Authors: Kathryn Patterson
The Deputy Commissioner of Police was a short, fat guy by the name of Frank Goosh. I never figured out how the hell he ended up with a name like Goosh. It sounded like something out a comic book.
Frank Goosh couldn’t stand the sight of me, and I cared little for his opinion. Right from the beginning, he had opposed any restructuring which involved the contracting of civilians to conduct forensic and investigative work. And although he never admitted it openly, I knew he had a hard time accepting that the first person who had been contracted as an unsworn crime-scene examiner and investigator happened to be a woman.
I stood on my feet, my body fully erect. ‘Where is he now?’ I asked, feeling blood rushing to my head.
‘He’s just outside the front door. Just about to walk in here’ Frank said.
I stormed out of the bedroom and down the hallway. My duty as crime-scene examiner was to insure no one entered the crime scene, not even the Prime Minister or the Queen of England. The Deputy Commisioner of Police was well aware of that, but for some reason he obviously believed himself to be an exception.
I intercepted Frank Goosh in front of the apartment, inside the perimeter of the crime-scene, which Constable Gus Patterson had so obediently sealed off with blue and white police tape.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police came towards me, his pot-belly almost bursting out of his blue shirt. His black hair was parted in the middle, his beady dark eyes had virtually no white in them, and his complexion looked like raw hamburger.
‘Have you got the situation under control?’ he inquired in a tone which reminded me of my school principal a long time ago.
Mr Goosh, glad you could make it, but I don’t recall requesting your presence at this crime scene. Now, if you care to step outside the crime-scene perimeter and stand behind the police tape like everyone else, I’d very much appreciate it.’
I’m the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Miss Malina. I have a right to be here.’
It’s Dr Malina. I’ve earned a degree in criminal justice through diligent and hard work, and would appreciate if you would address me as Dr Malina.’
He shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other. ‘
Malina, you’re only here because of me. I can have your contract terminated anytime.’
I appreciate your need to exert your power, Mr Goosh, but right now you’re going to step on the other side of the police line.’
He crossed his arms over his chest, making his stomach protrude even further. ‘And who says? You’re going to make me? What the hell is your problem, anyway?’
‘Mr Goosh, I have legal jurisdiction over this crime scene. If you can’t understand that, maybe you should consult the Police Operations Manual and familiarise yourself with its content. In the meantime, either you step on the other side of the police tape, or I’ll have you escorted by force.’
He gave me a cold stare. ‘Bitch!’
I moved two steps forward. ‘What did you call me?’
You heard. You think you can just walk in and take over everything. I’ve been doing this longer than you have. I have years of experience. You were still sucking on your mother’s nipples when I was chasing criminals. So don’t lecture me on what I can or cannot do.’
I felt like running my scalpel right across his throat.
‘Mr Goosh, I’m not going to ask you again.’
You don’t know who you’re dealing with.—’
I interrupted him before he had time to insult me once more. ‘Constable Patterson,’ I shouted towards the young officer, who was standing close to the Channel 10 news crew, ‘Could you please escort Mr Goosh out of the crime scene?’
‘Yes, Dr Malina,’ Constable Patterson said, already pacing towards me.
Frank Goosh glanced over his shoulder, towards the constable and turned back at me. ‘I’m going to get you for this. You can kiss your job goodbye, you little tart.’
He walked off before Constable Patterson got to him.
I stepped back in the hallway, feeling myself shaking all over.
Goddamn sonofabitch managed to get me frustrated.
I clenched my teeth and proceded with my task.
By the time we closed the place up, we had collected clumps of hair, slivers of broken fingernails from the most unreachable places, a multitude of various fibres, and enough fingerprints to jail the killer twenty times over.
The beheaded body of Jeremy Wilson was now resting in peace somewhere at the mortuary in Southgate, for a little while anyway, until an autopsy would be performed.
When I climbed back into Frank’s Ford Falcon, it was 8.21 a.m.
Daylight had set in a few hours ago. Towards the first hours of daylight, collection of evidence had become much easier. I saw fibres and marks I hadn’t been able to see at 3.00 a.m. in spite of additional lighting provided by the SES. I hated collecting evidence at night time, and usually I would wait until the next day. But since we knew we had a killer on the run, we didn’t want to waste any more time than necessary.
Frank took a turn into Princes Highway, where the traffic moving towards the city was becoming rather congested. Another working day for normal people.
