Three lads run into a field behind a park; it's autumn, about 7.00pm and starting to get dark.
"Come on guys lets play."
"Alright, you go in goal and we'll play one on one."
*kicks ball and runs after it, his opponent chasing him*
After a moment or two one of the boys kicks the ball too hard and it goes into some bushes, he runs in to get it and…
"So what do we have here then?" Michael asked Robbie and Stuart.
"Young girl, 'bout 17, 18 maybe." Robbie answered.
"Nah, just a bag with school books in it, can't read the name."
"Ok, Stuart get on to missing persons, see if a schoolgirl's gone missing in this area."
"Stephen, do we have a time of death?"
"About four hours ago I'd say, sharp blow to the head, almost certainly with this, he gestured to a short plank of wood covered in blood which lay next to the girl."
"Right get forensics onto that. Any sign of sexual assault?"
"I'll know for sure when I get her up on the slab but as a guess I'd say yes, see how her legs are bent like that and the blood on her skirt, I'd say she was raped then killed very soon after."
"She was killed here?"
"Without a doubt" Stephen gestured to the blood on the ground around her.
"Ok thanks," Michael smiled at Dr. Andrews then turned to Robbie, "who found her?"
"Couple of kids playing football round here, Jackie's talking to 'em now."
"Yeah ok, take a look at those cameras out by the park entrance; she might have come this way to get in her, see if you can get the tapes by tonight."
Meanwhile Jackie was talking to the boys who had found the body,
"So, just tell me exactly what happened, take your time." She smiled kindly at the boys who couldn't have been more then 11.
"We were coming over to play football, the year 10 and 11 lads play in the park and we have to play here, and we found her in the bushes."
"Was it just you three playing?"
"Yes miss," the smallest boy answered, "me, Tom and James, he's my brother, came over to play, there's usually five of us but Matt's on holiday and Jacks ill. It's Jake and James Hill and Tom King."
"So who found the body?"
Tom spoke for the first time, "I did miss."
"Ok," smiled Jackie, "so what exactly happened just before you found the body?"
"Jake was in goal and me 'n James were playing, he kicked it by the bushes by accident and I went to get it and…" his lip trembled as he looked towards the officers crowded around the body.
"It's alright," Jackie said softly. "Take your time, you're not in any trouble, we just need to know what happened." Tom nodded, took a few breaths and said,
"I screamed and ran away, they asked me what was wrong and I said that there was a dead girl in the bushes, they didn't believe me and I… I started to cry and then we used the payphone to call you."
"That was the right thing to do," Jackie told him, "thanks for telling me that. Now, you guys have had a big shock; we need to get you home. I'll get someone to take you, where do you live?" She glanced around for a kind uniformed officer to escort the kids home and explain to their parents why they were I such a state.
"Just across the road miss, we live in number 32 and Tom lives next door at number 30." Tom said, his voice still shaking a little.
"Ok, hold on here a second." She spotted Heather a little way away and called her, "Heather!"
"What's up Jackie?" Heather called
"Could you to escort them home and explain to their parents please, they live across the road there, numbers 30 and 32" she explained as Heather walked towards her.
"Yeah sure," she smiled, and to the lads she said, "hi ya, come on lets get you home." She led them away and Jackie smiled, she liked Heather and knew that she'd look after the boys. 'Hhhmmm, Heather Jardine' Jackie thought, smiling a little, as she went over to the rest to report back.
"Hey Michael." She smiled at her boss and good friend, "can Stephen tell us anything?"
"Only that she was probably raped here then killed very quickly, guess you saw the wood he hit her with."
"Yeah. Any idea who she is?"
"Not yet, Stuart's onto missing persons and Robbie's trying to get those tapes, she can't be more than 17/18 though, she had her school bag with her."
"Don't any of her books say her name?" Jackie asked
"We can't make it out, it rained heavily this afternoon and the stuff was all over the ground. Did you get anything off the kids?"
"Not really, came out here to play football, ball went in the bushes, kid called Tom found the body, all scared stiff poor kids. Heather's taking them home now."
"Ok," Michael smiled, looking over to where Heather was just leaving the park, "great, err, well done."
"Thanks." Jackie smiled noticing the glance at Heather.
"Hi ya Jackie" Stuart smiled,
"Yeah, a young girl was just reported missing by her parents, apparently she didn't come home from school and all her friends say she's not with them."
"Got a name?" Jackie asked,
"Yeah, Sophie Burkley aged 17, blonde hair, green eyes, medium build, it fits. They said she was wearing a lilac T-shirt and black skirt." He glanced over at the girl's clothes, lilac top, black skirt. "Parents live a few streets away; she'd have to walk past this place to get home from school."
"Ok." Michael said, "It's her, Jackie, take Robbie and go talk to the parents, get them to make a positive ID tonight, they're taking her to the mortuary now. Stuart get the CCTV tapes off Robbie, look over them see if you can see her coming in."
"Yes Sir." Stuart chimed going off but Jackie just stood, staring at the girl,
"Jackie?" Michael said, his voice brought her back to Earth but her face still looked strained, worried or scared even, "you alright?"
"Yeah, fine." She said turning in the direction of Robbie.
Back at the office -
"So the parents made a positive ID?" Michael asked
"Yeah," Robbie replied, "were absolutely beside themselves."
"Their daughter's just been murdered Robbie." Jackie said
"I know, just stating their reaction, didn't say it wasn't totally understandable. I mean if…" he broke off not even wanting to mention his own son in connection with this. Jackie just nodded and they got back to the case.
"Did they tell you anything? Boyfriend? Enemies?"
"No boyfriend, an ex. though who apparently wouldn't leave her alone and get this, she accused her uncle of sexual assaulting her a few months back, case never went to court, not enough evidence." Robbie told him
"He raped her?"
"No, according to the parents he was feeling her up, they reckon he killed her."
"Well right now they might be right; we need to check out that ex boyfriend of hers too. Where's Stuart?" Michael looked around and, as if on cue, Stuart walked into the room, "found anything?" he asked.
"No, she's not on any of CCTV footage, must have come in the other way."
"Figures," Michael sighed, "right so we're pretty sure that she was attacked on her way home from school, and we've got a sexual assault charge and jealousy as motives. You get a name for her uncle?"
"Yeah a Jonathon Goodwin; lives on Peters Road, number 25 apparently."
"That's only a few minutes walk away from the park." Stuart said.
"Ok, it's too late now; we need time to question him. Send a car of uniforms over there and watch him, make sure he's not leaving the country, and we'll pick him up tomorrow. What about the ex. boyfriend?"
"Dave Baker, 18, goes to same school as her but parents weren't sure of his address."
"Ok, we'll have to pick him up tomorrow too then, right first thing Robbie, you and Jackie go pick up this Goodwin guy and Stuart and I will get down to the school and pick up this Dave. We'd better talk to the teachers and friends as well."
They all filled out of the room arranging picking each other up in the morning,
"8.30 alright?" Robbie asked Jackie,
"What?" she looked up distracted,
"Pick you up tomorrow, 8.30 in the morning to pick up the uncle."
"Right yeah, that's fine, thanks." She said, Robbie got into his car and Stuart came up to Jackie,
"You ok?" he asked,
"Yeah fine." She answered then smiled at him, "thanks."
"If you need to talk…"
"Yeah I know." She smiled gratefully then headed home for the night, it was already quarter to ten and she sighed wondering what Brain would say.