As many of you know, I grew up above a funeral home. When Halloween came around most my classmates were either having parties, preparing their houses for trick-or-treaters, or getting ready to go out trick-or-treating themselves. At my house there wasn’t the same anticipation. In all my years living at the funeral home I don’t think we ever had a single trick-or-treater come to our door. Looking back now I understand why. Knocking on the door of a funeral parlor during Halloween? You’d have to think twice.
All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, is said to be an offspring of a Celtic festival marking the cycle between fall and winter. It is said they would build large bonfires and dress in disguises to ward off evil spirits. Many religions and cultures set aside days for those gone before us—Día de los Muertos, All Saints Day, for example, and more celebrate those who have passed before us. Investigating the graves of our earliest archeological findings, we find that humans placed food, pottery and even flowers for the journey to the other side. Most cultures also believe that spirits from beyond can and do, in some ways, communicate with us.
I don’t know if it was Halloween night, but there is one night I distinctly remember a strange experience that I will never be able to explain.
I was running the funeral home at that time and I had a call at a veterans’ hospital, which in funeral parlance is called a “death call”. I climbed into a black Cadillac hearse and headed to my pick up.
The veterans’ hospital was on a large rural estate. The buildings were old and almost gothic in appearance. I pushed the button on the intercom and shortly a white-jacketed intern appeared. He led me down several institutionally green hallways to an extra wide door labeled “Morgue”.
I signed the paperwork, loaded the body bag and headed to the hearse. The cot clattered into the back of the hearse and I headed down the serpentine drive. This was before cell phones. My contact to the world around me was only a pager, which only sent text messages, the latest in technology at the time. The only reason I mention it is that sometimes, in the back of your mind, or in the middle of the night, you realize that it is just you and the dead person in the back of the vehicle, while the everyone else sleeps.
About ten miles from the facility, things got strange. I was driving listening to the radio, high beams on, to make sure I didn’t hit any deer, and suddenly the hearse went dark. The battery just died. The only light was the silver hue of the full moon. I had no engine, no lights and coasted to the edge of the road.
My mind raced through possibilities. I knew I had gas but that still didn’t answer why all the electrical would go out. I sat in silence trying to comprehend what happened. I knew I had to take action but what should that be? So like most men I decided I would look under the hood. (I knew this was an exercise in futility, but that is what men do.) I started to open the door and suddenly the radio blared back to life, the lights went on, and I quickly restarted the engine. I didn’t know what happened but I wanted to get home.
The hearse stopped and started four more times along the way. By the time I got to the funeral home, I was a bundle of nerves. It was well after midnight and I was exhausted. I got the body, a young man approximately my age and a veteran, on the embalming table. I set his features, raised his vessels for embalming, filled the embalming machine and flipped the switch on. Both fire and smoke billowed out from the machine. The engine mysteriously and suddenly fried.
At this point I wasn’t looking for answers, I just wanted the night to end. I could look for explanations later. I got my father’s old gravity-fed embalming device, so that I could complete the operation without electricity. It was a slow process, but finally the embalming was finished and I went to bed restless and exhausted.
The next morning, I met with the family. They told me the story of a young man tortured by war and plagued by physical and emotional problems. I dressed him, prepped the casket, and then carried him through a small office area into the funeral parlor. As I carried him though the office, the pride and joy of my office equipment, an IBM Selectric typewriter, spontaneously started smoking, and died, in the exact same way the embalming machine did the previous evening. It just seemed that anything electric reacted to the body’s proximity.
I got through the preparation for the service. There was a viewing, then the service, and then I told a staff member to bring up the hearse, flower car and the lead car. The minister was still talking when my staff came up to me and said, “Boss, all the batteries are dead on the cars.”
I argued with him for a moment explaining that you can’t have a simultaneous failure of three batteries and he just threw up his hands, helplessly. I barked out orders to get my mechanic up to the funeral home with three new batteries. The mechanic did indeed replace all three batteries and stated that the plates in each battery were toasted. He kept shaking his head, looking down and saying, “...ain’t never seen anything like it.”
