Read Shallow Waters Online

Authors: Rebecca Bradley

Shallow Waters (4 page)

 

13

 

It
was now dark. The roads were alive with a river of white and red
lights. Well lit interiors shone out from old and beautiful buildings,
and modern and glassy architecture, making the city glow. Cars were
filled with drivers impatient to get home. It took close to forty-five
minutes to get through traffic from Central.

The
place I called home wasn't cosy, or warm; it held little in the way of
memories. It was functional and clean with glossy kitchen sides, low
slung sofas, an old battered wooden coffee table bearing my laptop. A
single photograph of my parents on their wedding day hung in a frame on
the wall. I'd chosen to have one from way back then, as I knew those
times were happy and any memories I had now were tainted and troubled.
I loved them very much and I missed mum.

The
location, Park Rock on Castle Boulevard, bristled with character. It
was a fairly new development, built at the base of Nottingham castle.
At night-time, from the Boulevard, I could see the lit cave entrances.
It was breathtaking and I could, and did, sit and look at it for hours.
I loved this location, but even with its obvious beauty and surrounding
history I didn't have a deep sense of connection and I wasn't sure why.

I
dragged my overnight bag from under the bed and started throwing in the
few items I'd need. It had already been a long day and I hoped, after
speaking with the Norwich cops, we could talk to the girl’s family and
attempt to give them the information they needed to process their
child's death. It would then be too late to drive back.

Clean
clothes and underwear were thrown in the bag as well as the usual:
toothbrush, paste, relevant facial items, make-up and hair-dryer. This
investigation was hitting me emotionally. It was always one of the more
difficult parts of the job, dealing with a bereaved family, and not one
I looked forward to. Conveying information to grief stricken parents
was made difficult by the overwhelming loss and sometimes, the guilt
they carried. Their ability to absorb facts diminished as emotions were
raw and wounds open. I struggled to wade through the obvious quagmire
they created without getting myself caught up and bogged down in it. I
often struggled to maintain a distance with relatives, but distance was
a necessary barrier to an emotional minefield.


tossed my mobile phone charger into the overnight bag. Walking back
into the living room, I picked up the laptop from the coffee table and
packed that away amongst my clean clothes in case I wanted to make
notes later in the evening. I was supposed to be seeing Ethan tonight.
I text him as it was easier than making the call, letting him know
where I was going, and that I would call him when I returned. There was
no reply. This annoyed me. It left me swinging in the wind with no
opportunity to counter or explain. It was like the thing with him
always
leaving before morning and more often than not, leaving as soon as I
nodded off to sleep in an evening after we made love. It gave a feeling
of vagueness, something I couldn't quite catch hold of and I wasn't
comfortable with that.

I
pulled the zipper across my bag, walked into the living room and
dropped it on the floor near the door. As I was packed and waiting for
Aaron I poured myself a quick glass of red wine. It tasted good as it
slid down my throat, smooth and warm. The built up tension that had
been gathering over me like a hurricane cloud dissipated with a couple
of slugs. A car horn sounded. We were off to Norwich and the dead
girl's parents.

 

 

14

 

There
was a reserved quietness about the trip. Aaron drove the works Skoda
Octavia estate. It was in pristine condition and still had that new car
smell about it. He was fastidious about keeping it clean. You'd find
him at the end of every week, washing and polishing in preparation for
the following week. If someone left food wrappers inside when he went
to use it, he would talk incessantly about how dirty it and they were,
for at least five minutes. It was rare that wrappers were left in cars
now. I sat beside him as he drove.

My
work bag was on the back seat. It was stuffed with note books and
reports which included initial house to house enquiry results and
post-mortem notes. I had the missing person report Norwich had emailed
laid out across my lap. My overnight bag had been slung into the boot
along with Aaron's.

“Seeing anything?” he asked of the misper report I was attempting to read.

