Cain was back in Chloe’s flat. He had seen two of his detectives in the Booksellers Bar in the road leading to Carter Lane talking to customers, but he had pushed on and not stopped to chat.
He stood in the flat and looked around again. He started to play the mental tape of what he imagined to be the last hours of Chloe Goodhall’s life. He repeated it again and again. Every time he did, he would change one of the details. In one she would know her attacker, in another not. In one it was night, in another, day. He played the scenarios over and over. But none seemed to fit the scene in front of him. No signs of break-in. No struggle. The crime although sadistic was not frenzied. It was controlled. The nailing of the hands and feet showed control and a lack of emotion. The way in which the body was laid out could be a religious ritual, anything was possible. He mused for a while. He knew in his gut that she had not known her attacker. Had she taken someone home or just answered the door to the wrong person?
His train of thought was broken when he received a call from Tammy.
’All right boss, it’s Tamms here.’
’Tammy, talk to me. What have you found?’
’Well to be honest not much, if anything at all,’ she replied. Tammy went on to explain that she had done a search on crimes that matched the main criteria in style and the ferocity of the fatal cut including the nailing of the hands and feet, and the fact of no forced entry. The only thing she had come up with was one unsolved murder where there was no sign of a break-in. The officers on that case still believed the husband was to blame. So she had searched again adding the word vegetable. She got one another hit. It was to another unsolved murder. She said she was going to dismiss it but thought he would want to know anyway.
’Thanks, Tammy. Not what I wanted to hear. So what’s the connection with vegetables to the second unsolved murder?’
’Well it was the leeks. The ones found in Chloe’s sink. At the scene of this murder, the report states that the victim's laundry basket was filled with kale. The detective at the time thought it was odd but not relevant.’
’Not sure I can see a link to our victim in that, but vegetables without meaning could be something. Life is always stranger than fiction. Get the summary file note on that case for me to review anyway. I need to show Critchley we are doing something. By the way, when was that murder?’
’Three months ago.’
’That’snot long. Do a bigger search using “vegetable”. Go back as far as you can within reason. Let's see what we get. It sounds crazy to ask but it’s all we have got to go on at the moment.’
Rigby made a short visit to Valerie Munsey’s house on her way home. She knew that she would still be up. After what she had discovered that morning it would be a long time before she would sleep peacefully again. It would be exhaustion that would eventually take her there, but for now, she would have to live with the images. As Rigby walked up to Valerie’s front door she made sure that she had a card in hand for the Police’s Victim Support advisory service.
What Rigby found on entering Valerie’s house was that she had taken to the bottle. As far as interviewing Valerie this evening, the wine had put play to that. At least she had taken Rigby’s advice and had called her sister to come over and stay. Rigby, therefore, arranged with her sister to return the following day.
The following morning Cain arrived at the station in Wood Street just before seven. He liked being based in the City, but it had its benefits and negatives. On the upside, all services he required were at his fingertips and on the downside, it also meant that his boss was never more than fifteen meters away from him. He had a habit of making an appearance in the midst of an investigation to give a motivational pep talk. It would always start with positive overtones but then somehow become clouded by the need to abide by strict government directives driven by the “Nanny State”. The greatest shame was that this was not uncommon in many constabularies across the country.
Cain passed the kitchen area and switched on the coffee machine to warm up as he moved towards his office. He sat at his computer, entered the required security passwords, and started to look through his emails. A couple of minutes later he heard a voice call from the kitchen area.
’Thanks. Make it a black one.’
Good to see that people were in early today he thought.
Cain returned back to his computer and concentrated on working down his email inbox. He deleted the spam and declined all the meeting requests. They would just have to wait, even the ones from the Divisional commander’s P.A. As he deleted, new emails were arriving. He moved all the emails relating to the latest terrorist threat to a separate folder. The last thing he needed right now was to lose a couple of detectives to general surveillance duties at this crucial time. He needed to speak to Critchley further on that and soon.
