Well, sir, I never seen nothing like it, and I been sheriff here twenty-two years, in law enforcement going on thirty-five. Course, this is a small county. Population-wise, I mean. Square miles, I put better than 30,000 on that truck ever year. But never seen nothing like it. Blood ever where. On the walls, on the damn ceiling. I guess that’s what started me thinking. I mean, how dead do you have to kill someone? I could understand the daddy. You could tell he tried to protect his wife and daughter, could see where he kept trying to crawl forward, so I could understand that. But the wife and daughter. How many damn bullets you need? Only time you see that many bullets these days is with them gang bangers. Drugs. You know. But this old boy was a businessman, semi-retired. Couple of car dealerships down in the city, richer than hell, but squeaky clean. No damn drugs. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So I guess the blood was the first thing I noticed. There was other stuff. Flies, them little black beetles I don’t know the name of, the smell, bodies all swollen up and ever thing. None of it the kind of stuff you tell to the papers. None of it the kind of stuff to make you think anything other than what you was supposed to think. But see, that’s where it didn’t seem right.
House was trashed, and I right away wondered about that. Killing looked like gang bangers, but gang bangers means drugs, and like I said, this old boy didn’t have nothing to do with no drugs. So if it was gang bangers, what the hell they be looking for in a fancy vacation house like that way out in the boonies?
And then there was the way the house was trashed. Thirty-five years you get a feel for this stuff. It didn’t look like anybody been looking for anything. It looked like somebody wanted me to think somebody been looking for something. And that didn’t fit with the blood.
Think about it. It ain’t drugs. So let’s say somebody breaks in to steal something. Family comes home, surprises them. You just kill them and get the hell out of there. Old man had fourteen bullets in him. Wife had five. Sister had seven. That ain’t no run-of-the-mill, garden-variety, three-for-a-dollar burglar. That’s a hell of a lot of damn fire power. Why?
We don’t have no forensics up here. I had to call down to the city and that left me with a lot of time to look around and think while I was waiting on them. And looking around, it didn’t seem to me like nothing was stolen. Usually there’s something pretty obvious, but not here. Just everything torn apart to look like something was stolen. So I start thinking. And of course the first thing I think with all them bullets is that it’s personal. Personal means either family or some pretty damn close business associate.
Well, when them city boys get there it’s old Frank Bell. I known Frank long as I been sheriff, maybe more, think real high of him. Course, you always do think high of anybody thinks high of you. Shows they got good judgment, don’t it? So I tell him what all I’m thinking and we decide to kind of divide it up. I know the kid, the son, arrested his sorry ass couple, three times, running that fancy sports car around like he was king of the road, so I take him as the most logical family choice. Hell, only choice. Only close family member. Frank’s down there in the city, so he takes the business end.
Kid’s in college, other side of the state. I track him down, but I don’t call him. I decide to drive over, tell him face to face. Takes about four hours, so it’s going on evening by the time I get there. I walk into his dorm, knock on the door, and right away I know I’m onto something, cause he ain’t surprised to see me one little bit.
I tell him what all’s happened. You got to be real careful passing judgment on people, how they react to this sort of thing. I seen a big old boy, rancher, former Green Beret, Viet Nam and everything, tougher than hell, seen his knees give out and he just fell down flat on the floor bawling. And on the other side, I seen a gal, little bitty blue-haired school teacher, go into shock and get so calm and practical it gave me goose bumps. So you can’t tell how people is going to react. But same time, thirty-five years, you get a feel for what’s real and what ain’t. A dog can smell fear on a man. Maybe a man can smell lies on another man.
And when I drive him on up there to the house, I know I’m right. He just goes walking through there talking about money, worrying about who all’s going to pay for the damage where them forensics boys dug the bullets out of the walls, cut out chunks of the carpet, that sort of thing. He stepped right over the blood where his mother and sister was laying and barely even glanced down. Stepped right over.
So I know.
Problem is he’s got an alibi. With a bunch a kids at a party the night his family got killed. Fact, he took one of them girls back to his dorm room and they spent the night together.
I can’t tell you what that did to me. I understand you got to just look at the evidence, let the evidence tell you what’s right and what’s wrong. But call it what you want, instinct or hunch or intuition or thirty-five years experience, you get a feel, and to think that boy was in bed with a girl while he knew his parents and sister was being murdered….
Cause he couldn’t of done it hisself, no way. But I knew he was involved.
Frank found out pretty quick it wasn’t no business thing, so we teamed up. We checked out all the kid’s friends there in college, and they was pretty much all exactly what you’d expect, bunch of affluent kids, athletes mostly, no records, nothing unusual. All of them pretty much alike. One exception.
Kid named Myron stood out like a gouty toe. All them other kids is from well-to-do families, some rich, some just middle-class, but none of them hurting. Myron’s on total scholarship, no daddy, mama on disability pension, and he works in the kitchen, plus he’s got an outside job doing custom metal work for some fancy motorcycle shop. He ain’t into motorcycles. Just good with his hands.
All the other friends is into some kind of sports. Myron ain’t. All the other friends is kind of average students. Myron’s running straight A’s and looks to be that laude, Phi Beta stuff when he graduates. All the other friends kind of hang out together. Myron’s a loner. All the other friends look kind of like the damn kid, clean cut, short hair, button-down shirts. Myron’s got hair down to his shoulders and wears baggies. All the other friends is straight shooters with a DUI about the worst thing on the record. Myron’s had some scrapes with the law. Nothing big time, but he knows what the inside of juvy looks like. Most important, Myron’s the only name the kid doesn’t give us when we ask about his friends, but he’s the guy all the friends say the kid hangs out with. So we start looking.