“A
lot of fuzzy lines.” I squeezed my eyes together, opened them and tried
again. It was no good. I hated reading in cars. “What do we have to say
this Norwich girl is ours?” I asked for the third time since I'd heard
she could be our victim.

“As
our missing persons database didn't bring about any matches, Ross
contacted the National Missing Persons Bureau, who are now a part of
the Serious Organised Crime Agency. It was a bit of a long shot as
their system is only as good as the forces who comply with the
requirement to update them with high risk MIPSERS within 48 hours.”

He listed off the facts I already knew, as he kept his focus on the road.

“Their
database brought up several potential matches in various parts of the
country, on basic details such as height, ethnicity, hair colour and
approximate age, but then the DNA results from the post-mortem came in
and Ross submitted it to the Bureau who conducted a speculative search
on their DNA database, which again has its own teething problems. Do
you realise how few officers seize a toothbrush or hairbrush on the
first report of a missing person, thereby slowing things down?” He was
off on a tangent. I didn't know if he expected an answer. He didn't
look across at me, but kept his eyes on the road and his hands in the
ten, two position. “The Bureau holds a huge physical collection of body
parts as well as having the massive database of missing people and
unidentified dead bodies. Seriously. Body parts.” 

It was time for me to push him forward. “And our girl?”

“Well the DNA we submitted came back with a match.”

That
was it. The one sentence I wanted, but he hadn't finished. “The local
cops on the missing girl must have done a great job because her DNA was
on the database within required time limits, which goes to show they
were serious about the investigation and graded her as high risk, so
what does that mean to our case and how she got here?”

I didn't know the answer. “Our match, does she have a name?” I asked.

“Yeah.
She's Rosie Green. Fifteen years old, model daughter and student until
the few weeks in the run up to her going missing. First time missing,
turns up murdered in our city.
It's a long way from home, Hannah, how's she ended up here?”

The
question bothered me. How did a child from Norwich turn from model
child, to a dead body, badly beaten and tortured behind a dumpster in
Nottingham, some one hundred and twenty miles away?

 

 

15

 

It
was nearly eight p.m. when we landed at Bethel Street Police Station,
Norwich. Though it was dark, I immediately liked the look of the
building. It was a substantial construction made with two different
sized bricks and white, worn wooden window frames giving it an old
build look. The genteel feel the place had was compounded further by
the lights dotted down the street, black painted, round posts, with old
fashioned glass tubes emitting the light providing a picture postcard
image.

The
front of the station had minimal parking outside, reserved for police
vehicles. Aaron steered the Octavia into a space and we walked into the
station.

DI
Clive Tripps, the SIO running the investigation, met us at the front
counter. We shook hands and introductions were made. Clive was a thin
and wiry man. His handshake was firm, though his hands rather cool. His
green eyes met mine and he smiled.

“I'm
glad you managed to come down, I know the family will appreciate it.
She's been missing two weeks and they need some answers.” As he talked
he opened internal doors by punching numbers into keypads on the walls.
Green lights and a beep indicated access had been granted. We walked
down the corridor until we came to some stairs on our right. We started
to climb.

“I
suppose the main issue for the family is they need to be told we
believe we have her body and they need to identify her. What do they
know about this?” I asked.

“I
phoned ahead and let them know I needed to see them this evening and
that I'd bring someone else involved in the investigation with me. But
I haven't told them any information past that. I didn't want to end up
in a difficult conversation on the phone. I thought it better to speak
with you first. As you'd expect, they're in pieces.”

We
walked into a well lit room with an array of desks and chairs, each
with its own computer terminal and, beside those, piles of folders I
knew contained more jobs, more injured people and more affected
lives. 

“Family
consists of Mum and Dad, no other children, so once they know she's
gone, they're going to have to try and support themselves through this.
It's all too difficult for them to take much in at the moment, but I
get the feeling they're expecting to hear bad news.”

