Original Manuscript Copy: This is not the final version. You are welcome to read, like and comment. Do not copy, cite, or distribute without the express written permission of the author.
© Perry A. Simpson 2022
Published by The Lemon Zest Project
Written by Perry Simpson
Knockmonlea, Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland
(Tel: +353 (0)86 109 2836)
Elevator (Part 1)
by Perry Simpson (DCI Chance Series)
DCI Chance surveyed the scene. The young constable had done the right thing as far as Chance was concerned. There was no doubt in his mind that this was anything but foul play. The body that lay at the foot of the elevator shaft had been no accident. It had been there for some time, but there wasn't enough to convince the Chief Superintendent that this was murder. The body was that of a young woman. He guessed her to be in her early twenties. The autopsy would confirm that. He was sure that this was not where her death occurred. DCI Chance had a reputation for thinking the unthinkable. He also knew that the body that was laid to rest in this grim place would still have someone waiting to hear news of them. Bad news in this case. Closure would follow. Chance took out a pen and poked around in the rumble next to the decayed body. It was a gift, a clue and a good start.
Sergeant Ward joined DCI Chance for the autopsy of the woman found at the bottom of the lift shaft. It was as Chance had expected. Now he needed to establish an accurate timeline. He was also hoping that Ward had an ID for the murdered woman that lay before him on the table.
'So, what have you got for me?' Chance showed no emotion. He never did.
'So I have a possible ID for our victim, Miss Ava Todd, reported missing six months ago.'
'Good, can you organise DNA confirmation? Then, you'll need to contact the next of kin for formal identification. Anything else?'
Ward finished making notes in his little black notebook. 'Yes, this is only conjectured at this point. According to the planning, the records show that the engineers…'
'They decommissioned the elevator around the same time as Miss Ava Todd?' Chance interrupted.
'Yes.' Ward closed his notebook. 'What's on your mind, sir?' Ward was a good detective. He had learned a lot from Chance. Many thought of him as being cold, hard and uncaring, but Ward knew differently. He knew that Chance was quite brilliant in his own right. To see things the way he did helped him limit his emotional attachment in one case.
'Convenience, Ward. That's what is screaming at me here. The autopsy doesn't help us, but I know her death was convenient for someone.'
'So, you still think it's murder then, sir?'
'Yes. The trouble is, McBride will be happy to go with this autopsy and close the case.'
'If it was suicide, then there would a note?'
'You would expect so, but it's never that clear cut.'
'Why are you so convinced, sir?'
'First, what would she be doing in a disused building? Second, look at what she was wearing. Third, no shoes.'
'Yes, where are her shoes? I knew there was something. I couldn't sleep last night. Yes, of course, the shoes.' Ward had an expression of relief on his face. 'So, how do we play this with McBride?'
'Well, my guess is we have about twenty-four hours to crack this one. Up for it?'
'Of course, sir. Someone murdered that young woman over there and it's our sworn duty to bring her killer to justice.' Ward was stern and determined with his response.
'Good, let's call it a day. The clock doesn't start till tomorrow. So, go home and get some rest. Tomorrow will be a long day. Make sure you're fed and fit.' Chance smiled.
'Sir.’ This was a rare occurrence. Early shout and smile out of DCI Chance. Was he softening in his old age? he asked himself.
The weather outside matched Chance's mood. She had returned from meeting with McBride. He wasn't buying Chance's murder theory. He wanted to close the case off as suicide.
'Didn't go well, then?' Ward asked Chance.
'The man has a point, Ward. So, we need to come up with something quick to change his mind.'
Ward handed Chance a steaming mug of coffee. 'You’re gonna need this, then, sir.'
'This case reminded me of something. It was a previous murder. I’d stake my career on it. Do you have crime scene photos?'
'Yes, I set us up in incident room nine.'
'Good, time to disappear.'
They walked side by side to incident room nine. Once inside, Chance dropped the blinds. 'So, walk me through this, could you please?'
Ward put his mug down on the table and walked over to three separate display boards.
'So, on this display, we have the crime scene photos. Over here is the victimology data and here is the timeline. Oh, and over there is the evidence collected at the scene.'
All the boards, except the scene photo display, looked a little sparse.
Chance stepped closer to the crime scene photos. The familiarity of this case was still nagging at him. He scanned each photo, searching for a memory jogger. It was then that he remembered the tiny item he found on the floor next to the body. He walked over to the evidence boxes and rummaged through them. He stopped. He hadn’t found what he had been looking for.
'Sir, what is it?'
'There was a small crystal with a carving on it. I found it next to the body. It doesn't seem to be here. It was a gemstone with a symbol on it.' Chance looked at the corpse. 'Look at the position of the hands.' A cold thought took hold of Chance. 'I am sure there was another case like this one. Not identical, but there was something about a gemstone that caught my attention at the time. It was never explained.'
Ward took all the items out of the evidence boxes, one at a time, and spread them across the table.
Chance paced up and down. He was trying to remember the case details. His pace quickened as he wrestled with his memory. It wasn’t a case that he had handled. Chance stopped thinking. He rubbed the short stiff hairs on his chin.
Ward started to familiarise himself with each item on the table. He didn't want to interfere with Chance's thought process. He had that eager look in his eyes. Meaningful, purposeful and determination written all over his face.
'Manchester,' Chance announced. 'I read about it. There was a crime scene photo. That's the connection. Beside the body, all to see was a gemstone. I don't know why, but the stone always bothered me.'
'Sorry, sir, no gemstone here.'
'What?' Chance ran through the items himself. 'Has to be here, Ward. I bagged it myself.' He took a closer look at each item. 'Right, find out gathered this lot. Someone has lifted the most crucial piece of evidence. Then, pull that file from Manchester, will you?' Chance had that look in his eye. Frustration.
'Meet here in two hours.' With that Chance stomped out of the room.
Two hours later...
Ward greeted Chance with a smile as he entered the room. 'Got it.'
'The stone or the case file?'
'Good. Let's take a look.' Chance opened the case file and flicked through the crime scene photos. He stopped. He had found what he was looking for. 'There, Ward. Look, see?' He placed the photo next to the latest crime scene photo. 'What do you think about that?'
'Crikey, sir. I see it now. Unbelievable. What's the significance of the stone?' Ward produced the missing stone.
Chance took it from his hand. Held up to the light and rotated. It was a pale orange gemstone with the carving of a sun in a triangle inside the circular ball of flame. 'It's all about chakra my dear Ward.'
'Yes, that.' Chance pointed at the photo from the Manchester crime scene. 'That is also a Chakra stone. A red coral. These are Chakra symbols or signs. Not sure what the correct description is, but this is a link between the two cases. Both found on or near the body.'
'It's a little thin though for McBride, sir.'
'True, but look at the hands.’
Ward took a few moments to observe and compare the two crime scene photos. 'Ah, I see.'
'Too many coincidences. You know me and my coincidences, Ward. You know what we have here, don't you?'
'Two crimes with the same MO, sir.'
'Yes, a very unusual killer. Until today, he has committed two perfect crimes.'
To be continued...
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