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My Grand-dad, Richard, was a D.C.I for the Merseyside Metropolitan Police. Sorry, I’m a police officer myself, and I come from a big police family, so acronyms become something of a second tongue. A D.C.I is a Detective Chief Inspector, and he would command a small unit of officers when heading up serious or serial murder investigations. He had gunned for the position since his first day as a bobby on the beat in the 60's, and when he got there he had no intention of moving on.
He died last year. He’d had good innings, and it was a peaceful death. For a copper it was about the best he could have hoped for. He’d delivered much worse news to the widows and children of his colleagues than the doctor had delivered to us when he passed. There were undoubtedly people out there who wanted him dead, but for all their sharp suits and ‘contacts’, they were beaten to the punch by an acute case of endocarditis. I hope they were fucking pissed that a bacterial infection achieved in two weeks what they couldn’t in twenty years.
Still, as an officer myself, hoping to follow in his footsteps, I spent hours trawling through the cases and cases of notes in his attic. My granddad’s strength was in the interrogation room. He’s was no Sherlock, profiling suspects from three hundred yards, nor could he tell know within seconds that a suspect was recreating a series of killings modeled on some Shakespearean play, but if you got him in a room with a suspect then he’d get what he needed.
I found a box of his notes from the early 90's. Early summer, 1993 to be exact. I would have been about 8. Thinking back, all I could remember about that summer was that my Granddad was around a lot more. It had never even occurred to me before that this was weird, but thinking about it now it struck me. That kind of position was one of late nights, worked weekends and no free time. It was takeaways and coffee and pounding whisky to try and get to sleep. So why did I get a full summer of Granddad? A full summer of bike rides and ice cream and trips to the zoo. Why wasn’t he at work?
The box mostly documented one case. A murder that my Granddad had a suspect lined up that he liked for it. But, this box of notes wasn’t like the others. Most of the boxes were immaculately organised. They had to be, at any time he could be called up to defend a past conviction at appeal. Cases could be reopened. After some serious advances in DNA profiling he’d had several cases reinvestigated and he had had to represent his case, so he knew the value of a solid case with all your notes well organised.
But this box was different. Case 731-9401 – a single murder of a 17 year old girl called Alice Sebah.
The notes were all scribbled. Out of order. They were covered in scrawled mathematical formulas, and weird symbols. Research into deja-vu. Research into wormholes. Time travel. Neural-lingual programming. Inter-dimensional travel. Alternate universes. The word ‘HOW’ was scrawled in margins, between paragraphs, everywhere, like a chorus.
What the hell did all this have to do with the murder of a 17 year old girl?
That was when I found the transcript. A single transcript of a single interrogation from May 1993.
“Interrogation of suspect in relation to case 731-9401 – The murder of Alice Sebah. Questioning commenced May 3rd 1993. For the record could you please state your full name for the tape?”
“Alright then James, could you tell me where you were on the evening of Friday 19th March please?”
“You know where I was”
“Of course you do, I’ve told you many times, right here in this room.” “Maybe you’ll have to refresh my memory, as this is the first time I’ve questioned you”
“It’s not, and it won’t be the last either. But fine, let’s dance, Detective, I’ll lead. On that night, I went to dinner with an old school-friend, then we shared a drink at the nearby Hare and Hale pub, and then I followed Alice Sebah, another patron, home and strangled her”
“You seem remarkably eager to confess.”
“Oh come now, I’ve confessed to this crime a total of thirty-seven times now. Surely you remember, Detective?”
“What I remember is that three hours ago we knocked on your front door and took you into custody, and now you’re confessing to murder, correct?”
“Ah, you disappoint me detective. You’ve normally cottoned on by now. Skip coffee this morning? Fine, let’s take it from the top if must repeat all our lines. Perhaps that will jog your memory”
“Our lines? What do you-“
“I, James Dwade, murdered Alice Sebah and you’ll never be able to prove it”
“But you just confessed. I don’t need to prove it. We have the weapon, the motive, the opportunity and now a confession.”
“Ah, but in thirty minutes that confession –“
“…Will disappear like every other bit of evidence we’ve ever had on you”
“Oh good! You remembered your line! I’m so glad, I thought we were going to have to go through this tedious rigmarole a thirty-eighth time”
“…What is this? How did I know to say that? What’s going on?”
“I told you. This is the thirty-eighth time we’ve had this conversation. Now, be a good boy and tell me the evidence you’ve got this time, so I can go back and get rid of it.”
“Ugh, look, you’ll never get me for this crime. Every time you bring me in, I find out what evidence you have against me, what you’ve used to build your case and everything the prosecution will later rely on in court. Then it’s simply a matter of going back and fixing it.”
“You know you can’t do that”
“I’ve done it thirty-seven times already just for this bitch. I see no reason why the thirty-eighth should be any more of a challenge”.
“Yea, you did well on this one, I’ll give you that. When I did Alison two years back it only took me four cycles to be in the clear.”
