Out of Control - Chapter 2 - Part 2/3
Jones entered the hallway. “Cryer? What’ve you got for me?”
Sgt. Cryer had been standing in the doorway of the room studying the scene. He turned to his boss and winced as his injured neck reacted in protest at the sudden movement. “SOCOs won’t let us in the room yet, but they’re nearly done. The ME’s certified death, didn’t even have to go right into the room to do that. Someone’s done a right job on the victim – horrible mess in there.” He massaged his aching neck again and stretched it gingerly.
Jones, who noticed everything, saw the wince, “Still giving you jip? Shouldn’t play rugby if you’re not up to it. Not at your age.”
Unlike DCI Jones, Cryer was a large man, but he hadn’t played rugby since leaving secondary school, and even then he only took to the field if he couldn’t get a sick-note from his mum. He was also a man in evident need of an exercise regime and a strict diet; either that or some larger clothes. “Thanks for the sympathy, boss,” he replied with a wry smile, Jones knew how he’d received his career-threatening injury. “I’m better off than the poor soul in there though,” he gently nodded towards the body.
From the doorway they both looked into the room, Jones for the first time. They patiently waited for the SOCO’s to give them the all clear. “Who made the call?”
“A neighbour’s kid was looking for his ball and spotted the body through a broken window, poor lad. He hasn’t stopped crying since, only ten years old. His Dad called us around six o’clock.” Then in answer to Jones’ as yet unasked question Cryer added, “Family Liaison Officer is with the kid now, taking a statement. Gently dos it though. The kid only got a brief glimpse before raising the alarm. Thankfully, he didn’t get into the room, it would have been even worse for him.” --Wish I didn’t have to see it myself. Shouldn’t have had that bag of chips at lunchtime.
“Just a summary for now,” Jones encouraged.
”Dead body, no identification. In fact the man’s been stripped bare. Looks like he was bludgeoned to death with something hard and blunt. A real mess this one, boss. His face is unrecognisable - looks like raw beef and dumplings.” He quickly turned back to his boss and lowered his voice. “Er... Sorry sir, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.... callous.”
He’d worked with Jones long enough to know about the man’s sensitivities. Respect was all; never ‘vics’, or ‘DBs’, but victims and dead bodies. Jones even showed respect to the criminals, up to a point. He wasn’t above the odd gentle dig at his junior associate, hence the rugby comment, but generally he was generous and professional; a good man to work for.
Cryer paused a second before adding, “Doc said it was even unlikely that dental records would be of any use for identification. Like I said - a real mess”
“OK to come closer?” Jones asked the female SOCO who had begun packing away her kit. She looked up and noted that the policemen had already donned protective overshoes and rubber gloves; these was no novice Bobbies blundering about and disturbing vital evidence. She pulled the dusk mask up and rested it on her forehead to reveal a pretty, young face without a trace of make-up. She nodded to Jones, “All yours.” A woman of few words; professional. She gathered up her bags and props and exited the room.
Jones was a neat forty-something of average height and slight build. His gaunt, deeply lined face showed the evidence of a long life in a harrowing trade. But there was still kindness and empathy behind his weary eyes. He studied the scene, remaining silent for a long while. His lean frame was immobile, deep in concentration as he squatted on his haunches to take a closer look at the body. He had to agree with Cryer’s description. The head and face were pummelled beyond recognition. --Someone was out of control when they did this. Must have been a man. Surely no woman would have had the strength. Or am I being a chauvinist again? She would have to have been a really big lass though.
Camera flashes from the road outside showed brightly in the gathering evening gloom; the media had finally arrived. Raised voices, shouted questions, and seconds later a uniformed Sergeant appeared in the doorway. The new arrival waited patiently for Jones to join him; he knew well enough not to enter the room. The detective finally dragged his gaze away from the corpse. He ignored the sound of his knees cracking in protest as he stood; the passage of time taking its toll. It was something he'd just have to get used to. He joined the Sergeant at the threshold. The newcomer spoke quietly for a short time and then nodded as Jones issued some instructions before dismissing him with a, “Thanks, Bill.”
The Sergeant left and the reporters questions started up again, as did the camera flashes.
“I see the vultures have arrived,” said Cryer referring to the press mob outside.
Jones agreed with the sentiments but ignored the comment and continued with the business in hand. “Uniform’s just starting the door-to-door. The station can only spare six officers tonight. The murder squad will be assembled by the morning but we’ll just have to do our best ‘til then.” Cryer nodded and sighed in resignation as Jones continued, “I doubt we’ll get much from the door-to-door, but we’ll see. I’ve asked for the questionnaires to be collated overnight ready for the briefing in the morning.”
Jones then turned his attention back to the room and sniffed the air; his nose wrinkled in distaste. “Can’t ever get an easy one on a Friday can we? Any idea how long he’s been dead? The body’s been here a while judging by the smell. Where’s the doc’?”
Despite the coolness of the room and the lateness of the hour, Cryer’s face was shiny with a thin film of sweat. The big detective eased his tight shirt collar with a thick right index finger. The skin of his flabby neck chafed against the over-stretched fabric. “He had to leave. There’s been an RTA over near Broadway. At least couple of deaths by the sound of it.”
“I heard about it in the car on the way here. Why’d the Doc have to go, aren’t there any other MEs in this town?”
Cryer shrugged, “It is Friday boss.” He took a notebook out of an inside jacket pocket and turned pages until he found the one he was looking for, “He did leave me some initial thoughts for you though.” Possessing a near faultless memory, Cryer didn’t need consult the notepad, but Jones would have insisted. His boss’s insistence that everyone, especially Cryer, followed the procedures set down in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984, was legendary.
Cryer skim-read from his notes, turning the pages as he progressed. “Doc thinks he’s been dead about three days, maybe four......,” a page turned.
“Decomp is too far advanced for liver temperature to tell us anything.......,” another page. “.....Blood pooling shows that the body laid on its front for a good few hours post mortem, and then was moved at least once, before finally ending up here...... Definitely not murdered here.”
At this point Cryer looked up from the notepad and added a comment of his own, “You can tell that by the lack of blood at the scene.”
Back to his notes, “The weather’s been warm lately so the decay process could have been speeded up..... So, we won’t have a better time of death until after the post mortem.”
Cryer looked up from his notes again and added, “SOCOs have taken some of the insect larvae to help with TOD, but won’t have the information for a couple of days. They’ve got to wait for them to hatch.”
Cryer flipped through his notes again, “Judging by the muscle tone and lack of fat deposition, the victim appeared healthy and fit.”
Finished, Cryer snapped the notebook closed and added, “Doc ended by saying, and I quote, ‘I would hazard a guess that cause of death will be blunt force-trauma to the head’. Very profound is our doctor.”
Jones gave Cryer an old fashioned look, right eyebrow raised. “Really!” he sighed, “I didn’t think it was a heart attack! When’s he delivering the report?” Slight impatience showing in his voice, Jones moved towards the corpse again, careful not to disturb the yellow evidence markers.
“PM’s scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning. We should have the preliminary report by tomorrow evening, and the full report the day after that.”