The digger grabbed the fingers of his mud-encrusted black rubber gloves with his teeth and gave them a sudden tug. For just an instant he thought he might swoon from the overpowering stench of diesel fuel and raw sewage that seemed to seep from every crevice in the dank cellar.
He choked back his own bile as he stuffed the glove into the breast pocket of his police issued Vulcanized rubber waders. The moment that the foul air touched his bare skin, a chill ran down the digger's spine and he suddenly felt somehow unclean. He picked up the galvanized metal sieve filled with mud and gave it a shake. Thick black slime oozed from the bottom of the pan, leaving behind, what? A pebble, a tiny shard of glass, a tattered piece of cloth....and....what was that? That small white fragment there in the mud?
His imagination was getting the best of him, the digger told himself.
He needed to focus. This was a crime scene. Nothing more. He was a professional and his job was to collect evidence, however small, bag it, tag it, and send it upstairs. He wasn't there to make judgments.
It was up to the detectives, the elites upstairs from the Belgian Ministry of Justice, to put it all together and decide what it all meant. They would decide whether the evidence showed that this was the house of an innocent man of God or whether Andras Pandy, the rumpled little clergyman with the odd Hungarian accent, really was the monster he was accused of being.
It was up to them to determine whether Pandy's daughter had been telling the truth when she accused her father of seducing her and then conspiring with her to murder six members of their family. They would decide whether it was true that together father and daughter had hacked up their family -- Pandy's first wife, his daughter's mother, his own son and young daughter -- and dissolved the pieces of their bodies in an acrid bath of acid. All the digger had to do was pick up the pieces.
He reached into the filth at the bottom of his sieve and tentatively probed the tiny white fragment with his finger. It was exactly what he had thought it was.
It was a human tooth. There beside it was a splinter of bone, a piece of a kneecap, a small bit of human flesh and beside that, a chunk of human skull.
|Police remove evidence from the Pandy home (Reuters/Landrov)|