Police deny occult link in suburban district murders
By Steve Connors
In homicides which took place within yards and hours of one another two suspects were being held by Dallas Police yesterday, one charged with butchering his family, the other with murdering his girlfriend.
In a scene reminiscent of a cult killing Martha Vaughan (42) and her two children, Alice (6) and Stephen (8) were found partially dismembered at their family home in the quiet suburbs of Dallas last Thursday. Patrick Vaughan (48) was being held in custody by Dallas police on suspicion of having committed the triple homicide, Neighbours were shocked by the murders, 63 year old Robert Dashiel, lived next door to the Vaughans for 4 years, ‘they kept themselves to themselves, the children were polite which is unusual nowadays, they seemed the perfect family’ In a cruel twist an unrelated murder took place nearby on the same night when a woman Sharon Willeymeyer 37 was stabbed to death in the street, her husband Jack Willeymeyer, 47 was arrested for the crime which apparently occurred after the couple had a violent argument the cause of which is unknown. Some locals were worried that there could be a cult connection, Thursday was a full moon and is said by some to have been a day of ‘exceptional occult significance’.
It was not the giant hoarding or the poster that caught her eye but the big black crow which sat perched upon it. The Crows eyes stared unblinking into the city scene, sending out what seemed to Jo like waves of despair and hopelessness. With difficulty she tore her attention from the Crow and it settled inexorably on the thirty foot high poster, proclaiming hedonistic bliss in the form of a seemingly magical cocktail and its equally magical, if improbably perfect female consumer. Jo was not the jealous or envious kind, so she was wondering why she found the features of the model so fascinating, when it happened. At first she was so surprised her initial reaction was denial, but then it happened again and there was no doubt, the poster, or rather the model in it winked at her. In that split second her reality seemed like it had been torn apart, her shattered view of the universe exploding out from the picture like shards of broken glass. Then just as she felt that she too would disintegrate into sand and blown to nothingness, normality returned, like the sun breaking through the dissipating clouds of a departing storm.
As she tried to regain her composure, the Crow turned towards her contemptuously and threw back its head letting out a gigantic caw of triumph; it spread its wings so wide that as it rose into the sky it seemed to blot out the sun, before spiralling down towards her, its beak so wide, that in it Jo thought she saw the seeds of a different reality, staring back at her out of an endless void.
She woke up covered in clammy sweat and shivering pulled the white linen sheets tightly around her body, this was the third time in a week she had had the dream, each time it was more vivid than the last. In her hand she held her grandfathers poem, she didn’t know why but she was certain the poem and the dream were somehow linked. She thought of him as her grandfather, even though they were not really related, at least not by birth. She was an orphan and she never knew her real parents, the man she regarded as her grandfather was her adopted father’s father and through the poem he came to mean more to her than anyone else in her life.
I am the wave on which I travel
I cannot change my fate
The future and the past unravel
Until the beach on which I break
I am the wave that has no end
I cannot win or loose
But the beach on which I break my friend
Is mine alone to choose
When she was a little girl and just getting over the loss of the tooth fairy and Father Christmas in quick succession, it suddenly occurred to her to question the existence of God himself and to wonder, why we are here and where we are going. She was sitting on her grandfather’s knee and looking up into his wizened face when she asked ‘Does god really exist or is he made up’? And before he had a chance to answer ‘What happens to us when we die’? He lifted her gently from his knee and placed her on the ground in front of him. He looked at her in a way that made her feel her questions really mattered.
‘Jo’ he said,
‘Life is not what it seems to be, everything you see, time passing, growing up, and even death itself is all an illusion. Most people will never see through the illusion at all and to them there is nothing beyond this life. No-one can see through it completely but it is possible for some people to see glimpses of the truth and I know that you are one of those people Jo. We must all find our own way through life but I can tell you this; nothing that is can ever truly cease to be. Time is really only a function of our point of view, because something with no beginning and no end cannot be divided into days, or weeks, or years because there can be no percentages of eternity’.