We left the funeral home and went to the cemetery, miraculously without incident. I stayed behind after everyone else left, and made sure the vault lid was secured and the grave covered. Once covered, I went over and stood on the grave. I looked down at the dirt at my feet. I was a vet myself, so I empathized with the agony he must have suffered. I bent down, patted the dirt and said, “Rest in peace, my friend. I just want you to know that this was the most costly service I have ever done.”
Even now, sometimes driving back home in the middle of the night, I still think of it. A haunting? An energy exchange? To this day I still can’t explain what happened.
It’s a beautiful fall day. I have just finished an exercise in futility as I try to gather leaves. The wind rattles through the dry leaves, leaves fall in a cascade of yellows, reds and browns and all this color is under a canopy of a clear blue sky. There is now a bit more brown and grey to each day. Winter is coming.
People ask me how can I deal with death on a day-to-day basis. It really is a matter of perspective. I see death as a transition. I see each of us as a spirit using our carbon-based bodies as vehicles that enable our consciousness and perception of this material world. What a gift!
The first law of thermodynamics states that matter is never lost, only transformed. Of course, I also see death as loss, but mostly to those left behind. Separation is pain. Most of mankind throughout the ages has believed in an existence after death. That very fact is interesting; I think it’s because nature herself tells us the story of transition and cycles.
As I sit watching the leaves do their dance, nature tells me that nothing stays the same. It is now fall, a time of decline from vibrancy. Life slows and winter buries the brown decay of autumn under a deep white slumber. We endure the cold, make snow angles and listen to the hush of the forest.
Nature is merely reflecting our own journey through life. We all experience our falls and our winters. It is spring that allows me to process all the death I see. The renewing, the resurrection, the surge of energy of that which was decayed gives way to new life. We are the budding plant, we are the face looking up at the summer sun, we are the aging person walking the autumn path, and we are the sleep of winter, once again ready to rise like a Phoenix with wings spread wide-open; transformed but never lost.
Enjoy the fall and listen to nature as she embodies our transitions. Understanding these cycles gives more enlightenment to each moment.
It was one of those September days that remind you that summer is over. It wasn’t that cold but the sun was hiding behind a grey sky. I was intent on getting some office work done, reviewing files and having a nice quiet day.
Before long my plan for a quiet day shattered. First, my secretary came in and told me a water main had broken and maintenance was on the way. Then the maintenance man came into my office and told me that the police were stringing yellow tape in the woods about two hundred yards from the back of the forensic center. I decided to go down to the scene and see if it was a signal 12 or a death scene.
I arrived at the scene and the police took me to the edge of a small creek. There, in the middle of the creek, was the body of a black male. He was face down in about a foot of water. As always, the first hypothesis is homicide. This demands the highest level of evidence collection. The first task was to document the entire scene and determine what evidence needed to be collected. Next we removed the body and examined him on the bank. Then we placed him in the coroner’s vehicle for transport to the morgue.
Processing a scene is like peeling back the layers of an onion. In the first layer I determined that the deceased had no visible trauma on his body. He was a man in his sixties with a physique of an athlete.
There was a duffle bag found approximately twenty feet downstream from the body. The duffle bag gave us the identity of the man and told us the dramatic story of his life. As we sorted through the bag we found clothing with Venice Beach logos. Then we found multiple bus tickets that gave us the understanding that he had traveled from California to Maryland and then to the Harrisburg Pennsylvania bus station. At the bottom of the bag was the key to this unnamed, unknown man.
A detective opened a tin box and there were pictures of this man over the past forty years. Several of the pictures showed him sitting with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Venice Beach boardwalk. Just by the familiarity shown in the postures of the two men in the photos they seemed to know each other. After the photos there was what detectives call hard ID, which was a California State photo ID.
The person was William Pettis, who long ago was a well-known body who worked out with Governor Schwarzenegger. Bill, as everyone called him, was said to have the largest biceps in the world at over 23 inches in circumference. He was featured in several articles in LA and his picture was part of promotional posters during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Bill never really profited from his body building fame and much of his life he lived hand to mouth. He posed for pictures at the beach and in his later years he became somewhat of a novelty in speedos.
