Luke and Jacqui returned to the family room, welcomed by the whistles, cheering and applause of Jacqui’s depraved friends who naturally assumed they had sex while away on their own. Jacqui just smiled, presumably to deliberately let the mystery remain.
Luke now faced a room of potential witnesses, albeit in various stages of intoxication. He decided to speak to each woman individually, to check if they were able to corroborate Jacqui’s alibi on the night John Bishop was killed.
He glanced around the room. This was going to be a long night.
He kept his conversations with these witnesses public. He opted to speak to the women in this main room, one-at-a-time, by taking each one to the side, away from the main group for a brief chat about their previous sex toy party.
Just over 2½ hours had passed by the time Luke had individually spoken to each of the women present. It was a challenging exercise to say the least. Luke had to keep their alcohol fueled, libidinous minds on track while he spoke to them, while at the same time, he had to ignore their near nakedness, their suggestive advances and deliberate sexual innuendos while eliciting the information he required.
In the end, each woman attested to the fact that Jacqui hosted their last party, about four weeks ago, as she always did, and she never left the house at any time during the party.
These drunken women provided Jacqui with a considerably tight alibi for the night John Bishop was killed.
The facts on this case were not falling into place like they should. What if Jacqui didn’t actually pull the trigger, but instead, arranged the killing? But there was no evidence at all to suggest Jacqui had the motive to arrange for the murder of her lover. Especially when she made it abundantly clear she had a considerably over active itch that John Bishop was able to scratch.
It was getting late and Luke had everything he needed from Jacqui. When he announced it was time he left, about ten of Jacqui’s friends accompanied Jacqui when she escorted Luke to the front door of her home.
When Jacqui moved ahead of Luke to unlock the door his wandering eyes instinctively dropped to examine her naked butt, for the last time.
As she turned she caught him mid-gaze and she smiled, obviously flattered by the interest their toy-boy for the night showed in her much older body.
Luke was busted, so all he could do was smile. ‘I’ll call you once I have finished with your phone,’ he said. He moved out onto the front landing. He turned back to face Jacqui who now leaned on the partially open front door.
Jacqui’s glance was seductive and lustful. ‘I look forward to it, Detective. Maybe you could just bring it by sometime.’
Luke smiled and nodded once before descending the stairs to the street.
As he strolled back to his vehicle Luke recapped on his strange visit to the house of lust. What the hell was that all about? He had no idea there were so many liberal minded, sexually charged older women out there.
He casually glanced back towards Jacqui’s front door. All the women were gathered on the landing watching the one that got away return to his car.
The following morning Luke was still in disbelief with his encounter from last night. As he sat at his desk perusing files and savoring his morning coffee, one of the members from the I.T. team approached his desk. A huge grin illuminated the approaching man’s face.
Luke had earlier taken Jacqui’s mobile phone to the computer technical department to inquire if they could recover deleted SMS messages. He was informed they had efficient software that would recover everything that has been deleted from a cell phone, including SMS, emails and photographs.
The techs were provided with the access PIN to Jacqui’s phone, as well as John Bishop’s phone number, and were asked to retrieve all text messages exchanged between the two phones. The job was officially logged and Luke was told that someone from their department would return the phone and any results back to him when they had finished.
The grinning IT member who approached Luke’s desk unceremoniously dumped a large quantity of pages onto Luke’s desk. Luke’s eyes dropped to the delivery .
The IT guy flicked a finger at the pile of papers. ‘That there is some of the best reading I have done in a long time,’ he said. ‘Who the hell owns that phone you gave us…?’ He rhetorically asked. 'Wait ‘till you see some of those photos we recovered from the SMS messages,’ he said while shaking his head.
’Is this it…? Luke said. He fanned through the pages to examine the quantity. ’Are all these the SMS messages between the two cell phone numbers I gave you?
‘That’s them…’ the man confirmed. 'That’s fifty-seven foolscap pages of some of the most explicit exchanges of information I have ever read…Playboy’s got nuthin’ on those two…’
After encountering the flirtatious Jacqui in person last night, Luke was not the slightest bit surprised. ‘OK, thanks for that.’
Luke smiled to himself as he watched his IT colleague walk away. If he thought these messages were impressive, he should have seen what I saw last night – now that was impressive.
Luke spent the balance of the morning reading through the pages and pages of suggestive, explicit, and at times deviant SMS exchanges between John Bishop and Jacqui Herbert. This was certainly one sexually charged couple.
Jacqui had written multiple lines of text over numerous messages describing in detail what she wanted John to do to her, and what she wanted to do to him. There were hundreds of messages arranging rendezvous locations and times for the two to meet. There were also post-coital messages summarizing their most recent encounter. It was all on display in these records.
