Wednesday: Week Three


Tobias woke before the alarm on his phone summoned him from sleep. He lay wondering what might have happened with Sofie if he hadn’t been called to the crime scene in Gellerupparken. Would she have invited him to her flat? How long had it been since he’d spent the night with a woman? Hilde had always left his bed and gone home without spending any unnecessary time talking. Before that, he’d spent as few nights as possible in Silkeborg in the fussy home of Anna, the librarian. She, in turn, had disliked his Aarhus flat. “Spartan minimalism” she called it. How had they managed to sustain a relationship for six months? Sex, he supposed. He thought sex would be exhilarating with Sofie. If he ever found the time, and Sofie had the inclination. He picked up the phone. There was a butterfly in his stomach. He hadn’t felt that kind of apprehensive flutter since the early days with Karren. Sex had been good with Karren. It was everything else that was wrong. Sofie’s voice – even in a phone message it had a hint of laughter in it - told him to leave a message.

“Sorry about last night,” he said briskly. “I’d like to see you again.” He paused. “And by the way, she was pushed.” 

Eddy wakened with hunger pangs and thought he might make a hash of fried potatoes and eggs, until he discovered he’d no eggs, no coffee and no milk. He settled for a bread roll, with cheese and a dab of strawberry jam, in the police canteen. 

He got two mugs of coffee – one for himself and one for Katrine – and carried them to the Investigations Room. Katrine was already at her desk, as usual. She looked as though she’d not only had breakfast but had gone for an early morning run as well. Eddy thought he might start going to the gym again. He set a mug of coffee on Katrine’s desk.

“Thanks, Eddy.” Katrine gave him a brief, distracted smile. Her gaze returned to the computer screen. “There’s a message from Karl. They found a passport. Corazon Girlie Sanchez. Born in Manila. It’s got a biometric chip so we can do a fingerprint ID. Plus Harry can check the blood sample with the hospital. But I’m sure she’s the same Girlie we saw there.” 

“I’m still kicking myself,” said Eddy. He settled on the edge of Katrine’s desk. 

“Me too.” She took a sip of coffee. “Where did you get to last night?” 

“A mystery woman in a headscarf asked to meet me in a bar.” He paused for effect. “It turned out she was working undercover for PET. She told me Girlie’s flat was a brothel. There’s another one five doors down. Did you call there?”

“Nobody answered on that floor,” said Katrine. “Except the old couple and the family we’d already spoken to.”  

“There’s a sex worker who’s legal, according to PET. She might talk to us. And there’s a student volunteer in an advice centre who knows about the earlier assault on Girlie. Her name’s Irene Voss.” Eddy glanced out of the window. “It’s going to rain. Where would you rather be on a wet day? In here, staying dry, or out there getting wet? He didn’t wait for an answer. “Finish your coffee and get your raincoat. We’re going to Gellerupparken to find Irene Voss.”  

The Women’s Legal Advice Centre was tucked into a corner of the big, hangar-like market called Bazar Vest, beside a stall selling embroidered slippers and kaftans. There was a poster on the closed shutter: an emergency telephone number emblazoned across a shadowy male figure, arm raised threateningly over a cowering, shadowy female. Eddy rapped hard several times on the narrow door beside the shutter. A white-faced girl appeared. 

“We’re not open yet,” she said. 

“We’re looking for Irene Voss,” said Eddy. He showed his ID. 

“I’m Irene Voss. Come in,” she said distractedly. “I was going to phone the police. I need to show you something.” Eddy and Katrine followed her down a short dark corridor into a small, high-ceilinged space crammed with a desk, several chairs, two large filing cabinets and a bicycle. 

“Yasmina in the shop next door told me a Filipina fell from one of the blocks last night. I hope I’m wrong, but I think I know who it was.” 

“We found a passport in the name of Corazon Girlie Sanchez,” said Katrine. 

Irene cried, “Oh, no. I was afraid it was Girlie. I left my phone here last night. I found it on the desk on this morning. I saw she’d sent me a message. A photo.” She picked up a phone from the desk and handed it to Katrine. “Look at that.”

