My Grandpa, a retired homicide detective, told me another one of his cases

I told my grandpa about the response he got from his case I posted last week, and he was thrilled. Going through your comments together put a smile on his face like I haven’t seen in some time. He saw that so many people wanted to hear more of the “Impossible Ones”, and he encouraged me to transcribe more of the cases he told me about., in addition to agreeing to both tell me more and answer any questions you may have.

So, here we go.

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Back before me and Olson were partners, I was with this guy Manthe. He was a weird son of a bitch, but he was good at the job. He’d been on about a decade longer than me, and he taught me quite a bit, as a matter of fact. 

He’s the one that told me there would be times when I wouldn’t be able to solve the case. He said it wouldn’t be because of me or a lack of skill or anything like that, wouldn’t be the evidence, wouldn’t be the witnesses. He said there’d be times when…how’d he put it? 

“You’d have all the pieces of the puzzle, you know what the puzzle *should* look like, but for a reason you don’t know and can’t understand, they just won’t fit.”

Back in the late 80’s we drew a suspected homicide at this apartment building, real pile of shit. 

Neighbors had complained about a smell coming from one of the units, so some officers went to check it out, ends up we get called. The girl was found wrapped completely in dental floss. I mean each of her fingers and toes were individually wrapped, as were each of her limbs and her torso and her ears and the rest of her head, and then another layer went over everything. It was wrapped so none of her skin was visible.

Can you imagine that? How long that must have taken? There were no weave patterns either, they just wrapped it around once, then continued with each new wraparound touching the one before it. How much floss you think that took? Hundreds of rolls, if not more. Thousands maybe. Never seen anything like it but that one time.

Anyways, they identified the girl, she was some kid, 17-years-old she was, from a couple states over.  If I remember right her name was…ah what was it? Kelly! That’s it.

Now, the guy who lived in the apartment hadn’t been seen around the building for a few days. We talked to the neighbors, people that lived on the same floor, a few others, maybe. Apparently, this guy, his name was Lucas, he kept to himself. 

We went to talk to the neighbors, none of them knew his name, and a few of them, they’d go “oh, you mean the guy from” – whatever unit he was in, 512 I think, whatever it was – “? Guy is an asshole.” Or something to that effect. He never talked to anybody, never nodded in the halls, nothing.

He’d lived in the building six years, but for about the last year, 10 months or so, no one had seen him. His rent was paid by check through the mail, and he’d had his mail forwarded to a P.O. box. 

So the scene: his apartment was dark. We’d shown up there in the morning, about 9AM, but his apartment made it feel like it was midnight. He’d painted the windows black, the same with the walls. But on the walls were…you know those cliche ransom letters, where all the words are made up different letters cut out of magazines? It was that, but over every inch of every black wall in the place. 

The messages were…disturbing. 

I don’t remember what it all said verbatim, but they were just these long sort of…vague confessions, “It’s almost the end”, “He’s coming for me”, “Please stop” that type of stuff. It was a two bedroom apartment, and floor to ceiling, wall to wall, it was just hundreds and thousands magazine letters making words that formed this guy’s pleas for help.

Fingerprint folks came in and did their thing. Like I said, this guy lived alone. Never had a noise complaint, no one ever saw him with anyone else, neighbors in the next units over and across the hall never heard a peep from his apartment, not even a TV or radio. But somehow, there were no less than…what was it…90-some odd different fingerprints all over his house. 

Weirder than that, is that all the fingerprints were all carefully placed. Like one person went up to the table, wall, refrigerator, door, whatever, placed their thumb down, then another person came up, placed their finger down, and so on and so forth. The entire apartment, every surface had these fingerprints, intricately placed, evenly spaced. We found out that the only ones they identified two sets of fingerprints: one belonging to Lucas, and another to a woman who had died in West Virginia in the early 60’s, a few years before he was born. 

So the girl that was found dead in the apartment, she had no connection to Lucas that anyone could find. She also had no fingerprints on her, but it didn’t look like anyone had intentionally wiped her down. They said she’d been dead about a week, and that the cause of death was, get this, suffocation by dental floss. And in the course of the autopsy, they found that a few of her organs were also wrapped in floss the same way her body was. Her heart, liver, a lung, her kidneys, her spleen, all wrapped up in dental floss. And her stomach was bursting at the seams with it, just like her esophagus. 

Anyways, we had our suspect, this Lucas guy. We started digging, looking for associates, places he spent time, things like that. Pretty soon we find out he did some off the books work at a landscaping company. Guy there tells us he hasn’t been to work in three days, and that he figured he’d quit. 

We pulled a few more threads, but nothing seemed to pan out. It looked like this guy killed Kelly and then went off the grid. Then about a week and a half after we got the case — we’d put Lucas’s picture everywhere, and if I’m not mistaken, the higher ups told us all to tell everyone it was for a robbery — we started getting calls from different businesses saying Lucas had come in.

