The interview with the Keatings was set for ten o’clock. That gave Carl enough time for a cigarette, from the packet he’d purchased at the kiosk next to the surf lifesavers’ clubhouse, before they had to leave.
‘You know you’ll end up like Wally if you don’t give them away, don’t you?’ said Peter.
Carl knew he was right.
‘You smoked for years, Pete. How hard was it, really, for you to quit?’
Peter James, ten years younger than Carl, had stopped smoking, almost overnight, when Janice, who dealt with the other side of smoking in her work as a nurse, had agreed to marry him, only if he quit.
‘To be honest, it was a struggle and, as you know, I had a pretty big incentive, but I reckon it was a hell of a lot easier than what Wally is going through.’
Carl stubbed out his cigarette.
‘I’m thinking about it, Pete. Wally isn’t the first person I’ve watched die from lung cancer.’
‘You know there are places that run quit programs. You don’t have to do it on your own. I can give you the details of the place Janice sent me to.’
‘Thanks, I’d appreciate that.’ Carl looked at his watch. ‘Come on, we’d better get going or we’ll be late.’
Keith and Gayle Keating looked like they’d had a night similar to Carl’s.
‘You look dreadful, Inspector,’ said Gayle, as they sat around the table in the family room. ‘I hope you’ve had some sleep since last night.’
‘I don’t suppose you got much sleep either,’ said Carl, ‘but, nevertheless, we need to push on. I want this guy off the streets as soon as possible.’
‘You’ll get no argument on that from us,’ said Keith.
Peter placed his notebook on the table and pulled a pen from the clip.
‘How well do you know the Jackson boys?’ asked Carl.
‘We’ve known them for years, Inspector,’ said Gayle. ‘Ever since Melissa joined the surf life saving club. She and Darren joined the summer she turned twelve.’
‘When did they become an item?’
‘Their relationship changed around the time of her sixteenth birthday, I’d say. Before that, Darren was just one of the group of friends she did everything with,’ said Gayle.
‘And, what was everything?’ said Carl.
‘School, surf life saving, sport, going to the movies. You know, all the things kids do,’ said Gayle.
‘Was Darren’s brother one of that group of friends?’ said Carl.
‘Not really. John is a couple of years older, Inspector. He’s already at university, doing law. This will be his third year, I think,’ said Gayle.
‘The only thing she did that included John, Inspector, was the surf lifesaving. He was her team captain,’ said Keith.
‘Any chance he might have been keen on her as well? She was an attractive girl, and pretty popular from what we’ve been told,’ said Carl.
‘You’ll have to ask John that question, Inspector. They were friends, I’m sure, but John’s had a steady girlfriend for years, a girl called Sarah Roberts,’ said Gayle.
‘I hope you’re not thinking it was John, Inspector,’ said Keith. ‘You don’t know those boys if you’re thinking that. They would have given their lives for each other. There’s no way John would have bashed Darren to rape Melissa. No, not John, Inspector, I can’t even see that as a possibility.’
‘Unfortunately, Mr Keating, most rapes are committed by someone the victim knew. I hope your faith in John is justified,’ said Carl, ‘but until I can eliminate him, everyone on the beach last night, including John, is a suspect.’
‘How do you eliminate someone from your list of suspects, Inspector?’ said Gayle.
‘Alibis and DNA testing, Mrs Keating. In this case, I think DNA testing will be crucial, seeing that our pathologist is analysing the biological material found on Melissa’s body that obviously isn’t hers,’ said Carl.
‘Have they found her clothing, Inspector?’ said Keith.
‘We’ve retrieved a white tee-shirt from a rubbish bin on the esplanade,’ said Carl.
‘What about her bikini?’ said Gayle.
‘We need to entertain the possibility that the killer is a collector,’ said Carl, ‘someone that keeps souvenirs from his crimes.’
‘A serial killer?’ said Keith.
‘That is a possibility,’ said Carl, ‘but I can’t say for sure. This is a fairly unique case. At least, I haven’t come across anything like it before. All the more reason for stopping him as soon as we can.’
‘I agree,’ said Gayle. ‘The sooner, the better.’
‘Okay,’ said Carl. ‘We’ll need to talk to her close circle of friends. Can you give me the names and contact details of that group of friends you mentioned?’
‘All that information will be in her phone, Inspector. You already have that, according to the policeman that was here with John last night. It was found with Darren,’ said Keith.
‘Can you give me the access code?’ said Carl.
Keith looked at Gayle.
‘Four-eight-eight-four,’ said Gayle. ‘She might not have shared everything with her father, Inspector, but between us there were no secrets. That’s why I knew about the bikini, and he didn’t.’
to be continued…