There were no days off for the team at the moment. So far they had pieced together Chloe’s Goodhall’s movements for the week prior to her death, which did not amount to much. She had worked in the office from Monday through Thursday but then had not gone into the office on Friday. Many colleagues thought she must have booked a long weekend. During the week before she disappeared she had worked out in her gym on the Monday and Wednesday nights. It had been the RPM spinning class and a Six-Pack class on the Monday night and then a RPM spinning class plus Body Pump on the Wednesday. On the Thursday night she had taken a Bikram Yoga class at a yoga studio close to Tower Bridge before going to a sculpture exhibition at the New Tate Gallery. The New Tate CCTV that showed Chloe arriving and leaving on her own. They even had CCTV of her crossing the Millennium Bridge on her own. She was not followed as far as they could tell. Cain had told Simmonds to also get the register from the gym and the yoga studio and contact everyone to see if they could remember anything while also cross-referencing all the names to see if there was any commonality. It would be boring work but Cain knew Simmonds realised it was always the laborious work that could break a case and take a murderer off the streets. The possibility that they could find that small link and save a future victim's life was what secured Simmonds and the rest of the teams' dedication. Apart from the fitness classes, she seemed to have done nothing else apart from working late on the other nights. They found nothing in her diary to say she had met up with friends. It was the working week of many a professional in London.
The tail on Trevor Mingle had revealed nothing either. He just traveled to and from work with a visit to his local pub in Feltham and then a kebab shop on the way home. It seemed to be his daily routine. The life of a very lonely man.
Simmonds had also corroborated most of Antonio Manchini ’s statement. In Chloe’s last week alive they had been in contact by text daily. It looked as if she was as smitten with Antonio as he was with her.
The other members of the team had been chasing down the witnesses and the families of the victims related to the previous vegetable cases in view of the new angle on the case. The case folders were now all up to date. Cain read through everything as it came in. There was nothing new and nothing had been missed. This frustrated Cain immensely. Every detective always felt that they had the knack, the talent, of discovering a clue that no one else could see in an old case file. But he should take some credit for seeing a connection between these unsolved murders that others had missed. That would be enough for most. Most then would then be willing to hand the case over with outstretched arms to Scotland Yard. No one really wanted a serial killer case and all the shit it brought. But not Cain. He had the taste and the scent for this killer and the only way to remove it would be to remove the killer from London’s streets.
It was late. Cain sat staring at the case boards in the office. The rest of the office was enveloped in darkness. Cain looked down at his watch. It was approaching 11 pm on Sunday night. Where had the day gone he wondered?
He had promised his kids five days ago that he would see them today. Today should have been an enjoyable one. He had planned to pick them up and take them for a walk around Bushy Park in Hampton, a stone's throw from where they all lived. Then lunch at their favorite Italian restaurant on Hampton High Street, finishing off with a hot chocolate at a local coffee shop. In Cain’s late wife’s perspective, it was the restaurant she most favoured for the kids. They cooked everything fresh. She had been very diligent about making sure they ate healthily and only having fast food as a treat, never as a meal.
But because of the case, he had let his kids down again. His mother and father in law had been livid when he had canceled. Apart from shouting at him for upsetting the children, they had reminded him that he had ruined their day as well. They had planned to meet friends at a local garden center for lunch. That all had to be changed when they knew that they would still have their grandchildren with them.
He looked at the board one last time, picked up his jacket and headed out of the office. The case was running dry. He could feel it. The murderer was in control. He feared that until the killer struck again, they would have nothing to go on. Or maybe they did and they just couldn’t see it. Was it Mingle? Not even he could be sure now. He wished in his heart that it was him, but in reality, they had no evidence to support it.
I felt like I was suspended in the air. I was waiting for Heather to return to her flat. It was Monday night and I had decided not to follow her home from work as usual as I wanted her to come to me. I needed her to present herself as it would be more pure and fresh. I was trembling inside. I was tense but as always full of anticipation. I needed to breathe deeply and calm my heart rate. Monday was an unusual day for me to be starting a release of one of my victims, but something inside me had told me that today was the day to act. I knew that this action was not logical. It would bring suspicion and concern about Heather’s whereabouts a lot quicker. It would lead to people missing her sooner. I could see it now, her work colleagues and friends being interviewed once her presence was missed and unaccounted for. I felt like I was at a crossroads. But I had been commanded to act by Marlene. So here I was standing, waiting to take her this evening. I had prepared what was required quickly to bring her cleansing forward.
