Religious or posturing?
The phone rang. Chase picked it up knowing it would be another call. The guy was escalating. Less than a few days since the last death. This one was another young girl, but she had been found inside a church hall. The church had been hired by a theatre group for auditions and the girl had been found by a volunteer who cleaned the halls for the church. The girl’s body was fresh. It had lain there only a few hours. The cleaner had come to pick up something she had left by error. Kate got the body on the slab in the hour. A theatre mag and some scripts were partly burnt. Clothes were cindered. The killer had tried to destroy all the evidence of the murder, but he knew in his bones this was where the murder had taken place.
This time the girl had lost her feet, severed at the ankle but she had been brutally raped, and her body slashed this time from the waist down to her toes. The pattern formed a criss-cross like fishnet tights. ‘‘Whore,’’ was cut across her stomach, ‘‘Die whore!’’ underneath these slashes. Chase asked the inevitable question of Kate, ‘‘Before or after death?’’ Her throat dry, she explained; these jobs never got easier when one was dealing with a nutcase of this kind.
‘‘Raped while still alive, brutally and painfully. Death by throat being cut. Foot cut off after her throat had been cut, thank God. Her expression indicates she did know what was going on part of the time. Some slashes made whilst alive, but she had enough drugs inside to knock out an elephant, so she probably didn’t know much about what was going on most of the time, I hope.’’
‘‘Any witnesses so far other than the cleaner?’’ asked Defoe. He had a strong stomach, but he felt nauseous. How Kate stood the smell of death he didn’t know? Most women would run a mile from these scenes. She was special and caring to do this awful job each day. She said she did it to help the relatives, to give them answers the police couldn’t give if she or another of her type hadn’t been there. It was worth the gore and grief to give them peace of mind.
‘’A dishwasher at the diner described a woman who was taking Sara to an audition. ‘’The chance of a lifetime,’’ was how Sara described it. She had stars in her eyes, wanting to escape the drudge of the life with her mom who disliked her boyfriend. They were serious and had been for some time and intended to marry. Her mom would not pay for drama school. Her colleague attended the same school as she did and said ‘’Sara was very talented which is why she took the risk and went with that woman.’’
‘’The woman’‘s description?’’
‘‘Tall, slim and face hidden by big sunglasses, Jet black hair wound up on top of her hair. Thick set arms. Luminous pale skin. Very well dressed in expensive cotton garments and soft leather boots. Car was blue and a sedan. No plates.’’
‘‘Cultured, well spoken, strong Southern accent. The epitome of a sophisticated lady.’’
‘‘That is interesting.’’
‘’Thick set arms. I interviewed the art shop owner and Louise’‘s friends again and they remembered something else.’’
He read from his notepad. ’’Louse’s friends said, ‘‘her biceps were quite pronounced for a slender woman as if she were a body builder.’’ The art shop lady said, ‘‘her arms were quite stocky as if she pumped iron; quite unusual for such a stylishly dressed lady.’’
‘‘So, we have a woman who also lift weights regularly. Probably uses a gym. Check which girls used to use a gym regularly.’’
‘‘Already have. Louise used the school and her Dad’s.’’
’’Send someone to her Dad’‘s gym to check for links there.’’
‘‘This was no opportunistic murder like the last one. He chose this one and knew her weaknesses. The woman sat with her and groomed her before enticing her away.’’
‘‘Kate, any hair or indication of male or female at the church?’’
‘’I think the U.N.S.U.B.s were the same. Heavy pressure from the slasher. Vicious angry slashes designed to do damage and hurt the victim. Throat cut quickly and professionally. Same goes for the foot. The man who cut the foot and the throat is not the same one who slashed the legs. That one is the one who slashed Sherylee.
‘’The man who slashed Mary Jane is likely to be the one who uses the scalpel. He pretended to be angry when he cut Mary Jane, but his slashes were not deep. He was conning us into thinking he was a different sort of killer. He doesn’’t enjoy killing. Killing is just a means to an end. The slasher really enjoys hurting people, particularly women.
‘‘He is a mean bastard, hard and angry inside,’’ said Defoe. ‘’His viciousness, means he aims to humiliate and to dehumanize the victims. Perps like this have often been institutionalised, in youth offender associations. They have learnt there how to manipulate their victims and are often charming and charismatic on the surface like Charles Manson was. I will check the records of anyone cautioned or convicted for this type of offence within a fifty miles radius and see if they have spent time in any criminal or mental institution.
‘‘This type of killer may have hurt someone already if not killed a victim. He needs to be caught faster than the first one because he may be escalating.’’
’’I think he is a follower to the first man’s leader. But he may decide to go alone. We are more likely to catch him as he is not as scrupulously clean and less intelligent. He will slip up but not before he has harmed more women. Our first U.N.S.U.B. is on a mission and will stop when he has achieved his goal. He doesn’t kill indiscriminately. He made a mistake with Sherylee, but he is trying to distract us again with this murder.
‘‘He wanted this girl but wants us to think it was done by other murderers.’’
‘‘I could go off this job,’’ said Kate. He wished he could put his arm around her and hug her.
‘‘No more hair to test but Sara did scratch one of them. We are lucky. We have some blood and thus DNA of one U.N.S.U.B. under her nail and I am matching it up with the blood samples on the records. Pray this U.N.S.U.B. has a record or was born in a state where he was tested at birth.’’
‘‘I think we all hate this job at the moment,’’ said Chance. ‘‘Bed for all of us I think after a drink. My shout.’’ They crammed into a bar full of cops who had spent the last months witnessing and discussing revolting crimes. A few bottles of wine and Jack Daniels were cracked open and if they had sore heads the next morning it would be worth it to forget such a crappy day.