‘OK. So what have you got for me…?’ Jeff asked as he approached Max’s desk. He stood with arms crossed. It was fair to assume from his body language that Jeff expected he was in for an argument about the timing of when to bring in Emily Davis.
Max’s years of experience as an investigator of serious crime had taught him that in any investigation, it was important to gather all evidence necessary to obtain a conviction. Only then do you arrest the offender for interview. Roll the dice too early and the offender could walk.
Jeff’s eyes fell to the desk. He frowned. ‘What the hell are those…?’ He said, lifting the pile of ten by eight colour photos of a naked woman. He flipped through them. ‘Are these all of the same naked woman?’ Jeff said.
Max couldn’t tell if the tone in Jeff’s voice was disappointment from the lack of variety in the photos, or simply realisation.
’These were taken on the 23rd… the 24th… the 25th… and the 26th…’ Jeff said as he continued to flip through the photos. ’Again on the 30th…1st…2nd…and the 3rd…They keep going, virtually all in successive dates. What are all these about…?’
’They’re part of what I wanted to talk to you about…’ Max said.
After Max accepted Malcolm Denyer’s iPhone from the uniform boys, he got to thinking how the phone’s technology could assist him. He took it to the experts at the police IT Technical department.
The IT techs accessed a file in the phone that stored the phone’s latitude and longitude coordinates, along with a timestamp. They compared this to the signal strength between the phone and the nearest mobile towers, and with triangulation, they were able to approximate Denyer’s movements.
To Max, this was telling and he wanted to discuss it with his boss. He wanted to use this information to delay bringing in Emily Davis while they searched for the three bodies at Steiglitz.
‘Our Tech guys printed those photos you have there from Malcolm Denyer’s mobile phone, after it was recovered in his vehicle. Each photo displays a date and time stamp.’
‘I saw that. So this Denyer was a sex offender…?’
‘Appears so. But that is not what I wanted to discuss with you,’ Max said. Jeff dropped the photos onto the desk as Max continued. Max opened his case file and removed some pages. ‘These here are latitude and longitude co-ordinates the Techs were able to access from Denyer’s phone.’ He handed them to Jeff. ‘They show Denyer’s last movements. More particular, they provide an approximate location in Steiglitz where his body could be located.’
Jeff frowned as he read all the numbers listed vertically down the page. ‘What, all these numbers tell us that?’
‘I’ll show you. Hand me that top page there.’ Max accepted a page and accessed a website. He entered the co-ordinates. A map appeared on the screen with a blue pin indicating a location in Steiglitz.
He turned his monitor to Jeff. ’See that. Those co-ordinates indicated Denyer’s phone was at that location at 11.18pm during the night of the 18th…I’m guessing he is buried somewhere in the area of that pin.’
‘How reliable is that technology?’
‘It’s accurate. It won’t pin point his location exactly, but it gives us an area to search.’
’And you want to search this area before you bring in Emily Davis?’ Max asked knowingly.
‘Look here…’ Max said. He read from Emily’s list. ‘This list records that Denyer is supposed to be in a deep hole in Steiglitz with Jenny Cox and Brian Taylor.’
Max flicked open his case file folder. His fingers walked through the pages, searching. He lifted a page and placed it to the side. His fingers kept searching. He lifted a second page and closed the folder.
He handed the stolen vehicle recovery reports to Jeff, as he continued. ‘Brian Taylor’s burnt out car was located near the quarry on Maude-She Oaks Road.’ Max pointed to the report in Jeff’s left hand. ‘That’s around six kilometres from Steiglitz,’ Max said. ‘Jenny Cox’s car was located in a dam in Anakie.’ He pointed to the other report. ‘That’s around seven kilometres from Steiglitz. And Malcolm Denyer’s car was located in Maude. Three and a half Kay’s from Steiglitz. The information on Emily’s list could be correct. All three could be in a hole in Steiglitz.’
‘Aren’t there a heap of disused mine shafts around Steiglitz?’ Jeff said.
‘Exactly. And I’m hoping there is one near those co-ordinates,’ Max said gesturing to the map on his computer monitor.
‘If you do this…regardless of whether you find bodies in a mine shaft… you bring her in. No more delaying the inevitable. Are we clear?’
Jeff dropped the pages on the desk. ’Get it done.
When Max and his search team arrived in Steiglitz, tailed by the inquisitive television networks, the town’s population increased by fifty percent. The last time the country town experienced this many people at any one time, was during the height of the 1860s gold rush.
