"Daddy Loved Me, This I Know"
Nancy was happy for one sweet moment in time. She had been rescued by her hero -- her Father. There was very little she knew with any certainty in her life, but she knew for a fact that her Father loved her. That was something he never gave her reason to doubt. She hadn't told her Dad anything about the horror that was her life at home, but he knew something was wrong. He knew and he did what he could to protect his daughter. The court had said he was a disruptive influence for her and hadn't even him visitation rights, but he visited her at every opportunity despite a court order. Today, he had seen something in her eyes, a hint of terror. He saw something in her walk. There was a pain that made her steps careful and awkward. He had decided that she couldn't go back to the life that was destroying her. He took her and ran.
It may have been a cheap motel room, but to Nancy it was a place of safety and harmony with the only man in this world that she knew she could trust. She had fallen asleep easily for the first time in recent memory. She felt confident that there would be no monster to interrupt her sleep tonight. She was enjoying a sweet dream when her dreams became full of a glowing, throbbing, blue light. She was startled awake when the frame of the motel door was shattered by a heavy foot. Someone wrapped a blanket around her and carried her out and into the cold night. As she was being put into the back of a car, she looked over to see her Father in back of a police car. He mouthed the words, "I love you" as the police car pulled away.
Soon she was in a white, sterile hospital room wearing nothing but an ill-fitting paper gown. Without stopping to ask permission, the doctor poked and prodded her in personal ways. Although this doctor was gentle and had witnesses watching him and writing down his comments, she winced when he touched her. It reminded her of the other hands that touched her -- but in the dark and in secret. When the doctor raised her legs to show the others the bruises on the backs of her legs, they all knew that this child had been abused. Kids don't fall down and bruise the backs of their legs. The doctor asked, "How often does your Dad see you?"
She answered truthfully, "Three times a week after school."
The doctor asked, "Do you know what sexual intercourse
She said, "Yes."
The doctor asked, "Does he have sexual intercourse with you every time he sees you?"
She shouted, "NO!"
The doctor dictated into a microphone, "Subject doesn't have sex with his daughter every time he sees her -- perhaps only twice a week."
She shouted, "I didn't say that! Erase it. Erase it now!"
The doctor patted her on the knees and said, "Don't worry Darling. We won't tell him that you told us. It will be our little secret."
Alone in the exam room, Nancy debated with herself about how to make it known that her Daddy didn't do what they thought he did. But how could she tell them without letting them know the terrible secret of who had been hurting her. She overheard people talking in the hallway. They said that the attacks on little girls in town had started about the time that Mr. Adams had gotten a divorce and was denied access to his daughter. They were sure that they had the right man.
Nancy was able to sleep through the entire night in the hospital. She enjoyed having a night of peace despite the situation her Father was in. She knew that he was safely in the hands of the police and nothing would happen to him. Policeman used science. They would know the truth in an instant -- like Columbo on TV. They would know who really hurt her. They would protect her and let her Father go. She had faith. Everything would be alright. She wouldn't have to say a word. They would know. Soon she was dressed and a couple Deputy Sheriffs came to take her home. The police car was going past the park hear her home when she saw a man hanging by his neck from a lamp post. She couldn't take her eyes off him. As the figure turned in the wind, she saw a sign that was pinned to his chest that read "Child Killer." She looked higher and saw his face. "DADDY!" she screamed.
Deputy Cook who was sitting in the back seat with Nancy said, "Don't worry child. He'll never lay a finger ... or anything else, on you ever again! The vigilantes got to him. They saved the taxpayers the cost of a trail.”
Deputy Philips driving the car shouted, "SHUT THE F**K UP! Whatever the man was, he was her father. She should never have seen what she just saw. That man was innocent because he was never proven guilty in a court of law. Now he will never be proven guilty and we will never know for sure that our daughters are safe. I joined law enforcement to take the law out of the hands of butchers like the ones that did this. Don't ever let me hear you praise the work of a vigilante again or so help me ...."