He ended up two hundred yards from my office because he was born in this area. He had been returning to see family. His health was not the best and he was having periods of confusion. Probably as a kid he crossed that creek many times as he headed home but this time, so many years later, it proved fatal.
So many times we see the homeless or people having a rough time as something of a distraction. We look and wonder what errors and events brought them to this status outside the mainstream and even pass judgement. Many times we avert our eyes because it feels uncomfortable. After all, what can we do about it?
All humans have dignity and their stories, good or bad, need to be told. We are all on the same journey. Sometimes we get lost on the way, but even then, we carry our memories and past talents. It is my privilege to tell a little of his story.
This is a special story in so many ways. First, there is a minister who is the perpetrator. Minister, rabbis, swamis and other spiritual guides all have the common element that people put their trust in them. We assume they can be trusted because of the role they play in society. People looking for healing—spiritual or physical—open up their deepest secrets and weaknesses to these leaders. It is easy to imagine how those with that power can use it to abuse or control the very people they counsel.
This was the case of a minister who gained the confidence of at least two women and it cost them their lives. This sacred breech of trust seems to make this crime more gruesome because two lives we taken. In both instances, the scenes were staged.
The two murders were spaced almost ten years apart. My pathologist and I initially suspected during the autopsy on the first Mrs. Schirmer that something was amiss. Either she fell down the stairs in some strange way . . . or she was attacked and the fall was staged.
As professionals, we are held to not just our opinion, or our suspicions, but rather to the standard of proof, “with reasonable medical certainty.” In the Schirmer case there wasn’t enough scene investigation to be able to form a true hypothesis. Determining the manner of death meant that this case would always stay open in our minds and be a red flag if any other strange events swirled around this man.
As it turned out, about eleven years later, the minister’s second wife died in an auto accident. The accident seemed phony, so investigators looked into the death of the first wife, and our red flag popped up.
I remember looking at the blood patterns in the car and noting that there were no impact patterns, but rather transfer blood patterns. This meant that deceased was bleeding before ever being put into the car. It was clear that we would have to reopen the case on the first wife as well.
My chief deputy and I decided to use new technology on the case. Using forensic engineering, test dummies, along with the brilliant help of the Hershey Medical Center Radiology Department, we were able to create enough evidence to prove that the manner of death of the minister’s first wife was “homicide” and not consistent with a fall. It took persistence, modern technology and teamwork: images of the old wounds were produced in new software, and we conducted engineering studies to establish the potential and kinetic energy in the scenario.
In the end, they did not die in vain—both of his wives helped one another reveal the sinister character of this minister.
The case is closed . . . but there is always another story.
I have investigated hundreds of homicides and worked many scenes but nothing has left the imprint on both my heart and brain as the experience at Ground Zero.
The work at Ground Zero and the recovery effort at Fresh Kills landfill was both physically and emotionally taxing. I arrived in the beginning of October for the recovery and identification effort. Each day we would debrief at the Treasury Building and then walk down to the site. Even the walk there was an experience I will never forget. I had on a uniform from the coroner’s office. New Yorkers of all classes and colors approached and thanked us; vendors offered free coffee, while others simply sat by the chain-linked fence embroidered with photos of the dead and missing.
As we approached Ground Zero we were met with the hush of human activity. There was plenty of noise from machinery, of course, but those working said very little. There were few gawkers and little trivial conversation; the task was too immense, too sacred, too painful. Most of the scene was dust and bended steel. Everything that had made up massive office complexes was rendered into a dust finer than sand.
As I passed by the back of the St. Paul Episcopal Church, I looked over at the old graveyard. The tombstones were covered with the grey dust almost up to the tops of the stones. Inside, church volunteers prayed, slept, drank water or just stared. Hundreds sat in a self-imposed silence, struggling to process the violence of such a horrendous act.
