Two days later, Carl and Peter were standing with Mike Jonas in a blue tent pitched in the dunes of Morton Sands, less than a hundred metres from where Melissa Keating’s body had been found in the glare of the police helicopter’s searchlight. They were looking at Karen Newhouse’s body, which had been discovered in less dramatic circumstances by an elderly gentleman intent on photographing the sand dunes.
This time there was no noisy generator, only sand rolling across the surface of the dunes and covering everything in its path, and piling up along the edges of the tent.
Karen’s body was naked, except for the twisted remnants of a red evening dress wrapped around the wrist of her right hand.
‘So, Mike, what can you tell us about this one?’ said Carl.
‘Looks a lot like that other girl we found on the beach,’ said Mike. ‘Stripped, raped and strangled, and it looks like your killer still isn’t practising safe sex. He’s left us another sample.’
‘Assuming it’s the same guy,’ said Carl.
‘I’ll be able to confirm that soon enough.’ Mike knelt beside the body. ‘Take a look at her hands, Carl. See the bruising on the left wrist. I reckon he didn’t want to get scratched this time, and the boys haven’t found any underwear,’ said Mike.
‘We need to keep that bit to ourselves, for the time being,’ said Carl.
‘My lips are sealed,’ said Mike.
Peter followed Carl out of the tent and down onto the beach, so that the crime scene investigators could complete their task and arrange to move the body up to the coroner’s van, waiting on the esplanade.
‘These girls don’t wear much, do they?’ said Peter. ‘There didn’t appear to be much material in that dress. Who knows if she was even wearing underwear?’
‘If her dress was that short, Pete, she’d have been wearing knickers at least,’ said Carl.
‘She’s a long way from the city,’ said Peter. ‘I mean, if she was at a party in the city, what’s she doing here?’
‘Didn’t you read the file I sent you? She’s from Morton Sands and, according to her mother’s statement, she called in when she got on the train to come home. Her family lives up the street from the station.’
‘Starting to look more and more like our killer is a local, as well, Inspector.’
Carl watched a young family walking along the beach, oblivious to the tragedy in the dunes behind him, and wondered how many more girls would die before they’d stop the killer. He reached into his pocket for a nicotine gum, to suppress the craving that threatened to distract him from the task at hand.
‘We can’t do anything standing here.’
They walked along the beach towards the surf lifesavers’ clubhouse and took the path through the dunes, the same path the murderer had used to lead Melissa Keating to her death on the beach, to where they’d parked their cars.
‘Find out if the cameras at the station were working on Friday night, and get Uniform to check if anybody between here and the station has a security camera directed at the street.’
to be continued…