Thursday 12 January 2012
‘It’s reasonably fresh, Sheriff,’ commented Robert Allbright, a local doctor who acted as a coroner when the situation arose. It was rare that he was called upon to speak on behalf of the suspiciously deceased, and the twisted and battered corpse on Amber Carlson’s back stoop definitely warranted his skills.
‘Is that your technical term, Doc?’ Isabelle snickered at Allbright’s description of the body. He threw a ‘don’t mess with me’ glance in her direction, not impressed or caring that the young officer was the Sheriff’s daughter.
‘How long, Bob?’ Sheriff Barber held back his own snicker, his daughter’s laughter never failing to raise his own.
Carefully and slowly standing upright, to curb the pain of the arthritis in his joints, Allbright stretched and groaned as he mentally calculated the possible time of death.
‘I’d say maybe an hour, two at the very most. She’s good and fresh, like I said. Don’t recognise her, although I get this feeling that I maybe treated her at some point. I’ll run the usual examinations and see if I can’t get a DNA profile of her. Maybe we’ll get lucky.’
Sheriff Barber nodded just as slowly as Allbright had straightened himself. They wandered off towards the doctor’s car, in the driveway out the front of the house, to await the arrival of the Egmont Pass Paramedic Service, members of which would bag the corpse and transport it to the doctor’s tiny clinic in the main street. It would be there that the doctor would perform the legally required autopsy. Both men, engaged in their casual conversation of golf handicaps and fishing, failed to notice Isabelle taking a closer look at the body, making her own detailed notes, and clicking off numerous photographs for later crime scene analysis.
She donned a pair of latex gloves that she pulled out of her forensics kit, grabbed a handful of evidence bags, and a pair of tweezers for picking up evidence with. It wasn’t exactly a complex, nor technologically advanced forensics kit like their city law enforcement cousins would have, but it did the trick. Besides, Egmont Pass wasn’t any sort of crime capital, so the kits weren’t often required. It did cross Isabelle’s mind though, that she should try to convince her father to update the kits. A few choice pieces of newer forensics technology in the kits might just come in handy once in a while.
By the time the paramedics arrived at Amber’s house, Isabelle had taken extensive written notes, drawn a number of diagrams of the scene, collected as much evidence that she could find from the corpse and surrounding environment, and had snapped more than fifty photographs that she hoped would assist somewhere in the ensuing investigation. She watched as the two local paramedics bagged the corpse with a level of care that she didn’t expect to witness. They positioned the body on the gurney, strapped her in tightly but not so as to bruise or damage the woman in any form, and wheeled the gurney from the backyard, down the potholed driveway, and to their ambulance which was parked up close behind the Sheriff’s SUV.
As she followed them, three thoughts flashed through her mind: where was Amber Carlson? She would normally be home at this time of day, and yet a lumber delivery sat untouched on her front stoop, and there wasn’t any indication that she had been home for a while; did she have anything to do with the death of the woman on her back stoop? The third thought had been incubating since Isabelle had laid eyes on the dead woman’s face. It was slowly brewing in the back of her mind; a familiarity with that face; an unsettling thought staking its claim and forcing its way through to Isabelle’s conscious mind, before slapping her hard across the face with a cold realisation. Considering that she might actually be right, Isabelle, suddenly terrified, bolted past the paramedics and skidded breathlessly to a stop in front of the Sheriff and Allbright.
Seeing the terror on her face, Sheriff Barber urged her to speak.
‘Izzy, what’s wrong?’ He clasped her by the shoulders, her body uncontrollably shaking beneath his grasp. She could only manage to form and project two words before the paramedics passed.
Sheriff Barber’s eyes widened, his understanding quick and strong.
. . . To be continued . . .