It was March, the month of my daughter’s eighth birthday. As the days got closer, my anxiety rose; I felt like this would be prime time for this sick fuck to do something again. We got all the presents Katie wanted for her birthday, and arranged to have a party at our house the day of, since it fell on a Saturday that year. We had a whole setup in the backyard. It was an arts and crafts themed party, which I was reluctant to do, for obvious reasons. But my daughter was the definition of an artist. Inspired, motivated, and I was so proud of her. I just knew what some of her work had gone to and how it was being used, and it broke my heart.
The party went well. All of her friends showed up, everyone was having a good time. We all ate, and then she had begged enough to open presents and we finally let her. We had them all set up on a table in the backyard. As we got deeper into the presents, the happier she got. Then, we got to a present that had no “to/from” card on it. I locked eyes on the present. It was a box wrapped in the same wrapping paper as the box that contained the video a few months prior.
He had won. I couldn’t jump up and rip the present out of my daughter’s hands without alerting my wife of something. I also couldn’t let her open it. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have enough time to think, I hadn’t even expected this. She opened the box, and pulled out a piece of folded paper. I dropped my head. What was it going to be this time? Then she said it.
“It’s one of my pictures that was stolen!” she said with a joyful tone in her voice. She clearly didn’t understand what that meant. My wife looked at me. I just shook my head. My wife stood up and took the picture from her, followed by the box. Katie questioned it, but Kimmy directed her to open another present, which she happily did. We walked inside while the other parents took over supervision. I took the box from my wife and demanded she give me the picture, but she refused. She asked what was going on.
I told her everything. I told her about the motel, where Roscoe came from, what really happened to Roscoe, the videotape, the police reports, I told her about it all. By the end, she was in tears, and I didn’t blame her one bit. She was furious at me for keeping it from her, and she was right to be, but I had felt like I was doing the right thing. At least we had kept our daughter from seeing whatever was inside the box, and that acted as a silver lining for my wife.
After I told her everything, my wife opened the picture. This one was a painting. You have to understand, that when I say my daughter is an art fan, it’s because one medium just won’t do. She draws, paints, uses crayons, markers, oil pastels, chalk. Anything that can create an image, she utilizes. And she makes pictures of absolutely everything: people, places, things, you name it, she’s made a picture of it. She always said that when she grows up, she wants to be an artist, and that she “wants to draw the world”. It’s actually really inspiring. She kept every piece of her work in what she called her “portfolio”. When this madman took it from her backpack that night at Daisy’s Diner, he took a piece of her.
This picture was of our son, Alex. The addition was apparent. A set of bushes was painted, with a crude depiction of the man inside them to the side of our son. On the top of the picture was a message scribbled in red pen.
“Me and your brother are frends now. When will we be frends?”
This sent a chill down my spine. All sorts of scenarios went through my head. Had this man talked to my son? My wife ran outside to get him, and I looked in the box. It was a set of sketching pencils. On it was a formal note.
“Never stop drawing.”
My wife and son returned to the kitchen where I was in a cold sweat. We asked him over and over if he had spoken to or seen any men or women he didn’t know recently, and he denied it. We told him he wasn’t in trouble, and he insisted he hadn’t encountered anyone he didn’t know. We asked him if maybe it happened at school during recess, and he insisted nothing like that had happened. I believed him. He was a smart boy. My wife wasn’t so sure. She politely ended the party as soon as the presents were finished being opened, and one by one the children were picked up by their parents, while the parents who were there persistently asked if everything was okay; we said everything was fine, just that we had a family emergency.
The police asked my son the same questions we asked, and got the same answers. The detective came to the same conclusion I did: that this particular incident was meant to scare us, but had not actually happened. Because of the long periods of time between happenings, police advised us to begin questioning friends, to make sure we weren’t victims of an elaborate prank. This would’ve made me laugh, if it hadn’t made me nearly blind with rage. The man who was doing this was a killer. I had seen it with my own two eyes. I knew this wasn’t a joke.
Things again calmed down for about a month. Every day my wife was checking the mail. I don’t know if she was hoping for a new letter from the stalker to be there, or if she was relieved every day that there wasn’t. It began to take a toll on our marriage. Kimmy abhorred the fact that I had kept something so serious from her, and she began to resent me for it. She never did get over it, and again, I don’t blame her one bit.
