Thursday 24 – Friday 25 April 2014
From the outside, the old building was unimpressive, almost derelict looking, but that was the way that Drew Coleman wanted it. The building drew little, if any, attention from passers-by because it closely resembled every other run-down warehouse in the neighbourhood. No one would suspect that it was a state-of-the-art home that was the result of hundreds of hours of architectural planning and design. Renovated to repair structural weaknesses and aesthetic damage that resulted from years of neglect, Coleman insisted that the warehouse maintain its aged façade so that his home would be invisible in the less than homely neighbourhood. Its interior, however, was a marvel of modern technology and design.
Drew was surprised to see an old friend had found his way into the warehouse. He put his laptop bag on the kitchen island, took two bottles of Belgian beer from the refrigerator, and cracked the tops off of them. He sauntered to the sofa, and dropped onto the seat next to his friend, handing the man a beer as he landed.
‘Felipe, my friend, what brings you here? And more to the point, how the hell did you get into my warehouse?’
‘I needed somewhere quiet away from my old man. You know how he gets.’ Felipe downed a mouthful of beer. ‘How did I get in? You ask me that question? Have you forgotten where you came from and what we used to get up to?’
‘You hacked my security system? No way. It’s flawless. There’s absolutely no way that you could’ve done that.’
Felipe smiled and shrugged. ‘If you say so.’
The simple reply grabbed Drew’s full attention.
‘Fine. How did you do it? Exactly. Don’t leave anything out because, clearly, I have to tweak the system if it has vulnerabilities.’
Felipe laughed. ‘Drew, you’re so obsessive about things being perfect. Nothing ever is, and you can’t make it so just because you want it that way.’
‘Oh, Master Zen now, are you? Just tell me how you hacked my security . . . or help me fix it.’
‘I think you’ve become slower as you’ve aged, Drew. We used to be the best of the best at breaking into things. The only things that have changed are that we’ve got older, and we’ve got slower, but I’d wager that we’re still at the top of our games aside from that. Show me your system specs and I’ll show you where I got in.’
* * * * *
Her home office floor and walls were a testament to how focussed Carrie Butcher was when she was engaged in a case. Crime scene photographs were everywhere, stuck to the walls, strewn across the floor and furniture. Reports were strategically placed within arm’s length around her spot on the floor, the desk having become too laden with other documents to use. She referred to both her notebook computer and iPad regularly, as well as every other document or photograph that she had managed to secrete from the police station house.
‘Somewhere, you bastard, you’ve left behind a clue, and I intend to find it if it’s the last thing that I do,’ she said to herself. So wrapped up in her work, Carrie was startled by the loud chiming of her cell phone. Scrambling to find where she left it, she inadvertently distributed the reports across photos and other documents. Finally grabbing the cell before it rang out, Butcher recognised the calling number, and answered the call a little irritated for being disrupted.
‘Miller, why are you calling me when we’re off-duty?’ She paused, waiting for his reply.
‘Shit. Where? How long ago?’ Again, a pause.
‘Okay, I’ll meet you there. On my way now.’
She disconnected the call, gathered her senses for a moment, and then headed out, cell phone, keys, and bag in hand. Her journey would take Carrie back to the neighbourhood of the first of the Pool Man’s victims. When she arrived, Angelo Borello was supporting the children of the latest victim. She acknowledged the still-grieving man with a nod. He returned it, and walked towards the front porch of his home, settling the children down chairs. He watched intently as Butcher and her partner, Lucas Miller, began their investigation of Simone Nicholls’ murder.
‘See Angelo Borello just happens to be hanging around,’ Miller said. ‘I don’t particularly like that man.’
‘Are those the victim’s kids he’s looking after?’ Butcher asked, looking over to the little scene on the Borello porch.
‘Yep. Apparently, Simone Nicholls, thirty-nine and our latest victim, was a single parent. From what the neighbours have been able to tell me, she and her husband, Buddy, divorced about seven years ago.’
‘Is he still in the kids’ lives?’ Butcher queried.
‘No. Seems he was killed in a car accident last year. Kids are now officially orphans. I’ve got social services on their way, and hopefully they’ll be able to find get in touch with relatives. Simone’s parents are still alive, but the neighbours don’t know where or how they can be contacted. It’s believed that they live in New York, so it may be some time before they can get out here if we can even get in touch with them.’
Carrie and Lucas walked carefully through the Nicholls’ home, making sure not to contaminate what could potentially be part of the crime scene, stepping only where the forensics officers had placed stepping plates. Once out on the back patio, the grisly yet familiar sight confronted Carrie and Lucas – the pool filled with red water, and the weighted-down body of the female victim. Powerful portable lights were positioned around the backyard so that, despite the late hour, police and forensics officers could undertake their duties.
‘So the difference here is that he’s done this one when? Late afternoon, early evening?’ commented Butcher.
‘He’s broken his pattern. Maybe he’s starting to make mistakes. This might be the scene where we get that bit of evidence that we need to catch him,’ replied the junior detective.
Butcher slowly nodded, apprehension spreading across her face.
‘What if we’re the ones making a mistake, Miller?’
She turned to face Miller, and grabbed a-hold of his arm, her voice gravely quiet. ‘You said he, and him, and the media, the press, everyone’s been referring to the Pool Man. What makes you think we’re looking for a man?’
He took some time before replying, considering why he believed the perpetrator to be male.
‘Statistics, I suppose. Serial killers are more likely to be male than female.’
‘But there’s been no indication of sexual assault with any of the victims. Okay, they’ve all been women, but at a basic level, all that’s occurred is that we’ve found women who’ve been drowned and weighted down in the water. We haven’t found any evidence at all that specifically points to a male assailant.’
‘What are you getting at, Carrie?’ Lucas asked.
‘What if we’re looking for a woman?’
. . . To be continued . . .