A sharp wind whipped around the corners of the dock picking up any rubbish before sending it tumbling down the covered pathways. I was standing just inside an archway by the vehicle drop off circle for the St Catherine’s Dock apartments, a place that Heather passed by every morning and night.
I saw Heather walking towards me. She was engrossed in sending a text on her mobile phone while listening to music. If I were to act, it had to be now so I could follow her and gain access to her flat with her permission.
I felt a chill go down my spine as she passed me. Immediately, tonight did not feel right. What should I do? I stood frozen to the spot. Marlene must have been confused in her commands or maybe I had not understood.
I watched Heather as she passed by taxis dropping off people destined for the local restaurants. She stopped and looked across at me staring at her. Did she know me? She didn’t seem to show any recognition. I started to write on a clipboard that I had brought along as part of my disguise, pretending to blend in as some type of official. It seemed to work, she looked away as she went back to texting.
A huge clap of thunder signalled an approaching storm. It was another sign. I knew now, tonight was not the right night. Her time would come soon. It was just not today. I sniffed the air for her aroma. I found her scent mixed amongst others. I started to scratch my itchy skin through my jacket. Yes, it would be soon.
Cain had arranged to meet DCI Wainwright, the lead detective on the Grace Tomlinson murder case. The agreed location was at Feltham Police station, which was luckily very close to the train station and therefore the Tomlinson murder scene.
It was the first time Cain had been to Feltham police station and was not surprised to be faced with a 1970’s pebble-dashed structure.
Cain met Wainwright in reception. He was a man with a grey pallor, a limp handshake, and a disgusting taste in ties. His dress sense matched that of the building. He was six foot tall like Cain’s but there the similarity ended. He was overweight or as Wainwright would describe himself “in need of a few more gym sessions” They went through to the station’s canteen to find a place to sit and chat. Wainwright ordered a couple of teas.
’So what can I do for you, Cain? Last week it was all about Mingle, who I believe you have already interviewed. You mentioned that this visit was related to an unsolved case on my books. Which one? Unfortunately, I have more than one.’
’It may be just a shot in the dark and I may have the wrong end of the stick completely but I wanted to talk to you about Grace Tomlinson.’
Wainwright flinched. It was a physical reaction, visible enough for Cain to see it. The case must be eating at him badly Cain thought.
’That’s one of mine for sure. Poor girl. She had just turned twenty-three and then had the life beaten out of her. Simple as that. At this point and it has been since 6th September 2011, I have no suspects or even a witness who saw her after she got off the train. She left Feltham station and was never seen alive again apart from by her murderer. So what’s your interest? How has her name come up? Is it in relation to Mingle?’
’It’s more for elimination reasons than anything with another case, not Mingle’s I might add. I just want to eliminate her murder from being linked to another investigation I am working on,’Cain replied. He needed to keep something’s back for the moment.
DCI Wainwright’s face sank.
’Pity, I thought you had something for me.’
’Not really, it’s just that her file came up when I was searching for a pattern in another case. At first, her murder did not fit the victim profile but I wanted to ask if you were working on any active leads and to ask about the additional items found at the scene. You listed that she was discovered with two carrier bags full of broccoli located close to the body. Do you know where it came from?’
’No, never worked that one out. The witnesses from the train could not remember if she had the carrier bags with her or not. Her train didn’t leave from Waterloo until 22:20hrs that evening. We checked the platform CCTV but it did not show her carrying anything apart from her handbag. At that time of night, there are only a few places close by that sold the stuff. So we checked with the staff at the Tesco and Sainsbury Mini supermarkets in Waterloo Station. They had never seen her and the in-house CCTV verified that. We also asked if anyone else had purchased a large amount of broccoli and again the answer was no. The other places we checked were a couple of Indian corner shops near Feltham station. They didn’t sell any broccoli that evening in any large quantities that they could remember.’
Cain was suddenly more focused.
’How much would you say the broccoli weighed, it was not in the short report I read?’
’Two kilos approximately. I can’t be sure now. It’s in a forensics report somewhere. I hope you didn’t come all the way down here to ask me that.’
’It’s important but not just that. Did you ever work out if the broccoli was significant or just a false lead?’
