Sunday, October 12, 2014

                    MOMENTS OF LUCIDITY

                                              Big Gold Caddy

There may be a warrant out for my arrest. Or a BOLO (Don’t you just love that sexy cop talk? I owe it all to Rizzoli and Isles.)
If I’m jailed over this little episode, Sherry had better come and bail me out. After all, it was her fault. Well, sort of.
She told me to follow her and then she didn’t wait for me. Or maybe I couldn’t catch up with her. Anyway, whose fault is it that I wound up in the middle of a mobile home community parked in front of some stranger’s house?
We met at a restaurant off Teasley Lane for dinner. Then we planned to caravan to her house in Robson Ranch to watch a movie on her maxi-screen TV.
“I’m going to take a back way home,” she said. “You won’t get lost if you follow me. Oh, and I’m going to stop at the Kroger for gas on the way.”
So I followed her to the supermarket and waited to one side while she gassed up. A gaggle of drivers queued up behind me, and I finally realized they thought I was in line for the pumps. Imagine their chagrin when Sherry pulled away and I nosed my car behind her back bumper to make the turn back onto Teasley. It’s a wonder they didn’t all follow. We’d have looked like a funeral procession until people started running out of gas.
She pulled out. Then a car sped by. Then a big old honking truck stopped on the side of the street, blocking my view. I finally made it onto the roadway and got behind her gold Cadillac as she made her way back up the street. We drove a few blocks that way, her heading steadily uptown and me wondering exactly where this back way was taking us.
Then she made a left turn and I let a car go by and then hot-pedaled it after her. This was a strange way to get to the Ranch, I thought, but I followed dutifully behind the big gold sedan.
I looked around me. We appeared to be traversing the winding streets of a mobile home park. That ditsy woman, I thought. She’s gotten us lost!
Finally the Caddy pulled over to the curb. I pulled in behind and waited for her to walk back to my window to explain how she’d made a bad turn. I couldn’t wait to see how she tried to get out of this one. She is never wrong, you see. In all our years of friendship she has never admitted to erring.
“I thought I was wrong once,” she likes to say. “But I was mistaken.”
OK. She never said that. I made it up. But still, I know an attitude when I see one.
The big gold car sat there in front of that mobile home a bit. She was taking her time with the excuses, I thought. Finally, the driver’s door opened. Then the passenger door opened. Then the back passenger door. Three strangers got out and stared at me!
I sat there stunned, trying to figure out what they had done with Sherry. Then I realized that the Cadillac crest was not on the trunk of the car. Not only did they kidnap my friend, they changed her car into a Lincoln, I thought.
They stared and I stared. Then I simply put the Infinity in gear and pulled out from the curb. I drove sedately away, ignoring their puzzled looks and the woman’s hurried grab for her cell phone. I could see her lips moving as she read my license plate number to the dispatcher. I imagined I heard sirens in the distance.
I drove all the way to the front of the, yes, mobile home community, before I slowed. Then I dialed Sherry’s number. She was laughing so hard I could barely understand her.
“I was sitting in the left-turn lane back there at the light when I saw you go by,” she giggled. Then I saw that you were following that big gold sedan, and I figured it might be hours before you noticed it wasn’t me, depending on whether they were going to Oklahoma City.”
Anyone could have made a mistake like that. I hadn’t even had anything to drink, officer, well…except for that one tiny margarita. And no matter what that family says, I was not casing their place for a burglary.

If they put my picture on the wall in the post office, I hope they at least photo shop away the laugh lines around my eyes.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

                                         Tracy Murphree, Donna Fielder, Christine Metcalf
                                          (Tracy is in the book and Christine is my daughter)

I am completing a book about the Roanoke murder of Susan Bailey by her 17-year-old daughter, Jennifer, her 13-year-old son, David, and 16-year-old Paul, Jennifer's boyfriend. I need a book title and am having trouble. So I'm having a title contest for my Facebook and other friends. Here is the synopsis of the book. Come up with a title and let me know. The winner will get a free book when they are published and a credit in the book for the name. Good luck!

