Laura Ch. 07byshandal©
Laura is missing and the Police believe her husband is responsible, every thing he did against Laura has set himself up, and now he is reaping the rewards.
Chris is going out of his mind with grief.
If you like romantic thrillers, read on.
The week had been eventful for the investigation, with more and more evidence mounting up against the husband, except they had no body.
Standing in front of the team in the squad room Martin shook his head, slouched with hands in trouser pockets, he looked down at the file in front of him on the desk and said. "The traces of blood the forensics found on the floor in the kitchen, on the counter and in the plug hole of the sink could point to him cutting her up, but would he have had time that night and the next day to do that. It takes time to cut up a body and get rid of it, and more blood than we've got. The most logical place would be the bath."
"The traces of blood found on the kitchen knife makes me think she was stabbed Martin. The blood smear on the steering wheel of the car makes me think he took the body and dumped it somewhere during the night."
"Yes and even though he washed the tea towel, the blood stains on it shows he tried to clean up the mess with it, so I think she was killed in the kitchen."
"He must have leant against the kitchen counter, his bloody finger print and palm print showed up when the counter was tested by forensics. Proving he had access to her body after she was wounded."
"But is this enough to charge him? With no body it's all supposition."
"We need enough strands of circumstantial evidence to be able to charge him. Firstly the hospital has past records of a broken wrist, the kind of break that can only be caused by rough twisting of the arm. Next we have witnesses to other instances of abuse, escalating in violence and time between each one. The neighbour, the boyfriend, his and her work colleagues all witnessed signs of abuse, including bruises and cuts. His story keeps changing, firstly he told her to leave, next he came home and she had gone. And don't forget the threats to kill her repeated in front of the Hospice Manager and heard by the neighbours."
"Also what woman leaves her home without taking her bag, her purse, her keys or any make up or clothes?"
"No sign of movement in her bank account, she hasn't collected her last month's pay, no sign or sighting of her since the 24th. The new girlfriend installed in her house, in her clothes."
"What about the boyfriend, the motive to kill her was she was going to leave the husband for him, the husband's ego couldn't take it. There he was a successful man and she was leaving him for someone he saw as below him in every way. What did he call him in the interviews?"
"Her bit of rough, the Neanderthal, the big ape. All derogatory names, he felt she had slighted him, insulted him, and defied him. He hit out at her as he always had, and in his anger went too far. They were in the kitchen, he picked up the knife and then when he had realised what he had done, covered up. Moved the new girlfriend in and told everyone she had left him."
"But is it enough to charge him?"
"Let's dig a little deeper, see what else we can uncover."
Like a wild animal licking it's wounds, Chris had retreated into his flat, unable to work, to eat, to go outside where people went about their daily lives, laughing and doing the day to day things that people do.
He sat there staring ahead through dry heavy eyes, seeing nothing except the pictures his mind conjured up.
Over the past weeks he had hardly eaten or slept and his already lean and wiry face and body had started to show the loss of weight, and the lack of sleep etched deeper lines into the already deep creases that normally framed a smiling mouth, but now framed a mouth that reflected deep pain.
He felt he was going mad, each time he closed his eyes he pictured Laura. He could see her smiling up at him, her beautiful green eyes sparkling with amusement as he told her outrageous stories about himself. Her sweet oval face framed by that long silky hair, her gentle smile, only to be suddenly replaced in his imagination as dead and battered, her eyes closed, her face bruised and still.
Blame and guilt sat with him continually, turning over in his mind what he should have done, what he didn't do, how he should have seen this coming.
The police had interviewed him four times now, and although they seemed to have ruled him out, he still felt responsible, still felt that if he had just carried on loving her from afar instead of knocking on that door and getting to know her, none of this would have happened.
Five weeks had gone by and still the pain was as raw as it had been that first week. Would this pain ever leave him? He didn't really want it to, as he saw it as his punishment, his cross to bear for causing the death of the woman he loved.
John sat on the couch opposite Chris shocked at his appearance. The last three weeks he had been off site, sitting here locked within his grief, but now John felt was the time to pull him out into the world, to face up to life, and he was not above a little manipulation to ensure it happened.