It was evident John Bishop equally shared Jacqui’s adventurous sexual appetite. But one thing Luke noticed when sorting through all the sexual vocabulary and explicit discussions, the word “love” was a word that did not appear at any time in these fifty-seven pages of messages. To Luke, this corroborated Jacqui’s blunt explanation that their affair was nothing more than sex.
Experience had shown Luke that there were two things that had mysterious powers able to turn someone involved in an extramarital affair from a regular law abiding citizen into a brutal killer—Love and Money.
There were jails cells all over the world currently housing people who were involved in illicit relationships. People who inexplicably chose to kill their marital partner, rather than divorce them, so they could be together with their lover. Or maybe it was because the lover was becoming too attached, and threatened to expose the relationship, the consequences of which would be divorce and loss of an affluent lifestyle.
Luke considered that in mutually agreed ‘sex only – no strings attached’ type of relationships, the type of which Jacqui claimed to be involved in with Bishop, both of those motives – Love and Money were usually negated. Therefore, Jacqui wouldn’t need to kill Bishop; she could just stop seeing him.
The techs had color printed the photographs that Jacqui and John had sent each other via their SMS messages. Having met Jacqui last night he wasn’t surprised at the explicit nature of the naked photographs she and John had exchanged.
Luke worked his way through the list of lustful, shameless text messages. He started to consider what probably started out as titillating banter between two adventurous consenting adults, had degenerated into the puerile writings of adolescent teens who were acting like they had just discovered sex.
Luke made his way through the fifty-seven pages of debauchery and had arrived at the end. He was particularly interested if any messages were exchanged on the day John Bishop was killed.
Guided by his pencil Luke ran this eyes down the page until he located messages sent and received on the 28th. A lump instantly formed in his throat when he noticed that a message was sent from Jacqui’s phone at 8.30pm that read,
“I am now clear of my commitments. Do you want to meet in Stacey Park off Le Sands Drive? I have something to show you.”
The times recorded on the phone records indicated Bishop replied almost immediately via return SMS.
“I can’t wait. I’ve been aching for some constellations action…”
Luke’s eyes lifted from the records. ‘Constellations action…?’ he repeated. He rolled his eyes. Oh, of course, under the stars…sex outside.
This message suddenly made Jacqui a prime suspect once again. It appeared she sent a message to John Bishop to lure him to the very same location where he was killed.
Luke felt disappointed with himself. He was usually an excellent judge of character, but now he wondered if he had been cleverly distracted by Jacqui flaunting her ‘assets’ at him last night.
All those women at the party provided Jacqui with a solid alibi, so maybe she arranged a hit on her unsuspecting lover. Either way, Luke had no choice but to bring Jacqui in for questioning. This text message was crucial. It was sent in the moments before John bishop was ambushed and killed.
Luke remembered how the old man said the answers to this murder would be in the TELCO records, and goddamn it, he was right again.
Strangely, Luke had mixed emotions about this one. Deep down he didn’t want his killer to be Jacqui. He admired her and her obvious zest for life. Plus she didn't fit the profile of a vicious killer. But the evidence right now was compelling, especially when she deleted the messages from her phone.
The contact list in Jacqui’s mobile phone provided Luke with a telephone number under the name “Work”. The receptionist who answered Luke’s call to this number provided the name of the company in her standard phone greeting. They were a large finance company in Downtown Brooklyn. Luke knew their building. The receptionist also confirmed for Luke that Jacqui Herbert was working today.
After seconding the assistance of one of his female colleagues, Luke made his way to Downtown to essentially arrest Jacqui Herbert to bring her in for further questioning in relation to the murder of her lover, John Bishop.
Jacqui Herbert sat at her sizable desk in her large contemporary styled corner office when Luke arrived under staff escort.
‘Excuse me Jacqui…these people asked to see you.’
‘Thank you Wendy,’ Jacqui said to her departing staff member. ‘Come in Detective, please,’ Jacqui beckoned for them to enter.
Jacqui rose from her desk and moved towards the round meeting table located within her office.
'This is my colleague, Detective Sharon McDermott,' Luke said.
'Pleased to meet you Sharon.' Jacqui indicated the chairs to the approaching Detectives, who obliged by taking a seat.
Luke noticed how different Jacqui appeared when she was fully dressed in her business attire; a dark jacket and mid length fitted skirt. She looked good.
Working as a senior Manager in a successful finance company had many benefits, one of which is this large corner office overlooking the northern Brooklyn skyline, complete with in-office meeting facilities to conduct business in private.