“Yea, you remember Alison, right? Actually, you probably don’t, she’s presumably just some unsolved case now that probably never got put on your desk. But those first few cycles… It was so funny, hearing the conviction in your voice fade with each cycle. Hell, that final time you were positively polite when you started your little ‘I’m arresting you for the murder of Alison Plaskett…’ speech.” Course, by then, the only thing you had on me was a CCTV photo of a car I might have driven”
“And what might we have had before?”
“Oh, the first cycle I just go wild. I don’t make any attempt to clean up. And that first time is just the sweetest. With Alison I was experimenting with my knife work. I wanted to see how easy it is to stab someone and deliberately miss major arteries and veins. I saw it in a movie, deliberately missing I mean, and it sounded like it might come in handy. Turns out; it’s pretty fucking difficult. Urgh, the mess was immense. 8 pints of blood might not sound like a lot but it ruined the fuck out of the carpet. But yea, I left the knife, my fingerprints, footprints, everything. It couldn’t have been more obviously me if I’d have written my address with her entrails. Ooh, that’s a good idea, I might do that to the next one, just once”
“Then you had a right nark on when you banged on my door. Oof, you even slammed my head into the car door-frame when you were arresting me, you cheeky scamp.”
“And then we built our case against you…”
“And every time you made it, I knew exactly what to correct. First the blood, then the DNA evidence. I wore gloves, found a better alibi, changed cars. All those little things you had on me, I just kept going back to get rid of them until I was peachy, and you know what the best bit is? I got to kill that bitch 14 times. Fuck, once I’ve figured out a clean run, I could do it as often as I want. Thousands of times, if I wanted to. Millions. My own little holocaust of one.”
“Then why not spare her? After the millionth time, why not go back and let her live?”
“Where’s the fun in that? Then I might as well not have bothered. You can’t get away with murder if the victim’s still alive.”
“Why the fuck would I tell you that? Sit here and tell you how I do it so you figure out how to stop me? What am I, a Bond villain?”
“I could just strangle you, right here, right now”
“You could, but you won’t. What are you going to tell the authorities when they ask you? I tripped and landed in your hands while you were practicing your grips? Or would you tell them that you killed me because I was magic? What about your wife? Kids? Grandkids? What will they do when you’re jailed for senselessly murdering a madman in protective custody? Oof, I can see the headlines now. The Guardian would just have a day at the seaside”
“How did you know about my…”
“...Wife and kids? Tut tut, you forget how many times we’ve had this conversation. How many times do you think you’ve used the ‘I’m just an average guy like you’ routine? I’ll tell you… Too many. It’s your go-to opener when you’re down to the circumstantials. Change the record, detective, mix it up a little”
“You know, this is all coming back to me now”
“Oh good, maybe you’ll tell me what the evidence is then so we can both get on with our day. I must be pretty close, last time you were clutching at some ol’ biddy downstairs having heard that bitch say my name, or something.”
“Oh, come on man! Don’t make me go to court again. I can never concentrate when they all wear those stupid fucking wigs. I always forget something. You’ll only make me have to go back and kill her more times. Tell me, do it for Alison.”
“Maybe, in fact, what I’ve remembered isn’t how to make your case. It’s how to stop you.”
“Oh really? And how might that be? What’s magical about dance number 38?”
“I’ll give you this, Detective, this is a new one. Well done, for that at least. I thought for sure you were going to break out the plea deal for a second.”
“Oh come on Detective, don’t be coy. We’ve danced too long for you to get all frigid on me now”
“Come on, Rick, spill. Don’t hold out or I’ll get pissy, seriously, I can’t be bothered having to wait for a court case again.”
“Seriously, fucking tell me”
“You know I’ll come for you next, don’t you? Tell me and I might not decide to make your pretty little wife the next whore I throw on my little rancid roundabout”
“You’re pissing me off now, Rick, tell me before I do something we both regret”
“FUCKING TELL M-“
End of Transcript I searched through the file for anything further. There were only a couple more pieces in there. One was a statement by an Officer Fallows, accompanying an interview with my Grandad.
Interview – 0521474 – Date 18/05/1993 Fallows – Further to incident 0521474 during case 731-9401.
Officer Fallows - DCI R. Haim was involved with an altercation with suspect James Dwade during an interrogation. CCTV footage shows Dwade attacking DCI Haim during the conversation, at which point Haim used his standard issue TASER to subdue the suspect. Medical staff administered 10mg of IV Haloperidol at the scene to sedate the suspect. Is this is a fair summation of the events?
DCI Haim – Yes. Suspect acted violently and demonstrated delusional thinking, seeming to suggest that he could time travel. When provoked, suspect reacted violently. I’m no doctor, but I recommend sectioning under the mental health act until deemed safe to stand trial.
Officer Fallows – Anything else?
DCI Haim – Yes… Don’t…. Just keep him sedated. Don’t let him get his wits together.
Officer Fallows – You… You don’t believe him do you?
DCI Haim - …..
Addendum – Due to violent nature of incident and direct threats to DCI Haim’s family, DCI Haim has been assigned 2 months of paid leave.
- Statement close***
There was only one final thing in the file. Another police report. A different case. Not my Grand-dads.
Case 695-2182; First Degree murder.
Victim; Alison Plaskett.
Status; Unsolved. Lack of Evidence.