22 min readJul 11, 2021


Trouble At Double Cross. Adult. Mystery.

Double Cross is a small desert company town. Chief of Police Edwin Johnson also works full time at the Elite Mines. When a boy is missing, the case is too complex for Ed and he calls in the state police.

It began late one August evening. As with many from the day shift in the small town of Double Cross, Utah, Chief of Police Edwin Johnson was asleep. Ed wasn’t alone, his entire police force of one, Kathryn Peters, happened to be sharing his bed.

Before copper had been found nearby the town had been home to approximately twelve individuals. It was now six-blocks square with a population of over four-hundred. The original three houses were still spotted around one of only six water-bearing wells within forty miles.

Ed, like most of the town in that year of 1976, lived in a trailer, more properly known as a mobile home. Except for the original three old-style two-story houses, the town consisted of row after row of mobile or prefabricated homes, separated by dirt streets. A few were even converted semi-trailers and Conex containers.

The original inhabitants had planted a half-dozen trees, irrigating them from that lone well. Luckily, the well sat over a large body of underground water; enough for the copper company owning the town,”Elite Mines,” to spring for a modern pump-house along with a three-man staff to run it. Those trees, along with transplanted greenery, now served as the town park.

A general store, subsidized by Elite, sat at one central intersection. Of the original houses, one was owned by Kathryn’s family, her in residence. One contained a town hall and the sheriff’s office, and the largest was being used as a recreation center. For tax reasons, the town had been incorporated with elected though mostly honorary officials.

At the moment, Ed and patrolwoman Kathryn were Double Cross’s only employees. The town paid them small salaries which Kathryn supplemented by renting rooms to visiting salesmen or job applicants for Elite. The mine financed the community center and furnished electricity and other utilities.

The Elite Mines ran the town, most of its inhabitants either working for them or furnishing goods or services to the employees. It was strictly a company town. Ed himself doubled as head of security for Elite. Kathryn worked as an alternate in the mine supply room.


Ed’s rest was interrupted by the ringing of a telephone lying next to the bed. It was one of the residents with a problem. He listened, then replied, “Look, Edna. John’s thirteen. At an age where he’ll often disappear for a few hours. It’s not anything to worry about. You say he did return on the school bus, right? He’s probably at a friend’s home, someone you don’t know about.”

Early next morning, a Friday, Ed received another call from Edna Smith. Her son still hadn’t come home. Ed was faced with a choice. To search for the lad, he’d have to miss a day’s work. Actually, he had no choice, calling his boss to say he’d be in whenever he could get there.

Getting into a company Ford, he slapped magnetized police logos on both front doors, over those from Elite, and set out to search for the kid. The first thing was to check with the mother.


“… and his friends? Do you have their names and addresses? Also, any girlfriends that you know of? At 13 he’ll be interested in girls.”

She recalled a few addresses. The ones she didn’t know he obtained by calling Elite and querying their personnel department. Using the same processes, he talked to parents, finding out that John Smith hadn’t been at their homes the night before. Elite didn’t mind summoning employees from work to talk to him over the phone.

Ed didn’t become excited until he’d called the school, talking to the boy’s friends and learning they hadn’t seen him either. They gave him a couple of new names, other kids that he found easy to trace since they were also at the school. Nobody had seen John Smith since he left the school bus at Double Cross the day before.

That left the sheriff with only 476 odd trailers and utility buildings to search, as well as the prairie around the town. Inundated and out of his league, he had no choice but to call in the Utah State Police.

An hour later, a Captain Evens arrived and took charge. A half-hour behind him, a large mobile command post arrived, along with a column of marked and unmarked vehicles.

“I got it, sheriff. Don’t worry. This is my specialty. I spend more time on the road than I do at home.” the captain explained, “I’m sending a team to Elite Mines to check their personnel files. While some of my people knock on doors, a few will be setting up roadblocks to make certain the child doesn’t leave, willingly or not. We’ll run fingerprints from Elite personnel records through our and the FBI databases; looking for criminal histories and concentrating mostly on child molesters.”

“Elite Personnel confirms identity, including fingerprints, before employment,” Ed said. “Though only through local departments, not State or Federal.”

“What do you want me to do?” Kathryn asked. At her request, Ed had authorized her to take time off work to help.

“Mostly, sit around here and answer the telephone,” Ed told her. “When we need you to help talk to the company or citizens, we’ll know where to find you. Besides, I need someone to hold down the fort.”

