Kirklee was a typical West of Scotland small town where everyone knew everybody else and honour was satisfied on Saturday nights on the way home from the pub.
Once important, its Saltire-waving uninhabitable castle at the other end of the main road sat atop the hill surveying the adventure playground and skate-park, obligatory coffee and gift shop visitor centre and bowling green sheltering beneath. The road bisected two distinct communities – the castle end was made up of the old church and conservation village properties the likes of which only doctors and lawyers could afford and behind this side lay semi-circular cul-de-sacs filled with people escaping the city whilst stepping up en route to the coastal town five miles down the road where most really wanted to live. On the war memorial side of the town lay the council scheme, overcrowded primary school, shops, surgeries, pubs and take-away restaurants. Children from both sides swooshed down the sloping pavements on silvery scooters having not learned yet that their futures would take them in different directions and pensioners looked both ways before stepping out of their front doors in case their ankles were about to be swiped. In the evenings, teenagers who actually ventured out of their rooms sat on the swings while swigging underage contraband and bemoaned their lot in life as, after all, there was nothing to do.
It was Scotland in miniature.
It was not the sort of place to have a police station even before the regions joined together as one Police Scotland centralised force and so it came as a surprise to everyone when the girl’s body was found at the top of the castle hill by Sunday morning tourists making the first climb of the day. It had been obvious as soon as they saw her that “Something awful” had happened.Her limbs were unnaturally sprawled in a way that no sleeping person would position themselves and her once blonde hair was matted with blood and mud. Murders just didn’t happen in Kirklee. Well, not for ages anyway.
Lucinda Carr arrived after the tent had been erected and the body examined by Bill Williams in situ. Bill had already gathered some physical evidence and would be the one to do all structured and sequential examination for physical and trace evidence and it would be his findings that would be presented to the Procurator Fiscal. An “integrated service” they called it but what it meant was being there from start to finish to ensure the guilty were brought to justice based on the evidence available. Bill was not one to speculate. He worked purely on the evidence and left the other aspects of the investigation to the rest of his colleagues.
Tape barred the way around the scene and Jon the photographer methodically photographed every blade of grass to be looked at later. Bill and Lucy had worked on one case together the year before but usually it was Lucy’s superior Mark who led the occasional case in Ayrshire. It was more likely that Police would be investigating a drunk and disorderly late night set-to or wifely domestic abuse to be recanted later than murder. Young girls tended to get into trouble once they left home for the city rather than while still living at home. The small town was used to policing itself and it was still okay for adults to talk to other people’s children or knock on a door to ask a neighbour to cut back a branch or move a visiting car. The flashing lights, tape and tent aroused some curiosity and a small crowd gathered.
“Time of death Bill?”
“You know better than that Lucy. I would estimate that it would have been between two and five this morning but I can’t be clearer till I get her back for a fuller examination. All I can say is that there has been blunt force trauma causing significant cranial bleeding which was possibly the cause of death.”
“Do we know who she is? Is there any I.D. with her?”
The very young looking constable who had been keeping back the growing crowd came back to talk to Lucy. “There was a driving licence in her purse with the name Cathy Small but the photo doesn’t match the hair colour. If it’s Cathy Small she’s twenty-three and lives in Panrock in Arran View and she had red hair six years ago when she got her licence.”
“She looks younger than twenty-three at first glance,” Bill said, “but again I won’t be able to confirm much more until I get her back to the lab.”
Lucy looked at the visible remains which were mostly obscured because she was face down. Cathy, if that’s who she was, was slight and short with pathetically thin arms splayed out – the right one up towards her head as if she’d been trying to stop a blow and the other unnaturally bent back over her waist. Both arms were bare apart from a vibrant loom band bracelet on her right wrist which made her look younger than 23. No rings. She was wearing a thin strappy dress with a floral pattern. It was bunched around her thighs displaying tanned legs covered in old bruises which were turning from purple to yellow. Insubstantial plastic sandals lay upturned nearby, telling their own story. She was on the worn path rather than the grass and gravel had cut her knees and elbows when she’d fallen. All in all, her ending had been painful and intense.
Lucy took the bagged up driving licence and began to speak to each of the bystanders on the other side of the tape but although people’s expressions ran the gamut from shifty to shocked no-one claimed to know of anyone missing or have heard of Cathy Small.