Detective Inspector Walter Bambridge stepped past two uniformed officers into the room cast in darkness that had until recently been someone’s home but was now nothing more than a crime scene. A rank odour greeted him as he passed over the threshold, not the usual reek of death that after five years on homicide he still couldn’t get use to, but the smell of grease and left over food. To his right a tiny space that could hardly be called a kitchen seemed to be the cause of the unpleasant fragrance as piles of dirty dishes flooded out of the sink and across every surface. The hallway continued on past the kitchen and Walter paused at what looked like a door but as he looked closer it became apparent to him that it was in fact a set of hanging beads that were being used as a room divider. He parted them with his gloved hand and passed through the makeshift doorway. The beads clattered against each other as he let them go adding sound to the quiet room. Weak light from the nearest streetlamp crept in through the thin curtains from the window to his left casting various shapes in front of him. Walter reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out the miniature torch that resided there. With a click the beam came to life and illuminated a lounge that had been shown as little housekeeping as the kitchen he had just passed. A Television ten years past its best sat in one corner, a coffee table littered with all manner of fast food and confectionary wrappers lay between the Television and a worn along the arms and cushions sofa. More rubbish was scattered across the floor and Walter had to shine the light at his feet so that he didn’t stand on any possible evidence. In the same room but to his right a double bed looked like it had seen better days and had also recently been used. The light cast across the dishevelled sheets, revealing various stains that appeared to have been ground into the fabric, before resting on the discoloured pillows. Walter held the light on a substance that was scattered all over the pillows and with careful footing moved around the bed to get a better look. A full head of hair looked to have been shaved from someone’s skull and was scattered all over the top end of the bed. He considered this image as the sound of the hanging beads rattled their tune and another figure entered the room.
Detective Constable Cynthia Lawrence couldn’t help but turn her nose up at the hideous state that was before her and she had to dip into all her reserves of willpower not to begin cleaning up the mess. She surveyed the room and her eyes soon fell onto the torch lit bed and her superior officer crouching down next to it.
‘What we got, sir?’ Cynthia asked as she shone her own light around the scene.
‘I’m not sure yet.’ Walter turned his light towards her. ‘But watch your feet as there’s crap all over the place.’
Cynthia guided her beam to the floor and skipped her way around the piles of junk so that she could be at Walter’s side.
‘Got a whole lot of human hair all over the pillows, looks like someone did some barber work.’ He paused and turned his torch towards the only other area of the small flat that he had not yet searched, the bathroom. ‘Our victim must be in there.’
Together they approached the closed door; Walter reached out and turned the handle then pushed the door open. A weak strip light gave off some light from above a small sink but the bathroom could be called anything but well lit. There torch light moved across the pristine floor, sink and finally rested on the bathtub or more precisely what hung over the tub. Her legs had been tied at the ankles, the rope cutting deep into her flesh as the whole weight of her body was taken by the knot. The pale nakedness of her form had been disturbed at various pointed by a series of deep cuts made at very specific parts of her anatomy. One along each upper thigh, another across the left side of her mid abdomen, a further two down each of her wrists and a final cut athwart her throat. Her head had been shaved and a look of disbelief stared out at them from her vacant eyes.
Walter got closer and looked at the interior of the bath. ‘Where’s all the blood?’
Cynthia stood by his side and examined the tub. Not a single drop of blood blemished the white surface, the whole area gleamed under the torch light, plughole and taps all spotless. She looked around at the rest of the room and the same clean surfaces as the bathtub were on the floor and even the sink. ‘This room doesn’t fit with the rest of the flat. It’s spotless.’
‘Yeah, they cleaned up after themselves.’ Walter placed a hand on the victim’s right arm and studied the incision. ‘She’s been cleaned too.’ Walter shone the light into the plughole and leant forward to get a better look down the hole. ‘We’ll need Forensics to confirm but I don’t think any of the blood went down there.’ He stood and looked around the room. ‘They took it with them.’