Some things only happen on TV. The bad things, even when based on a true story, never happen in our own neighborhoods. We live in a safe cocoon. Crime and violence happen somewhere else, until one day when it sets foot in your own neighborhood.
“John and Susan are dead,” my husband looked pale when he told me. It was around 3 pm Sunday in the afternoon. I had been working in the back of the house, and he had enjoyed a football game on TV in the living room.
“What do you mean they are dead?” I asked because it didn’t make any sense. I had just seen them the other day, walking down the streets, holding hands like they always do. A cute older couple.
John was the first one who welcomed us the day when we moved into our new home. I was standing outside in the driveway, smoking and looking in disbelieve at the still half-full truck, when an older gentleman approached me and greeted me nicely. “So you are the new kids on the block,” he welcomed me and we talked for a while.
He often stopped by my workroom, checking on me, making sure I was safe. He shoveled our snow -and everybody else’s- because retirement didn’t give him much to do.
Lately, he had been absent-minded. We suspected him to be in an early stage of dementia. Some days he greeted as usual, other days he didn’t seem to recognize us.
“They were murdered,” my husband said and it just didn’t make any sense. Not here! Not where we live!
“What?” and “How do you know?” was all I had to say.
“They told me,” he explained, and the look in his eyes worried me.
I followed him into the living room and noticed the police cars and the ambulance across the streets right away. More police cars came by, officers in uniform and detectives in street clothes were swarming like bees around the house across the street.
Neighbors started to come outside and we joined them. I think we all needed the comfort of each other. A detective came over. “Gruesome crime,” he said and asked us for our security tapes and ring videos.
A short while later a woman in handcuffs was brought outside.
“I have seen here walk by,” my husband told me with eyes wide open. A small, red-haired woman, who looked rather harmless. None of it made sense. Does it ever?
For the first time in my life, I witnessed police work first hand, and I was stunned by the number of people who showed up and worked in our street for almost 12 hours. Forensic teams, detectives, coroner, officers, fireman.
No rock was left unturned, inside and outside. The yellow crime scene tape stayed for days, and looked almost normal between all the Halloween decorations, yet it wasn’t.
A brutal crime, so close. Too close!
A hang-up 9-1-1 call had been placed and the police did not get an answer when they called back. Just a busy signal from a landline and so they drove by. They have to follow up on hang-up calls, and when they looked through the window they saw a woman putting things into her purse.
When they entered the home, she tried to run out the backdoor. That’s when she got arrested.
Was she alone? Did she have help? How did she get into the house?
So many questions.
All our security videos showed only three people on our street that day. A couple walking their dog, and the woman who sat in the police car.
Over the next hours, we learned about the details and I could hardly listen. They known the woman. My neighbor Susan, a retired social worker had helped her numerous times. They had become friends. She even lived with them for a short while. We knew nothing about it. We didn’t notice.
12 hours later she confessed to killing them both. John was stabbed repeatedly in the bedroom. He made it into the bathroom were he died. Susan had been found on the basement steps. Beaten and strangled to death. Both bodies had been covered with blankets.
They found their checkbooks, jewelry, and credit cards in the purse of the killer.
45 minutes after my husband watched a stranger walk by home, our neighbors across the street were brutally murdered in their own homes.
Even now after a couple of weeks, I cannot wrap my head around it. Every night when I close our blinds I look at John’s and Susan’s house and no matter how hard I try, I cannot understand that they are gone.
Now a red container is parked in the driveway. Their families are cleaning out the house, most is thrown away. Soon the small, yellow house will be sold and we will welcome new neighbors into our street. Life goes one.
Not in my wildest dreams did I think something like that could happen in the small, old neighborhood where we live. Crimes are suppose to happen somewhere else, not here.
Another reminder that life can be over in the blink of an eye.
I will miss the elderly couple.
Crazy times! A crazy year! A crazy world!