Deputy Cook said, "Or you'll do what? I could have your badge for what you just said! If you ever say anything like that to me again or threaten me, you'll never serve as an officer of the law again -- anywhere." He turned to Nancy and said, "I beg your pardon, Darlin', if anything I said or did upset you in the slightest." Deputy Cook squeezed her knee and slid his hand up he leg -- stroking her thigh with his thick fingers. Nancy slid as far as she could to the far side of the car but Deputy Cook slid with her. As much as she was scared of what awaited her at home, she was relieved when the car pulled in the driveway so she could get away from Deputy Cook.
Nancy jumped out of the car. Her mother and step-father were waiting for her on the front porch. Instead of running to her mother, she ran up to Deputy Philips, threw her arms around him and said, "Thank you for saying my Dad is innocent. He is! Thank you! THANK YOU!" Nancy continued to hold tight when her Mom came to pull Nancy away from him. Nancy looked up at the officer and cried, "Please, don't leave me with them. PLEASE!"
Deputy Philips said, "I have no choice but leave you here unless you give me a reason why I shouldn't." Nancy said nothing. Deputy Philips pulled something from his pocket and handed it to Nancy. He looked into her eyes and said, "If you ever need me, call." She clenched her fist tightly around the business card he had given her. She was still crying as the cruiser backed out of the driveway. As he was pulling away, Deputy Philips watched angrily as Nancy's step-father roughly pushed Nancy towards the house.
That night, Nancy sat watching herself in the mirror as she brushed her long hair. She said, "I hope that someday soon, I'm not so pretty. I hope that I look hard and mean and cold like my mother so that no man will ever want me. I want to be strong. So strong that no man can ever make me do anything I don't want to." She found some scissors from her craft box and began cutting her hair. She threw the long tresses into the trash can. Then she went to the closet and gathered everything pink and threw it in a pile on the closet floor. Then she threw all the remaining dresses into a pile except for a baggy olive-colored dress and an unflattering black one. Tomorrow she would go to the Goodwill store and buy pants -- boy pants. She swore to herself that, as soon as she had pants to wear, she would never wear a dress again.
She went to bed and tried to sleep. But she knew HE would come. As soon as her mother was asleep, he would come and do things to her. She thought about earlier attempts to make him stop -- attempts that had failed. One time she had stopped cleaning herself. She smelled so bad that the teachers had sent notes to her mother and her mother had screamed at her. Even then, she refused to bathe, but he still came to her. Finally, he couldn't stand her stench so he carried her into the bathroom and gave her a thorough scrubbing. She had kicked and screamed and fought this time. He hit her harder than ever before, yet she still screamed and he seemed to enjoy it all the more. Then he had taken her back to her bedroom and bound and gagged her with the clothes he had torn off her. Then he took his pleasure from her again. As he did what he always did, Nancy realized for the first time that her mother MUST know what he was doing to her. She couldn't have slept through the fight she put up, yet she didn't come to save her. That hurt worse than what her step-father was doing. After that night, Nancy gave him no excuse to bathe her again. She watched her mother closely after that night. She began to notice something almost as bad as her mother's tolerance of her step-father's abuse. Her mother treated her as if she was a rival for her step-father's affection. Her mother was petty, jealous and vindictive -- yet she blocked every effort her ex-husband made to get custody of Nancy. She needed Nancy to keep her husband. AND she didn't want the man she had thrown out 2 years before to get what he wanted -- at any cost. Now Nancy's father was dead. There was no one left to rescue her. She heard a sound at the door and her thoughts came back to the present. She held her covers tightly about her and gritted her teeth as the door creaked slowly open.
The next week, Nancy returned to the Sheriff's office with Deputy Philips business card in her hand. She was happy to hear the clerk shout, "Deputy Philips, there is a boy here to see you!" She was glad that she was no longer easily recognized as a girl. Deputy Philips was genuinely happy to see her. She asked for a job. He said he was sorry he couldn't help -- that the jobs available for anyone, let alone a minor, were few and far between. She explained that his words had inspired her to become a police officer. She would do it with or without his help. She told him that she would do anything to help out just to be able to be there and learn whatever she could. She was no groupie and would pull her own weight. No salary was necessary. She would clean, take out the trash, file reports, type, wash and wax police vehicles, whatever.
