“Alright Tola, it’s time to take stock and know if we’re any closer to catching this killer or killers.” Adam said rolling the white board marker between his fingers.
He was standing in his office, in front of a whiteboard. The case was becoming fuzzy and trying to solve three murders at the same time was taking its toll on the case. The case needed some clarity and more importantly, he needed some clarity.
“Okay, first victim, what do we know?” Tola asked, leaning back in her seat.
“Well, she was a young girl, early twenties and a sex worker.” Adam said, writing on the white board in front of him. “She had met a man two weeks before she died, a man she met the same day she was killed. Hotel records had disappeared miraculously and there’s no way to trace them”
“Suspects for first murder?”
“First, Pastor of church where the body was dumped.” Adam started, writing his name on the board.
“Are you still on these pastors Adam?”
He shrugged and continued. “Second, manager of hotel.”
“He has an alibi Adam.”
“Yeah, looks like he does, but that’s all I’ve got. On to the second victim.”
“Early twenties too. Student, picked up on her way back from a party.” Tola said as Adam wrote on the board. “Suspects will include the pastor of the church where her body was dumped, although I firmly believe he is innocent…I can’t seem to think of another suspect.”
“That’s our problem Tola; we don’t have enough suspects.” Adam said, placing the marker on the table and sitting.
“And there’s the text and Faruk’s theory that it came from inside the CIB.”
“I can’t even begin to explain…” Adam started but was cut off by a knock on his door.
“Morning sir.” It was Benjamin, one of the Bureau’s junior detectives. “Detective Dosumu, the men watching Barrister Jemiluwa just called in to say he left his house in a hurry just now.”
“What is he talking about?” Adam asked, looking at Tola.
“I had a hunch that that sleazy lawyer was not telling us everything so I asked Benjamin to put him under twenty-four hour watch. Apparently it has paid off.”
“The men are still following him detective, just thought you should know.”
“Do you still have them on the line?” Adam asked, pointing to the phone Benjamin was holding.
“Yes sir, I do.” He replied, handing the phone to Adam.
“Hello, this is Detective Adam, where is the lawyer headed?”
“We are not exactly sure, but it looks like he’s headed out of town and he’s been on the phone all along sir.” A thick voice said over the phone.
“Was he visited by anybody since you started watching him?”
“No sir, he’s been home alone sir.”
“And has he visited anybody?”
“No sir, this is the first time he’s stepping out of his house. But he has been talking on the phone a lot. We were not able to enter his house to plant a bug and the closest we could get has not been very good. But it sounds like he’s been doing a lot of arguing.”
“Alright, thank you. Let us know when he arrives at where he’s headed.” Adam said and handed the phone back to Benjamin.
Tola waited for him to leave and said. “Where do you think he’s headed in a hurry?”
“My guess is he is in contact with Solomon Alonge, the pastor’s son. And they said he’s been arguing with somebody on the phone, chances are Solomon is the person on the other side of the phone.”
“Which means they’re up to something nefarious, one of them could be the killer. Otherwise why would Solomon Alonge be hiding?”
Adam opened his mouth to reply but was interrupted by another knock on the door, this time Benjamin did not wait for an answer before entering.
“They lost him sir.” He said, flustered.
“They what?!” Adam said, beckoning to Benjamin who handed him the phone. “Talk to me, how did you lose him?”
“Looks like he noticed us following him and he sped up, he turned a few corners and we lost him sir.” Adam could hear the thick voice laden with embarrassment.
“Where exactly did you lose him?”
“We were just out of town sir, barely out of Ganmo when…”
“Alright, look for him. If you don’t find him come back to the office, change your car and go back to his house.” Adam said and handed the phone back to the Benjamin, who immediately left the office, he was probably embarrassed for his men too.
“What do we do now? He’s obviously hiding something or someone.” Tola said.
“I think I should call that Pastor back, he might know something.” Adam said, dialing the pastor’s number.
The lawyer could be the killer. He could have killed the girl as a favour to his friend and his friend had turned against him because he killed a girl who was potentially the mother of his baby. Or maybe Solomon had killed the girl himself or maybe they did it together.
“Hello Detective.” The pastor picked on the third ring. “Have you found my son?”
“We are hoping you could help us with that. Is there any reason you can think of why Lawyer Jemiluwa would be going to Ganmo or any village close to it?”
“Ganmo? That is almost out of town. His Chambers is here in town and his parents don’t even stay in the state, so I have no idea.”
