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Ken Orford



This is the first case investigated by DI Jennifer "JJ" Jones and DC Terry Jackson.

“Darling, can you get the Inspector some tea? And I think I’ll join her too.”

Detective Inspector Jennifer Jones, JJ  to her colleagues, couldn’t help but notice how much younger than him she was. But that wasn’t the only difference apparent in this odd couple. He exuded confidence, almost to the point of arrogance, whereas she seemed withdrawn – small, shy and mousy. After she’d scuttled off, Dennis Evans turned towards the policewoman and smiled in his relaxed manner, and asked how he could help.

When you’re less than five feet two inches tall, and slightly built - positively skinny in fact - you get used to dealing with people who think they can bully you because of their superior size and overbearing manner. Body language that oozed confidence, eye contact and a disarming smile did the trick more often than not. In this case, it certainly let Mr Evans know that he couldn’t treat Jenny in the same domineering way he did his wife.

“Last week, a body turned up in South Wales. It had been buried in a shallow grave, but the recent heavy rain exposed some of it, and it was discovered by a dog walker. There was nothing on the body to identify who the victim was.”

“And what’s this got to do with me, Inspector?”

“Well, the victim did have a watch. A very expensive Rolex as it happens. Now as I’m sure you know, all Rolexes have a serial number and are registered when they are purchased. We were able to find out who bought this watch and where. It seems you bought it, Mr Evans – at a jeweler’s in Warwick.”

“Good God! He had my Rolex? It went missing, oh four or five years ago.”

At that point Mrs Evans interrupted them with the tea, and sheepishly put the tray down on the small table between them, avoiding any eye contact. Dennis told her in a delighted voice that the police had found his old Rolex, but she just smiled and uttered that that was good. As she was leaving JJ could hear the sound of children squabbling, and thumping around upstairs.

“Do try to keep them quiet, darling.”

Dennis Evans’s light tone was quiet different to the stern look he gave her as she left and closed the door behind her.

JJ pressed him for information about where and when the watch was lost and if he’d made an insurance claim. But the details were sketchy, well who does remember things from five years ago? Mr Evans asked to see a photo of the deceased, but JJ informed him that the body had decomposed to such an extent that it would be fruitless.

After a few more obligatory questions, JJ thanked him for the tea, and got up to leave. As she walked away from the house along the gravel drive to her car, she looked back.  Mrs Evans and a couple of toddlers – a blonde little boy and darker little girl – neither of which were much older than three, were at the side of the large house, the children playing on a swing and slide.

“Hmm, not a bad place at all. Must be getting on for a million pounds-worth of house and land here. Nice and secluded, but definitely an odd couple. Still, nothing too unusual – after all, you never know what happens behind people’s front doors.”

Once back at the station, she looked at the pile of paperwork, and decided to call the South Wales Police, and tell them that the Evans lead was a blank. Although disappointed, DS Trafford in Newport wasn’t too surprised – it had seemed too good to be true. He said he’d keep in touch, and joked that they’d had a bit of budget to spare, and that he’d persuaded his boss to do a facial reconstruction from the skull. He told JJ he’d sent her a couple of photos. She rifled through her paperwork until she found a ”Do Not Bend” envelope. Ripping it open, there was a note from DS Trafford and a couple of photographs – a profile and a face on – of the victim.

On a whim, she decided to see if Mr Evans recognized the victim. Not wanting to spend any more time with a man whose company she didn’t particularly enjoy, she called over one of her sidekicks, DC Jackson, and asked him to go.

“Even Jackson couldn’t screw that up, could he?” JJ smiled to herself, remembering all mess ups she had made when she first transferred out of uniform branch. Grumbling about wild goose chases, but secretly quite fancying an easy couple of hours, he set off to through the Warwickshire countryside to the Evans’s village. On arrival he fumbled in his notebook for the address, and cursed quietly under his breath. Like the idiot everyone thought he was, he’d left it on his desk. The last thing he wanted was to further his reputation as “Jackass Jackson” and ring up and ask for it, so he decided to wing it. The DI had said it was a large house set back with a long drive. He drove slowly around the tiny village and decided there were only two that fit the bill. So he chose one, and rang the front door bell.

A middle aged woman answered, and he announced himself with his warrant card, and asked if she was Mrs Evans.

“Mrs Evans? Well, there used to be a Mr and Mrs Evans next door but they moved away two, oh no maybe it was three years ago. All very sudden. Such a nice couple. It was a shame, we only got to see the baby once before they left.”

Jackson looked at her and thought for a moment. As his mind raced with this new information, he was vaguely aware she was babbling on about her former neighbours. When she paused for breath, he produced the photograph of the reconstructed face, and asked if she recognised the man.

“Well, the hair’s not right, but apart from that, it looks like Dennis, Dennis Evans.”

