“Keep it together, newbie,” hissed Todd Fletcher, staring at her with his steely gray gaze, telling her to hold it together and not to let the other officers see the horror or repulsion she felt at that moment as she looked over the body. Swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat, Imogen took a deep breath and tried to remain as calm as possible. This was her first proper case, and she didn’t want anyone to think she was incompetent or that she couldn’t hack it on the force. She had been lucky to get this transfer. She needed to prove herself and show everyone that she could do the job and that she could handle whatever came her way, and this murder case, gruesome though it was, would be the perfect way for her to lay the foundations of her career and show everyone that she could do it.
Imogen steadied herself and looked at the body once more, seeing the horrendous things that had been done to the victim. Whoever did this was very angry at the victim. This was a crime of passionate anger. The body of the young woman was lying in the dirty alleyway, half up against the brick wall, and half on the ground. She had been stabbed multiple times. Some wounds, Imogen could tell, were defense wounds, which indicated that there had been a struggle or fight of some sort. Hair had been pulled from the victim, two large tufts of dark blonde hair were near to the body. There were scratch marks on the face and bruising around the lips.
“Right Deputy, tell me what you see,” said Todd Fletcher, an investigatory specialist who had been appointed to oversee the newbie and take her through this case. He was a handsome fellow who had joined the force straight out of High School, using nepotism to his advantage and being selected for some of the best cases and overseeing the court processes. Some people resented his family ties, but even they could not deny that he was a hard worker and he was very thorough with his work. He had a good eye for things like this.
“I see a young woman, between the ages of nineteen and twenty-five,” she said, hesitating slightly. She felt extremely self-conscious around the other officers. She just knew that they were waiting for her to fuck up or cause big problems.
“Don’t worry about them,” said Todd, snapping her from her thoughts. “No one else matters at this moment. It’s just me, you and the victim, everyone else is surveying the scene. Don’t concern yourself with what the other officers are doing. Don't be intimidated by them. Now, tell me what you see.”
Mustering up confidence, Imogen focused in on the body of the victim, her eyes searching for clues about how the young woman had ended up here. “I see a young woman who, from the looks of things, was very attractive. She has multiple stab wounds in her chest and belly, as well as a cut down her leg, though it’s not deep enough to have killed her. There was a fight or struggle of some sort, going by the defensive wounds on her hands and arms. There’s also-.” Imogen paused and kneeled down, inspecting the victim closer.
“What is it, Deputy?” Todd asked. “Tell me what you’ve found, what you see on the body.”
“There’s bruising around her wrists, but it’s faded, which suggests that it’s old. There are slight marks as well; it looks kind of like carpet burn, or rope burn. She’s had something tight around her wrists, and it’s rubbed the area and contributed to the bruising. She could have been tied up at some stage, but the bruising looks too old to be done at the same time as her murder, or just before she was killed.”
“Good spotting Deputy,” said Todd. “What else can you see? Give me the obvious ones. What is she wearing?”
“She’s wearing a short black evening dress, strapless. It’s a very nice dress, and it looks as if it may be a designer brand,” Imogen continued, looking over the body, her initial repulsion having faded. She was still kneeling next to the body, though her knees were starting to hurt slightly, she ignored the dull pain.
“Check for labels then,” said Todd. “You have to be very thorough here, all this information you will need for when we write our reports.”
Trying not to disturb the body too much, Imogen carefully moved some of the victim's hair out of the way and looked for a label at the back of the dress. “It is a designer brand,” she confirmed.
“Good, Deputy,” said Todd, who from his vantage point could see a little down the new girl’s shirt, which wasn’t a bad view at all, but he reminded himself of the real purpose, and that he shouldn’t be distracted by the rookie and, going from the looks of things, her amazing cleavage.
“How could someone so young be able to afford such an expensive label?” Imogen questioned, looking up at Todd. Even I can’t afford those labels, she thought. She couldn’t even remember the last time she had purchased a cocktail dress. It seemed to her a frivolous expense.
“That’s for us to find out,” replied Todd. “You can learn a lot about someone’s life, in their death.”
Exactly what one of my college professor’s said to me, Imogen thought, before getting back to the task at hand. “Her shoes look to be designer brands as well,” she said, moving to inspect the shoes closer, her knees starting to feel tighter, the dull pain turning into a throb. “They’re metallic platform pumps and look to be well worn, going by the scuffing on the underside of the shoes. There are also some scuff marks around the tops of the shoes, but these could easily by buffed out with a cloth and some water or shoe polish. There’s some tar stuck to the sole of her right shoe.”
“What could that mean?” asked Todd.
“It’s been hot weather recently, but not so hot to cause the tar on the roads and streets to become sticky once more. My guess is, is that she’s been in an area that was recently tarred over and she was walking there, wearing these shoes, and some of the tar stuck to the shoes,” Imogen speculated.