’As I said it was one of the main lines of inquiry. We didn’t have much else, so we were clutching at straws. We did check the bags of broccoli for fingerprints. Nothing, but she was wearing gloves. Her handbag was found at the scene with her purse. It had been rifled through, kind of tipped out but nothing was taken. We even checked to see if she was a vegetarian. You have crazy thoughts when you have nothing to go on. But in the end, we came up with a big fat zero. It’s all in the file. We finally assumed it was a mugging that had gone wrong. So no. What have you got?’
’Look, I have to admit I mislead you when I first arrived,’ Cain said raising his hands. ’I just wanted to hear you describe the case. I may have found something while investigating another murder, but I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up yet. There could be a link between Grace Tomlinson’s death and another recent and equally brutal murder. We found about two kilos of leeks in a sink at the crime scene. Again no logical reason for it being there. So you can understand my interest in your case.’
’How did you link it?’ asked Wainwright.
’It was one of my team that did that. She did a general search based on the data from the murder scene. Nothing came up so she searched again adding the word vegetable. That’s when things started to get interesting. We actually got six matches. The cases really had no other visible links apart from the fact they were young women so you can see why the original search was too vague and provided no connections. Therefore the link we’ve found is vegetables left at murder scenes. Some people might laugh at this connection but I am afraid that it is very real. As you can understand I am making initial enquires before we go public.’
’So a potential serial killer?’
’Is this connected to the Carter Lane case you are heading up?’
’Yes, but can we keep this between us until I can prove that they are connected?’
’No problem Cain, but promise me that you will let me know before you go public with Grace. I am still in contact with her family and they deserve to know if there are any developments especially one like this. The media will be on their front door as soon as this is out in the open. So where does Mingle fit into this?’
’For these vegetable linked cases, we have five unsolved cases and one solved not including Carter Lane. The solved one being the murder of Marlene Stringer by Mingle. Two things stuck out. If we believe the link, the vegetables recorded so far at the crime scenes were all part of the list of vegetables in the bag tipped over Stringer. Secondly, the murders started after Mingle was released. So for me Mingle could be in the mix, but after my chat with him I don’t think so, but it could also possibly be someone that has read up on Marlene’s murder. Anyway, we have him under surveillance just to make sure, more to eliminate him than anything else.’
’I can see why he piqued your interest. I have to admit Mingle was never interviewed over Grace. As I said I never knew he was out. I need to check why his name never came up when we were looking for potential suspects in the immediate area. When was he released?’
’Mingle was released in 2010.’
’Interesting. I suppose if they are linked you will be taking over the case. If so, let me know if I can help in any way, I owe that to Grace. And keep me in the loop.’
’Of course. Thanks for the chat. I’ll see myself out.’
Cain left, his mind was racing. He felt even stronger now that the vegetables were the link. In one way he wanted to be proved correct but on the other hand, he was also dreading it. For Cain personally, the weight of the vegetables found with Grace Tomlinson confirmed it. They had a serial killer on their hands and he had been operating under their noses for years.
Instead of going straight back to Central London. He needed to stop off at home and pick up a couple of suits that needed dry cleaning. In reality, it was not a necessity but it gave him time to think things through. The problem was he dreaded going home at the moment. The same thought went through his mind every time he opened the front door. He wanted to call out his wife’s name but knew there would be no reply.
Three years ago his life had been perfect. That was the time he had moved over from the Met Police to the City of London Police. It had been the ideal career move and one he could not turn down. For him it was a promotion, for his family, it meant so much more. He had had a beautiful wife and young family whom he wanted to see grow and develop into adults on a regular basis, not on a sporadic basis. The City of London Police offered better working hours and a different mix of crimes. Fewer domestics, no more football duty on Saturdays and Sundays, and for the most part the bars and businesses were closed over the weekend in the Square Mile. But it was seven days a week job wherever you were based in the police force. That was one thing you could never get away from. On his transfer to the City of London Police, Cain was made Detective Chief Inspector of the Serious Crime Desk. The clear-up rate for the desk had improved by a staggering twenty-three percent since Cain had taken over. Cain had focused his skills on the drug dealers who preyed on the City’s bankers and traders with an operation codenamed “Flute”.Flute worked very effectively and Cain was sure that for a while some of the City’s banks and trading desks actually operated on just caffeine and vodka alone. But the source of drugs is like the Greek Goddess, Medusa. Once you cut off one snake’s head, two more appear.
