Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Watson picked up the phone to call her brother. It rang out twice and was answered. "Hi, Ma'am." Bill employed his usual tease "What's up? You don't often call during the day."
"Fancy a drink after work? I've a bit of a challenge for you"
"I should've guessed it was about work. You've missed our last couple of monthly dinners so I should have guessed it wasn't a social call." Bill sighed "I'm free, rather bored and it would be good to see you. Where were thinking?".
Jo hesitated "How about The Nurseryman on the Derby Road at Bramcote?" she winced to herself. There was a splutter from Bill at the other end of the phoneline "Where? I haven't been in there for years, not since it became a cheap and cheerful, not, restaurant chain. It's full of screaming kids and pensioners on the meal deals. The food's pretty grim, and the beers worse!"
Jo laughed "You need to get out more, spread your wings a bit. Actually, It's not so bad these days. It was taken over by a local craft brewer, still gets some of the cheap meals crowd but that is mostly at lunchtime or for an hour or so for dinner in the evening. But the beer's actually pretty good and the snack meals are pretty good. I have never had the full meal but there is a good reason for choosing it as you will see. Anyway I was suggesting we get there about five, I'll pick you up about half-four".
Bill agreed "I'll be down in town anyway, I'll meet you at Central Police Station"
They settled into a quiet corner with their drinks. Jo grumbled gently "There is a real need for a long, non-alcoholic drink that you can drink all through a session; most are far too sweet and sticky. In most groups at pubs like this at least one person will be driving and not able to drink. Like me! The best I have found is boring, plain old tap water but landlords are soon going to get cheesed off if there is no profit."
"I know what you mean and you're right, the beer is much better than I remember it. Sorry!" Bill laughed "Now we've caught up with family stuff, what have you really dragged me out here for?"
Jo took deep breath "Right. Do you remember a missing person story from a month or so ago? A twenty-two year old guy Ged Jackson and his older brother, Barry—or Baz as he was more usually called, were put off the bus, it was the last one before the night service started, at this stop. They were the worse the wear for drink and their argument was getting louder and more physical. The bus driver, with the help of an off-duty policeman, insisted they left the bus here. They were only going to Stapleford where they shared a house so it was not too onerous, a couple of miles walking would have helped sober them up."
As Jo took a sip of her water Bill replied "Sort of, but I don't know any details as I've been working in London at the Home Office. I've not been following the local news for a couple of months."
Jo continued "From the pub's security camera we can see that the argument continued in the car park and punches were being thrown. They headed away from Derby Road and went out of view up Wollaton Road.
"Anyway just after midnight that evening there was call from someone who had seen a person lying by the cemetery wall just on Hillside close to the junction with Wollaton Road, just round the corner from here. We sent a local car with a couple of coppers but there was nobody around when they got there ten minutes or so later. They stopped and had a look round, especially just inside the cemetery but there was nothing. At that stage there was no reason to think it was anything but a drunk who had fallen or lain down and then got up and staggered off home.
"So there was no need to do a more detailed search the following day, no more was thought about it until Ged's girlfriend reported him missing a couple of days later. We checked with his brother who said he had not seen him since their shenanigans on the bus and in the car park here a few days earlier. He admitted that there had been a bit of a scuffle and said that Baz was fine, if a bit drunk, when he left him. He had assumed Baz had gone to his girlfriend's in Beeston Rylands to cool off rather than go home with him. Baz said it would not have been unusual. He said he was surprised when Leanne, that's the girlfriend, had called to speak to Ged. That's when they realised no one had seen Ged for a couple of days. Mind you he did not seem very surprised, or concerned even.
"I should say at this stage that Baz and Ged are known to us. They have both got a lengthy record mostly for small stuff, opportunistic burglary and nicking cars, and of course, a bit of low-level dealing and the like. Both have been involved in scuffles on a fairly frequent basis, mostly fuelled by booze. Ged's not usually too bad, a bit belligerent but not usually too aggressive. Baz on the other hand has a nasty streak and he has been put away a couple of times for inflicting grievous bodily harm or mugging aggravated by violence."