“There should be more I can help with? I have to go home to feed my cats. I’ll be right back.”

His part of the old residence held no real jail cells, only two basement rooms with bars installed on the windows and good locks on their doors. The third house had its downstairs non-load-bearing walls torn out to make room for leisure activities, equipment, and parties furnished by Elite. All three ancient and weathered wooden buildings had partial basements, with the two leased by the town used for storage.


“Face it, sheriff … Ed, you’re not trained or experienced with my team. You’d get in the way more than help. Tell you what. We’re going to recruit volunteer searchers as the shifts get off work at Elite. You can help us walk through the area outside town before it gets too dark. I’ll send a couple of people over and you can join them in charting, organizing, and keeping the search on track.”

The sheriff, intent on listening to the captain, nodded.

Ed was kept busy. The two police the captain sent over to his small office arrived. They carried several briefcases, one the size of a suitcase and containing a portable computer. They had to call in a third man to install a separate line to his telephone and add one of those new machines that taped telephone calls. The new line was for tying the small computer into police machines in the City.

There were two police, one a woman, working with him. After they spread out maps, he helped in drawing lines to show where different groups of civilian searchers would operate. It was done to avoid repetition in patterns. The squares containing obstacles, such as natural formations and old structures — even a few abandoned mines — more people would be needed as well as different equipment. Each group would also have vehicles with them, containing radios, medical personnel and equipment, food, and water.

As the captain had told him, those people were professionals, trained in finding missing and otherwise wanted people. It was their occupation and they knew both the questions and who to ask.


“No, Ed. You’re of more use in here. We have our own people in charge of each phase of the search,” Julia Jackson, a state police lieutenant, told him. They were sitting on comfortable padded chairs in the large command vehicle, set up in the town park among the trees. “You’re sort of a liaison between us and the company. If I may ask, how did you get this job?”

“In a roundabout way. I’m really a computer systems analyst. When Elite decided to start digging here, I applied for a job. Problem was, that slot was filled already and by a guy that used to do it for IBM. They did, however, see by my resume that I’d once had temporary duty in the Air Force as a Military Police lieutenant.” He laughed. “I guess they figured to get a security guard that could, in an emergency, work with their computer. Anyway, I was hired.”

“Hard work?”

“Hell no. Most of the job is in supervising gate guards, an occasional meeting where I’m ignored, and talk to city cops when something’s stolen.”

“And getting a sheriff’s job here?”

“Sorta the same. When the city incorporated, there was no county sheriff or, for that matter, any other town around here. Elite asked if I wanted the job so, what the hell, I took it. It covers the payments on my trailer.”

“You don’t know much about the job, now do you?”

“Nope, can’t say I do. Most of the time, I quiet drunks down and keep people from speeding in the streets. Sometimes I go several days at a time without anything happening. That’s why I didn’t waste any time calling you guys in.”

“Did you know you have occult activity here?”

“You mean devil worshipers wearing sheets on their heads? Hell no.”

“We found signs, indications, all around town. You probably saw them and thought it was only graffiti.” She paused. “The Smith house had one on a light-pole in front.”

“Wh…. You must be kidding. What did it mean?”

“I’m not an expert. One of the guys is, and says it means someone in that house is an initiate.”

“Jeez! Maybe the kid?”

“That’s what we think, though it might be the entire family. We have someone canvassing and mapping the town now. That should give us an idea on how prevalent it’s become here. They’re like a cancer. One moves into a place and recruits more, the infection spreading. We’ve also found cases where entire cells of them are driven out of one place, moving to another. Since some change their secret signs at random, it’s hard to keep up with those people.”

“Can’t you arrest them and clean the nest out? I don’t want them around here, nor would Elite.”

“Not unless they do something illegal. It’s not against the law to worship Satan, or even a dog or tree. Painting or scratching on light poles isn’t much of a violation. I don’t know, but Elite might find a way to fire them, and you can certainly have a copy of our files. But that’s about all that can be done.”

“You don’t think they’re starting to sacrifice boys here, do you?”

“Unlikely, but we’re not going to discount the possibility. So far, we haven’t had any such cult killings in this part of the state. Despite popular opinion, most of those groups are harmless.”

The search went on all night, with nothing found except Will Jenson’s newest attempt to make whiskey. He’d been trying for years and had yet to come up with anything drinkable.

