‘You have my condolences,’ said Carl, shaking hands with Mark and Helen.
‘I hope we can rely on you to catch this animal,’ said Mark, ‘the prick’s killed two kids I love. I want the bastard to pay for it.’
‘That’s what we’re here for, Mr Jackson. I want this guy behind bars as much as you do,’ said Carl, ‘hopefully, before he does any more damage.’
‘I’d like to kill the bastard,’ said Mark.
‘Steady on, love. I don’t think the inspector needs to hear that,’ said Helen.
‘It’s okay, Mrs Jackson. I’d like to kill the bastard myself,’ said Carl, ‘but before we can get to that, we need to work out who he is and who is isn’t.’
‘What’s that mean?’ said John.
‘Whoever raped Melissa left a biological sample,’ said Carl.
‘Oh, like a DNA fingerprint,’ said John.
‘How does that help?’ said Helen.
‘It gives us two pathways to follow. One is to use the sample to determine his DNA profile and then check to see if we have a matching record in our DNA database. If he’s been in prison for a serious crime since we started collecting samples, there’s a fair chance we’ll have a record that will tell us who he is,’ said Carl.
‘And, if he’s not in your database’ said Mark, ‘what’s the good of your DNA?’
‘That’s where the second pathway comes in, Mr Jackson. The pathway of elimination,’ said Carl.
‘How’s that work?’ said Helen.
‘You understand we’re working with a semen sample, right?’ said Carl.
The Jacksons nodded in unison.
‘The way it works is, we collect a DNA sample from every male in the area, who could have been in the dunes on Friday night, and compare the DNA in those samples to the DNA from the semen left by the rapist,’ said Carl.
‘What, you have to get a semen sample from everybody?’ said Helen.
‘That could get messy,’ said Carl. ‘Fortunately, we can get a DNA sample much easier than that using a technique called a buccal smear.’
‘Oh, like a smear test,’ said Helen.
‘Yes, but it’s taken from inside the cheek,’ said Carl. ‘We can show you how it’s done, if you like?’
‘Okay,’ said Helen.
‘Pete, can you get the kit and the consent form for John to sign?’ said Carl.
‘A consent form?’ said John.
‘Yes, we can’t take a sample without consent, unless we have a court order. Besides, we prefer to collect samples to eliminate people by consent,’ said Carl.
‘Am I a suspect?’ said John.
‘John, we all know you were in the dunes on Friday night. I have a statement from the constable that drove you to the Keating’s house after Darren was placed in the ambulance. So, it’s a fact that you were there.’
‘But, I didn’t rape Melissa.’
Carl raised his hands with his palms facing John.
‘I’m not saying you did but you still need to be tested. I don’t want to give some smart lawyer the chance of raising doubts about the guilt of his client, on the grounds that the police didn’t DNA test every possible suspect. No matter how remote that possibility might be, John, I need to eliminate you from that list of possible suspects.’
‘I understand, Inspector. It just came as a bit of a shock to think that you might consider me a suspect. I loved my brother, and Melissa was like a sister to me. I could never do anything to hurt either of them,’ said John.
‘You’re the second person to tell me that, John. Melissa’s parents think very highly of you.’
A bright red blush painted John’s face.
‘Where do I sign, Inspector?’
to be continued…