My grandpa’s friend, a retired homicide detective, just told us what goes on in the Arizona desert

Case 1 | Case 2 | Case 3 | Case 4 | Case 5 | Case 6

After my grandpa told me about the last case – the one about the Backwards Man – he told me to make the tentatively-planned Skype call to a colleague of his in Arizona. Connectivity issues on both sides didn’t allow us to have the call when we’d initially planned, and schedules then got in the way after that. That said, we all eventually found the time, got the call connected, and my grandpa and I were soon talking to a detective in Arizona named Adam, a man my grandpa had met at a conference years prior.

Little small talk was made; my grandpa quickly got to the point.

“I know we talked about it a little, uh, you know, about those cases. The kinds that don’t make any sense?” my grandpa said.

“Ah, yeah. What’d you guys call them? The Impossible Cases?”

“The Impossible Ones, that’s right.”

“That’s right…down here they’re called ‘The Inconceivables’.”

“Like the movie?” my grandpa joked. They laughed for a moment, during which time Adam said that they did indeed get the name from “The Princess Bride”, and then he went into one of his very own “Impossible” cases.

There’s a lot of desert down here, a lot of long, empty roads with nothing but open land on either side. A few skinny trees here and there, some cacti, but no real structures or anything to speak of.

I got called out to a crime scene in…shit, had to be around 2002, it was right after 9/11, I remember. Not that one has anything to do with the other. Anyhow, I drive out there, and this is in the middle of nowhere. Like, I had to drive 20 minutes off the road just to get to it, middle of nowhere.

It was the middle of the night when I got there, 2, 3 in the morning, so they had these big flood lights set up outside the tape, and the tape was set up way farther out that I initially would’ve thought necessary, real wide around the focal point of why I’d been called out, but I’ll get to that. There were a few little pathways that we could take to get to her, and I was led in by one of the officers.

Standing there in the middle of this big ass area was a woman, looked maybe about 30? She was standing midstride, like she was just walking through the desert and one second she just, boom, died. Her foot was pointed up like she’d just taken a step…and then she’d just frozen. We had the techs out there trying to figure out exactly where she’d come from.

That was one of the weirdest things…the footprints. So, leading up to where this woman was, there were no footprints. Ground didn’t have any imprints whatsoever, not in the slightest, not leading up to where she was standing. It was like she’d just floated down right outta the sky.

But around her, maybe 15 yards or so, there were these…I actually don’t wanna call them prints, because they weren’t, but these…tracks? I don’t know what to call them. They were like something had been shuffling around…something big. I mean…they looked like they stepped lightly, but when they were pointed out to me I could plainly see that they’d left depressions in the ground.

But they weren’t shaped or structured like footprints. They were these weird…these kind of “collections”, I guess you’d say, of spirals. Spirals…groups of five or six of them of different sizes and angles, where if you drew a line around them, it would look…I guess maybe like a rhombus. I remember there were four separate collections of these, so 20, 25 different sized spirals, some circular, some triangular, some square-shaped, 20-25 total. 

If you drew a line around the collections of rhombuses…rhombi? If you drew a line around those, it made almost a perfect rectangle. There’s no real way to put it into words, and I know this is for the…the blog, whatever Steve said you were doing with these.

[We took a short aside, during which time I told Adam about NoSleep and how I felt it was the only place there was a real chance a lot of eyes could get on their tellings of what goes on in these impossible instances.]

Where was I? Ah…shit…uh, okay, so it was the desert, it was cold, maybe 40 degrees, give or take, but parts of this girl’s skin were frostbitten. If it would have been her whole body I might have thought she’d been walking naked through the arctic after getting out of a swimming pool filled with ice water, you know that dark purple, black color? But there just these…patches all over her. Big section of her thigh, tops of her knuckles, side of her neck, her shoulder blade. Like these spots of her had been dipped in subzero temperatures or something, but just those parts…I don’t know.

Ah…oh! The tracks, that’s what we were talking about before. So, like I said, they made a big circles about 15…maybe closer to 20 yards out from her. Each one of the rectangles, the ones with the four rhombuses in them? They must have been 12, 15 feet apiece, maybe six feet wide, fuckin’ huge, these things. I know you might be thinking “it sounds like someone drew them”, but the techs said that the depression pattern in the ground indicated that the symbols were most depressed on the ends, not so much in the middle, like someone stepping heel to toe. 

Obviously someone could’ve done this on purpose, but why? They went in a circle around this woman, and they overlapped each other a whole lot, like someone was just doing laps. I suppose it’s worth mentioning, we didn’t realize all the spirals and the shapes and everything right away, it took a few days before the techs put it together. I mean the shapes were apparent right away, but I just mean the patterns and all that. When you first looked at it, it just looked like a bunch of nonsense scribbles with no rhyme or reason to it.

