Saturday 19 – Sunday 20 April 2014
Spring had finally given way to summer, three weeks later this year than last. The slight crispness that had been present in the early morning had disappeared, and now the increasing heat arrived before the dawn, and stayed well into the night. It was this time of year that Jenna found oppressive. She had never been a fan of summer, finding it more difficult to cool down in the heat than she did to warm up in winter. For her, summer was the most miserable time of year. Jenna suffered from what she referred to as reverse seasonal affective disorder – where others suffered from winter blues, Jenna suffered from summer blues.
The weekly arrival of Felipe did little to alter her mood. Employed by her father five years ago, Felipe was one of three permanent staff working for Jenna. He was reliable and punctual, hadn’t missed a day of work during those five years, and she enjoyed chatting to him as he completed his work cleaning her swimming pool. The only thing that Jenna found odd about the man was that he looked more like a Steve or a Brad than he did a Felipe. She’d asked him a few times about his heritage, but he’d sworn to God that he was a native Puerto Rican. He’d laughed when Jenna voiced her suspicions about him really being an L.A. native, but had said little to deny her idea.
At six feet three inches, Felipe had to crouch to get through the door to the pool house. Jenna watched him from her kitchen as he carried out a bucket of chlorine, set it down by the edge of the pool, and began to test the water. She liked that he was conscientious about his work, despite it being a job that Jenna considered menial. She continued to watch as he completed the water test, added chlorine to the floating dispensers, and returned the bucket back to the pool house. Five years of watching the man do his job meant that Jenna knew that Felipe would be outside for only another forty five minutes at the most before he said goodbye, and moved on to his next client.
‘That’s definitely a nice body of work that I’ll never get sick of looking at,’ she said to herself. ‘All these years and I’ve not bothered to find out more about the man. Must resolve to remedy that situation.’
* * * * *
‘This is the sixth one we’ve had, Carrie. What the hell is going on?’ Lucas Miller, newly promoted detective, scratched his head as he paced around the pool. His partner, Carrie Butcher, knelt by the edge of the pool and looked into the red water, unable to clearly make out the sixth victim of the killer the local press had dubbed ‘The Pool Man’.
‘Beats me, Miller, but we’re going to get our asses kicked by the press over this one. Seems the letter that was published in the Herald was genuine after all. Captain will have a heck of a time trying to explain away why he gave us instructions to ignore it.’
‘Yeah, I wouldn’t wanna be him when the press gets hold of this. Meanwhile, we’ve gotta figure out how to get ahead of this maniac so that we can nail his ass to the wall.’
Butcher and Miller waited at the house while the crime scene team combed the scene for evidence. Both detectives, however, knew that there would be little found that would implicate anyone. The five previous crime scene searches uncovered nothing other than the prints and DNA of people who were expected to be at the homes. Butcher, against all logic and better judgement, silently prayed that there would be something, anything at this new scene that could provide even the smallest of leads for her and Miller.
They’d been on the Pool Man case from the beginning. They’d consoled the husband of victim number one, Patricia Borello. They’d investigated him, his family, friends, associates, and work colleagues. They’d turned the Borello home inside out, desperate to find evidence, and had found nothing unusual. They’d reinterviewed Angelo Borello when Isabella Gregson, the second victim, had been found, hoping that there was something that connected the Borellos with the Gregsons but there had been nothing obvious.
‘This case gives me a headache every time we have to go over it,’ Miller said. ‘Nothing about it links any of the victims to any of the other victims. But everything about the crime scenes is almost identical. All women victims, all pools with red water, all victims found weighted to the bottom of the pool. What are we missing here?’
Butcher watched as a crime scene investigator took a sample of the pool water, bagged it, and filled out a chain of custody card. She considered Miller’s question. What were they missing?
‘I think,’ she replied, ‘we need to go back to the drawing board, go back to the beginning, and look at the first victim through new eyes. Then we move on to the second, third, etcetera. You’re right, Lucas, we are missing something here, and I think once we figure out what we’ve missed, we’ll be close to figuring out who is killing these women. Find out how long crime scene has left before they’re done.’
Miller nodded, walked over to the woman who had taken the sample of pool water, and engaged her in conversation. He signalled to Butcher that they’d been at the scene for about another ten minutes.
Seeing the police and emergency services vehicles out the front of the Steward house, Felipe slowed down the car but quickly contemplated what he should do. If something bad had happened and he didn’t put in an appearance for a scheduled job, then he’d be a prime suspect. But, if he did show up for the job, the police would most likely consider him a person of interest anyway. He would be questioned either way, so he decided to pull the car over, get his tools from the back of his truck, and head in as if everything was normal.
He hadn’t got five metres up the Steward’s driveway before a police officer asserted his authority, and prevented Felipe from going any further. Felipe the pool man waited as patiently as he possibly could for the detectives who’d been called to the front of the house.
‘You seem a little nervous, sir. Is anything the matter?’ the officer asked.
‘No, not really. I’m just not really very fond of police is all. Nothing personal though.’
Butcher rounded the house first. She looked back at Miller as she spoke.
‘Will you look at that, Lucas. We’ve got ourselves a pool man. Coincidence, you think?’
. . . To be continued . . .