Death Bed

Death Bed by Leigh Russell Read Free Book Online

Book: Death Bed by Leigh Russell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Leigh Russell
overshoes before shuffling sideways between the fence and the edge of the tent, to the entrance. Geraldine’s ankles were damp and rain had dripped inside her collar, but she forgot her discomfort at the familiar rush of adrenalin at starting on a case, all her senses alert as her thoughts focused on one dead stranger. Inside the tent there was an air of quiet industry. Scene of crime officers were busy taking photographs, scrutinising the ground and placing small items carefully in evidence bags.
    Geraldine looked down at the dead girl lying flat on her back on a black plastic sheet, a bin bag that had been split open, before turning to a scene of crime officer.
    ‘Any idea who she is?’
    The scene of crime officer shook his head.
    ‘No, ma’am.’
    ‘She was fully clothed?’
    Geraldine nodded towards the body which was half hidden by a pathologist kneeling beside it on a folded blanket. She moved to one side to gain a clearer view. The pathologist had cut the victim’s clothes open to expose her flesh. In the bright lights the dead girl’s lower abdomen had a faint green tinge, blood stained fluid had leaked from her nose and mouth and her tongue and eyes were protruding slightly. Her feet were bare, narrow and bloody, with bright red weals encircling her ankles. Geraldine could see one of her wrists, similarly scored. The stench was foul.
    ‘If she was fully clothed, wasn’t there anything in her pockets to indicate her identity?’
    ‘No ma’am, there was nothing at all in her pockets. No ID, no purse, no phone, nothing.’
    ‘What about her prints?’
    ‘We’re sending off everything we can, DNA, prints, whatever we can find.’
    ‘Well, let’s hope they come up with something before the meeting tomorrow,’ Geraldine said. ‘Can you tell how she got here?’
    ‘The bag must have been carried most of the way, but it was dragged along for the last few feet, from that direction.’
    He pointed to the Tufnell Park Road end of the alley.
    Geraldine stepped over to the pathologist, a grey-haired man absorbed in his work.
    ‘What was the cause of death?’
    ‘I’m nearly done,’ he replied without turning round.
    He clearly wasn’t prepared to talk them through it so they had to wait while he completed his preliminary examination. Controlling her impatience, Geraldine gazed around. Strong weeds sprouted through cracks in the uneven path which was littered with cigarette butts and lager cans.
    ‘Nice place to end up,’ Sam said under her breath.
    The pathologist stood up at last and leaned forward, rubbing his knees.
    ‘I’m Gerald Mann,’ he said, turning to Geraldine.
    He had sharp eyes, crinkly with laughter lines which his solemn expression couldn’t conceal.
    ‘DI Geraldine Steel. So, what can you tell us?’
    ‘We have a black female in her late teens or early twenties. I won’t commit myself to the cause of death right here and now, but the victim was badly beaten about the head before she died, subjected to a sustained and severe beating over a matter of days or possibly weeks. She’s been dead for at least two days, probably longer. There’s no question we’re looking at an unlawful killing. As to whether it was deliberate or not, well, that’s for you to determine, but it might be significant that she’s recently lost a finger.’
    He took a step back from the body and Geraldine saw that the dead woman’s right index finger was missing.
    ‘What happened?’
    The pathologist shook his head.
    ‘I’m not sure yet. But she was shackled - ’
    He pointed to deep weals on the dead woman’s wrists.
    ‘I can’t say the exact cause of death yet, but my gut feeling, in view of the obvious evidence, is that we’re looking at the victim of a particularly brutal murder.’
    ‘Aren’t they all?’ Sam grimaced. ‘They always say that,’ she added, turning to Geraldine who was surprised to hear the sergeant sounding churlish.
    ‘And you came here hoping to see a murder victim

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