Before Femi could reply, Godwin was out of the car and making his way towards the house. He did not try to stop him; he alighted from the car and followed him.
“What are you doing here?” Godwin asked the moment he set his eyes on his middle aged uncle. His eyes looked red as if he had been crying but Godwin knew he was pretending.
“God-” his mum tried to speak but he put out a hand for her to stop.
“God-” Nduka began but was cut short by Godwin
“Don’t even mention my name if you want to leave this place alive” he threatened as Nduka swallowed and noticed the man who just walked in. Godwin walked closer to his uncle and stopped a few inches away from him. “I know you did it…I know you killed him” that sudden anger he had felt when talking to the detective about his uncle returned. “You killed my father” he yelled and pushed Nduka to the ground and began to throttle him. “You’re a monster” he yelled as Femi struggled to pull him up from his uncle. “Let go of me” he said when the detective successfully pulled him up and Godwin wrenched his arm free. Femi turned immediately to Nduka.
“I’m going to have to take you in for questioning”
Nduka’s eyes grew angry. “Why? Is it because of what this boy just said?”
“Well going through your history with the deceased, you do have a motive” he tried to sound calm
“I will not say a word if my lawyer isn’t present” he said after hesitating a little.
It seemed like Nduka had already spent forever in the interrogation room before Femi walked in. “I hope they treated you well?” He asked offering a smile which Nduka did not return. “Just a little rap with you and we’ll be done…your lawyer is waiting outside. I just need to speak with you alone” he said but Nduka said nothing. He just bowed his head. “How close were you to Emeka?”
“Not too close” he was honest, Femi noticed.
He found a piece of paper in a file and began to speak. “Where were you last night?”
“What time exactly?”
“Just give me a rundown of how you spent the night”
“I was at home all day. I only stepped out once to buy bread” he said quickly but Femi did not buy it.
“Okay…let’s go back a little; tell me about Chf Emeka”
Nduka’s countenance changed immediately and he chose his words carefully. “He was a businessman. He was born in Nsukka and-”
Femi cut him short. He had no time for meaningless details. “I want to know about you and your brother…what happened two years ago” he noticed how Nduka cringed a bit. “I need to know everything because from the testimony I’ve received, you’re the main suspect”
“I did not kill Emeka” he almost yelled. “He ruined my life…my family. I lost all the respect people had for me. I’m not sorry about his death but the truth is I didn’t kill him. If I wanted to, I would have done so a long time ago”
Femi just kept his eyes on Nduka. He didn’t want to push too hard else his lawyer would barge in and disrupt the whole procedure.
I’m not sorry about his death…
I’m not sorry about his death…
It kept on playing in Femi’s head…that statement only meant one thing. “Then you must have an idea of who-” he stopped as a tall heavy man walked in and Nduka smiled.
“You’re the detective…figure it out” he said rising up and left the room with his lawyer.
As he walked back to his office, his mind drifted to the family of the deceased. The killer was out there and that meant they were probably still in danger. They needed protection. He still had not spoken to the wife of the deceased; she could provide a lead…yes! He suddenly remembered that their daughter-in-law had been in the house. In cases such as these, the victim, days before his death, must have shown signs of uneasiness and looking over their shoulders; having a hunch that doom was on the way..maybe a blackmail.
That was another possibility. Chf Emeka had a clean slate from research but he was also very wealthy. What if he had not done his research very well? If it was a case of blackmail…the main event could date back to many years…probably enemies he made on his way up the ladder of success.
He got to his office and sat at his desk. He took out a sheet of paper and began to write out what he had just come up with. When he was done, he circled ‘blackmail’ with a red marker and then pinned the paper to the board that already contained pictures of the murder scene. To get the information he needed, he had to speak to the whole family. With that thought, he took out his phone and made a call.
At 9:00am the next day, Femi was already knocking at the door of the Okafors. The door was opened by a willowy lady; tall and fair in complexion. Her not-so-long hair was tied in a ponytail and even without make-up that morning, Femi concluded she was beautiful.
“Good morning” he greeted. She was probably a sympathizer.
“Good morning…” her voice was low and unhappy.”How may I help you?” she asked as he nodded immediately and put out his hand.
“I’m Det. Femi Ade-”
“Good morning detective” Godwin greeted and opened the door for him. “This is my wife Annabel” he introduced as Femi smiled at her and then at her husband.
“It’s nice to see you” he said but she did not smile back. She simply nodded and walked away.
“She doesn’t handle pain well” he explained as Femi took a seat. “What should-”
“I would like to speak with your mother first”. There was no time to waste.
“Tell me about the night of 13th August, 2017”
Ujunwa took in a deep breath and began. “He returned with the kids… I think at 9:00pm”
“Your grandchildren right?” he asked as she nodded. “How many are they?”
“Two” he was taking down notes. When he was done, he motioned for her to continue. “We had dinner and before going to bed, we talked about how his day went and then he said he needed to go through some files”
“Does he always go to the study?” She nodded. “Do you have any idea the files he wanted to see?”
She thought for a moment and shook her head. “I just thought they were work-related”
“So what happened next?”
Uju had prepared herself for this and she prayed the tears would not find their way down her cheeks. “I woke up at about three…I’m not so sure. He wasn’t lying next to me…sometimes, he sleeps off in the study” a sad smile crossed her face but Femi pretended not to notice. “I then went to the study” she closed her eyes and tried to erase the sight. “I thought he was asleep but…” She held her mouth and began to sob.
