|Photo by: Dave Haworth: davesphotoexploration.wordpress.com|
Welcome to installment number eleven of Devil at Dusk!
It was Sunday March 1st 1955, yet another body had been found the day before. This was now body number four. I had the next couple days off (I contacted the sheriff and told him to call me as soon as possible if anything new regarding the case was found). I was glad to have a couple of days off to rest and recoup, plus it gave me time to think. I also started a journal to write about daily life and to put my thoughts down regarding my investigations. I felt it gave me some clarity and helped to give my thoughts some direction. For the next couple of days, I cleaned my cottage, wrote in my journal, did some water color painting and hung out with Bet and Will.
On Tuesday it was time to get back to the grindstone. I started the day off with going to the office to look at the information so far I had collected in the file regarding our latest victim, Iris Lynne Bennett. In the file I made a notation regarding her living with her mom and dad. Then I contacted the sheriff’s office, the Assistant Deputy Schneider answered the phone. I asked him if he by chance knew the names of the parents of our latest victim, he said yes, Harold and Alice Bennett. Then he gave me their phone number and address so I could contact them and question them.
I stopped by the Bennett residence right after I got off the phone with the sheriff’s office. Mrs. Bennett answered the door, I introduced myself and I asked if Mr. Bennett was home also. Mrs. Bennett said yes, he had taken the next few days off work and that he was in the living room reading the paper. Mrs. Bennett asked me to come inside and to join them both in the living room. I said I was very deeply sorry for their loss and they had told me they were also sorry for my loss. They knew I was like a relative to JT, they said that loosing JT was an incredible loss to the community but they were very glad I was there to help out. They told me they understood time was of the essence and questioning them at this time would be alright because it may save another life.
I asked them when they last saw their daughter; Mr. Bennett took over the conversation at that point and spoke for both of them because Mrs. Bennett was starting to tear up. They last saw her on Friday February 27th she was going over to her friend Ruby Anne Lockhart’s place to stay the night. She left the house at 6:45pm just before dusk (they did not want their daughter out after dark) to walk over to Ruby’s apartment. Ruby worked at the diner and was off at 7pm. Around 7:18pm Mr. Bennett said they got a call from Ruby telling them that Iris was not there, Mr. Bennett told Ruby to call the sheriff’s office as soon as possible. She sounded scared she said she got out of work a little later than usual. She kept apologizing over and over that it was her fault that she should have been there already but one of the waitresses was new and in a hurry and dumped a whole pot of coffee on herself and all over the floor. The new waitress was badly scalded and ended up having to go to the hospital to be treated for her burns.
Ruby said she tried to call several times over to the Bennett residence to let them know that there was an accident at the diner and that she was running behind but she got a busy signal. Mr. Bennett said he was on the phone talking to his mother that she had not been feeling well all day. As soon as he found out he said he got in his car and drove down to Ruby’s and had Mrs. Bennett stay home in case anybody called regarding their daughter. Mr. Bennett followed the route that Iris would have taken to get to Ruby’s and found nothing out of the ordinary. Ruby called the sheriff’s office and they were at her apartment taking a statement from her when Mr. Bennett said he had arrived. The Assistant Deputy Schneider said he would start searching for Iris that night, he said there is usually a 24 hour hold on missing person cases but since there was a serial killer on the loose they would start their search right away. He called the sheriff office in the neighboring town for men to help and they sent a couple others over right away. They searched through the night but did not turn up with anything. We did not come up with anything until we got the call from Mrs. Wheaton the next morning, the lady who ended up finding the body.
I was taking notes the whole time Mr. Bennett was talking, when he was done talking, I thanked him for his time. Next it was time to go to see Ms. Ruby Anne Lockhart; I went to her apartment and knocked on her door. She was in the process of getting ready for work when she came to the door, I introduced myself and she let me in. I told her I was incredibly sorry for the loss of her friend. She started crying and I asked her if she was going to be okay to work today and she said she would make it. I asked her how old she was and she said 22 years old. I asked her how long she had known Iris, she said her whole life. She was going to have her over Friday night and they were going to do some sewing, then she was going to sleep over. Ruby said she had a rotating schedule and that week she had Tuesday and Saturday off (she has split days off). She said on Saturday they were going to see a movie and then Iris was going to walk home. I asked Ruby when she last saw Iris, she told me it was a week ago at the grocery store and they had just talked on the phone on Thursday night to confirm plans for Friday night.
I told her to explain the events of the evening prior to the disappearance of Iris. Ruby said she got up and got ready for work. She worked the 1pm to 7pm shift; she had to be at work at 12:45pm to get ready for her shift. She made it to work and it was a busy day. Several minutes before 7pm the crew at the diner was getting ready to close up when the new girl tripped and spilled hot coffee all over the place including parts of her body. The new girl, Doris Jean was very nervous all day; it was her first day and also her very first job. She ended up scalding herself very badly and had to go to the hospital. This was the reason why she got out of the diner later than usual and why she was not there for her friend, she felt horrible. She kept on saying it was her fault and that she was so sorry. I consoled Ruby and told her it was not her fault at all, it was circumstances that were beyond her control. Ruby said finally at 7:10pm the diner’s evening shift manager told her she could go home, Ruby said the shift manager called for the ambulance to come to get Doris Jean because she was in a lot of pain and was burned very badly.
Ruby got in her car and drove home; she lived about 5 minutes from work. As soon as she pulled up she noticed Iris was not there and she was alarmed because the plan was for her to be there already. She ran inside and called over at the Bennett’s home again and finally got through to Mr. Bennett. She told Mr. Bennett that Iris was not there, he said that is not a good thing because she left the house at 6:45 pm and is only a 15 minute walk to Ruby’s. Mr. Bennett told her to call the sheriff’s office as soon as she got off the phone with him and that he would be on his way. Ruby did exactly as she was told and the Assistant Deputy Sheriff Schneider came as soon as possible and shortly after that Mr. Bennett arrived.
To be continued….
Well folks this concludes this week’s installment of: Devil at Dusk. Please join us next week for our next installment!