Wednesday 28 – Saturday 31 August 2013
Three different monitors displayed three different sets of records, all belonging to Connor Ryan, and three pairs of eyes were steadfastly analysing the information.
‘See? It wasn’t anything I did. Every record available shows us that the corpse is Connor Ryan, and not just any guy named Connor Ryan, but the one who was married to Audrey Boyd.’ Eva wildly gestured at the computer screens as she spoke; Foley had to duck to avoid her right arm on two occasions.
‘Okay,’ said Russell Knight, ‘so the question becomes: why are three sets of official records saying that this guy is Audrey Boyd’s Connor? How does that happen? Have the records been hacked?’
‘That’s your job to find out, not mine,’ replied an angry Coroner.
Travis looked from one monitor to the next, dumbfounded by both the information and the technology.
‘This is a right royal cock up,’ he said. ‘We need to think logically about this. First of all, clearly someone wants us to think that the body is the Connor Ryan who was married to Audrey Boyd. Why? Secondly, what if the body you have here, Eva, really is that Connor Ryan and Audrey Boyd is lying to us?’
Knight jumped in. ‘But we spoke to that Ryan via phone call just before we came here.’
‘We did, didn’t we? But what if that Connor Ryan, the one on the phone, was the fake one and this one is the real one? It’s not that difficult to pretend to be someone else over the phone. And Audrey was forthcoming in offering us her phone and Ryan’s number. We’ve never seen the guy, at least, not until he ended up dead. So, who’s to say that the one we’re going to meet tomorrow is the real deal?’
In silence, Eva and Russell considered Travis’ idea. It didn’t seem that far fetched, but it did bring up a lot of questions. Eva was the first to break the silence.
‘Okay, let us assume for a moment that the Connor Ryan I have here is the one who was married to Audrey Boyd, and the one you spoke to earlier was a fake. How is she involved in his death, and who was the guy you spoke to? What’s he getting out of pretending to be her ex-husband? As an accessory, he faces jail time if Audrey Boyd had something to do with her ex-husband’s death. That’s a huge risk to take for someone else.’
‘And why,’ Knight asked, ‘did she want her ex-husband dead?’
‘I think we need to get as much background on Audrey Boyd as we can. That’s where we need to start. I think she’s the linchpin in all of this,’ Travis said. ‘When we interviewed her earlier, Audrey said it was the second time someone had mentioned her ex. Who else had mentioned him, I wonder?’
* * * * *
A small group of women sat in the back corner of the coffee shop, whispering to each other and occasionally looking around to see if anyone else was paying them undue attention. Jean Pettiford appeared to be the ringleader of the group. Travis and Russell approached with caution.
‘Mrs. Pettiford. Ladies. How is everyone today?’ Foley asked. Jean peered around the head of the woman sitting next to her.
‘What can we do for you, Detective Chief Inspector Foley?’ she asked.
‘I’d like a word with you, Mrs. Pettiford. In private.’ He gestured that he wanted her to step away from the table to a quieter part of the coffee shop. She sipped tea from her cup, replaced it carefully on the saucer, and made her way over to Foley and Knight.
‘What is it?’ asked Jean, her voice filled with contempt. ‘Can’t you see we’re in the middle of something?’
‘You spoke to Audrey Boyd this morning?’
‘Yes, so what?’
‘You told her that you knew that the victim was her ex-husband, Connor Ryan.’
The woman looked back at her group of friends, who were all staring at her and the detectives. She considered lying about the earlier conversation, and then thought better of it. Foley and Russell had a reputation for getting to the truth, however long it took.
‘Yes, I did. There’s no crime in that,’ she replied.
‘No, there’s not, Mrs. Pettiford. But what we would like to establish is how you knew it was Connor Ryan?’ Knight took over the questioning.
‘I saw him in the village the day before he died. I spoke with him. He told me he was looking for Audrey Ryan, and I said the only Audrey in the village was Audrey Boyd. He told me that was her maiden name.’
‘Did you tell him where to find her?’ asked Knight.
‘Yes, I gave him Audrey’s address,’ Jean said.
Foley scratched his head. ‘So why did you tell Audrey Boyd that you knew who he was?’
Her response was speedy. ‘I had intended to blackmail her. Not necessarily for cash, I’ve got plenty of that. More for the fact that I’d finally have something on her, over her. She didn’t fit well with the ladies in this village, and I wanted to keep her under control.’
‘You mean, Audrey Boyd was a threat to your position in this village,’ Foley snapped. ‘She’s a little more exciting than you, isn’t she? I’m sure that the ladies over there were happy when she arrived. A nice, new friend to play with, one who didn’t treat them like rubbish, someone who actually listened to their stories and didn’t judge them. Is that about right, Mrs. Pettiford?’
She cringed at Foley’s words, every one of them the truth, but it wasn’t until Foley and Knight had left that she carefully wiped away the tears that had begun to fall.
. . . To be continued . . .