Chris's parents Andre and Marilyn arrived home separately but within a few minutes of each other. Forced to park on the street due to the barricades erected by the enforcers, they were also forced to provide ID. Once they had established their identities Andre demanded to see the officer in charge.
The detective was used to dealing with people in stressful situations and immediately he was introduced was able to provide calm and concise replies to the frantic parent's questions.
"Let me assure you that your son is fine. "I will take you to him in just a minute. One of his friends is also assisting us with our inquiries, and there are two more of his friends waiting for him." He waved a hand in the general direction of a communications van bristling with antennas.
"I need to ask some questions first to establish your alibis and then I can brief you on the situation here."
"First, can both please talk loudly and clearly into this device and answer a few simple questions."
He thrust a hand held recorder in front of them and began to ask questions.
After establishing that Andre and Marilyn both had alibis that could be verified, the officer agreed to allow them to see Chris.
As they were walking to the command vehicle its door opened and Chris and Simon came out with another officer. Marilyn ran to her son and hugged him. He briefly hugged her back before his adolescent embarrassment showed and he wriggled free. Andre clasped his hand and grabbed him for a brief hug also. Simon stood quietly nearby and as Marilyn pestered Chris with questions of the details of what happened Andre spoke to him.
They quickly learnt the situation from the boys' perspective and then Andre remembered that Chris's other two mates Barry and Philip were being held outside the perimeter. He turned and asked the officer who had remained standing there if they could be brought in, and he agreed there was no reason they couldn't come in. Simon went with him down the street to where the two boys were sitting on the curb.
The head detective came back to where Andre and Marilyn remained in conversation with Chris and asked them if they would like to have a tour inside now.
Marilyn responded "Tour? What do you mean? We can't go inside our own house?"
Her voice rose to s shriek as she finished causing some nearby technicians to look over. Fearful of her causing a scene, Andre took her arm and calmed her down. "This is a crime scene now, and the evidence will not be able to be disturbed. We will need to stay in a hotel tonight." Suddenly remembering his daughter Kat he turned to the officer. "Has anybody called my daughter?" The officer responded and told them that she was on her way home. She had been offered an escort but had declined and was driving herself. Andre looked relieved and commented back to Marilyn. "When she gets here we will book a hotel and stay away for a couple of days. We could all do with a break anyway."
The detective turned away to take some information over his comms unit. When he turned back he was serious again. "OK we can go in now, but family only please. We have had initial evidence from our field lab that there was definitely human remains in the burnt patch. DNA analysis from some of the burnt material should help us identify the victim but in the meantime we will put out an APB on your cleaner Amy. Chris said he identified the body as hers. There is no evidence now to suggest that, but that's as good a place as any to start the investigation. If she turns up before the DNA analysis gives us a positive ID then we will widen our search, but for now we will assume that she is the victim. More importantly we are looking for evidence of the perpetrators."
Marilyn looked puzzled. "Perpetrators?" she raised her voice on the last syllable. "Chris said there was only one."
"Chris only saw one. There may have been more and the evidence gathered so far indicates that."
Andre butted in. "The gardener was to be here today. He may be able to help you."
"We are already tracking him down. He is considered a suspect, in fact the prime suspect at this time."
By this stage the foursome had reached the front door. The detective indicated the damaged door, and said that his department's insurance would pay for that damage as it had been inflicted when the enforcers opened the door.
A strand of tape had been run across the entrance to the kitchen and here the detective stood by the tape and stopped them from proceeding.
"We have already analysed the kitchen area as this was where your son Chris was attacked as he called emergency. However the rest of the house will take some time. The attack appears to have been made in the laundry area and there is a lot of blood in there. I am not going to take you in there." They went back to the foyer and round the other way to the family room and out to the patio. Between the end of the patio and the lawn was more tape, but this time he did not lift the tape. He indicated the teams of technicians working on the lawn. Some were setting up a tarpaulin in case of rain and lights so they could work through the night. "We are hoping to get plenty of evidence from the grass." The black burned out circle looked out of place on the lawn. Technicians continued to measure, sample and analyse it while others used special vacuum type instruments to search the lawn for other evidence.
The detective led them back through the house, avoiding the kitchen again,
Marilyn asked, "Are we able to collect personal items to take with us?"
"Sorry ma'am. We will reimburse any expenses incurred as a result. I will introduce you to our crime victims' liaison officer shortly. She will coordinate your accommodation and other requirements while we conduct the investigation."
He went on. "An officer will accompany you at all times, and you will be guarded while you are in the hotel. At this stage we have to take the precaution that you were being targeted and the cleaner just got in the way. No one will care about the death of a tribesperson but the attempted murder or murder of one of the city's finest lawyers is not something I want on my record because I failed to provide adequate protection."
Andre murmured something conciliatory and took his wife's arm again. "It's OK dear, we will be fine. Once Kat gets here we will go. In fact she should be here by now - where was she when you called?" This last was directed to the officer.
He looked at his timepiece and then responded slowly. "She was at the surf club, and said she would leave immediately. She should be here by now. I will get a tech to locate her." He turned away, thumbed his comms unit and began to speak urgently into it.
He turned back to the family "I am sure she will be here soon. Come and meet Chris's friends and sit and relax til she gets here. She is not answering her communicator. We have officers now looking for her on all the possible routes from the surf club to here, including any fuel stations or shops she may have stopped. We know what sort of car she has, so she should be located shortly."
By now the party had come back out the gates onto the street. It was starting to get dark, but not so dark that Chris couldn't recognise his mates. He left his parents and went to join them and there was much back slapping and giving of high fives as the other 2 lads were regaled with Chris and Simon's exploits.
Andre and Marilyn stood alone in the deepening darkness, surrounded by busy technicians yet isolated and alone. Marilyn clung to Andre for support as the reality of a murder in her home finally impacted her.
They waited in silent comforting each other by their physical closeness.