Stopped for gas, got a burger at McDonalds, picked up shampoo at a grocery store, all these menial tasks, probably 15 different things. Problem was, he apparently did all these things at locations that spanned the whole city, and he did them all at the same damn time. 10:48AM, something like that. All the security camera footage matched up, his credit card records matched up. All the purchases happened at the exact same time, and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t him at the locations, not look-a-likes, but him.

Now, a lot of this stuff I’m telling you, it’s weird, yeah? When it all happened, that’s really all it was. It was just…weird, odd. It was never really all that scary. Some things were, of course, but generally it was just stuff that boggled the mind.

When we watched those security tapes, though…it’s hard to explain it. Me, Manthe, and anyone who was in the room at the times we watched these tapes…every time, I think there was 11 places we had to watch the tapes, and every time, he’d stand for a few seconds, 5-10 seconds, and he would just stare at the camera, stone faced. And it was…it was like he was looking into my soul. I can only describe how it felt for me, but I know for a fact the others felt the same way.

It felt like someone was squeezing their fist around my heart. The breath left me, I started sweating. It was the worst fear…pure…terror. Two of the security guys had to leave the room, one started hyperventilating, another threw up. It only lasted as long as he was looking straight at the camera. When he’d look away, everyone would breathe a sigh of relief. It was…anyways.

Manthe, he came to me the last day of us going over the security cameras, and he told me he had something. Son of a bitch had gone over the pictures from the apartment, of all the magazine letters, and he found a pattern. 

There were certain letters that were written in a particular font. He put those through a cipher…what’d he call it? Caes–Caesarian Shift. If you moved the letters around, I don’t remember how many, 4, 5, something, it made a name that kept repeating. It was the longest of long shots, but we started looking into “Bruce Hiller”.

Turns out Bruce Hiller has another apartment over in [town near our own]. We talk to the people there, they tell us he’s the nicest guy in the world. They don’t see him much, but whenever they do, he’s polite, conversational, real good guy. His apartment is…immaculate. I mean it looked like he went over the entire place with a q-tip every day…every hour. The building itself was…eh, it was decent, kinda run down, but his place, for what it was, was spotless.

We go though everything, and pretty soon it’s time to go check the basement storage unit. The way they were set up was they were just partitioned off with little wooden and wire doors, you could see into everything. In Lucas’, or Bruce’s, whatever his damn name was, in his, it was packed floor to ceiling with stuff on either side of the door. But we could see through the door. 

And there he was, towards the back of the unit with his back to us, reaching up onto a shelf.

We could barely see him, just kind of make out his silhouette; the only lights down there were single bulbs hanging from the ceiling with pull-strings. We shine our lights in his unit, pull our weapons, tell him to turn around slowly and keep his hands up. He doesn’t move. He just stays there, reaching up on the shelf.

We move forward a bit, keep telling him to turn around, show us his hands, blah blah blah, but he doesn’t move an inch. The building manager had a rapport with him, apparently, so we get him and he tries pleading with him to turn around, but Lucasjust kept standing there with his arm up and his back to us. Manager unlocks the door, we get him outta there. 

Now, this was a year or two before tasers really started catching on, so we didn’t have that option. We inch our way towards the guy, and as we get closer, it becomes clear that…when I say he’s not moving, I mean *he’s not moving*. He’s standing as still as a statue. Pretty soon we realize he’s not breathing.

We kept our weapons up, kept our lights on him, kept yelling all that shit,did it by the book, but we got up to him and confirmed that wasn’t breathing. We call in the troops. When it was time to move the body, they uh…they had to tip him. It was like rigor mortis had set in while he was reaching up to the shelf. 

It was his face, though. He…it was the most anguished, terrified look I’d ever seen. Picture yourself screaming at the top of your lungs, and think about what your face looks like when you do that. That was his face. We asked the people who lived above his storage unit if they’d heard anything, of course they hadn’t.

When Manthe saw the guy, it did something to him. I mean, I saw Lucas’ face, it scared the Christ out of me, no two ways about it, gave me that same feeling as when we watched the security tapes. But Manthe…the guy never said another word. Ever. Never spoke to me, his wife, his kids, never said another word as far as I know. Last I heard he was living in an old folk’s home, poor son of a bitch just looks out the window all day. That was some years ago, though. I hope for his sake he’s dead, terrible as it sounds.

They did an autopsy, and…well, it was something with his heart, blood pressure, something. But what it came down to, was that he was literally scared to death. I didn’t think it was real, but they assured us it was the only explanation.

That was it. He died. We never found anything else on his connection to the girl, why he had an alias, why he had a second apartment, nothing. We did find what the tip of his finger was touching when he was reaching up on that shelf, though.

There was a ball of dental floss, maybe the size of…I don’t know, a racquetball, you know, one of those bouncy blue ones?

Got a call a day or two later, they told us that inside that ball of floss, seven human teeth. Far as I know, none of them have ever been identified.

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