Murder Most Foul
Murder Most Foul
He wiped the long-bladed knife, dripping with blood on the denim shirt worn by the dead man. The wound was large, he emptied more blood from the bottle and poured it on the wound. He looked at the collected blood on the floor. He did not want to leave the stains glaringly visible; It took him almost an hour to clean up the mess.
The stain was not visible to the naked eye but in infrared, it could be detected.
It was time to move the body!
He went to the living room – still wearing his hand gloves and checked the list on the table. The next step indicated that he has a couple of errands to complete before shifting the body.
He re-checked the route plan he had prepared for shifting the body; and again, checked his wristwatch. He had another 30 minutes before he could shift the body as it would get really dark by then.
The first of the evidence he needed to plant was already in place. The best way to mislead even the most intelligent of the cops is to create as difficult a clue as to possible, he thought.
It was not big; but on minute scrutiny, the hair which appeared to have got stuck in the nail on the wall mirror, in all probability, could be detected, though not easily. Next, he left the half-torn page from the passport on page 96 of the big book of Encyclopedia. He ensured that the Encyclopedia was kept open at some other page on the table. For good measure, there were a couple of other books scattered on the table as well. The torn page from the passport was kept in the pages which provide details of how our heart functions! He admired himself in the mirror and found a thin line of a smile appearing on his face!
The dead man was as heavy as 100 kilos though his body weight – when he was alive – was exactly 65 kilos. The word, dead weight, is such as apt word to describe when lifting a dead body – he smiled at the thought.
The tricky part was yet to come.
How to load this 100-kilo dead body and stuff it into the underbelly of the vehicle?
While the plan was to move the vehicle as close to the stair as possible in the basement, he had not calculated the exact weight he had to lift and 100 kilos was beyond his capacity. So, plan B was put into action. He tied the body to the rope and used the pully which he had placed on the balcony rail and gently lowered the body near the van.
It took another 20 minutes for him to stuff the body – out of sight – under the belly; a makeshift stretcher, you might say was holding it with leather straps securing the body.
Once done, he went inside the house and cleaned up all that he had touched though he had put on gloves; he removed all shreds of paper, clips, markers, set of knives, and what have you. He lined up everything on the gunny bag he had put on the floor and checked all the items against the list he had prepared which was lying on the table. Satisfied that he has not left any clues – other than the ones he had deliberately planted – he heaved a sigh of relief and took the gunny bag and placed it in the van.
Though not necessary, he visited the house once again and checked every nook and corner. Now he has to put his next important plan into motion. So, he opened the garage door, took the van outside, came back and locked the door, and left the house without looking back.
The night was very cold. The hill road had its share of curves and the traffic was light. He was not stopped by anyone on the road, nor followed, as expected.
He could see the house from a kilometer; it was a farmhouse with lots of flower garden and coconut trees as he was almost 100 meters above on the hill. Once he reached, he parked the van directly inside the garage door, locked it took out a bunch of keys, opened the door, went inside, and switched on the light.
Inspector Rathod was annoyed!
Who wouldn't be if they are asked to work for 18 hours a day and can see your family once a week, that too only on Sundays? He was determined to wind up everything within two days and apply leave for 15 days and go to a place where the mobile phones don't work, or, prepare for a divorce, thought Rathod!
He stretched and called for tea; as he savored the strong tea, his mind became alert once again. He looked at the pending files and wanted to put all them away in the cupboard, go to his room and sleep.
Reluctantly, he took the first one and looked at the heading; it was about a missing corpse from the morgue.
Annoyed, he put the file aside and picked up the next one and opened to see the picture of a man who was absconding.
Rathod read the preliminary report carefully and noted that one Sanjay Garg has been reported missing; he was to appear before the judiciary. He was wanted in a multi-crore fraud and there was a red alert on him.
There was not much information in the file except that Sanjay was single and was living in a rental house and was working for a bank as Manager; he was transferred on promotion from Delhi. He was implied in a fraud though he had pleaded not guilty. The officer who wrote the report also had gone to Delhi to get the background verified and had written that Sanjay had a clean record; he was awarded several times for exemplary work and his superiors, off the record, said he was framed.
A sentence written and underlined by the reporting officer caught Rathod's eyes. Sanjay pleaded that he was innocent on his first appearance in the court and informed the court that he was being threatened by the perpetrators of fraud but failed to produce any evidence.
Rathod closed the file.
