Mr Spraycan – case 1

Sergeant Grafton: “Ms Bulower, this is all pretty unusual. Normally, the way it works with criminal offences is that we get a complaint made by a victim and then we investigate it. But this time what happened was that a set of pictures were sent to the police showing a woman being sexually assaulted. That’s very unusual, very worrying — and it’s more alarming yet when the victim’s name and address are put in with the pictures. Still, that’s what happened and we’re bound to follow it up. I’m here on your doorstep and I can see the photos we have are definitely of you. So, I have to ask, did you report this incident at the time it happened?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “No . . . no. It’s all very difficult to explain. I don’t think you’d have believed me if I told you about it.”

Sergeant Grafton: “I’ve worked in the sexual crimes area for quite a while, Ms Bulower. I’ve heard some pretty strange things in that time. So I think you should talk to me, whether or not you have legal charges in mind. Would this be a convenient time to clear the air? My first name is Julie, by the way.”

Ms Amelia Bulower:”I don’t know . . . ”

Sergeant Grafton:”Is your husband in right now, Ms Bulower? Is this a bad time?

Ms Amelia Bulower:”No, he’s away on a business trip. I guess it’s OK. I’ll make us some coffee and I’ll tell you what happened. I know you won’t believe me. But come in.”

Ms Amelia Bulower:”That OK, Julie?”

Sergeant Grafton:”Tastes fine, Ms Bulower.”

Ms Amelia Bulower:”Call me Amelia.”

Sergeant Grafton:”Surely. Now, when did this happen, Amelia? And what was it that happened?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “It was eight days ago. I was jogging in a patch of woodland called Richmond Larches which is about ten miles out of the city. A deserted sort of place. So now you’re going to ask me what the hell I was doing running around in a place an hour’s drive from where I live and where I’d never been to before?”

Sergeant Grafton: “Well, yes, if that’s so, why did you go there?

Ms Amelia Bulower:”This is where it gets weird, right from the beginning. I go jogging every day, but only in the local park. The day before the pictures were taken, some guy had waved me to a stand as I was running there. He seemed like just an average guy in a track suit but before I could take much notice of him he held up some kind of a spray can and squirted something in my face, some kind of a gas. Then I lost it, completely. What I mean is, whatever was in that container, one whiff of it and I felt as if I was sleep walking. As if my mind was way back there somehow while my body was still out in front: it was weird. But I still knew everything that was happening, and the really weird thing is that whatever this guy told me to do, I did. He told me to sit down on a bench and I just went with him and sat on the bench beside him. Have you ever heard of any kind of drug that could make somebody behave like that?

Sergeant Grafton: “There are plenty of drugs I’ve heard of guys trying to use on women and some of them are very effective, but I’ve never heard of anything quite like this. Excuse me, Amelia, but you come across to me as somebody with a pretty strong personality. It’s hard to believe you could lose all your willpower just from a whiff of gas. But you’re saying that’s what happened?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “That’s only part of it. The guy who’d sprayed me in the face started talking to me. He told me about Richmond Larches, he told me when to go there, and to be wearing my running suit. He told me what time to be there, and where to park my car and what track to go running down. He told me all these things and he even gave me a piece of paper with it all written down. And then he got up and walked away without even looking backwards. But one thing he did say before he went was that I shouldn’t tell anybody else about going to Richmond Larches: not unless I was asked. And I haven’t.

“Oh, the hell with it, I can see you don’t believe a word of what I’m saying!”

Sergeant Grafton: “No, don’t prejudge my reactions, Amelia. Like I said, I hear about some really strange things that go on. Just tell me everything you can remember, no matter how odd it seems.”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “Alright, I’ll try. I suppose after about ten minutes of sitting on the bench I felt the same way as I usually do. Except that I knew I was going to have to make the appointment at the Larches next day. It didn’t seem like any big deal, it was as if I was going to have to go to the hairdresser or something like that. I just wouldn’t mention it to my husband or anybody else, that’s all.”

Sergeant Grafton: “I have to admit, Amelia, this is strange; the way, you’re telling the story, it was as if you’d had some kind of hypnotic suggestion planted way deep in your mind. Have you ever been hypnotized previously? At a stage show or something like that?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “Never. I don’t believe in hypnotism — or I didn’t, anyway. I’m as certain as I’m sitting here that it was all due to that gas I got hit with. Have you ever heard of any kind of a gas that could put somebody in a trance in only a second or two?”

Sergeant Grafton:”No, absolutely not. There are three kinds of drugs you usually get associated with non-consentual sex: there’s Rohynol, Ketamine and GHB. They’re in liquid or pill format and almost always used to spike a woman’s drink. They heighten the effect of the alcohol, to cause loss of inhibitions and often amnesia as well. The after effects are usually pretty bad too, like a magnified hangover. Did you feel that way?”

Ms Amelia Bulower:”I guess I lost my inhibitions, that’s true, but it was like I had to do whatever I was told without argument. Unbelievable, I guess. But I remember everything, I never felt physically ill and the effects seem to linger on. I was told not to talk about what happened to anybody and if you hadn’t come here I don’t think I would have. How long do the effects of these other drugs last for?”

Sergeant Grafton: “Three or four hours at the most. Never for days.”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “And you’ve never heard of a rapist using gas?”

