CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1) (5 page)

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
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“He told me he’d got friends in high places and that
it wouldn’t do any good. Plus he threatened to have me sectioned if I ever
tried anything like that.”

“It sounds like you were trapped and becoming desperate.”
Barnes said.

“Don’t think for one second that I had anything to
do with this, but when you catch the person who did, say thanks from me.”

“Did the letters CMXVI have any significance to
him?” Woods asked.

“I don’t think so. The numbers 666 definitely did.”

Barnes chewed her lip disguising her amusement.

“Can I ask about John Wright?” Woods said.

“John’s the light at the end of my tunnel. A really
nice guy who treats me like I’m a person and not an object he owns. What a
difference from Paul. You’ll know Paul suspended him when he found out about
us; he was having him sacked. Surely that gives you an idea what kind of a shit
he was. You couldn’t believe a word he said. You know his broken nose and the
scarring on his face? John said he’d told everyone at work he’d been kicked by
a horse; well he wasn’t, I know that for sure. Yet he told me someone he was
trying to arrest did it. I don’t know what the truth was, but I suspect it was
someone he’d upset getting even with him.”

At that moment Barnes’ phone rang. It was McLean.
She listened carefully and then ended the call. “Right, we’re looking for a
tall, fair haired man, sporty build, wearing a green wax jacket, blue and white
checked shirt, green corduroy trousers, walking boots and a tweed cap. Oh and
he has a very posh accent.”

“Well that rules out John Wright,” Woods said.

 

Thursday 17
th
May.

 

It was earlier than normal when
Woods walked into the Incident Room; Barnes and McLean were already working
away at their desks.

“You look like you didn’t have much sleep last
night,” Barnes said.

“No, I didn’t; that’s why I’m early.”

“Me too, I couldn’t stop thinking about yesterday,
so in the end I thought I’d come in and start trolling through the CCTV footage.
I’ve got Mateland’s shift patterns over the past month, so I’m concentrating on
the times he was travelling to and from work. I’ve created a matrix of vehicles
travelling up to one mile behind him and any vehicle seen outside his work
base.”

“Anything of interest?”

“It’s too early. Have you any idea how many vehicles
are within one mile of you, when you travel thirteen miles along the motorway?”

“Hundreds or is it thousands?”

“It’s hundreds, but then multiply that by twenty
working days and two journeys per day, and you’ll get an idea how complex this
is… thank goodness for Excel spreadsheets.”

“That’s good work, Maria, let me know what you
discover.” He appreciated her commitment and considered it refreshing to have
someone who could work off their own initiative. He turned to McLean. “That old
guy with the dog was observant.”

“Aye, he’s retired ex-military with a fantastic eye
for detail; he was as sharp as a button. Chris Jacobs is going to see him; we
should have a fairly accurate e-fit later this morning.”

“Great.”

“However,” McLean went on, “there’s some bad news. As
you know, the footage from the camera at Junction 39 only covers the southbound
half of the bridge, and on the day our dog walker spoke to the man he was at
the far end, the bit we can’t see, so there’s footage of the dog walker strolling
across the bridge, but none of the man. I’d hoped there would be shots of him
measuring and photographing the half that’s in view, or at least walking over
it, but there’s nothing at all; he must have approached the bridge through the
fields on the other side.”

Woods was intrigued. “He obviously knows the
northbound half isn’t covered by the camera and he’s keeping clear of the other
half. It must be our man. If it was an innocent member of the public with an
interest in bridges, or a surveyor, they’d look at the whole structure.”

“I’ve asked Sharron West to go through the footage
of the bridge over the past couple of months and check everyone who’s gone
across it against our description. Meanwhile, as Maria is busy looking through
the motorway footage, I’m going to interview all the drivers who stopped at the
scene.”

