Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 43, Narrowing it down

“I don’t want to be here,” Annette said as she and Kat drove up to the hospital. “What’s the big emergency that caused Jack to want us to come here at 1:00 o’clock in the morning?”

Kat pulled into a parking spot and turned to look at Annette. She was her cousin and she had been through so much. “Annette…your mother died sometime last night. Jack doesn’t know what caused her death, but he said the police are here.”

Annette looked straight ahead. She said nothing and showed no emotion at all.

“Are you ready to go in?” Kat asked. When Annette didn’t answer, Kat got out of the car and walked around to open the passenger door. “Come on, honey,” she said. “I’ll be right there with you.”

Inside the hospital, Jack was in the waiting room hoping Kat would get there soon. He had just checked on Vanessa who had been sleeping since he had arrived at the hospital around 11:30. Thinking how grateful he was the hospital had no set visiting hours, he got up to pour himself a cup of coffee.

“Kat!…thank God you’re here. Hello Annette. Has Kat told you?”

Annette nodded, but she was looking toward the hallway. Two policemen were walking toward the waiting room.

“We’re looking for Annette Morris,” one of them said. “She’s listed as the daughter and contact person on the paperwork for a Mrs. Edith Morris.”

“Yes…I’m her daughter. I’ve just been told my mother is dead.”

“Ms. Morris…are you aware that your mother’s death was not from natural causes or an accident?”

Annette glared at the policeman speaking to her. “Of course not,” she said in a calm and measured voice. “I told you. I just learned she’s dead.”

“What was the cause of death, officer?” Kat asked.

“It appears she was suffocated. The coroner is with her now. We’re trying to establish the time of death.”

“Two of our investigators are on their way here and they’ll need to speak with you, but in the meantime, I believe there is some paper work for you to sign.”

“Can I have my cousin come with me?”

“Of course said the officer. We’ll accompany you.”

After Kat and Annette left the waiting room, the two detectives got there and introduced themselves to Jack.

“May we ask you a few questions, Mr. Stein?”

“Do you mind if I check on my daughter before we begin?” Jack asked.

When he walked into Vanessa’s room, he found that she was awake. “Hi sweetheart, did you have a good rest?”

Vanessa, who had been standing by the window, ran into her dad’s arms.

“Daddy, I’m so happy you’re here. Mrs. Morris is dead. She pushed Mom into the fire, and now she’s dead, too.”

“Honey, I’m so sorry I wasn’t here to help you when you remembered that terrible day. What she did to your mother was unimaginable. If I had known maybe I could have protected you and Alice from what she just put you through.”

“At least we know that she can’t hurt anyone ever again.” Vanessa said. “I told her, Dad. I told her I remembered everything. Annette was there, too.”

“When did you talk to Mrs. Morris, Vanessa?”

“I don’t know, about 7:00 I guess. I waited until the day nurses left.”

“What did she say when you told her, honey?”

“Nothing…she couldn’t.” Vanessa answered.

Later, when the detectives came back to talk with him, Annette, and Kat, Jack asked to talk with them privately.

“Detectives…I would like to confess. I killed Mrs. Morris.”

“I see.” The head detective pushed his hat back and scratched his head.

“She killed my wife and harmed my children. She deserved to die.”

“Mr. Stein, we’ll need to get a few details from you. Can you tell us approximately what time this occured?”

“Yes…it was around 7:00 o’clock. I came here when I got back from Brewster…before I checked into the hotel.”

“Well, the detective said. We have the notes from the nurse who checked her vital signs at 8:30. She was alive then.”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 42, Is she gone?

“I don’t think it’s necessary for you to go to the hospital now, Jack,” Kat said. “Vanessa was sleeping when I left her. She was so exhausted, I’m sure she’s out for the night.”

“That poor girl.” Jack was trying hard to absorb what Kat had just told him. “I made a terrible mistake when I didn’t get help for the girls after I realized they had blocked out any memory they had of that day. I was so caught up in my own grief, I didn’t think about what was best for them. They were so young.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Jack. You’re daughters adore you. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that Edith Morris is my mother’s sister. She must have deeply resented mother for taking Jennifer away.”

