You can find the previous chapters Here. (This will never be completed on the blog.)
Phones were ringing off the hook and talk of a sandwich collection was at an almost raucous volume. My defrosting brain cells struggled to break through the noise.
The incident room was busy and space was tight. Coats were thrown over the backs of chairs. As well as the assigned investigating detectives, some uniformed officers had been drafted in to help with the immediate workload that faced us. I clung to the steaming mug of green tea in my hands trying to warm my fingers.
Along with my team, the investigation had the attention of the top brass. Detective Superintendent Catherine Walker, head of the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, had been raised from her bed. She wore her hair in a sleek dark bob, immaculate, no matter what time of day it was. She stood tall and assured and she commanded respect. Next to Walker was my Chief Inspector Anthony Grey. He was a weasel-looking man with a narrow face, balding head and a tall frame. He was so slim any girl would be envious. As far as supervisors go he was amenable and he didn’t interfere with investigations. Grey was more of a paper shuffler.
A media strategy was required, so Claire Betts from the press office was also here. I liked Claire; she was a straight talker and great at getting what she needed from the media without selling her soul. Her talkative and amiable manner hid a shrewd brain that often ran rings around the press who took her at face value. She looked up from the paperwork she was reading and caught my eye. She gave an easy smile. I pushed the corners of my mouth up in response, envious of her energy and enthusiasm.
I felt cramped and rubbed my temples with one hand whilst inhaling the rising tea vapours in an attempt to ease the tension rampaging through my head and neck.
Grey moved to the front of the room and stood quietly. His silence demanded attention. He was about to give his pep talk. Make a show of support for the officers who would work this with little to no sleep for the first few days when evidence grabbing was at its most viable. He would say the usual comments about working hard, having the support of the command team and the jolly “get on with it troops!” pat on the back.
My phone vibrated in my jeans pocket, I pulled it up enough to see the screen. Dad. Conversations with him often went in the same familiar circles and those circles were often about my sister Zoe. Now wasn’t the time for this. I rejected the call and pushed the phone back down.
When the sandwich rumblings died down Grey spoke. “We have a dead child. We need to identify her and return her to her parents. Press attention will be high because of her age. They will be harsh and they will be critical. Keep yourselves sharp.”
No one moved.
“I’ve spoken with Jack Kidner who will hopefully conduct the post-mortem at eleven a.m. this morning. I believe Hannah is to attend that with Sally?” He looked at me. I nodded. Sally, one of the brightest and most dependable detectives on my team, blanched. Difficult to spot with her fair complexion, but I saw it. It was unusual. “Forensics still have the scene and will be there, I imagine, for some time. What do you have, Hannah?”
I put my cup on the desk. I was up.
“We have a lot to do. We need to check our missing persons database and liaise with the National Missing Persons Bureau in case this child is from another county. I want a team to canvas the area for CCTV in local establishments. Take it wide. Detailed house to house inquiries are needed. If people aren’t in when you knock, go back. I saw a lot of people peeping out of windows last night, so it’s possible someone could have seen her being dumped. I want a tip line set up and for Claire to prepare press releases to include the number. Someone knows who this girl is and someone holds information that relates to her death.” I had all ears.
“We need to check what time the restaurant closed and identify and locate all customers who ate there in the run up to closing. Most people pay by card in some way, shape or form nowadays, it’s rare anyone pays with cash, so that should make it an easier task. Someone may have seen something but not realised its importance.” My head throbbed. “The PM this morning will give us more and could help identify her. CSIs will hopefully give us something we can work with.” I looked at my team, Aaron and Sally along with Martin and Ross. It was grim. It always is with a child, but I knew them and they would work their arses off. “Make sure you get some food and hot drinks down you.”
The throbbing from my head hit my stomach with a nauseating roar. My next stop would be the mortuary.