The Mystery Man
No one knew his name, but they had seen him around the neighborhood. He moved in silence through the streets, never drawing attention to himself. He nodded in acknowledgement if you said, "Good morning." That was it. His lips uttered no words. His face never projected a smile or a frown; only ambivalence. He came and went at all hours of the night but no one knew what he did. When the killings started, everyone knew it was him that had committed the gruesome deeds.
The first body was discovered in the entry way of an apartment. The young girls body had been strangled and beaten to death. The autopsy showed she was raped post mortem. Her abdomen was filleted open and her intestines lay on her chest. It was beyond disturbing. Even the veteran detectives were sickened by the scene. The forensics team searched for clues left behind. They found no fingerprints, hairs, or secondary blood. The perpetrator had not ejaculated at the scene. No DNA evidence was found. The guy knew what he was doing. He was a pro.
The girl was a 16 year old, on her way home from volleyball practice. She had been walking with a friend and was finishing the last few blocks by herself. She only made it about a block before meeting her macabre ending. The nightly news spotlighted the story. The media was relentless. The small, Upper East Side neighborhood was besieged by the outside world. Small groups of families began discussing the possible scenarios and suspects of this disturbing crime. I was not shy about throwing my suspicions into the talks. It was not a tough sell. The neighborhood mystery man was the perfect vessel to fill with blame.
The police blanketed the neighborhood and talked to everyone. A few weeks passed with no arrests. The evidence was almost non-existent and the authorities didnt want to make an arrest that wouldnt stick. A desperate quiet enveloped the neighborhood until it happened again.
A 14 year old girl was found in an alley. The scene was almost identical to the first murder. She had been strangled and beaten. She had been raped after death. Her torso was mutilated. A large lock of hair had also been ripped from her head. Once again, the forensics found no real evidence. The media returned as did the slumbering terror for every family in the surrounding blocks. The police ramped up the questioning and the patrols. A neighborhood meeting was held in the Catholic Church and a swell of vigilantes was born. The quiet, mystery man was thrown into the ring as the prime suspect. We decided to follow him in shifts. The cops had also been convinced to watch his movements. We could not handle another murder.
My daughter was a freshman at a nearby state college. She decided to come home for a weekend visit. My wife and I both discouraged it, but also wanted to visit and give her a hug after the violence we had experienced. Our daughter arrived Friday evening and we had a wonderful dinner. Her and my wife spent Saturday shopping and having a girls day. I spent my day keeping tabs on the mystery man. Saturday evening rolled around and our daughter wanted to go out with some friends. Begrudgingly, we let her go. We knew where she was going and who she was with. She promised to call and let us know when she was headed home. Nervously my wife and I waited. I decided to head out and stake out the prime suspect. I didnt want to take any chances.
At midnight, my wife called and said our daughter was coming home. I hadnt seen the mystery man for an hour. His lights were out and he hadnt come out the door. I assumed he went to sleep. I thought it was safe. After twenty minutes, I headed home. I expected my daughter to beat me. When I pulled up, her car was not there and a sickening feeling overtook me. I waited a few minutes hoping she would arrive. I finally went in and my wife had the same look as I did. Where could she be? A couple hours passed and we knew the news would be bad. At 3:30 AM the phone rang. The worst words a parent could hear traveled through the receiver and into my ear. Our daughter was found a half block from our house in a stair well. She had been treated the same as the others. My body filled with anger, rage, and despair. I bolted to the scene to speak with an officer. They had to arrest this guy immediately. I spoke to the head detective and told him my suspicions. They too had been watching this guy but had no evidence. I was irate. This had to stop.
I ramped up my surveillance efforts. I followed this guy everywhere. I wasnt even hiding it. I blatantly followed him and told him I knew he was the guy. He basically ignored me, but I could tell I was getting to him. He rarely left his house. He would go to the art supply store and to the grocery on occasion. Other than that, he was a homebody. He didnt have a job that I could tell. I rifled through his trash and found drawings of medieval torture scenes involving women. I found receipts for latex gloves and large quantities of bleach. I took the evidence to the police. They said they couldnt use it. It was obtained without warrant and not by an officer. I was dismayed. What more did they want. I hatched a new plan.
The next day I followed the mystery man and taunted him with the evidence I had found. He finally broke. He confronted me. I kept up my belligerence until he finally took a swing at me. The fight was on. We grappled and punched until the police arrived and arrested us. While doing a search, they found the lock of hair ripped from the middle victims head in the mystery mans pocket. I felt victorious. The police got a warrant and searched his apartment. The mystery man was an artist for a fetish cartoon magazine. It was a fantasy and medieval magazine that depicted women being tortured and killed in ways similar to the murder scenes. Mountains of artwork and the lock of hair were used to convict the mystery man. He received the death penalty. The neighborhood returned to its natural state of calm.
I still watch and study the streets of our neighborhood. I wait and watch in hopes of discovering a new mystery man that I can pin another insatiable murder spree on. I often walked around the neighborhood with a smug look of genius on my face. I had used the mystery mans occupation against him, planted the lock of hair on him, and the killed my own daughter...I would never be suspected. For now, my killing instincts lay dormant but always close enough to the surface that it can be awakened with the slightest nudge.