Detective Inspector Peter Collins was spending a pleasant evening celebrating his daughters 40th birthday. A very experienced officer with over thirty years in the Essex police force, he had worked his way up from police constable.
Collins was engaging in jovial conversation with his daughter, Debbie, and son-in-law Ian. They had been out to dine at a local restaurant. Collins had seen his two young grandsons to bed, and was now savouring a very fine malt whisky.
“Will you stay the night Dad? It’s after one,” said Debbie.
“Your offer is very tempting, my darling, but I have a stack of reports I must finish.”
He was interrupted by the sound of his mobile.
“Oh Dad, your bloody phone. You’ll be wanted for sure,” said Debbie.
“I’m sorry but it is Saturday night and I have to answer it.” As Collins moved off into the kitchen, he checked the phone. It was Detective Sergeant Terry French.
“What’s your problem, Terry?” said Collins.
“Sorry to disturb you, boss, but I think you had better get down here pronto. I’m at the Rainham Football Club car park. Two bodies found, a male and a female, both with their heads bashed in. Female naked, probably raped, dead when found. Male died in ambulance on way to hospital. Area is sealed and forensics are on site.”
“Okay, I’m in South Ockendon at my daughter’s. I’ll leave now.” Collins cancelled the call and went back into the lounge.
“Sorry guys, it’s urgent and I have to go now,”’ he said, hugging his daughter and Ian his son-in-law. “Thanks for a great night. I’ll call you in the week.”
“It’s been lovely, Dad,” said Debbie, “be careful.” Debbie and Ian walked Collins to the door and watched him drive away.
Detective Sergeant Terry French saw Detective Inspector Collins’ Rover enter the car park and he moved to meet his boss. Collins exited the car and, reaching into the back, he removed an overcoat and proceeded to put it on. It was a very cold night.
“What do we have, Terry?”
“Married couple, sir. Andrew and Tina Brand, locals from Dock Close, Rainham. Found by Patrolmen Drury and Summers answering an alarm call. Male was alive but died on the way to hospital. Pathologist wants the OK to remove the woman’s body.”
“Let’s go see what he’s got to say,” said Collins.
Collins and French moved to where the woman’s body was lying. The pathologist, Steven Maesbury, arose from his inspection of the woman to greet them.“Inspector, what I can tell you is that she was killed by a blunt instrument, probably between an hour and a half to two hours ago. She was raped, and quite clearly more than once. I’ll be able to give you more after I get her in the lab.”
“OK, I’m sure my guys have got everything here, I’ll check with you later,” said Collins.
As Maesbury directed the removal of the body, Collins turned to Detective Sergeant French. “Now Terry, any leads?”
“Local resident reported car alarm 12.10., Officers Drury and Summers arrived on scene at 12.14. They declared female dead, male just alive. Man’s wallet found near his body, driver’s license and three credit cards, no money. Woman’s purse found ten meters from the body, just a driver’s licence and a credit card, no cash. If she was multiple raped, could be a gang. Maybe they were going to do the clubrooms. They must have set off the car alarm and that spooked them. Apart from that, we just have a set of car keys.”
“And the car?” said Collins.
“It’s the Brand’s car, been checked out.”
“OK Terry, get that vehicle down to the compound, I want it checked out thoroughly. We may get lucky with fresh dabs….the car keys, probably house keys on there as well, do you think?”
“Several keys on this ring, sir, pretty sure some of them will be house keys.”
Collins pondered their alternatives. “We’ll go check out their address next. I’ll meet you there. Dock Close, was it?”
As he made his way to the car, he decided to take a closer look at the football club rooms. Looking through the large, double fronted glass doors that led into the club, he could see the bar which was illuminated by a solitary security light. This could well have been earmarked for a break-in. By the light of an outside security light, he could see that the doors had been dusted for prints. Inside the Rover, he dialled Dock Close into the GPS system, not being too familiar with the address. Securing his seat belt, he drove slowly out of the car park.
Terry French drove into Dock Close and found the Brand’s house. Having parked his car, he walked up the short drive to the front door. Looking around, he could see the houses were quality, detached homes with attached garages and all appeared to have well maintained, neat front gardens. Collins got out of his car and approached French. Then, walking up to the front door, he rang an illuminated bell. They waited in silence. No lights or sound emanated from the house.
“OK, give me the keys. You go check out the back.”
French moved off round the side. Removing a pencil torch from his coat, Collins began trying the keys in the lock by the light of his torch. A smooth click and a turn of the door knob told him he was in. Pushing the door open, he stepped cautiously inside. Locating a switch on the wall, the hall he was standing in was bathed in light. A staircase to his right and ahead led to the upstairs. To his left, he walked into an open lounge area, where he found more light switches. These revealed that the lounge extended into a large dining area. He took in the quality furnishings and expensive carpet. He then parted heavy drapes to expose French doors leading out to the back garden. Terry French peered at him through the window, motioning him to his right where a door brought him to the kitchen. Finding more lights and a back door, he let French in.
“Check upstairs, Terry, stairs are through there.”
Collins viewed the modern kitchen. Lots of stainless steel, looks like someone liked to cook – cooking aids everywhere. He moved back into the lounge, photographs of the Brands wedding, and holiday snaps maybe? A framed picture of an elderly couple, probably parents, adorned a bookcase. He picked up an address book from beside the phone. This could provide a few answers. Sinking into an easy chair, Collins opened the book. He could hear French moving about upstairs as he scanned the pages of phone numbers. When French descended the stairs and entered the lounge he saw his boss reclined in an easy chair, reading a book.
Collins looked up from his reading to look enquiringly at his sergeant. “Three rooms,” indicated French, “two bedrooms, a bathroom and an office, sir. The office has a computer and the usual, no sign of children, all quality furniture and fittings.”
Collins got up from the chair and gazed around the room. “Yes, well… a nice home, no children; obviously well off by the look of all this. Maybe premeditated murder for gain, or were they just in the wrong place at the wrong time…what do you think, Terry?”
“I think they were very unlucky, sir. I also think that they may be connected in some way to the football club. Maybe locking up the premises and these thugs jumped them. Probably in the heat of the moment, things got out of hand and the lowlifes that did them completely lost it. Have to say, boss, these bastards need to be wasted.”
“Totally agree with you, Terry. I wonder at times why we do this fucking job.”
“How about I fire up their computer and see what we can come up with?” said French, “if I can get in.”
“Go for it, lad,” said Collins. “Any reference to next of kin would be useful.”
French turned and headed upstairs. Collins continued to sort through drawers and cupboards in the lounge and dining area. He looked at his watch. Was it really twenty to three in the morning? He was dying for a coffee. French had managed to access the Brand’s computer and was taking notes when Collins walked in. “See you got in then, I’m going back to the office…I’ll see you back there, you better have these.” Collins handed French the house and car keys and the book of phone numbers he had picked up in the lounge. He quietly let himself out the front door into the cold early morning air. As he made his way to the car, it started to rain.