On second thought, he reopened it and took out the photograph of Sanjay and looked at it. Sanjay was a medium-sized middle-aged man of around 40. He had a bright face and a smile on his face. On closer scrutiny, he seemed to have a missing tooth on the right side of his mouth though, not clearly visible.
Rathod stretched his aching body and held the photo in his hand and looked. A frown appeared on his forehead; something was missing he thought and hurriedly opened the file and checked all the papers and then he found it!
A written note by the accused Sanjay; he had indicated that three of the main co-accused who were threatening him have warned him that he would be killed if he let the truth out!
Rathod dialed the number and asked for the inspector who filed the initial report.
Sajjan Singh, the inspector who wrote the report took the phone and explained almost everything identically as he had submitted the report. Rathod was looking at the report and was in deep thought even as he listened to the inspector.
Finally, he asked, "did you by any chance know who visited the house in Bangalore where the absconding man lived?"
There was silence. Sajjan Singh said the instructions came from Bangalore to visit only his Delhi house and he did accordingly.
Rathod sighed and thanked the inspector and disconnected the call.
He then checked the address and decided to visit the house himself. He called out for the duty policeman and asked him to accompany him.
The first impression he got by looking at the house which was used by the missing man from the bank was, it has not been used for quite some time now. The front portico was dusty with leaves and flowers scattered around. It was a single-story building built in a corner site with a basement for parking the car off an obscure street in a locality with very few houses and fewer persons.
Rathod asked the driver to stop the car in front of the garage, got down, and inspected the lock on the door.
The door was dusty but the lock appeared to have been wiped clean; dustless.
Rathod went around the once and then entered the main lobby and found a window was open. He opened the window wide and found that he could reach, with difficulty, to the latch on the door. He put his hand and twisted the night latch and the main door swung open.
Rathod smiled to himself; when you are in the midst of crooks, some of their skill sets would be leaned subconsciously!
Rathod called his assistant and asked him to come through the door; Rathod put his hands in his pant pocket and found that he had kept a hand glove and it was intact. He wore it.
It was a house that belonged to typical middle-class; there were several pictures of Sanjay as well as trophies in the only showcase in the hall.
The TV was old and not the latest slim variety. It had an inch of dust on top; obviously, not used for quite some time.
Rathod was in the kitchen and first, he didn't notice it; but when he went back and looked at it from a distance, he could see stains; may be coffee or tea had fallen and it was not cleaned properly, he thought.
He called for the constable and asked him to call the forensic experts. Rathod was informed by the constable that the expert was nearby and would reach in less than 10 minutes.
Rathod went to the bedroom; it was clean. Too clean, thought Rathod for a bachelor. The bed was neatly made and there was a bookshelf with one door with a mirror. There was a bedside table and a couple of books were lying. Rathod looked at the mirror and went close to scrutinize what appeared like a crack in it. On close scrutiny, he could make out a long strand of hair.
Rathod didn't remove it. He wanted the forensic expert to have a look at it and then preserve it as evidence.
He looked at the books thoughtfully and picked up one and just flipped it through. It was a novel. Nothing unusual, he thought. Then he looked at another one; it was an encyclopedia!
When he flipped the pages, he found something in between some pages. He slowly opened the page and looked. A smile crossed his face. It was a torn page of a passport!
He took it out gently and looked. Indeed it was from a passport and Sanjay's name could be seen partially. So was the photograph.
Rathod stood looking at the torn page and looked at the page of the encyclopedia; was it a coincidence that the torn page of the passport was found on a page that described the functions of heart?
Rathod heard the voice and thought that the forensic officer was there. The constable leads the man to the kitchen on Rathod's instructions. The man removed his equipment and got to work.
Rathod smiled smugly when forensic experts confirmed that it was indeed blood stains and has been wiped clean though few traces could be found; the expert collected blood stains as well the hair found on the mirror in the bedroom.
All of them went to the basement and found a few more droplets of dried blood.
Rathod had to wait for nearly a day before the constable brought and kept the file containing a forensic report of the crime scene.
Meanwhile, Rathod had contacted the bank and had obtained the blood type details of Sanjay and had forwarded it to the forensic department.
The report confirmed that indeed the blood samples matched that of Sanjay.
Where was the body? Thought Rathod.
He knew that further lead would be available in the deserted house of Sanjay.
This time, he went with a proper search warrant and decided to keep lots of time as he wanted to comb the entire house.
He found the tire marks and cross-checked to find that the car owned by Sanjay was Swift and tire marks was indeed belonged to a swift car.
The tire marks indicated that it west of the house.
Rathod called the control room and left a message to trace the car.
