Monday, October 28, 2013

Devil at Dusk - Installment Twenty Six

Welcome to installment twenty six of Devil at Dusk

I had to do whatever it would take to try to track down our killer! I had to be smarter than he was. I had been hearing rumors around town for a few weeks now that there was a psychic over in Larose Louisiana. I asked around to the towns people here in Laurel what they happened to know about this person. I heard many interesting stories regarding this person…they all said she was a young lady probably in her early 20’s (well at least that was a start, right?). One person told me she was 4 foot 8 inches tall and lived in the smallest house in the world, another person told me she was a witch and to be careful, another person told me she was a white girl from South Africa and her pet monkey rode around on her shoulder and went everywhere with her!

I finally went to the Russian’s the ones we had hired to teach at the horse riding school, because they had cousins that had moved to Louisiana. They had been keeping in touch via phone and letters, while the cousins made their journey through the south and eventually would be heading up to the eastern seaboard as a part of the traveling circus. I knew it was a long shot but I had to find out something about this person to see if it was worth my while to contact her. The Russian’s said their cousins had contacted them just the day before, they had said they were in a small town in Alabama for a few days and the cousins left them a contact number to reach them at in case of emergencies. They gave me the number to reach them directly. I contacted them as soon as possible.

 I spoke to Mr. Ilya Markov and I introduced myself. I asked him if they made it through Larose Louisiana on their journey and surprisingly they had (Larose was not originally on the route but the circus took a detour because one of the performers had gotten very sick). I asked them if they were familiar with a young gal in her 20’s that was a psychic there in that town. He said yes, he had heard that, he had heard that she was in her mid 20’s and was raised by her grandmere and her papa (her mama passed away when she was little). One of Ilya’s circus friends was the performer that had gotten very sick and needed her help. They said she was Cajun traiteure (a healer along with being a psychic), her skills for being a healer had been passed down from her grandmere, to her papa and then down to her. Her papa had gotten remarried a few years ago and had moved however he was still living in Larose. They said her name is Marguerite and her grandmere is Katherine Marie. 

Her grandmere was getting quite old and with her papa gone, Marguerite was taking over on doing most of the healing now but she does get quite a few requests for her psychic abilities. Marguerite was also taking over the role of caretaker now that Katherine Marie was getting on in years. Ilya told me they said she was born and raised on the bayou. She was a little bit of a wild child and a very pale looking girl. He said they had heard that her psychic abilities were spot on though. I asked him if there was anything else that he could tell me, he said she looked different than most people but that was just what he had heard since he had not seen her he did not know about any of that….

To be continued 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Devil at Dusk - Installment Twenty Five

Welcome to installment twenty five of Devil at Dusk.

The next day I went to see Hazel’s aunt and uncle, after sitting down and talking to them for an hour, it was very clear they were not involved in her murder. Of course as always I would go and double check on a few things to confirm all of this. The aunt and uncle were just kind and concerned relatives trying to help their young niece out of a bad situation that she got caught in.

A couple weeks later the Sheriff’s Office gets a call just right after the sun went down. It was a 17 year old girl named Rose; she called and told them a man in a vehicle tried to get her attention and then tried to grab her and pull her into the car. The Sheriff’s Office then called me to come in to interview her after I got off the phone, I called my office gal Charlotte to see I could come by to pick her up and take her to the Sheriff’s Office to do a drawing, she said yes. When we finally arrived Rose was already there. I introduced myself and Charlotte to her. Rose told us her name was Rose Marie O’ Malley.

 I asked Charlotte and Rose to follow me into the little room where the interviews are conducted. I had Charlotte and I sit at one side of the table and Rose sat across from us. I asked Rose to describe the circumstances which led her up to the possible abduction attempt. She said she was on her way home from her friend’s house. She left her friend’s house right when it was just starting to get dark out, she said she knew she was supposed to start making her way home way before dark but they had started a board game, she was winning and she wanted to finish it. So finally they got done with the board game and she told her friend good bye then dashed out the door.

