Tonight, as in most summer evenings, I sit by the fire pit near my house and look into the woods to the south. I use starter logs made of sawdust and paraffin to give a constant flame to the wood stacked upon them. It is a great way to produce a quick fire. It is impossible for me even to look at the wrapper of those starter logs without thinking of Kevin and Linda.
Thinking back on the Beam double murder I realize how many images are forever seared into my mind—images of Linda Beam’s gunshot wound to the back of the head and the brutal assault to Kevin Beam’s head and neck. While I can’t forget them, it is the disturbance of a pattern, the commonplace or mundane being used in a hideous manner that truly startles my memory awake.
I am transported back to their bedroom just off the living room, where the charred remains of Linda, Kevin’s wife, laid. In the living room, in a circular pattern around Kevin’s body, were partially burned starter logs. The killer or killers had attempted to set the rest of the house on fire as a cover up. I have never, neither before nor since, seen starter logs used for such a purpose. After beating a man to death over a money issue, the perpetrator(s) shot the wife and calmly decided to take a few starter logs from a fireplace basket to try and set the house on fire. It was a matter of convenience.
Kevin was probably unconscious and not dead when the logs were set on fire. His carboxyhaemoglobin was above 37 and his bronchi showed that he was breathing during the fire. His brain was had swelled from head trauma as he slowly lost consciousness due to carbon monoxide entering his blood stream. Tonight, I watch the very same brand of wooden logs alight in my fire pit and think to myself that the killer(s) didn’t realize how much oxygen is need to start a house fire. They should have opened the windows.
In my day-to-day, even the most common and mundane items can remind me of a scene where a dead person whispered in my ear, or a clue was revealed through an everyday item we take for granted. I stare long and hard at this fire burning within the confines of my yard near the silent forest.
Nature shelters me in her peace, a harbor from the chaos and tragedy it is my duty to unravel and decode.
This case is closed, but there is always another story . . .