It was not until two days later that Rathod got information that the car bearing the registration number owned by Sanjay Garg was found about 30 kilometers on the Bangalore – Mysore road.
Rathod reached the spot and stood in shock.
The Swift car had fallen into a drench almost 40 feet from the road and had burst on impact and virtually, had burnt out.
The body found in the driver's seat was removed carefully and was sent to the postmortem. The body too was burnt totally and hardly could be identified as a male of about 5 feet 7 inches tall.
Rathod looked at the file kept on the table bearing the missing person, Sanjay Garg, and closed it with a sigh of relief. At least one file will be less on my table.
He ordered a tea and when constable brought it along with a half-burnt envelope Rathod looked up questioningly.
"Sir, the envelope was found in the car which was driven by Sanjay Garg."
Rathod took out and looked at the half-burnt envelope and spoke.
"Have they tried to get fingerprints from this?" The constable nodded and said, "Yes Sir. It belonged to Sanjay."
The envelope was not addressed to anyone and was blank. Rathod pulled open a letter which too was half burnt and read it; it appeared to be in Sanjay's handwriting as it bore his signature. The letter comprising of just three paragraphs appeared to have been written in a hurry.
The Honorable Magistrate
I pleaded not guilty and told in the open court that my life
Is in danger. The F E A R of getting killed by the unknown is haunting me.
Today morning I got a call that they will finish me
by the end of the day.
But they are already here… I can hear the sound of a car stopping…. Please I need help…
Rathod heaved a sigh of relief and held the half-burnt letter in his hand and looked at thoughtfully. Everything is falling in to place, this will be an open and shut case, he thought.
Rathod kept Sanjay's file aside and looked at the next file; missing corps from the morgue.
Reluctantly, he went through the report filed by a junior inspector; in a nutshell, the duty officer reported a missing corps almost 4 days ago. It was the body of a cardiac arrest case and nobody had come forward to claim the body which was found lying on the roadside. The postmortem report clearly indicated that there was no foul play.
Rathod threw the file in disgust. The file fell down and a photograph of the corps slipped out of the file. Rathod looked at the photograph for a while; suddenly he stood up.
He took out the coroner's report related to Sanjay's post-mortem report and went through it. There, the date of death as per the postmortem report was about 6 days.
Rathod looked Sanjay's file and lines appeared on his face; sat down on his chair, took out a notebook, and started scribbling.
After nearly half-an-hour later, Rathod heaved a sigh of relief and kept the pen aside and looked at his writing.
The first sentence on the pad read 'what if?' and went on to disclose details of Sanjay Garg's post-mortem report and compared it with that of the report he got from the coroner's office. More or less, everything appeared to match barring a few details in the second report about appearance as the body was almost burnt. He also looked at the burnt letter and underlined the word FEAR….
Rathod went out, got into the jeep and drove to Sanjay's house, this time alone.
Rathod inspected the kitchen from a different angle and finally crawled on the floor by keeping his face just inches from the floor and peered under the cabinet by using light from his mobile.
After a while, a thin smile appeared on his face as his searching hand found something underneath one of the kitchen cabinets.
He pulled it out and checked; it was a tooth made of gold!
Rathod looked at the tooth and smiled.
Without wasting time, Rathod took the jeep and went back to his desk. He searched for the coroner's report on Sanjay's file and then looked at the report of the missing body from the morgue.
He pulled Sanjay's photograph from the file and took out a magnifying glass and looked at it closely. He smiled broadly.
He looked at the letter written by Sanjay and guffawed so loudly that the constables on duty rushed to the cabin and looked at Rathod quizzically.
Rathod looked at the gathered constables and spoke, still laughing out loud.
"Can anyone read this letter and tell me about the clue that the body we found does not belong to Sanjay?"
The constables looked at one another and quizzically at Rathod. One of the constables took the letter and read out the contents loudly.
After a while, confused, they looked at Rathod and said in chorus; "Sir, we don't see any clues. Sir, please tell us what did you find?"
Rathod looked at them and said; "We must search for Sanjay. He is very much alive. He stage-managed his death. But like all clever criminals, he thought that we will fall for the clues he deliberately left for us to find without realizing that I am trained to think like criminals and not like a policeman. Sanjay is not just smart but he is over smart! He was challenging the investigator to identify....the clue.
The word FEAR written deliberately indicates not what we believe as its meaning. Instead," Rathod laughed out loudly before completing.
The word FEAR is used as an acronym; False Evidence Appearing As Real!"