“It’s alright Mrs. Okafor” he could not go on. He turned off the tape recorder. The details about his life would be discussed later.
He turned on the recorder. “Please introduce yourself”
“Annabel…Annabel Okafor. I’m his daughter-in-law and Godwin is my husband”
“Would you say you were close to your father-in-law?”
“He was like a father to me” she managed to say.
“Tell me about night of 13th August, 2017” he said as she bent her head and then a few seconds later, she began.
“He and the kids returned from the cinema” she smiled sadly at the memory. “We were all happy that night; there was nothing out of the ordinary. I received a call from my friend while we were having dinner, she was crying and she wanted me to come since her boyfriend had broken up with her because she caught him cheating with her cousin”
Femi sat up at the twist in this story; he thought she had been at home.
Fear filled her immediately…was he suspecting her? She thought. He noticed how uneasy she now felt but he said nothing and so she went on.
“I left my food and hit the road. I promised them I would be back the next day but when he called me and told me what had happened to daddy, I came back at five or thereabout…I’m not so sure. Godwin looked scared and mummy was a mess. He told us to go to our house in Trans Amadi for safety but mummy refused to leave. I would have loved to stay but the thought of the kids made me leave” she explained as Femi leaned back in his seat and wrote down something.
“Where does this your friend stay?”
“34 Niger Street” he wrote this down frowning at the distance.
“How long have you been here?”
“We always come here during the long vacation. It’s now like a tradition”
“So when did the holiday start?”
“Erm…let’s say two weeks ago”
“Did you notice your in-law yelling at someone on the phone or looking uneasy after reading a text?”
“No, he wasn’t always at home. He was a workaholic…and unfortunately, it runs in the family” she said as they both smiled. He knew she was talking about her husband.
He turned off the recorder. “Thank you Mrs. Annabel. If you remember anything that would help us in anyway, you can call” he said and gave her his card.
He turned on the recorder. “For official reasons, just tell me about the night of 13th August, 2017 again” he said as Godwin related the story he had told him before. “Who else was at home?”
“Just me, mum, dad and the kids” he replied. “Annie had to go and help a friend even though I tried to dissuade her from going”
“You worked with your father, right?” Godwin nodded. “Aside from Nduka, did you know of any other person who threatened him…or someone else he put out of business due to something the person must have done wrong?” Femi asked quite surprised that he was already seeing the deceased as a saint.
“He fired a lot of people who mismanaged funds but I don’t know of anyone who wanted him dead” he replied.
“Before the incident, did you notice anything different about him? Did he leave the room when the phone rang? Did he look uneasy if he read a text? Did you notice anything?”
Godwin got a hint of what the detective was driving at. “Are you saying he was being blackmailed?”
“It’s a possibility” he knew this would not be entirely good news to the young man as a blackmail would suggest his father was not the saint they all thought he was.
“No, there was nothing different about him” the tone he used in replying told Femi the he was not in line with the idea of a blackmail.
“How many kids do you have?” he asked trying to get warm with him again.
He thought for a while, “one”
“But you said ‘kids’ at one point during this session” he noted as Godwin made a face.
“James is my son while Patrick was adopted by mum and dad” he said as something occurred to him but he did not say it.
Femi noticed this and decided to push a little. “Let’s talk about Patrick. How old is he and when was he adopted?”
“He’s eleven. They took him in when he was four years old”
“And his mother gave him up willingly?”
“Not really. She’s an alcoholic and a chain smoker; she could not raise him and she knew that but she made mum and dad pay before she gave him up”
Femi almost found this story hard to believe. “She sold her child?” Godwin simply nodded not surprised at the tone of the detective’s voice. “What is her name?”
“Catherine” Femi wrote it down and looked up at him.
“No surname?” he asked as Godwin shrugged and then he closed his notepad and turned off the recorder.
He began to pack up when something else occurred to him. “What about the papers to prove they adopted the boy?”
Godwin’s eyes narrowed as he had not expected that question. “My mother has them…but why do you need them?”
“I want to know more about Catherine without a surname” he paused. “But your mother is not quite stable, so I’ll be back tomorrow” he said and rose to his feet while putting the recorder and notepad in a small pouch he had in his hand. “See you tomorrow Mr. Godwin”
“See you” he replied and led him out of the house. He closed the door and turned to see Annabel glaring at him from the door of their room upstairs but he ignored her and went to his mother’s room.
Femi walked into his office and noticed the big brown envelope on his table. He knew it was from the lab.
They had finally released the results from the tests on the evidence gotten at the crime scene. When he opened it, he saw the plastic bag which contained the victim’s phone and a ring (probably his wedding ring).
Femi held up the bag and wondered what the ring was doing there. He tried to play the scene in his head once more. There was no way the ring would have fallen off his fingers. He dropped the bag and took a sheet of paper and wrote down: ring at the murder scene?’
What if it belonged to the murderer? Well, the lab results would tell him that.
He got up and pinned the note to the board.
He walked back to his desk and opened the bag but not without wearing gloves. He knew they had run all the tests but he still wanted to be careful. He brought out the phone and turned it on.
He sat down and began to go through the messages. There was nothing that gave him a clue. He opened the archived messages and sat up properly when he saw a message that came in two weeks ago.
‘I swear you’re going to rot in hell, old man’
The message was from Catherine.
Written by Miracle Emeka-Nkwor
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