                                                     ABOUT THE BOOK

Roanoke Police Detective Brian Peterson checked on the meat he was smoking on his barbecue cooker and then resumed his comfortable seat on his patio. It was a rare Saturday when he didn’t get called out to investigate a crime, and the weather was good for a late September day in Texas.
“This has been such a beautiful day,” he told his wife, Ivy. “It would be just my luck to catch a homicide.”
“Don’t jinx it,” Ivy said. “Don’t talk about it. You know that will jinx a day without a callout.”
But the jinx was in – had been for days. Before that night in 2008 was over, Peterson would be called to a house of horrors to find poisoned pudding, a bathtub set up for an electrocution, a baseball bat on a bed, a butcher knife in a bloody tub, a hank of chopped-off hair and a mother stabbed to death by her own teen-aged children.
A subsequent investigation revealed a pact among a seventeen-year-old girl, her thirteen-year-old brother, her sixteen-year-old boyfriend and his other girlfriend, fourteen, to kill their parents, steal their money, cars and credit cards and flee to Canada.
They were dead serious about it.
Jennifer Bailey, her little brother David, and her boyfriend Paul Henson swarmed Susan Bailey that night when she got home from work and stabbed her twenty-six times. They left her bloody body in the upstairs hallway and fled in her car.
Merrilee White’s mother awoke earlier that week in her Fort Worth, Texas, home to find her daughter standing over her with a raised butcher knife. She was able to call 911 and convince her daughter to drop the knife. Merrilee was in Fort Worth juvenile custody when the rest of the sorry story played out. She was hysterical because she had planned to go with the others and she didn’t want to be left behind. Both Jennifer and Merrilee were dating Paul Henson, who claimed that each girl was dating one of his two personalities, so he really wasn’t cheating on either one of them. They bought that. He even convinced them that they should all have sex together.
Paul stole his father’s pistol and planned to use it on his parents but didn’t get the chance. With him waiting to shoot them at home, they unknowingly decided to take in a movie after work that night. When they didn’t return he gave up and went to Jennifer’s house to help her and her little brother kill their mom.
Susan Bailey, 43, was the unlucky one. She and her daughter disagreed about Paul. Susan thought her daughter should not date him. Jennifer thought she was in love and hated her mother for trying to keep them apart. On September 25, 2008, they took turns stabbing her and slashing her throat and left her lying in an upstairs hallway on a carpet soggy with her blood.
Then the three began the long drive to Canada with no real plan and not much money. They made it as far as Yankton, South Dakota. There, an alert police officer spotted a car full of teens pulled up to a closed gasoline station after the city curfew. They were trying to steal gas. They were broke. Their stories didn’t make much sense. The car was registered to Susan Bailey. He took them to the station and called Roanoke, Texas, police. Did they know anything about these kids or the woman the car was registered to?
They did. On the preceding Tuesday, Paul’s father reported him as a runaway and believed he might be at Jennifer’s house. Officers didn’t find him there, but they found his packed bags and driver’s license. They returned later that day when Susan found a loaded magazine for a pistol. They searched again but didn’t find the gun.
On Friday Susan’s mother called from Minnesota to report she couldn’t reach her daughter and she was worried. Susan had not gone into work that day, she said. An officer went to the house but no one answered the door and the car was gone. He returned on Saturday but again no one appeared to be home.
When Roanoke officers heard the news from South Dakota that her children and another boy had been detained in Susan’s car, they knew something was terribly wrong. They entered the house through a window and found the teens’ awful handiwork.
This is the story of four disturbed teens who played Dungeons and Dragons, who claimed to practice Wicca and read a demonic bible, who listened to a type of music that encouraged bloodletting and suicide; the story of a mother who worked two jobs to care for her children and was too busy and exhausted to realize what was really going on in her house. It is the story of several police officers who would not rest until they achieved justice for Susan Bailey. It is a cautionary tale for busy parents everywhere who might want to take a harder look at what their children are up to.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

                          NO MORE GORE

I have been remiss in blogging, I admit it. Retirement, especially with a book to write, has that effect on me. But I promise to do better, and today I need to vent, so my first blog in months is a rant.

Did you see Criminal Minds last night?

I watched the first 15 minutes of it. Then I gave up and swore never to tune in again. It's been one of my favorite shows for years. The cast is great. I love all those folks and root for them to win. The past couple of years, however, it has gotten harder and harder to watch. The writers are obsessed with body parts. Body parts not attached to bodies. And weird perps. Not just killer weird but gross weird.

Now I'm a former police reporter who writes true-crime books. I have seen people ejected from cars in bloody traffic accidents. I have seen (parts of) people hit by trains. I have seen crime scene photos that sicken the mind, not to mention the stomach. But I can't take any more of Criminal Minds.

I gave it up last season when a deranged woman planted her sick daughter and used a wood chipper to turn men into fertilizer for her little one-girl garden. But last night was the opener for this season and I thought maybe the writers had run out of gore.

Nope. People in Bakersfield started finding random legs. Then we see a nice guy who is leaving the legs displayed. Caught too early in the show to be the real villain, he explains that, oh no, he doesn't kill people, he just buys the limbs from another guy who tortures and kills them. And off we go to a scene where the pretty girl is tied down and the real villain is sharpening his knife.

Off went my TV. Not gonna do that anymore. I can't root for my fed friends on Criminal Minds when they are dealing with limb loppers or wood chippers or any of that sickening sludge they are substituting for drama.

And I wonder, if I can't take it, are those people who used to throw up when I mentioned "skin slippage" still watching?
What do you think?