Leslie decided to have a look at the crime scene first and have a word with the coroner, if possible.
Dr. Thorn was already waiting for her when she approached the cordoned off area.
"Sergeant Bennett," he exclaimed. "Didn't think I'd see you again today. I thought you were working the case of the remains out in the woods."
"So was I," Leslie commented darkly. "What can you tell me about this one?"
"Contrary to your body from this morning, this one doesn't present much of a mystery," Thorn said, sounding somewhat disappointed as he led the way into the hospital room.
"Watch your step,"! Thorn warned as he stepped around the blood smears and footprints on the floor. From the looks of it, at least half a dozen people had already walked through the blood, leaving an abundance of bloody prints all around the room and trailing well out into the hallway.
The bed had been removed from the room at some point, leaving a clear line of sight to the body crumpled at the far side of the room. It was that of a heavily built woman with short curly brown-grey hair. However, little of it was still visible in its original coloring. She was lying on her side arms stretched out as if she'd just been tossed there. Her head was surrounded by a large pool of slowly congealing blood. There was a large, deep wound where the right side of her head had once been.
"As you can no doubt deduce, Mrs Dobson died from a point-blank shot to the side of the head. You can see the powder burns left by the shot here," Thorn said, pointing to some dark residue on the pale skin at the edge of the wound.
"Given the damage, the weapon most likely a large caliber hand gun. The bullet entered at the right temple region at a slightly downward angle and exited on the let side of her face."
"Have you retrieved the bullet?" Leslie asked
"Yes, the guys from the scene unit dug it out of the wall in the corridor opposite the door."
"So, she wasn't shot in here?" Leslie tried to picture the scene ion her mind.
"I'd say she was most likely shot somewhere in the vicinity of the doorway." Thorn said. "He position indicated that she was most likely dragged in here after she was shot."
Leslie's eyes narrowed. "The shooter was inside the room?"
"Based on my preliminary analysis, that seems likely." Thorn replied.
Leslie frowned. What had the shooter been doing in the room with Jake? And who did all this tie in with Jake having been poisoned, presuming that was what had happened.
"Okay, thank you, Dr Thorn. If the crime scene guys are done, you can take away the body," Leslie said and left the room. Outside in the hallway, she found one of the crime scene investigators taking pictures of the bloody footprints. She looked up from her camera when she spotted Leslie.
"Sergeant Bennett," she nodded in acknowledgment. Leslie searched her memory for a name to go with the face. Lynch, something like that was the woman's last name, if she recalled correctly.
"Hey, is there anything you can tell me about the blood evidence?" Leslie asked.
The woman straightened with a grimace. "Unfortunately not much. It's one big mess that will take a while to sort out. There are bloody footprints all over the room and the hallway in both directions leading from the room."
"Can you tell if any of the footprints were left by the killer?"
The woman shook her head. "Not so far. But we did find this trail of blood drops." She pointed to a trail of fine blood drops on the ground. Together they walked along the trail past Jake's room and followed it until they reached the door leading to the stairwell.
"There is blood on the handle," Lynch pointed out. "I think the killer might have escaped into the stairwell."
"Has it been searched?" Leslie asked.
"I think they’re doing that now. There is one more thing you might want to see."
Lynch pushed the door open further with her gloved hand and pointed to a heap of bloody sheets and towels in the corner of the stairwell landing."
"We think these were used to try and mop up the blood. It's most likely also what left the drops, especially since there are none past the landing."
"Have these bagged and entered into evidence," Leslie told her. Lynch nodded. "Will do, Sergeant."
Leslie made her way back to the waiting area . She hoped that in talking to them, she would gain some clarity about what had happened and how a woman had come to be shot by someone in Jake's hospital room.
The security service had organized an empty office for her so that Leslie could interview the witnesses in private. Right now, she was sitting opposite Marion Dubrovnik, a student nurse and apparently the person who'd first discovered the body of Cindy Dobson.
"I don't...I don't know where to start," the young woman said nervously. "It was just so awful, seeing her like this." Tears were threatening to spill for what, judging by her reddened eyes, not the first time.
"Just start from the beginning," Leslie said in her most reassuring manner.
Marion nodded and wiped at her eyes with a tissue.
"I was looking for Cindy, but I couldn't find her anywhere. That's when I heard this loud bang...I've never read a gun being fired in real life, but it must have been that..." she trailed off.
"Can you tell me around what time that was?" Leslie asked gently.
"I don't know...maybe around 1.45 p.m., but I'm not sure, I just can't remember," Marion was obviously deeply upset over the whole incident.
"That's fine," Leslie replied. She could later get a more accurate time from Mal, but noted the time given by Marion in her notebook anyway.
"So, you heard a loud bang. What did you do then?" Leslie prompted when Marion didn't continue.
"I didn't know what to make of it," Marion confessed. "I didn't know it had been a gunshot. I thought...well, I don't remember what I thought, but I continued looking for Cindy on the ward. If only I'd realized sooner..maybe I could have done something to help Cindy."