Murders, rapes, and robberies had not disappeared from his new City beat but at least the criminals, on the whole, were better dressed and there were a lot fewer cases. With the financial focused crimes, they had assistance from the Serious Fraud Squad. The teams worked well together. However, murder remained his domain.
Therefore, life for the next few years had been much better after the move to the City of London Police force. His work rosters were more balanced and he had started to see his children more. He actually felt he was able to contribute in a positive way to the running of the family home. Plus, he and his wife almost had a social life.
Then one evening his family life had turned into a never-ending nightmare. Worse than a nightmare. It had imploded. One Saturday evening at the beginning of the year his wife had popped out to the local shops in Teddington High Street to buy a couple of extra items for the evening meal. Cain had sat with his children playing Monopoly, one of the kid’s favourite games. The children waited for mum to return. She never did. She had been mowed down on a zebra crossing. The car had been driven by a twenty-one-year-old lad called Gary Ratner. He had been drinking and smoking a joint as he drove. When the police eventually tracked down the car to Gary Ratner’s address he had been found asleep at the wheel with the joint dangling from his fingertips. After taking a breath test he was found to be four times over the legal limit. Ratner could not even remember hitting Cain’s wife, the mother of Cain’s children but said he could vaguely remember having to swerve to avoid someone crossing the road at some point on this way home. If there was any consolation, the swerve had been to avoid a woman with a pram on the same zebra crossing. But in the end, it wasn’t any consolation to Cain. His wife was dead and to him, she was irreplaceable.
Since his wife had been murdered that day, his life had emotionally come to an end. He had been deeply in love with his wife even after all their years of marriage and now his children were a constant reminder of his loss. He loved them with all his heart but found time with them suffocating as his grief resurfaced and consumed him every time. His children, a girl, and a boy were twelve and seven years old respectively.
A month after her death, everyone could see that he was not coping and not able to give his children the love and support they desperately needed at that time. So his mother and father-in-law offered to take the children off his hands for a few weeks to allow him time to straighten up his affairs, get his head straight and make the arrangements for a new family life. They had suggested that he would probably need to find a live-in nanny and adapt his working hours to that of a single parent. Anyway, the children moved out so that he could put his affairs in order but for him, the desire to change his working hours was not on the horizon. It would have been an admission of his new reality. So it never happened. He could not move on from his sense of loss. So over the last nine or so months, his children had been living with the in-laws. He visited them a couple of times a week but nothing had ever been said about them returning home. In fact, he felt that his in-laws were more than happy with the arrangement to remain. He presumed it was their way of getting over their own loss. His wife had been their only daughter. The grandchildren were their only link with their lost child.
As always his thoughts eventually went to the future. The future where the driver would be found guilty of murder and sentenced to life. At present, the little fucker was languishing in his flat waiting for a court date. Then fear and dread would creep in. Cain would play the court case in his mind. He would hear the judge issuing a stupid and inconsequential sentence for a first offense. Then in his mind, Cain would jump across the partition separating him from Ratner. He would attack him in front of the whole court. Cain didn’t know if the daydreams and the frustrations he felt was for the loss of his wife or just his way of coping while waiting for the case to go to court. These thoughts did not sit well with him. He needed to be on the side of the law not planning to break it.
His work had been affected by his wife’s death in so many ways. For example, he knew that since his wife had passed if he got a serious lead on a case he would follow it up on his own and cocoon himself away from his team. When they relayed their results for their part of an investigation he absorbed the findings and gave nothing in return. What he was thinking, no one knew. When he left the station his team did not know if he was off to see his children, going home or out on a case. He knew it was lunacy. But he found it hard to stop himself. Somehow the cases got solved, but one day he knew his luck would run out.
The house seemed so very empty when he arrived. In every part of the family house, he saw memories of his defunct family. His heart constricted as he looked at the kitchen corkboard filled with drawings his children had made the week before his wife had died. The house was locked in time. He still did not have the strength to change anything. Pushing his thoughts away he went through to the utility room and picked up his suits and left.
As Cain made the journey back into Central London he called Rigby and asked her to meet him at the cafe across the road from the police station. He needed to throw some thoughts past her before going to the chief and he valued her judgment. She seemed older than her years and her judgment calls were right more often than not. Not that Simmonds was not good. Often Cain and Simmonds could have finished off each other's sentences. She just offered something different.