“I’ve got to update Foster at ten,” Woods said. “Hopefully
I might have an interim report from the IT Team on John Wright and Dawn
Mateland’s phone and computer usage. From purely a motive point of view they’re
both suspects, but my instinct tells me they’re not involved.” Woods chewed his
bottom lip and thought for a moment. “Right… I’m going to find out everything I
can about CMXVI and what connection it has to Mateland.”

 

 

Woods came back from updating
Foster at 10.30 a.m.; he had been able to inform him that early investigations
into phone and computer usage of Wright and Dawn Mateland had not identified
any unusual behaviour, or anything that could be linked to the murder
investigation. Foster had reassured Woods he was pleased with progress, but
reminded him of the need for a speedy conclusion to the investigation.

As he walked through the Incident Room door Barnes
looked up and smiled. “Bingo!”  she shouted.

He strode straight across and looked down at her
computer screen.

“See that metallic blue Peugeot 206? It’s been
filmed on five separate occasions, all at different times of the day,
travelling in close proximity to Mateland. And it’s also been recorded parked
outside the main entrance to the Traffic Unit. The registered keeper is Mr David
Brunt who lives in Ecclesall in Sheffield. Here’s his driving licence
photograph,” she clicked the mouse.

“Fair haired,” Woods observed. “Have we got a clear
shot of him driving the car?”

“Not really. I’ve tried enhancing various images,
but it appears he’s deliberately looking away from the cameras. See what I mean.
. .” she clicked the mouse again and an enlarged picture appeared.

“He knows where all the cameras are, if he’s that
careful, the car’s either stolen or a clone.”

“There’s no report of it being stolen,” Barnes
quickly replied, beavering away on her computer. “And according the ANPR it’s
been recorded travelling around Wakefield and Sheffield, but obviously not at
the same times, otherwise it would have been flagged up as a suspected cloned
vehicle.”

“I don’t believe this,” Woods said, shaking his head
and looking around the room. “Is McLean still out?”

“Yes.”

“Contact him and get him to interview Mr Brunt
pronto. I’ve a feeling he’ll be another innocent victim of cloning, and if he
is, ask McLean to find out his regular movements, particularly in relation to
his driving habits. In the meantime can you trace all the metallic blue Peugeot
206s that have been stolen in the last four weeks?”

As he was speaking Detective Inspector Chris Jacobs
came across and waited for him to finish. Jacobs was six years younger than
Woods and had worked with him in the Murder Investigation Team for over twenty
years. He had a pleasant, friendly personality and a caring nature, was five-feet-nine
inches tall, dark haired and of slender build.

“Hello Chris,” Woods said, noticing the detective
standing next to him. “Have you got the e-fit?”

“Yep,” replied Jacobs, handing the document over.

“Umm… it’s not that much like Mr Brunt,” Woods said,
passing it to Barnes.

“Who’s he?” Jacobs asked.

“I suspect he’s an innocent member of the public.”

“How’s the investigation going?”

Woods updated him.

“Oh, there’s one other thing I need to tell you,” Jacobs
said. “You know I’m still in contact with Shaun Higgson? Well, I went for a
drink with him last night and I mentioned that Mateland had been murdered and
there were roman numerals found at the scene — McLean told me yesterday —
anyhow it turns out that Shaun investigated a death a few weeks ago where a guy
hanged himself off Scammonden Bridge and wrote numerals at the end of an e-mail
he’d used as a suicide note; they depicted the time the e-mail was sent.”

“What were they?” Woods demanded, his senses on high
alert.

“Shaun didn’t tell me what the numerals were, but
the time the e-mail was sent was sixteen minutes past eleven. 11.16 p.m.”

“That’s MCXVI; the numerals on the footbridge were
CMXVI. Chris, that’s no coincidence; two motorway bridges and nearly identical
numerals. Is Higgson based at Huddersfield?”

“Yep,” replied Jacobs. “I… I didn’t know what your
numerals were, otherwise I’d have asked Shaun to ring you.”