Jo paused and Bill interjected "Does Baz carry a weapon?"
Jo hesitated "We have never caught him with anything but we've suspected him of having, and using, a knife. But we have no proof and the nearest we got to evidence was when he was involved in a fight with one of his cronies. The victim had what looked like knife wounds, fairly superficial, but he didn't want to make a complaint and neither had any weapon on them"
Bill picked up the questioning "Do you know what the fight on the bus was about?"
Jo shook her head "Not really. It seemed to be a personal issue as far as anyone could remember. Our colleague said it sounded as though it was maybe a difference of opinion that they had been disagreeing about for some time. We did wonder if Ged was trying to get away from his brother's influence. His girlfriend was a new relationship, she seems a decent girl with a steady job, a career even, as a deputy shop manager in a major fashion chain. She said Ged had been trying to get a place at college, we confirmed he had made enquiries and talked to the enrolment people. Since we have asked around his contacts and family it sounds as they felt Leanne was a good influence and that Ged was smitten."
Bill finished his pint and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Before we, or me anyway, have another drink show me where the fight took place and where the possible drunk was seen".
They left the pub and walked across the car park to Wollaton Road and round into Hillside Road. As they walked Jo pointed what had been seen, and where, on the cctv. Bill was thoughtful but made little comment as he absorbed the information.
Bill became more interested when Jo pointed out where the person had been lying in Hillside, just a few yards from Wollaton Road. Jo pointed out: "There were a few blood stains but no more than might have resulted from a drunken fall".
Bill took a cursory glance and stepped up on to the low wall that surrounded Beeston Cemetery and looked across the graveyard. A brief smile flickered across his face as Bill suggested that they went back into the pub "I've got some thoughts and I'll share them over that drink"
As they sat down Jo got a note book out: "OK, what are you thinking?"
"You have not found any signs of Baz since that night, no credit cards or mobile phone use?"
Jo looked a little hurt: "I wouldn't have brought it to you if there had. Because there is a possibility of foul play I have to take it more seriously. If he looked as though had just gone off somewhere I would not be losing any sleep over it, in fact I would be glad to have him off our patch".
"OK" Bill smiled " I have a couple of questions. Did any house nearby have their shed broken into that night? I guess it is a bit of a long shot that it would even have been reported if there had"
Jo looked puzzled "I would have to check, I would probably not have heard about it if there was, that sort of thing would have been dealt with locally in Beeston"
Bill moved on: "Where there are any burials in the cemetery scheduled, especially early the following day?"
"Are you onto something?" Jo asked.
There was an enigmatic smile on Bill's face "Just an idea. Find out those answers and we'll meet tomorrow. I'll buy you lunch at World Service if you can manage the time"
"That sounds good," Jo checked the diary on her phone "12.30 would work, I'll see you there with the answers. Now I must get home, can I give you a lift anywhere?"
"No it's fine. I'll hop on a bus across the road, they are frequent at this time. I'll see you tomorrow"
The following lunchtime Jo arrived at World Service to find Bill already at the table with a glass of wine.
"Sorry, I'm a bit late …" Jo apologised with a grin "but I guessed you would cope".
"Indeed, I know what it's like, you don't have full control of your time. It's often dictated by events" Bill poured Jo a glass of water "I assume no wine as you are working?"
Jo put on a sad face "'Fraid so. It’s a pity when we are going to be eating well". She brightened up. "I have the answers to your questions. There was a report of a shed break in just off Hillside in Coniston Road but it came to nothing, Only a spade was taken and in any case, the owner found it in their hedge a couple of days later. The victim was not too concerned so the incident was dropped. Why, is it important?"
