It Was Me
by John Pilling
“May I have a word sir?”
“Of course Ted, come in.” With some relief Chief Inspector Brian Ames pushed aside the pile of overtime dockets he had been studying and looked up at his deputy, Inspector Ted Harvey.
“How can I help?”
“It’s this murder case in Hanover Street sir.”
“Ah yes, bit of a feather in your cap that one Ted… a quick clear up like that, looks very good on the crime figures.”
“I suppose so sir… but frankly I’m not too happy about it, I think we could have a problem.”
“Really? In what way? I understood you’d obtained a confession and the killer has been charged and is in custody.”
“That’s correct sir, although no credit to me really, the husband admitted it was him right from the start… that’s the part I’m worried about.”
Chief inspector Ames leaned back in his chair and looked quizzically at his deputy.
“You’d better take a seat Ted,” he said, “tell me what’s bothering you”
“Do you know the background to the case sir?”
“I took a quick look through the file, chap went berserk and killed his wife, yes?”
“In a nutshell sir… we were called to the house by the cleaning lady, very sensible woman, she didn’t touch anything just relocked the front door and called us from the street. When we got there we found the wife’s body lying on the floor in the front room, she’d been killed by multiple stab wounds… the husband was wandering around in the kitchen covered in blood with the knife in his hand. He was in a very dazed state, with a nasty wound to his head, but he was able to answer when asked what had happened.”
“What did he say?”
“Just, it was me… it was me.”
“So where’s the problem?”
“That head injury puzzles me sir, how did he get it? The thing he’d been hit with, a metal rod, was in a hedge bottom in the back garden and handed in by the gardener… no fingerprints but forensics say the husbands blood is all over it. But how did it get there? He would hardly have hit himself then thrown it away.”
“Maybe his wife used it to try to defend herself, maybe he threw it away when he realised what he done.”
“Possible sir, but in that case wouldn’t their finger prints be on it? In any case I just can’t see him doing that, the state he was in. The police doctor said he was barely conscious. He collapsed completely when he was arrested… just curled up in a ball repeating that he’d done it.”
“Have you interviewed him further?”
“No sir, he’s in a secure hospital ward at the moment and likely to stay there. They can’t get any sense out of him, he just lies there repeating ‘It was me… it was me.’ The doctors reckon he’s got himself into a repetitive cycle that’s as near catatonia as makes no difference, they won’t let me near him They’re terrified that the press will start shouting about police brutality.”
“Hmmm… well, frankly Ted, I’m not too sure what you’re worrying about. I mean, why on earth would a man admit to something he didn’t do? Particularly a nasty crime like this one. He was found at the scene, he admitted the murder, he had the means, the opportunity…”
“Maybe he just flipped… these things happen. Maybe his wife said something and he just lost it. He’s obviously mentally unstable.”
“It’s a point sir… but I’m still not convinced”
The chief inspector sat back in his chair and looked resignedly at his deputy.
“All right Ted… so what do you want from me?”
“I’d like your authorisation to re-open the enquiry sir, dig into the back ground. At present, our case is based solely on his confession of guilt, if he comes round and retracts that we could be in queer street. We need something more.”
“Ideally, some sort of explanation as to why he suddenly went berserk and murdered his wife would do for a start.” The chief inspector thought for a few moments then sighed.
“Very well Ted, get a team together and have another look at it, but just a few days and try to bear in mind that we‘re already up to our overtime limit this quarter.”
* * * *
Two days later, Inspector Harvey pushed away the pile of forensic reports and statements he had been studying and sighed with exasperation. Maybe the Chief had been right, he thought, maybe it was just an impulse killing… but in that case, how on earth did that metal rod come to be in the bottom of a hedge in the back garden? With another sigh he picked up the thin sheaf of statements from the neighbours and started to read. Halfway down the second page he froze.
* * * *
“A record of violence as long as your arm sir… been in and out of prison most of his life. Probation got him work as a jobbing gardener in the area. He didn’t deny it, claims the wife refused to pay him, said he hadn’t done a job properly or something. Anyway one thing led to another and…”
“But how did you get onto him in the first place Ted?”
“Look at his name sir.”
“Yessir… Graham Mee… that poor bugger in the hospital has been trying to tell us all the time.