‘Five thirty,’ replied Lenka. ‘Sorry. I didn’t want her to wake you up.’
‘It’s okay. I need to be up early.’ Erika sat up and rubbed her face. ‘What are you going to do today? I’ve got a big day at work.’
‘Oh, we’ll find stuff to do. You’ve got some spare keys?’
‘Can you take her for a sec. I’ll grab a shower before it gets crazy.’
Lenka transferred the bundle of blankets into Erika’s arms, and went off to the bathroom. The baby was so warm in Erika’s arms. She reached up with a tiny arm, and she looked at Erika through large inky brown eyes and then sneezed. Erika gently dabbed Eva’s tiny face with a muslin and a wave of love and sadness washed over her. Love for her perfect niece, and sadness that she would probably never have children of her own.
* * *
Erika arrived at Bromley Cross just before seven thirty, and came up to the top floor conference room. She was the first in and she drank her coffee and spent some time updating the whiteboards. She saw a fax had come through from Thames Water, with the location of the septic tank by Hayes Quarry. Then her phone rang,
‘Erika it’s me,’ said Isaac.
‘Early morning or late night?’ she asked.
‘Both. Look, I’ve had a chance to compare the tooth you recovered from the cellar at Hayes Quarry. I’m sorry. It’s not a match. It doesn’t belong to Jessica.’
Erika’s heart sank. She had to sit down on the corner of her desk.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes. I was able to do the simplest thing and compare it with the broken off tooth in the jaw. It didn’t fit or match. I then went through Jessica’s dental records in case the tooth had been exposed to fire, which can make the tooth shrink, but it doesn’t match those either. I’ve sent it off to a colleague of mine to see if any pulp can be extracted, and if we can pull any DNA from it, but it’s not Jessica’s.’
‘Ok, not your fault, but I had hoped well, back to the drawing board.’
‘There is one other thing, it’s a long shot though.’
‘I’ll take a long shot if it means getting a conviction.’
‘When the skeleton was pulled out of the quarry, it was still wrapped up tight, there were no breaks of abrasions in the plastic.’
‘Are you asking me?’ said Erika.
‘I’m telling you. We’ve got pretty much everything inside, I hope that was there when she was dumped in the quarry. There is silt and soil, I want to send these samples to a colleague of mine in Aberdeen, a Forensic Geologist.’
‘So we can find evidence if Jessica was kept somewhere else, or buried somewhere else.’
‘Yes. It’s a long shot, and this might just prove the theory that she was moved from one location. Finding that location means we have to find the soil from that location and match it. So it could take time.’
‘Okay, thank you. Keep me posted,’ said Erika. ‘And get some sleep!’
Erika came off the phone and pulled up the file on the old quarry. She saw it had been a clay quarry. She went to Wikipedia and looked up the type of clay taken from the quarry and found a short paragraph,
* * *
The London Clay is a stiff bluish clay, which becomes brown when weathered. The clay is still used commercially for making bricks, tiles, and coarse pottery. It is infertile for gardens and crops.
* * *
She carried on the search and found that Kent is made up of a mix of chalk, sandstone, and clay.
‘Yes, Kent is a huge county,’ came a voice behind her making her jump. Erika looked round and saw DI Crawford stood behind her, peering at her computer screen. ‘Sorry,’ he added.
‘Don’t creep up on people like that,’ snapped Erika.
‘I thought we knew what the quarry had been used for?’
‘We do.’ She went on to explain what Isaac had suggested, searching if there were different types of soil found with Jessica Collins. He perched on the corner of her desk, and nodded along as she spoke,
‘There’s so much landscape to compare it to,’ he said. ‘With the soil found in near the Thames Estuary, the chalk composites towards Dover… did you know that the Kent coast, the Strait of Dover is only 21 miles from Europe?’
‘Yes, I just read that on the screen,’ snapped Erika.
‘Hang on,’ he said standing up. ‘What you said earlier, about the clay being used commercially for making bricks and tiles. Do you think that could be a link, with Martin Collins? He’s a builder.’
Erika stared at him for a moment,
‘How is that a link?’
‘He could have known about it from a local builder…’
Erika found his nodding face irritating. She didn’t know if he was being genuine or showing off,
‘Crawford, the quarry stopped being used for clay before the First World War. Martin Collins and the family didn’t move here until the mid 1980s. And it’s a bloody common, the quarry was a local landmark.’
‘Oh,’ said Crawford blushing. A few officers came through to the incident room, followed by Moss and Peterson. Erika suddenly felt all her anger and frustration bubbling up inside her, and Crawford was the perfect outlet,
‘This is a complicated enough investigation without you pulling stupid theories out of your arse. It doesn’t make you look clever, and it pisses me off. Now unless you’ve got anything of actual value to say, bugger off…’
The other officers were now creeping over to their desks and taking off their coats. DI Crawford was now bright red, and his eyes were filling up.
‘And I have no time on my team for crying,’ she said. ‘What can you tell me about the septic tank at the cottage?’
‘Um, I’m still waiting to hear,’ muttered Crawford trying to keep hold of himself.
‘Well, stop fucking about, stop trying to be clever, and chase it. Do the job!’ she shouted. More officers were now arriving and there was an uncomfortable silence as they took off their coats and turned on their computers. ‘Does anyone else have any useless theories about who killed Jessica Collins?’ she added to the room. Everyone was quiet. ‘Good. Now, I’ve just heard back that the tooth we found in the cellar at hayes quarry doesn’t belong to Jessica.’
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