“Is it…?” I couldn’t finish the question, trembling in a sudden relief. This month, at least, it wasn’t me.
“We think so.” DC Stubbs nodded, squeezing my arm reassuringly. “DI Plum wants you to come in again. I’ll just let him know that you are ready.”
While DC Stubbs reached for the radio at her side, muttering crackled instructions back to base, I leaned on the wall contemplating the situation. Having shot five people in the space of twelve months, the killer was inevitably beginning to fee, increasing bravado. Max Coons, the most likely suspect, was only linked to the crimes circumstantially. If the police couldn’t find any definite clues, what I could do was beyond.
“I’m going to take you directly to Central Station.” DC Stubbs announced, drawing me back to the real world.
Nodding, I limp behind her, gratefully sinking into the passenger seat. The doctors examination had involved prodded and poking, and I now ached more than I thought possible. DC Stubbs steered us efficiently out of the hospital, sweeping along the Brian Clough Way, pausing only momentarily at the few traffic lights we met before pulling into the police station car park.
We found a small cluster of the press emerging, mumbling to each other. A couple of reporters recognised me and they swarmed round us, hurling questions at me.
“What is your role in investigating the current murder?”
“How’s the leg?”
“What is your opinion of the killer and what the police are doing to catch him?”
“No comment.” Mumbling, I kept my head down, hobbling up the stone steps as DC Stubbs cleared the way.
Signing in, I clipped on my visitors pass and made my way unsteadily to DI Plum’s office.
“Did DC Stubbs fill you in?”
On the journey, DC Stubbs had described the scene as the business man standing on platform one of the train station had collapsed amongst a group of waiting passengers, shot in the head as he waited for the Manchester bound train. He was fighting for his life, the bullet having skimmed the side of his skull without damaging the brain.
“Identified as John Mathers, we have confirmed that he is the owner of the GymFit chain, and main share holder to the equipment chain run by Max Coons’ brother. It seems he was about to withdraw support for a new building scheme.”
“So we have a motive?”
“Yes, for Paul Coons, not Max.”
“But isn’t Paul the swimmer, not the archer?”
DI Plum eyed me dryly and made no comment. The brother with the most tangible motive didn’t have had the skill to commit the murders, yet the brother who did had no definitive motive. As the brothers did not particularly get on, the idea of collusion was tenuous.
“So the evidence was unable to identify Max?” The Prosecutor queried.
“To the best of my knowledge.” It felt wrong to admit to the jury the frailty of the evidence.
“Were you able to assist with the fourth murder?”
“I carried out further research and confirmed further links between the victim, and Mark Coons final victim a hundred and fifty years ago.”
“He was the direct descendant of the director who owned and ran the company that drove Mark Coon’s out of business.”
“So all the victims and both Coons brothers were directly linked with the murders carried out a hundred and fifty years ago?”
“That’s right. All murders shared locations with the originals, all shared the same date of Mark Coons’ execution and the two were related directly with original victims. The attack on me…” I took a deep breath. “Was driven by necessity and carried out only a few hundred metres up the road from an original site.”
“Did you receive further communications?”
“Yes. I received a second letter the following day.”
“Is this the letter?”
The second letter was hand written, bold writing jumping clearly from the envelope giving me pause to think before examining the contents. The single page was clean, the writing etched onto the paper by a powerful hand.
“Could you please read this to the court?”
“What was of interest in this letter?”
“There were two pieces of information that the killer let slip. In the original murder investigation a hundred and fifty years ago, there were some scenes where the police never worked out the location from which Mark Coons took the shots. We had no information to make comparisons with the contemporary analysis.”
“What did this revelation lead to?”
“Search warrants for the properties of Max and Paul Coons. As the only direct descendants, they were likely to inherit any of Mark’s final possessions.”
“Were you able to identify any of the recovered items?”