At the landfill there was an area for storing recovered fire trucks, police cars and private vehicles. As I walked through the twisted metal and burnt interiors of the fire trucks, one interior stood out. It was a ladder truck. As I looked in, I noticed all the gauges on the dash were melted away. The passenger seat was nothing but a skeleton of wire and springs. The driver’s seat was melted on the sides, revealing springs, but on the actual seating portion was a charred vinyl outline, on the seat and the back. I realized I was looking at the last moments of a fireman’s life. He sat there as a blast of heat and force most likely made him part of the surrounding dust.
There were hours of debriefing and crying. First responders had witnessed those choosing to leap to their death rather than suffer the fire. They described in great detail the body position of those descending to the ground. Many described how some just laid in the air with their arms over their chest, some in an almost cross-like posture, all resigned to their fate.
The images were so seared in their brain that they would describe details like their tie pattern, their shoe color or the expression on their face. Somehow many felt responsible. Many kept thinking: if only this or that could have been done. A traffic cop told me that he was one of the police directing others in the front of the towers and felt like he had ushered them to their deaths. That is one of the purposes of peer debriefing. The sooner you can articulate what you saw, the reason you did what you did, and express the pain that it caused, the sooner you can deal with what you had to confront.
September the 11th will never be the same, for any of us. Every year I feel what I felt each day as I passed by a large section of the tower wall. You know the image. It was all over TV. It reminded me of the ruin of some sacred building and I am sure others have noticed that resemblance. At night, with the lights exposing the monolith and the dust creating a fog-like appearance, one could not speak only whisper.
Money, status, politics, even selfhood didn’t matter. America was wounded, not only New York. In the same church I walked by, George Washington referred to the importance of understanding that we could not endure without the belief that it was Providence that had provided us all with this experience of freedom. He said we needed to understand that there are values and laws greater than man. He said we must hold on to this belief so that we can temper our freedom, for the larger freedom of all.
For a short time—regrettably a very short time—we returned to those values. We gave, we volunteered, we shared loss, and commonly grasped for a better tomorrow. We can always build another tower, but what we still need to build is a common spirit, a desire to serve beyond our own self-interest. We must once again find common values foundation. We must build walls of compassion, industry and stewardship with the tempered steel of resolve and endurance.
God Bless America
The murder of Gary Wiest is profound on many levels. It was a type of killing deeply abhorrent in almost any culture. We live in a violent society. In today's world, murder takes so many different forms. There are those who murder for money, those who murder out of rage, those that kill out of religious convictions, as we know all too well.
Gary’s is a story of patricide and extreme entitlement gone wrong.
The first thing that my pathologist and I noticed was that there were at least 40 wounds in the form of stabs, cuts and abrasions on his body. Yet there was almost no blood. None of the usual blood patterns on the surface of the victim’s body were consistent with the wounds he received. The body had clearly been washed. There was also a strong possibility that original clothing had been taken off and the clean underwear had been put on.
I wondered, what kind of person kills someone violently and then washes him?
We had to make identification with reasonable medical certainty. The victim’s face was blown up beyond any photographic recognition, due to several days of decomposition, making a visual ID impossible. The body needed to be x-rayed before it was brought to the forensic center; those x-rays revealed a past surgery implant, confirming his identity.
We started to do a conditional notification of death to his survivors. Gray had a mother and two daughters. Everyone was extremely cooperative. He had been well liked by his former coworkers within the close-knit community around Harrisburg. As the leads were drying up, the police looked more closely at one of Gary’s daughters and her relationship to her father. It’s a fact that most people who kill generally know their victims or have frequent contact with them.
As it turned out, on the same day as her father’s death, Gary’s daughter had been gone to the local emergency room with a serious, deep laceration of the thumb. When questioned she first claimed that she had been mugged. Later she said she had accidentally cut herself.
Police asked to look into the trunk of her car. When they opened the trunk they found all her implements of destruction; the knife, the duct tape, the garbage bags and cleaning products. It seemed she had taken almost no precautions to cover her guilt. Perhaps what she had done was too much to bear and she wanted to be caught.
