6. Forensics

6. Forensics

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

A scientist is able to point the DI in helpful directions



6. Forensics

When DI Ian Bincott arrived early at the police station next morning it was to discover that the forensic team had an unexpected piece of information for him. Before he made his way to see the scientist in charge he went to his own office and made himself a cup of coffee. He felt that he needed awakening. Then he made his way to the laboratory and the head scientist came to help him,

Gunshot residue,” he said. His eyes twinkling because he knew Ian wouldn’t be expecting it. After all, how could a naked man lying in a bed leave gunshot residue where this had been found? It was plainly unlikely.

Where?” asked Ian, his eyebrows lifting.

That’s the odd thing,” came the reply, “just about everywhere, and in both rooms, the headmistress’s and the Mayor’s.”

How come?” he asked.

So you want me to do your job for you, do you?” asked the forensic scientist.

No. Just let me wake up,” replied Ian, rubbing his eyes. It had been an early enough night yesterday and he should have been wide awake by now, but Daisy had woken in the night, convinced that someone was carting a dead body into their room, through an open window. They always had the bedroom window ipen in summer because the room was prone to overheating.

And Daisy had screamed in her sleep because a corpse, cold and naked, was being edged through the window as she slept. She could see it and even hear the scuffling noise whoever might have been pushing the cold flesh was apparently making.

That had woken him and by the time she’d calmed down all she wanted to do was to snuggle up to him as close and safely as she could, and one thing being what it was they ended up being close and awake for too long to guarantee him a good night’s sleep.

I’ll tell you what,” grinned the scientist, “if I had a wife as delicious as yours I’d probably be half asleep too! Let me put the evidence like this: it looks very much as though the dead bloke wasn’t dead at the time of climbing into the bed. Look here.” And he pulled a photograph out of a manilla folder and pushed it towards Ian. It showed the inside of a bedroom and a bed, stripped back when it was taken.

This is the exquisitely tidy bedroom of Miss Penfold’s little bungalow, and lookee here…” He pointed at places marked with an ink marker, “there’s residue from the gunshot here, and here and here.”

Meaning?” yawned Ian, shaking the cobwebs from his brain, or trying to.

Meaning the fellow was lying in that bed, look: just here,” and he indicated the rough shape of a human body with a single pencil stroke, “and then he was shot. One shot, but it sprayed the residue of a gunsho where I’ve marked it together with bits f blood and flesh from the victim.”

So he was alive when he was shot?” muttered Ian.

Look, mate, I’m no detective, but I’m hard pressed to think of any reason to shoot a corpse, so in my opinion he might have been. And the story’s much the same in the other case where the Mayor discovered his friendly corpse.”

A bit risky shooting someone whilst another person is asleep next to him… must have had a silencer fitted.” grunted Ian. “All of which means we’re lost if we can neither identify the bodies and then come up with a motive for someone wanting to kill them. And then there’s a matter of getting the victims into the bedrooms in the first place.”

Then it’s your lucky day, detective inspector, and proof that forensic science ought to win prizes,” grinned the forensic scientist. “There were traces of cotton threads in the mouths of both victims, the sort of thread you might find comes from a length of bandage. It seems likely they were stopped from shouting out because their mouths were bandaged up.”

That makes perfect sense,” sighed Ian, beginning to feel more like facing the day, “thanks a lot, squire. You’ve given me quite a lot to work on. By the way, the cotton threads. Any clue what kind of bandage might have been used?”

Go to any pound shop and you’ll find it,” replied a smiling scientist, “it’s cheap stuff, made in the far East and imported in shiploads. Quite a lot of it found its way into covid masks, though they’re unlikely to be used in order to keep a noisy fellow quiet.”

Anything from toxicology?” asked Ian, hoping there would because just about anything that would help him find out who the corpses were would certainly help him. But the scientist shook his head. “Not much,” he admitted, “a drop of alcohol in each of them, no more than a unit, and red wine in both cases.”

In both? Isn’t that one coincidence too far?” asked Ian.

I doubt it. When I get home I’ll have a glass of red… and you?”

Ian nodded miserably. “The same, I guess,” he mumbled, “though I should think it’s unlikely that I’ll stick at one glass!”

If it’s any use the thin one had quite a pounding not too long ago. Gave him a couple of cracked ribs together with a few old bruises that are taking their time to go away. And he had a smashed arm once, probably when he was a kid. It was so bad the hospital put a plate in, and it’s still there. I’ll have it taken out if you like. That might help identifying him.”

How long ago for the beating??” asked Ian, latching onto a clue as to who he might be. Hospital recorrds might help, assuming he had sought medical aid. And then the childhood trauma: thsat must be on record.

Month or two, something like that,”

Right, then. Cheers,” thanked Ian, and he made his way back to the CID offices.

Meanwhile, his wife made her own way to school and parked in her usual spot in the car park.

She had an idea that might help her husband, who’d had a rough time lately, working long hours and often with no tangible result.

Miss Penfold was in the secretary's office, her head in a filing cabinet.

Daisy coughed politely and the headmistress looked up, and smiled when she saw who it was. That in itself struck Daisy as odd. Miss Penfold hardly ever smiled or showed any sign of good humour.

Can I help?” asked Miss Penfold.

I was wondering.. the boy David Shrimpton whose father was cruel to him… are there records as to when that might have been?” she asked, and added, “I thought it might help my husband,” she confessed.

There’ll be police records,” pointed out Miss Penfold, “but if it’s any help I’ll write in down for you. I was looking for exactly the same thing for exactly the same reason myself! He seems such a nice boy, does Mr Bincott, I like to help!”

© Peter Rogerson 23.05.23


© 2023 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 23, 2023
Last Updated on May 23, 2023
Tags: forensics. toxicology, red wine


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..