Julia Hammonds was only 14 years when she vanished from her home in Chippenham before school. It had been a sunny April morning just before the Easter break, and as far as her parents had been concerned Julia was the ideal daughter and teachers confirmed that she had always been attentive, focused and got on with her work and showed real promise in her school subjects. The day she disappeared both her parents were called into work early and her older brother Johnny had stayed at a friends house and hadn’t seen Julia since the following evening. As Jake and Rae read the case file they came across the only bits of evidence that ever came from the investigation- small splatters of blood in her bedroom and a rushed diary entry assumed to be written mere minutes before she was attacked.
“The diary entry is interesting, Rae. It might be our biggest lead.” Jake passes a photograph of the girls diary across the table.
I’m scared. I didn’t sleep at all last night. I can hear my heart beating in my ears and I’m thinking maybe I need to tell someone what I know.
“We find out what scared her and we solve the case.” Rae confirmed.
“It’s been 36 years though, do you really think we are going to get anywhere in the month deadline?” Jake didn’t take his eyes off her and when she looked up and gave a small frown he continued “I admire you, I really do, you know I do” he began to stutter and Rae gave a smile.
“Do I still make you nervous?” She teased which caused his face to turn red and his eyes to dart back to the cases.
“Her brothers statement says he was the one who phoned the police. He came home from school, the front door had been forced open and he could see the kitchen knife drawer was wide open. He went straight to Julia’s room and saw her unmade bed and items from her bedside cabinet on the floor.”
“Presumably. When the police arrived they found specs of blood on the wall closest to the door and drops of blood on the carpet.”
Rae passed photographs in Jakes direction and he examined them. The case file had its own box of evidence on the shelving unit. They had found the cut out pieces of carpet and a swab from the blood on the wall.
“We can test the blood for DNA for starters. That’ll take about a week to get back to us.”
They took a deep breath and both took in the amount of information that surrounded them. It had only been a couple of hours and she could tell that Jake didn’t look hopeful.
“You had to pick one with no body.” He chuckled as he went to phone forensics.
Rae looked closely at the school photograph of the girl. Plaited brown hair, round framed glasses and a small smile. The innocence radiated off of her, how could someone have ever decided that her life had to end before it had ever truly begun.
A white board was pressed against the white brick wall and after some tugging it was dragged across the carpet and set in front of the table they had been working at. Kelly and Ady had done a similar thing across the room and seemed to already be connecting dots in their case.
Rae stuck the girls photo up the in the centre and in a red pen wrote ‘Who killed Julia Hammond’.
“First mistake-“ Kyle’s voice startled her from behind. He stood tall with his arms crossed. “- how do you know she was murdered?”
Rae blushed and looked to her feet feeling completely stupid for jumping so quickly into it being a murder. After all, murders in this part of Wiltshire were quite rare. Nothing like she had witnessed while staying with her Aunt in America.
“Don’t worry I’m not going to judge you too harshly. You’re fairly new to police work. But take my advice and don’t make a mistake like this again- never assume. We need solid facts, we question everything and everyone. Do not let your hunches lead your investigations.” When Kyle wanted to be he could look down at you and make you feel small. Rae never liked confrontation, or being made to feel inferior. But she knew you needed it to learn and grow as a person, especially as a police officer.
“Yes sir.” She rubbed the writing off the board in time for Jake to come off the phone and come over.
“Forensics have put it at the bottom of their list due to urgency. It’s been 36 years I’m sure a few extra weeks won’t hurt.” Raw nodded, she appreciated that but she still didn’t believe it to be right that the family had to wait so long for answers.
Rae returned home late that night. Jake and her had gone to dinner straight from the office and her hair was screaming for a hot shower.
They had spent the whole day in that basement sorting out the evidence and statements and trying to arrange the white board into a fact sheet. And all day she hadn’t been able to shake the face of Julia out of her mind.
Harriet was in the kitchen and despite it being nearly 9 she was cooking some noodles in a wok like she had never left university.
“Heya!” She squealed as she heard the door click shut. Quickly she turned the job down and almost danced out the hallway to greet Rae. “How was your first day as a detective? I want to know all about it- you hungry?”
Rae flung her coat over a hook by the door and kicked off her shoes into the other corner.
“No thanks, I’ve just had dinner with a colleague.”
Harriet had returned to the kitchen and was serving up her noodles as Rae made the way into their small lounge and slumped on the two seated pink sofa that was only in their house because it was going free on a Facebook add Harriet had seen.
“You know it’s not like that, I don’t plan to date someone I work with. Especially since we are partners in a case.” She said fumbling around from the remote which had been shoved behind a patchwork pillow Harriet had sewn together way back in textiles at school. Some of the messy visible stitching had frayed and it wouldn’t be long before it got a decent sized hole. “And on a side note- I’m not actually a detective.”
Harriet came in and sat next to her crossed legs, both their eyes on the TV although they clearly weren’t interested in what was on it. It was more something to look at and distract them from the sound of creaking from next door and the loud pipes.
“Yeah yeah I’ve heard that before” she winked “so have you got a cool case?”
“I wouldn’t say cool- after all it’s a girls life and her whole family have spent 36 years wondering what happened to her.”
Rae reaches behind her head and removed the hairband that had been pulling tightly on her red curls. As she ran her hands through her hair and detangled some stubborn knots she felt like she could relax into the lumpy sofa.
“Yeah you’re right, sorry Rae.” She slurped you some noodles and then placed a hand on Raes leg, “Is this case going to be alright for you? Not too traumatic?”
Quickly wanting to change the conversation Rae stood up with a smile and shook off Harriets comment. But they had been friends far too long for Harriet not to see through her lies.
“I need a shower.”
“I second that, you stink of dust.” Harriet said picking up the cushion and tossing it in Raes direction. She missed but it didn’t stop Rae picking it up and throwing it back, narrowly missing the bowl of noodles. Harriet squealed and Rae ran upstairs to the bathroom smiling. Moving in with her best friend had been the best decision of her life.
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