Gary’s daughter’s attack was one of torture and rage. Only about three wounds out of Gary’s 40 wounds were fatal. He had multiple defense words on his arms. At one point in the attack he fell to the floor. It is likely his daughter straddled him, and repeatedly stabbed and slashed him. She stabbed him in the face, the neck area, the chest and ultimately the abdomen. The face is an important thing. It is our identity.
After it was all over, she must have gotten up and then realized the immensity of it. The methodical cleaning of both the apartment and her father's dead bleeding body was almost a ritual, like trying to cleanse away her sin. I believe that Gary’s daughter left the body because she could not face the task of dismembering him and removing him to a different location. Her fantasy descended into a total denial of her deed and a refusal to accept what she had done. While I don’t believe the daughter necessarily decided beforehand to murder her father that day, she did bring a knife to her father's apartment.
And what was the cause of the conflict? Money.
Gary and his daughter had gotten into an argument over finances and a stolen checkbook. Angered that she would steal from him, Gary tried to cut off the long- time financial support he had provided her.
Almost every parent can relate to this dilemma. We wonder, will supporting our kids help create a positive change in their lives, or just a negative dependency and entitlement?
Gary's loving support of his daughter financially created within her a right to take anything she wanted from him . . . right down to even his life.
The case is closed . . . but there is always another story.
For any homicide investigator, it is the unsolved cases that never leave your mind. For almost nine years I never passed the crime scene of the inn without wondering who the monstrous individual was that killed a defenseless woman.
Sue Behrens was a forty-four year-old woman, working an extra job at a Red Roof Inn as a night clerk. Being a night clerk was relatively safe since the desk was behind bulletproof glass and the door to the desk was always secured at night. But one night Sue made an error in judgment that would end her life in the most horrible way.
After I arrived at the scene and discussed the protocol for processing the case with my detective, I looked at the fortress-like protection of the front desk. It was clear that Sue had allowed someone she most likely knew into that protected space. The person then beat, tortured her and then stabbed her to death, leaving a macabre painting of blood on canvas of the room.
Her desk had every conceivable pattern a blood pattern specialist studies: transfers, castoffs, medium impact, pooling and droplet. Each pattern showed movement and struggle. At the center of the struggle was the phone. The receiver was off, but there was a concentration of blood over the buttons “911”. I could envision her blood-soaked hands flailing to dial those numbers, even going so far as to grab the blade of the knife in order to defend herself. We catalogued 54 cuts to the face, 43 cuts to the hands, and marks of strangulation and abrasions testifying to her struggle. This was beyond robbery.
A good investigator relies on collecting data (evidence), processing the evidence and then asking the question, “why?” This process is called Crime Scene Reconstruction. It goes beyond identifying the evidence; it gives meaning to the evidence and animates the crime scene. It sequences events, tells the story of the victim and the actions and emotions of the perpetrator. To reconstruct the scene, the forensic team relies heavily on teamwork and communication. By sharing our individual areas of expertise, we tell the story of the deceased and preserve the facts so that they are admissible in court.
It took nearly a decade, but the killer’s scorned ex-wife finally provided the testimony needed to convict the murderer. Life and death can turn on a dime. In a moment of trust Sue let someone into her protected space, a seemingly small decision that cost her everything.
The case is closed. . . but there’s always another story.
The body was discovered in the backseat footwell of a full-size sedan. It looked like a Lincoln sedan but it was hard to say for sure. The charred remains were of a man of slight build, about 5’8” in height. We only knew the height from information received by the police. The most prominent artifacts were a series of broken ribs sticking out of the debris in the floor. The car interior and exterior were incinerated right down to the metal.
Most bodies we recover from fire are in what is called a “pugilistic position” which is sort of a boxer’s stance. The hands of the body are drawn up towards the chest like a boxer protecting himself. The legs are always bent at the knees.
His face stood out; it almost resembled the mask of the Phantom of the Opera. The right side had much less thermal destruction, while the left showed skull and scar tissue. The skull itself was fractured but we could easily determine that the fractures were the result of the fire and not trauma.
