On Tuesday morning Detective Malcolm Johnson was at café Échec et Mat having a cup of coffee. He took a sip of his lukewarm, cappuccino. He glanced at his watch; it was twelve o’clock sharp. He whipped the Daily Express out of his bag and his glasses already on. The headline read: Peckham’s bigot and a member of the English Defence League found killed in cold blood in his living-room. The café’s television was switched to Sky News. The breaking news of Thomas Collins’ death was being covered extensively. Detective Johnson’s phone rang. He picked it up, answered. Called into work, Johnson downed half his cappuccino and threw the rest in the bin. He exited the café.
At 2 o’clock Detective Johnson arrived at the location, dingy 51A, Greenham road, Peckham. Collins’ death was under investigation. Paramedics were present. The police took samples at the murder scene and collected evidence.
Collins’ shirt was drowned in blood from his stomach stab wounds. A bloodied kitchen knife was left next to his feet. His hands were tied together behind his back with a rope. A lipstick kiss mark was left on his left cheek, along with his blood-shot eyes and an empty can of pepper spray laid by his head. Strands of blonde hair were left scattered around him. His body lied sideways on the living-room floor.
Johnson jotted down the clues; he felt certain the killer was female. Johnson’s eyes darted across the room. He spotted a middle-aged blonde, a teenager wearing bright, purple lipstick and a black young man who appeared to be her boyfriend. He approached them. They were huddled together weeping and comforting one another.
The detective gave his condolences to the family and assured them he’d make sure he found the killer. He told them they’d need to come down to the station for further questioning as procedure.
Friday morning, Tina and Nicole waited in the reception at Crawford Police station. Their faces were pale. Tina was questioned first.
“Is that a fresh wound on your arm, Mrs. Collins?” Detective Johnson asked.
Tina failed to make eye contact with him and fixed her sight on the desk. “Yeah,” Tina said.
“How did it happen? It looks rather nasty if you don’t mind me saying.”
Tina paused. She took a deep breath and looked up at Johnson staring him in the eyes. “He did it”. She sobbed.
Johnson lowered his glasses and raised a brow. “Tommy, you mean…Did he abuse you, physically?”
“Yeah and…sexually too sometimes… He cheated on me a good few times an’ all when we were together…especially with young ‘uns. Sick sod he was. I was a right fool for getting involved with a nutter like him. I was glad when Nic and I moved out, even though he kept calling me, trying to patch things up! We never even got a chance to file the divorce papers ‘cause he kept begging. I hate to say it now…but I’m relieved that I’m finally free from him…” Tina said and burst into tears.
Nicole was called in for questioning after her mum.
“Nicole, you and your dad mustn’t have gotten on well. He had quite conservative, far-right beliefs, isn’t that right? He probably disapproved of your boyfriend due to his race, much to your dismay…, Miss Collins?” Detective Johnson asked.
Nicole squinted at him. She sat back, comfortably in her chair. She was still in shock and gulped.
“Yeah… that’s right…we drifted more apart when mum and I moved out a year ago. But yeah… dad hated Terry… He was well racist to him! I love Terry. I’d do anything for him! Me and Terry even tried running away together once ‘cause of him. Dad was always well pissed with me and said that Terry would lead me astray and stuff and I’d screw up my A Levels. He just never gave him a chance. He was just so narrow-minded. He even used to shout at my little cousin, Jason, for dressing up and playing with dolls instead of cars! Dad just made me feel SO aggy all the time!”
Detective Johnson stayed behind later in his office at the station and concluded the information he got from both interviews and combined the evidence found. His conclusion was that it was someone close to Thomas Collins that’d killed him. He was fixed on the idea that it could’ve been Tina or Nicole. Detective Johnson’s phone rang. He was called to join the police and paramedics at Thomas Collins’ house yet again. When he got there, he was led to the discovery of a hidden basement in 51A. Johnson walked into the cold and dark room. He switched on his torch light. A body of a young woman was found hanging from a hook on the wall. Next to her feet, was a short note that read:
He brought me here. He said he could make a poor foreigner rich quick and have good job. He lied. He made me sell my body. I didn’t know what to do with the men, he stole from me and made me sick. He destroyed my life, so I destroyed his. What’s left for me now?
Johnson opened a bag next to him. It was full of condoms, pepper spray, wigs, and makeup.
Detective Johnson sighed a surprising “checkmate.”