She got about halfway home when a man in a car at a stop sign motions for her to come over to him; she went over to see what he wanted. He had an address written on a piece of paper, he was asked her where Maple Street was, she told him it was several blocks that way and she pointed North. He told her he had been in that direction several times and could not find it. Then he asked her if she could get into the car, sit next to him, while he drove then she could show him where Maple Street was. She said um… I am sorry, I can’t do that. Then he said awe come on all I need is just a moment of your time, I really need to get to Maple Street, and she shook her head no. Then he opened the door and proceeded to try to grab her.
She ran away from him to the first house that she saw. She knocked on the door and an elderly lady answered it, she told her I am in trouble ma’am could I please come in and use your phone?  The lady said why yes dear come on in. The lady said please explain to me what is happening dear?  Rose told her a creepy man in a car tried to grab her and that there had been a serial killer on the loose for a while now and that she was scared. The lady showed her where the phone was as soon as possible. That was when Rose called the Sherriff’s Office.

Next I asked her to give Charlotte and me a detailed description of what the man looked like and to also describe his car. This way Charlotte could do a sketch of the guy and I would take down the details in my notepad. Rose said he had on a dark green fedora with a black grosgrain ribbon. She said his hair was cut very close (almost to the skin) on the sides and he was very clean cut looking. Rose said he looked like he was about 40 years old. She said he was kind of pale and had light blue eyes, round face and a small slightly turned up nose. He had on a white shirt and tie with dark slacks. Charlotte was sketching away and when done she showed the sketch to Rose. Rose said yes, that's him! Then Rose moves on to describing the car she says it was a cream colored car, she thought it was a 1950 or 1951, she did not know the make or model but she said the top was rounded and it had four doors. She did not have a chance to look at the license plate except for just a brief second and all she could tell was that the car had Mississippi license plates.

I asked Rose if she could recall anything else at all about this guy or his car. She said no at the moment she could not, I gave her my card and told her that if she remembered anything at all to please contact me. Sometimes when a person is under an unusual amount of stress and they are in a little bit of a shock state, after a day or two they will recall some more details that they did not remember at the time. When we were finally done I thanked Rose for her time. Charlotte and I walked her to the door. I asked Charlotte to draw up a duplicate sketch of the suspect and she whips out another fast sketch. Then I spoke with Deputy Miller (he was the deputy that was on board that night) I told him that I had a gut feeling that guy was our serial killer. I had Charlotte give one of the sketches to Deputy Miller. Then I mentioned that it was interesting how at first his target group was girls in their 20’s and 30’s, now it seems as though he has switched to teenage girls considering the last victim was 19 and now this girl Rose that was here was 17. He may have switched to the younger ones thinking they were more naive and vulnerable but who really knows why, who really knows the mind of a killer?

To be continued….

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Devil at Dusk - Installment Twenty Four

Brooksie van Pelt 1950's Private Investigator
Photo by Dave Haworth:

Welcome ya’ll to installment twenty four of Devil at Dusk!

One June 1st 1955 we got a call letting us know another body had been found. Another young lady had fallen victim to this cruel insatiable beast that had been lurking around these parts of Laurel Mississippi yet again. The call came in to the Sheriff’s Office a few minutes after 8 a.m. Walt Renfro the owner of the hardware store came in early that day to do paperwork (he does this twice a month and has for years). The hardware store is kitty corner from the diner on Main Street. He said he parked his car in the back of the store and came in through the back door. He went right into his office and he worked on his paperwork for about 45 minutes. About 15 minutes before 8 a.m. he started to get the store ready for the day, he opened up the till and got the cash out. He took a look around at everything and it looked good to go, next he turned on the lights and now that it was finally 8 a.m. he went up to the front to turn on the neon open sign and unlock the door. He looked through the glass door and down at the sidewalk at a large black garbage bag that was split down the center. He stepped outside to have a closer look and he realized that the body of a dead girl was in the bag, right there on the sidewalk on their main street in small town America! He goes back into the store and picks up the phone and calls the Sheriff as soon as possible.

The Sheriff’s Office calls me next, to let me know there was another body to go and take a look at and to try to glean evidence off of. I had just walked in my office right when Charlotte my office girl was answering the phone. She handed the phone over to me and I agreed to meet with Deputy Sheriff Jerry Hill at the crime scene as soon as I could get there. I finally arrived and Jerry was already there. Right away I pull out my camera and note pad, I start to take some notes and take pictures. In the mean time Jerry is chalking around the body in the bag and putting up the yellow caution crime scene tape. While Jerry is working away, I mention that our killer is getting quite ballsy, just tossing the body out on the sidewalk right in front of the store fronts. Jerry agreed with me and the he adds, maybe he is getting tired of keeping up with the killing spree and maybe he wants to get caught. You have to admit that dumping off a body in a big black bag in the middle of town will raise some eyebrows and will cause everybody to be even more on alert from now on.

