Camilla put her glasses back on. Erika opened her mouth to speak, but she put her hand up.
‘I’m in no doubt of what a good officer you are, but we now have the media spotlight firmly on a tricky case. Do you believe that Joel Michaels is a potential suspect?’
‘Yes. I also believe we could still find a link between Marksman, Michaels and Bob Jennings. I would like to put forward that we exhume Jennings’ body.’
‘Absolutely not,’ said Camilla. ‘I would like more evidence than a hunch before we go down that road. And after twenty-six years underground what would you expect to find?’
‘Toxicology, and evidence of broken bones, foul play which could prove that he didn’t commit suicide.’
‘And then what? The forensic evidence would be negligible and forensics have already been over the cottage and found virtually nothing.’
‘We found a tooth, and if the tooth belonged to Jennings.’
‘It could mean it was knocked out, or it fell out. People who spend their time squatting in abandoned properties aren’t prized for their oral hygiene…’
‘Ma’am I believe that Bob Jennings saw something the night Jessica was dumped in the quarry, and I believe that he was killed to keep him from identifying who it was.’
‘It’s not enough to believe. You need to back it up with hard evidence. Nothing annoys me more that people using their beliefs to justify their actions… How can you prove anything right now, short of building a time machine and going back?’
Erika stood in front of her and wanted the ground to swallow her up.
‘Now I’m going to leave you on this case for the time being, whilst I look for a suitable replacement. Perhaps this will work in your favor. It seems when the chips are down you deliver results.’
* * *
When the meeting was over, Marsh caught up with Erika at the lifts.
‘It could have been worse,’ he said.
‘How could that have gone any worse?’ she said turning to him.
‘It could have been Oakley.’
‘I could deal with Assistant Commissioner Oakley. He was a bigoted old git. He rose to the bait, I could out smart him. She’s… She’s bloody good.’
‘Yes. Speaking as your friend and not your superior officer for a moment, she does make my testicles leap into my abdomen.’
The lift doors opened and they got in. Marsh pressed the button for the ground floor and Erika felt her stomach lurch as they zoomed down the twelve floors of the New Scotland yard building.
‘This is the first case where I feel…’
‘What?’ he asked.
‘Where I feel I’m not going to solve it.’ Marsh looked as if he was going to put his arm around her, but the lift came to a stop and a group of officers got in. Erika turned to the wall and tried to keep her emotions under control.
When they came out onto the road outside New Scotland Yard the sky was threatening rain, again.
‘I keep going back to that day, all those years ago, August 7th,’ said Erika. ‘I keep looking at the witness statements, of the hundreds of people who were in the area, the remaining neighbours. How can one little girl have gone missing?’
‘Children go missing all the time, every day in every country,’ said Marsh, buttoning up his coat again the cold wind. ‘She was white and middle-class with blond hair. Did you see all the missing child reports Isaac went through to match the dental records?’
‘Seventeen children went missing in Kent during 1990. Four of them were found alive, another two were found dead. But nine of them remain missing.’
‘So you’re saying this is linked?’
‘What I’m saying is that this wasn’t an isolated incident. The media grabbed hold of it, and pulled at our heart strings, and quite rightly too. Just don’t look on your inability to solve this as a personal failure.’
‘That’s all very easy to say, but I only thing I can do is this. I’m not a wife, I’ll never be a mother. This is my life.’
‘And what happens in ten or twelve years when you retire? You need to find a place for yourself in the world in addition to the job.’
It started to rain and he grinned and walked off. ‘Keep in touch,’ he said without turning back.
Erika pulled her collar up and made for the car park.
DI Crawford had phoned Amanda Baker several times over the past couple of days. He had let her know that the Trevor Marksman videos were uploaded to HOLMES, and he also told her about the police bringing in Joel Michaels, and shared that much of the team had their doubts about him.
She had watched them with interest, in particular the video of Jessica playing in the park and of Marianne and Laura on the two occasions that they were together in the background.
had watched the chaos unfold in the news. She always had the nightly news recorded on her Sky + box and, so was able to watch it over several times. She felt pleased for Marianne, everything had been taken from her, and being able to vent her emotions on a grand scale must have been cathartic, she thought.
When she watched it back the third time, she noticed Laura stood by the kerb a little way from her mother. She had such a strange look on her face, and what was she doing, she was shaking her head. She remembered the terrible arguments that Marianne and Laura had in the days after Jessica vanished. Marianne never gave the girl a break, criticising her. Nancy Greene would often report back that Marianne was spinning out of control and she was taking out her frustration on the one daughter she still had.
Amanda settled back down in her chair and ran the segment back and watched it again. She turned up the volume, and saw the moment where Marianne brought out the knife. The sound was poor and her voice sounded reedy against the traffic and sounds from the street, but she heard Marianne shout,
‘She was mine! She was mine and you took her!’ as she lunged at Marksman with the knife. The camera moved round and caught Laura, and again she was shaking her head.
‘Why the hell would she come with her mother, and then shake her head. Did she know that she’d brought a knife with her? She should either join in with the shouting or look shocked…’ said Amanda to herself. She leaned over and topped up her glass from a bottle on the floor beside her feet. She tipped it up to get the last of the dregs and wound the video back. She watched it again, Marianne lunge for Trevor and then the camera moving round to Laura shaking her head in disagreement. And then it hit her,