In the Midst of Wolves
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16
“The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” -- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
“The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” -- Revelation 21:8
“What do we have?” Detective Parkinson asked the officer on the scene as he ducked under the yellow police tape surrounding the scene. It was an early brisk autumn morning in Norman, Oklahoma. The sun was barely showing itself to the world as the morning dew glimmered off the grass. A light fog was setting the scene.
Detective “Park” Parkinson walked around the dead body, which was bound to a large X made by two four by fours nailed together in the center. The victim was nude with her arms and legs stretched out, each bound to the lumber with nylon rope. Her head bent backward, eyes wide open, looking towards the sky. She was petite, about 5’5” tall, with long blond hair hanging in front of her. Through the milkiness and bloodshot of her eyes, you could still see the bright blue irises shine through. Her skin was fair, with no tan lines visible. She had a small nose and a round face. She was pretty and innocent looking. She was in her twenties.
“How’d she die?” Park asked the coroner.
“Strangulation. Well, at least preliminarily. Until we get an autopsy, we can’t be one hundred percent sure.” The coroner walked Park around the body to the head. The makeshift X was leaning against two trees in the middle of Lake Thunderbird State Park. “See here,” he pointed at the victim's neck. “Ligature strangulation, probably by the same nylon rope they used to tie her to this thing. You can see the ligature mark around her neck. Is she supposed to be crucified?”
“It looks like it,” Park observed.
“Wasn’t there a murder a few months back with the same X thing?”
“Yes, there was, Male, mid-twenties. Crux Decussata.” Park answered.
“What’s that mean?”
“X-shaped crucifixion or the St. Andrew’s cross,” Park remembered learning that during the investigation of a similar case 6 months ago. He never found the killer, not one shred of evidence. The victim’s name was Anthony Miller. He was 24, finishing his master’s in education at the University of Oklahoma City. He was the epitome of a perfect human being. He lived with his parents, to help take care of his father, went to Church every Sunday, and volunteered regularly. Nothing about him would point to someone wanting to murder him.
“Do you think they’re related?”
“I would think so, or we are looking at a very weird coincidence. So, did she die on this X or was she put here after she was strangled?”
“After. If she were strangled while on this contraption, you would see ligature marks on her wrists and ankles showing struggle. You only see a slight indentation around her wrists and ankles, like they have not moved. Plus, the way the indentations on her wrists and ankles are, indicate that she was dead at the time of the binding.”
“Just like Mr. Miller. So, the killer or killers strangled her and then put her on this X.” Park walked around the X staring at the grass. He crouched down and pulled a nail out of the grass and bagged it and handed it to the officer trailing him. “Looks like they put this thing together here. There are no drag marks or tire marks, so the killer or killers walked the body and the materials to this location. If this were one person, he or she would have had to take multiple trips. We need to look around for shoe prints. Also, where is the closest place for someone to park a truck or SUV on the pavement?”
“There is a parking lot, a few hundred yards from here, that we passed driving into here.” Jon pointed over his shoulder.
Park started walking slowly towards the parking lot, looking down for any signs of the killer or killers. He squatted down to look at a section of dirt near the pavement. “Hey, you!” Park screamed to an officer nearby. “Is forensics here?” The officer nodded. “Get them over here!” Park was staring at a print of what looked like a heel of a shoe or boot in the dirt.
About 5 minutes later, the officer brought over the forensic investigator from the county to the partial shoe print. “Do you think this is enough?” Park asked.
She took pictures of the boot print and turned to Park. “Not much here, but we will cast it and then digitally render it to see if it gives us anything. Check back in a few days.”
“Do we have any identification of who the victim is?” Park asked the officer near him.
“No sir, there was nothing to identify her at the scene.”
“Who found her, are they still here?”
“Yes. His name is Merrill Thompson. He takes a walk through here every morning.” The officer pointed to an area back towards the body.
“Thanks.” Park walked over to Mr. Thompson. “Hi. Mr. Thompson. I am Detective Parkinson. Can you tell me how you came upon the victim?
“I... I take walks here every morning. I walked around the path and there she was. I pulled out my cellphone and called 911 immediately and waited here for someone to show up.”
“What time was this?” Park asked.
“Wow, that’s pretty early.”
“I don’t sleep well, and I like seeing the sunrise.” Mr. Thompson responded.
“Thank you, did you see anyone else around here?”
“No. No one.”
“Ok. Thank you. If you think of anything, please call me.” Park handed him his business card and walked back towards his car. As Park drove back to the station, his thoughts centered on Anthony Miller. The scene was the same and he was also discovered early in the morning. Park posited that to mean the killer must have placed the body in the middle of the night or pre-dawn. The Miller case haunted Park. It was one of the few cases that stuck with him. The type of case that when his mind was silent, it would spontaneously erupt into his consciousness, ruining his peace. It gnawed at him, causing many sleepless nights. Only bourbon would allow him to move past it. He wasn’t an alcoholic, but he did need the warmth to blanket his mind and body so he could sleep during certain nights.
Park arrived at the station. He sat at his desk, logged into his computer, and pulled up the Anthony Miller case, and started to read his notes.
Anthony Miller was found bound by his wrists and ankles to an X-shaped contraption with nylon rope at Andrews Park. The X was leaning against the amphitheater's stage. He was strangled with a nylon rope. He was dead when he was bound to the wood planks, according to the forensic investigator at the scene. A city employee found him when he was emptying the garbage cans at 6:15 a.m. He saw no one else in the vicinity. There was no physical evidence at the scene. No eyewitnesses. No leads.
“Hey Park.” A voice bellowed behind him.
Park turned around to see Lieutenant Gregory standing there. “What’s up?”
“We just got a call about a missing woman. She never showed up to work this morning, and has not been home since last night, since around 5:30 p.m. Fits the description of your VIC. It’s her mother, Mrs. Janet Williams.”
“Ok. You got her address?” Park stood up and walked towards him already knowing the answer. He grabbed the piece of paper from the Lieutenant’s hand and walked towards the station’s door.
DUE OUT SEPTEMBER 2021