Friday 24 – Saturday 25 June 2011
‘He’s home now,’ the whispered words in the thick Scottish accent hung in the air, shocking everyone who heard them.
‘Elenore, what do you mean ‘he’s home now’? Where’s home?’ Detective Inspector Thomas Ward wanted to press her harder, but he knew he’d lose any ounce of trust he’d built up with Elenore McDougall.
She stared back at him, no expression on her face, just a blank look.
‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,’ she whispered.
‘Elenore, is Samuel dead? Are you telling us that you’ve killed Samuel?’ Ward asked. Again, she responded with a blank look. Ward was becoming tetchy. At stake was the life of five-year-old Samuel Jones. Elenore had been his babysitter. His mother and stepfather had gone out for dinner, and when they returned to the house three hours later, both Elenore and Samuel were gone.
The police had found Elenore McDougall wandering the streets of Edinburgh. It was cold and wet, as usual Her face was covered in a fine misting of blood, and thick dirt crusted her hands and collected under her bitten fingernails. She was dishevelled and incoherent, and Detective Inspector Thomas Ward feared the worst. He was sure that the boy was dead. Now, an hour and a half later, he instinctively knew from her words, tone, and posture, that Samuel Jones was deceased.
‘Elenore,’ he said, ‘where’s the boy?’
‘Home,’ she replied without looking at him.
‘Did you kill him, Elenore?’ He reached across the table and touched her hand. She lifted her head and looked at Ward, then broke into near hysterical laughter.
‘Lord, no. Why would I do that?’
Detective Inspector Ward sighed. Relief washed over him. There was no a good chance that they’d find the five year old alive and well, and relatively unharmed.
‘Where did you leave him, Elenore? Where did you leave Samuel? Tell us.’
‘How could you think I killed the boy? Why would you think that? Good Lord, no,’ she paused and collected her thoughts. ‘He asked to see his father. I took him to see his father.’
Ward motioned for the file that his colleague held.
‘But Elenore,’ he said as he frantically flipped through the pages, ‘Samuel’s father died twelve months ago.’
She smiled and nodded. ‘I know. I took him to see his father.’
Ward turned to his colleague, ‘Get a team out to the cemetery, June. NOW.’
Elenore giggled like a schoolgirl.
‘What are you laughing at, Elenore?’ Ward asked her.
‘Better get your men to take shovels, Detective Inspector. Took me a while to dig the grave.’
‘But you said you didn’t kill Samuel,’ Ward was horrified that she’d been lying the whole interview.
‘I didn’t kill him. He wanted to see his father. I dug up the grave so the boy could see his father. And then Sammy said he wanted to stay with his dad – ’
‘Did you leave him at the cemetery, Elenore? Is that where he is?’ Ward had to control his voice for fear of screaming at the deluded woman.
‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘I told him to jump down into the hole so he could see his father. He’s a good boy, Sammy, so he did what he was told. I opened the casket. He didn’t scream when he saw his dad. But he said he wanted to stay.’
She held the attention of everyone in the room.
‘Sammy said he was tired after walking so long, and waiting so long for me to dig the hole. So, I told him to lay down next to his father, and he did. He said he was cold and I put the lid back on to keep him warm. He’s a good boy. I climbed out of the hole, and covered it back in. I didn’t kill him. He’s sleeping with his dad.’
Detective Inspector Thomas Ward had never heard anything like this in fifteen years of policing. He used all his strength not to vomit, as waves of terror washed over him. Surely by now, five year old Samuel Jones would be dead, starved of oxygen, in his father’s coffin, buried under six feet of dirt.
‘Why, Elenore? Why did you do that?’ he asked.
Elenore McDougall snapped back to reality.
‘Do what?’ she replied. ‘Where am I? Who are you?’ she pointed at Ward, ‘And where the hell is Sammy?’
Silence echoed through the interview room.