‘Can I offer either of you a drink of something...water, coffee, soda...?’ Jacqui asked while remaining standing.
‘No thank you we’re fine.' Luke's reply was direct.
‘I take it this isn’t a social visit then…’ Jacqui said as she closed her office door. ‘You’re not just here to return my phone…’ she said.
Jacqui returned to the table and smoothed the back of her dress before sitting on the chair opposite Luke. Her questioning eyes flicked to Sharon. ‘I take it this is about my phone…’
Luke nodded his confirmation. ‘Actually that's exactly why we are here...But I need you to accompany us back to the station. There are some questions you will need to answer in relation to the murder of John Bishop.’
Jacqui’s frowning eyes flicked between Luke and Sharon.
Luke continued, ‘I found something in your telephone records that will require your explanation,’ he said.
Jacqui gestured to her office surrounds. ’Can’t we discuss it here…? She asked.
I’m afraid not ma’am. You’ll—’
‘Ma’am…?’ Jacqui snapped. ‘It wasn’t “Ma’am” last night…’ she said.
Luke continued, ignoring her comments. ‘You’ll have to accompany us to the police station for further questioning.’
‘Am I under arrest, Detective…?’
Luke nodded. He was not enjoying this at all. ‘I’m afraid so Jacqui…’ he said, this time choosing to refer to her by name. ‘This is very serious. There is evidence to suggest your involvement in John Bishop’s murder.’
Jacqui collapsed back in her chair. Her eyes flicked from Luke to his partner. ‘That’s absurd. I told you I was just fucking him…why would I kill him?’
The female Detective stood from her chair. ‘Hopefully for your sake you’ll be able to explain that back at the station,’ she said.
Jacqui held a firm glower at Luke. It was clear she was not happy at all, especially with him.
Jacqui followed the now standing Detectives and rose from her chair. ‘I voluntarily gave you that phone to take and examine…’ She glared at Luke. ’Surely if I had something to hide I would not have given it to you…surely you see that.’
The female Detective removed her handcuffs. She firmly grabbed hold of Jacqui’s arm and gently moved it behind Jacqui’s back. Jacqui didn’t resist but her eyes pleaded with Luke while she was read her rights by the female Detective.
Luke raised his hand to Sharon. ‘No cuffs…’ he directed. His colleague stopped mid-sentence. Her frowning eyes flicked back to Luke. Luke slightly shook his head at her.
‘Do you need to inform anyone of your whereabouts?’ Luke asked Jacqui.
She shook her head as she moved to her desk, dragged open a drawer and removed her purse. ‘No…nobody needs to know anything. This is a huge mistake.’ She aggressively slipped her bag over her shoulder. ‘A huge mistake...’ she emphasized as she pushed passed Luke and marched ahead of the Detectives, towards her office door.
Luke stood in the interrogation viewing room monitoring Jacqui through the two-way mirror. She sat alone in the room with her hands calmly clasped on the table in front of her. Luke was confused. She didn’t fit the profile of a killer. She had neither the motive, nor the opportunity, yet the text messages retrieved from her phone suggested she was somehow involved.
From the brief time he spent with her last night, he got to know her quite well. To him, and his reliable gut, she was not the killer he sought. He was certainly not expecting to be in this position of interviewing her for murder.
The door to the viewing room opened and his Boss, Lieutenant Husken entered the room to monitor the interrogation. Luke had already briefed Husken on the circumstances of his arrest of this suspect, Jacqui Herbert.
Luke lifted the file containing the SMS records from the table beside him and sighed deeply. He normally thrived on the challenge of interviewing suspects he had in custody for murder, or other serious crimes. But this one he struggled to get his enthusiasm to the required level. Something just wasn’t right in his gut.
Jacqui’s head snapped to her left when Luke entered the interrogation room. She held her leering gaze on him, watching him as he approached the table and slid into the chair opposite her.
‘You are making a huge mistake, Detective…’ she said with pleading eyes. ‘I haven’t done what you’re accusing me of.’
Luke didn’t respond as he placed his file on the table, opened it up and began sorting through the pages of SMS messages.
He separated a page from the pile and placed it on the table in front of Jacqui. Jacqui’s eyes dropped to the document.
‘That is some of the SMS messages that were recovered from your iPhone by our computer techs…’ Luke explained. ‘I want you to look at these and tell me if any of them look familiar.’
Jacqui leaned forward to read the text printed on the document. She lifted her eyes to Luke. ‘This is really embarrassing…’ she declared. ‘When you read it all printed out on a page like this…’ she said, ‘They all really seem quite juvenile, don’t they…?’ she asked rhetorically.
