Divisional Crime Branch- The mystery in the House 1

by DavidBokolo

I banged at the door roughly. I cannot believe that any same person would be having a fight at this time of the night. There was pause from within the room. I can hear the murmuring of voices and shuffling of feet from inside.
“It’s the Police. Open the door,” I called out.
The Beretta pistol was in my right. I looked round at the faces of the others with me. Corporal Itoro was grinning at me in the dark, his hand wrapped around the Revolver pistol with him. Constable Charles was holding the suspect’s belt on the waist line with his left hand. He held a pump action rifle on his right.
We have left Salami in the car. I do not have to look that way to know he will be there peering at us and the emerging drama.
As I raised the baton in my hand to bang at the door again, I heard the bolt pulled back from within. I stepped into the shadows of the door and flattened myself against the side as the door was flung open.
It was Itoro who pushed his way into the room almost knocking down the man who came to open the door, barking at the man. “What is going on here?”
I went in behind him, brandishing my pistol around the room for effect. There was one lone oil lamp on a table in the centre of the room. Three startled faces turned to look at us. The man who opened the door for us; a man in his thirties I could tell from his look. The other person was woman of about the same age. And another young lady: presumably their daughter.
I turned to face the man. “What is happening in this room that you were fighting at this time of the night,” I asked him.
It is our daughter,” he pointing at the young lady in the room. His eyes shifted to the other woman, and he became silent.
“Okay. What is about your daughter?” I prompted him
“She… She came home l..late,” he stuttered and broke off.
“So she came home late and you started fighting with her in the middle of the night?” Charles queried him.
He was standing by the door with our suspect. “Do you know what the time is now? It is 1 “O” clock in the morning and you are here disturbing the neighborhood because your daughter returned home late,” he sneered.
“Officers, we are sorry,” the man pleaded.
Meanwhile, I was pacing around the room, peeping into every corner. “By the way, who are you?” I asked him offhandedly.
It is either he did not understand my question or chooses to play ignorance, but I could see that the suddenness of the question has thrown him off guide.
I..I..m.. I am Mukoro. We.. em,” again he broke off.
I turned to look at Cpl. Itoro standing by the man. He turned to look at the wife. Well I don’t know if she is the wife, but for now I will assume that she is. At that moment, I noticed that the door was not opened to its hilt. I went behind it and saw heap of clothes and utensils packed together.
Curiosity got the better of me, and I started poking at the heap with the baton roughly. All of sudden, I heard somebody cried out in pain from the heap. I drew back a pace and shouted out an order. “Come out with your hands up,” my pistol pointing as a young man came out from the heap of clothes with his hands raised.
He has obviously jumped behind the door at our knock and his parents thrown the garbage over him.
“What are doing in there?” Itoro asked his eyes boring into the man’s face.
“And don’t tell us you were afraid of the Police,” I asked with a veiled threat.
“Sir it is the truth. I was afraid when you said you are Police. That was why I hid myself,” he admitted.
“And if I may ask, why were afraid of the Police?” Charles was blunt.
“I don’t want to be arrested for two fighting,” he was shaking violently.
“And that is exactly what we are going to do.” I told him, and asked Charles to handcuff him together with our other suspect.
“Oh! My son is innocent,” cried the mother, trying to stop us as we went out of the room with the two suspects.

I had gone to see the DPO, Mr. Idowu Alabi, a day earlier in respect of a case of burglary and stealing that was referred to me at the Crime Office to investigate.
“What have you done about that case of burglary and stealing of a video machine that was reported two days ago?” he asked.
“Sir, I have not seen the complainant,” I replied. I have some case files in my hand, and I sorted out the file of the said case. It was reported by Mr. Salami, from camp Extension.
“I was expecting him to come to the station to make his statement.”
“Well, if he does not come to the station, you trace his house on the above address, and obtain his statement and follow up the case from there,” he ordered calmly.
“It is alright Sir,” I saluted him and left the office.
