The First Demise – Chapter Six

The F-team arrived Christie’s house, two minutes after Prathap reached. There were three men and a woman in the team. One man was the medical examiner –in short, medic. The two other men, namely M1 and M2 were forensic scientists. The woman, we’d name her W, was a forensic psychologist. They brought many silver colored cubic cases with them. Samantha looked at everything in awe. Prathap explained the scenario to them. The F-team saw the body of Christie. The face had no hair, no skin and even no flesh; there was just the skull. A part of every limb was in ashes. The rest lacked skin at some part; the skin, if any, was in white and brown. The upper thorax was in ashes; the ribs were visible. The lower thorax and abdomen seemed just burnt to an extent. The couch was half burnt. The ceiling straight above the couch had small, dark-grey, hard jelly thing dripping down. The aroma was little sweet and smoky.

‘The body is here; she has sent a suicide note to Vimal; the water bottle and tablet strips are in the kitchen. An obvious suicide, but for the burns,’ said Prathap.

‘If she had taken tablets she would not burn herself. If she was to immolate herself, then she would not have needed tablets.’ It was W.

‘So, it must be planned murder which was made up a suicide?’ this was M1, scratching his eyebrows.

‘Exactly, so how shall we proceed?’ questioned Prathap.

‘First we should check if she was burnt before or after death.’ M2 came with his point.

‘How can you do that?’ Samantha was in a learning mood.

‘If there’s presence of carbon monoxide in blood, or soot in air passage, the person has inhaled the smoke, meaning she was burnt alive.’ The medic explained.

Samantha shook her head, ‘fine, so we need to pull out some blood?’

Medic with a smile, ‘It’s not easy. The flesh is burnt deeply. We’ve to check if any internal organs are intact.’

‘Is it possible? The body is burnt heavily. Can internal organs remain intact?’

‘Yes, in rare cases. We’ve to cut her open to check that.’

Samantha gripped Prathap’s hands. She was uncomfortable. Prathap asked her if she was alright, for which her head shook ‘yes’ but her eyes, closed stiffly, screamed a ‘no’.

‘You can stay in the car. I’ll be there in sometime.’ He knew that she’d feel bad. After she left, they got back to work. Everyone got their masks and gloves on.

‘Can we take fingerprints first?’ M1 was curious.

‘Please set up the equipments. I’ll finish the preliminary examination first.’ The medic explained his usual procedure.

‘Is there any accelerant?’ W asked.

To find the answer for W’s question, M2 took out the Portable Hydrocarbon Sniffer from his case. He moved the sniffer above the body and checked the readings. ‘It must be too late for the sniffer. It has been hours after the fire. No trace found.’

‘That’s right. No liquid fuel trace is found either. The kitchen is clean. Everything is in place. Nothing looks to have been done in a hurry. It is entirely undisturbed. That’s why I concluded that the murderer should have been a close associate of the victim. This couple did not have any visits from close relatives. The nearest neighbors are far enough to know the happenings. She and her husband have had heated arguments the last night, before the incident. All these make her husband the only convict.’ Prathap put forth his deductions, ‘Vimal is tailing him.’

The medic was seriously examining the body. He lifted the skull and brushed it. He carefully set his eyes rolling all around it. ‘There is no fracture, means no heavy blow to head. The thorax and abdomen haven’t had any stabs or bullet wound. If some cut was there, it would have shown when burnt. So, now we’re left with a throat slit, strangle and suffocation. In such cases she would have died before burning. We’ve to excise her.’

‘Do you need the hands for any test? I need them for fingerprinting.’ M1 meant to get both hands cut and taken separately.

The medic happily agreed after some thought and gave him what he asked. M1 then cleaned both hands, applied black latent powder and brushed the hands so that the powder gets evenly coated. The left hand had fingers held wide, but the right hand had fingers closely held. So he made paper rolls and placed in between the right hand fingers. Then he mixed the mikrosil with the hardener, quickly applied on the fingers. The mikrosil cast would take some ten to fifteen minutes to set on the fingers. He also brushed the water bottle which was on the bottle. The mikrosil previously mixed was already dry. He had to mix the mikrosil again. Then he applied the cast on the bottle where finger prints was visible. The medic used rib shears and scalpel to tear through the ribs and get to see the internal parts. His excited ‘Yes’ silently screamed that the medic has found what he expected to see. Some internal organs were intact. He could try to get some blood sample for his tests.

‘The fingerprints on the bottle and those of the body do not match!’ M1 showed Prathap both the castings. There was not a very clear difference, one fingerprint was a double loop type and the other was a tented arch type, or a double loop; it looked like a little of both. So, they could not precisely conclude if she had not taken any tablets. This was a crucial test; if prints were different she has been hit to death or unconsciousness and then immolated, else, she had attempted suicide.

‘Is there any other way to find?’ Prathap already had his hand on his head.

‘DNA fingerprinting,’ the medic and M2 whispered in harmony.

‘From where will you get samples?’ Prathap’s question was reasonable. The body was actually very badly burnt. Would it be possible to get samples from elsewhere?

‘Bone marrow, I can extract samples from there,’ medic was confident.

‘No way, DNA samples from a burnt bone? Impossible.’ M2 contrasted medic’s idea.

‘Trust me; I can get samples from this bone marrow.’

‘It’s obviously impossible. It would have crossed the feasible temperature before long.’

‘Where else can you get samples from?’ Prathap did not wish to fuel the argument. He wished to complete this investigation quickly. There would be no use throwing words.

M2 was looking around for some clue. He badly wished to foolproof the medic. He wished to win over. ‘The bottle,’ he screamed in ecstasy. ‘The bottle will have saliva traces. I can take it from there.’

‘It may be diluted with water. It’ll take more time to get the DNA trace.’ The medic argued.

‘Let’s see who gets it first, Mr. Medic.’ M2 started swabbing the bottle’s mouth. The medic gave an angry look to Prathap. Prathap signaled the medic to calm down. Prathap was growing tired with the case. He was already tired of the journey. He never expected such a horrible case on the very first day. He was wondering what Vimal would be doing now. Just then to disturb his thought train, he got call from Vimal.

Before he started to speak, Vimal screamed from the other end, ‘Boss, things are getting fishy!’

‘What happened?’

‘…….’

‘Blood in bathtub..?’

‘…….’

‘Recorder with suicide note..? To Christie..?’ Prathap was screaming, out of his control.

‘…….’

‘My god..! Is Ajay badly hurt? Is he dead or conscious?’

‘……..’

‘What? His body is missing?’

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