‘I’ve only made the link to Robert Jennings now we know Jessica was dumped in the quarry. He could have kept Jessica Captive in the cottage opposite. It’s an isolated spot. However, he had no history of violent behaviour, no record, but he was known as the village oddball. He could have also witnessed something, and his death was staged to look like suicide.’
Erika pulled out a photo of Robert Jennings
‘Village oddball,’ repeated Camilla, taking it and popping her glasses on. The thin gold chain swayed as she examined it. In the photo, he had a florid gnomic face, his large nose was bright red and he had a mass of greying dark hair.
‘What about Trevor Marksman?’ asked Camilla looking up at Erika.
‘He has an alibi. And he wouldn’t have been able to keep Jessica captive without help. We have no evidence he did.’ Erika went on to detail her meeting with Marksman and that she was trying to find the video tape evidence seized from his camcorder.
‘Could these two have been working together?’ asked Marsh taking the photo from Camilla.
‘It’s possible, Marksman mentioned that he saw Robert Jennings working locally as a gardener, even got him on one of his videos made at the park. I’d like to take a team out and look at the cottage, get forensics in there to pull it apart. I’ve looked at the plans and there is a cellar. We never know, there could be some freak occurrence and Jessica Collins DNA could be present. If that happened then we could put forward to have Robert Jennings body exhumed, again in the hope that there is a trace of something. Both are long shots.’
‘Ok… What about the usual suspects? Collins family members; The father? Any brothers? Other males?’ asked Camilla.
‘Jessica’s brother Toby was four when she was abducted. Her father has an alibi for when she was taken. He’s always co-operated, and again he was under surveillance along with Marianne Collins.
Camilla sifted through the paperwork Erika had laid out as she was talking, picking up a photo of Martin Collins. She cocked her head at it,
‘There’s something quite Jason Statham-ish about him… What do you think, Colleen?’ Colleen looked up from scribbling her notes, and got confused as to how she was meant to reply. ‘I don’t know who Jason Statham is…’
Camilla peered at her over the top of her glasses, ‘Are you serious? You work in the media and you’ve not seen the The Transporter?’
‘Transporter 2 or 3?’ Colleen shook her head, a little panicked. Erika glanced over and saw Marsh suppress a smile.
‘A night in with a Jason Statham DVD always cures me of the blues… He’s quite the charmer, Martin Collins… I can almost see how DCI Baker succumbed to his charms. Almost. Do some subtle digging. Look at what he’s been up to in the last few years. Who he’s associated with. He came over to the UK in 1986 as a contract builder working at Canary Wharf. Let’s check he didn’t get involved in anything too dodgy.’
Erika went on the explain that Oscar Browne was now working as representative for the family.
‘And one more thing, it’s come from the toxicology on Jessica Collins remains. There were unusually high concentrations of a chemical called Tetraethyllead in the samples of bone marrow. It’s an organic lead compound…’
‘It was added to petrol to improve performance, making it leaded,’ finished Camilla.
‘Yes, Ma’am. I speculate that Jessica could have been kept captive in the cottage and exposed to petrol fumes. As well as searching the cottage and cellar, we’ll be looking into if there was a power supply at the house or if a petrol generator was used.’
The office was quiet for a moment as they absorbed this.
‘Good work, Erika, but you need to keep pushing forward with this. Keep your investigation pacey.’
‘Very good ma’am.’
‘Okay, Colleen. Apart from not knowing who Jason Statham is, what can you say to all this?’
Colleen sat up, looking flustered. ‘I’d like to move for a press conference with the family in the next few days. Make a fresh appeal for any historical information. People’s memories may be jogged.’
‘Erika, if that lost video footage could be found in time, it could be something valuable to add to the appeal,’ said Camilla.
‘I’ll do my best, ma’am,’ said Erika.
‘Colleen can you make do with Commander Marsh for the appeal? I’ll be away fro the next few days. Perhaps he can give his shirt an iron before he goes on camera.’
Marsh looked down and smoothed at his shirt.
‘Yes, ma’am,’ said Colleen. ‘I was planning on using the whole Collins family.’
‘Very good. Unity and family values, always play well. I’ll be away, but I’ll be watching.’
* * *
When the meeting had finished, Erika walked with Marsh back down to the underground car park. They chatted for a moment and then she was shocked to see Camilla emerge from the lift wearing full motorbike leathers and carrying her briefcase. She moved to a gleaming sliver and black Yamaha motorbike, slipped her briefcase into a carrier at the back and pulled on a black and sliver helmet and a pair of thick gloves. She flipped up the visor, and swung her leg over.
‘Beats the traffic every time,’ she shouted as the engine roared to life. With a wave she sped off past them and down the ramp to the slip road.
‘She didn’t offer you to ride pillion,’ said Erika.
‘Very funny. Riding pillion would be a promotion… She’s quite a character,’ he said.
‘There’s something quite predatory about her. I can imagine her organising those swinger parties where everyone throws their keys in a fruit bowl in the middle of the carpet.’
‘She’s married to a high court judge,’ said Marsh unlocking his car and opening the door.
‘Then they’re the ones who probably throw the parties.’
‘Get the job done. She doesn’t mess about, Erika.’
‘Yes, Sir. I’ll be in touch about the house search, and next time, iron your shirt.’
He rolled his eyes and got into his car, making a far less impressive exit from the car park.
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