Inspector Thorne waited. Janice Strutt took a moment to compose herself. He’d pretty much accused her of being involved in the mysterious burial of human remains so her silence wasn’t a surprise. What was, was her eventual reaction. She stood without a word and disappeared back into the hallway. Briefly he wondered if she was about to do a runner. Then the possibility she was hunting out a weapon came to him.
He relaxed slightly when he heard her steps as she went upstairs. Whatever she was after didn’t take her long to find as she was back inside five minutes. She placed a folder on the table between them as she sat, facing him, her hand on top so he couldn’t open it.
‘After Roger died, I found a sheet of paper in the inside pocket of his jacket, the one he was wearing on the day he died.’ She opened the folder and pulled it out. ‘I couldn’t make head nor tail of it.’
Peter Thorne turned it to face him with the minimum contact with his finger, not wanting to compromise any forensic evidence. In the middle of the sheet one word had been typed.
‘Like that sheet.’ She taped the plastic pouch. ‘I’m no expert but the same type writer, if that broken ‘p’ is anything to go by.’
‘You think it might be the Corona?’
She shrugged. ‘How the hell would I know?’ She rubbed her face. ‘The day he died we had spent hours at the cottage, clearing it before it went on the market. Roger focused on the attic. He found his dad’s old typewriter stuck behind the water tank. He said he was happy to throw it out but I found he’d dug it from the rubbish and hidden it in the car. I dumped it in our bin, when we got back but maybe he retrieved it again, that afternoon. Maybe he typed that.’ She tapped the sheet in front of the Inspector. ‘It was a Corona though I don’t see how it can be the one you found buried.’
Thorne dug in his left pocket pulling out thin rubber gloves. ‘May I?’
Carefully he picked up the sheet and turned it over. Blank. ‘Can I keep this?’
Her shrug suggested indifference. As he fumbled with another pouch she continued, ‘Part of me wondered what it meant, of course. Hardly suicide. I was in two minds to throw it away. That’s when I found these. At his mother’s. It was up to me to finish the clearing.’ Once again she opened the folder and pulled out more sheets which she placed in front of him. ‘They were tucked in books. The first fell out when I started emptying the shelves. Then a second. After that I shook every book.’ She finished by pulling out a sheaf of pages and dropping them on the top. ‘Some are covered in just one word repeated, like the one you found, some have a single word. Help, pigs, shame.’ She paused, until he looked up at her. ‘And Colin.’
‘One of Roger’s Brothers. Roger was the youngest of three, his older brothers were twins. I think they were, maybe five years older. They disappeared when Roger was fifteen or sixteen. The other twin brother was called Christopher.’
‘Did you know him then?’ He checked his notes. ‘You went to school together didn’t you?’
‘I moved to the same school as him in the sixth form, shortly after they left. I knew of Roger but we didn’t get together until after university.’
Thorne turned over the pages of his notes. ‘I don’t have anything about the brothers disappearance. Was it reported, do you know?’
‘I think, at the time, it was believed they’d had a falling out with their father and left to work in London. It was only later, after their father died that Roger tried to get in touch. I think his mother asked him to help. He said he couldn’t find them. I’m pretty sure he told his mother he could report them missing but she insisted he stop there and leave them be.’
The policeman wrote some more notes. ‘Do you happen to have anything of your late husband’s – a hair brush or similar.’
‘The bones we found. If we can find his DNA, we may be able to find enough to establish if there is a familial link.’
‘You think it might be Colin?’
‘Or Christopher. Or both?’
‘Both? You only mentioned a hand?’
‘We are re-examining the site. What the forensics do tell us is that it is likely the bodies were left with the pigs. Probably to hide any evidence. The hand must have been missed. It’s possible both brothers were disposed of this way.’
He waited again, registering her dismay. When finally he judged she had absorbed the information again he coughed and in a quiet voice, said, ‘You still haven’t explained how your fingerprints are on the typewriter that we found in the pit?’