Captain Evens had to admit defeat, at least in Double Cross. “Whoever or whatever happened, they must have left here that first night. I think we’d have found the child if he was still around,” he told Ed.

“Then you’re leaving it up to me?”

“We’ll examine the roads between here and the city on our way back, and probably have to wait for someone to tell us something. If the kid’s on his own, run away, he’ll eventually pop up somewhere. If kidnapped, something will, hopefully, come to light.”

“What are the chances? And do you think he’s alive?”

“Not too good, I’m afraid. If they don’t turn up in the first twenty-four…. Well, all we can do is keep trying. At least such events are rare around here, which is encouraging.”


Life returned to normal except, of course, for the Smith family. Ed settled down to his usual activities, putting drunks to bed in the evenings and hassling gate guards at Elite during the day. Working a night shift at the mine, Kathryn would leave her home occasionally for sporadic day patrols.

A month later, another boy disappeared. It was an eleven-year-old named Jeff Simmons. He hadn’t come home from the community center. The same night, Johnny Smith’s emaciated body was found in a shallow grave behind that same building. Smith’s corpse was naked. The boy looked like he’d been starved, nothing but skin and bones. The body was heavily bruised with strange markings, some heavily infected, spotted on its torso and genitals. He had obviously been dead for quite a while.

Again, Ed called in the State Police.

“Come on, Ed,” Kathryn begged, “let me help in the search? I want to do something constructive this time.”

“Might be a good point, Ed,” the police captain told him. “You’d help more by going to the mine with Lieutenant Jackson. I figure the killer has to be someone in town, which means he’s an Elite employee and probably a relatively new hire. We have to study those employee records, not a simple look-through like before. You know many of them and can help Julia eliminate others.” What remained unspoken but understood was that he thought Ed would only get in his way while they searched the town.

With both political pull from the state police and it being the second missing child, the FBI was extremely helpful, expediting use of its many databases. They even offered to help or take over the case, which the state police didn’t want; preferring to keep it for themselves.

“For Christ’s sake, Julia. We have three convicted child molesters in Double Cross,” Ed said, leaning back from his company computer. “How the hell can that happen?”

“I’m not surprised. You may have a question on your applications about it but nothing keeps them from lying, especially if the conviction is from another state. Like most businesses that don’t do work for the Feds, Elite probably doesn’t check backgrounds all that well. Much of those resumes and applications are assumed to be correct.” She immediately called the information in to her boss.

The two were pleased, thinking the case was coming to a head. However, when checking pay records they found all three suspects were on the day shift, working during the crucial time frames. Also, when awakened for questioning, they had alibis. Their homes were searched and nothing found. It appeared to be a dead-end. Ed and Julia continued searching. Married employees, especially those with children, were quickly eliminated.

After all, to Ed’s thinking, it would be impossible to hide a kidnapped child where the spouse and their own children wouldn’t find him. They did all live in trailers, no basements and only a few utility sheds out back. Additionally, most of the single men and women shared trailers. Whoever had held John Smith had to have had a hiding place. There was no way around that point. Either that or lived a considerable distance outside of Double Cross. If so, why did they bring his body all the way to town? It could have easily been dropped on wasteland.


Ed slept fitfully that night, Kathryn going in for her regular shift. Nothing had been found in the town or on the area search. Although Ed and the lieutenant had found a few possibles — those being only a few foremen and officials that happened to live alone — there were no real suspects. Although tired from the day’s activities, he found it hard to sleep while knowing a boy was probably being tortured at that very moment — and in his town.

The next morning, when he returned to the house that contained his office, Ed found Julia from the state police waiting with his copy of the county lab report on the Smith boy. Under pressure from the state police, the forensics laboratory at Salt Lake City had been working all night on it.

“Ugh,” Julia said. “Look at what they found in his stomach. He’d been eating roaches and cat poop.”

“When you’re starving, you’ll eat anything,” Ed replied, reading the report. “It doesn’t look as though his captors fed him anything at all. It’s like they wanted to starve the boy. And look at this, some of those abrasions were human bite marks.”

“Maybe that’s why they kept the body so long? To make it impossible to match dental records? It also says that those marks contain razor slashes. That would make them even harder to match.”

“Or someone was drinking his blood, maybe on a regular basis?” Ed was only half-kidding, having recently seen a vampire movie.