Katrine saw the blurred, headless, image of a bulky male shape in a black sweater and trousers. The photo was timed at five minutes past nine the previous evening. She passed the phone to Eddy.

“I told Girlie she could call me any time. But when she called, I didn’t have my phone,” said Irene. “I feel terrible. I let her down. I was laughing my head off at the cinema when she needed me.” Her eyes filled with tears. “If only I’d had my phone.”

“You wouldn’t have known what this was,” Eddy was looking at the photo, thinking it didn’t tell him much. 

“Did you know her mobile number?”

Irene shook her head. “But I would have guessed it was Girlie.” She pulled a tissue from a box on the desk and mopped her eyes. 

“You’d have thought it was a mistake,” said Eddy. “The kind that happens when people press a button by accident. I’m going to need this photo, OK?” He forwarded the image to his own phone. Then he wrote the number of Girlie’s phone in his notebook.

“I might have called her,” said Irene. She blew her nose. 

 “You’d have been too late,” said Eddy. Had a phone been found at the scene? He didn’t think so. “There can only have been a couple of minutes, maybe less, between her sending this and hitting the ground.”  

Irene winced. 

“Why did you tell Girlie she could call you?” asked Katrine. “Why did she come to you? Was her husband beating her up?”

“Her husband’s in Manila,” said Irene. “They have three children. Girlie was sending money back.”

“Money earned as a prostitute,” said Eddy. 

“She was desperate,” said Irene. “She didn’t want to be a sex worker. She answered an advertisement in the Philippines for a job at the UNICEF Depot in Copenhagen. It was a scam. She paid over all her savings to fly here. The job didn’t exist. She applied for asylum. She’d no chance of getting it, and she knew that. She met someone who said she could get work here. It was sex work, of course.”  

 “So it was a client who beat her up,” said Katrine. 

Irene nodded. “I told her to tell the police. She wanted to know if she reported the assault, would it help her request for asylum. I said it was unlikely. I offered to find her a place in a refuge but she said she needed to work to send money home. She told me she’d been to the hospital but I could see she was in pain every time she moved. She could barely see out of one eye. She was frightened as well. I gave her my number and told her she could call me anytime. What else could I do?” 

“If you’d reported her to Immigration, she might still be alive,” said Eddy.

“That’s not our policy,” said Irene, holding her head up. The colour returned to her cheeks. “Our service is confidential. If we reported people they’d never come to us.”

“What did she tell you about the man who attacked her?” 

“Not much,” said Irene. “He picked her up down by the harbour. They went back to one of the flats she and other girls used for clients. It’s in one of the blocks here. She didn’t tell me where it was exactly. Maybe it was the one she fell from. I don’t know. The client called himself Jon. They all do, apparently.”

“What age was he?” 

“She wasn’t sure. She thought he was thirty at least, maybe older. But we were speaking English. She had very little Danish and her English wasn’t that good either. I got her to fill out a form.” She opened a drawer in one of the filing cabinets, leafed through a folder and pulled out a single sheet of paper. She gave it to Katrine.

Only six answers, on what was obviously a standard questionnaire, had been filled in: Name, Girlie; age 26; country of origin, The Philippines; Married; immigration status, not divulged.

“Girlie told me another sex worker was attacked five months ago,” said Irene. “She said all the working girls were nervous afterwards. The girl who was attacked was from Thailand. She didn’t go to the police. Girlie said she went to Copenhagen.”

“Do you know the Thai girl’s name?”

Irene shook her head.

“Girlie never came back,” she said. “Do you think she fell over the balcony when she was trying to get away from this man?” 

Katrine imagined the scene. Girlie opening the door to a client, recognising him as the man who’d attacked her. Backing away. Trying to make a call for help. His cry of rage as he realised what she was doing, his bull-like charge at her, the phone flying from Girlie’s hand. 

“We think he pushed her,” she said. “This is a murder enquiry.” 


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