“Nothing that you can think of?” Adam asked, rubbing his forehead. He had being hoping on shutting down the third murder as soon as he could.
“Ask him if his son could be in Ganmo for any reason.” Tola whispered.
“How about your son Pastor, does he have any link to Ganmo or any town close by?”
“Now that you mention my son, yes. I used to have a farm in Ganmo, that was a few years ago though. I’m sure the place will be full of weeds now. I haven’t been there in over a year.”
“Okay Pastor. We will be in your church in twenty minutes, we are going to your farm.”
The farm was an animal farm and it was not run over by weeds at all. In fact it looked like it had been occupied and used for months. A beat-down shed stood to the right of the entrance to the farm, it looked like it had once housed poultry birds. The smell coming from it indicated that it had housed the birds until very recent times. Beside the shed, there was another one – a bigger one. As they got closer, Adam could identify the stench that came from pigs. He had lived close to a man who owned a piggery once, it had been torture.
“Who is running the farm here?” Tola asked the Pastor.
“I have no idea.” The pastor replied, looking bewildered.
They moved towards the piggery. The pig shed was not full but it had some pigs in it. Adam estimated them to be about twenty five. It was obvious someone had been using the farm actively. Maybe the girlfriend was not the only reason Solomon visited the city.
“If Solomon has been running this, why will he hide it from me? I have encouraged him to use the place for years and he refused.” The pastor said.
Adam felt a bit of pity for the man. He was being confronted by lies and was now a witness is a murder case, maybe even a suspect.
A little distance away from the sheds was a farm house. A tiny one room house, probably for the help. The outside of the house looked clean, inhabited. If the place had to be run by somebody, then where was he? If Solomon was always in Lagos, he could not run the place himself. And there was no way the vain Lawyer would run a farm.
“Did you run this place yourself or did you hire somebody to do it for you?” Adam asked the pastor.
“I had somebody stay here to feed the animals, but I was here every day except on few occasions. The man still keeps in touch with me.”
“There’s a possibility your son, who I’m assuming is the one running this place uses the same person. How about you give him a call and ask, while we will check inside the house.”
Adam tried the door, it was open. He entered the house and Tola followed him. It was not a big house, just the type you would find on a farm. Adam looked around the room, somebody had been in it that very day. There was a door that led out of the house through the back, Tola went out through the door. Adam moved towards a cupboard which he assumed housed clothes, or kitchen stuff. He was about to open the cupboard when Tola called him.
“Adam you have to see this.”
He went out through the back door and saw Tola standing over tire tracks.
“Looks like a car pulled away from this place in a hurry, judging by this.” She said, pointing to the tire tracks.
Adam looked at the tracks and tried to follow them with his eyes, they disappeared among some shrubs. The pastor would know where they lead to.
Adam went round the house to where he had left him, he was there staring at his phone.
“Did you get the man?” Adam asked.
“Yes I did.” He said, still staring at his phone.
“He said Solomon hired him and told him not to tell me about the farm. He also said Solomon called him four days ago to tell him he was fired and he had just twenty four hours to leave the house.”
“Four days ago? That was a day before your son was said to have left Lagos, so maybe he was trying to clear this place for himself.”
“What is happening to me?” Adam looked up to see the Pastor, shaking and sobbing. “What has my son gotten himself into? A child raised in the house of God.”
Adam looked at the house wishing Tola could come to his aid. “Pastor, be calm please. We don’t know anything yet, your son could be the victim here.”
“The victim?” The pastor said, fear replacing sorrow on his face. Adam immediately regretted his last statement. “The man said, he came here yesterday and he saw a man snooping around. He said he thought the man was probably a thief but he was still angry at Solomon he decided not to confront the man.”
Adam opened his mouth to offer some words of comfort but nothing came out. “Pastor, come with me, I need you to tell me where some tire tracks we found behind the house could lead.”
The Pastor still overcome with his sorrow, or fear or some other terrible emotion followed him. Tola was still observing the tracks.
“These tracks belong to a huge car, probably an SUV or a Truck.” Tola said.
“My son drives a Tundra.” The pastor said.
“Where do you think these tracks lead?” Adam asked.
“They look like they’re headed for the village where the man who worked here lives. If my son drove the car away from here, he could have gone to meet him.”
Adam looked around as they drove. They could not follow the tracks because his Honda would not make it across the farmland. The road they were following was not the best but it was better.