Jerry and I had to work with both accuracy and speed to try to get the body out of there since having a body hanging out in a bag on your main street in town was not the best for business. In the mean time Walt turned off his neon open sign for the time being and set out to do some cleaning and organizing. As soon as we were done with our work we had to add some post haste to things, so instead of going back to the office to make the call to the coroner to pick up the body we caught Walt’s attention in the hardware store and asked him if he could let us in to use his phone, he said yes. Luckily the coroner got the phone right away and said he would be down in 10 min.

The coroner picked up the body and took it away where he would examine it, make some calls and then proceed to identify it. In the mean time we asked Walt the store owner some questions (just to make sure he was not a suspect). We asked him where he was last night when he got off work at 5 p.m. and this morning prior to when he made the call at 8:00 a.m. He told us he got off work and went straight home, had dinner with his wife Ava. After dinner they read the paper and listened to the radio. Then before bed they went on a night walk and came home and went to bed. Walt said he woke up at 6 a.m. got ready for work, had breakfast with his wife and then left for work at 6:45 a.m. and made it to work right about 7 a.m. After that we thanked him for his time and we went back to our offices. Walt turned his open sign back on and unlocked his doors and was ready for business. Once I got to my office I called Ava Renfro, Walt’s wife and asked her a few questions, everything checked out and Walt was definitely not a suspect.

Later on that day I got a call from the coroner and he said he had an identity for our victim; Hazel Anne Montgomery, 19 year old female, unemployed, single and 3 months pregnant. She had been living with her aunt and uncle here in Laurel for the past two weeks. Her aunt and uncle described her as being shy, young and naive. She left her small town in Alabama where she lived with her ultra religious parents, they pretty much shunned her and did not want anything to do with her now that she was pregnant. The coroner said her body was found in the exact same condition as all of the rest of the bodies, large gaping knife wound in the back, black plastic garbage bag, stockings missing. I made a file folder for Hazel Anne Montgomery and put all of my notes in it. Then I picked up the phone to set up a time to talk to Hazel’s aunt and uncle.

To be continued….

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Devil at Dusk - Installment Twenty Three

Welcome to installment twenty three of Devil at Dusk:

On Friday my parents picked up Will and drove him back to Laurel for the weekend so he could spend some time with the Russians to help them out with the horse riding school. We all made sure to watch him like a hawk while he was here, we had to keep him as safe as possible. The Russians were good people and we were very lucky to find such a competent duo to take over the school. When the weekend finally ended my parents and Will went back to Chicago. I sure did miss having little Will around; he always had a smile on his face and a friendly hello for me every time he saw me.

The day after the family left there had been more reports and calls in of another UFO sighting. Three different people who lived in town said they had seen a large round object with many lights hovering over town for several minutes, and then the thing just zoomed off. They all said they had been up pretty late the night before and they all had seen it either just before or just after midnight. I went out and spoke to all of them and took down their statements. I wonder how many others had seen it but just did not call.

Time was really flying along here since I first got to Laurel; the month of May was soon drawing to a close. On May 30th it was Memorial Day and I know it was a day to pay respects and to remember our loved ones we lost who had served our country but yet I still felt compelled to bring flowers to both the graves of JT and Bet. I took the day off and spent about an hour in the cemetery just appreciating the peace and quiet. I made sure that the graves of JT and Bet were tidy and well decorated. When I was done I met up with Jerry because he was off for the day and we had a picnic, we drove a few towns over where there was a big beautiful park with a river flowing through it. It ended up being a very lovely day. The next day was May 31st and I was back to work.

On June 1st another body was found!

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Devil at Dusk - Installment Number Twenty Two

Welcome everybody to installment number twenty two of Devil at Dusk.

1950's Detective Film Noir Story
"Mugs" has been caught!
"Mugs" model: Corey Beffert
Photo by Dave Haworth:
1950's Film Noir Story
"Mugs" breaking and entering into the residence of Miss Violet
Photo by Dave Haworth:

After speaking with Miss Violet, I got into my car and went back to the Sheriff’s Office. I spoke with Sheriff Holifield and told him that we should bring in Marlin Malone aka Mugs for questioning. The Sheriff and I got into the Sheriff’s vehicle and we went to where Mugs lives, he was not there. Next we went to his dad’s place and talked to his dad. His dad said he had not seen him for a couple of days. We went back to the office because things seem to be at a standstill at least until Mugs surfaced.  