The orange jumpsuits of the State Emergency Service and the dark blue overalls of Victoria Police fanned out in long search lines across the bush land.
Prior to allocating each team with their search grids, Max stood out front and addressed the gathering, like a footy coach delivering a final message before his team took to the field.
‘This area we are standing on was heavily mined for gold up until the last gold mine closed in 1941,’ Max said. ’What remains today are several deep and dangerous mine shafts, scattered across the landscape. Now, in the past, mullock heaps…mounds of waste rock and dirt, gave away the location of each mine shaft. But over time, the elements have eroded these away. Wild, long grasses now conceal what is left of the mullock heaps and the mine shaft openings. There are no Work Safe safety signs out here, people. These things are out there and they’re dangerous. Check every step before you take it.
‘Our priority is to firstly locate a mine shaft, then we have to determine if there are any bodies in the shaft.’
Following his pre-game briefing, lines of searchers prodded the ground with long sticks as they edged, through the bush.
While standing in the pop up Command Centre, under the shade of the portable camp-style pergola, Max uncapped his water bottle and took a long drink. The dusty bush environment played havoc with his eyes and dried out his throat.
He scanned the searchers trudging amongst the overgrowth and trees, hoping someone found something. There were a lot of resources deployed here and it would be embarrassing if no bodies were found.
The command portable radio crackled to life. Max moved to the radio and lifted the handset. ‘Last caller, repeat,’ he said.
A voice crackled over the radio. ‘Search team four to Command…we have located a mine shaft,’
Max’s searching eyes scanned the bush land. ‘What is your location Search team four…?’ Max said.
‘South-west corner of grid seven...’
Max moved to the large map on an easel. His finger traced the grids, stopping at grid seven.
‘Can you tell if there is anything in the hole,’ Max asked.
‘Affirmative. There appears to be something at the bottom. Difficult to tell what. The mine is approximately fifteen to twenty metres deep.’
The Search and Rescue body recovery team was deployed to the mine site.
A cop trussed up in a harness, attached to a portable, motorised pulley was slowly lowered down into the mine shaft. A colleague guided the cable into the hole. Search team four encircled the vicinity of the hole, watching on.
Max inched his way to the edge of the mine shaft and slowly peered down on the cop disappearing into the darkness.
After a few short minutes Max had his answer, for this hole at least.
‘False alarm,’ blurted across Max’s portable radio. ‘Bring me up…’
The search and rescue cop guiding the cable signalled to the pulley operator to bring him up. The pulley hummed as the cable rewound onto the large spool.
When the cop emerged from the hole he shook his head. ‘Just a small decomposing roo at the bottom…nothing else.’
Max circled a disappointed hand in the air. ‘OK. Back to it people,’ he said then returned to the shade of the Command Centre.
Fifteen minutes later his radio again crackled to life. ‘Search team one, Command. We have located a mine opening in grid two.’
Max lifted the radio handset. ‘Command received. Stand by. The body recovery team are on their way to you.’
Within minutes the search and rescue cop slowly descended from view into the mine shaft. A second team member guided the cable into the hole.
Five minutes later, Max’s radio crackled to life. ‘Search and Rescue one to Command…I have three human remains. Repeat. Three human remains.’
The body recovery team leapt into action. A harness stretcher was lowered into the hole and one-by-one, the bodies were removed. First out was Malcom Denyer, then Jenny Cox and last out was Brian Taylor.
Max inspected his three missing person victims laid out in a row on the ground, each one in a different stage of decomposition and insect infestation. The gaping wound to Denyer’s neck caught his eye. He checked the other two bodies and noted that they too had wounds to their necks.
Forensic crime scene cops moved in and photographed the remains and their respective injuries and body markings.
As Max watched on he wondered, could Emily Davis slash a person’s throat? He wasn’t so sure. These were the actions of a cold-hearted psychopathic killer, and Emily Davis did not fit that profile.
Regardless, Emily’s List had now provided the whereabouts to five of his seven missing persons. Each victim had been brutally murdered and their bodies dumped. It was time to bring her in. If she could not prove her Psychic Medium defence, she would be in a great deal of trouble.
Emily’s Wednesday started out like any other—9am mid-week meeting with her Manager, then attending to her files, all the while time-watching until her morning coffee break.
At 10.15 Naomi appeared at Emily’s cubicle. ‘Ready Em…?’
Emily checked the time on her computer screen. Naomi was right on time for their morning stroll for their coffee.
Emily opened the bottom drawer and removed her purse.
