White Shadows (Part 2)

White Shadows (Part 2)

Hunter Taylor, Reporter

Make sure to read Part 1 before this

Wednesday 7:17 

Elizabeth Williams, known to her students as Mrs. Williams, had been getting her schedule ready for the school day when Abigail knocked on her classroom door. She was caught off guard at first because she wasn’t expecting anybody this early. Maybe it was another teacher wanting to talk to her. That could be, but she knew something was wrong when she saw a mop of frizzy hair at the bottom of the door’s window.

She opened the door and saw Abigail’s face was red (not to mention that smeared mark on her cheek), and she was breathing hard. And it looked as though she had just got done crying.

“Abby, what’s wrong?” The girl’s wide eyes just kept staring as though she hadn’t heard the teacher. “Abby… speak to me…”

“He’s dead,” she whispered.

“What?” Williams said.

“The boy is dead… the boy on the tracks…” she pointed to the smeared blood on her cheek.

. . .

Mrs. Williams took the girl by the hand and led her to the office, where they repeated the incident to the principal. From there the police were called. The police, firefighters, and forensics were on the scene. Among the people on the scene was detective John Thorn and his partner Carl Briggs.

Carl Briggs was on the scene first because John had gone into the gas station to get their breakfast. Although Briggs now thought that his appetite was ruined. When he got to the tracks, they had the body on a stretcher, and they hadn’t covered it yet.

“Hey, Carl,” Thorn called from the guard rail.

“Hey, you got my food, didn’t ya?” Carl replied by starting up the hill to grab his things so that his food would stay intact on its way down the hill.

“So what happened?” Thorn asked his partner, although it didn’t sound like a question. He handed Briggs his sandwich and coffee, then they started down the hill.

“They identified the kid by the school ID in his back pocket. Dillon Crawford. There was a slip of paper for contact information in case his wallet got lost. We called it and his parents answered the phone. We told his parents to come to the station. We figured that it would be better to tell them in person than over the phone.”

“Most things are worse over the phone.” At this point they were heading down the hill to the tracks.

When they reached the bottom Briggs continued, “According to the parents, he and his father had got into an argument and he left home last night. And came to the gas station right up there,” Briggs pointed to the top of the hill. “The cameras were checked and they saw the boy come in. He bought a pizza and a root beer then left. From there one of the cameras saw him walk around back. At the top of the embankment they found the pizza container. God knows why he decided to go down to the tracks.”

“Either he heard something, or got curious,” Thorn said, and as an afterthought he added, “He maybe even thought he would hike the tracks, he probably wanted to get as far away from home as possible… How bad was it?” Thorn asked.

“The boy’s left side of the neck all the way up to the ear was covered with blood. The blood soaked through his shirt and jacket and dripped down his pants when it dried. They found his backpack in the weeds beside the tracks. Forensics had said that he had been dead for hours.”

Thorn looked up into the tree.“Well, that is very odd.”

“What’s that?” Carl said looking up at the branch.

Thorn pointed to the bloody twisted fingers of the tree. “I don’t know how that is possible. Sure, the boy was attacked, maybe it happened on the ground, but how could the killer put him in a tree? At that height. It is physically impossible unless this killer had a really tall ladder.”

“Yeah… it’s one of the first things I noticed too. It’s odd,” he said looking back down to Thorn, who had returned his gaze to the tracks where there was a patch of blood and the kid’s sneaker.

“Very. You said he was sliced open, correct?”

“Yes. And now that you say it, there was something strange about that, too,” Carl said.

“Yeah? What’s that?” Thorn asked. How was it possible to get his body that high? Even a ladder wouldn’t cover it. 

“Some of the kids’ organs were missing.”

“So The killer, he or she sees and stuns the kid, and slices his stomach. But to take it a step further they stick him on a tree. Who reported it?” Thorn’s mouth had gone dry. So he decided to take a drink of his coffee which was now warm and no longer hot.

“Ten year old, Abigail Dolan. The little girl had been walking to school. She told her teacher that she always takes that way to get to school, that it helps her get to school quicker. She only saw the little details of the blood because the boy was up on the branch. But when the body was taken down, they saw more. The little girl came from that way.” Carl says as he points into the direction of the street that runs perpendicular to East Main Street, where the child lives.