Drivers were aggressive, as if they actually wanted to get to work more than anything else in the world. Had it been me, I would have taken my time.
Passing one hand over the length of my oval face, I sighed. I was tired and angry. Tired from not getting the sleep I deserved, and damn angry men could commit such atrocities as the one I had seen at the Wilson’s place. Over ninety percent of violent crimes were committed by men. Whoever had masterminded this little set-up had the brain of a monkey.
I tightened my seat-belt and turned to Frank. ‘Men are a real hazard to the community. This world is in the shape it’s in because of men. Without them, there’d be virtually no crime in society. Imagine that, a world without crime.
He shifted uncomfortably.
I made my hands into fists and went on, ‘I read once that men should pay extra tax just because they’re wasting tax payers’ money.’
And how’s that?’ he asked, pursing his lips, obviously unwilling to get into a major debate. He heard it a thousand times before, but when I was frustrated, I couldn’t help singing the same tune over and over again.
Well, to begin with, over ninety percent of crimes are committed by men. To keep one of these men in jail cost thousands of dollars. Take Martin Bryant, the loony who shot all those people in Tasmania. It costs the government over $100,000 a year to keep him alive. For what? Think what this money could be used for instead of being spent on people like him.’
So you want to re-introduce the death penalty?’
I didn’t say that. All I’m saying is men are the cause of all this shit.’
Frank sighed as he took a left turn. ‘So what are you getting at?’
‘Nothing. Just observation. I mean just look at the idiot who killed Jeremy Wilson and bashed his wife. He couldn’t have made it any easier for us. By the time we’ve combed through all the evidence, he’ll have the entire Federal Police on his trail.’
You’re assuming it’s a
I’m assuming?’ I shook my head in disbelief. ‘Well, what else would it be? An
? Men are a soup of androgens. They’re conditioned from birth to kill and destroy. The only thing you can do with these types of offenders is to cut off their amygdala.’
He gave me a strange look, and it was obvious he didn’t know the amygdala was that part of the brain which is active in the production of aggressive behaviour. In the seventies, when psychosurgery was hip, many aggressors became passive when their amygdala was removed, at the cost of destroying their interest in life by terminating their ability to feel emotions.
Frank pressed his foot flat on the accelerator and overtook a truck with a sticker
you are passing another Fox.
‘I don’t know, Malina. Sometimes you come up with the most sexist comments. If I had said the same think about women, you would have slapped me with a sexual harassment lawsuit.’
I felt my face reddening. ‘Hey, come on. I’m only stating the facts here. Studies have clearly indicated that male hormones have a direct correlation with aggressive behaviour. You’re not going to refute that as well?’
‘I know, I know. And that’s what scares me.’
I didn’t know what he meant by that, but somehow it upset me.
I felt a lump in my throat as the morning sun glittered on the dirty windscreen.
n Sunday the 23rd of February, there was a cool change. The sky was covered in grey clouds, and I could have sworn it was going to rain. I opened all the windows of my apartment and went back to bed.
I loved St Kilda. The coastal town was ripped with an arty atmosphere and wacky residents. Not far from my home was a long pier where I often walked in the evening to watch the sunset and unwind. On the weekends, I strolled around the hundreds of craft-market stalls on the Esplanade. Someone said once Melbourne is divided in two. St Kilda and the rest of Melbourne. I agreed.
I moved into an apartment complex when I came back from the USA eight years ago, after graduating from the FBI’s National Academy. The real estate agent advertised it as a New York living, with its graffiti on the walls and its nine parking spaces for eighteen apartments. But the inside of my apartment was filled with imaginative furniture and items. Although the rooms were small, I’d made the most of the space.
In the main bedroom, a pine-bed-platform was built at cupboard floor level. The mezzanine had been lowered to give enough height for standing. Away from the wall, a flight of stairs created a screen for the bathroom entrance and extra storage space. Additional storage space nested beside the bed. Next to the bathroom was my study with a magnificent panoramic view of Chapel Street through a corner bay window.
Michael’s room was next to mine and was kept shut most of the time. I never knew what he was doing in there, and I hated to ask. Teenagers nowadays were a complete mystery to me. They spent more time in front of a computer than living life.
Michael was away for the day, but he never told me where he went. By the time I got up, he was already gone. His independence was beginning to frighten me. I felt redundant. For years, he counted on me for everything. Now, I didn’t feel like his mother any longer. We were two strangers living under the same roof. I blamed myself often for the situation we’d found ourselves in. If I had a normal job, I told myself, maybe I would be closer to Michael.