The next day while I was out and about, my office gal, Charlotte had gotten a very unusual phone call over at the investigation firm. She took down the message and gave it to me when I walked in the door. It was Mr. Calvin Johnson (everybody calls him old man Johnson) and he had a farm a few miles just out of town (on the southern end of town) he said the night before he saw a UFO. He said he was not going to call however he just got done talking to his neighbor (his neighbor and his whole entire family saw it too). He told his neighbor he would call the authorities (because he had them as other witnesses now) however before that he was not going to call for fear that we would all think that he was crazy and lock him up in the nut house. I got back into my car and drove over to old man Johnson’s farm; he was out in his garage doing some cleaning. I walked up and poked my head in and said hello to Mr. Johnson, then introduced myself.

I asked him to tell me exactly what he saw, he stepped out of the garage and he started walking to the middle of his field so I followed him. He told me right there just above us is where he saw a moderately large round object (the object was more than a few feet and less than a several feet in circumference around) and it was all lit up like a Christmas tree he tells me. I asked him if he could draw a picture of it and he told me to follow him back to the garage where he had a note book and a pencil. He drew a picture of it, he gave it to me and I put it in my pocket. I told him I was going over to his neighbor’s next to hear what they had to say.

I went over to the neighbor’s house and Mrs. Walker came to the door with a baby on her hip. I introduced myself, and then she calls for her husband and all the kids. Mr. Walker comes downstairs with 5 kids (boys and girls) ranging from age two to eleven (two of them were twins). I asked them to describe the events that had happened the previous night. We all went outside and they described the same thing as Mr. Johnson. I pulled his drawing out of my pocket and they all said yes, yes, that’s it! They all seemed to be pretty excited that they had all witnessed a real live UFO and that they had an investigator out there to talk to them. They asked me what I knew about it and I told them this was the first that I heard of any UFO’s out in these parts but I was going to be keeping my eyes and ears open from now on. I asked them for any other info regarding this incident and they told me that was all they had but they would call if they had anymore sightings or info to give. I thanked them kindly and told them I had to be on my way.

That night Jerry and I went out to dinner, we went to the diner for meatloaf with all the fixings and peach pie and coffee. I told him that it had been a very strange day to say the least. He laughs and says yep that’s what he had heard!  He drove me home and gave me a goodnight kiss on the porch; he was not able to stay on any later because he had to be up very early for work the next morning, it was his early shift the next day.

A few days later Jerry was out and about with one of the Sheriff’s office cars when he spotted Mug’s driving a car filled to the brim with stuff and he was heading out of town. He pulls Mug’s over and brings him into the Sheriff’s office for interrogation. They held him in a cell until I got there, then they let him out and put him in the office they use for questioning/interrogation. Then I stepped in and closed the door behind me. I introduced myself to him. I questioned him about why he broke into Miss Violet’s and what he was doing over at her house the other day. He finally admitted that yes he had broken in and that he had been watching her in the key hole of her bedroom door. Then I started to ask him about the murders that had taken place around town (because now at this point he was our prime suspect in the serial killer case). I started off by asking him where he was on February 15th 1955 at 3:00 pm (this was the day that JT had fallen ill), Mugs tells me that he was at his dads house. Then I proceeded to go down the line asking him where he was in conjunction with each murder. Most of the time he was actually at his dad’s house (he spends most of his time there it seems) the rest of the time was at the diner, his friend Tommy’s apartment and one time at his aunt and uncles house.

In the mean time while I was checking on his list of alibi’s he had to sit in a jail cell, we kept him over for a total of three nights (two for breaking and entering Miss Violet's home) and unfortunately for him his aunt and uncle were out of town for a few nights so he had to spend an extra night in jail. We were finally able to get a hold of the aunt and uncle. Mug’s alibi’s all panned out and we had to let him go because he was no longer a suspect in the murder investigations. While I was letting him go, I told him if we ever caught him over on Miss Violet’s property again that he would be spending more than just a few nights in jail.Then one of the deputies finished processing him, had him sign some paperwork and they returned his belongings to him, Mug’s was a free man again.

To be continued….