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Fiction. © Copyright 1998, Jim Loy
I saw her at her trial. She looked so helpless, so innocent, that I felt that I should help her. I wanted to be her knight in shining armor. I was in no position to help her, as a cop who was involved with the prosecution in a minor way. But, I watched the whole trial. I was in the audience every day.
They had found her husband's body, washed up on the shore. She had filed a missing person report, months before. The body had been in the water for several months. Cause of death was never determined.
As you probably know, she was acquitted. The public was outraged. Actually, the evidence against her was really poor. Anyway, her trial ended. And she passed out of my life, or so I thought.
Over a year later, I was assigned to investigate another missing person. A lady had reported her husband missing. I read her statement. She had come down to the station, and someone had taken her statement. I had some further questions. So, I drove out to her house. I was surprised to find that it was her, the lady I mentioned above, different last name, same first name.
Her second husband had been gone for two weeks. This was unusual, as he had never been gone for more than four or five days, on business. And he had always told her where he was going.
According to his employer, he was not on a business trip. He had been at work on Friday. And he hadn't come in on Tuesday (that was a three-day weekend). No clues there. Nobody knew where he went.
His wife last saw him on Friday morning. She called the police on Friday night. They told her that it was too early to file a missing person report. The next morning, she called the various hospitals. And she called her husband's friends. She hadn't called the place where he worked, because they were closed. They called her on Tuesday.
They had married about three months after her trial. They had a moderately happy home life, according to her. They occasionally had fights, nothing physical, just verbal. They always made up. They slept in separate bedrooms. They had no children. They didn't want any children.
They had a fancy house, about a mile from the beach. They owned two fairly expensive cars. His car was missing.
She had inherited plenty of money from her first marriage. And he was making good money, as a salesman.
His car was found, just off the road near their house, hidden in some trees and bushes. A small amount of blood was found, in the carpet on the driver's side. The blood was of his type. Other than the blood, no more than a pin prick, there was no sign of violence. One person's fingerprints were found in the car. The fingerprints matched his fingerprints found in the house.
Their bank account was fairly low, not enough to make a house payment. But she said that they had lots of money.
Later, it became known that there were several thousands of dollars missing at the place where he worked. They were doing an audit, to find out how much. If he weren't missing, they wouldn't suspect him of the theft. Even later, the amount turned out to be about $175,000.
Once the story hit the papers, there were rumors that she had murdered him. But the only thing suspicious about her was that this was her second lost husband. Could she have killed him? Where was the body? Their property was searched. Nothing suspicious ever turned up.
Were the two cases a big coincidence? I guess I wanted her to be innocent. I liked her. Was my judgment clouded? I was not in charge of the case. I just collected evidence, and talked to people. The case went nowhere.
As time went on, I thought about the case. Where did their money go? She had money, from her first marriage. He was making plenty of money. He may have stolen money at work. And it was gone, most of it.
Over the months that they were married, there were checks, lots of checks. He wrote most of them. She wrote some of them. Most of the checks made sense, especially the smaller ones. Many of the bigger ones were to businesses that didn't seem to exist, or to people who didn't seem to exist. She said that he had asked her to write some of these checks. She couldn't remember if he had told her a reason for the checks. And she didn't know that these people didn't exist. That is what she said, anyway.
Maybe the money is spent. Maybe she has it hidden somewhere. Maybe he has it hidden somewhere. There's a chance that he stole money from his employers. Does that mean that he is alive?
Both husbands were salesmen. The first sold automobiles. The second sold computers. Both made good money.
She claimed that both marriages were happy. But, nobody else seemed to think that they were very happy. Their friends were surprised that the marriages worked at all. The couples didn't seem to share any interests. She had here interests, sewing and reading, which didn't involve her two husbands. They had interests which didn't involve her.
Both men disappeared, of course. Both lived in the same small city, just a few miles from the ocean. A person could drown and never be found. Her first husband's body had been found.
What about the blood? It was about a cubic centimeter of blood, not very much. It was a minor cut, of some sort. The object which caused the cut was never found. There were no other signs of violence. No body had been dragged through the pine needles outside the car. There were no distinct footprints. No other car had been parked nearby, except maybe on the road.
What if he were murdered somewhere else, at home perhaps. And the murderer had moved the car to where it ended up? Imagine this scenario. He drives home. She kills him, somehow. She stuffs him in a trash bag (so no hairs or blood get into her car). She wrestles the uncooperative mass into her car (it would be difficult), and drives him to the beach. She dumps him into the surf. She washes out the trash bag with salt water to remove traces of the body. She takes the bag home (or maybe dumps it into the ocean, or in a trash container somewhere). Maybe she fills the bag with trash, maybe from another trash bag, at home. Maybe she takes the filled bag to a public trash dumpster. Trash in such a dumpster would be picked up before the police accepted her missing person report.
Did she kill him? Or, is he hiding? The car was hidden. So, either he was murdered, or he is hiding. Does it matter if he was a thief?
OK. Maybe he's a thief. Then he has a motive for disappearing. The three-day weekend is convenient. But, what a coincidence! Two husbands disappear. Except that it's not a coincidence. The second disappearance could be inspired by the first one. He marries her, and then gets the idea for a robbery and disappearance. But, there's no hint of a robbery in the first case. So he thought of the robbery on his own. And the first case then inspires the disappearance. It still seems improbable.
What if he were planning the robbery all along. He would like to steal and disappear. He sees a celebrated court case, right here in town. He thinks, "If I marry this lady, and then disappear, everyone will think that she killed me." So, he approaches her, and gives her sympathy, at a time when the public is calling for her blood. They marry. He commits his robbery. He disappears. Everybody thinks that she killed him, almost everybody.
So, where is he? His picture was in the papers. Nobody ever reported seeing him, alive or dead.
He may have turned up, in Australia. He looked somewhat different. He was with a woman. Someone recognized him from the newspapers, and then lost him. Was it him?
Author's note: The inspiration for this story is my observation that there seem to be some women who are automatic victims. They give off this "victim" feeling, much as others give off sex appeal or other feelings. It seems to be a timidity, or a waiting to be hurt. Such a woman seems to attract protectors and predators.
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