Later on she would find the poem under her pillow, it was unsigned but she knew who wrote it and why. Occasionally she would question the meaning of the words and wonder if she was reading things into them that weren’t really there at all. It was as if everyone else around her were crippled in a way that made her a cripple, or at least some kind of a freak. Maybe she was some kind of a mutant, able to see things that normal people were blind to, with the ability to see what is really there, not just what is expected. Or maybe she was just mad.
One time Jo took a test she found on the Internet about perception. The person taking the test had to watch two teams, one dressed in black, the other red, playing a ball game where they would pass the ball to one another in an effort to score. The objective was to count the number of passes very carefully and report your result. Jo concentrated intently on the game and counted 19 passes. What she found strange though was the man dressed in the Gorilla suit who walked on to the court in the middle of the game, beat his chest and then ambled slowly off again. Apparently almost everyone else other than her failed to see the Gorilla at all on their first view, apparently it was a well known scientific phenomena and as the web site said reassuringly, ‘don’t feel as if there is something wrong with you if you didn’t see the Gorilla the first time, no-one ever does’
So when Jo saw strange things which no-one else ever did, she was never sure if those things weren’t there, or it was just that it was only her who saw them. More than that, she often felt as if there were other things she could not see, hiding just beyond her field of vision and that if she just opened her eyes wide enough, they would be revealed to her. Then she would remember the Crow and suddenly she didn’t want to open her eyes wide at all, suddenly she felt comfortable with things the way they appeared already.
When it turned out that she had an unusually high IQ and that as a result she qualified for special schooling, it was with a certain degree of relief that she left home for boarding school at the age of eleven. The relief turned to elation when the school she attended seemed to be open to what everyone else had seen as her silliness, the teachers allowed her to explore what they saw as her gifts rather than embarrassing delusion. At the age of eighteen, she was gently pointed in the direction of Harvard where she studied criminal Psychology, during her time there she was approached by and eventually recruited into the bureau although her special duties required her to report to a specialist division specialising in the profiling of serial killers, the kind who might end up as assassins. As a federal agent she knew where her duties lay and she was loyal unto death. Nevertheless as an individual she disagreed with the death penalty for civil cases and therefore working in Texas where Governor Morissey seemed to see it as an everyday deterrent offended her sensibilities. She had profiled seven murderers in two years all of whom had been put to death by Morissey’s hand, seven men whom she had gotten to know better than their mothers. Somehow though she had been able to separate her personal feelings from her professional duty, consigning them to that other dimension to which she had access and from where her powers seemed to come.
Her job as a profiler had a very practical historically proven purpose whose antecedents went back to Dr Thomas Bond’s observations following the murder of Mary Kelly by the famous uncaught killer we know as Jack the Ripper. Neither were the tricks of her trade reserved for working out the MO’s of mere murderers, Profiling was next used during World War II when the Office of Strategic Services (now the CIA) asked Walter Langer, a psychiatrist by profession, to provide a profile of Adolf Hitler. In the main a profilers success depends on their knowledge of human nature and their ability to make observations which could either link cases to a single person, or more rarely that could help to predict future behaviour. It therefore went without saying that a profiler had to be smart and qualified but it was it was equally accepted that being smart and qualified was not enough to be any good at the job. Arguably if you needed to be trained, you couldn’t do the job and anyone who could do the job didn’t need training. Hence the use by police forces around the world of individuals who may in other circumstances be seen as cranks and weirdoes but then again its’ surprising what even hard bitten cop’s will resort to when they need to find a seven year old boy suspected of having been abducted by a serial child rapist and murderer, yup, suddenly those cranks and weirdoes seem mighty attractive. So what if their success depended on their psychic abilities, so what if they needed to be led to the victim by a naked three hundred year old Indian guide called Tonto, when you were desperate any straw was better than no straw and sometimes, just occasionally they turned up trumps.
