Monday, May 27, 2013

Devil at Dusk - Installment Number Five

Rodeo Queens, pin up girls, black and white photos.
Betty Calamity - Model: Kristen Harral
Brooksie van Pelt - Model: Brooksie van Pelt
Photo by Dave Haworth

Rodeo Queens, pin up girls, black and white photos.
Calamity Bet (Bet) - Model: Kristen Harral
Brooksie van Pelt - Model: Brooksie van Pelt
Photo by Dave Haworth

Thanks all for joining me for part five of:

Devil at Dusk

We all had a very long day so Bet and Will told me good night. While they were headed out the door Bet says to me, you remember Aunt June’s trunk of stuff? I replied I sure do! Bet says to me, tomorrow night you should come over for dinner and afterwards we will put her things on (play dress up) just like when we were girls.  I tell her that is a great idea! Aunt June was JT’s Wife, she drowned four years ago in the summer of 1951. It was a hot summer day, JT, Aunt June, some family and friends went for a picnic at Lake Bogue in Homa Mississippi which was in one of the neighboring towns just a few miles away. It was blistering hot that summer and they needed to find a cool spot to hang out for the day. Aunt June loved the water but she was never a strong swimmer. She went out into the lake and she was dog paddling around, she ended up in a deeper part of the lake where her feet did not touch. She had been yelling and waving for someone to help her for several minutes, finally JT saw her struggling and he went after her. Once he got to her she was limp and no longer breathing. He got her to the lake shore and pumped the water out of her lungs after that started mouth to mouth. Finally the ambulance came and they pronounced her dead. It was such a sad day for ever body and so horrible for the family that was there to witness her death.

I came back to Laurel in 1951 for Aunt June’s funeral, the next time I came back to Laurel was for vacation in 1952 (because the family was still reeling and in shock, including me because of Aunt June’s death) that was the last time I had been back after that I got busy with the investigation firm in Chicago. Aunt June was only 40 years old when she died. Aunt June had been a rodeo queen and a pin up girl in the 1930’s and 1940’s. She was just like Bet and had always loved and been around horses forever. Aunt June  first became a rodeo queen (of course after many years of training and practice) in 1936 when she was 25 years old, she started modeling for adds and doing pin up stuff shortly after that. Aunt June’s trunk was a huge old thing which was filled to the brim with all of her rodeo, pin up stuff and memorabilia. When Bet and I were little Aunt June would have us over and she would pull out the trunk and she would say to us who wants to play dress up?

I put the dishes from desert and tea in the sink, and then I neatened up the living room of the cottage. Next it was time to get ready for bed. The cottage had two bedrooms, one was fairly roomy the other was very small only a little bigger then a closet really. I headed to the larger one with my book and read for a little bit until I fell asleep. The next morning I woke up fairly early and got ready for the day. I went down to JT’s investigation firm/office. This was my day to clean, organize and get familiar with everything in JT’s office plus to study the files of all of the victims of the serial killing that had been taking place. My plan was to do all of the - in office - stuff here in the office first.  Then to take the files home with me that way I could study each one, more in depth in the comfort of the cottage.

While doing my organizing the phone rang and it was a Mrs. Boggs on the line. She said she was in need of a private investigator because she was starting to suspect that her husband Leonard John (Lenny John is what everybody called but she just called him Lenny) was cheating on her. I told her to come down to the office to fill out some paperwork and to tell me more. About a half hour later a short, round, middle aged lady with dark red hair piled into a bun on top of her head, wearing a house dress came into the office. It was indeed Mrs. Boggs so I offered her a seat and a cup of coffee. She sat down and said she liked her coffee with a touch of sugar and lots of cream. A moment later I came with her coffee. I sat down at my desk across from her and I asked her why she thought Lenny was cheating on her. She told me that once or twice every week for the past month now he said he had to work late, then  he would come home really late smelling like cheep perfume, cigarettes and booze. I had her fill out some paperwork and I told her starting tomorrow night I would do some surveillance on him, follow him around, and see where he went and what he was doing.  Then we discussed the cost and she put the allotted percentage down to retain me, finished her coffee then she was out the door.

My first day in the office and I already had a new case. Since I was done with organizing the office, I scooped up the files and took them home with me. Once I got home, I familiarized myself with everything in the cottage and did a little more organizing to make it more my space. Then I pulled out the files and started reading through them for information. I put the files in order with the oldest murder first to the most recent one. I cracked open the first file it was Jessie Sue Lakes, 21 years old.  She was a college student, she was single with no children, she was murdered by stabbing in the back (the wound was indicative of a huge butcher knife) the murder weapon was not left in the body. The body was found on December 21st 1955 in a farmer’s field at 6:09 am, he was out tending to his cows when he saw something strange in his pasture. He went to investigate then the police were called out along with JT. Homicide and murder were his specialties considering he was lead homicide detective for the Chicago PD for many years.

According to forensics the victim was murdered on the evening of December 20th 1954 in one location then the body was placed into a large black garbage sack then transported in a trunk of a car. There were fibers found on one corner of the plastic bag that were determined to be from carpet commonly found in trunks of cars. Then the body was placed in the field with the plastic garbage sack cut open and the body left on it. Victim was fully dressed and had on a garter belt with both stockings missing. There were no defense wounds found on victim and nothing out of the ordinary under the finger nails. There were no signs of sexual abuse or body fluids found on victim except for victims own blood. The farmer was brought in for questioning to see if there was any other information he could give and there was none.

I opened up the next file the next victim was Olivia Marie Duchamp, 33 years old. She worked as a hairdresser and was widowed with an 8 year old child. Her body was found on January 10th next to the rail road tracks. The conductor found her body at 4:01 am and called it in as soon as possible. Everything was the same as the first murder, gaping knife wound in back, body transported in bag, fibers found, stockings missing no signs of fighting or struggle etc…

Next file was for Marjory Elaine Bales she was 24 years old she worked as a nanny for a family in town. She took care of two children, a 3 year old and a 6 year old. She was single with no children of her own. Her body was found on January 25th, 1955 in the park at 8:17 am by a Jacob Mitchell Johnston. He passes through the park on his way to work every morning (because he walks to work and through the park is a short cut); he works at the mill and starts his shift at 8:30 am. He called as soon as he got to work. This body was found in the exact same conditions as the other two. Jacob Mitchell was questioned and he had no other information to provide.

There was not a lot to go on here so my next plan of attack was to go first thing in the morning to each of the locations where each body was found and scour the area for evidence that had perhaps been over looked. I know that was a long shot because JT was always so thorough but you never know at least it was worth a shot.

Soon it was dinner time over at the big house. I walked over and brought a bottle of wine with me. I knocked on the door and Will answered it. Hi there Brooksie he says! I say to him hey guy, how is it going? He says pretty well, he tells me he and Bet visited JT earlier and that he was the same as the last time they saw him. Next Bet pops her head out of the kitchen and I present her with the wine, she says that wine will be perfect with the roasted chicken tonight. Will and I help set the table and then we all sit down to eat. It was yet another very tasty meal; I was getting spoiled with all of these home cooked meals. I told Bet once I was settled in and did not have to do night surveillance (which I would be doing starting tomorrow) I would cook dinner and have them over. We all cleaned the kitchen up together.
Then Bet and I go up to the attic where Aunt June’s trunk was. We get the camera and set up the tripod then we start trying things on and posing for the camera. We had so much fun!

This concludes tonight’s installment of Devil at Dusk.

Stay tuned next week for installment number six of Devil at Dusk!

Cow girl pin up.
More photos from the cowgirl fun photo shoot!

Cowgirl pin up.
More photos from the cowgirl fun photo shoot!

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