Sergeant Grafton: “Not unless he’s a dentist.” . . . “Excuse me. Amelia, but I’m surprised you seem able to laugh about this matter. According to these photos you were treated pretty roughly.”

Ms Amelia Bulower:”Julie, according to my memories, I was fucked hard and put away wet. What I want to know is why these guys sent the pictures to the police?”

Ms Amelia Bulower:”These guys?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “Yeah, that was another weird thing. The guy who sprayed me was there taking the shots but the guy who laid me first, I’d never seen before. But why the photos, and why send them to the cops?”

Sergeant Grafton:”If you’re telling me the truth, I’d just about risk a totally off the wall guess. I’d guess that these guys have invented this gas or whatever it is, and it seems like they’ve hit on some kind of magic formula that lets them mess with people’s minds as much as they like. So now they think they’re the kings of the streets and they’re proving it by sending their rape pictures to us. It’s a way out notion, but if I’m right, God forbid, we can expect a whole lot of more cases like yours, Amelia.”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “That’s bad. I mean, I don’t feel so bad for myself for some reason, maybe because my mind really has been affected. But I still wouldn’t want it to happen to any other woman.”

Sergeant Grafton: “Well, if these guys really have gotten themselves some kind of super rape aid I need to find out all I can about it. Amelia, would you be prepared to look through these pictures and tell me what you remember about how they were taken?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “Sure, I’ll do that for you. Another cup of coffee?”

Sergeant Grafton: “Uh . . . yes, please, Julie. And I think I’d better tell you at this stage that I’m wired. Everything you tell me is being recorded.”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “Yes, I thought you might be. OK, so here I am running and I’m still brain dead. I mean, I’ve come here because I was told to by a total stranger a day ago and I’m doing everything he’s told me to, and it just seems as if I have to be there because I have to be there. I don’t remember ever asking myself why the hell I should be bothering. I’m just doing it. How could I have gone to the police afterwards with a story like that? Even though it’s the truth.”

Sergeant Grafton: “I can understand that, Amelia. And you weren’t frightened at all, apprehensive about meeting this man again?”

Ms Amelia Bulower:”No. That never occurred to me either. All I felt was kind of annoyed that I had to take time off to handle this chore. I told you, it was just like having to do some shopping or to see my accountant, or something like that.”

Sergeant Grafton: “OK, well, this first shot looks like it was taken with a long distance lens. Did you see the men waiting for you at this stage?”

Ms Amelia Bulower:”No. It seemed like there was nobody else around until the pair of them came out from behind a tree. If they hadn’t shown up I think I’d have just run along the trail where I was told to and then gotten back in my car and driven off without thinking anymore about it.”

Sergeant Grafton: “But they were there, waiting for you. In a concealed position, like an ambush?”

Sergeant Grafton: “Well, like I said, waiting behind a big tree, yes. The first one who stepped out was the one I hadn’t seen before and when he tried to grab me, I tried to get away from him.”

Sergeant Grafton:”Which is what’s happening in this next photo?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “Yes. And then the first man came out from behind the tree. I mean the man who’d gassed me the day before and spoken to me. The one who’d told me to come to Richmond Larches. And he told me to relax because everything was going to be OK. He had a camera in his hands and aimed it at me as he was talking.”

Sergeant Grafton: “What were your reactions when you saw him again and he spoke to you?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “Everything seemed fine then. I just stood and waited as he walked up to me. He hung the camera from a strap around his neck and took a spray can from off his belt. It looked like the same can as he’d used on me before. He told me again to relax, and then waved the nozzle in my face and I heard a hissing sound, just like a regular aerosol can working. And then he told me to fall asleep. So I did.”

Sergeant Grafton: “You fell asleep just like that? You mean you actually blacked out as soon as this man with the spray told you too?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “What do you want from me, a lie detector test? Yes, that’s what happened and you were the one who was talking about hypnotism and stage shows before. You’ve seen the same thing done on stage by professional hypnotists, haven’t you?”

Sergeant Grafton: “Yes, but I never understood how it could be done: I thought there had to be an element of trickery in it. Anyway, I’m only here to listen to your story, Amelia, not dispute it. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t because there’s a photo here which shows you’re telling the truth. You were put to sleep and here’s the proof.”

I’ll be asking you for a full description of this offender who gassed you before I leave, but just for now, can you give me some idea of what he looks like? How did he strike you when you first saw him? The first time he sprayed you, and also when you met him at the Larches.”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “Well, he was nothing special. Caucasian, early thirties maybe, long black hair, dark glasses, medium height, average build, casual clothes that looked as if they hadn’t been pressed for days. He looked as if he’d just come out of a computer cubicle at some internet company.”

Sergeant Grafton: “He never mentioned his name — or the other offender’s?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “No. I’ve always thought of him as the Geek. And the other one, well, he was biggus dickus as far as I was concerned.”

Sergeant Grafton: “Well, yes, Amelia. I can see what you mean, from the photos. So you can’t recall what happened for a while after you were told to go to sleep?”

Ms Amelia Bulower: “No. Although I found out later they’d used either a knife or a pair of scissors to cut off my pants. I don’t remember anything about that. What I remember next is still feeling half asleep and lying on my back on something which was very hard, like a rock. Which was what it turned out to be. And a voice, the Geek’s, it was telling me to open my mouth. So I did.”

Sergeant Grafton: “You were still pretty groggy from the gas at that stage? You didn’t understand that oral intercourse was being demanded of you?”

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