‘Do you think Bob Jennings could have been our man?’ asked Peterson as they crossed the road to the gravel patch where they’d left the car.
‘It’s possible,’ said Erika. She’d told Peterson about the video tapes seized from Trevor Marksman earlier, ‘We need to find those tapes, and see if Bob Jennings is in any of them. It could be a lead, we could use it in an appeal.’
‘If he is our man, it would be a record in case solving,’ said Peterson. A firework screamed up into the sky and burst with a bang. Lighting up the common, the bank of bare trees, and the darkness filling the trees beyond.
Erika gave her team its first day off in over a week, but despite it being Saturday, she came in to the station to catch up with paperwork and tried to track down the videotapes which had been seized by police from Trevor Marksman. She spent half of the morning going through the case files and then went down to the evidence store in the basement, and spent the rest of the day trying to track down the videotapes. All she had was the evidence number. DI Crawford arrived just as Erika was making herself a coffee using the kettle in the staffroom on the ground floor. He seemed surprised to see her.
‘I wasn’t expecting to see you here,’ he said.
‘I can say the same for you,’ she replied giving him the once over. He was dressed in jeans and a jumper with his coat. She pulled the tea bag out of her cup. ‘So why are you here after having worked seven days’ straight?’
‘I left my mobile behind…’ just as he said it, a phone started to ring in his pocket. He pulled it out and cancelled the call. ‘My second phone,’ he added.
‘I’m just going upstairs,’ said Erika. She eft with her tea and he followed her up to the incident room. She put her tea down and busied herself with some paperwork whilst watching him out of the corner of her eye as he searched the floor under his desk.
‘I thought I’d dropped it. But it’s not here.’
‘Okay, well I’ll keep my eye out. What does it look like?’
‘Um, it’s a Samsung. Smart phone, older model with a cracked case on the back.’
‘I’ll look out for it.’
He stood for a moment longer and then left. She waited by the window and watched as he emerged from the front of the station and crossed the road, talking intently into his phone. Making a mental note to keep her eye on him.
* * *
She left the station just after six, having spent the day in a search which went nowhere. She put a call through to the Specialist Casework Investigation Team, and gave the young girl on the end of the phone the crime number of the evidence, but the girl didn’t fill her with hope when she said she’d follow it up.
She took a shower and went to keep a longstanding engagement she’d been looking forward to. Dinner, with Isaac Strong.
She arrived at his house just before eight. He lived in a smart terraced house, which had an effortless elegance which always made her feel calm. She was planning on staying over so they could drink and put the world to rights. He answered the door in jeans, T-shirt and a blue apron. A delicious smell of roasting chicken mixed with rosemary wafted out.
‘Red or white?’ he said. She held up two bottles of red she’d bought and he peered at them.
‘Not bad, I’ve taught you well. The Chilean is nicer, let’s open it first. We’ll have the second when our tastebuds have ben knocked out by the first!’
‘Cheeky,’ she said. She followed him through to the kitchen which was pale and elegant with a French rustic-theme; hand painted white cabinets, work surfaces of pale wood. He pulled an ice bucket from the heavy butlers sink in white ceramic, where there was Prosecco.
’Let’s have something fizzy first,’ he said pouring her a glass. She looked around the kitchen and wondered, as she always did if, as a Forensic Pathologist, Isaac deliberately steered clear of stainless steel.
She sat and as he cooked, she told him about her day, weaving in and out of stuff about the case.
‘I didn’t want to talk shop tonight, but there’s something that’s come back on the bone marrow sample I took from Jessica Collins,’ he said.
Erika put down her glass and her face became serious, ‘What?’
He opened the oven and pulled out the tray of roasting potatoes, steam billowed out to the ceiling, ’There were very high levels of a chemical compound called Tetraethyllead present in the sample I took from her right fibia.’ He expertly started to turn the potatoes in the oil between two dessert spoons.
‘Say that again?’
‘Tetraethyllead. It’s an organic lead compound, and the ingredient which was added to petrol to improve performance. It’s now illegal and it’s been phased out of petrol since 1992.’
‘When petrol became unleaded,’ finished Erika.
‘I’m sorry. I know you never get the chance to switch off, but I thought you would want to know,’ he said putting the potatoes back in and closing the oven door. He came over to the table and sat topping up her glass.
‘Why would so much be showing up in her bones?’
‘Obviously I haven’t had any tissue or blood samples to work with, but the conditions in which the body was wrapped and left at the bottom of the lake has preserved the bones.’
‘She was a healthy young girl and she was eating well, and from what I’ve read she was a well cared for child.’
‘These levels indicate she could have potentially been exposed to high levels of lead petrol before she died, or that it contributed to her death.’
‘Which puts more credence to my theory that she was abducted, and kept in captivity for a period of weeks before her body was dumped in the quarry… It could have been fumes that she was exposed to?’ finished Erika.
‘That’s up to you to find out.’
‘I hate it when you say that.’
‘Always a pleasure to help,’ he grinned wryly. She took a long drink, placed it down and traced her finger over the condensation clinging to the glass.
‘What kind of state is a body in after being buried for twenty-six years?’
‘In a grave, conventionally, in a coffin.’
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