“Oh jeez… that’s great.” Thorn winces.

“Yeah, she said she was walking to school, and that she has always walked the tracks because it is a quicker route. I don’t think she will ever go near tracks ever again. I don’t think she’ll ever ride a train either. She came into school and told the teacher, who told her superior, and so on and so forth until it reached us. She had a drop of blood on her cheek and a smear on her shirt from the Crawford kid’s sneaker.” he says as points to the shoe on the ground.

“This is horrible… where’s the body?”

“Right over there,” Briggs pointed to the street, where there was an ambulance. 

“I need to see this. I need a visual so I can see exactly what happened. Or at least try.” The detectives went over to the ambulance and knocked on the back door. The door swung open.

“Hello, came to observe the body. Detective John Thorn.” John took out his badge, “This is my partner Carl Briggs.” 

“Well… gotta warn you, Detective Thorn. It doesn’t look good. As far as good goes with a body,” The EMT said.

The detectives stepped into the ambulance. The EMT pulled back the sheet. As far as Briggs’s observation went, it was pretty accurate. The kid’s skin was pale of course. And there was blood up the kid’s left side of his face. The blood went down the side of his neck and doused his shirt. The shirt was ripped above the belly button, to show a laceration to the stomach. The detective set their coffees and sandwiches (which hadn’t even been touched) on the bench.

“May I have some gloves?” Thorn asked, still looking at the boy’s face. The kid’s face was frozen in a look. You’d think the face would represent pain, but his face showed that he was relaxed. Maybe he was unconscious and then killed. The EMT handed him a pair and offered a pair to Briggs, who politely pushed them away. He wasn’t the one to observe the bodies that way, that was Thorn’s thing.

Thorn pulled on the gloves. Then he reached out and turned the kid’s head to the side to reveal the blood-slicked neck. Then he turned to Briggs and asked,“You see that, detective?

“Yeah, of course.”

“What do you think did that? Because, I don’t think the blood from his stomach would go all the way up to his neck. He would have been turned upside down and sideways. Plus, the way the clothes are soaked proves that the blood flow starts at the neck, that is what soaked the upper half of his shirt.” He pointed to the neck. “Then, what intensified the flow was the slash across his midsection.” He moved his finger down the body to the cut, as if pointing out what route to take on a state map. “Which then would cause the blood to flow down his pants. But the problem is… where did the blood come from up here?” He pointed back to the neck.

. . .

In the newspaper the next day, Dillon made front page news. He was a side column, but the words “High School Teenager Murdered” caught everyone’s attention rather than “Town Public Works Dept. Work on Roads near the High School.”

The school was barely touched by the news sadly. Barely anybody knew him in order to grieve. Something Dillon knew was that he had lost touch with his friends, but that didn’t mean they didn’t care about him. When the news made it to the school, it didn’t go to the friends first. It started with the people who had befriended Dillon’s old friends, starting the ripple effect. It was hard for them. They hadn’t really hung out with him in the last few years, let alone talk to him. Sure there was an occasional “Hi” said in the halls, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t really their faults they had fallen out of touch. School got harder, they wanted to pass their senior year, and it was even harder not having any of the same classes. 

It had a little bigger impact on his old friends, but it also had an impact on the teachers. They thought that Dillon would have been successful. Although he wasn’t very social, he was a great student.

Dillon’s parents were impacted the most. Especially since the last time they had seen their son it hadn’t been under the best circumstances. His father felt guilt. He thought, “Maybe if I hadn’t started in… he had a chance… and I drove him out… if I hadn’t done that… he would be here at home safe, and not in a funeral parlor.” And his mother couldn’t help but feel guilt too. She believed that she could have prevented Dillon’s death, if only she could have stood up against them and calmed them down so they could apologize and talk things through.

But there was more than friendships, relationships, and acquaintances destroyed. 

Dillon’s future was obliterated. Any dream he had. Any life he could have lived. He doesn’t get that job. He doesn’t have a wife. And the family name Crawford will never live on because Dillon was an only child, in a little town in Pennsylvania. Just another blip on the radar wiped out. It’s not like it could affect the millions of people across the country.

But the town of Ridgeview would meet their new resident. Their new neighbor. They will only view him from afar. And he will only pass a few words with a few people. 

His name is Edward Kraft.