‘Studying. It’s pretty depressing at home, Inspector. I can’t concentrate there, not with the way Mum is at the moment,’ said John.
‘Is she getting any support?’ said Carl.
‘Yeah, but it doesn’t seem to be helping.’
‘Give her time. How’s your father doing?’
‘He’s got his work. Reckons he’s too busy to spend much time thinking about what happened to Darren. I don’t believe him, of course.’
‘What about you?’ said Carl.
‘Guess I’m doing like my Dad, Inspector, but I gather that’s not why you asked me to come in.’
‘Did you know Karen Newhouse?’ said Carl.
‘Ever since we started school. We were even doing the same course at uni. In fact, most nights we studied together in the library and came home on the same train. I was really surprised when her mum rang Saturday morning and said she hadn’t come home. God, I’m probably the last person to see her alive.’
Carl waited for John to regain his composure.
‘Take it easy. I understand this whole thing must be a bit of a shock for you and your family,’ said Carl.
‘Yeah, you can say that again. Mum’s been even more of a mess since we heard about Karen.’
‘I take it Karen wasn’t studying with you last Friday night.’
‘No, she went to a Law Society show. I was supposed to go but I wasn’t up to it, so I stayed in the library. I met up with her at the station. She reckoned she’d had enough of the stuff shirts by then.’
‘Who else was on the train?’
‘The usual Friday night crowd. I don’t recall seeing anybody I hadn’t seen before, at least not in the carriage we were in.’
‘What about on the platform at Morton Sands when you arrived?’
‘It was deserted when the train pulled in, like it always is at that time of night.’
‘Any reason why you didn’t walk Karen home?’ said Carl.
‘She only lived up the street. You can see their house from the station. Her Mum leaves the front light on for her.’
‘So what happened when you left the station?’
‘She headed home and I went down Roberts Street, in the opposite direction.’
Peter placed a map of the area around Morton Sands Station on the table.
‘Can you show us the path you took?’ said Peter.
John picked up Peter’s pen and traced the journey from the station to his parent’s house.
‘So, you turned off Roberts Street there, at the first intersection south of the station?’
‘Karen would have still been walking towards her house when you turned this corner. She lived here,’ said Peter, pointing to a spot on the map, twice the distance away from the station in the opposite direction.
‘I suppose so.’
‘Did you see anybody follow her up the street?’ said Carl.
‘Most of the crowd went the way I did,’ said John. I didn’t see anybody going the same way as Karen.’
‘Any cars in the street?’ said Peter.
‘There were a couple of cars waiting outside the station. I don’t recall seeing any others the way I went but I think there were a couple of vans parked between the station and Karen’s place,’ said John.
‘Had you seen those vans there before?’ said Carl.
‘Yeah. One of them is always there. Parked in front of the apartment building, three doors from Karen’s place.’
‘Any idea who drives it?’ said Carl.
‘No. I assume it belongs to someone living in one of the apartments but, to be honest, I’ve never taken much notice. It’s always there.’
‘What about the other one?’
‘I’ve seen it there a few times, mostly on Friday nights. Usually there is only the one.’
‘Any idea what sort of vans they are?’ said Peter.
‘Not really, but I think they’re both the same make, and the one that’s not there that often is white.’
‘Do you recall seeing anybody standing about near the vans?’
‘The lighting isn’t that great away from the front of the station, Inspector. That’s one of the reasons Mrs Newhouse leaves the light on. I don’t recall seeing anyone and, I must admit, I did watch her walk off.’ A blush slowly spread across his cheeks. ‘She looked pretty hot in that little red dress,’ said John, ‘but, if someone was standing in front of the vans, I wouldn’t have seen him.’
‘Thanks, John. Before you go, take a look at this video from the station and let me know how many of these people you know.’
to be continued…