The first thing you notice as you enter the front door, is the empty threadbare love seat in the living room, facing a blaring television. A wood stove to the right sits strategically in the far back corner, taking up a third of the living room area, and backed by a grey brick alcove that probably reflected the heat when burning.
The place has an “open” floor plan, and to the right, closest to the door, you can see over the small dining table, and then over the countertop, to the kitchen. Every digital clock in there – the microwave, the coffeemaker, the stovetop/oven display – they’re all blinking different times. On the wall between the kitchen pantry and the heater, a door leads out to the makeshift carport someone constructed. Tarp covered plywood is fastened to the side of the trailer on one end, and propped up by several four-by-fours on the other. The place smells faintly of cat pee, but mostly of cigarettes. The wallpaper bears witness to the latter.
The hallway on the left extends for the entire left side of the trailer and has doors to two bedrooms on the left and the master bedroom at the end of the hall on the right. A bathroom adjoins the master bedroom and opens into the hall next to a large coat closet which takes up the rest of the hallway on the right.
The intruder entered from the carport. There was no forced entry and the front door remained locked. Oil stains on the gravel there and tire indentions meant that it was common for the family to keep a car parked there (and apparently to keep the side door unlocked). This probably gave cover for a stealthy entry requiring very little concern for onlookers.
In all, there were three murders if you didn’t account for the family dog. Hen found him when she went to look into a group of the neighborhood cats at the rear of the place. They were surrounding the poor thing as it lay there, howling like she’d never heard before. Having investigated her fair share of complaints about pets suspiciously dying since she retired and moved to Fingerbone, Hen knew the cause of death before waiting for lab tests.
The enormous German Shepherd had been poisoned. Not uncommon for folks to cruelly take matters in their own hands when local pets trounced their gardens, or bullied their Shih tzus, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, or other poor excuses for dogs. Unlike other incidents she’d encountered, this poison hadn’t been introduced slowly. It had most likely been injected since no animal would ingest the volume of a fatal chemical that would result in the effects she’d seen. His eyes were completely blackened and no longer had the gloss that healthy eyes possess. It was as if the sheen that normal eyes exhibit was dulled with sandpaper. His body lay flat but was not positioned as if he had grown weak and lowered himself. It was more like he had suddenly grown stiff and had been pushed over, as if he’d died standing up first. His tongue was grey and stiffly hung over his teeth, crusted foam framing it all around. If the weather had been warmer, no doubt flies would have been swarming around the feces the poor animal had suddenly released as death very suddenly strangled his efforts to protect his home.
The coroner had determined the the mother had died first. She was found face down in her bed, fully clothed in her pajamas, and covered with a sheet. The report was only preliminary, but there were remnants of down feathers in her mouth and nose. She’d been smothered in her sleep with an old pillow and apparently the killer rolled her over and pulled the bed sheet up over her head.
Next was the teenager. He had been tied to a chair and ligature marks on his neck indicated he’d been strangled with a thin cord or line of some sort. His headphones were still on his head pounding out some Eminem playlist on his iPod when Hen and the team discovered him. His bed was still loosely made, with a porn magazine laying open. The team to surmised he’d been awake, and didn’t hear the killer move past his room and down the hall when headed toward the mother’s room. The area where the younger brother slept appeared untouched except for an open drawer in the chest by his bed.
The old man that slept in the last room on the left died shortly after. Much the same way as the woman, he’d been strangled with a pillow taken from the boys’ room. It was unclear whether he’d died of asphyxiation or a heart attack. His mouth and eyes were still closed, as if he had never awoke. Unlike his daughter, he was not covered. Even in death, his serene face would fit the soft mumble of a rhythmic snore.