Towards the middle of April, the kids and I returned home after I had picked them up from school, and Katie went upstairs to put her things away and start on her homework. She came back downstairs after about two minutes and found me in the living room. Her words fell so heavily on my ears that it physically hurt.
“Daddy, someone left a letter for me.”
I swallowed the lump that had instantly formed in my throat and stood up so fast that the chair I was sitting in slid backwards across the wooden floor. I ran across the room and grabbed the letter out of Katie’s hands.
I would like so much to be your frend. I don’t have a lot of frends, but youre pichures make me so happy and they are so good! You are a very very good artist and to be a friend with someone so tallented would be so fun. I dont think youre mommy and daddy would want us to be frends thow so maybe it could be a fun secrit. I want you to draw me lots and lots and lots and lots of pichures so that I can look at them all the time. I hope we can be frends.
The letter was left unsigned.
I was hit with a flurry of emotions. Sadness, that my daughter had now directly been involved with this. Rage, that this man continued to haunt my family unscathed by any attempts to find out who he was. And perhaps most prevalent of all, fear, that I was virtually defenseless against this unseen threat. I called my wife, who immediately came home from work. We told the police about the letter, and they took it for evidence and tested it for fingerprints, which of course garnered no results.
My wife and I had a long talk. We weighed our options. It came down to keeping the kids in the house and/or with one of us at all times, including taking them out of school and all extracurricular activities, or moving away. We chose the latter.
We put our house up on the market and were moved out within a week and a half. After staying in an apartment in a different city until May, we then moved to a single story ranch in southern Colorado. We got the kids enrolled in school, and my wife transferred hospitals. All in all, the move wasn’t too difficult of a process. And for about five months, it seemed like it had worked. There was no sign of the stalker. Our summer went by without a hitch. We took a successful road trip to Florida, which the kids loved. My wife and I repaired the strain in our marriage. Things seemed to be looking up for our family. That is, until we returned home one afternoon in late September.
My wife got the mail and we had a letter from an attorney. Its contents were the details of going over my mother’s will. My heart sank like it hadn’t in quite some time. My mother wasn’t dead. I immediately got my phone out and called her. It went directly to voicemail. I was panicked, I didn’t know what to do. I called my aunt, and again received no answer. My whole world was crumbling around me. I finally thought to call the retirement community my mother lived at, and when I asked to be connected to her room, I breathed a sigh of relief when I was told “one moment please.”
The line rang and rang, until finally, the phone on the other end picked up. It was my mother.
“Hello?” She asked, her voice sounding as sweet as ever.
“Oh my God, mom, are you okay?”
“Well yes, sweetie, I’m fine. Why do you ask?”
“I just got a–”
And that’s when it occurred to me. He had done this. He had found out where we lived and he had fucking done this. I stuttered for a moment before I told my mom I loved her and that I would talk to her soon. My wife asked me what I was thinking and I told her; she agreed, this was a sick joke. When my wife sorted through the rest of the mail, there was another envelope, this one addressed to Katie. In it was a picture she had drawn of Grandma, the addition to this picture were two dark X’s over the main subjects eyes.
That image will forever be imprinted in my brain. It made me physically ill at the time. I cried. I felt I had no way of protecting my mother, not without leaving my own family vulnerable. I called the detective that had been on the case back in California and told him the news. He agreed to put an undercover officer at my mother’s retirement community for the next two weeks, something that gave me at least a little peace of mind.
Thankfully, nothing happened to my mother. His sick jokes were just that, jokes. I was at my wits end with this whole situation. I felt as if it would never stop. This next period of silence would be the longest one. Seven months of no contact from the stalker. Then something happened that jumpstarted my desire to get to the bottom of this whole thing. I received a box addressed to me, with a “:(“ as the sender. I opened it and found a small childs hand.
It was badly decomposed, but the fingernails had been recently painted. The fingertips were burnt down to the point that any type of identification would be impossible. Along with the hand was a polaroid of a smiling little girl. It was the girl from the video I had received so long ago. If the police couldn’t, I was going to try to find out who she was. I was determined to get some answers.