Whisper softly or you're dead

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Chapter fifteen.

Mixed Messages. More than one killer?

Chase had a headache. He had gone over Sherylee’s details yet again and was confused. He tossed her case notes to Defoe.

‘’Have a look at those again, will you? And make of them what you can?

‘‘Not our usual virginal type. Been around the block once or twice. Trying to get out of the slum by studying and getting a secretarial qualification; a decent job; one up from selling herself on the streets or living on welfare but she was picking the wrong fellas. Her last one was beating her up when he drank heavily, and he dumped her when she flirted with his best friend. She had retaliated after she found out he was sleeping with one of her girlfriends.’’

’’She was older and had been sexually abused before she was killed. She was four weeks pregnant, not showing her child to the world yet. Probably didn’t know she was pregnant.

‘‘Who was the father?’’

‘‘The boyfriend. He is choked up about it. He cared for the girl in his stupid way and regrets losing the baby and being partly responsible for allowing her to take a lift.’’

‘‘Is he a potential killer?’’

’’Unlikely. He might be a helper, but he is not bright enough to plan this and has no medical knowledge. Didn’t pass High School. Works as a labourer on a building site. Had a chip on his shoulder because Sherylee was making something of herself and he couldn’t keep up. That having been said he has promised his parents to make changes in his life and signed on at the local college for some courses.

‘‘Let’s wish him luck. Sometimes a knock makes a man.’’ It had him. He had been a clever yet wild lad but his Dad dying had made him promise his grandad to help support his mom and work harder at school. Later, the Marines and working with his Cousin for his property firm had made a man of him. He had hated losing his Dad, but he had had to mature faster than most boys of his age.

‘‘Why did the U.N.S.U.B. pick on Sherylee and why mutilate and sexually abuse her? What connection did she have with the other girls?’’

‘‘No answers yet.’’

‘‘Do we have a description of the car that picked up our girl?’’

‘‘Blue sedan, no marque nor plates but going in the direction of Sherylee’s area. There was evidence of asbestos and some dust which may be traced to a warehouse nearby. The dust is quite specific to a particular form of processing. We are tracing the warehouse at the moment.’’

‘‘Where was she found again?’’

‘‘In a school hall, laid out to rest on the platform but wrapped in a piece of plastic, taped to stop anything getting out or in.’’

‘‘How did the rat bites occur?’’

‘‘While she was in the warehouse. The medics think at least one was while she was still alive which was why she was so petrified, some of the others after death. They must have kept the body uncovered for a while. There were ten bites after death. They smelt the blood and bit around it to the vital organs. We could barely recognise the face. That was probably the object of letting them near the body.’’

‘‘The assault. Was it recent or by her boyfriend?’’ He wished Kate had done the whole post mortem. He could ask her questions and go over them again until he was satisfied he had nailed the reasons why the U.N.S.U.B.s had behaved in this way.

‘‘Probably just before death. By a man wearing protection. Violent and vicious. He bruised her thighs, and her arms where he held her down so hard. She was very slim and delicate. She bruised easily.’’

Kate walked in. ‘‘The angle was different but so was the pressure. The man who hit Mary Jane was probably right- handed but the one who hit Sherylee was left-handed. The right-handed man hit less hard than the left-handed man. The second man was more muscular. The first could have been younger, his muscles less built up. The other did serious damage regardless of his anger.’’

‘‘How young?’’

‘‘No idea. Some men do not develop heavy muscles regardless of their age but usually their musculature is developed by their mid-twenties. The second man may have worked out. His strength and muscles were apparent from the bruises he left on the girl’s body. He must have held her lower body down with his knee or leg to make those bruises.’’

‘‘So, we have one puny man and one strong muscle-built man. Where does the female fit in? Is she there just to trap them?’’

‘’It beats me.” He was frustrated and pissed off and needed a drink. He wanted to find the warehouse. His lab rats were identifying the metal process. They had already narrowed it down to twenty factories. He told them to concentrate the focus on factories within two miles of her home; if the factories were being ridded of asbestos. This murderer tended to kill the victims quite close to where he had found them or where they were heading.

Chase traced the warehouse within two days. Despite the U.S.U.B. trying to cover his ground the floor showed evidence of something being dragged across it. Some rats were shot, and they had human remains sticking in their matted, blooded fur. DNA results proved it was Sherylee’s remains.

‘‘This U.N.S.U.B. is clever, all the footprints brushed away and more dust on top,’’ said Kate. She had wanted to see this place for herself.

‘‘Any hair samples?’’

‘‘Some black hair this time, undyed. Probably that of a man whereas the other may have been from a woman. There were traces of a proprietary dye women often use. We had some luck with these last samples. Two hair roots were there, where someone hit their head on something and there was a minute amount of bleeding and blobs of blood. Near the door when they were leaving without hair nets. The DNA will clarify their sexes.’’

‘‘So, we know there are two U.N.S.U.B.s, possibly three. One is strong and the other is weaker. There is one man and one female. The sex of the other we do not know.’’

‘‘What about the voice?’’

‘’The lab technicians have it now. The U.N.S.U.B. alters his voice so we cannot recognise it but there is something odd about the voice. I can’‘t put my finger on it.’

‘‘It is best we stop,’’ said Chase. ‘‘Go home and relax. We are hitting brick walls.’’

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