"As far as I can see it you have two choices, get back on site and finish your contract or I get the solicitors involved and you end up with high legal costs, your name blacklisted in the industry and possibly losing your home. Choice is yours."
"You could get someone else to finish the job. There's plenty of others out there. Gordon Ross is a good man and would take it over. Give him a call."
"Gordon is good I'll grant you, but not as good as you, besides the contract is with you Chris. I need to get finished on time or I'll go into penalty phase, and that will cost me, and if it costs me, it will cost you."
Chris sat scowling at this man who was threatening him; teeth clenched, a muscle jumping in his jaw as he contemplated hitting him to relieve his anger.
Rising to his feet John grabbed his jacket off the couch and as he walked towards the door he stopped and looked back down at the man sitting tense and angry and issued the warning. "I expect to see you at the site tomorrow morning at eight sharp. There is a couple of sash window frames you were last working on, you'll find them propped up in the third floor bedroom ready for you to start on. The rain is seeping in and I want those windows replaced first."
Walking to the door he turned around one last time. "And Chris leave that pent up anger at home, I don't want it on my site." And then he was gone.
"Look Mr Hamilton, it's inevitable we'll uncover everything. It's best you tell me the whole story in your own words. I understand you can love someone and still hurt them, she made you feel a fool, she was seeing someone behind your back, you were angry, your anger got the better of you and you lashed out. It was a crime of passion so to speak, not planned, spur of the moment, admit it and get it off your chest."
"I admit I hit her, she was unconscious when I left her, but she was alive. When I came back she was gone."
"So you admit you hit her?"
"Yes. I hit her."
"You admit you hit her so hard she was unconscious?"
"No, when I hit her she hit her head on the counter. I didn't knock her out, hitting her head knocked her out."
"But you didn't phone for an ambulance? Get help?"
"No, but she was alive. When I went out she was alive."
"So Robert explain to me the traces of your wife's blood on the knife, on the tea towel and in the plug hole?"
"I can't explain it."
He pushed himself hard to the point of exhaustion. Sweat dripped down his neck and chest, his tee shirt stuck to the skin of his back, he worked until his muscles bulged and veins stood out, but still he couldn't sleep at night.
Workmates tip-toed around him, keeping their distance, unsure what to say, and how to treat him. John watched him, making sure he took breaks to eat, went home to rest. His work became his salvation, a place to pour his anger and frustration into with each pound of the hammer.
Going home in the dark each night, he pushed the bike too fast, took risks he normally wouldn't have taken. Meals were no longer enjoyable, but necessary to stay alive and to have the strength to work the next day.
He knew his body was alive, but inside he felt dead.
Martin Dowler looked up as Mick came in, a big smile on his face, "We've got him. We've got the bastard."
"Now don't tease me Mick, what have we got." the Detective started to get up, people were streaming in through the office doorway, big smiles on their faces.
"They've found what they think are her clothes, dumped in an old rusty skip abandoned on a building site not far from the railway station."
"YESSSSSS!" and with a raised fist in the air the usually reserved Detective gave a big whoop.
"They're sure it's her clothes?"
"Yeah, they fit the description given by the boyfriend last time he saw her after he dropped her back home. And there's more."
"The jacket has blood all down one side, they're gonna to do the DNA tests against the hairs gathered from her brushes, but it's hers, I know it. We've got him."
"How far is the dump site from the house or the bar?"
"It's on the way between the house and the bar. Five minutes from the bar I'd say."
"Any sign of a body?"
"Not yet, but it's sure to be only a matter of time."
Chris stood in the hall, his heart beating so hard he thought it would explode out from his chest. He could feel the bile rising in his throat as he stood staring at the closed door.
The detective touched his arm and moved forward to open the door inviting him to step through, but he just stood there, rigid with fear, unable to move his feet.
"Mr Rubin, I understand this is difficult for you, but we need confirmation that these are the clothes you last saw Laura Hamilton wearing that night. We need you to do this for Laura. The case against her husband is building, but we need confirmation that these are her clothes. Please step through the door and help us to identify the clothes."
