The Captive Episode 10

The Captive Episode 10

7 mins 8.1K 7 mins 8.1K

By the time Dhananjay dropped Tara Devi home and reached the crime scene, a lot of action was happening. But he did not miss much. The dig started late than the scheduled time by almost four hours because Madhuri had to get permission to excavate if necessary, the adjoining properties. The hounds sniffed, barked, and ran over all the place; they were professional trackers trained by the homicide squad. These hounds could also locate bombs. They were dangerous, and only their trainers could handle them.

This was the first time Dhananjay was witnessing the trained forensic and the trackers squad. He should be excited, but his mind was somewhere. His focus was on something else. One question that disturbed him all night was how did these three cold-blooded killers communicate. Did they use a Morse code or a simple numeric code? Did they meet at a common place to discuss? His brain had stopped working, and then like a bulb suddenly flashing from nowhere, he said to himself what if the bar-code found at Anthony’s home opened a communicating app. ‘Did we find any?’, Dhananjay asked Saran who was approaching him. ‘The hounds tracked one, just now. Ew! Couldn’t stand the smell. Having it dug out? We will know when they dug out the body.’ He pointed at the walkie-talkie, ‘The party just started.’

‘Where is Madhuri Mam?’

‘Should be here any minute.’

‘Saran, I was thinking to take another look at the house.’

‘But the forensics team already collected whatever they could. Believe me, we are not going to find any.’

‘There isn’t harm in looking again. You never know.’

‘What’s going on in that mind of yours?’, he tried to catch pace with Dhananjay who had already started to walk towards the old wooden house.

Once they were inside, they went up the stairs which led directly to the room where Anthony Pastor was found murdered, his neck slashed, drowned in his blood.

The house was more a cabin and must be at least a hundred years old repaired only when needed.

Dhananjay stood looking at the diagram that coincided with Anthony’s posture, the way he was found sprawled across the floor. ‘So, when Kruthi must have forced the sharp tool in his neck, he fell and died in less than two minutes. There is a possibility that when he fell with force on the floor, his mobile must have flung away from his pocket and...’. ‘But there is practically no furniture in this room except a shabby commode, an iron bed and a bucket’. ‘Yeah. He must have kept the mobile somewhere, downstairs maybe. The forensic team found his wallet downstairs in the kitchen on the table adjoining the sink'. And so they went downstairs and checked the kitchen. They checked underneath the table and underneath the few wooden shelves below the kitchen sink and the small platform where the sink was fit in. ‘Give me a stick or something?’ Dhananjay said peeping into the tiny space between the floor and the shelf. Saran brought a dried twig from outside and handed over to Dhananjay. With some effort, he was able to push the thing outside the space. It was a flat black button with white spots on it. Looked like a fancy button from a female’s shirt or kurta.

Saran tried not to smile and he patted on Dhananjay’s back.

‘I know you are trying to solve the mystery of the lost mobile of Anthony Pastor. But look we find a button. Do you think it belongs to the killer? ‘I don’t know. Could be one of the victim’s. Let us deposit it in the evidence section.’ Dhananjay sighed and rubbed the back of his head. ‘His mobile just can’t disappear like that. And I think that the bar code opens a communicator app or something that does not leave traces’.‘I have asked the IT department to check into it. I have not heard anything back from them’. ‘Hope we hear soon’. Both of them walked out as the walkie-talkie came back to life again. The voice from the other end said, ‘We found a body to the south of the house. And also one more is about to be found 50 blocks to the north-east from this one’. Both of them rushed to the spot where the dead body was found. ‘A fresh corpse. Within a month.’ One of the officers from the team spoke. ‘It is Nishant, Kruthi’s missing boyfriend.’ Dhananjay said in a very low tone that only Saran could hear. One of the members from the investigation team opened the wallet that was buried too with the dead body. He found a pan card in one of the pockets and read out loud, ‘Nishant Patel’. ‘How did you know?’, Saran asked Dhananjay. ‘Blue shirt and grey pant. I remember it from the file.’ He smiled faintly at Saran, ‘Hopefully, the families of missing persons will have some closure.’

As they stood there watching, few blocks away from the house, the walkie-talkie buzzed again, ‘Sir, there are few reporters here?’.Dhananjay was shocked. ‘How did the press get in here?’.‘Someone at the department must have sold the information. These reporters know where to pass on the bundles. As they spoke, they both ran to the front of the house where two policemen kept a lady reporter and a cameraman away from the do-not-enter line. Seeing Saran and Dhananjay, the reporter bombarded them with questions, ‘How many bodies did we find? Do we have any lead on these serial killings? How long do you think it will take to identify the bodies? Did Kruthi identify any of the other killers? How many do you think were killed by this serial killers?’ She went on an on. Dhananjay was terrified to hear Kruthi’s name. They had kept it all a secret, and some silly guy at the department for mere hundreds had compromised the information. Once it was out, the press will blow it big, they will show Kruthi on national television. This was all unnecessary.

Saran tried to take control of the situation, ‘We are not allowed to talk about anything now. Mam, you are clearly causing a nuisance here. The investigation is very important and confidential. At this point in time, the press is not allowed. Once we have a definite and constructive case against the killers, we will release a press statement. The reporter was not convinced, and the cameraman had started to shoot, ‘India needs to know. It demands justice for Kruthi and all the other girls who were killed. We want to keep the people of our nation updated about the progress of the case and how Kruthi is coping with all this’. ‘Are you a woman?’ A clear commanding voice shouted at her from behind. The reporter was clueless. Madhuri removed her goggles and walking straight to the girl, looked at her directly in the eyes, ‘Do you understand how it feels to be kept captive for 20 days and to be repeatedly raped by three beasts? If you are a woman, you will understand, and you will not report the girl’s name or her face on television?’

The reporter nodded, and Madhuri walked out of there followed by Saran and Dhananjay. The two policemen kept a check on the reporters. ‘What we got?’ Madhuri asked Saran. Saran briefed her about everything including the button. By the time they reached the second grave, they received news of more corpses. Officially, it was now a serial killing case. By evening they would know the count. And it would take months to identify the bodies based on their extent of decay. Saran got a phone call an hour later that the barcode could be a key to unlock a phone dialling app. He got the credentials from the department, and they tried to open the app with the photo of the barcode that Madhuri had in her mobile. The application opened with a message, ‘Welcome Pastor, we missed you'. But there was nothing in the dialled calls, no history, no messages. They would turn it over again to the information security department, but the officer who was looking into it had already said that there isn’t much they can do to retrieve the information.

The application used the internet for calling so that the dialled numbers cannot be traced either on the internet or anywhere. This was not even encrypted technology. It was above that. You could call somebody without your number displaying anywhere, without your messages showing anywhere but appearing as a one-time story and disappearing after the read. Even the dialled number cannot be traced. ‘Damn apps.’ Madhuri cursed kicking some dirt with her shoes. She had hoped for a digital locker where Anthony kept files or some list which would lead them to the killer. She ordered her two sleuths, ‘I want all the owners of this land in my office by evening.’ She had to go visit Kruthi after the lunch with a Psychiatrist for a therapy where the Psychiatrist would help Kruthi to retrace her steps so that she goes through the minute details and searches for a clue/hint in her mind in her stored memories. The abductors wore masks, and Kruthi did not see any of their faces. But maybe she will remember a detail, a voice, a name - something that will help the investigation speed up.

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