The Doll Collector

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Chapter 13

Dan was determined to find something useful, retreating to his study. He was determined to put his mind to better use when he wasn’t wallowing in self-pity next to his worrisome wife.

Whilst sitting next to Jennifer, Dan had been fearful that every minute reduced the chance of recovering their daughter. Most searches run out of steam after two days. I want more than a five per cent chance of success.

His thoughts stayed as thoughts. By the looks of it, Jen doesn’t need a reality check. They were both familiar enough with missing children cases to know how these things usually ended.

Sitting at his study desk he once again held a DVD in his hand, flipping it over again and again. This time he was fully aware of its contents. It was a forensic copy of that DVD.

He reviewed the disc with forensic software on his home computer and discovered something he had not noticed earlier. The disc was named a fairly generic “Video-DVD”, but it contained text embedded in the data on the disc. The disc was created with Nero disc creation software, and the original location of the video file showed it had been named “JVC-GZ-HD7_MOV167.MOD” and had been saved to that computer by a user named “Joshua”. This information alone didn’t add up to much, but it did reveal a possible name of Abigail’s captor, and it showed he had been using a JVC HD camcorder.

These weren’t big things, but they had the potential to add some flesh to the bare bones of the police investigation. Sadly, without anything further, the new information amounted to nothing of any significance. The guy wasn’t trying to leave clues, he was trying to send a message. But with some luck he could’ve done both.

Reviewing the video again, Dan could not discern anything useful in the background. No identifiable landmark. No sunlight to indicate the direction in which the house faced. There were no tattoos, scars, or other identifiable marks on the arms of the male that could make it easier to identify him, and he couldn’t see much else of him.

He noticed that the man had intentionally set the camera so his face would not be shown. That suggested he had nothing covering his face. If that was the case, this was almost certain to be someone unknown to Abigail. There was no recognition in her eyes.

Maybe it was an attempt by the kidnapper to copy criminals from movies and TV shows. Fictional characters insisted on hiding their face to avoid a police manhunt based on one grainy image. Most would wear a mask. This guy planned ahead so that a mask would not be required. These weren’t the actions of someone panicking and wondering what to do next. This man thought carefully about everything before proceeding. I need to disrupt his method of thinking, force him into a mistake.

The way the man thought and the way he spoke, Dan thought he might have been experienced in abducting girls. He spoke of girls in general. Not just this girl or these girls. He spoke like a man partway through his mission to restore morals, as ironically twisted as all of that seemed to Dan.

If he’s done this before, I could get something crucial from previous missing girl cases in other parts of the country. A guy like this wouldn’t stay in one place too long to avoid bringing suspicion upon himself.

He needed to speak to the police and share his thoughts and discoveries with them. Hopefully in return they would see his worth in this investigation and trust him with the details of missing children. He could claim to assist with his private investigation resources, reviewing them for similarities, try to ascertain whether anyone could identify the man. They won’t lose out by providing me with copies of police files. They’ll be gaining an extra pair of hands without losing any of their budget.

Dan wanted so much to get in his car and drive around until he found this scumbag, but he didn’t have enough to go on. What was he going to do? Attempt to find anyone called Joshua who owned an HD camcorder? Without the help of the police there was nothing he could do until this man made another move. Nothing at all.

He picked up his phone and called his local police station again. It was mostly a hunch based on an assumption, but he had been right before about things like this. If he was right this time then he could prove to be vital in reuniting their family.

This lowlife needs to be brought to justice. That is, of course, assuming I don’t get to dish out some of my own brand of justice first.

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