“People don’t really do that. Human blood would make them sick.”

“Are you sure of that, girl? You ever tried it?” He came closer, licking his lips. “Let’s see. Let me bite your nose.”

“Get out’a here, pervert.”

The sheriff sighed, backing away. “At least we know there was a cat around there, and roaches.”

“Doesn’t help much.”

“But it does,” Ed told her. “Not many of these trailers have roaches. They’re fairly new, bought around the same time, and we haven’t had a roach infestation around here — far as I know. Neither the company store or the mine has them. When Kathryn gets here, I’ll have her check to see if anyone’s asked for roach poison.”

“And cats?”

“All over. Both here and the mine. The Elite brought a bunch of strays from the City to control rats at the mine. We’ve got sort of our own ecology here. There are only a couple of houses along the road for miles after you leave Double Cross and damned few wild critters around. The noise and smell of the mine and town drives them away.”

“You don’t smell all that bad to me.” Julia grinned.

“Bite me,” he said, rubbing his own nose. “I dare you.”

The two seemed to drift together as though someone was pulling a string, interrupted as the front door slammed open. As the two quickly disentangled, Kathryn came into his office.

“What’s up, boss?”

He handed her the report. “See for yourself.”

“What is up … boss?” he asked the lieutenant. “What are we going to do while Kathryn, here, mans the phone?”

“Better grab your gun, Wyatt. We gotta go Earping. My office found we’ve got us a combination child and child molester in your town. Joe-John Anderson, 17, with a conviction of attempting to rape a female cousin at 13. He spent two years in the Jefferson Juvie Facility and is still under probation.”

“Why wasn’t I told? I’m the sheriff here.”

“Face it, Ed. Many jurisdictions think this town is a joke.”

“You’re right. We haven’t even had a mayor since the last one quit Elite and moved away. Nobody’s ever complained, so we’ve left well enough alone. Last election, only a hundred people even showed up, and that was for the free beer.”


Joe-John Anderson seemed to be a quiet kid, not all that intelligent although he had passed a G.E.D. test. It was a requirement under his probation. Besides, he had been barred from associating with other children outside of school. The kid had been somewhat hardened by his incarceration, not being very forthcoming in answering questions. It was the old prison attitude that if something can’t help you and might hurt you, keep your mouth shut.

“All I do is help around the house, like,” he said, “read and watch tv. My P.O. says I can’t even go to the community center cause girls go there.”

“I hear you take long walks at night. Is that allowed?” Julia asks.

“Hey, man. I gotta get out’a this trailer once in a while. It’s worser than a cell, ya know? Least in Juvie I had a dayroom, could talk to other guys. Don’t take that away. Mostly, the desert’s only a block away. I walk around out there, talking to the critters.”

“I see you have a shed out back. You spend much time in there?” Ed asked.

“Sure. It’s on our property, why not?”

“We’d like to look in there?” Julia asked. “You have any objections?”

“You’d better ask Pa about that. You got no right to search that shed, not without a warrant. I learned a little about that in Juvie.”

“Actually, we can, Joe-John. This is all Elite property and I’m their representative,” Ed replied.

“And we will,” Julia added. “You mind showing us? I’d hate to have to break any locks or mess things up … unnecessarily.”

The boy shook his head. “No. Pa wouldn’t like it. It’s his.”

Ed went over to the telephone, calling Elite and asking to speak to Tom Anderson in the Maintenance Department.

“Makes no never-mind to me,” Anderson answered the request. “I ain’t been out there since last winter, when I needed tools to fix the furnace. Hey! Joe-John isn’t in trouble again, is he? We been careful about that probation thing.”

“Thanks, Tom. I hope not. We’re questioning everybody and … well, you know his past.”

“He ain’t done nothing. The kid hasn’t had that guilty attitude in quite a while, least since he got out. We only let him outside late at night, once all the kids are in bed. An we don’t let him walk around in town, here, where he might make friends with other kids. The parole guys said he shouldn’t, ya know? You think, sheriff, I should get off work?”

“Up to you, but probably not necessary. Me and the state patrol are simply checking out all leads. I’ll let you know if something comes up.” Ed said goodbye and hung up. Turning to Julia he told her what the father had said.

“You heard the sheriff, Joe-John,” she said. “Either you come along and unlock it or we’ll have to break the lock.”