To those around her, Joanne Lawless was a slightly hyperactive quirky character who just happened to have an almost uncanny ability to create disturbingly accurate profiles of almost every type of deviant criminal. Her colleagues sometimes wondered what demons lurked beneath her milk and honey complexion and whether the there was a picture hanging up in a loft somewhere the image of which was stained with the evil twisted thoughts which she must entertain to do her job so well. What really made Jo so good at her job were the cracks in reality, the glitches in the program that she could see but that would go unnoticed by everyone else. As a child when she saw glimpses of disturbing things that she didn’t understand, she was scared. Now her job helped to neutralise the fear and to make sense of her gifts.
Jo was rare because despite being self evidently unusual, she was neither a crank nor a weirdo, she was trained and she had ability, it could be said that given her background and selection she was a national resource. For this reason she was more of less allowed to go where she wanted when she wanted and although she had to report in just like everyone else, her remit was as loose as a goose. Jo Choose Texas because of its history of violence and deviance, she placed her self up front and centre, personally interviewing every sicko who found themselves on death row, if she dressed in black she would have been seen as the angel of death, as it was the wardens and inmates thought of her less as an emissary of doom and more like Rainbow Bright. It is inevitable that even a job like Jo’s eventually starts to exhibit elements of the humdrum, that the mind starts to fill is larger and larger sections of what should be new experience with hackneyed old clips recorded and embedded by past experience. Jo was very aware of this tendency and therefore was at great pains to develop a routine which would ensure her openness to every new encounter so that she would be able to pick up on the unique nuances of the deviant mind, carefully eliciting another piece of the jigsaw puzzle, however small or insignificant, that would somehow reveal the human psyche in all its glory, a bit like the completion of a massive five dimensional Rubik’s cube. It was therefore ironic that it would be this very routine would lead to the very case of intellectual solidification which Jo was trying to avoid. Jo knew it was happening; she could even distance herself in a way and comment on her decline as if she were a disinterested third party. The truth was that it wasn’t Jo who was losing her edge; she had simply hit diminishing returns. With every new case, murder, torture, and every variant thereof slowly began to loose their capacity to shock, new insights became harder to find and there was a danger that, reaching for something which wasn’t really there, she would make a mistake and undermine the value of her work. And her work was valuable, she was already regarded as something of a phenomenon in the bureau although with traditional cynicism the department was waiting for the inevitable come down, the point where their talented enfant terrible finally blows a fuse and has to be dealt with in whatever ruthless way is most appropriate.
Jo was aware of the precariousness of her position and the predatory nature of her employer, she had already decided the time had come to quit while she still could and she had resolved that the Vaughan case would be her last and because it was her last she was determined that it would be conducted by the book, there would be no expectation of last minute revelation or redemption, she was quite happy to bow out gracefully without fanfare and more importantly without drawing any more attention to herself than was necessary. Her competitive nature perceived that in some way leaving the bureau quietly represented winning, more so than rising up through the ranks and becoming one of the grey soulless ghouls who pulled the stings on puppets that had more life than they did. No, Jo did not crave that kind of power, she saw it for what it was, a disease for which there was no cure and she had no intention of exposing herself to infection any longer than was necessary. Looking forward to a life beyond the bureau was for Jo a bit like the inmate of an institution looking forward to being released into the outside world. It was both an exciting and scary prospect in equal measure, Jo realised that for all its faults, the bureau was home for her and those same soulless grey men were her family. She had no particular plan for when she left, she felt it was better to focus on the job at hand until the very end, she hated it when other people coasted, knowing they were coming up for re-assignment or retirement, she had always prided herself on her focus, no matter what the distractions she always got the job done.