It took a couple days, but Deputy Philips got permission and some educational grant money to pay for Nancy to work part time at the Sheriff's Office. At the end of her first year, the Deputies and Sheriff Jefferies gave Nancy a badge and a certificate naming her an "Honorary Deputy." The nickname "Windy" caught on because she blew through the station like a whirlwind. The Sheriff was proud of the spit and polish look the station had after Windy had been there. Nancy amazed the officers because she had learned the manuals by heart. Seasoned officers came to her on the sly with technical questions about procedure and protocol.
Nancy learned the computer language Fortran so that she could make simple programs for their computer mainframe as well as do the tedious typing at the card punching machine for routine data entry. No one had ever caught her in a single data entry error -- a record unmatched by anyone else who had attempted the task. Nancy performed routine searches for similarities between different crimes to determine whether they were committed by the same perpetrator. She asked why the results were always limited to their county. She was told that each county maintained their own databases. They laughed when she asked why the data bases weren't linked. They laughed at the idea of linking the computers until Nancy said that the lack of co-ordination between counties aided and abetted the criminals by allowing them to simply cross county lines to reduce their chance of getting caught. Some appreciated Nancy’s candor. Others didn't.
Nancy spent a couple weeks typing letters to every county Sheriff's office in the adjoining states. She specified the search parameters for a specific search she wanted to have run. She provided punched cards for a specific program they could run so that the request she made wouldn’t require much of anyone’s time. She sent the letters out all at once. When she received responses, she reviewed the results of the searches and formulated a second search she wanted run. One of the Sheriffs from another state called to see what the requested searches were all about. Sheriff Jefferies told him that he had no idea but that he would find out. He asked the person in charge of office mail and they laughed about how there had been a lot of mail recently addressing to "Deputy Windy." The Sheriff was not amused. He confronted Nancy and asked if she was aware of the penalty for impersonating an officer. Nancy cited the statutes pertaining to such an offense and then produced her badge and the certificate signed by him making her an honorary deputy. He asked her what she thought she was doing.
Nancy pulled out a county map with a series of X's on it. Each X was labeled with the name of a murdered girl. Sheriff Jefferies looked at the map and stated, "These are the girls that your father raped and murdered." Nancy glared at him for a moment then took him to the janitor's closet. On the wall was a large map including their state and the states surrounding it. In the map were pins. Each pin held a piece of paper with a girl's name and time of death on it.
Nancy said, "The pins show the deaths of young females whose bodies exhibited that they all experienced the same type of abuse before their deaths. The dates of the deaths show a pattern of relocation of the perpetrator. Many of the deaths occurred in places nowhere near where my father lived when the crimes were committed. Many occurred after my father's murder and continue to this day. Many of the deaths are considered solved. Men are behind bars for the crimes and my father is in the grave, yet girls keep dying exactly the same way. Of the twenty counties where deaths occurred, one William K. Edwards was questioned and released for lack of evidence in each of 4 counties. Mr. Edwards has a record of sex-related offenses and .assault against young females going back to his adolescence -- at which point his records are sealed. By rechecking Mr. Edward’s whereabouts during the years when the deaths occurred, he never lived more than 10 miles from where any of the murder victims lived at the time they were killed. None of the counties ever checked about similar deaths of young females outside of their own counties or enquired of the FBI about any similar on-going investigations regarding the abduction and murder of little girls."
After a pro-longed silence, Sheriff Jefferies said, "Windy, you had no right to access this information. You exceeded your authority. HELL! You had NO authority! You're lucky I don't have you up on charges. Any judge who heard you go on like you just did wouldn't hesitate a minute to try you as an adult. Just be lucky I'm settling for this -- YOU'RE FIRED! And give me that fake badge and certificate. I can't have you make use of them ever again."
Three days later, Sheriff Jefferies’ name was all over the television and newspapers. He had single-handedly harnessed the computers of 5 states to solve the case of nearly 80 missing and murdered girls in a 4 state area. A surprise raid on the house rented by William K. Edwards found not only Mr. Edwards, but two missing teen aged girls alive in a small room in his basement as well as "trophies" of many of his other victims. Since there was no doubt of his guilt, Mr. Edwards confessed to everything including murdering many girls whose bodies had never been found. He led the police to many of the burial sites he used. Sheriff Jefferies used his new celebrity status to speak out on the need for a national crimes data base. There was serious talk about making Jefferies the next Governor of the state.
