(Psychic horror. A long delay from the last one. Combination of factors, but mostly holiday season related. I expect to post more regularly.)
The meeting was longer than I expected, based on past experience. Then again, I had never been involved with a mass homicide investigation before. I took notes with as much detail as I could; there was a lot to absorb and too much to risk forgetting. It also helped me block out the volume of sensation from the gathering. In my seat at the back of the room, it was easy to be ignored.
There are times when hearing the case details make me feel like my input is negligible, if not a complete waste. This was not one of those times.
The scene had been discovered by a game warden, looking for poachers, and locked down within hours. Apparently, I was on the scene the next day.
What was known, or highly likely, boiled down to a few, limited details; all of which I noted.
-The victims were a mix of adult, Caucasian males and females who had been killed at the scene roughly three days before discovery. The exact count was somewhere between fifty-four and fifty-seven people. (the pieces were literally being matched up by forensics)
-The majority cause of death was blood loss from dismemberment, though there was evidence some were killed by decapitation.
-The bodies were dismembered with extremely sharp, almost surgical quality blades of some kind.
-There were no signs of bruising, forceful restraint or other trauma usually associated with victims like this. Additionally, forensics had not yet found any signs of drugging.
-No traces of clothing, jewellery, eye glasses or contacts, tattoos or anything were found.
-A few traces of footprints were found, in poor condition, but likely belonged to the victims. Tire tracks in the area were being examined.
-No other materials were found in the way of weapons, restraints, drug paraphernalia, gang symbols, serial killer trademarks or anything suspicious.
-Finally, though some of the faces and finger prints were in reasonable condition, none of the victims had been identified.
As they went over the details, I just kept rolling things over and over in my mind. I scratched down a few point form questions as they started wrapping up the exposition. If the floor opened to questions, I was dying to ask. When they finally did open the floor, I decided to leave the opening round to the police, hoping they would ask the same questions. A number of questions were asked regarding the condition of the bodies, foot and vehicle traffic in the area, and so forth. The general sense I had was that they really had nothing to work with, and the prospects for more were poor.
Nothing really hit on the points I wanted addressed, anyway. I managed to catch Adam’s gaze as the questions wound down; I cocked my head, silently asking if I was good to ask anything. He glanced up at Sergeant-Major Guranovich, the Provincial cop in charge of the overall investigation, who was running the Q and A. He shrugged and reluctantly nodded. Not a vote of confidence, yet better than a hard no.
I stood amidst the early mumblings of the group, feeling self-conscious and awkward for no good reason. A moment of instant regret passed over me.
*smell of cut grass-apple sauce-dragons-Christmas lights-the sound of a flute*
“Sergeant-Major,” I asked as politely and confidently as I could, “I have a few questions that have not been addressed here. Apologies if they are already under review.”
“Go ahead, then, mister…” the Sergeant-Major said; fishing for my name and, probably, my rank or position; he clearly did not know who I was.
“Norman Garrickson,” I said. “The victims were killed three days before discovery. Were there any sign the bodies had been scavenged on by animals after death?”
Guranovich raised an eyebrow, looking to the head of the forensics team. A shoulder shrug was his reply. “Nothing of that nature was reported to me,” the Sergeant-Major declared. “The area is rural, but the nearby road is reasonably busy. We would have to look into that.”
*stacks of money-butter melting on waffles-a broken necklace*
I decided that went well enough to keep on asking. “Will a canine unit be sent to the site?”
That one earned me a furrowed brow from him. “We have made arrangements for a provincial canine unit to come in today,” he said, sounding touchy. “The local unit has been occupied on another case.”
“Okay,” I said, preparing to wrap up with one more. “Who owns that land?”
“It is crown land,” he said, “but within a few yards of a farm. We are looking into that, too.”
“Thank-you,” I said, taking my seat and ignoring the unmistakably derogatory muttering from the group.
*a strong, warm wind-a freckled child-a damaged, cardboard box*
“If that is all,” Guranovich said, returning to his rigid, confident form, “I want to suggest that we have very little to go on. Normally, we would have far more evidence at this point in an investigation, so we need some traction very soon. We have approval for as much overtime as we need. I am overseeing things, but expect a fair bit of time dealing with the media. For now, Chief Carter will be heading the investigation and reporting to me.”
There was a bit of wrap up as specific duties were assigned, none of it directly pertinent to the case. It was a big case getting a lot of attention. The bureaucratic machinery of the investigation was engaging. If I was going to help, I needed to get moving before that machinery pushed me out.