âThe hallway is a sea of ââfast food mail and flyers. A narrow path was cut through the middle by the feet and legs of police and paramedics, leaving knee-deep mounds on either side.
âIt’s what you get when time stands still, when no one knows or cares that there’s no one home. “
From Undiscovered deaths by Grace McGill.
Crime scenes are the kind of place most people would never want to see.
I’ve stood on the other side of the strip countless times, searching for information about the bloody scenes inside. Sometimes a friendly cop would give a fleeting glimpse of what was hiding behind the gang and the closed door.
“He’s a bad one.” Or “It’s like a butcher’s shop in there”.
These bloody scenes are nightmares for most of us, but meat and drink for forensic scientists and detectives who can harvest all kinds of clues from the blood. Many cases are solved by what is inside.
But once the cops and SOCOs get home, what next? Who cleans up the mess?
The world of crime scene clean-up experts have been in the public eye thanks to the BBC hit comedy One The Cleaner, starring ubiquitous Greg Davies.
It is also the subject of a new book by a favorite author. The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill is the latest from Craig Robertson, writing as CS Robertson, and delves deep into the world of those who mop up blood, clean human flesh from walls and bodily fluids from floors.
The book is brilliant read, but it also gives a real insight into what happens when the police leave.
The scene that remains is potentially life-threatening, littered with deadly pathogens, and it’s cleaners like Grace McGill who must secure it.
The book focuses on the elderly dying of lonely death and Grace begins to realize that there is a connection and delves deeper.
Craig, who has been a journalist for over 20 years, has done his research and the end product is a twisty, creepy, yet respectful dark offering that gives us a glimpse into a hidden world.
When I asked Craig what made him think of such an unusual story, he replied, âI wanted to know what it said about society that people could die without anyone noticing. And I wanted to know more about who was to clean up the mess.
“I was fascinated and horrified by the reports of people who died alone at home and whose bodies were not discovered for months.”
Craig’s book made me feel like I wanted to know more about this world, so I contacted Marie Fagan who owns
industrial cleaning company MD Trauma.
Marie has been doing âbiological cleaningâ for almost 15 years and there is nothing she hasn’t seen.
It is not a job for the faint hearted and I can say that every case she worked on has stayed with her.
âMy job isn’t glamorous, but we help people. Sometimes the police ask us to clean the place, but more often it is the families themselves.
âThe police and the funeral directors are gone and we have to clean up and sometimes it’s blood, skin, hair or all that.
âYou can’t help but be sad when you see pieces of life that they’ve left behind. A half-eaten sandwich, a cup of coffee, a photo on the wall.
âBut our goal is to make it less traumatic for families.
âYou don’t want them to see what you see.
âThe saddest cases are suicides and the elderly who have been lying for a long time. I remember them all.
When you think of fighting crime, you think of the police and CSIs – the so-called âsexyâ side of investigating and policing.
It can be grueling and horrible work and it takes a strong person to go to work knowing that it is the worst day of your client’s life. To me, they are the true unsung heroes of an unsung tragedy.