Legacy – 3
Despite Ballard’s best efforts, over the following weeks, many of the details had slipped out.
The dead man was William Hart. His murder had been one of the most savage and brutal the small town had ever seen. Hart was active in the community and the church, and was known for his devotion to charitable causes such as the local homeless shelter. He had no enemies and no one had a bad word to say about him.
Discoveries made at his home, however, had painted a very different picture of who he really was. There were hundreds of instant polaroid pictures showing dozens of unidentified people, most of them children, documenting the horrible things he had done to them. Worse, he had apparently coerced some of his victims to participate in the torture of others.
It was believed that he had used the shelter as a supply of victims who wouldn’t be missed. Luring them to his home, he would overpower or drug them and take them to his basement. It was a veritable torture chamber, soundproofed with mattresses lining the walls. The smell of bleach and other cleaning agents was still strong, even though the place hadn’t been used for some time.
The property, which was large and heavily wooded, was searched by dogs and ground-penetrating radar. Countless shallow graves were uncovered, but the remains were far less in number than the people in the photos. What had happened to them might not ever be known.
And, like a bombshell, the awful truth sent a shockwave of chaos through the community.
It had scandalized the church. Reverend Emory Waters resigned his position. It infuriated the town council and enraged the mayor who blasted the chief of police for having no idea that such a monster had prowled among them. And with a second killer on the loose, results were demanded.
The chief, in turn, leaned on Ballard..
Alder looked at the case with mixed feelings. On the one hand, solving a case like this could be the crowning jewel of a career. The detectives might find a book deal, a tv show, or even a movie. On the other hand, if the case went cold that likewise reflected on the detectives. And judging by the stagnant silence around the department, progress was not being made.
And once again he knew what to expect.
Story by Joe Stanley