Nancy didn't care that she didn't get credit. She cared nothing for glory or attention. Little was said about Nancy's father being proven innocent of the murders. Everyone knew in their heart that he had sexually abused his daughter and deserved what happened to him based on that alone. Nancy found a new strength from her experience at the Sheriff's Office. She stared long and hard into the mirror and decided that she couldn't wait to be rescued. She would have to rescue herself -- be her own hero. She said to the mirror, "Papa, you loved me. I know you did. It's time I loved ME too!"
Nancy's step-father came down for breakfast. She poured him a bowl of corn flakes and handed him the milk. He poured the milk on his cereal and began eating at his normal, fast pace. Suddenly he stopped eating and shouted, "DAMN IT GIRL! These aren't my corn flakes!"
Nancy said, "Sure they are," and handed him the box.
Her step-father took a couple more bites and said, "It tastes different today."
She asked, "Like almonds? Bitter almonds?"
He said, "Yeah!"
Nancy said, "Smell the milk."
He smelled the milk and said, "Yeah. It's in the milk. Whatever it is, it's in the milk."
Nancy asked, "Ever hear of anything other than almonds that tastes like bitter almonds."
He thought a second then shouted, "YOU LITTLE B***H! You poisoned me!"
Nancy threw him a small bottle. The label read, "Almond Food Flavoring." Nancy said, "It could have just as easily been poison. Living with you, I have many opportunities. Working for the Sheriff's office, I learned dozens of ways to kill you and get away with it. Believe me. If you touch me again, you’d better kill me or I'll kill you. But if you kill me, know this: I've left letters with friends detailing everything you ever did to me and naming you as the person most likely to have killed me. If I disappear, those letters will reach people who will see that you get the death penalty -- if a lynch mob doesn't get you first! So you'd better make sure nothing happens to me. Your life depends on it."
Nancy's step-father never laid a hand on her again. Nancy Adams graduated at the top of her class at the police academy. After years of experience, she got an opportunity to step in and complete the term of office of Sheriff Ethan in Smallville, Kansas. On her first day on the job, she locked herself into an office with a computer and told herself, "Let's see if there are any patterns behind the strange goings on in this community. Who should I be keeping my eye on? I'd better not find any vigilantes running around -- not in MY town."
“Better, Someday” [Sequel to "Daddy Loved Me. This I Know"]
Sheriff Adams got the call on a busy Tuesday afternoon. The woman she had hired to sit with her daughter after school until she could get off work yelled in a rapid voice, “I am leaving this minute! I won’t spend another moment of my time with this terror child!” The Sheriff calmly got up from her desk and headed for the door saying, “I’m done for the day. I’m heading home. Don’t call unless the planet explodes.”
The Deputy replied, “But you can’t just leave now. What about ….?”
Sheriff Adams never turned or stopped. She just said, “Handle it” and the door swung shut behind her.
Crystal was a problem child. No agency had been able to place her for more than a day. She had fits of temper that could make the strongest man weep in frustration. She had run away from many of the foster homes. Sheriff Adams had returned her only to find that she was no longer wanted. The last time, she said to Crystal, “I guess no one else will have you. I’d better keep you myself.” Sheriff Adams was single and had a stressful job. There were many demands on her time. No agency would even consider her for a moment as an ideal parent, but in Crystal’s case, they made an exception. The two had a remarkable bond. Crystal had lived with Sheriff Adams for a month without incident when this call came.
Sheriff Adams kept her house in immaculate order. She entered to find more damage than you would expect from some tornados. If it had been breakable, it was broken. Nancy looked at the damage with a steady gaze without the slightest reaction to what she saw. Then Crystal rushed into the room like a whirlwind looking for something else to break. She stopped and turned when she saw Nancy. She froze like a statue waiting for the inevitable to happen. When Nancy did nothing but continue to stare at her with a smile and a twinkle in her eye, Crystal shouted, “WELL, AREN’T YOU GOING TO HIT ME NOW?!!!”
Nancy just continued to smile and said, “Darling, I think you’ve been hit enough.”
Crystal stared at her new Mother for a minute then looked around the room at the damage she had caused. Her face contorted and she wailed in pain and grief. In that moment she was suddenly in her Mother’s arms. Nancy stroked her hair and kissed her on the top of the head and softly said, “It will be better someday. I promise.”