It had been hard to get through the day at work. My mind had been in turmoil. My colleagues had noticed that I was not concentrating fully on my tasks but I had managed to pass it off as the startings of a cold. The same question kept going through my mind again and again. How had they nearly managed to catch me? The answer was obvious after what he had read in the press. They knew about the rest of them now, my other offerings. Now they knew what to look for. They must be working out how I picked my victims. I needed to change, to evolve so I can complete the path laid out before me. Would they catch me before my task was complete? Never!! I could not allow it and I need to take the appropriate actions required to make sure of this. Failure for me is not an option. Detective Inspector Cain’s name is plastered across the tabloids as leading the case. Does he have the ability to catch me? I have been told I will face challenges and he is now one of those challenges.
Today my skin has been driving me crazy. In fact, it has been a problem since I had left the small yard down the side of the Dock Street Hostel. I knew it was because I had not completed the cleansing of Billcliffe. But knowing why did not stop me from scratching my skin until I had drawn blood. From how my desk was positioned in the office, I was offered a small bit of privacy to provide the relief that my skin desperately needed. Tonight, on the way home, I would need to go to the floatation tank. It was the only thing I knew that would ease my pain and suffering. If people only knew about Morgellons and accepted them, they would understand what people like me had to live with day in day out, and what extremes would we would go to alleviate the itching.
My mind started to wander and think about Billcliffe. Had she died from her injuries since I left her? I didn’t think so or it would have been in the news. She would be weak though, of that I am sure. The cut I had made in her neck was deep. So much of her blood had spilled onto the floor. But had I done enough to release her? I wasn’t sure. If she died, it would be a blessing for me and I could add her to my list of tasks completed. If not I would have to search for a new offering to replace her. At least I could take comfort knowing that Billcliffe would never see another sunrise again.
Heather’s sister was sitting in a small family room not far from Heather’s bedside. It had been designed with sofas, armchairs, soft lighting to take away the fact that the room was situated inside the intensive care unit of the London Hospital.
She sat motionless on the largest sofa. It seemed to swallow her. A uniformed policewoman sat close by. It had been just over thirty hours since Heather had been brought into the hospital.
Cain, accompanied by Rigby came into the room and settled themselves down. The sister said nothing.
’Sarah, I am Detective Chief Inspector Cain. I am in charge of investigating your sister’s abduction and attack. I know that what has happened is beyond comprehension. The injuries inflicted on your sister are appalling. You need to be strong for her,’ Cain paused to allow his words to sink in before continuing. ’This is why I sitting with you now. I need to ask you a number of questions. Now, if your sister’s condition changes in any way, we will break off so that you can be by her side. Are you ready?’
Heather’s sister nodded.
’When did you last see your sister?’
After a short pause, she answered. ’Last Wednesday. We had met up at a birthday drink. We didn’t speak long. Just to confirm arrangements for the weekend.’
’I believe you were due to drive to your parent's house together on Sunday for lunch. Is that correct?’
’Yes, I went down on my own in the end as Heather didn’t turn up at the arranged pick up point. I called and texted her mobile. I even drove over to her apartment.’ She started to cry and the policewoman sitting near her edged a bit closer. ’I banged on her door and when she did not reply I left. I could hear her mobile ringing inside. I was so angry with her. I then drove down to our parents. While we were eating I accused her of being so selfish for not turning up to the family lunch. But now…’ Her crying muffled her voice. ’I cannot believe that she was being held captive in her flat while I banged on the door. She would have heard me calling out her name. She would have heard me leave. And then, all the time while we sat eating making bad comments about her lack of family loyalty she was being beaten and tortured thinking that I deserted her. How can I forgive myself?’
’Sarah, it is not your fault. It is not Heather’s fault either. That belongs to the man that abducted her. This is why he must be caught. Can you tell me if she had noticed anyone or anything unusual in the last few weeks?’
’Not that I can remember. Everything was fine. Oh, she did say that she thought things were disappearing from her flat. No, that wasn’t it. She said she thought that her dresses were in the wrong order and something else about her toothbrush. It was just odd. I think she thought it was her cleaner.’
’What is her cleaners name?’ asked Rigby, hoping in that was not Valerie Munsey, or that maybe it was as they would then have the link they had been looking for.
’Not sure. She is Polish I think. The cleaner is provided by the building within the service charge. They provide flat cleaning, car-washing, and 24hr maintenance for a monthly fee. The cleaners seem to change all the time, like every few months. I will try and dig out the present cleaner’s name from one of Heather’s texts.’
’If it’s a serviced apartment, we will check with the staffing agency they use,’ replied Rigby.
’Did Heather have a boyfriend?’ Cain asked.
’No, she was just enjoying being single. Never mentioned anyone. She said she did not have the bandwidth for a heavy relationship.’
’So no friends with benefits, I think they call it that now?’
’No, that wasn’t her thing. Or if she did she never told me. Her flat was her sanctuary. She rarely invited anyone back there, including me.’
’Do you know anyone that would have had a grudge against her. Or wanted to see her come to any harm?’ Cain continued.
