The inside of the house looked like a tornado had hit it. Twice. Smelled a little like it might have passed through a rubbish dump before it had arrived as well.
The floor, what I could see of it between the piles of clothing and half-empty crisp bags, was a dark hardwood, rosewood maybe. I noticed a few empty bottles of expensive looking beer scattered around the living room before turning to the officer that had escorted me into the house. Jones? No… Anderson?
“What do you want to see first - the girl or where we found her?” he asked while doing his best to breathe only through his mouth.
The only noise I could hear was the steady drip drip of rainwater falling from our coats to the floor. I shrugged out of mine and hung it on a hook next to the door, barely repressing a shudder of revulsion as I was reminded of the man outside.
“Where is she? And please don’t tell me that she’s the source of that God-awful smell.”
“No, sir - that would be the rotting food on the kitchen counter.” He followed my lead and placed his coat on the hook next to mine. “We put her in the study down the hall - I asked Officer Anderson to stay with her while I went to get you.”
Damn, not Anderson then. He didn’t look like a Jones though. Wilson?
“Show me the basement.”
The stairs creaked ominously as we descended them, a bare light bulb dangling overhead illuminating the scene. It was hard not to imagine the effect this would have had on the girl; she’d be able to hear him coming and know that there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. He’d enter her prison, backlit by that harsh light, probably carrying his belt…
“Creed?” The officer was looking up at me from the bottom of the stairs, one hand on the door knob of an imposing black door.
“Open it,” I said, taking a steady breath to bring my focus back to the task at hand. I pulled a torch out of my pocket and flicked it on as he pushed the door inward.
The floor was bare concrete and I could feel the chill of it through my shoes. The only furnishings were a mattress that looked like it had been rescued from the back alley of a whorehouse and a bucket that smelled like it had served double duty as a toilet. How long had she been forced to live down here like this?
“That’s it?” I asked, shining my torch into every corner before checking the ceiling for video cameras and finding none. “No toys, no books?”
“She had a doll with her… we let her keep it. I don‘t think we could have gotten it off her with anything less than the jaws of life anyway.”
“I don’t know if that makes me feel better or worse. She talking?”
“Mostly in nods and tears.”
I didn’t have any children of my own, nor much interest in starting a family (I‘d have needed to find a willing woman first, and that was more of a challenge than I was willing to take on at that time anyway), but that didn’t stop my blood from boiling as my gaze travelled the room. What sort of pathetic justifications must he have told himself in order to continue doing this. Whatever they were, they’d obviously not been good enough to stop him from a rather determined suicide.
The sick bastard got off lucky.
“Alright, get a SOCO down here to check for blood, semen, fingerprints, the works.” I paused to study the ceiling again. “Once he’s collected all the evidence he can, I want this place torn apart. If there is any recording equipment in here, I want it found.”
“I’ll check the rest of the house for videotapes and get any computer equipment down to the lab for the boffins to analyze. Anything else?”
“Send a couple of rookies around to the neighbours,” I said, running a hand through hair that was thinner than I cared to think about. “Find out their general impressions of this closet pervert, see if anybody saw the girl arrive, or have any idea who she might be. If he’s had any other guests I want to know their names, where they work, and if they have a record.”
“Alright.” I heaved a sigh and rolled my neck from left to right and back again, the muscles cracking like muffled gunshots. “Take me to the girl.”