Thursday 12 – Saturday 14 September 2013
Detective Chief Inspector Travis Foley sighed and put his feet up on his desk, allowing himself to recline, ever so slightly, in his creaky office chair. He was exhausted and his body was giving up on him, aches and pains torturing him with every movement he made.
‘What the hell has gone on here, Russ?’
Knight shrugged his shoulders and mumbled incoherently as he stuffed his mouth full of a piece of creamed sponge cake. A slice of strawberry fell off of the top of the cake and on to a page of the Coroner’s report on Connor Ryan’s death.
‘Shit,’ Knight mumbled after he swallowed the mouthful of cake. He picked the strawberry from the paper, sucked the berry into his mouth, and wiped the juicy residue from the page with the back of his right hand. Foley watched as Knight wiped the same hand on the leg of his pants.
‘Get a napkin, you slob,’ he chastised Russ.
‘The obvious option is that Audrey did kill him, and now she’s trying to dissuade us from that possibility,’ Knight said.
‘What else can we come up with?’
Russell struggled to come up with any other alternative. He shrugged his shoulders again, then turned his attention to the cup of coffee he’d poured before cutting himself the piece of sponge cake. As Knight sipped from the cup, he tried desperately to consider possible suspects.
‘Come on, Russ. THINK,’ Foley snapped. ‘Other than Audrey Boyd, who’s the first person who comes to mind when you think about this case?’
‘Jean Pettiford,’ Knight replied.
‘Why do you say her?’
‘Because you asked who else comes to mind. Why the hell do you think I said her?’ said Knight.
‘Actually, Russ, that’s not a bad suggestion. Let’s have a look at what we’ve got on her,’ Foley replied and took his feet off the desk.
He tapped away on the keyboard in front of him, entering the details they had regarding Jean Pettiford. Nothing of any significance was returned to him via the grimy computer screen. Foley slapped the desk with an open palm. It was a half-hearted display of frustration.
‘There’s nothing on her,’ Foley relayed to Knight. ‘Not that I expected bells and whistles and flashing lights indicating that she was some criminal mastermind. She’s an old biddy and she’s only interested in maintaining her perfect little socialite life.’
Russell was lost in thought, the pieces of the case moving around in his head like a child’s puzzle.
When he did reply to Foley, it was a measured response.
‘People have killed for a lot less than protecting their social standing.’
‘You think we should bring her in?’ Foley asked. It was not unthinkable that he, as a senior officer, should defer to his subordinate when decisions were to be made. For Foley, these moments provided opportunities for other officers to demonstrate their policing abilities.
* * * * *
‘Come on, Mrs. Pettiford,’ Knight snapped, ‘There’s a lot about this situation that you’re not telling us?’
Foley wore a sly smile. Neither he nor Knight knew of Jean Pettiford had anything to do with the Audrey Boyd-Connor Ryan case, but Knight was playing it as if she had something to hide. As an effective interrogation technique, sometimes it worked, and sometimes it was way off and utterly useless. They’d been battling the woman for the better part of an hour with no luck, but Knight wasn’t the sort to give up that easily.
‘Mrs. Pettiford, I’d simply hate to see you go to prison for obstruction of justice.’ The Detective Constable softened his facial expression so that he might appear to be on her side. She flinched at the mention of the word prison, and Foley picked it up.
‘What’s the matter, Mrs. Pettiford? Not too keen on jail time? No, I can’t imagine you would be,’ Foley said. ‘I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t last very long at all within the prison societal system. It’s not easy to blackmail career criminals who have little to lose.’
She flinched again.
‘You know,’ Foley continued, ‘it took us a while to find the records, but in the end, as we always do, Detective Constable Knight and I managed to dig them out. Of course, Jean Pettiford wasn’t your name all the way back then, was it? Noooo, you changed your name once you got out of prison.’
‘SHUT UP! SHUT UP!’ she screamed, covering her ears with frail hands. Foley thought he could almost see her begin to rock back and forth but decided it was an illusion created by the lighting in the interview room combined with the adrenaline coursing through his body.
‘You killed him, didn’t you, Mrs. Pettiford. You killed Connor Ryan. We couldn’t see it at first, and it wasn’t until we managed to dig up your criminal convictions that found the link to Connor Ryan,’ said Knight. ‘And of course, to Audrey Boyd because of her relationship with Ryan.’
She responded quickly to Russell’s comment. ‘I’m not saying anything more until I speak to my solicitor.’
‘If that’s the way you want to play it, Mrs. Pettiford,’ Knight said. He concluded what little of the interview that they had managed to conduct, and he and Foley left the woman in the interview room, chaperoned by an experienced WPC. The female officer positioned herself against the wall, halfway between the door and the suspect.
As they left the interview room, Foley handed a business card to a constable and instructed him to contact the solicitor on the card, and have him present himself at the station to assist Jean Pettiford. Foley knew it would be a matter of minutes before the emboldened solicitor stormed through the station to provide his client with legal counsel. In the end, it wouldn’t matter; Foley and Knight had her.
‘Stroke of genius you had there, Russ.’
Knight smiled and nodded his head. He was pleased with his own line of thought that saw them research Jean Pettiford.
‘Who would have ever thought that someone as socially . . . upstanding, if that’s what you can call it, spent time behind bars?’
‘It takes all sorts, Russ. Vehicular manslaughter is a long way from out and out murder though,’ replied Foley.
‘She obviously picked up some skills while she was in prison. We’ll get to the bottom of why she killed Connor Ryan, but I bet it has something to do with Jean trying to maintain her position in the village pecking order. Maybe it was another way of getting Audrey out of the picture? An extreme version of blackmail.’
‘Dunno, but whatever her excuse for killing him, she’s hard to have stabbed the crap out of a guy the size of Connor Ryan. Look, we’ve got probably ten minutes before her expensive solicitor swans in, how about a coffee break?’ Foley asked.
‘Sounds good,’ replied Knight. ‘I think we’re going to need it to get through this story.’
. . . The end . . .