Back in the crime office, I checked the file properly to get the address of Mr. Salami. The case file is bare. Just about the stealing of a Sony video recorder from his flat in the Camp Extension by an unknown person. He did not suspect any person. There is nothing much to go on in the file.
I have copied the extract from the crime diary and made a file jacket. The problem with these complainants is that they will come to the station and make a complaint, and expect the Police to work magic. If they only knew the number of files I have to follow up every day.
I left the station, took a bike to Camp extension. This is the housing quarters of staff of Delta Steel Company (DSC) Ovwian/Aladja in Warri.
As I got to the gate, I got wondering how anyone could steal something from the camp and escape without being detected, going by the strict body search that was displayed by the security men at the gate. They were very meticulous, searching bags of every person passing through the gate. Vehicles were also stopped and the occupants and the car searched.
Yet, a video passed through here and I am now asked to remedy the blunder. I identified myself and was allowed through. There are four gates in the complex, and they are all similarly manned. This is going to be like the proverbial shifting through hey bag for a needle.
Mr. Salami opened the door to my polite knocking. I introduced myself.
“Oh! Mr. Baralate, nice of you to stop by,” he extended his hands to me. I shook him warmly, as he continued in the same high pitched tone, “I was just thinking about calling in to your office this evening to submit my statement.”
I looked him over. He has a friendly face, fair in complexion; about 5.8 feet. He gave me an apologetic smile. He was wearing a blue faded jean on a white T-shirt.
“It’s alright,” I told him smiling. “I came around so that I could have an opportunity to visit the scene of crime. I know by now any tell tale evidence may have been destroyed.”
“Ah, there was nothing much left by way of evidence. They practically swept away all evidence if there were any.” He led me into the sitting room. “Honey, please come and meet Mr. Baralate from the Crime branch,” he called out into the bedroom.
A moment later, a young pregnant woman of about 28 years, came out. He went beside her and completed the introduction, “he is the IPO investigating the case of our missing video.
“Officer, this is my wife. We are going to write our statement for you before you leave.”
“Good Afternoon madam,” I greeted her. I accepted the extended hand.
Mrs. Salami is a slim woman of about 5 feet. Like her husband, she is fair in complexion. And standing beside him wearing a long blue gown, she looks radiant like a diamond star.
“Ma’am, I’m very grateful. I will not take much of your time,” I assured them.
“Well, we are not in need of time right now,” Mr. Salami pointed a chair for me to sit.
All the flats in the camp were tastefully furnished by the company. Two single leather upholstery and s double. A dinning set and a TV stand. On the stand there is a 32’ Sony TV set, but the space of the Video is empty, gaping at me like a vacant tooth.
“Well, as I was saying,” continued Mr. Salami, “there was not much evidence left behind. They came in smoothly, removed the video, ate the rice in the pot in the kitchen and left.”
“What about the broken door?” I asked promptly.
“That’s the mystery in the house. There was no broken door. They left with the door locked. Nothing was broken.”
“Hold on a minute Sir!” I interjected. “Who was the last person that left the house in the morning?”
“I left with my husband’s younger brother at the same time. I personally locked the door before we left,” confirmed Mrs. Salami, clearly puzzled.
“Okay Madam, that’s alright,” I conceded briefly. “Did you loss any key at any time?” I asked Mr. Salami.
“Mmm, I think we lost the key to the kitchen’s door. But it’s been over three months,” he reflected.
“Did you change the lock?” I was curious. “How did you loss it, and how have been using the door since? Oh! Please,” I smiled at the couple. “I’m sorry for the barrage of questions, but I think the key could be our clue.”We did not change it. We simply brought out the spare, and that is what we have been using since. As to how we lost it, well, that is another mystery in the house. It just vanished somehow. We just could not find it.”
“Well, I’m damned. Keys just don’t vanish. Where is your brother Sir,” I asked and eased back on my seat.
“He is in his room. Let me call him. Sunday,” he called out, and a boy of about 15 years came into the room from another room.
“Hello, Sunday how do you do?” I greeted him cheerfully.
“Sunday, this is Baralate,” Salami informed the boy. “He will ask you few questions. Just answer him truthfully.”