I waited patiently for the hospital to call me so I could interrogate Teresa Wilson over her husband’s death. If she had seen the killer, finding him would be easier than we thought. The last we heard of her, she was in some sort of semi-coma. She could wake up at any time.
The Fingerprint Branch on the seventeenth floor of the Police Complex on St Kilda Road failed to find any prints on the cook’s knife found at the crime scene.
All the different prints lifted from the Wilson’s apartment were entered into the fingerprint database terminal and cross-checked against a hundred-thousands others. Not a single match, not even with the thousand fingerprint cards kept on the seventeenth floor, in a neat little classification known as the Henry System. This was a major set back. It meant whoever killed Jeremy Wilson had no fingerprints on record, and thus had never been convicted of any serious criminal offense. It also meant that at this stage we had no idea who killed Jeremy Wilson, and it would take us a little while longer to figure it out. And time, we all knew, was not a luxury we could afford with a case such as this. The media was on our back, and the general public expected us to perform miracles. What they didn’t realise is that it sometimes took months, years to find a criminal. But because of those damn movies and television shows, people made an unrealistic assumption that we could find a killer within a week, no questions about it, full stop.
It’s like this and that on television, so why can’t you do it this way? Why is it taking so long? With all this sophisticated equipment and the millions of dollars poured into law-enforcement, why is it taking so long?
And local and state politicians would join in, reminding us how the delay in catching a criminal was tarnishing their images, making the whole process even more of a pain.
I stayed in bed until eleven o’clock that morning. Instead of having breakfast, I went straight to the Balaclava Hotel for a Sunday Special - soup of the day, a roast dinner and a three-dollar coin card for the pokies next door. I ate my Sunday Special all by myself, washed it down with a dollar-ninety Coke, and went straight to the pokies. I cashed in my three-dollar voucher, pocketed the gold coins and walked out of the place. I wasn’t a gambler and never would be.
The rest of the day drifted slowly into nothingness.
I stayed home with a forensic medicine book by David Ranson and let the answering machine take the calls. Someone from the
magazine called. I didn’t call back. Instead I called Frank to discuss what we had so far, so that I could write up a preliminary report.
I had been thinking a lot in the last few days, and some kind of scenario had conjured in my mind. I felt like I had a better idea of whom the killer might have been.
‘A few things are unclear,’ I said, my feet up on the desk of my study, overlooking the tramways on Chapel Street. ‘To begin with, everything at the apartment in Port Melbourne was turned upside-down, a clear indication the killer was looking for something. And since the picture frames in the hallway were shifted, whatever the intruder was looking for had to be small, small enough to be concealed behind a picture frame.’
A burglary. You’ve got your motive.’
That’s what I’d also thought when I first entered the apartment, even when I left it. Crimes were never committed without motive. No one went around breaking into a house or killing someone for no reason. And because items in the apartment had been shifted around, we believed we had established a motive.
‘True,’ I said. ‘At first glance, I’d thought it was burglary too. But what about the telephone cable pulled from its connection?’
He didn’t want the owners to call for help. What’s so odd about that?’
Okay, so he knew they were in the house from the moment he came through the front door. The telephone cable was in the hallway. He had to rip it off the wall before he got to see anyone. He was ready for a confrontation.’
Possible. On the other hand, he might have seen the telephone when he walked in the house on that night.’
He could have had a torch.’
Didn’t find one at the crime scene.’
I shifted from my chair and rested my feet on the floor. ‘And the knife,’ I said. ‘Criminals don’t carry twelve-inch knives when committing a burglary. It’s big, inconvenient and hard to dispose of, which explains why he dumped the weapon in the alley way.’
‘Malina, so far this is only speculation. A burglar could have easily carried a big knife because he had no other weapons in his possession. There is also the chance that he wanted to scare the living daylight out of his victims. A big knife would have contributed to the overall effect better than a small weapon.’
I don’t think so. I’m certain the reason the intruder came to this house was to hurt and kill.’
I can explain.’
If all the killer wanted to do was commit a burglary, he didn’t have to butcher the occupants. The guy had his head cut off. Have you come across many burglaries where a victim is decapitated? The first thing a burglar would want to do is neutralise the occupants by killing then as quick as possible. Then he can proceed and steal anything he wants. And decapitation might be a sure way to kill someone, but it’s not a quick process.’