Craziest thing about those tracks? Maybe…200 yards away, there was another big circle of them, same circumference, but like they’d just made one circle, no laps. And the depression on that one, was deep. Like it had stomped down. About 200 yards after that one was another one, depression even deeper, and that was it. They said it was like whatever had left it had dropped out of the sky and landed, boom, then jumped, boom, another one, and jumped again, and landed lightly on the last one, then circled this woman.

No idea what it could’ve been, obviously. Usually with the weird ones, some people speculate; not with those, though. No one could come with any kind of explanation.

Back to the girl. 

She didn’t have any ID on her, no wallet, purse, nothing. She was wearing a tank top and shorts. How I said she was frostbitten? Well her face wasn’t at all, it was as dry as I’ve ever seen a face in my life. Her lips were cracked all to shit, skin was sunburnt, flaky. 

That’s why when the M.E. (Medical Examiner) told us her cause of death was drowning, we couldn’t believe it. By all accounts, drowning should’ve been the last possible cause of death, but the M.E. said she would stake her whole career on it that any subsequent analysis of the autopsy results by other M.E’s would yield the same results. And it wasn’t a dry drowning, it was like she’d been held underwater until she died.

Her stomach contents, I remember, there was water, of course, but there were also blades of…of grass. So initially we think maybe she was starving, tried eating some grass, yeah? It was sod. Fake grass. There wasn’t a whole lot of it in there, you know, she didn’t have a whole front lawn in her stomach, but there was enough that you could cover maybe the bottom of a water bottle with the grass standing up, you know what I mean?

Oh, even more fucked up? Get this. She’d put the time of death as being about eight hours after I’d shown up in the desert. No kidding. She’d apparently been alive the whole time I was skulking around checking it all out. I’d been right up close to her, inches away, and I didn’t see her chest moving, I didn’t feel any breath coming out of her, nothing. Didn’t make a shred of sense. And that was just the time she recorded. She said there were multiple factors that contradicted one another. 

How I said she was standing? Rigor mortis had somehow set in instantly. M.E. said it was impossible, but that’s what it was. But despite the rigor mortis being an indicator of T.O.D., her stomach contents made the M.E. think it hadn’t been that long, same with the fact that no insects had other little creepy crawlers were anywhere near her. But then there was the fact that a few of her organs were deteriorated, like she’d been dead for days.

It was just…I still can’t wrap my mind around it.

Alright, anyways, we had to find out who this woman was. We started looking at recent missing persons reports, far back as six months, didn’t turn up anything. Checked with the surrounding states, nothing. Her fingerprints…well that wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen. She had two sets of fingerprints on each finger. That’s a bad way to put that. 

On each finger, she had half of one fingerprint on the left, and half of another fingerprint on the right. The lines just didn’t connect like they should’ve. Again, it would be easier to show you what I mean, but you can’t really show what I mean through the written word. But it was bizarre. We had a specialist come in, try to reconstruct the prints, but nothing came of it.

Then about…ah…maybe three months after she was found out there, a call was placed to 9-1-1.

Word for word, a man’s voice said, “The woman in the desert. Amber Lee.” Then they hung up. The call was placed from a payphone outside a convenience store in Massachusetts, one that had been out of service for about two years. Nevermind the fact that the phone didn’t even work, but how the hell did someone dial 9-1-1 and get connected to dispatch across the country?

We called over to Massachusetts State Police, sent them over the woman’s picture, had them go through their databases, missing persons, all that. There was nothing about her there. There was a woman with the name  ‘Amber Lee’ that lived in a suburb outside of Cambridge, but she was alive and well.

We never found out who Amber Lee was or how she wound up in the desert. And, you know, that’s tragic. This woman, whoever she was, she might have had family, people who loved her. Even if not, she deserved better than what happened to her. But for as tragic as what happened to her is, it’s not what fucks with me.

What fucks with me is the fact that there’s something out in the desert. Something that even if we knew what it was and how to find it, I don’t think we’d be even halfway equipped to deal with it. 

After he was done telling us the story, he offered to put us in touch with both his son, a current Arizona homicide detective, and a colleague out in Colorado who he knows has some crazy stories. So hopefully we’ll hear from them soon!

After we hung up, he called back about two minutes later.

Tell your friends on the blog that there’s not much of a story to this one, just something that happened that we never figured out, never had a single clue on. Never found out who it was, who did it, how it was done, nothing. There’s about 100 things wrong with this one, but it’ll be funny to make them scratch their heads trying to figure it out, because it really just doesn’t even sound possible…logistically or otherwise.

Some folks were bowling, and right in the middle of a game, this little girl throws her ball, then she’s standing at the return waiting for her ball to come back, and out comes a human head, male, maybe 40 years old.

Take care boys!

The Final Case

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