"You did nothing wrong," Leslie reassured her. Who knew, if Marion had reacted quicker, she might have become a victim as well. That thought however, Leslie made sure to keep to herself. "Now, try to remember, what did you do next?"
"I saw...blood on the floor in front of room 605," Marion continued haltingly. "I opened the door. There was more blood on the floor. I asked Mr Doyle if he was all right, but he didn’t answer. I went in...to check on him, that's when...that's when I saw her." Marion began to cry again. "It was horrible," she managed in between sobs.
Leslie allowed the young woman some time to compose herself, before she went on. "Before you went into the room, did you see anyone else?"
Marion thought for a moment, then shook her head. "I don't think so." Then after a moment’s pause, she said: "I did hear a door slamming, just before..."
"That door, was it like the door to one of the patient's rooms, or something heavier?"
"I can't...I can't remember."
"Please, try. Just close your eyes and go back to that moment in your mind."
Marion did as asked and closed her eyes.
"Now, go back to that moment," Leslie instructed. "You were in the hallway walking towards Mr Doyle's room when you heard the sound."
For a long time, Marion was silent, a look of intense concentration on her face. Finally, she said: "It wasn't a room door. I think it was the door that leads into the stairwell. Yes, it must have been that."
With this, Leslie concluded Marion's interview, gave her her card and told her to come to the station for an official statement. Leslie leaned back on her chair for a moment, thinking over what she'd just been told. Everything Marion had said fitted in what she already knew. It had not however answered any of the still obscure points, nor had she learned anything else about the killer that would help her track him down, assuming he wouldn't be found in the hospital during the search.
Why had a man with a gun been in Jake's room? Presumably he had been after the private detective, but why hadn't he shot Jake then. Leslie was grateful that he hadn't, but it still made her wonder. And how was all this connected to Jake being poisoned? If the killer had a gun why bother with drugs? Leslie sighed and got up from her chair. She wasn't going to find the answers sitting here. Time to check in with the officers con ducting the search and then she'd go to interview Mal.
The search was progressing, but had yet to turn up anything probative when Leslie took a seat apposite Mal in the same office where she'd previously interviewed the student nurse Marion. The contrast between the two witnesses was like night and day. Mal narrated how he'd come to the hospital to see his son only to run into the hysterical student nurses in the hallway and had then, in the process of investigating found Cindy Dobson murdered and Jake unconscious and unresponsive in his bed in a clear and concise manner.
Leslie made notes as he spoke and once had finished, she sat for a moment, thinking, before asking: "Do you have any idea why someone would want to hurt Jake?"
"Other than him being his usual charming self?" Mal asked sarcastically, but then shook his head. "I don't know." Leslie got the impression that Mal was holding something back on this point, but decided it was useless to press him further. Instead, she asked, "Then he didn't tell you about the kidnapping?" She had figured that Jake had told everyone who he'd been able to think of about what he had allegedly seen.
Now it was Mal's turn to be taken aback. "What kidnapping?" asked he in astonishment.
"He didn't tell you about that?" Leslie asked rhetorically. "He phoned both me and Sergeant Hood this morning saying he'd witnessed a kidnapping here at the hospital. Said he'd seen some girl getting dragged into a car in the parking lot."
Oddly enough, for a brief moment, Leslie thought she detected something akin to relief on Mal's features, but the expression was immediately replaced by mild curiosity and, if Leslie wasn't completely mistaken, concern.
Mal shook his head, then asked, "you think this is related to what he saw?"
"I have no idea," Leslie confessed, "And anyway, I don't see how anyone could have known that he was a witness in the first place. I mean we haven't even established that there was a kidnapping, let alone started an investigation."
"No one else reported seeing anything?"
"No, not so far. I made some calls earlier today, but no one else had called the police about a similar incident, nor has anyone matching that girl's description been reported missing recently," Leslie said and shrugged. Personally, she didn't know what to make of Jake's story, especially in light of his having been poisoned. It would make sense if whoever had kidnapped the girl was trying to get rid of a witness, but how could they possible know that he'd witnesses something? From how Jake had recounted the incident, he'd witnesses the whole thing from a window from above so it was unlikely that the kidnapper, if he existed, had spotted him from the parking lot below.
"It might be too early for a missing person's report," Mal considered. "But I'd appreciate it if you could keep an eye out for any new reports."
"So you think there is something to all this?" Leslie questioned.
Mal nodded, maybe a little to emphatically before answering rather non-committally: "He must have seen something."
Leslie concluded the interview with the distinct impression that Mal was holding something back, but unable to figure it out. She was almost certain that he had some idea why someone would try and poison Jake, but for whatever reason, he had decided not to share it with the police. Knowing him, he'd probably try and get to the bottom of the matter himself. She'd be very surprised if she didn't catch one or both of the Doyle men meddling in this case again at some point in the future.