Lloyd stood outside the door of the cramped murder room, where he couldn't be seen by the occupants, who sat variously on or at desks.

The general hubbub was quietened when Judy stood up, and faced her crew. 'Right,' she said. 'Listen.'

Lloyd felt a little apprehensive; you could feel the hostility, just because she was a woman. You could feel them want to see her fall flat on her face.
'Natalia Ouspensky,' she said. 'Known as Natalie, or Nat, to her friends. Aged fifteen years one month.'

Lloyd listened as she outlined the events of the night before as far as they were understood to have happened, and read out the names of the detectives she wanted to conduct enquiries at the school.

'I want you to talk to Natalie's friends,' she said. 'I want to know what sort of girl she was, and I want to know who her boyfriends were, if any. I have given the head an undertaking that these interviews are purely to get information about Natalie that we can't get elsewhere - boyfriends, and so on. So if you do have reason to suspect anyone you speak to of involvement in the crime, you must caution them immediately, and the interview must cease until the appropriate people can be present.'

'My God, the kiddiewinkies won't get too much hassle from you, will they?'
Judy addressed the room, not him. 'If we turn up a boyfriend or boyfriends, it could very well be that he or they will have to be asked to give a sample of blood for DNA analysis, if only for elimination purposes. In any event, the procedure will be explained in detail. He will be told exactly what DNA analysis is, and how it works, and what it means if we get a match.'

'Great. Why don't we give them a bag of sweets and a balloon as they leave?'
Judy detailed another lot to do an extended door-to-door. Ash Road again, to catch those who were unable to be spoken to yesterday, and Kings Estate, on the route from Natalia's grandmother's house to the bus stop. 'We want anyone at all who saw her between eight-forty, when she left her grandmother's house in Henry Way, and ten-twenty, when Sherlock the bloodhound found her body. It was daylight until about nine, so we stand a good chance.

'Sherlock was wasting his time, for all we're going to do about it, if we mustn't upset the kiddiewinks. You want a gang of nannies on this, not cops.'

Judy looked at the speaker. 'Whoever murdered that little girl is going to get caught,' she said quietly. 'Arrested, charged, prosecuted, put away. No one is going to walk away from this because he didn't have his rights explained to him, or wasn't told that he could have a solicitor and didn't understand what he was signing. No one is going to have any come-back at all on how this enquiry was conducted from day one.'

Her glance took in the entire room now. 'I imagine that it will shortly be DCI Lloyd who'll be in charge of this investigation, but today, in the absence of anyone more senior, it's me. And if you - if any of you - jeopardise our case against a potential suspect, it's me you'll answer to, not DCI Lloyd. And I've got more to prove than him - do I make myself clear?'

There was laughter, nods of appreciation. Judy's supporters were at last becoming vocal, as though they were at a football match they were beginning to think their team might just have a chance of winning.

Lloyd grinned. Attagirl, Judy.

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