Her Interview with Patrick Vaughan therefore came as both a surprise and a challenge. The surprise was caused by her almost inevitable assumption that after interviewing so many killers, that she had seen it all. Despite being aware of the trap, it was almost impossible not to fall into it, this was after all the reason for her deciding to leave. To her credit it took her less than the blink of an eye for the fragile shell of her pre-conceptions to be shattered, there was something about the man, something about the air surrounding him which resonated with wrongness, the second she saw him she knew that Patrick Vaughan would have a different story to tell, if she could get it out of him. A strange thought, a negative thought, she realised suddenly that for the first time she had placed a question mark against her ability and she had done so without her subject needing to make eye contact, never mind about opening his mouth.
Charlie Jackson sat motionless the remains of yesterdays donuts strewn across his disorganised looking desk. It was unusual for Charlie to experience a quiet moment; normally he was ‘action Jackson’ careering from one crisis situation to another with scarcely a second for pensive consideration, far less self examination. Those who knew him well would say Charlie had no truck for the endless band of do-gooders, ambulance chasers and political wannabe’s who followed him and his colleagues around, endlessly hoping to be thrown a bone that would lend meaning to their otherwise meaningless lives. To Charles the world was largely black and white, consisting of ‘perps’ and victims and whilst he accepted that sometimes things weren’t that simple, he was happy to leave the subtle nuisances and shades of grey to those who could give a shit. Today was different though, today something, or rather someone had got to him and that someone was in the form of a small hyperactive female, lawless, the irony of her last name was not entirely lost on Charlie although irony and other such nonsense would be the least of his problems if what she was saying had even a grain of truth.
It was all beyond his comprehension, why would a psychological profiler working for the Fed’s decide to walk their delicately heeled feet all over his personal cabbage patch? To make matters worse it wasn’t as if the woman was unattractive, normally you could tell a Fed from fifty feet by their dead pan expression, matched up close by their uniform like dress sense and total lack of humour and empathy. This woman on the other hand was colourful, yes colourful was the only way to describe her, right from her brightly made up but not over the top face down through her well cut pink twin set and cutsy fruits of the forest handbag, the woman was colourful for Christ’s sake. To make it worse she was also talkative, no more than that she was bubbly, not in an irritating grating way but more in a champagne like effervescent way which made you feel like you were at an occasion. She walked in the room and suddenly the lights got brighter and you became aware of your unshaven chin and two day old shirt, things looked shabby in a way that normally didn’t matter. It was all very disconcerting, disconcerting and ultimately unwelcome, Charlie had no time for it; he had to think of a way of getting rid of this woman before her disarming colourfulness caused him to do or say something stupid.
Jo paced up and down her tiny office with the air of a slightly manic budgerigar, the birds bright plumes replaced with an extravagant Mohair and Cashmere jumper which seemed to take on an almost organic quality as it slid around her trim figure in sync with her movements. She took small but decisive steps, speeding up as she reached the middle of the room and slowing markedly before turning with unerring precision just before bumping into the upcoming wall. This process had been going on for some time and because of the half glass partition separating her office from the rest of the department, she was in full view of around fifty colleagues many of whom regarded her pacing as a welcome distraction from their hum drum duties. More than once there had been a book open on how long she would go on for, or whether she would absentmindedly walk into the wall perhaps breaking her nose and spoiling her teasingly neat features. Finally Jo stopped her pacing, her facial expression changed, taking on a more purposeful look, it was clear that she had come to a decision about whatever it was that was bugging her. She returned to her desk and picked up the phone, carefully dialling a number which she appeared to know by heart.
Governor William ‘Billy boy’ Morissy was in an uncommonly good mood, his usually florid complexion positively glowed with satisfaction as he poked and preened at his reflection in the extravagantly inlaid full length mirror which dominated his boudoir. And why should he not be happy? Today was going to be a great day, he was going to be confirmed as the parties official presidential nomination, he was going to have the unmitigated pleasure of signing the death warrant on not one but two heinous murderers, plus he was all teed up for a great game of golf at his favourite club, life was sweet, yes, life sure was sweet.
