Saturday 5 – Thursday 17 March 2011
Toby smiled when he saw the front page of the newspaper. Someone had let slip to the media that Kyle Anderton, fire fighter and brother to the latest arson victim, was a potential suspect. He knew Kyle from high school, and had always thought the guy was a moron. This article proved it. A careful fire starter, a good fire starter would not get caught. He wouldn’t attract attention. Toby had never attracted attention, not even with the last warehouse fire that had taken the lives of the homeless guys who had sought shelter in the building.
He hadn’t known that they were inside, at least he hadn’t known until he started spreading the accelerant around the structure. By that stage, it was too late to back out. By that stage, he didn’t want to pull out. Toby wondered if his competition felt the same way when he set a fire.
It, of course, had been a freak coincidence that Brooke had ended up the victim of an arsonist. And if Toby had known who he was, he’d gladly shake the man’s hand. He’d done Toby a grand favour by razing Finnegan’s: saved him a world of pain in dealing with Brooke.
In his arrogance, Toby sat smiling to himself at Kyle Anderton’s misfortune, unaware that he was about to become the latest victim of a serial arsonist. His house began to burn, slowly at first, but then with rapid intent. Toby was about to suffer the same fate that he had metered out to a number of homeless people seeking shelter in an abandoned warehouse.
Being sure to leave ample evidence implicating Toby in the two fires that he had set, the person who Toby considered his competition, stood alone in the backyard, watching the house burn. There was little chance of Toby Oliver escaping this fire alive.
‘Well Kyle Anderton couldn’t have set this fire, sir. He was in police custody when it happened.’ Collins said to Emma.
She had become an almost constant companion over the last few weeks, and Andy Collins was grateful for her calming presence. He was most certainly not calm any more. Too many suspicious fires were occurring in the once quiet and unassuming town. And somewhere at the heart of it, Collins believed Kyle Anderton had something to do with them.
‘But that doesn’t rule him out as a suspect, does it? I mean, he could have had something to do with any number of the other fires. And we can’t categorically say he didn’t torch his own brother’s house,’ she had come around to Kyle Anderton being good for the fires, and she wasn’t going to let him go as a suspect until he could be one hundred percent ruled out.
Andy shook his head, ‘No, it doesn’t rule him out as a suspect. Not entirely.’
He flipped through the information they had discovered at Toby Oliver’s home. All the evidence pointed to Oliver as being the serial arsonist.
‘What if we’re looking for two people, Emma?’ Collins spoke quietly and deliberately. ‘We’ve been considering that there’s only one arsonist, but what if, in fact, that there are two. Toby Oliver was one, and we’re now looking for someone else with an entirely different motivation for setting fires.’
She ruminated on his theory, turning the possibilities around in her mind. It wasn’t entirely unheard of that two arsonists could be operating in the same area, at the same time. It was unlikely, but not improbable.
‘I guess it’s possible,’ she said, but was quick to add, ‘It’s unusual, but it’s possible. So then we’d be looking at one person for the abandoned buildings, and another for the bar and the houses?’
‘That’s exactly what I’m thinking. What if Toby Oliver did the abandoned buildings, and the warehouse went wrong because there were people inside. It was unexpected, but he continued on with it. Then let’s say that Finnegan’s, and Jeremy Anderton, and Toby Oliver’s homes were the work of the second arsonist, but made to look like the ones that Oliver committed. Maybe it was done to throw us off the trail – ’
Emma interrupted, ‘Or maybe we just assumed that there were similarities, because we were desperate to find our arsonist?’
‘Maybe we did. Let’s go over everything again. Top to bottom. And we need to be absolutely objective about it. We need to find the other arsonist.’ Collins was speaking as he headed out to the incident room, Emma in tow.
. . . To be continued . . .