’Hey Em, isn’t that the cop who came ‘round to your place to speak to you about your night time visitors?’ Naomi said.
Emily glanced to the front of the office. Detective Sergeant Max Higgins was talking to Emily’s Manager. A female uniform cop stood with them. The Manager gestured towards Emily and Naomi.
Emily frowned. ‘I think it is…Wonder what he wants…’
‘I think you’re about to find out, Em. They’re coming this way…’
Emily watched Max and her Manager approach. They moved through the open office, heading straight for her. ‘Maybe he has some good news, Nomes…’ Emily said.
‘Could you excuse us please Naomi,’ the Manager said, directly and without emotion.
Naomi nodded. ‘I’ll see you at the café Em,’ Naomi said then moved to the office exit door.
Emily’s Manager’s expression was forlorn when she spoke to Emily. ‘The police are here to speak to you, Emily. Can you please log out of the system…’
Max nodded to the Manager. ‘Thanks Amanda,’ Max said. He stepped forward.
‘OK…’ Emily said. ‘What’s this about Detective…?’
‘Emily, I am here to arrest you for the murders of Brian Taylor, Jenny Cox, Lance Edwards, Sarah Moon and Malcolm Denyer.’
Emily’s jaw fell open. The colour drained from her face as the police woman approached Emily and secured handcuffs to her wrists. As she did so, she informed Emily of her right to remain silent.
‘I don’t understand. I didn’t murder anyone…You know I didn’t murder those people,’ Emily said. She pleaded with Max. ’Her eyes welled up. ‘Can I call my husband?’ She said. Her voice tremored.
‘You can, but you can call him from the police station,’ Max said.
Max and the police woman took an arm each. Every set of inquisitive eyes in the office watched their colleague in tears, being escorted through the office like a common criminal.
As they approached the front door, Emily’s Manager chased after them with Emily’s hand bag. She handed it to Max and they were gone.
Their first stop was Emily’s home address in Belmont where several plain clothes cops descended on her modest brick veneer house. The inquisitive neighbours looking on watched cops carrying out a computer hard drive and other items in large plastic bags.
Due to the considerable period of time that had passed since those named on Emily’s list went missing, Max was limited to the available evidence he expected to find during the search warrant. Maybe Emily’s clothing may contain residual blood. Maybe her internet search history hid some vital evidence, or maybe the deleted emails they recovered will provide that smoking gun, although he was doubtful.
After arriving at the police station, Max placed Emily into a small interview room. One table and two chairs were the only furniture in a room devoid of windows and personality. Clearly, the least comfortable a crook felt, the better.
Tears flowed as she glanced around the small room confining her. The unknown scared her. She had never been on the wrong side of the law before. And today was no different; she had done nothing wrong. She just had to get the police to understand that.
The hinges on the door squeaked when Max entered the room carrying a desk phone. He plugged it into a wall socket and turned the phone to face Emily. ‘Dial zero to get an outside line, then dial your number,’ Max said.
Max recognised the fear in Emily’s eyes when she looked up at him. He’d seen it numerous times before. It was present in the many first-time offenders he’d charged. It was a fear of the unknown and an intimidation over what came next.
To Max though, Emily was different. The bodies he recovered had all been brutally murdered, each with a large bladed knife and more than likely, by the same killer. Max knows murderers, he knows psychopaths. He had looked all of them in the eyes before. Emily did not fit any of those profiles. A large part of him hoped she could prove her psychic abilities and make this all go away. He hoped, but he wasn’t hopeful.
‘Do I call my husband…?’ Emily said.
‘You can call whomever you want,’ Max said. ‘Do you want a lawyer?’
‘Do I need one?’ Emily’s bottom lip quivered.
‘I would strongly suggest you seek legal representation,’ Max said.
Max’s words frightened her. Emily could no longer hold back the torrent of tears. She broke down crying as the gravity of her predicament sunk in.
Max left the room and returned with a box of tissues. He placed the box in front of Emily. He didn’t say any words. He didn’t have to. These weren’t tears of regret from being caught. These were tears of a frightened woman, quite possibly unjustly brought in to answer to something she had no knowledge of.
Emily dragged out a tissue. She sniffed as she wiped her reddened eyes. She looked up at Max standing opposite. ‘I don’t understand why you are doing this. I haven’t done anything wrong.’ Her tone pleaded her innocence. She again wiped her eyes. ‘What’s going to happen to me?’
