Sarah lived in a four-storey house overlooking Hampstead Heath that had been converted into apartments in the 1960s. When she first came to London to study and work, she rented the semi-basement flat, now euphemistically referred to as a garden flat. The owner was an elderly woman who had recently moved into a retirement facility. After the woman died, and with the money left to her after her parents died, Sarah purchased the flat. And at that time she adopted a couple of dogs (first one and then the next) from the local animal shelter.
The small dogs were content to stay at home all day, with forays into the garden through a cat door in the kitchen. This led them into a closed off run that kept them safe and secure.
The other occupants of the house had no access to the garden and so this was a perfect set up for Sarah and her dogs.
But Sarah was a creature of habit. On the odd occasions when she had been going away for a night or a few days, she always told Lisa her upstairs neighbour and Lisa would feed the dogs and take them for a short walk on the Heath. So when the dogs started to bark and whine Lisa became concerned. She hadn’t seen Sarah for a couple of days and while they were not exactly friends, they usually saw each other, if only in passing, every day.
So taking the spare key, Lisa went downstairs to Sarah’s apartment. After calling out and knocking she opened the door to be met by two frantically barking small dogs. They had obviously been on their own at least overnight. Lisa filled their food and water bowls and then stood at a loss as to what to do next. She thought a short walk on the Heath with the dogs would give Sarah time to get home. If not, then she, Lisa, would think about what to do next.
She had a phone number for Sarah’s brother but thought it unlikely that she would have gone there knowing she didn’t get on at all well with her sister-in-law. She had met several of Sarah’s friends one Sunday morning when they all met for brunch at The Coffee Cup in the High Street, but she had no way of contacting any of them.
So she would walk the dogs, get some fresh air and then call Sarah’s brother to see if they had been in contact since Friday. She would also look into The Coffee Cup on her way to the Heath just in case Sarah and/or some of her friends were there. There was nobody she recognised at the cafe. It was a firm favourite in the area and on a sunny Sunday morning was full of people enjoying a leisurely brunch or coffee with friends.
Arriving back at Sarah’s she let the dogs out into the garden and then looked around the flat. It wasn’t large and really there was nowhere for Sarah to be hidden if she had fallen. Lisa then called Sarah’s brother Tom. He hadn’t heard from or spoken to his sister all week. They had a loose arrangement to meet for lunch one day in the following week, but really he couldn’t help at all. He suggested that if Sarah did not return in the next couple of hours, Lisa should call him and together they would report her missing to the local police. Lisa demurred. She thought a person had to be missing for 24 or 48 hours before they were classed as missing, but Tom assured her this was not the case.
So endeavouring to quell her qualms about prying and intrusion into Sarah’s privacy she looked for a diary or an address book. She found neither and assumed that Sarah, like everybody else of her generation, kept all such information in her cell phone or on her iPad.
As she finished her search there was a ring at the door and Tom stood on the doorstep. He thought it so unlike Sarah and wanted to go to the Police Station immediately to report her missing.
This they did and were met by a kindly older policeman who took down all the relevant details, age, height, hair, when last seen etc and then asked them to wait. Soon they were called into the office of a female officer who went over all the details with them again. She asked if either of them knew if she had been worried about anything recently, problems with money or at work. Both realised how little they really knew of Sarah’s life and were unable to be more helpful to the policewoman.
Rising, she offered her hand to each of them in turn and promised to be in touch as soon as there was anything to report.
After walking Lisa home, Tom took her phone number and they promised to keep in touch advising the other if there was anything to report. Tom said he had hoped that Sarah would have been home by the time they returned from the Police Station.
To be continued…