When I got back to Adelaide, I called Heather Knight and asked her about the girls that smoked on the balcony.
‘Oh, that would be Mandy and Anna,’ said Heather, ‘but they weren’t working the night Ellen was murdered.’
‘Do you check those doors when you lock up, Heather?’
‘The alarm won’t set unless they’re locked, Ryan.’
Things were not looking good for Clive unless I could come up with another angle. I wondered who owned the building and who actually owned the brothel. After all, Heather had told me she was the manager, not the owner.
I remembered the photo I’d taken of the sign on the wall of the brothel. I opened the photo app and peered at the image. I zoomed in on the fine print. The brothel was operated by Ace Pty Ltd.
I spent the rest of the afternoon searching the records of the Land Titles Office and tracing the names of the directors of Ace Pty Ltd.
The building belonged to two elderly women, whose family had owned it for sixty years. Not likely suspects for strangling a sex worker.
Ace Pty Ltd turned out to be a more recent entity, with a short history going back only five years, controlled by Peter and Maxine Welling. An online search revealed that Peter Welling had recently been in court answering a charge of drug dealing, and was awaiting sentencing.
I wondered what else might be going on in the brothel in addition to consensual sex between paying customers and sex workers. Perhaps those lonely old men visiting the bistro were getting something besides a kiss and a cuddle over dinner.
The following morning, I called Maggie and arranged to meet her over coffee to discuss what I’d found out.
To be continued…