The boy nodded his head and I pointed a chair to him to sit down.
“Okay Sunday, what class are you in school?”
“I am in class 3.”
“Which School are you attending?”
“I attend Ovwian Grammar School.”
“Nice School.” I said with a smile. “Do you like the school?”
“Yes Sir.”
“Did you see the key to the kitchen of this flat?”
“No,” he looked at his brother, who just nodded his head. “No, we were all looking for it.”
“Do you have any friend in school?”
“How many are they?”
“Em.. They are about five or six.”
“And has any of them come home with you?”
“Yes, some of them have being coming here with me,” again he looked at his brother.
“Sir have you seen any of his friend coming to the house with him?” I asked Mrs. Salami
“I think I have seen some of his friends he has brought home,” she threw her hands up dejectedly.
“This is what you will do for me Sir. We will go to Sunday’s school tomorrow and ask the Principal to come to the school with Sunday and his friends. We may be able to get something from them.
They both nodded their agreement. And about ten minutes later, I left their house with the case file updated haven obtained their written statement.

The following day, I was in the station at about 11 ‘O’ clock in the morning when the Principal of Ovwian Grammar School came with six boys. We had been to the school earlier when they were having their morning devotion and intimated the Principal of our desire to speak with the student.
Mr. Salami also came along with them. I ushered them into the office. The principal was a very huge mean looking man, probably in his late 40s, with a splash of grey hair around his temple. He was wearing an old brown suit over a white shirt.
“You are welcome Sir,” I greeted him extending my hand to him.
“Officer, I hope there is no problem with my students,” he asked gripping my hand firmly. ‘You know, I brought them without asking much questions about the reason.”
“I am sure you will be out of here just in a short while,” I assured him. I turned to Mr. Salami. “Please Sir, can you stay over there with the Principal for some minutes. I will just ask the boys some few questions and you will be going back with them,” I said indicating a vacant chair at the far corner of the office, but not out of earshot of what I will be asking the boys.
The boys were all between the ages of 12 and sixteen. Whatever the outcome of my investigation, these are all juveniles and will end as juvenile cases, I cannot help wondering.
“Alright Sunday, I hope these are all your friends in school.”
“Yes Sir,” he nodded his head, looking around the row of faces sitting on a long bench across my table.
“Okay, I have already known Sunday, I don’t have to ask him of his name.” Pointing to the boy sitting next to Sunday, I continued. “You, what is your name?”
The boy, dark with sandy hair, stood up. “My name is Lucky. Lucky Idafe.” His eyes were shifting from mine to the Principal and to others.
“And where were you on Monday morning, between 11.00 and 12 0 Clock in the afternoon,” I asked casually.
“Sir, I was in school,” he answered, his eyes were daring, as to mean, where else do I expect him to be.
I repeated these questions with the next two boys with almost the same response and bewildered look on their faces.
“What about you?” I pointed at the 5th boy. He seems like a sharp, intelligent looking boy. “Where were you on Monday morning?”
He threw up his arm in front of him and answered casually. “My name is Dalapo Samuel. I was at school on Monday morning.”
“No! No! You were not at school on Monday.” There was a chorus of protests from about three of the other boys.
“You were not at school on Monday,” Lucky insisted. “You know we met you at the Ovwian express Junction when we were going to buy something with our class teacher,” he clarified
.”Alright,” I stood up, clapped my hands briefly for silent. I asked the sixth boy the same question. He said he was in school on Monday morning.
“So Dalapo, you were not at the school on Monday, and why do you want to lie about it?” I asked him gently. “Anyway, don’t worry, we will settle that later.”
I turned to other student and the Principal. “Sir, you can take them back to their classes. I am so grateful to you for your cooperation. I have some few extra questions for our friend Dalapo here.
“Mr. Salami, please can you come back to the station with your car at the close of work today?’
“I will come around if you will need my attention,” he agreed.
“I think I may need your attention.” And with that we shook hands, and they all left the office with the boys talking excitedly amongst themselves.
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