“Wait!” The pastor exclaimed from the backseat. Adam slowed the car to a stop.
“What’s the problem?” Adam asked.
“See that building?” He asked pointing to a house standing about five hundred metres from the road. “It is owned by Garba, a hausa man who sells chicken feed to all the farmers in this area, if anybody knows what has been happening here, it is him.”
“Can’t we just talk to him on our way back?” Adam said, getting impatient.
“I think we should talk to him now.” Tola said, coming down from the car.
Adam came down from the car and followed the Pastor and Tola who were already on their way to the building. Adam observed the building as he moved closer to it. It did not look like it was open for business or that it had even been open for business in weeks or months. He was right, there was no Garba or any other person selling chicken feed. Before he could call out to them, he saw the Pastor had opened the door and entered, Tola following him in. They both stood still at the door. Adam hurried to meet them.
Shocked, he stopped at the door. It was possible they just found the murder site of the ‘Church Street Killer’. Or maybe it was just an abattoir of sorts. There were blood stained plastic bags on the floor, different types and sizes of knifes and a big wooden table. Adam moved past his assistant and the pastor who were still dumbfounded and stepped into the room. The room was clean; swept and mopped. He looked around for any sign of bottles, the first victim was killed with cyanide. There was no bottle. The walls were stained with blood, the knives too.
Adam left the room, Tola and the Pastor on his heels. Something did not sit well with him. Was it by pure coincidence that they had found the place? He brought out his phone and called the office, he asked them to send a forensics team to the place.
“We’re following those tracks, okay? Let’s go.” Adam said as he marched towards his car.
“What was that back there?” Tola asked, finally finding her voice.
“I don’t know what that was, we will find out later, but for now we will find out where those tracks lead us.” Adam replied. “How come that place shook you up so much? You’ve seen the bodies, and they were way worse than this.”
“I don’t know Adam, I sensed evil in that place.”
Adam nodded and kept on driving. Ten minutes later, they entered into what looked like a small settlement.
“Is this the place?” Adam asked the pastor who was still yet to speak a word since seeing all the blood.
“What? Oh, yes, we are almost there. His house is the one round the corner after that red billboard.”
Adam drove past the billboard and round the corner and saw a red Tundra parked in front of a small house.
“Is that your son’s truck?” Tola asked.
“Yes, that is it.”
Adam stopped the car and they all got out of the car. Adam looked around, they had to be careful. If Solomon Alonge was a killer, then he was dangerous. And there was a possibility that the lawyer was with him and that spelt even more danger.
“Pastor, please get back in the car. This could be dangerous.” Adam said, waving the man inside the car.
“That’s my son in there, how can you tell me to stay in the car?” He protested.
“He is right. Barrister Jemiluwa could be there too and if his outsmarting our officers is anything to go by then he could be dangerous.” Tola said, trying to fake a smile but failing miserably. “We will lock the door and crack a window for you.”
The pastor reluctantly got in and Adam locked the car. He brought out his gun from its holster checked to make sure it was loaded, Tola did the same. He had not used the gun in months, he silently prayed there was not going to be a shootout because he was out of practice. It was stupid, chasing a serial killer and not practicing with your gun.
“Tola, go round the back, I’ll cover the front. Be careful.” Adam said. Tola nodded and moved towards the back of the house.
Adam took a deep breath, put his gun back in the holster and covered it with his suit. He moved towards the door. The whole house was quiet. If there was anybody inside they were doing their best to stay un-noticed. He quietly climbed the two-step stairs and stood in facing of the front door.
He thought of busting into the house, but that would immediately put the occupants in a defensive mode. He took another deep breath and knocked. No answer. He removed his gun from the holster and gently turned the door handle. The door gave way with ease, creaking as it opened. He stilled the door with his hand and stepped inside the room.
He stood still till his eyes adjusted to the dim light in the house. The living room was empty. It smelled of drugs, it was nauseating. He tiptoed across the room came to the dining area, his heartbeat increasing. He stopped suddenly almost dropping the gun he was holding. His heart looked to have stopped as he looked on in horror. He stood still for almost a minute before he regained control of his body.
“Tola, you need to get in here.” He shouted, or he wanted to shout but it came out in a whisper.
His head swooned as he tried to process what he was looking at.
On the floor were three bodies, their throats slit from one end to the other. One of them was the lawyer. He would have to confirm but he was sure the other two were Solomon Alonge and the man who owned the house.