Maybe he was a sadist.’
I agree there, but not a burglar. The way this man had been decapitated and his wife battered, this was a personal thing. Also, no other room in the house, apart from the bedroom and the hallway, have been disturbed. A burglar would have looked everywhere. Even the video recorder was still in the lounge room. What kind of burglar leaves everything behind? This was not a burglary, Frank, this was premeditated murder. No ifs or buts about it.’
A rape-kill scenario?’
Maybe, but to begin, we don’t know if she’s been raped. But even if she had, why would the killer spend so much time decapitating the husband? If he wanted to rape the woman, surely he would have got rid of the husband el pronto, and then spend more time on her. This is overkill Frank. The husband played a major part in this. Whoever did this wanted revenge. Someone burned with the desire to punish both Mr and Mrs Wilson.’
Who would do something like that?’
I don’t know, but I know for a fact it was someone who knew them. The amount of anger and frenzy that went into the decapitation clearly indicates the killer had built up a lot of frustration, and his cup was overfilled. This was the last straw. Very few people kill for pleasure, in spite of what we read in the press. Revenge and anger are the strongest motivating factors.’
It doesn’t mean he knew them.’
Oh, yes, it does. He knew where the telephone cable was, even though it was dark in the hallway. He’d been in the apartment before. It had to be a friend, a family member, someone who was jealous. Maybe he didn’t even put up a fight when he first walked in the apartment, which explains why I never saw any bruising on Jeremy’s body or head.’
Possible, but if it was a lover, he’d been in the house before, and probably not when the husband was around.’
We talked a bit more, but ended up with the same conclusion. The motive was revenge or punishment, not burglary like we had first assumed. This meant I would focus my investigation on someone close to the Wilsons.
Before Frank hung up, he promised to call me as soon as he heard anything from Teresa Wilson.
Somehow, my thoughts kept drifting back to the conversation I had with Frank in the car when we left the crime scene in Port Melbourne. I wasn’t angry at him, but at myself. Why did I get so upset when the conversation ended? Was I wrong? Didn’t he think the killer of Mr Wilson was a complete bastard who didn’t deserve to live on taxpayers’ money? Didn’t he have any compassion for Mrs Wilson? The woman had not only been beaten to a pulp but lost her husband as well. Wasn’t he angry like I was towards the man who could do such a thing?
For the rest of the day, my mind was preoccupied with philosophical thoughts. I wasn’t sure why this case was affecting me so much in so little time. Maybe it was because the victim was a woman. Maybe it was because she seemed to be my age. Maybe because it could have been me, and the killer could have been someone I knew and trusted.
Michael came home at 7.00 p.m., without acknowledging my presence.
‘Where have you been?’ I shouted from the kitchen when I heard someone open the front door of the apartment. I was slicing up some tomatoes and green peppers to make a tomato sauce for some Diavolini on the boil.
Goddamn it, I hated it when he treated me like a typical grown up. I put the cooking knife down on the bench. ‘Michael, come here and talk to me.’
He walked in the kitchen, his blond fringe half concealing his blue eyes. He reminded me so much of his father, and that made me feel uneasy. He was tall for a twelve-year-old, probably 172 or 173cm. His Michael Jordan T-shirt was two sizes two large and hung lose over a pair of dirty, worn-out Levis, which hung over a pair of Nike running shoes. He held a skate-board under his arm.
Did you take that thing into the city?’ I asked, glaring at the skateboard.
So what?’ His voice was mellow, almost inaudible.
It’s illegal in the CBD area.’
So what? So what is that there are so many crazy drivers out there, one day I’m gonna get a phone call, and I’ll have to see you in hospital and tell you I told you so.’
Mum, give me a break.’
All right, all right. But you didn’t tell me where you were. I was worried sick. Jesus, you think I like worrying? Why are you doing this to me?’
He gave me a blank look to remind me how pathetic I was when I carried on about nothing.
‘Mum,’ he added, ‘my life doesn’t revolved around making it difficult for you. I’m twelve years old. I’m not a baby. And if you bought me a mobile phone, you wouldn’t have to worry in the first place.’
You are a baby, I thought, and you’ll always be. ‘You don’t need a mobile phone,’ I retorted. ‘You can ring from a phone booth to tell me where you are.’
‘Chris’s got a mobile.’
Well, you’re not Chris.’
He shook his head. ‘Forget it.’ His body language told me he was ready to walk off.