Inspector White guessed the cause of death would be recorded as 'exsanguination' thanks to the youth of the assistant coroner. Eric Chambers, who headed the Laverstone Pathology Unit was away sunning himself on the French Riviera until Tuesday next. Lucky sod. At least he'd left the half competent Rupert Simms in charges and not the wet and terminally annoying Liz Browning.
"Ah, Mr. White." Simms glanced up as he approached. "This is an interesting case. This poor chap was exsanguinated."
White squatted next to the body. "In my day we'd have called it 'bled out'."
"Which would indicate a free-flowing wound." Simms pulled the meat thermometer from the dead man's liver. "Ninety-two. That makes death four to six hours ago. Between one and three in the morning." He stood up. "No, this poor bugger had his blood meticulously removed, every drop." He looked up. "Hence my use of a word normally associated with the sensationalist press."
"Are those puncture wounds in his carotid?"
"Indeed they are." Simms pulled back the sheet. "Not from a vampire, either, before you make the obvious jokes. Look at the bruising on his chest."
Simms sucked air through his teeth. "Yes and no. It was caused by someone administering CPR."
"They tried to save his life?"
"I don't think so. I think there was a jar held to his neck here." Simms pointed the a series of thin horizontal lines. "A screw top jar, in all likelihood, and then CRP performed to pump the remaining blood out after the heart had stopped."
"An accomplice?" Inspector White stood up. "I thought this case was a single killer and now we have two?"
Simms nodded. "It looks that way. The good news is we have a partial hand print on the victim's shirt."
"We do? Excellent." White checked the corpse's pockets. "Any idea on the victim's identity?"
"Not yet, though I can tell you he's missing a thumb."
"How odd." White frowned. "We found a single thumbprint in the Portman murder last week."
Simms nodded. "I think you've got a serial killer on your hands."