فصل 05

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فصل 05

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Chapter five

Caught on film

I got away with it - but I was exhausted! So tired that this morning I slept till midday. Part of the tiredness was physical - first the fight, then moving the body. Part of the tiredness was in the mind - because I hadn’t been completely ready for this adventure I’d had to think quickly. And carefully.

No-one else was at home when I got up. I made a coffee and thought back to yesterday afternoon. I needed to check I had made no mistakes.

I had walked home for a blanket, a change of clothes and the three of spades. Although I was in a hurry, I walked - running would have drawn attention to me. I put the blanket, the card and a pair of binoculars in a bag, and went out to look for a car. Stealing a car is easy when you know how - and I know how.

I drove it back to my ‘helper’s’ house and parked round the back, got the body onto the back seat and covered it with the blanket. Then I started out towards Reeth. On the way I thought about where to leave the body: a side road, somewhere quiet, where I could get the body out without being seen. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon, but a light rain had been falling all afternoon. There wouldn’t be many walkers out. I decided on the perfect place.

I drove along the Swaledale road and turned left over Scabba Wath bridge. Then I turned left again onto the road back to Grinton and Reeth. There was moorland here with low bushes that would hide the body for a while. I pulled off the road - there was grass by the side of the road, so I wouldn’t leave any tyre marks. Then I got out of the car and carefully checked the countryside around me with the binoculars. Nobody.

Working quickly, I got the body off the back seat. Holding it by the ankles, I pulled it up the side of the hill and hid it behind some bushes. I left the card in the man’s hand, looked round to make sure there was nothing for the police to find, and made my way back to the car.

There was little else left to do - get rid of the car, change my clothes and burn the ones I was wearing, drop my shoes in the river. Easy!

It had all been rather hurried, and I was sorry about that. But now that it’s over, I can relax, look back and enjoy the moment. I can put a third sticker on my murder map to show where the third body will be found - if it hasn’t been found already.

I can also start planning my next adventure. I’m getting a taste for this. Not only can people see how powerful I am and what I can achieve, but I’m also enjoying the feeling. It’s the high that comes with every kill, the certainty that it’s right to be doing this.

The next one will be two. Double pleasure. I’ll use the gun. I’ve been out on the moors and fired a couple of shots just to get used to it. There are only five shots left in the gun and I don’t know if I can get any more bullets. Because of that, I want to get close so there’s no chance of missing. I know when and where it’s going to happen too. It will be in the early evening, at the roadside. So I’ll need to steal another car - but that won’t be a problem. Perhaps tonight is a bit early. Or perhaps not. Already I can feel the excitement building. Already I know how good the feeling will be.

Yes. Tonight.

That evening Fiona Russell was at her desk, wondering when she’d next get a good night’s sleep. She reached for her coffee and heard another email come through on her computer: a report of two cars stolen in Richmond the afternoon before. Two stolen cars was pretty unusual for Richmond. It wasn’t a big town. Cars didn’t often get stolen and two on the same day was strange.

A dark green Mini had been stolen from the Market Square late in the evening and a silver Skoda had gone missing from the Gallowfields Business Park some time between 3.15 p.m. and 3.45 p.m. The Skoda had been stolen around the time of the third murder. So - a Skoda then. Maybe.

Russell made a note of the car number. Then she started up some CCTV film on her computer, film from the one camera in Richmond that covered the road out to Swaledale and Reeth. She pressed FAST-FORWARD until the time in the right-hand corner was 15:13:27. That was about the right time, but was it the right road? Of course, the car thief might not be the killer at all. He, or she, might not even have headed towards Swaledale.

Russell hit PLAY. Cars went past. Then cars didn’t go past. Then one car. Then no cars for a long time. It wasn’t a busy road. She hit FAST-FORWARD, then PLAY again when more traffic came along.

The time got to 16:00:00. The Little Red Bus went past - the bus service from Richmond to Reeth and then on up Swaledale - then a farm vehicle followed by a line of cars, then nothing.

