The Suspect

This story is © Arne Sommer 1998/2000/2002.

Just another murder case, I had thought. I was wrong.

The local police had already detained a suspect, as is often the case. He hadn't said a word, not even giving a name. He didn't have any IDs on him, but that isn't unusual either. We didn't have his finger prints on file. That was slightly unusual, but didn't worry me much.

He rose slowly as I entered the interview room. "Ah, detective Meyer, I presume". It is on record as the first words he said in custody. And that sentence changed the case from slightly unusual to plain unusual. He gave me a gentle smile, suggesting that he knew all there were to know about me. I had never seen him before.

"Yes?", I said, shaking the proffered arm. He didn't eleborate, so I had to ask. "And you are?"

"And why would you want to know that, detective?" He let go of my arm. "Well, you see. This is a murder case, and you are a suspect." You never know how to play them. "And it would be a pleasure to clear you out of it".

"And?", he said with a suggestion of a smile. It was definately going to be a long night. "And it would go a lot faster if you give us your name!" He looked slightly hurt. I had raised my voice, less than five minutes after starting the interview. It usually took several hours to get there.

"This is fascinating, you know." I took a deep breath. "What?", I enquired lightly. "Me talking with a seasoned detective".

He obviously didn't intend to give us his name. "Okay, so what were you doing at that place at that time?" "Picking up a parcel". I hadn't really expected an answer. "Why?" "As per instructions". "Whose?" "You wouldn't understand". "Try me", I said. He shaked his head, and leaned back. It felt as if I had failed a test of some sort. "You are not very cooperative", I said. "And that really is a matter of perspective". And that remark rendered me speachless for almost ten seconds.

The sergeant entered the room. "The lab report", he said. "It seems that we have a positive DNA identification of the murderer. They got it from skin tissue on the victim". He handed me the paper. It was an old aquaintance of ours. I looked up. "And we have just apprehended him".

I left the sergeant with the former prime suspect in the interview room.

It took half an hour to get the confession from our old friend, mainly caused by his drunkenness.

I sat down opposite him again. "We have the culprit", I said. "And a written confession". He nodded. "So this is goodbye, then?" I raised an eyebrow. "As I no longer are a suspect, I am free to go. Is that not so?", he enquired. "Yes, you are free to go, mr?". "Reeper. G. Reeper", he said.

The phone in front of me rang half an hour after he had left. It was the laboratory. "Look", he said hestitantly. "That DNA sample we got from you?" I sighed. Had they made a cockup again? He denied wehemently when I suggested so. "No, you have the murderer, but; well. I checked the DNA you got from your crime scene suspect". He sounded bewildered. "Just for fun, really, as it was a quiet night". I interrupted him; "And? Did you find him in your file?" He cleared his throat. This was it. He was about to tell me that I had let loose someone we really wanted to hold on to. "There was something odd about the sample, so I ran some checks on it". "Yes?", I said gripping the phone tightly. "I just got the results. His DNA didn't contain any C-14 at all!", he wailed. If he thought that I knew what he was talking about, he was mistaken. I told him so. It seems that C-14 is some kind of built-in radioactivity in everything alive, and it goes away after some time, quite some time. "And I looked it up; to get rid of all the C-14 he'd have had to be dead for at least 7000 years!"

I saw the card he had left on the table. "G. Reeper - don't call me; I'll call on you." It had a fancy illustration, resembling a scythe. G. Reeper. Grim Reaper.