Max slid into a chair. He leaned on his elbows as he regarded Emily. ‘We recovered the bodies of five people whose names were on the list you gave to police…They were recovered in, or around the locations you provided. Each one had been murdered…’ Max said.
Emily’s head shot up. Her eyes flared. ‘Murdered…Oh how horrible.’ She wiped her nose with the tissue. ‘None of them told me they had been murdered,’ she said. ‘But I thought I was helping you find them when I gave you that list…’
‘You did,’ Max said. ‘And that is when your trouble started. You told us where to find these people whose bodies had been hidden. Only the offender knew where they were. And you led us straight to them. We haven’t located the last two yet, but I’m confident we will.’
‘This is insane,’ Emily said. ‘I told you… these people came to me. They told me where they were. I didn’t kill anyone.’ Frustration was now evident in her tone.
‘I hope for your sake you can prove that, Emily. I really do,’ Max said. He flicked a finger at the telephone. ‘I’ll let you make your call.’ He pushed himself up from his chair.
’How do I prove it to you?
Max stopped at the door. ‘It isn’t me you have to prove it to Emily…’ he said, then wrenched open the door and left the room.
By the time Emily’s lawyer arrived with Boyd, Emily was beside herself with fear. The large knot in her stomach churned. Mascara tracks ran down her cheeks. A dark smear formed on her navy skirt from nervously rubbing her perspiring hands downs her thighs.
Following his discussion with Emily in the interview room, the Lawyer left the room to talk to Max. ‘I’ve spoken to my client, Detective. She mentioned something about being charged with five murders. I find that astonishing. Can you possibly enlighten me further,’ the Lawyer said.
‘At this stage, I intend to interview your client as a principle offender in relation to five cold case murders…’
‘At this stage? Are you suggesting there are more?’
‘She is devastated by these allegations, Sergeant.’
‘I’m aware of that Mr Jervis.’
‘Do you have any physical evidence linking my client to any of these murders…?’
‘We have sufficient evidence Mr Jervis. We’re about to start our interview. Have you finished with your client?’
‘I have. We will be denying these allegations.’
Max nodded to the Lawyer. He wouldn’t have expected anything less.
The video recorded interview of Emily went exactly how Max expected. He put the allegations to her and she vehemently denied them. Her emotive tears and repeated claims of innocence were convincing. She maintained her defence that she was a Psychic Medium and these people she was accused of murdering visited her, seeking her assistance. She provided that assistance by preparing a list of names and locations and gave that to the police.
With the interview drawing to a close, Max had a couple of more questions he wanted to ask before he wound it up. ‘Have you been visited by any other dead people since these seven dead people on your list visited you?’ Max asked Emily.
‘So, let me see if I have understood this correctly…’ Max said. ‘You believe that you have the ability to communicate with dead people…but apart from these seven people we have discussed, you have not spoken to any other dead people…that is before, or since. Have I understood that correctly?’
‘So, you mentioned earlier that this psychic ability you have only came to you suddenly, around the time when these people started visiting you?’
‘Then your ability seemed to have stopped since the last of the seven people, Mr Malcolm Denyer visited you…’ Max said as a question.
’I never said I lost my ability to communicate with those who had passed on… Emily said. ‘I just haven’t had anyone else visit me since Mr Denyer’s visits.’
‘Are you able to prove that you have these psychic abilities that you say you have…?’
‘Exactly how do I do that?’
‘That’s not for me to decide,’ Max said.
‘I don’t just sit there and summons these people to me like some sort of séance…they just appear when they want my help.’
’I see. So they contact you…and no-one has needed your help since. Would that be correct?’
Max wrapped up the two hour interview. He informed Emily of her charges and cautioned her against saying anything further.
Once the camera stopped recording, and while he gathered up his paperwork, Max informed Emily and her Lawyer that, given the nature of the charges, he would be seeking to remand Emily in custody.
Emily’s jaw dropped. Her eyes flared when she heard the news. Her pleading eyes flicked to her Lawyer. They screamed at him to not allow the police to lock her up. The thought of being put in a jail cell for something she didn’t do terrified her.
It was however out of her Lawyer’s hands. He could try and argue at the remand hearing for Emily to be released on bail, but given the charges were capital offences, bail would be an unlikely option.
Max checked his watch. The court day was drawing to a close so he had to move fast. Following some phone calls to the court located beside the police station, Max was fortunate to locate a Magistrate who had not finished for the day. The Magistrate did however bluntly inform Max, if his offender was not before the court in fifteen minutes, he would not hear the remand.