Well, hell, it ain’t hard at all. The kid’s one of them spoiled rich kids, always had ever damn thing in the world he wanted. That BMW he drives ain’t even the one I arrested him in, speeding up here. He wrecked that one and Daddy bought him another to replace it. Didn’t tan his hide. Just bought him a new one.
So of course a kid like that got his own cell phone, had it since junior high. But when me and Frank start doing surveillance, we find out the kid’s making phone calls from a pay phone pretty regular. Makes a quick call, punches in some numbers, hangs up, sits and waits. Always, no more than ten minutes go by, usually less, pay phone rings. Well, you don’t have to be no laude Phi Beta college graduate and all to know what’s going on, so we get the records from the phone company. Number he’s dialing is a pager. We get that number, we have a pager made identical, so now we get paged ever time Myron gets paged. Who else you think it was?
Problem is, kid is smart. Never calls from the same phone twice, so it takes us a while to get a tap, and even when we get a tap there ain’t no more conversation than you could have with your cat. But Myron makes reference to some three stooges job, he calls it, and he makes reference to money.
Bank records show the kid’s pulling out money pretty regular, $500 here, $1000 there. And by golly, what a surprising coincidence. That Myron fella is depositing $500 here, $1000 there.
About that money. I talked to a cousin who was at the reading of the will. Kid inherited seventeen million dollars. But, the way it was left, he couldn’t touch the principal until he turned thirty. Cousin was shocked by the kid’s reaction. Threw your basic tantrum, wanted to know why the hell his daddy would do that, tie that money up like that, pounded his fist on the lawyer’s desk and all. Strange thing from a kid his whole family just been butchered. Remember them reporters and that Deep Throat fella back when Nixon was in office? Follow the money.
Well, that’s where she sets. We know damn good and well what happened, but knowing and proving is two different things. So we keep watching and listening and waiting.
One night we’re listening, me and Frank, and Myron says to the kid something about me tailing him. That kind of threw me. Myron’s even smarter than I thought. But then the kid says, If all you got to worry about is some stupid, fat, old, red-necked cowboy following you around, then we’re in good shape.
Something like that. I won’t say it ain’t all true, but I won’t say it didn’t get under my skin neither. He was such a cocky little you-know-what. My daddy didn’t have no seventeen million dollars. I didn’t go to no college. Hell, I didn’t even graduate high school. Just got my GED. But there was a time I was young and pretty as that worthless little piece of crap, and there was a time if it said Blue Boone on the posters you could bet your bottom dollar the stands would be full of girls that night waiting on the bull riding to commence.
Well. That was a long time ago.
Now, ever now and then, when the kid and Myron is talking, a name comes up, Chong, like that Mexican comedy fella. Problem is, Frank can’t find any Chong anywhere.
So we go back and look at their phone records, both them kids, for the year before the murders, and Myron made a couple calls to a motorcycle supply house out of state. That kind of caught my attention. He just does metal work for the shop. He don’t order anything for them, and he ain’t a motorcycle guy. And if he did order something for them, he wouldn’t do it on his own damn phone. So I check and it turns out this supply house is owned by a Vietnamese fella by the name of Charlie Ng. Check a little more, turns out his nickname is Chong. Check a little more, find out he’s one of them people on a first name basis with the local police in his home town. Check a little more and find out he’s someone the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is real interested in. Hell of a lot of guns passing through his hands.
So me and Frank, we drive over there, have a little conversation with Mr. Ng. Forensics says it was a nine millimeter gun. Well, there ain’t a whole lot of nine millimeters around hold twenty-five shots or more, and by golly, what do you know? Seems Mr. Ng bought one of them semi-auto grease guns not too long before them murders.
Where is it? He don’t know. Don’t he have it? He can’t find it. Well, me and Frank and the BATF, we’ll be real happy to help him search his place of business, his home, his momma-san’s home, the home of ever body he ever done business with his whole life. Fact, we’ll be real happy to turn his whole life inside out and upside down. Oh, he just remembered. That particular gun was stole right out of his office not long after he took delivery of it. Never even had a chance to fire it.
I tell him his state’s got a law says you got to report a stolen gun, and there ain’t no stolen weapon report on the books, and that looks like a mandatory three to five.
All of a sudden, Mr. Ng’s real eager to do whatever the hell he has to do to help us. Yes, he sold a nine millimeter to Myron, just before the murders. Matter of fact, Mr. Ng even fired the son-of-a-buck at the local range before he sold it.
We go out there to that range and we excavate the whole damn backstop where he shot. We sift out ever damn nine millimeter bullet in there, and we run them under the scope, compare them to the ones we dug out of the walls and the bodies, and by God we got a match.
After that it ain’t no big deal. Mr. Ng turns state’s evidence. We confront Myron and in exchange for us dropping the death penalty he tells us ever damn thing about it, how the kid was going to split the seventeen million with him, how the kid told him when the mom and dad and sister’d all be out, how he, Myron that is, wore all new clothes, rubber gloves, spread out a plastic tarp and sat on it waiting for them to come home, how he shot from the tarp, which explained why we couldn’t find no DNA. Told us ever thing. Myron gets life without parole. Kid gets death.
Good thing none of them lawyers goes back and checks Mr. Ng’s end of the deal. Cause there ain’t no law says you got to report a stolen firearm. I may be old and fat and red-necked, but I ain’t stupid.