When he moved on to the presidency, the achievement Billy Boy would look back at with most pride during his term as Governor of Texas would be the reduction in the time delay from when a death sentence was passed to when it was carried out fro 12 years to 9 months. Yes indeed, not only had he saved the state a shit load of money in keeping the condemned, there was also the time and wasted resources he had freed up in the judicial system, sure he had a few lawyer friends who might disagree but hell, they made enough money anyway. It was crazy keeping killers locked up so long that by the time it came to fry them they had seen the light and were holier than the average citizen, half the time it used to be like executing the local Padre. Yes he’d been criticised for being harsh, immoral even blood thirsty but no-one, not even his aunt Sally could argue with the serious crime figures, which had fallen consistently since his term began. He was on course and in key and no bleeding heart liberals were going to divert him from his mission, when he took federal office the first thing he was going to do would be to expand the policy nationwide, lets see how the lowlifes like them onions.
Standing back from the mirror Billy boy eyed himself up and down approvingly, yes, he had to admit it; he did look sharp, very sharp indeed. The subtle pin striped suit had just enough gravitas, its Italian cut spoke of style and not to mention wealth yet it was in no way ostentatious, the carnation in his button hole was set at just the right angle and as usual it was fresh that morning. Many of his colleagues and political adversaries had mentioned over the years that it was the carnation that was responsible for his phenomenal success and who was he to disagree? It took a certain type of gent to wear a carnation and carry it off, it was his signature and he revelled in it. Then right in the middle of his self congratulatory reverie, his thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of a telephone. Now a man as important as Billy boy had more than one phone, even in his bedroom and this phone was the one he liked to refer to as the bat phone. Yes the young women he sometimes liked to entertain were always suitably impressed when the bat phone rang, especially when he explained that he and only a tiny number of other important statesmen had such a phone. It was totally secure, it could happily take care of a call from the president if need be and discussions of vital importance to national security could take place on it with no fear of eavesdroppers, nope the bat phone was like having a personal line direct to god. But what was it doing ringing now? Who would call him today, knowing how important a day it was going to be? With more than a little chagrin Billy tore himself away from his reflection, casting one last approving glance at his well cut and brushed black hair, slicked back with just the right amount of brilliantine and showing just the right amount of grey at the sides to make him look even more distinguished, yes today was going to be a great day alright, dam straight.
He picked up the phone and stood upright, almost at attention, in his best Senatorial voice he stated his name, William Morissey speaking, there was the briefest of pauses after which Billy boy immediately recognized the soothing tones of his assistant Lance on the other end of the line.
‘I’m sorry to bother you Governor but I thought you would appreciated a heads up. There’s been a Fed nosing around the office asking questions about the Vaughan killings, she wants to speak to you and she’s pretty persistent’
‘Get rid of her’ Growled William H Morissey, he absolutely hated it when anyone, much less some pushy Fed poked their noses in State business.
‘If she wants any information on the case she can talk to the DA, I’m going to play golf’
There was a slight pause as Lance gathered his courage in the face of the expected rebuttal, he had prepared a response but he knew that if he wasn’t careful the Govenor would flip him off anyway.
‘Sir I don’t think that would be wise, especially given your imminent nomination, I know it’s an irritating intrusion but you know, the Fed’s, we want to keep them sweet’
Billy boy grunted in reply and Lance followed through with the advantage.
‘I’ll tell you what sir, I can fit her in for an 11am appointment, that way she won’t have more than 5 minutes to make her point and you can do a bit of glad handing before sending her on her way, what say you’?
Billy boy thought about it a moment, maybe Lance had a point, it couldn’t hurt to keep the fed’s sweet and five minutes wasn’t long, he was dammed if he was going to let a little thing like this put him in a bad mood on his big day, no he would see the infernal woman, why not, it might be a good opportunity to up his image with the bureau, kind of get them acquainted with their soon to be new boss.
‘Set it up he barked gruffly and slammed down the receiver.