Detective Inspector Ifan Rhys-Morgan stared intently at the report in his hand as he strode back to his office. Several junior officers had to quickly jump aside or risk being trampled underfoot. So focused was he that he ignored the box of assorted cream cakes that Detective Sergeant Thomas Jenkins had just bought from the bakery next door.
“Tommie,” said Rhys-Morgan as he walked past, gesturing with his head towards the office door.
Jenkins washed down a mouthful of pastry and cream with the dregs of his coffee and struggled to his feet, showering crumbs across his desk. “Yes, Guv.”
Rhys-Morgan marched into his office, and threw the files onto his desk. The papers clipped an old mug used to hold pencils, send it spinning a few times before it overturned, scattering its contents. Ignoring the two pencils that rolled onto the floor, Ifan flopped into his chair.
“Close the door, Tommie.”
Jenkins shut the door gently behind him and turned to face his superior. He stood quietly, hands clasped behind his back, until Rhys-Morgan indicated for him to sit. His friend did not look happy. Tommie knew not to press the matter – he would find out what the problem was in good time.
Rhys-Morgan rubbed his eyes with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand.
“They’ve ID’d three of the bodies, Tommie.”
“It’s not good.”
Tommie remained silent. Identified bodies were always bad for someone.
Rhys-Morgan tossed the topmost report across the desk to his sergeant. Jenkins picked it up and scanned through the first page. As his boss had said, forensics had identified three of the victims. All three were named from police files. He recognised two of the names straight away. Ifan was right: this was far from good.
Rhys-Morgan stared at his number two. “You remember the Jackson case, I presume?”
Jenkins nodded sadly. “Yes, Guv.”
Frank Jackson was a local farmer who for many years had been regarded as a pillar of the community. He had been on several committees, including the board of governors for the local school that Jenkins’ eight children went to. (The sergeant’s pie and cake eating capacity was matched only by the fruitfulness of his loins.) That was all before the scandal hit: a scandal that, while not ruining the man, substantially - and now, irrevocably - reduced the respect he received from the locals.
Frank Jackson and his farmhand, Dave Lloyd, were arrested three years ago on charges of extreme cruelty and breaking several European regulations on animal welfare. The arrest was made following an anonymous tip-off. A number of videotapes were delivered to the police that allegedly showed Frank and Dave performing a number of diabolical, obscene, and totally illegal, acts involving a number of sheep. The ensuing dawn raid of the Jackson farm uncovered some quite grisly evidence.
Everyone was shocked. None more so than D.S. Jenkins, who had been given the unenviable task of performing the arrest itself. Jackson’s stunned look of confusion, and his wife Sarah’s defiant loyalty, were images that Jenkins would take to his grave.
Public opinion on the case had been divided. Those who knew Jackson best could not believe that he would do such a thing. Others, led by another local farmer, Garth Jones, made a convincing case to immediately expel Jackson from all committees and groups in which he was at all influential. In a more sinister turn to the story, the pair - and the local law firm that represented them - received a number of threats and offensive letters by animal rights activists.
Their lawyers, Smeg and Butterworth, eventually managed to get Frank and Dave cleared of all charges. All the evidence was shown to be either false or inconclusive. During the trial, however, it was revealed that Frank and his wife had interests in Paganism, a fact that the predominantly Christian parish did not readily forget. Although exonerated, it was too late to restore Frank’s name and he never regained the respect nor positions of power – many of which had been subsequently filled by Garth Jones – that he had held before.
During his dealings with the police, Frank Jackson had made many friends, including Ifan and Tommie. It was with great sadness that they had watched his reputation get dragged through the mud. It was with even greater sadness that they now had to read his name among the casualties.
Rhys-Morgan scratched the top of his head with both hands. “Poor bastard.”
The second name on the list was David Lloyd, the farmhand. The third, Tommie was not familiar with.
“Patrick Edwards,” he read aloud. “Who’s this guy?”
Rhys-Morgan shrugged. “Got busted for possession of cannabis. A few years back, when we were strict about such things. Got off with a fine. According to the arresting constable’s report, he was a real nice guy. Quiet, well mannered, regretful. No problem.”
The Inspector absent-mindedly righted the fallen mug on his desk and replaced a couple of the rogue pencils.
“Send a car to the Jacksons’,” he told Jenkins. ”Assign a WPC to break the news to Mrs Jackson. Assuming she’s there. If she’s not...” Rhys-Morgan picked up the second mug on his desk and grimaced at the congealed remains of coffee in the bottom, “we’ll have to get her medical records to the lab boys tomorrow.”
Rhys-Morgan placed the mug back on his desk and continued to stare at it with the same look of repugnance. “And find out what you can about this Patrick Edwards character.”
He looked up into his sergeant’s eyes. “We’ll get the bottom of this, Tommie.”