It was late in the evening by the time Cain, Rigby, and Wainwright arrived back at The City’s Police Headquarters. Simmonds was still at his desk analysing the data coming in from the calls. The staff allocated to the phones were busy, but the volume of calls was starting to reduce.
’Evening,’ Simmonds said as Cain, Rigby, and Wainwright walked into the office.
’This is DCI Wainwright, lead on the Mingle case.’
Both men nodded heads. Wainwright walked over to the case boards and started to work his way through the crime scenes. Rigby sat down with Simmonds and briefed him on the afternoon’s developments, finishing with her theory on vegetables and timeline.
Wainwright was fascinated by the crime scenes and how the cases were now broken down. He recognised Grace Tomlinson picture and wondered now why he had not seen the vegetables left behind as the key to breaking the case. If anyone should have seen a link it should have been him. But this guy had foxed everyone for so long. It was understandable when you looked at the varied locations of the murders, the time between the early cases, and the method of killing the women. On that point, there was no common thread. Then there were the vegetables that had not even been considered by the investigating officers including himself. But as soon as you overlaid Marlene Stringer’s murder it all came together. Mingle would have been the perfect suspect until he was murdered himself. He could understand now why Cain had hauled him in. But why had the name Terry Cox not been highlighted before now?
’Cain, you seem shocked by the name Terry Cox when we discussed Marlene Stringer’s murder today. But you said you had already read the Stringer file. It was obvious that parts of the case file had been deleted’ Wainwright said.
’The penny didn’t drop. I couldn’t see the omission for looking. Maybe because the case was closed I did not give it my full attention. The file only mentioned briefly that Mingle had been seen in the area by a minor that corroborated his statement. Nothing that the minor was the key witness to the prosecution. So if you have anything in your own notes that are not included in the case folder we have, please have it sent across to us. It’s crazy, but the only reason we now know about Cox is because you worked on the original case or we wouldn’t have the lead. I suppose we would have contacted the lead investigating officer now that Mingle is dead but that would have been more time wasted.’
’You would have been lucky. He had a stroke last year. Let’s say he is not very responsive to questions now. I visit him when I get the time. Sometimes he remembers me, sometimes he doesn’t. I only kept my own notes on the case because it was the first murder I was involved in. Against regulations, I know, but now it may be very fortuitous.’
’Let’s hope so. Now what I can't understand is why so much effort was made to hide Cox’s identity? It’s not as if he was speaking out against a gang or similar,’ questioned Rigby.
’ As I said earlier, I think it was because he was an orphan and therefore classed as a vulnerable child. If he had a family to support him maybe it would have been different, but he didn’t so they moved him on and changed his name. He could be our man or maybe he told his story and inspired another nutter to avenge his childhood sweetheart.’
’They were sweethearts?’ Cain asked.
’I remember they were extremely close. There must have been a strong emotional bond. Not sure if you would say, boyfriend and girlfriend. They were both so young. From what I got from the other kids they emotionally supported each other. And let's face it, orphanages must be tough places to grow up.’
’Is there a picture of Terry Cox?’Cain asked.
’Only a very old one. Maybe from when he was twelve and first moved to the orphanage in Feltham. I have it in my notes.’
’Something is better than nothing,’ Cain.said
Cain walked across to Simmonds desk.
’Simmonds, what did we get in this afternoon?’ asked Cain.
’Your day was a lot more productive than mine. I have uniform from over eight Boroughs interviewing the callers that seemed to be the most credible. So far, a big fat zero. No real leads. Looking at the board, we are still not getting any patterns. Nothing that can pinpoint us to where he lives or works.’
’The team is working hard. Thank them for me and tell them to keep going at it. Just one call could change the direction of the whole case,’ Cain said. ’Now let’s get Mingle on the board. Rigby, how are you going with your summary timeline with the vegetable lists of those used and outstanding.?’
‘He is my next job, followed by the vegetable list timeline,’ she said.
Cain continued. ’DCI Wainwright can you assist Rigby to get all Mingle's details listed.’
’No problem. I am also having my DS track down all the residents and staff that were at the orphanage at the time of Marlene Stringer’s death. That is now the main focus of my inquiries. They’ve been on it since lunchtime today,’ he said.
‘Good work.’ said Cain.
After an hour all was done and DCI Wainwright headed back to Feltham
Cain then took Rigby and Simmonds to the Dickens Inn for a quick drink. Memories of Heather Billcliffe streamed back to all of them. Cain bought the drinks and then took the opportunity to tell them about the official complaint against him and his actions that had brought about the complaint. He followed on by saying that he would probably be put on suspension as soon as this case was solved, if not sooner. It would depend on how quickly internal affairs wanted to act and how long Critchley could protect him for the sake of the case. If he was suspended before the case was concluded, he said he wantedRigbyto take over as lead investigator with Simmonds continuing in his deputy role.DCI Wainwright would be useful, but should not be allowed to take over the case.
As they were leaving Cain’s mobile rang. ’Cain’ he answered.
“It’s Wainwright. Just thought you would like to know, forensics have come back to me with some preliminary results. They were a bit excited. It seems that DNA collected from Mingle's lips matches the urine from the Heather Billcliffe’s crime scene.’
‘Yes!!’Cain said punching the air. Now they were getting somewhere. ’Thanks, that’s great news.’
‘I’ll send across the prelim report in the morning.’ He then clicked off.
Cain knew they needed to find Terry Cox, and fast.
I am travelling to a place that has been torturing my mind for the last couple of days. Ever since I had become aware of Tania's location I had felt the tremor of excitement building inside me. It was pure luck that I had come to the information. Marlene had been looking after me when I had followed Cain and Rigby from the police station to Barnes. It allowed me to see the house and how easily I could access it.
