrases. The “ice-cream”– haven’t got a clue what it meant at the time, but somehow we think it’s connected.’ He indicated with his head towards Monty.
Lab-report about the Jackson murder revealed that the crime scene was polluted with evidence – cat hairs, dog hairs, doll’s hairs as well as human hair. There was one fingerprint found at the scene that showed up on the data-base. It belonged to Conrad Camphor who died six years ago on the 19thof May 2007.
‘Now,’ Deric said as if he himself still cannot believe it, ‘Monty found the following on the computer.’
Brenda Blignaut’s only daughter - Minke Blignaut - was raped and strangled on her 21st birthday early Sunday, 14 November 1980. Burger Steenkamp, a fourth year med student, was subsequently charged and sentenced to life – released in 1990 as his DNA wasn’t a match to that found on the scene.
‘Steenkamp was convicted before DNA-coding, but the circumstantial evidence was so overwhelming against Steenkamp at that time, that nobody, except his best friend, his lawyer (who’s been appointed and paid to represent him) and his parents believed in his innocence. Ever since DNA was used in that first trial in England his lawyer and parents tried to get him a re-trial. They proved to be right, of course, DNA changed a lot of things in 1988. In 1990 the charges were dropped against Steenkamp.’ Monty stated a little obvious.
‘Yes,’ Deric added, ‘and the real culprit hasn’t been found up to now. And here’s where it really turns mind-blowing.’ He nodded at Monty who went to the next sequence.
Conrad Camphor (whose fingerprint was found at the crime-scene and had been dead for several years by then) served five years in Potgieterstraat for murder. He killed Jan Bresler (70), in December of 2000, with a baseball bat, in full view of witnesses, which includes his girlfriend at the time, a Jasmine Bruines. It was called a road-rage incident back in 2000. Sentenced for fifteen years – paroled after five. Jasmine Bruines was found strangled shortly before he was released, leaving him with an airtight alibi. Although it was thought Camphor initiated it, he couldn’t be charged. Her case gone cold.
’He was according to all who knew him a “murder waiting to happen”. But due to a’ Deric made inverted commas with his fingers, ‘”Temporarily Insanity” plea, and his age -nineteen - he received a sentence of fifteen years, of which he served only five.’
Monty flashed the next image onto the board.
On the 19th of May 2007, six months after his release, he went to the “Blue Horizon” nightclub to celebrate his twenty-forth birthday. Left with a woman – unknown to the locals – around eleven. He was killed three to four hours later by a truck on the N1 just a few kilometres after the toll-gate south on route to Kroonstad.
‘Nobody knew what he was doing there, how he got there, or where they - the girl and he - were heading, or even who the girl was,’ Monty filled in, ’all swore she was definitely not from the neighbourhood. Not a trace of her ever found. His death was declared an accident and seeing that - according to the truck driver - he was there all on his own, the case was closed. He is, or was, up to now a percentage in the pedestrian-death statistics. We think someone might’ve caused the accident.’
Deric picked up the story, ‘William Swanepoel, the investigate officer at the time, noted a few specific irregularities he came across. The report mentioned that, although Conrad Camphor had quite a high level of alcohol in his blood, the ME also found traces of cocaine. And seeing that he was a recreational drug-user, the cocaine was thought to be by his own intake. Secondly, although the ME report didn’t reflect it as stomach contents, a large tub with melted ice-cream was later found in his car at the club. The lid read-.”’
Monty couldn’t keep it to himself any longer. He pointed to the word on the board and said, ‘Rocky Road!’
The others sat for a moment with blank faces.
’”Rocky-Road” as in Rocky-Road ice-cream?’ Jim asked incredulously.
‘Yes, as in ice-cream.’ Monty said smugly.
Deric took it up, ‘Yes, and that’s what the dying woman asked me-’
‘But, this Blignaut woman wasn’t talking about Conrad Camphor, was she? She asked about Jackson, not so?’ Latisha interrupted.
‘Let me guess,’ Jim said in his undisturbed way, ‘”Monster Mash” is an ice-cream flavour.’
Deric and Monty nodded simultaneously.
It was, indeed.
’In the cabby-hole of Camphor’s car, amongst other paraphilia, was a white envelope with one word in bold black letters: “ANATHEMATISE”. Monty highlighted it again on the board.
‘It means: “Cursed or Damned!”’