Arriving at the cafe, Rigby saw Cain sitting at a secluded corner table checking through messages on his phone. He nodded towards her.
She observed him as she queued for her coffee. He had put a few pounds since she had first known him. Well, more in the last few months but that was understandable. He had lost his fulcrum, his counterbalance. He probably only ate when he was hungry. That meant canteen food at work and takeaways at home. The combination was probably one of the most unhealthiest diets in the country.
She noticed today he looked very vulnerable and seemingly in pain, something that she had never noticed before, even through his recent troubles. Maybe his guard was down for once. She had an urge to be close to him. She wanted to hold him and tell him that things would eventually get better. The thought suddenly threw her. She had never had these sorts of feelings or emotions towards Cain before. Or any of her colleagues for that matter.
’You okay Rigby, you’re looking confused.’ Cain stated as she sat down.
’What? No, just thinking about the case,’Rigby replied, stumbling with her words.
’Good, that’s what I want to talk to you about and it’s not good.’
“Should we be talking here?”
“It's okay for the moment if we talk quietly. If it gets too crowded then we can walk back to the station,’ he conceded.
Rigby turned so she had her back to the wall. She hated the thought of people behind her when it was not necessary. Occupational hazard she thought. Cain did not seem to care.
’Is that the remnants of another nutritious lunch?’ she said pointing to the half-eaten Danish pastry next to Cain’s coffee.
Cain ignored her comment. ’I have just come from visiting Feltham station and a frank discussion with DCI Wainwright. I wanted to know if he had any leads on the Grace Tomlinson case and if they had considered the broccoli as an important piece of evidence. What I got was that they had no new leads since her attack. His view was that it was a mugging gone wrong. The broccoli had confused the original investigation but in the end, it had been assumed it was hers or she found it on her way home. What he did confirm was the weight of the broccoli. It was two kilos, so similar to our leeks.’
’Oh shit,’ Rigby said.
’Oh shit is not the half of it. It means that our theory of a serial killer is near enough confirmed. Using vegetables as a calling card is now proving to be correct. So we need to do a few things. Let the team know that it is now almost beyond reasonable doubt that we have a serial killer operating on our patch. I need to speak to the Chief and tell him we are taking over the other cases. I also want you to let DCI Wainwright know that Grace’s case is now officially becoming part of a wider investigation and that we will need to release something to the press. I promised him that much. Get him to send all the physical evidence together with the original case folder. I also told him that we have Mingle under surveillance.’
’How did he react to that?’
’I explained my logic and he accepted the reasoning. He did not seem upset that he had not been informed until today.’
’If you explained about the other vegetable cases, the dates and Mingle’s release he will probably start questioning that reasoning and go after Mingle himself. He could even try and take the case from us, I mean his case is chronologically before ours and the knowledge of a serial killer case will hit the press big time.’
’In fairness to him, he doesn’t seem the type. This case is going to be a shit load of work. He was more concerned with speaking with Grace Tomlinson’s parents than taking the lead on the case. But you have a point. The families of all these women are about to have their grief reignited and then their lives are thrown under the media spotlight again. The press will rip off the scab of protection that they have all built up so far leaving the raw wound of loss exposed again. It’s going to be tough for them. They will all need our support and help for a second time. Now, I want you to do one further thing for me. Tammy is good but she’s not a copper. Do another search on the database. Make sure there are no other cases we missed. We would be the laughing stock if there were. On the plus side. More cases, more evidence, so more chance of catching this fucker.’
‘I’ll do it straight away.’
Looking towards the door he stopped talking for a few moments to consider how they would approach the Chief. He then turned and looked back at Rigby. She was staring at him. Her eyes were intense.
’What Rigby?’ he said in an exasperated voice.
’Nothing, boss, just lost in thoughts again.’
’Well look out the bleeding window if you need to think. Now let’s go and see the Chief,’ his train of thought lost.
He stood up and walked out without looking at her.
’Yes boss,’Rigby muttered and then scolded herself. What had suddenly prompted these feelings for Cain? The man was at least fifteen years older than her. She would have to park these feelings and get them sorted out once the case was over.
By the time she reached the door to the street Cain was already half way across the road.