Russell stopped the film and went back. The cars behind the farm vehicle were quite close together. She froze the picture and looked closely. At the back of the line was a BMW, then an Audi, a Ford, a Land Rover, but what was the first car? It was difficult to see. The CCTV was black and white so that was no help.

She zoomed in close and moved down the picture to try and see the car’s back number plate. It was hidden - the Land Rover was too close. She went back a couple of minutes and started the film again. This time she played it slowly.

When the cars came into view she froze the film and zoomed in on the back of the first car. Yes! It was a Skoda - that was good. She let the film go forward again slowly. Stop! She could see half the number plate, just the last three letters. They were the same as the last letters of the stolen Skoda. Yes! That was very good!

Something like electricity rushed through her; her head felt light. The feeling almost took her breath away.

Just then Scott came into the room. There was an excited look on her face, but she stopped when she saw Russell.

‘Fiona, are you OK?’ she asked, looking worriedly at the other woman.

Russell waved a hand and gave her a big smile.

‘I’m fine, I’m fine,’ she said. ‘Come and look at this.’

She took the film back to where the line of cars first came into view.

‘Watch this,’ she said. ‘The first car behind the tractor is the one to watch. I think our man is driving it.’

They watched the film closely until the cars went out of sight. The cars were moving away from the camera so it was impossible to see the drivers. Russell took the film back to the beginning and they watched it again slowly. Then Russell stopped the film and looked at Scott.

‘Why do you think it’s him?’ asked Scott.

‘The car was stolen around the time of the murder,’ answered Russell.

‘Ah,’ said Scott. ‘You think he stole a car rather than used his own - if he has one.’

‘Yes,’ replied Russell. She reached out and took hold of Scott’s arm. ‘If it’s him, he stole the car,’ she said. ‘And he drove out from Richmond - so maybe he lives there.’ She smiled at Scott. ‘He’s starting to make mistakes.’

Russell let go of Scott’s arm and stood up.

‘Anyway,’ she said, ‘you came in here with something important.’

‘Oh yes,’ said Scott, the excited look returning to her face. ‘Let’s find Charles. We need to compare notes.’

Half an hour later Neville, Scott and Russell were sitting round the table in the interview room.

‘Let me get this straight,’ said Neville, looking at Scott. ‘The investigation that Jonathan Greene is working on at the moment is to do with the army.’

‘Yes,’ replied Scott. ‘He’s looking at the effects of active service on soldiers who have been out in the Middle East and the Gulf- mainly the effects on their minds, and what the government is doing to help soldiers who are badly affected.’

‘I thought he was a crime reporter,’ said Russell.

‘He is,’ replied Scott. ‘He thinks the government isn’t doing enough. Apparently he feels that their position can be seen as criminal. Greene’s brother was a soldier. He was so badly affected that he had to leave the army. He now never goes out of his house. For Greene, this is personal.’

‘I see,’ said Neville. ‘And you think a soldier sent Greene the text message about the cards - a soldier that Greene gave his number to.’

‘That does seem logical,’ said Russell. ‘I mean, we think the killer lives locally. We think the killer sent the text message. The killer had Greene’s mobile number. And the only people up here that he has given his mobile number to are soldiers and a few other journalists.’

‘And how many soldiers did Greene give his number to?’ Neville asked Scott.

‘That’s the problem,’ replied Scott. ‘He doesn’t know. I’ve got half a dozen names here, but he’s talked to lots more. Soldiers are quite happy to talk to him. But because his investigation is unlikely to be popular with the army, they’re less happy about giving him their names.’

Neville looked at Russell.

‘And you think you have the killer on CCTV in a stolen Skoda, leaving Richmond just after the last murder?’

‘Yes,’ replied Russell. ‘I need to see if he comes back the same way later. I might even get to see him since he’ll be facing the camera. But you know how clear CCTV pictures are. I don’t expect to be able to tell you what he looks like.’

She opened her mouth to say something else, but then stopped and thought.

‘Yes?’ asked Neville.