‘Are these some of the SMS messages that you exchanged with John Bishop?’
Jacqui’s eyes dropped back to the document. ‘Yes…’ she said lifting her eyes back to Luke. ‘Yes they are. But I don’t understand what I am doing here.’
Luke removed another single page from his file and slid it across the table to Jacqui. She briefly examined the page before returning her questioning eyes to Luke. This document resembled the first one-- lines and lines of smutty text messages.
Luke leaned across the table and used his pen to point to a message that was sent from her phone on the 28th of last month. ‘Read that message out loud please,’ he asked.
'I am now clear of my commitments...' Jacqui began reading. 'Do you want to meet in Stacey Park off Le Sands Drive? I have something to show you.'
Jacqui frowned. Her puzzled eyes lifted from the page. Her brow was deeply furrowed.
‘Do you remember writing that message?’ Luke asked.
Jacqui shook her head. ‘No, I do not…I didn’t write that. I never met John at that park,’ she said. Her tone was emphatic.
Luke held his inquiring gaze on Jacqui trying to get a read. ‘That message was sent from your mobile phone to John Bishop’s mobile phone in the moments before he was shot and killed at the very same location where the SMS asked him to meet you. What do you say to that?’
Jacqui sat back in her chair. ‘Is that what this about…?’ she said. 'That text message…you think I sent it…?’ she said.
Luke nodded, 'It was your phone… What about the next line…read that please,’ Luke asked.
Jacqui leaned forward and read the next line as requested. 'I can’t wait. I’ve been aching for some constellations action…' she read. 'I have never seen that reply,’ she flicked a finger at the page on the table. ‘Yes, that certainly sounds like something John would write…but I never saw that text.’
'Explain to me then how this message, that you deleted, was recovered from your iPhone, if you didn’t send it? Luke asked.
‘I can’t…I just know I didn’t send it.’
Luke scratched his head. ‘You’re gonna have to do better than that, Jacqui…’ Luke said. ‘Give me something to work with here.’
Jacqui held her gaze on Luke as she shook her head. Her eyes widened before she returned to the page and re-read the messages. Her head shot up.
‘What is it...?’ Luke asked, ’What have you seen?’
Jacqui appeared to be considering her response to his question. ‘The 28th…’ she began. ‘That’s the night I hosted our monthly party at my home,’ she realized. ‘You know…like the one you visited last night.’
‘OK…I am aware of that…’ Luke said.
‘Well…isn’t it obvious…if I was at the party, how could I go to that park…?’ she said. Jacqui flicked her finger at the page on the table, ‘and do what you’re accusing me of. I never left the house all night.’
Luke was well aware that Jacqui’s depraved friends he interviewed last night had each accounted for her whereabouts during that party she referred to, but he was not confident he could trust their alcohol affected accounts.
‘Where do you keep your iPhone when you host these parties?’
Jacqui thought for a moment. ‘Um…it’s either in the kitchen on the breakfast bar…or in my purse, which is usually nearby.’
‘Does anyone else know your passcode to unlock your phone?’
Jacqui shook her head. ‘No, not even my husband...’
Luke paused for a moment before asking his next question.
‘No, wait…’ Jacqui said. ‘I remember now,’ she began. ‘My phone was in my purse, which was in the kitchen. I had just sent a text to…’ she paused while her eyes dropped to the page in front of her. ‘There see…’ she pushed the page to Luke and pointed to one of the last entries. ‘I sent a text to my friend, Tania to find out if she was still coming…she was running late. That’s the text right there,’ she indicated on the phone records.
Luke viewed the entry Jacqui indicated. ‘OK.’
‘My husband came into the kitchen to make a coffee…I had just finished sending the text and dropped my phone into my bag. He picked up my handbag and— ’
‘Your husband…?’ Luke said. His brow dipped into his face.
‘Yeah…he told me he would take my purse upstairs and put in our bedroom.’ Jacqui must’ve noticed Luke’s puzzled gaze. ‘He works in security… you know how paranoid people who work in security are…?’ she asked rhetorically. ‘He’s always conscious of leaving valuables around the home when we have visitors.’ Jacqui smiled at Luke.
Luke’s puzzled expression wasn’t because he didn’t understand her story. ‘The night of your party…’ Luke clarified. ‘Your husband was home…?’ he asked as a question. Jacqui nodded her confirmation. ‘You said he worked nights…’ Luke said.
Naively unaware of where Luke was going with his questions, Jacqui nodded. 'I remembered he had two days off from work for time owed. I remember because he was not supposed to come into the kitchen when I host one of my parties, but that night he did.'
Luke quickly excused himself for a moment and left the interrogation room.