Reluctantly and silently, the boy led them out back of the trailer. Taking his time, he undid a large padlock, swinging the door of the shed open.

The inside was cluttered with tools and trash. Ed noticed the boy making every effort to stand in front of one row of metal shelving.

“Out of the way, Joe-John. I have to look in there too.”

“Ain’t nothing but gardening stuff here. No guns or shit like that.”

Ed was forced to shove him gently aside to get at the shelves. The kid was right, though. Most of the contents were only old electronics, with the bottom two tiers containing bags of fertilizer and gardening tools.

Among them was a large almost-empty box of bulbs labeled “heat lamps.” Now what, Ed thought, would that family need with so many of them things? Utah had plenty of sunlight, strong enough to get a tan outside. He could imagine a lamp inside, but why so many of those bulbs? Also, he looked around, two more junk cartons had originally contained heat lamps. It was very unusual.

“What’s this for?” Julia asked, pointing to a heavy-duty extension cord, plugged in and going out through a crack at the edge of the lone window.

Very suspicious at that point, Ed looked through the filthy glass, seeing a thick orange-colored cord extending through the grass and into the distance. “Why don’t we find out?”

Forcing the kid along with them, the two officers followed the wire into thick brush outside the Anderson property. Thirty feet away, they found a platform built from two-by-fours. It was eight-feet square, with a crudely built trapdoor at one side.

“What the hell is that?” Julia asked.

Ed had to reach back to stop the kid. He noticed the lad edging away. “I think I know.”

Inside, spotted on a floor five-feet below ground-level, they found planks laid down, containing several rows of potted plants, anywhere from shoots to a foot high. Heat lamps were set in the dirt high-up around the edges.

“Marijuana,” Julie said. “He’s growing pot.”

“It’s recent,” Ed told her. “Obviously, he’s been selling it around town. I’ve already confiscated two of them plants, transplanted outside town and with no way to tell who they belong to. And, of course, nobody has shown up to claim them.”

“No wonder he didn’t want us to search the shed. And it’s a clear violation of his parole. You better call his father again.

“Not right now. We’ll keep him in one of the town’s cells until we’re done here. We’ll probably want to question him again about the missing kid. I’ll notify his Parole Officer.”

It still didn’t clear Joe-John from the murder and abductions, though making it unlikely. If he had abducted those boys, he’d have kept them in his hideaway, Ed thought. They’d search the area back there again, but it was unlikely the kid had two such pits dug. It did give him a motive to kill them, but not to hold the Smith kid prisoner and torture him.


It had been almost a week with Jeff Simmons still not found, although the town had been gone over again. They’d searched each trailer, one at a time, including sheds. Trained dogs were summoned, with the same result. Again, the search had moved outside the town and into the countryside.

The Anderson boy had been questioned and moved to the jail at Salt Lake City, awaiting trial for growing and selling a controlled substance and a parole violation. He hadn’t cracked. About all he did was sit in his cell. All he wanted to talk about was a ghost he’d sometimes talked to in the town hall basement while a prisoner.

“You ever hear of this building being haunted, Kathryn?” Ed asked one night after sex, her cuddled up beside him.

“It’s news to me. That kid kept bringing it up. How the ghost visited him, mumbling something about wanting to be free,” she answered.

“Silly kids. It must be from all that time alone in the basement room. I humored him by banging around down there with my pistol out, pretending to search. Still didn’t help, though.”

“Maybe he’s thinking of pleading insanity? That he needed the marijuana to keep him from seeing things?”

Ed laughed. Like Kathryn, he’d pretended to search the basement for spooks. He did find a rusty revolver hidden in the rafters of one of the other rooms used as a cell. It’s a good thing, Ed thought, he’d never had to lock anyone up in there. So the search did yield positive results. It showed him he could never have held John Dillinger.

As for the kidnapped child, all they could do was to wait to see if the state police got any breaks. Ten days after the kidnapping, that break came and it was a huge surprise to Ed.


He’d just gotten off work at the mine, still in his security uniform when Julia came into his trailer home without knocking.

“Come on, big boy. Put your shoes on. We’ve found our killer.”

“Who … where … how?”

“We’re going to make the arrest now. I thought you’d like to come along. Of course, it you’d rather finish your drink…?”

“No. Hell, no.” Ed hurried to retrieve his work shoes. “Let’s go. Who is it?”

“I’ll surprise you.” Julia smiled. “Follow us.”