He found what he was looking for. It was the report from the forensics technician. Rigby had done well in pushing them for a quick result. He knew in his heart as he read through the results that whoever had taken this woman’s life had done it before. He just needed proof, or rather the lack of it to prove his suspicions. If it had been a crime of passion from the boyfriend, then he would have left traces of himself all over the flat. Why, because it wouldn’t have been planned and because the man was not a pre-meditated killer. Reading through the report there was nothing of interest and that was the point. No fingerprints apart from the flat’s owner and a couple belonging to the cleaner in the kitchen. In the bedroom, they had found Chloe’s fingerprints again but most of the surfaces looked like they had recently been wiped clean. The interesting area was the front room where the body was found. No fingerprints at all. Cain knew after looking at the splatter of blood diagrams that after nailing the victim to the floor, torturing and then killing her, the killer had walked around the room and methodically wiped down all the surfaces that he may have touched. He had needed to remove any possible fibers or DNA that could have been transferred in his act of brutality. So for Cain, it was looking more and more like the act was pre-planned or at least by someone whose intent was murder even if the victim had been random. Now he needed to confirm if the murderer had killed before or maybe by some bizarre chance this was this his first? He thought the former.
All he had was a superfluous and tenuous link to vegetables. Well, he had to start somewhere.
He checked another email, this time from Simmonds sent late the previous evening. It stated that none of the businesses down Carter Lane had any CCTV footage that would be of use. Apparently a year previously the local Residents Association had successfully forced all the companies in the immediate area to focus their CCTV cameras on people entering and leaving their premises only rather than the broader view of the lane. A high profile lawyer living further up the lane had stated that if they didn’t he would take them to court for invasion of privacy. The businesses had backed down and complied. Simmonds said he would run through his findings in more detail when he saw Cain in the office.
He carried on working through his emails.
He saw Tammy arrive and pressed her for the file note on the previous murder that had the link to vegetables. He needed to have at least something to work with.
Simmonds came in shortly after and provided a brief report on the CCTV footage issue. He explained that he had already got the team from last night back down in Carter Lane speaking to the office workers as they arrived for work. As far as he was aware they had not met anyone who had seen Chloe Goodhall or even knew her. The team were also asking if anyone suspicious had been seen hanging around in the last few weeks. Again nothing. His own investigations at Chloe’s office had not amounted to anything of interest. The reason, why they had not reported her missing, was they thought she may be working on a project. It had happened before. He was now heading back to Chloe’s office to interview all her colleagues. Her desk had already been secured. Simmonds got up to leave and they agreed to meet up later in the day. As he left Tammy came into his office and dropped a pile of files on his desk.
’What’s are these?’Cain asked.
’Six unsolved vegetable cases,’ replied Tammy as if it was the most logical thing in the world to say.
’These all open murder cases with links to vegetables? I thought there was only one.’
’Yes and no, it shocked me too. Remember, you asked me to go back further so in the end, I went back thirty years. Five are open and one closed but I added it anyway because it had vegetables listed in the evidence.’
’Thanks. I’ll start reading. Any word from Rigby yet?’
’I think she said she was going around to Valerie Munsey’s house to interview her again. Apparently she was pissed last night and not in any condition to talk.’
’Okay, let me know when she gets in.’
Cain opened the files that Tammy had been dropped on his desk and started to read.
Rigby finished speaking with Valerie Munsey. She was still a bit shaky and in shock. She repeated all of what she had said the day before, but her memory of previous visits to Chloe’s apartment was still hazy. Rigby asked if she had seen evidence of anyone else sleeping there or did Chloe regularly have guests visiting? She answered in the negative to both but she could not be a hundred percent. Her client's personal lives were personal and no business of hers. The one thing she did say about Chloe was she thought that maybe she has had OCD because on her allotted cleaning days she arrived to find the flat already spotless.
Rigby got back in her car and headed towards the station.
Arriving at the office Rigby started chasing down the various phone numbers that had recently called Chloe Goodhall’s mobile. Many had been call centres for her various bank cards. The two most common numbers were her office and someone who had called and SMS’d over twenty times who signed his text, A. It was most likely the boyfriend. Rigby called the number. Chloe had assigned this person “Italian Lips” in her phone’s address book. On the second ring, a gentleman with an Italian voice answered the phone.