‘As far as I know,’ said Russell slowly, still thinking her ideas through, ‘no cars were stolen around the days of the first two murders. I’ll check that, but I’m pretty sure I’m right.’

Neville and Scott said nothing. They waited for Russell to finish making her point.

‘That means he must have used his own car to come out here for the first two murders,’ said Russell.

‘So more than likely he’s going to be on CCTV in his own car on those days,’ said Scott. ‘If they still have the film.’

‘They don’t use videotapes these days,’ said Russell. ‘Everything’s on computer - hard disk. And it’s kept for longer, so we should be able to get hold of it.’

‘Right,’ said Neville, making a decision. ‘Fiona, first check the CCTV to see if you’ve got him coming back into Richmond yesterday. Then look at the film from the same camera for the first two murders.’

He turned to Scott.

‘Helen,’ he said, ‘you follow up the army idea. You’ve got the list of soldiers. Go over to Catterick. Talk to them. Ask questions. See if you can find out who else talked to Greene. Take a couple of officers with you. This could be important.’ Pushing his fingers through his hair, Neville stood up.

‘It’ll be good to have something new to tell the journalists tomorrow,’ he said. ‘I have to say I’m getting sick of seeing my photo on the front page of national newspapers.’

As Neville, Scott and Russell were making their way back into the operations room, they heard a woman police officer talking on the phone.

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Yes, I agree that’s very strange. Well, I’ll tell my boss and …’ At that moment she looked round and saw Neville behind her. ‘Just a moment. My boss is right here. I’ll pass you over.’

Neville raised his eyebrows.

‘Inspector Atkins from Richmond. Something about a stolen car,’ said the officer.

Neville took the phone.

‘DI Neville,’ he said. He lifted a hand to tell Scott and Russell to wait. They heard his end of the conversation.

‘That’s right… Yes, I know. We’ve just been talking about it… Yes, that is strange… Yes, well, I’d like forensics to examine it as soon as possible. We think it may have been used by the killer… OK, I’ll leave it with you… Tell them to ring me as soon as they have anything.’

Neville gave the phone back to the officer and looked at Scott and Russell.

‘They found the car in almost exactly the same place it was stolen from,’ he told them. ‘Atkins is getting forensics on to it.’

‘Strange to be in the same place,’ said Scott.

Russell looked thoughtful. ‘I wonder why?’ she asked.

‘What do you mean?’ asked Neville.

‘Why did he put it back in the same place?’ she asked. ‘There must be a reason. It could be close to where he lives - so it was easy to get to. Or it could be a long way from where he lives to make life difficult for us.’

Scott walked over to the door and back, thinking. The others watched her.

‘The timing,’ she said. ‘The timing is important. We know the time of death: soon after three. By four o’clock we’ve got him on the CCTV camera coming out of Richmond.’

‘Exactly,’ replied Russell.

‘He must have stolen the car from somewhere close to the scene of the crime,’ said Scott.

‘The car was in the Gallowfields Business Park,’ said Russell.

‘Not far from Barningham’s house,’ added Scott.

‘Which might be the scene of the crime,’ said Neville, ‘although we haven’t found any signs there.’

Just then a phone rang on the other side of the operations room.

A police officer answered it, then looked at Neville.

‘Another one, sir,’ he said. ‘In fact, this time there are two.’

The room went silent. Russell’s eyes opened wide. Neville went across the room and took the phone. After a short conversation he put the phone down and turned to face the room.

‘The four and five of spades. By gun,’ he said. ‘He’s shot a young couple out by Surrender Bridge.’

He looked at Scott.

‘Let’s go,’ he said.

‘Sir?’ asked Russell. She knew they normally used first names, but she was intending to ask for something special. A little extra politeness would be good politics.

Neville looked at her. She could see he knew what the question was. She could also see what the answer would be.

‘Yes,’ he replied.

‘I know the scene of the crime isn’t where I’m usually supposed to be …’ she began.

‘Yes, yes, come on,’ replied Neville. ‘Get your coat and come with us. But don’t be sick.’

‘I have seen dead bodies before,’ said Russell.

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