Bill smiled "Ma'am, you know me well enough. There is always a reason behind my questions. I never want to simply give you the answer. I like to leave enough for you to find your way to the solution. After all, you are the one being paid to be the detective!"
Jo conceded "OK, I take your point. If the results are good I will pick up the bill for lunch!
She carried on "There were three interments planned for first thing the following day. One near the gate onto Hillside Road and a couple of others near the top of the hill. If you are going where I think you are then the answer is to your next question is, yes, the graves were prepared the afternoon before".
At that moment the waitress arrived to take their order. As it was a mid-week lunch they both ordered a light meal from the fixed price menu. Jo had the baked goat's cheese salad starter, Bill the caramelised onion tart , both ordered the ballotine of chicken for their main course. Bill ordered a second glass of the Chablis he had been drinking.
Bill drew breath " I'm sorry Jo. I'm afraid you are facing an exhumation, I appreciate that is a lot of hassle and a not very pleasant task. It will be very difficult for the families of the people in the graves. Hopefully it will only be one that needs to be disturbed."
Jo's face fell. "I hate exhumations. At least it should not be too difficult as the burials were recent, but even so. I think I have an idea where you are going with this …"
Bill continued "I suspect that you will find Ged's body in one of the graves. It might be worth taking to the guys who dug the and refilled the graves. They may have noticed something that was a bit odd. In particular whether there was too much, or indeed too little, earth when they came to close the grave. That might be a clue as to which burial to start with...
"If Ged died during the altercation with his bother that evening Baz could not just leave the body in the road, with the earlier bus incident you would've been straight on to him. And it would be the same if he had just dumped the body in one of the open graves…"
Jo interrupted "Ah, so that is why you were interested in whether there had been a break in to a shed. Had Baz, or anyone else for that matter, buried Ged in the bottom of the grave."
Bill picked up his thoughts "If Baz, assuming it was him and the circumstances suggest it is quite likely, was bright enough he would have dug a shallow grave in the bottom of the open grave. That way the grave would be the proper depth and no one need notice anything at the funeral the following morning. If he covered up the body in the bottom of the grave without digging it deeper the undertaker or the grave diggers would have spotted something wrong, they would have probably asked for the grave to be dug deeper and the body would have been found.
"I suspect Baz stole the spade, dug the grave deeper and buried his brother's body. He then threw the spade back into the garden he got it from."
Jo grimaced " This is going to be difficulty. Even if we find a body that will only be the beginning, how will get the evidence that it was Baz, or whoever, after all this time?"
Bill smiled "Good old fashioned police work and science. You have a good team, Nottingham was a pioneer of forensic science, especially between the wars. If there is anything to be found you will find it. I am afraid I can't help you any further, it is well beyond my capability.
"Anyway here are the main courses so let's enjoy the rest of the meal, especially as it's your tab!"
It was a few days later when Bill's answered his 'phone "Hi, Jo what's up?"
DCI Joanne Watson came straight to the point: "You were right, Ged had been buried in the bottom of one of the graves at the top of the hill. Probably chosen because it was less visible from the road. The guys at the cemetery had noticed that they had too much earth at one of the graves but didn't really think about until we asked them. Ged had a single stab wound straight to the chest but from the state of his lungs it seems he might not have even been dead when he was buried but that's to be confirmed. The weapon, an old fashioned flick knife, was still in the wound. There were also a pair of gloves in the grave and we are hoping to find DNA to connect them to Baz. Apparently one of Ged's mates recognised the knife as probably one Baz carried.
"We have arrested a very worried Baz. He has lost much of his bravado. I suspect once the scene of crimes guys start producing evidence our tough guy will fold. Especially when their mother talks to him; she is one tough cookie and probably the only person Baz really fears. I'm saving that for when cause of death is confirmed. I must admit I'm rather looking forward to that meeting.
"Thanks for your help by the way. See you soon for dinner?"
"No problem, always happy to help,. I'm even happier about prospect of a good meal" Bill smiled as he put down the 'phone.