Woods was already on his way out of the Incident
Room. “Come on, Maria, chop, chop,” he shouted. “We’re going to Scammonden
Bridge - that is, after we’ve picked your predecessor up from Huddersfield
Police Station.”

 

 

On the way to Huddersfield Barnes
first contacted McLean about Brunt. Then protocol dictated she telephone
Higgson and inform him to expect them around eleven thirty; he’d promised to
have the case file on Hussain’s death ready for them.

“What’s my predecessor like?” she asked as they
waited for him in reception.

“Not as smart as you. He’s sloppy and he should
never have been promoted to inspector, but. . .”

Higgson came through the door and Woods stopped
speaking. He immediately went over and shook Higgson’s hand. He introduced
Barnes and then Higgson asked them to follow him to one of the interview rooms.
There were no pleasantries or offers of refreshments and it was clear to Barnes
that there was history between the two of them. When seated, Higgson passed the
case file, which he held tucked under his left arm, to Woods who read it
thoroughly and then handed it to Barnes.

“Can you take us up to the dam?” Woods asked. “I’d
like to have a look around.”

Higgson agreed, and they were driven there in his
car. On the way Barnes finished reading through the case file. Sitting quietly
in the back of the vehicle she mulled over the facts; something didn’t quite
add up.

When they arrived at the car park it was just after midday
and it was deserted, bleak and windswept. Barnes looked around at the discarded
sandwich packaging and drinks cartons, then at the half empty rubbish bins. She
tut-tutted and stepped out of the car. She was immediately cold. Woods joined
her; he wore no overcoat, only his suit jacket over a cotton shirt. He buttoned
up his jacket. “This would be around the time Hussain and Noble used to have
lunch here,” he said looking at Higgson, who nodded.

“Let’s walk round to the bridge,” Woods said.

“It’s easier if we go in the car,” Higgson offered.

“And warmer,” Barnes added, shivering in the strong
Pennine winds.

“I’m walking,” Woods said. “You two go in the car
and I’ll see you up there.”

Barnes thought Woods looked totally incongruous, dressed
in his suit and city shoes striding off down the lane, his trousers flapping
against his rake-thin legs, as she and Higgson drove slowly past him; but he appeared
oblivious to both them and the cold. When he finally caught up with them and walked
onto the bridge they jumped out of the car and joined him. She was still
shivering and it was starting to rain; the wind was driving, and she had to
hold up her hands to protect her face.

Woods stopped at the point Barnes recognised from
the marks on the balustrade to be where Hussain had hanged. She watched him
turn with his back to the wind and rain, and look over towards Huddersfield.
There was a small piece of police tape still tied to the bridge railing; it was
fluttering and reverberating like a small electric motor humming away. Below on
the carriageway vehicles droned continuously, heading west through the
Pennines, and as he rested his elbows on the cold, wet, metal rail he stood
motionless, clearly deep in thought.

He spun round. “Come on, let’s get off the bridge,”
he said, and then looking at Higgson, asked, “have you got digital copies of
the pathologist’s photographs?”

“Yes, they were e-mailed.”

“Good, when we get back to the station I’d like to
take a close look at those burn marks.”

Higgson looked perturbed, but said nothing.

 

 

It was early afternoon by the
time they arrived back at Huddersfield Police Station. Woods and Barnes were
taken up through the building to where Higgson’s desk was and they waited
patiently as he found the photographs Woods was interested in.

“Can you enlarge this one for me?” Woods asked,
standing behind Higgson so he could see the screen.

Higgson obliged, but Woods bent over him and took
hold of the mouse. “I’m interested in this particular area,” he said, zooming
more into the photograph and concentrating on the 18mm ligature mark above the
two burns.

“I thought it was the two burn marks you wanted to
see,” Higgson queried.

“Look, Maria,” Woods said, pointing at the screen.
“There aren’t two burn marks; there’re four. Two were masked by the ligature.”

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
8.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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