Missing Pieces

Pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in silouhette Pic: Istockphoto


She knew that only the best training could produce the best crime fighters

I feel sorry for murderers these days.

Jack The Ripper had it easy. Back then, police knew nothing about forensics. Today we can trace someone from a single hair. We’d have caught him in no time.

Things have certainly changed. Nowadays, everyone, even the greenest recruit, knows a lot about forensics thanks to TV programmes like CSI and Silent Witness. As a forensic science teacher, it’s my job to show them how much they DON’T know.

I’m no young whiz kid. I’m short, plump and getting on in years – and I’m female. If I don’t catch youngsters out by showing them how easy it is to jump to the wrong conclusions, I might as well not bother. They’ll never listen to me again.

They have to learn not to trust their eyes

Each year, it becomes more difficult to find something tricky enough, something to get those young police recruits scratching their heads.

In my classes, I set up a room like a crime scene and let my students see if they can figure anything out just by looking. I do this exercise during their first week. It’s to show them not to trust their eyes. They have to learn to look beyond appearances.

It’s funny how often they assume the murderer is a man, especially if the murder is a bit gruesome.

I’m proud of this latest one. It took me ages to make it work. I used an icicle as a murder weapon. Of course, the body’s just a model, but it’s good enough for teaching purposes. I’ll give them a morning to try and work out what caused the wounds. All they have to do is look, really look, then they’d see the water stains left on the clothing.

Once they’ve conceded defeat, I usually let Chief Inspector Maidstone tell them what clues they’ve missed.

It comes better from him. He’s only five feet nine, but he has a way of looking down his nose at students that I can only dream of. That’s when the learning process really starts, once they see it’s not as easy as they thought it was.

I’m never off duty

I need to stay one step ahead to keep up with new developments.

Today I didn’t go straight home. Instead, I drove sixty miles to another crime scene. It’s the part of my work I love the most. The man hardly knew what hit him. When the other officers arrive they’ll work out from the wounds how tall the murderer was. They’ll assume the murderer is a tall, left-handed man. They said that last time, and they were wrong about everything!

I choose my victims carefully. I’d seen this man before, making a nuisance of himself, pestering any female he could get near. I found out who he was and checked his record. He’d been arrested three times, charged, even tried, but somehow he always got away with his crime. Somebody needed to stop him, so when he made a grab for me, I was ready.

I was at full stretch when the blade went in. I made sure to strike upwards from left to right. I don’t like wearing high heels but there’s no other way to make me tall enough.

The first time I killed was an accident. A mugger jumped out as I took a short cut through the park. I stabbed him with my nail scissors.

I could have told the police, after all it was self defence, but then I realised what a wonderful opportunity I’d been given.

They didn’t have a clue

What better way to test new crime scene officers? I decided to see if anyone could work out what had really happened, once I’d played around with the crime scene. They didn’t have a clue.

So far I’ve killed five times. All of my victims deserved to die, I made sure of that. The last thing I want is for innocent people to suffer.

One day, one of my brighter pupils will catch me and I’ll go to jail, but it will be worth it, because I’ll KNOW that I really am the best forensic science teacher there’s ever been.

Don’t miss these other stories in our Crime Series… the next will appear on Monday!

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Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me kbyrom@dctmedia.co.uk