’No, she was scatty and unreliable. Just a fun-loving girl. Not a bad bone in her body. I am sure her boss was just as frustrated as I was when it came to her punctuality. But once she smiled you forgave her.’
’After you saw her for the birthday drinks. Did you speak after that?’ asked Cain.
’No, we just texted each other... Just normal stuff about when to meet and what we were going to wear.’
’Okay, Sarah many thanks. That’s all for now. I believe your parents are on their way into London. We will need to speak to them but obviously the main priority is your sister,’ Cain concluded.
With that Cain and Rigby left. He asked Rigby to check with the building cleaning agency for Heather’s cleaners' name. And also ask them where else they work as there could be a link to the offices or apartments of some of the other victims.
Sarah got up and returned back to her sister’s bedside. Heather looked so pained lying there with the bandages wrapped across her eyes, with tubes and wires connected to most parts of her body. Sarah knew that her sister’s chance of recovery was very small. Even if she did survive, she would never be able to return back to her past life. The marks inflicted by the belt buckle and knitting needle would heal, but her sight was gone forever. There would be many challenges for Heather to face in the future and Sarah would be by her sister’s side all the way. Her blindness would be a daily reminder of the hell she had been through, but Sarah still prayed with every molecule of her body that her sister would survive.
Cain and Rigby had arrived back at Heather’s flat the following morning. The forensics team was nearly finished but had started to go through everything in the crime scene log again to make sure that nothing was missed.
They had collected a wealth of data, including five sets of fingerprints. They had made some initial comparisons. One set was, of course, Heather’s. The second was her sister’s. Sarah had allowed herself to be fingerprinted and had assisted in providing further details regarding Heather’s Polish cleaner who had already been eliminated after supplying her fingerprints. Therefore that left two sets of prints that still needed to be matched. These were being processed through AFIS, the police’s automated fingerprint identification system.
The team had extensively searched the flat for any fibres and DNA that could directly be related to the attacker. So far they had blood, human feces, and urine samples from around chair. The samples had been sent off for analysis. They had collected some fibres but the tech in charge of this area of the search did not hold out much hope of them been related to the suspect. Their attacker had been smart enough to get away with leaving no trace evidence for this long why would he change now his methods now, unless being disturbed may have forced him into making a mistake.
Having two sets of unknown fingerprints at the scene was interesting though. Sarah had said that Heather was not in the custom of inviting people to her flat. She may have been very gregarious but she liked to go home and lock herself away. Therefore there was a possibility that one of the prints belonged to the killer.
Cain was knocked out of his thoughts by one of the techs.
’Sir, during the night we’ve found a number of hair samples in the bedroom. One did not belong to the victim. I would hazard a guess and say it is from a male.’
’How do you know it is not hers?’ Jumped in Rigby.
’Initially, it looks to be much shorter than Heather’s. It is a different colour but the main thing is that it does not seem to have been treated with any hair product. It was found on the carpet.’
’Good, well let’s get it processed and see what we have. When do we think we can get some results back?’ Cain asked.
’Dr. Slaney is the boss, so she will have an overview of results when all the evidence is collated. You best ask her,’ replied the tech.
’Thanks,’ Cain said accepting the advice. He turned to Rigby. ’Can you get onto Dr. Slaney and ask where we are with things. Also, tell her, I want all the staff, residents, and contractors working in this building and Heather’s office staff swabbed for their DNA. Also, get someone to go back and see Sarah at the hospital. We need the contact details of everyone at the birthday drinks last week. I want them interviewed and swabbed as well.’
’Sarah is not going to like that. Her friends being swabbed that is,’ Rigby offered.
’I disagree, I would think she will do everything possible to catch her sister’s attacker. But to be honest at this particular point in time, I really don’t care or give a fuck what she thinks. We have to do everything we can to stop this lunatic.’
’Yes Gov. Some of the residents and staff have already been interviewed, we will also go back and get a DNA swab. We are tracking the rest down now,’ Rigby said.
Rigby wandered off to make the required calls leaving Cain to stare out of the window across the Thames towards South London.
When Rigby returned she seemed to be upbeat. ’Good news Gov, we should have some preliminary results back on the blood, feces, and urine later today. Also, Simmonds just texted to say they have an unidentified male on the building CCTV. The other non-employees on the CCTV footage have already been cross-referenced and checked off against the visitor entry book. It seems though that the unidentified male knew where the cameras were as he kept his face hidden.’
’What a surprise,’ Cain said with sarcasm. ’Then he has been here before. How far do the tapes go back?’
’I think he said only three weeks. But maybe we will get lucky. I’ll check to see how far Simmonds has gone back so far with the building operator?’
’Fine, check on that. I am off to chat with Sergeant Cleasby from the Thames River Patrol. Anything else?’ Cain asked.
’I have arranged to talk with Heather’s immediate work colleagues. They have set up a room for me. They had Simmonds for round one and now they will have me for round two.’
’Excellent, let’s meet up later.’ With that, he left.