The flimsy wood of the door frame shattered with ease, these cheap council flats weren’t built to last and the builders had obviously been cutting costs to keep their profits high.
It was obvious that no-one was home. Who could stand that stench of rotting flesh or the multitude of insects that were already buzzing around my face.
I told Stevie to keep his hands in his pockets so that no evidence was disturbed. Better than putting gloves on, touching things like door handles and taking away any valuable prints, besides the SOCO guys moaned if anything was disturbed. Although I didn’t think that would be a problem in this case.
At first glance, the apartment was a shambles, pizza boxes, dirty clothing and drug paraphernalia lying all over the place, a typical junkie hovel, nothing particularly memorable apart from the obvious.
The smell was so overwhelming that at first it wasn’t clear where the body was tucked away. No-one had seen the occupant in 6-8 weeks and like the best steaks, he’d had time to tenderise and mature on the bone.
On second glance into the bedroom, the full-height cupboard door was slightly ajar and the odd blue-bottle was taking its turn to escape for a breath of fresher air.
Should I open the cupboard or give Stevie the honours?
It was his first time at a death scene, so the pleasure was all his.
I told him to put on his gloves and open the door with his pencil from the bottom so as to minimise interfering with any evidence.
Stevie slowly opened the door and there hanging from the rail of the wardrobe was the very late Kevin McLeod.
I’d seen him looking better.
That’s the thing that they don’t really show on tv cop shows, bodies decay quickly, much quicker than you imagine when exposed to the atmosphere and insects, microbes and bacteria feast on any body part they can get their mouths on or they can digest with whatever fluid they use to liquidise the skin and suck it in through their feeding tubes.
Kevins eyes were long gone, replaced by a couple of dark empty sockets of dried blood and fuck-knows-what. ( A technical term ) . His hair and the skin of his face and scalp was mostly missing and I didn’t want to think about the rest of him.
The worst thing was and I’d seen this before, but the tissue of his neck was gone, the only thing keeping his head attached to his body was his spinal cord.
I’d seen this many times, you deal with it and forget about it. You never really dwell apart from the nightmares of your first few cases.
I’ll send Stevie home as early as possible and tell him to have a few beers and whatever else it takes tonight. It’ll help but won’t make the dark images go away.
Death is unusual for most people, but it’s part of the job and it’s amazing what you can used to.
Statistically, when most people die, it’s natural causes, mostly in hospitals or hospices, there is no real need for police involvement and it’s dealt with immediately and before there is any time for decay to set in.
When people die outwith a hospital, even if its natural causes, there’s usually a police presence to ensure that there are no suspicious circumstances. Generally most of these deaths are spotted immediately or within a few days when their loved one turns up to find the person already gone and only the remains remaining.
Anything longer than a week and you can bet that the person isn’t really loved, possibly doesn’t have any close family and will most certainly be like the ex-Kevin here and will be feeding new generations of insects.
Unfortunately for Stevie, this was his first, a deceased of 6-8 weeks is never a pleasant sight and he had already turned and left the room.
I’d give him a few minutes to collect his thoughts and then shout him back in. It’s all part of the job and he better get used to it.
Besides, once the SOCO guys come and inspect the place, we will have to pull the body down and check for any suspicious wounds or evidence that this was more than a simple suicide.
That’s when this will get really messy.
And you thought that you were having a shit day. 🙂