As Ed and the others came near the house that contained his office, he noticed several state-police cars parked along the side, not in front of the building. They continued around and past the cars.

“Kathryn’s house? Kathryn? I don’t believe it.”

“Believe it. We’ve already picked her up at Elite, at work. They’re bringing her back right now.”

One of the burly policemen kicked open Kathryn’s front door, him and the others spreading out to search the building.

“How do you know, and are you sure?”

“Does a bear shit in the woods? Of course we’re certain.” She grinned, motioning for him to sit at the kitchen table with her, then explained.

“We received a 9–1–1 call from one of her relatives. It was very enlightening. It seems that little Kathy had a difficult childhood. She started at an early age, torturing and killing stray animals. As a teenager, she was a sadist. Finding a masochistic boyfriend, they moved in together. The family was only too glad to get her out of their hair.

“Until, that is, her father happened to visit his daughter. She wasn’t home, though her boyfriend was, hanging upside down from the ceiling of the kitchen, half-dead from malnutrition. He, like the dead boy, had bites all over his body, his genitals half-bitten off.

“The family, her father into state politics at the time, didn’t want the word to get out — like if he put her in an asylum. So he installed her in the old family homestead here at Double Cross, making her promise to never leave. If she did, he assured her, he’d turn her in to the police.”

“And the boyfriend?” Ed asked.

“Easy, if you have money. He’s now an assistant attorney general for the state. You know the one. He’s been in the news as a suspected homosexual because he never married.

“In any case, since then the old man has died and little Kathy pretty much forgotten by the family. It wasn’t until one of them read the papers about that killing in Double Cross that she made the call. Even that was after a bit of soul-searching. People don’t easily give up family secrets.”

That was the point where two of the searchers came back up. One, gagging, headed directly for the sink to throw up.

“We found him,” the other said. “Just a minute. I gotta get the medics.” He hurried outside.

The other state trooper finished at the sink and came over, holding onto the edge of the kitchen table to steady himself. “We found the Simmons boy. He’s still alive, but barely. He’s lying in cat shit, roaches crawling over him. It’s all he’s had to eat since she lured him down there for sex. The room’s filled with torture instruments, even an electric pottery oven with implements sticking out. The room smells like a cesspool.”


As came out in Kathryn’s confession, those two were only the tip of that iceberg. She’d been torturing and killing boys and young men for years. Most had come from her rented rooms. Not the salesmen, who would be missed, but unmarried singles coming to fill out job applications for the Elite Mines.

Typically, there would be a few meals and drinks while they rented a room — to see if they would be missed — then an invitation for sex in the basement, and that was it — for them. While downstairs, she’d suggest tying them up. If they didn’t go along with that, she’d wait until they slept before slipping a chain over them.

Kathryn didn’t believe in feeding her prisoners. They had access to water and roaches. She also enjoyed watching them eat cat shit and insects, laughing while they did, often promising real food afterward. “Eat that and I’ll bring you a nice ham sandwich. Is it a deal?”

Then the same reasoning would bring on sexual satisfaction for her. She enjoyed biting them during sexual acts and afterward, the purpose to prevent them from enjoying the action. The promise and sometimes reality of real food was a great incentive, one that kept them alive for a long, long, time.

As was found out later, old piping between the houses would sometimes bring the sounds to the police basement. It seemed the piping from that first well led to all three of the original houses, connecting their basements. Not used since the plant dug its own well, the dry pipe still carried sounds.

To get rid of them, she used an old water-cistern under the kitchen floor. At the time the three original houses were built, nobody had yet managed to hand-dig a well, so all the houses had built-in metal water-storage tanks. Periodically, they’d hire a trucking company to drive up and fill the cisterns with fresh water. Since Elite had dug a better well, using modern equipment, the cisterns and old one went unused. Katherine’s cistern was perfect for storing bodies.

Her policy was to lure them back upstairs, while they could still walk or crawl, promising to let them go. Then, all it took was a push to store them away to die in darkness, sweltering heat and the stink of lying on past victims.

It was an almost perfect solution until Smith managed to escape while she was at work. Police opined that the surface of the cistern was so full of the dead that the boy managed to shove the top open and crawl out, only to die outside.

After her capture, it took a week to slowly extract all the bodies for forensic study. It took longer than that for the town to return to normal, what with all the reporters and tourists the murders attracted.

The End.