I would like to tell you about an interesting case I worked on a few years ago. It’s morbid and it’s sad. It still haunts me, I’ve moved miles away and still can’t escape the thoughts that run through my mind. These two men were ordinary people to everyone they met, that is of course, until their “friends” stared going missing. One by one.
The father, Paul, was very talented. He learned every trade he possibly could and would give the shirt off his back to anyone who needed it. For instance, when their neighbor’s tree fell on the house during the storm, Paul was able to learn very quickly how to fix it. He even went as far as insulating and dry walling and painting their attic. They were so grateful that they created a toy room and library up there and named their second child after him. The boy I’m told will now deny that fact and pretend his mother was a huge Paul McCartney fan.
Another instance was the car crash outside of the family home. Paul offered to fix each car for free so they wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of insurance companies. Both cars looked brand new by the time he was finished with them.
The son, Karl, was very quiet. He often showed up to public events but would murk in shadows. Listening to conversations, but never chiming in. He was well liked when he did speak his mind, which I suppose is why he was continuously invited to events. He worked in the factory on the other side of town.
When I interviewed Karl’s manager, he had very few stories of him. Just said that he came to work, did the job quietly, and then went home. He never came to any of the company outings until he met Allison.
Allison was bright and bubbly and you would never see the two of them together not with smiles on their faces. She was the last to go missing.
At first me and my other police officers couldn’t find a link to the disappearances. Johnny from the factory went on a solo adventure in the forest behind the house. We just presumed he was lost in the deep expanse. Our search was centered around the tent we found with his belongings. Assumed he had just gone in search of a rabbit or fresh water and couldn’t find his way back. Johnny’s friends wouldn’t believe us. They told us that he was an experienced backpacker and wouldn’t have just gotten lost. We had nothing else to go on.
The grocer, Bill had a fight with his wife. Stormed out of the house and was last seen wandering around the highway. His wallet and everything was left at home so there was no money trail to follow him. We assumed he hitched a ride with a trucker. There were missing posters put up all along the highway in both directions. It was months before we gave up on that case. No one ever came forward.
Jesse, the only one who was frequently seen with Karl was our first clue that they might be related. But that case went cold after only 6 months. We couldn’t put the connections down on paper to really be evidence. Just speculation. But even then, had no idea that Karl and Paul would have anything to do with it. Jesse’s truck was finally found by the lake. It seemed to pop up out of nowhere. We did the best efforts to search the lake but it was winter then and no luck. Our assumption was that he had gone fishing and fell in, there was tackle and a camp chair along the bank. We’d search again when spring came.
That was until Allison never showed up after spring break. She was a kindergarten teacher, a very loved teacher. I’ve heard many of the students went on to prestigious schools. The School erected a statue of her reading on a bench so students could come sit with her. There’s also a beautiful butterfly garden surrounding the statue. A very lovely tribute to someone who died the most horrific death.
Once Allison went missing our first clue was to head to Karl’s house, naturally. It was usually a significant other when someone so loved went missing. There was speculation she was last seen at his house so that’s where we headed first. Speculation is not enough grounds for a search, and Paul seemed to be versed on the laws. We ended up just talking to him on the porch. Paul was so smart, he answered every question we had almost as if he had rehearsed it. Looking back, that was the clue we needed. It wouldn’t be until a few months later that we actually got to search the house.
Our other cold cases were reviewed. We searched the lake again for Jesse, this time bringing in professionals in scuba gear. They found a lot of interesting things, but not Jesse. He got a hold of his messages and emails and discovered the last contact he had been with Karl.
A day later we decided to search Bill and Johnny’s entire social media history and emails. The one thing they all had in common? Allison.
It seemed she felt bad for Karl, started to date him and actually fell in love. She was determined to get Karl some friends. Bill, Johnny, and Jesse were her unfortunate picks.
Going over all of the evidence we had, on the weekends of their disappearance she had planned one on one hang outs with Karl. But he declined every time. Bill’s fight with his wife was that he was supposed to be gone on a guy’s weekend with Karl but he was home. Bill walked in on her and the young and handsome bag boy from his store. Johnny was going to take him camping, when Karl backed out last-minute Johnny went on his own like he would have anyway. Jesse would have taken him fishing, but Karl was afraid of fish. It was never clear what Jesse was doing missing the few months leading up to the appearance of his truck at the lake. That is one thing that still bothers me.
Once we had enough evidence of the connection, originally thought to be Allison, we searched her apartment. Her parents hadn’t come to collect her things yet, they asked us to pack up what we didn’t need. We happily obliged, but we didn’t find much for evidence and helped them move everything back into their home. That led us back to Paul’s house. The only other connection that we had, this time we showed up with a warrant.
Paul’s smooth talking wouldn’t get him out of it this time. We needed the proof that Karl was the one taking these people. We needed the bodies. What we found was worse.
The first and second stories of the house were perfect. Prime example of a happy family. Pictures of the mother, who died early in Karl’s childhood, hung with precision. Tributes to her memory. The attic with boxes and boxes of Christmas and toys covered in dust. At first the basement seemed normal as well. Until we opened the door on the back wall. Such an odd place for a door, this would have been where the house above would have ended. There shouldn’t have been a room behind the door.
What we found was a perfect replica of the first story of the house. Paul’s craftmanship. Such an amazing recreation. I was shocked. But what shocked me more, the bodies.
Preserved. Jesse, in his fishing gear, a beer in hand and a smile on his face. He sat in a recliner that faced the door. Bill and Johnny sat on the couch their beers touching as if they had just said a toast and were cheering. Faces showed happiness. Paul had learned taxidermy and he had learned it well. The only thing missing were Karl and Allison. The thoughts running through our mind were that the lovebirds were out of the house on a vacation together. We were wrong.
More searching led to another door. Another perfect replica, this time of Karl’s room upstairs. There was Allison, preserved like the others on the bed in lingerie. Honestly, she was beautiful, a perfect angel asleep. Next to her was Karl.
Paul was upstairs being detained, interviewed, questioned over and over. He began to break and the detectives brought him into the station. My initial thought was that this father wanted a perfect world for his son. His motive being that he was just a craftsman practicing on the things closest to him.
That was until Karl startled awake. Alive. The horror on his face when he realized we were not his father.
Karl was naked, we made him put clothing on and took him to the station. Our speculations about Paul were not far off, he wanted a perfect world for his son. But Karl wanted a quiet world. They created the comfort that Karl had always wanted in the hidden hideaway basement.
The bodies were returned to their families for burial. Karl was sentenced to prison for life for conspiracy of murder. He had good lawyers that somehow proved that he never actually wanted his father to kill for him and therefore didn’t get the electric chair. Though I felt that Karl was just a very good actor, and if he didn’t want his father to kill the closest things he had to friends, he was sure grateful anyway.
Paul never saw sentencing. He was found in his holding cell awaiting trial. His death was a mystery until they did the autopsy. Anaphylactic shock the coroner said. Turns out he had requested nothing but peanut butter sandwiches for two weeks. He scraped off the peanut butter and kept it hidden in his pillow. One night he swallowed as much as he could. Killed himself by giving himself an allergic reaction.
I have never eaten a peanut butter sandwich since.