The last thing I remember is watching the sweat make its way down the side of her face, all the way to her neck, gather at the junction of her clavicle, before ending its journey in the space between her breasts.
The next thing I know, I am leaning over her half naked body, her voluptuous breasts held together under the dark grey sports bra, but the silver table knife sticking out of her rib cage.
I did not mean to. It was Valentines, and I had planned to use the day to show her how I feel. I showed up just after I knew she would be back from her run and asked her to spend the day with me. But then she started with the excuses; she had a shindig with some girls from work, could I make it some other time? And sometime after she got a call from that fucktard Joe, I must have blacked out again.
Her eyes are open, frozen in what could either be shock or fear. She had not settled on one before the end. She died before her body hit the ground. I kiss her still warm lips, close her eye lids and place the blanket over the naked lower half of her body before I leave.
I got the call at 18:00GMT. I immediately recognized Kebe’s voice on the other end.
“We’ve caught a case. Mainland. Ikeja. I’ll beep you the deets. Hurry, it’s fresh”.
I grabbed a pair of brown khaki trousers and a black T-shirt from my pile of dirty laundry, doused it with half the contents of my body spray and dashed out of the house after stuffing my badge and keys in my pockets.
My pager beeped as soon as I reached the road. I flagged a taxi, gave him the address and hopped in. Five minutes later, the taxi arrived at the apartment building in Ikeja. It was one of those new structures they called studio flats, located in a highbrow estate with top-notch, round-the-clock security; one of those places it shouldn’t be easy to commit a crime, and yet.
I waved my badge at the security guard and he opened the gate to let me in. A few people had gathered outside the gate, trying to peep into the compound to see what was going on. This many police men was sure to attract attention. The news of the murder would definitely break tonight.
I met Kebe at the entrance of the building and he filled me in on the details of the case. The victim was female. Thirty-two. Single. And lived alone. The body was found by a colleague from work who was worried after being unable to contact the victim with whom she and a few friends had made Valentine’s Day plans.
The victim was stabbed in the heart with a table knife and even though she was found half naked, there was no sign of sexual assault or rape, no sign of forced entry on the door and the apartment was not ransacked or appear to have been robbed. From all indications, the killer was someone known to the victim or at the very least someone the victim trusted.
That helped to narrow the search down, but there was still a lot of work to be done. I knew the next forty-eight hours were crucial if I wanted to crack this case. After a quick glance at the crime scene, I rushed to the headquarters to take a look at all the evidence gathered. The first point of action was her phone, we needed to make a list of known close associates.
There was something about the case that was beginning to feel familiar. It was only as I went through the victim’s wallet that I was able to put a finger on it. She had a membership card to a gym on the Island, the same gym a victim from one of my old cases had also been a member of. I began to think that perhaps this case wouldn’t be so difficult to solve after all.
That victim had also been in her early thirties, single, lived alone and had died from multiple stab wounds in the chest and abdomen. The murder weapon was never found. No sign of forced entry or assault. She was also found in her bedroom, wearing only her underwear and covered from the waist down with her blanket. But the most chilling part was the fact that the murders were committed on the same day; Valentine’s Day.
The more I compared the facts, the more I was certain we were dealing with the same perpetrator. It was the same M.O and the profile fit the bill. There had been one suspect from the old case. A gym trainer who had a history of drug abuse and anger issues. He had been in a relationship with the victim and was the last person she called before she died.
But he had had an alibi. Flight records had put him somewhere between Lagos and Abuja at the time of the murder. There was no obvious way he could have done it. I headed straight for the gym to talk to him anyways.
He refused to say a word to me, requested a warrant and immediately left to call his lawyer. He remembered me from the last case and was legally prepared this time. But so was I. I messaged Kebe to get on the warrant, and then talked to a few members at the gym to pass the time. Most members were work colleagues, and so the news of the victim’s death had quickly spread.
By the time Kebe messaged the warrant back to me, I had drawn my definitive connection. From the reports of her colleagues, the victim was also in a relationship with the trainer, and I was sure phone records would prove it too.
I pulled up the warrant on the holograph and showed it to him. He had no choice. I dragged him back to the headquarters with me. This case was about to be closed.
But closing this case was proving to not be as easy as I hoped. I was dead sure the murder weapon would nail him since we had it this time. But hours of interrogation and one fingerprint analysis later, the test came back negative. The prints were not his. He was not the killer.
He admitted to calling the victim earlier in the day to meet up later, but when she didn’t show or call he thought she had blown him off. He shrugged nonchalantly and showed no sadness for the dead girl. He was a despicable person, but he was not the killer. The case was back to the drawing board.
I decided to pull the case files of the old case and compare notes with this one. There had to be something else connecting the two. I knew they were related. Two similar murders on the same day was too much of a coincidence, even though they were committed a year apart. It was a pattern. Was it a serial killer? What were the odds?
Two murders couldn’t qualify as serial, but then I also knew that most serial killers don’t establish a pattern until their second or third kill. If that was what this was, there could be other victims we haven’t linked together.
I began making a list of names known to both victims. It was made up of gym members and two trainers. We had hauled one trainer in for questioning, I had talked to most of the gym members already, so I decided to call the other trainer in for a talk. Not as a suspect, because the profile didn’t match, but since I had no other leads, there was nothing to lose.
It was mid-way through the interview and just after the statement, “I can’t believe that happened to her in her own bedroom”, that my senses began tingling. Details of where the victim’s body was found hadn’t been made public. I asked for consent to get her fingerprint. When the results matched those on the table knife, I knew we had found our killer.
As I said her rights, she remained calm and expressionless, didn’t resist arrest and held out her hands to be cuffed. I had to ask why and were there more? How does a gym trainer become a killer? And why Valentine’s Day? Was it planned? Spur of the moment? I had many questions.
She looked at me with blank eyes, still calm and expressionless.
“It was Valentine’s Day. All I wanted was to be with them. I loved them. Why didn’t they love me?”
I didn’t have an answer for her, but I was relieved I had an answer for myself. This case was finally closed.