Wild eyes looked back at the Detective, and then as if a big hand had given the tall man a push he moved forward into the room, and stood looking down at the large table where items of clothes were laid out in their protective see through bags.
Unable to speak he stared down at the light beige jacket he had so often seen her wear now laid out, crumpled and dirty with dark brown stains marring one side. Slowly the tears he had been holding back for weeks fell, as his large frame crumpled to his knees, the sobs started to wrack his body.
Martin Dowler looked compassionately down at the distraught man in front of him, since first meeting him he had, though at first suspected he might be implicated, come to realise that this large, tough looking man had been deeply in love with the victim, and any glimmer of hope she was alive had now been stamped out.
"Mr Rubin please can you say if these are the clothes you last saw Laura Hamilton wearing the night of the 24th October."
"Yes." Looking up with tear stained face. "Yes these are Laura's things, and I'm going to kill that bastard myself."
Chris sat at the bar, hands shaking as he lifted the whisky up to his mouth. Unable to wipe the picture of Laura's clothes spread out on the table, the unmistakable stain of blood on the jacket, he closed his eyes, the mixed feelings of grief and anger swept through him.
After he had been ushered out by the Policeman and taken to another room to give and sign his statement, he had been warned not to go near Laura's husband, but to leave it to the Police to deal with him. Chris had stared long and hard at the cop, who reiterated the statement. "Mr Rubin, if you interfere in anyway with Mr Hamilton we will be forced to arrest you. Leave it to us, we know what we are doing, and you will only cause problems with the case. The best way to ensure that Laura's killer is brought to justice is for you to tell us all you know, and give evidence at any trial."
"But what if you don't get enough evidence to take him to trial, what if he gets away with killing her. What then?"
"We are building a case and there will be enough evidence, so long as you don't do anything stupid."
Standing there in the bar he finished off the last of the golden liquid in his glass, then caught the eye of the barman, signalling for another, when he felt an arm slide round his back.
Looking next to him he saw Tricia, "Hi, want to buy me a drink Chris?"
"Just leave me alone Tricia."
"Leave you alone, why? Now your little girlfriend is missing I would have thought you wanted some company? It's been a while since you called me, a phone call would have been nice."
"I told you leave me alone, I'm not in the mood for any games." He tossed the money on the counter and picked up the fresh drink, taking a long sip.
"Games Chris? I'm not the one playing games. Seems to me the two of you were playing games long before you and I met."
"What the hell are you talking about Tricia?"
"I saw you outside your house with her, kissing. You told me there was nothing between you and her, that she was married. But I saw you, and you were more than just good friends Chris. You looked a lot more than good friends."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"You were having an affair, and that's just what I told her husband, just how friendly you and that little cow were. I don't think he was too happy with hearing that."
"You what!" he exploded, the whole bar going quiet as he stood, his body rigid with fury, the glass in his hand slammed down on the bar. Taking steps backwards, Tricia realised she had gone too far in taunting this normally laid back man, and looked up apprehensively at piercing blue eyes staring at her with pure hatred.
Chris started to raise his hands as if to seize her, taking a step forward, only to find his arm grabbed by his friend Charlie. "Leave it Chris, she's not worth it."
"Not worth it, this bitch may have lit the fuse that killed Laura."
Scuttling backwards she shouted. "He was already hitting her, everyone knew, I didn't do anything except tell him about the two of you and what you were up to."
"You bitch." he roared trying to release his arm from Charlie's strong grip.
"Get out of here Tricia,"Charlie hissed, moving in front of Chris and pushing him backwards, "get out of here and don't come back, your not wanted around here."
And she turned and ran out the bar, twenty-three pairs of eyes watching her as she ran.
Robert couldn't believe this was happening to him. It was a nightmare, and he was at the centre of it, unable to wake up, to get back to reality.
He couldn't make them understand that he hadn't killed her; all he had done was hit her and walk out that night. Time and again he had repeated his story, and each time they threw back some piece of supposed evidence that pointed to him, but none of it was completely true. At least none of it was to do with him killing her.