“What else?” Todd asked. This was a rather tedious process, but it was pertinent to the case. If they missed anything, they could be in hot water, and it would be even worse if it were an obvious thing they missed. It was unlikely for obvious things to be missed or looked over, especially after the autopsy, but it paid to be very particular.
“Ah, boss!” Someone yelled from behind Imogen and Todd. One of the other officers came over and handed Todd Fletcher a small clutch purse. It was, like everything else, an expensive looking designer brand purse. “We have a handbag,” said the officer triumphantly.
“Thank you, Jones,” said Todd. He signalled away the Baltimore native officer Jones who, despite being in New England for ten years, still retained his Mid-Atlantic dialect, and turned to Imogen James, who was now standing up, her knees finally released from their crouching position. Todd noticed, and not for the first time, how intensely dark her eyes were. “We have a handbag,” said Fletcher, handing the purse to Imogen, who felt the need to correct him and tell him it was a clutch and not a handbag, but she thought that perhaps that would not go down so well, so held her tongue.
“Tell me about the outside of the handbag,” said Todd.
Imogen held the bag away from her body and looked it over. “It has a gold chain that acts as a handle of some sort I imagine, but the gold is chipped in some areas. The purse itself is black lace, leather underneath the lace. There is a slight tear in the lace fabric, but it’s not overly noticeable. Only on a closer look would someone notice such a small tear in the fabric.” She turned over the bag and looked at the front. “It’s a rather large clutch purse and good for holding a decent amount of items, though if one were to hit the clubs with this, holding it all night may become a pain in the neck for them.”
Imogen unfolded the flap and was hit with a whiff of very strong perfume when the purse was opened. It was a strong musky smell, and it assaulted her nostrils, as well as Todd Fletcher’s. “The clasp of the bag is magnetised making it very easy to get into. The inner black lining at the top has a tear in it, and the stitching is not of the highest quality.”
“Now look inside and tell me everything you see, Deputy.”
The first thing Imogen pulled out was a tube of lipstick, and when she pulled off the cap, she saw that the actual lipstick must have been near new as it was hardly used at all. “We have a dark, reddish burgundy lipstick,” she said. She put the cap back on and turned it upside to see the print on the bottom, which would tell them the exact color. “Shade # 33, matte claret.”
“Is she wearing it?” questioned Todd.
“No Sir. The lipstick she has on, smudged though it is, appears to be a lighter pink shade, and definitely not matte. It has a pearly sort of gloss finish,” Imogen responded.
“What else is in the purse?”
“Three keys on a ring. Some crumpled up ten and twenty dollar bills,” she said, pulling out the cash.
“How much total money, Deputy?”
Imogen counted the money, twenty, forty, fifty. “Fifty dollars, Sir.”
She then pulled out the bottle of perfume, which had a missing top and had leaked throughout the purse. Everything reeked of the musky, slightly woody perfume. To Imogen, it smelled expensive, but it also smelled terrible. “Bottle of perfume, which has leaked. We also have some sticks of chewing gum, which have been ruined by the perfume, a silver bracelet, and some cards.”
“What sort of cards?” asked Todd.
Imogen pulled the cards from the bag and started going through them. “A credit card, a driver's license, an expired student identification card and a debit card.”
“What’s her name, Deputy?”
“Her name is Rosa Linares, twenty-six years old and from New York.”
“Does it have an address?” asked Fletcher.
“It does, yes, but it was for her residence in New York when this was issued to her in 2011. Same with the student ID. She attended the Borough of Manhattan Community College. This was issued to her in 2009."
“Can you tell me anything else about her handbag?”
“It’s a knock-off,” replied Imogen.
“How can you tell?” asked Todd.
“Well, despite the inner label claiming it to be a designer brand, the quality of the bag begs to differ. The bad stitching on the inside, the torn and ripped fabrics, and the gold chain, which is not gold at all, it’s just been finished to look that way. It’s chipped and worn off, and one can easily see that it’s plain metal underneath.”
“Well done. We’ll pass her credit cards and ID onto Alec in the lab, and he can run the numbers and find out extra information about Ms. Linares and confirm that our body is actually her, as the ID suggests. Good job, Deputy. Take one final look over the body, tell me anything you may have missed, then bag all of her belongings. Bag the things from her handbag separately, then put them into a bigger bag. Bag her shoes and that there gold necklace, take some more snaps and then we’ll get the team to take the body away for a proper autopsy,” said Todd Fletcher.
“Yes Sir,” smiled Imogen, feeling a slight boost in confidence from his praise, mild though it was. But any praise is good praise, she told herself.
Bagging and labelling items that belonged to the body, which had now been identified as Rosa Linares, Imogen wondered what had happened in Rosa’s life, that had led to this moment. What had happened, that Rosa, who was only a year older than Imogen, would end up dead, and in such a brutal manner, in an alleyway.
You can learn a lot about someone’s life, in their death. Indeed you can, Imogen thought.