We
pulled a few chairs together and sat as a group around the largest desk
in the centre of the room. Two detectives from Clive’s team joined us.
They were introduced as Nima Khan and Michael Lane, both involved in
the investigation into Rosie's disappearance. Nima had a considered
calm about her, a practicality and pragmatism I liked. Michael, though
older, had an enthusiasm for the job I rarely saw in such a long
serving detective. Between them they organised drinks and a couple of
bars of chocolate. I liked the pair; they rolled off each other well.
Clive Tripps had a well run team. We discussed what each force had in
relation to their respective investigations before we made the house
call none of us wanted to do.

“What's her family history like?” Aaron questioned.

“It's
a good family home. Regular school attendance. No social services
involvement. No criminal history on the parents, or Rosie. School gave
glowing reports, but said she let her school work slip for the last few
weeks. She became sulky and uninterested. She snubbed her friends and
she became very isolated. Mum and dad both say she continued to go out
after school. She told them she was with friends, when in fact she
wasn't and her friends didn't have a clue about where she went.” Nima
relayed from memory.

“Can we talk to her friends again, and her teachers? Maybe in the morning before we head back?”

Nima nodded, “Of course. We'll set it up with the school as soon as they open tomorrow.”

I
rubbed my head again. A habit I seemed to have acquired, but it had
been a long and exhausting day. I turned to Aaron “I think we need to
go and do that knock on the parents. The sooner the better for them I
think. If I go with Clive, can you stay and collate all the paperwork
they have here, and make copies for us to take back.”

“Absolutely,”
he nodded, straightening his tie. Michael eyed him over, his own tie
loose and pulled to the side. He kept any thoughts he had to himself.

Clive
spoke to Nima. “Are you okay to help DS Stone with the file for Rosie
and also get him the number for the school ready for tomorrow.”

“Yes, doing that now.” Nima replied leaning forward and grabbing a folder from the desk in front of her.

The team ran well. I took a breath, “OK Clive, let’s go and see Mum and Dad.”

 

 

  
16

 

The
Greens lived in a small terraced cottage in Lakenham, South Norwich.
The wooden front door was old, with paint peeling around the edges and
in the grooves of the panels. Tiny flakes of blue were scattered along
the doorstep. There was a family car parked in front. With the glow of
the sodium street light I couldn't make out its colour. It bore the
same worn look the house had.

The door was opened by a stout man, hair thinning on top, his soft grey eyes asking a question he didn't want an answer to.

“Mr Green, thank you for seeing us. This is DI Hannah Robbins. May we come in?” asked Clive.

George Green looked dazed and uncertain. He stepped aside.

“Yes.” He paused. “I'm sorry. Come in.”

The
house was neat, though I could see a layer of dust settled across the
furniture. A sign it hadn't been cared for since Rosie had gone
missing. It had the feel of a family home. Family photographs adorned
the walls on faded floral wallpaper. Happier times captured and
memories held in thin frames. Smiling faces, arms wrapped around each
other. Three people whose lives were now shattered. I could see Rosie
as she had been, not the cold grey corpse in the alley or that lay on
the steel table of Jack Kidner. This was a girl full of hopes and
dreams, full of love and joy, secure in the arms of her parents.
Parents who no doubt had dreamt of a future for their daughter, a
future with a career, aspirations and a grandchild maybe. I looked at
the woman in the chair in front of us. From the pictures I saw she had
aged ten years. She looked down at her hands grasped in her lap,
fingers tightly wrapped together. She didn't want to look at us. She
knew why we were here and she didn't want that moment to come. George
Green went over to her, crouching down as though to a small child you
want to reassure. He took her shaking hands into his. She raised her
head to him, eyes red and swollen. Fear vibrated off her. I took a deep
breath and tried to steady myself, quell the emotion building inside
me. Somehow it was possible to work with the dead and hear their
stories through the eyes of a pathologist, but so close to the
emotional pain of the family was something different entirely. It
latched onto me, worked at my throat and pushed up from the inside out.
I had to breathe through this. This was their pain, not mine. I had to
breathe.

 

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