As we began the autopsy I thought about how hard it is to burn a human body. Many people try to burn away the evidence of their misdoings but in truth it is difficult to completely cremate a human — I know because I have cremated a lot of people.
The average house fire ranges from 1100 to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit and many times those temperatures are not maintained for hours. A crematory burns consistently at between 1400 to 1800 degrees for several hours. Even after hours at these high temperatures the human bone structure remains to some extent and has to go through a processor to make the cremated dust you see in a cremation urn.
What might surprise you is just how much the body could tell us about his last hours on earth. The scalp showed bruising patterns, the brain and spinal cord indicated actual trauma, muscles were bruised and the ribs had fractures that had nothing to do with the fire. This was confirmed not just in gross observation but also on a cellular level where one could see that the bruising was done while David was alive. Even in his dismal condition David was able to tell me about his death.
The patterns started to form a picture of what happened that night. David had been somewhat intoxicated. He got into an altercation with someone physically larger than him. That person had inflicted deadly trauma on David. David never felt the heat of the fire because he was placed in the back seat floor of the car after he died. He was then driven to an isolated area, an accelerant was poured over his body and the car and everything was set on fire. My guess is that the perpetrator never planned David’s death — he simply became violent past the point of no return. The perpetrator tried to destroy the evidence of his brutality.
The FBI profiler division for training purposes outlines two different types of crime scenes: organized and disorganized. In reality, a scene can be a mixture of both but there is some truth to this dichotomy. This looked like a disorganized scene: tempers flared and David was killed, everything else was improvisation. There is no evidence of a long chain of planning behaviors, no absolute intent to murder, it just happened and the perpetrator reacted.
As a coroner, it is my job to describe what the evidence on or about the body is saying. I don’t make charges. When I certify “homicide” on a death certificate I am simply saying that one human killed another. It is up to the District Attorney to determine the degree of the homicide. In this case the perpetrator was charged with second-degree murder based on our findings from the body.
Even with the killer’s great effort to silence the truth, I could still hear the victim. This case is closed. . .but there is always another story.
Two of the largest crime scenes I have worked in my career were Ground Zero after 9/11 and the landfill that was Joey Miller’s wooded park of horrors. Both had commonalities. They required multiple skills in forensics and due to their size and scope they required an infrastructure called an “Incident Command System”(see Forensic Glossary). Both scenes required stamina, cooperation and meticulous attention to detail.
In the Joey Miller case my team and I utilized multiple areas of forensic science. We first had to establish and execute an effective search pattern. We searched multiple acres over multiple days so we needed a methodology that would assure we covered every foot of ground.
To name just some of the sciences involved:
-Crime Scene Investigation
-Wound Pattern Analysis
-Behavioral Evidence Analysis
It was a big project for our small community. What impressed me most was the team's dedication and how determined everyone was to identify those who were left, but not forgotten, in this wooded graveyard.
As the massive team worked to identify, document and process the evidence at the scene, others were working to piece together what Joey had done over a period of years. Information from the interviews flowed back to the crime scene and aided in the direction of the search. Slowly, bone by bone, a story unfolded of violence and murder. Soon evidence was uncovered that would tell the story of Joey’s deeds, regardless of whether he recanted his statements or not.
Forensic science and teamwork allowed us to speak for the dead and bring a little bit of closure and justice to families that had been in a suspended period of loss and incompletion. I am so proud of the men and women who worked so hard to give answers to the families.
Recently, one more victim was identified. A cold case unit and the advancements in DNA techniques allowed us to identify bones that had been in my office’s possession for about twenty years. The community held a funeral service for this young girl, in honor of her life so that everyone who loved her could come together. How different the world would be if we believed every life is important. To me each person is much more than a random collection of carbon-based molecules; there is a meaning and purpose to each life. Many times we fail (or think we fail) to achieve that purpose. It remains for us to stay on the journey towards meaning.
This case is closed, but there is always another story . . .
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 . . .