“So the Rolex hadn’t lied”, smiled Jackson to himself. He thanked her and asked her to keep this conversation confidential, and not mention it to their neighbours. She remarked that wouldn’t be a problem as the couple next door kept themselves to themselves and rarely spoke to anyone in village.

As he drove back, he called JJ and gabbled out his findings, skating over the fact that he’d left the address on his desk of course, and implying he’d used his initiative and just taken the opportunity to ask around. She congratulated him, pleased that one of her charges had earned his spurs making a breakthrough – regardless of how it happened.

JJ leaned back in her chair and bit her lip in concentration. She had learned through bitter experience that the next steps would be critical. A less experienced officer might charge in, and screw up the whole investigation. She leaned forward and scribbled the questions that needed to be answered. Was the dead body definitely Dennis Evans? Who was the fake Dennis Evans? Was the wife at the house the original Mrs Evans, or was she, like her husband, an impostor? If so, where was the real Mrs Evans and her son? And then there was motive… why had Dennis Evans been killed? For the moment, the fake Dennis Evans was secure in the assumption he was still undiscovered, so they had some time answer some of these questions before confronting him.

First, she called the duty sergeant and asked him to try and find out who was the original Dennis Evans’s dentist. Next, as soon as he arrived back at the station, she sent out DC Jackson, this time armed with a camera, to get some photographs of “Dennis Evans” and his mousy wife.

The next morning JJ logged on to her e-mail, and there, amongst the Health and Safety updates and reminders about the admin she hadn’t yet done, was an e-mail from DS Trafford in Wales with “Dental Records” as the subject. Ignoring the other e–mails she clicked on that and smiling, she spoke to the screen:

“That’s one question answered! So, who are you really Mr Evans?”

Around mid morning, the duty sergeant came in waving some paper.

“Well, your Mr Evans has been a very busy boy. Half the police forces in England recognised him – even given Jackson’s shaky camera work. Mr Evans, aka James Bell, aka Stanley Parsons aka about a dozen other names, is a known fraudster. He disappeared with his sixteen year old daughter, Emily, about three years ago.”

JJ raised her eyebrows, and was about to speak when the Sargeant smiled and continued:

“And before you ask, yes – I got one of my ferrets to ring round and ask local maternity units. See, PC Plod does have brains! We found an Emily Parsons, she had a little girl in Stratford two and a half years ago.”

Another question popped into JJ’s head, and the answer didn’t bear thinking about. One thing was for sure, she now had enough evidence to arrest Evans/Parsons/Bell, but not yet for murder. She looked up and saw Jackson standing at the door, looking so excited he would wet himself.

“Come on, spit it out!”

“Evans had been pretty rich, but the serious family wealth is in Evans’s wife’s hands – the real wife that is. On her thirtieth birthday, next month, she stands to inherit an estimated eighteen million pounds.”

JJ sat back and put her hands behind her head:

“Looks like we have a motive at last. Right Sarj, get some overtime authorised, I think a dawn raid is called for. Let’s get a warrant.”

It would turn out to be a nice spring day, but right now it was cold and barely light. Everything was set. There were two WPC’s and two Social Workers on hand to take care of the toddlers. A couple of armed officers, though JJ was pretty sure fire arms wasn’t Evans’s style, would be first in. JJ and Jackson, complete with Kevlar vests were next, then the rest of the uniformed officers.

Evans had barely had time to get out of the bed he and his daughter had been in when the officers burst in followed by the tiny figure of DI Jones. She wished he’d make a run for it then she could kick him where it would hurt most. But she could see in his eyes he was a pathetic coward. Her eyes moved to his daughter and she tried to understand the look in her eyes – was it fear, relief or just a mixture? JJ turned to Jackson:

“Come on, you got the breakthrough – do the honours.”

She heard the DC start the “James Bell, I arrest you on suspicion of..” but someone called from the door.

“Inspector, I think you need to see this…”

She followed the uniform up two flights to a tiny attic. In the gloom lit by a small bulb, she could make out a mattress on the floor, and a disheveled woman with dull eyes and her hands hugging her knees. But it wasn’t the sight that hit her, it was the smell.

The woman was rocking back and forth, repeating the words over again:

“He killed him. He killed Dennis. He said he’d kill Stephen if I didn’t do as he said.”

Breathing through her mouth, JJ went in and put her arm round Mrs Evans.

“You’re safe now, so is Stephen.” Looking up she told the PC standing in the doorway to get blanket and an ambulance – then she thought again:

“But first, get the little boy – his mum wants to see him.”

The celebration at the station seemed hollow to JJ. Sure, the dawn raid on the Evans’s home had solved a murder, revealed two sinister truths, and liberated not one, but two incarcerated women. One had been held mentally enslaved and abused by a domineering father, and the other kept prisoner until she inherited her fortune.

She shook off her gloomy thoughts, and turned to Jackson, with a mischievous grin:

“Tell me, what inspired you to ask the neighbours about the Evans’s?”

© Ken Orford, 2007

©, 2010