‘Hi, who is this;’ the male voice said.
‘My name is Rigby, Detective Sargent Rigby. Who am I talking to?’
’My name is Antonio Manchini,’ he said after a short pause.
Now that she had his attention she explained that she needed to meet with him to discuss Chloe Goodhall. At first, the man wanted to know what had happened to her. Rigby said that it was relevant to an ongoing investigation, trying not to give anything away. In light of his association with Chloe, Rigby said she needed him to come down to a police station to provide a statement. He said he worked for a currency brokerage in Paternoster Square, so she agreed to meet him at a police station located behind the Old Bailey as it was closest to his office.
They sat in one of the station’s interview rooms. A male Police Constable sat in the corner. Rigby studied Antonio Manchini as they discussed the last time he had seen Chloe.
Rigby was looking for a nervous twitch, a touch of the nose with a hand, a drop of the eyes, anything that might suggest a lie or a deliberate evasive action. But at the moment he was looking straight at her and was fairly relaxed. Maybe he was slightly nervous as many people are if they are not used to being in a Police station, but nothing that he did or said was raising her suspicions. He was young and very good looking. He had very strong Italian looks, olive skin, and ahead of slightly curly black hair. He stated that his age was twenty-six. He wore a beautiful cut grey suit, white shirt, and a tasteful tie. He was well-spoken and well mannered. You might even say polished. Just the type of man Rigby wished she could attract but never did. They ultimately felt intimidated by her job.
Antonio explained that four weeks ago he had spent a weekend with Chloe at her flat. He had met her a few times before and had had the occasional chat. Nothing more. On the weekend in question, he had asked to buy her a drink and things had moved on from there. He said it had been a fantastic couple of days and that she was a fun girl to be with. Smart and sexy. So he had tried to arrange a second date. They had been playing cat and mouse on the phone. He felt that she liked him, but then nothing. She just stopped answering his text or picking up his calls.
Rigby stared at him for a full minute without saying anything. Now he started to look nervous.
Rigby went along a different tack and asked him about his work, his own background. He answered all her questions without hesitation, but now he started to ask why she needed to know about him and what kind of trouble was Chloe in? He seemed to be getting worried that maybe he was being accused of something by association.
She asked him if he would provide a DNA sample and his fingerprints. This threw him completely off guard. He panicked.
’What’s going on? Look I only really met her once. Whatever kind of shit she’s in, it’s nothing to do with me. If she’s involved in something, it’s really nothing to do with me.’
Rigby paused again and waited. He just stared at her.
’Antonio, I am afraid I have some very difficult and distressing news. Chloe Goodhall was found dead yesterday. She was murdered.’
She watched for his reaction. His body was completely still. His face slowly lost its entire colour, but his eyes never dropped.
’Oh my God, how?’ he finally managed to stammer.
’We are not sure of the actual circumstances yet but we think it happened over a week ago. The timeline is up in the air at the moment, but its maybe around the time she stopped contacting you.’
Rigby studied Antonio’s body language for a crack in his armour, but what she was faced with was a young man shaking uncontrollably.
’Oh fuck, you think I did it?”’he cried out, looking Rigby straight in the eye.
’Did you?’ she asked calmly.
’I couldn’t kill anyone,’ he pleaded. ’And Chloe? No, I liked her. I wanted another weekend as we had before. In fact lots more weekends.’
He started to cry, raising his hands to his face.
Rigby persisted. ’Maybe you did get the second meeting you had wanted Antonio. Maybe you thought she was up for another two-day shagging session. But she said no. You thought she was playing hard to get. Things got out of hand, you killed her and.......’
’NO!!!!!!!!!’ he screamed out. ’I never saw her again after that weekend. I could not kill her or anyone else. Please, please you have to believe me,’ he begged. He started to rise out of his chair and move back towards the corner, sinking to his knees. His sobbing becoming uncontrollable.
’It’s okay Antonio. I just needed to ask.’
She did believe him. His reactions she felt were not that of someone that was prepared for these questions. She had caught him by surprise. That was evident. He was now a very shocked and frightened man.
’Take my DNA, take anything you want....I did not kill Chloe.’