The call came in about a woman missing just before Monday lunchtime. One of the WPC’s working with Tammy started to wave her hand and point to the phone indicating was that it was important. Tammy signalled for the call to be transferred through to her.
’Hello, City of London Police, how can I help?’
’Am I still connected with the team looking into the recent murders?’
’Yes, that’s right. Whom am I speaking to?’
’Mandy Wilkes. Well, it’s about one of my colleagues at work, a Heather Billcliffe. She’s not turned up for work today and she’s not answering her mobile. We’re all really worried, you know with what’s being said in the press an all.’ The woman sounded frantic.
’Okay, calm down. Take a deep breath. Where do you work?’
’Hobman’s, solicitors near the top of Fleet Street.’
Tammy’s senses pricked up. It was a City location, so well within the killers operating zone.
’What is your relationship with her at work?’
’She works for me….Look, she’s missing, I know it!!’ her voice starting rising again.
’Okay Mandy,’ Tammy said in a controlled and calm voice. ’Can you tell me why you think she maybe is missing?’
’She was due at work last Friday. She sent me a message and said she had some workman in her flat and she would be late. Then nothing. I called and sent her a few texts. Nothing. She never came into work the whole day. I was going to reprimand her this morning, but today she has not come to work either. I called her again this morning and only got through to her answerphone. I am starting to get concerned. This is not like her, especially with all the press about “being careful” over the weekend. I know she has an active social life but she always seemed to make it to work. Then about half an hour ago her sister called. I asked for the call to be put through to me so I could ask where Heather was. I suppose I was expecting to be given an excuse for her absence. Instead after a short conversation, Heather’s sister and I realized that no one has heard from her since last Friday morning. So I have called you. Cant you see, she’s missing. You’ve got to find her.’ By now the woman’s words were almost inaudible.
’Okay Mandy, OKAY. I need to pass this onto my colleagues. So you are definitely sure that she was not due to be off last Friday or today?’
’Look I am her boss, I would know. She should be here and she’s not!’
’Do you have a home address for Heather? I also need your full office address.’
After some frantic searching, Mandy Wilkes readout Heather’s home address in St Catherine’s Dock and also relayed the office address for Hobman’s.
This time her home address was also in the killer's target area.
’Right Mandy, please stay by the phone and don’t leave the office. I am sending officers to you right now. Please understand that this is just standard procedure on all inquiries.’
Tammy placed down the receiver and called out Cain’s name as she ran towards his office. She burst in to find Cain and Rigby poring over the summary autopsy report that Doctor Slaney had compiled.
’Boss, I think we’ve got another missing woman.’
’What information have we got?’Cain demanded.
Tammy relayed the phone call and finally added Heather Billcliffe’s address.
Cain felt a huge sinking feeling in his stomach. Images of Chloe Goodhall’s living room flashed in front of his eyes.
Cain was already out of his seat and reaching for his coat.
’Simmonds, get an armed response team to meet Rigby and me at Heather Billcliffe’s address. Also, I want you and one of the team over to Hobman’s solicitors straight away, no fucking about. I need the river patrol to place themselves by Tower Bridge and a bird in the sky over St Catherine’s Dock. I also need St Catherines Dock and the surrounding roads locked down. We treat this as “Live” until I say it’s not. I also want the contact details of the company that manages the flats. You can text them to me. And check in with the surveillance team, I need to know where Mingle is right now.’
’Is this an overreaction Boss? Shouldn’t we verify the woman is missing and not just asleep in her apartment with a hangover? I am sure the surveillance team would have contacted us if Mingle had gone missing.’ questioned Simmonds.
’I appreciate the concern and advice but I have a bad feeling about this. Call it whatever you want, but I am not going to take any chances. If I am wrong they can call me a twat afterwards and send me the bill.’
’It’s your call.’
The traffic parted as Rigby threw on the flashing lights and sirens. She was driving and driving hard. The distance between the station and Heather’s flat was only a couple of miles but as usual in The City roads were clogged up.
Cain had just come off his mobile from talking to the management company that oversaw Heather’s apartment. He was now speaking with the armed response unit which was just passing Tower Hill Underground Station. They had been standing by at Bank Station when they had received the call and had therefore been closer.
Cain explained. ’Heather Billcliffe’s apartment is on the fifth floor, flat two. One below the roof. The porter will be waiting at the main entrance to let you in. I want the place locked down. We are a couple of minutes behind you, so wait on our arrival. Turn off your sirens. I want a silent approach and no blues on when you park up.’
Cain gripped the car door handle as Rigby jumped a red light and took a sharp left.
Cain’s mobile started to ring again.
“This is Sargent Cleasby from the Thames River patrol. I have binoculars trained on the target building. First, can you confirm the flat is on the fifth floor, second from the right?’
’Yes, it’s floor five, flat two whatever that means,’Cain replied. ’What’ve you got?’
’We have a crime in progress in the target apartment. In a window overlooking the dock, I can see a naked woman tied to a chair. It’s a bit hard to see as she is set a fair way back but there is also a man in the room. He cannot see the man’s face as he is masked. At present, he is moving in front of her and blocking my view. Shit, I think he is holding a knife. Something glinted in the light but it’s hard to tell what it is.’
Cain now knew his sinking feeling had been correct. He knew Simmonds would feel guilty for questioning him. It had been a fair call, just the wrong one.
’Right Sargent, we are just arriving at the target apartment building. I am going to put you on to my headset, just keeping talking into my ear. Were going in now.’
Cain’s mobile bleeped to say it had received a message. Checking his SMSs he saw one from the surveillance team. “Urgent – Mingle disappeared – Checking – Will update soon.”
’Shit, that’s all we need,’ Cain said out aloud to himself as read. ’Mingle is in the wind.’
’You are joking?’ Rigby blurted out.
’No. I’m fucking not.’ he replied through gritted teeth.
With that, he placed the earphone in his left ear with the accompanying microphone hanging lose and jabbed the jack of the wire into the phone. The mobile was then shoved in his jacket pocket.
Rigby’s car screeched to a halt and they were out the car racing to the flat's main entrance which was being held open by an armed police officer. Another couple of officers from the armed response unit were waiting for them by the lift.
’The rest of my team took the service stairs,’ stated the armed response officer in charge.
Cain gave his update as they all squeezed into the lift. ’River patrol has confirmed that a woman is tied to a chair placed near the front window. There is a male with a knife in the same room. No further information. I hope you boys are ready?’
’They are outside the flat door ready to go in on your say so,’ offered the officer.
’Send them in.’ Cain blurted out. He knew they could not afford to wait.
’Go, Go, Go. The suspect is armed with a possible knife,’ the officer said into his radio mike. ’Possible victim restrained to a chair in front of the main living room windows.’
Every person in the lift willed the lift to ascend as fast as possible. The lift moved effortlessly but very slowly.
As the lift rose Cain texted the surveillance team. ‘Mingle???’
The reply came back instantly. ’Still trying to trace him.’