I had decided to go by tube today. I know this is a risk as the police will be looking at all the CCTV footage tomorrow after what I am planning to do tonight. But here I sit on the Piccadilly line as it winds its way under London. I am teasing them.
As I look at the darkened carriage windows I keep seeing Marlene in their reflection as we move between stations. She is smiling. I must have done well with regards to Trevor’s release. I find it amazing how she can find different ways to communicate with me.
I admit meeting Mingle and releasing him had been pure enjoyment. It had felt so liberating. But I did feel disgusted about what I had had to do to make him relax and trust me. I couldn’t get the taste of his breath out of my mouth. Every time I thought about it, I wanted to gag and spit.
Tonight though I am going to correct a wrong. I owe that to Marlene. She has been expecting me to follow through on my promises and I had let her down with the releasing of Zach Holden. But it had not been completely pointless, as Marlene had allowed him to become part of the releases she required.
After exiting the tube I make my way upstairs to street level to start my walk to Barnes Village. I anticipate that it will take around forty-five minutes to reach my destination. I pull up my collar and stick my hands in my pockets with my weighted rucksack secure on my back. I head towards Hammersmith Bridge.
I have to admit that I am still shaking inside from killing Mingle. For once, it was pure hatred of the person that had driven me in my actions. I had not really known it until the act was complete. Even when releasing Zach I had managed to keep some semblance of control. But with Mingle, it had been different. Afterward, as I sat on the train back to Waterloo from Feltham I had started to shake uncontrollably with laughter. I had even wanted to cry but I was knocked out of my thoughts when my eyes passed across a discarded copy of London’s evening newspaper, the METRO. The front page was filled with a photo-fit image of The City Serial Killer. My face. They said it was the face of the monster terrorising London. How dare they call me that!
It has been just over an hour since I left Hammersmith station. I am standing in the garden of the safe house where Tania Fanshawe was being held. Gaining access via the railway track had not been a problem. The back of the house looked exactly like I had imagined after studying Google Maps. The police had a couple of officers sitting in an unmarked car out the front of the house. One more detective sat inside the house, but no one at the back. Stupid or what. I huddle down in the bushes and wait. I promise myself that tonight will be a night of prompt action and speed. Once I start I cannot afford to dither about in case the officers stationed outside the front of the house decide they need to come in for a toilet break.
After a further hour, I note that the policeman based in the kitchen periodically comes out into the garden for a cigarette. That will be his undoing. This was the second time he has followed this pattern. It is a dirty habit anyway. It will probably be the death of him.
I calculate roughly when the next cigarette break will be. I move from the bushes and grab a garden spade that is leaning against the side of the garden shed. I wait out of sight by the back door. The officer eventually comes out as anticipated. I act quickly and smash the spade over his head. He falls to the ground unconscious.
I move through the house silently. I check each room methodically. The ground floor is clear. Moving to the second floor I hear the sound of music from the room that overlooks the garden. I enter. Tania is sitting on the sofa with her back to me. I raise the spade in the air for the second time. The shovel section glints in the light as I bring it down on the back of her head. She slumps forward and rolls onto the floor. I pray that I have not killed her.
I check her pulse. It is faint but still there. I had not really thought how I would subdue her but the next part I have been visualising all day.
I drag her by her hair into the closest bathroom I can find. I fill the bath with cold water and strip her. I look down at her body lying naked on the floor. Even with her naked body laid out in front of me, my eyes still only focus on her nose. I notice that the carpet behind her head is being stained by the blood coming from her head wound. I grab her wrist. Her pulse is there, but still weak. I tie her hands behind her back and then her feet together. Next, I gag her. Then I drop her into the water. Tania wakes up with a start as the cold water engulfs her. She struggles, but it is no good. She cannot pull free from her bonds. There is just enough water for her body to be submerged with her head above the waterline. She realises that if she strains her neck up enough she can breathe and she won't drown.
I look down at her pathetic form in the bath. She needs to know. I kneel down next to the tub and whisper very quietly.
‘Hi, Tania. I’ve come back for you.’
I notice her eyes flick from me to the door behind me.
’There is no one there. It’s just you and me now. But do you know why I have come back for you?’ I wait for her to react but she just stares at me.
’It’s very simple Tania. You encourage men to have vile sexual thoughts. Your photographs are legalised porn. So you see, you have brought this on yourself. That’s why you must die. My friend is waiting on the other side for you and she will make sure you are punished for eternity.’
Her eyes look like they are about to explode from her head as they frantically search the room for an escape route.
’I apologise for killing Zach. He was a mistake. Well at first he was, but then I realised that he helped to perpetuate your slutty behaviour. So his death was justified.’
She stares at me with pure hatred. I smile and turn away to take the vegetable for this release out of my rucksack. I pull out a pumpkin from my bag that I have previously gored out the innards. I have also cut out holes for the eyes. I reach into the bath and grab her by the neck and then lower the hollowed-out pumpkin over her head. Standing back, I look at my work. I have to say that this one is very visual. I plug in a lamp that I have taken from one of the bedrooms. It is connected via an extension cord. When I turn on the lamp the bathroom is filled with an additional burst of golden light. I look at her again one last time. At least she looks beautiful struggling in the water. Our eyes lock through the pumpkin’s eye holes. I smile and then drop the lamp into the water.
Tania’s body jerks and twists. I smell her hair burning from inside the pumpkin as I watch her being electrocuted. Smoke from her singed hair flows out through the pumpkin’s eye sockets. The house is suddenly plunged into darkness. She has been released.
I exit the way I have come in. My route is out via the railway line. In my exuberance to leave I crash through some bushes onto the main road about a hundred meters away from the safe house and almost knock over a guy walking his dog. I apologise by instinct and keep moving. The man shouts after me. I don’t stop to listen as I hurry off into the night.