Yes he admitted he had hurt her in the past, yes he admitted he had threatened to kill her, but he had said that in anger, he never intended to do it.
No he didn't get help for his wife after she hit her head and fell unconscious on the floor that night, no he didn't understand how her bloodstained clothes had ended up near the bar he went to that night, no he couldn't explain how her blood had ended up on the steering wheel of his car.
The questions went on and on, and in between he sat in the cell, alone with his thoughts. They had taken his tie and belt, and he felt dirty and alone, worried and confused.
Where was she? He knew he hadn't killed her, or at least he thought he hadn't killed her, but that night was such a blur, what with the wine, and the feelings of rejection and humiliation he had felt when he found out she was having an affair with that man. What if he had done something whilst he was drunk he couldn't remember? Uncertainty started to creep in, and the hours of questioning and isolation in the cell made him question his own innocence.
The young girl trembled as she was asked the questions by the female Detective, unsure what to say, and if any answers she haltingly gave was what they wanted to hear.
"So when Robert gave you the skirt and top to wear, what did he say?"
In a quiet almost whisper she replied "That he wanted to see me wear them."
"Did he say why?"
"He said I would look better in them than his wife."
"Did he say where his wife was?"
"Yes, he told me she was with someone else."
"Someone else, did he say who?"
"No, just that she was with someone else."
"Alright, let's talk about what happened when you put on the clothes."
"He seemed to change."
"Change? In what way?"
Looking embarrassed, she looked down at the hands in her lap, the top of her blond hair was all the detectives could see as they heard an even quieter "He screamed at me, called me a cow, twisted my wrist and told me I was a slut" the young girl looked back up, her eyes wet with tears and reflecting her humiliation. "He seemed to think I was his wife; he called me Laura and told me I belonged to him. I was scared, but afterwards, um, after you know, afterwards he apologised and told me he was sorry. That I was better than her, and he loved me."
"Did this happen more than once?"
"No, just that one time. But he seemed to want me to wear her clothes. During the two weeks I stayed at the house he seemed to want me to wear her clothes all the time."
Barbara walked out of the Police Station into the cold crisp daylight. Giving her statement had taken most of the day, and sitting in the little room, telling the policeman all she remembered had made her annoyed with herself for listening to her husband and not taking action before.
Listening to herself list all the times she had heard the poor woman being screamed at, all the begging she had heard for him to stop hitting her, the bruising she had witnessed, she wished she could turn back the clock and offer the young woman support, and a lifeline. But now it was too late, but she would help to get the bugger of a husband by telling all she had heard, and help to build a case against him.
It might be too late to save the young woman, but she was determined to make up for her keeping quiet and get revenge on the husband.
Down the pub that night Martin `sipped at the warm beer, leaving a frothy ring across his top lip. Wiping it with the back of his hand, he looked across at Eric and shook his head, "No body yet, I would have bet a month's wages it would have appeared by now."
"Too many places within driving distance to dump it, quarries, the river, fields and woods, could be anywhere. It'll turn up sometime soon, I don't think he planned it, just dumped it somewhere out of necessity."
"We've got a lot, but is it still enough without the body?"
"Well we'll soon find out once he goes to trial."
"Maybe the body will turn up before then."
Christmas came and went, flurries of snow settled and then melted before it could take hold, whilst people celebrated the birth of the New Year and the exciting possibilities that another year ahead would bring, Chris stayed holed up in his flat mourning its passing along with all his hopes and dreams.
His sister tried to get him to spend the holidays with her family, but like a recluse he spent the time alone in his flat, pacing from room to room, unable to relax, unable to let go of the rage that was eating him from the inside out.
Robert had been charged and was now on remand, the legal justice system was moving slowly but inexorably towards the trial due to be held later in the year. Newspapers had got hold of the story and he had found himself painted in them as the biker boyfriend and the main cause for the tragedy. Reporters had door-stepped him as he left and came home from work, shouting personal questions at him, intimating that there was more between Laura and himself than there was, trying to soil the beautiful memory of the woman that he loved.