“It sounds like Edith Morris was a very disturbed woman long before her Alzheimers diagnosis. I can’t believe my little girls watched her throw gasoline at their mother and push her into a fire.

I’ve got to go to the hospital, Kat. I have to be there when Vanessa wakes up.”

“I understand, Jack. I’m going to check on Annette. Regardless of the part she played in kidnapping the girls, I feel sorry for what she has had to endure. In a way, I believe her mother brainwashed her.”

Kat went to her room and thought about calling Annette. It was after 11:00 so she decided it was too late. Around 1:00 a.m. Kat’s phone rang. It was Jack.

“Kat,” he said. “Edith Morris is dead.”

“What happened? Was it something related to her injuries?”

“I don’t know, but the police are here. Can you come to the hospital right away?”

Kat quickly dressed and headed for her car. As she was about to back out, she saw Annette’s car pull in. Kat was able to catch her attention and Annette parked next to her.

“Have you talked to anyone at the hospital?” Kat asked. Since she knew very little, she didn’t know how much to say to Annette.

“No…I’ve been at the Roadside Cafe. Why do you ask?”

“I’m not quite sure what’s going on, but Jack just called and said there was an emergency. We need to get over there. Come with me.”

Annette hesitated a moment and Kat tried without success to read her expression. She was wondering if Annette already knew her mother was dead.

On the drive to the hospital, Annette looked at her phone. There were two messages…both were from her mother.

“It looks like Mother has been trying to reach me. I was at the cafe talking with Sandy. I waited until after she closed up and we had a long talk. I needed someone to listen to me.”

Roadside Cafe
Sandy at The Roadside Cafe

“You know, don’t you, Annette? You know that Vanessa remembers everything that happened the day her mother died.”

“You mean the day she was murdered, don’t you?”

“Yes…I was about to go into Mother’s room today and I overheard Vanessa telling her the the whole story. I wanted so badly to see Mother’s reaction, but she was sleeping…or pretending to be. I couldn’t believe what Vanessa was saying. I have been living a lie all these years, but that’s over now.”

“Was your mother awake before you and Vanessa left?”

“No…a nurse came in just as we were about to get her to wake up, so we left.”

Tomorrow…the timeline!

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 41, Going home

(Be sure you have read part 40, first)

Kat felt uneasy about what she had just witnessed. Annette and Vanessa had left Edith Morris’ room together. Vanessa was Edith’s granddaughter and Annette was her daughter…

Still…it made sense that Annette would go to see her mother and inform her of the arrangements she had made to take her home the next day. But why did Annette stand outside the room while Vanessa was obviously talking to a grandmother she didn’t know or at least hadn’t remembered?

Kat was exhausted and wanted to go back to her room and get some sleep before the long trip home the next day with Vanessa and Jack, who would be there later that night to drive them back. She decided to look in on Vanessa before leaving the hospital and see if she had packed her things and was ready to go.

Vanessa was standing by the window and she was sobbing.

“What brought this on?” Kat asked.

“I remembered everything, Kat. That woman, my grandmother, killed my mother.”

Kat stood there not knowing what to do as Vanessa told her the whole gruesome story. When asked by Kat how Jennifer’s tragic accident happened, Annette had said she only knew what her mother had told her. Vanessa had blocked it all out…until now.

Vanessa was so distraught, Kat stayed with her until she was able to calm down and fall asleep. She couldn’t believe it was after ten before she was able to leave the hospital and she was stunned by what Vanessa had just told her.

Jack had arrived earlier and was able to get a room for the night at the same hotel where Annette and Kat were staying. He had driven straight through without eating and decided to go to the restaurant off the lobby and grab a bite to eat. He spotted Kat on his way and invited her to join him. As exhausted as she was, she decided to tell him that his daughter now remembered everything about the day her mother died.

Annette was back at the Roadside Cafe. She and Sandy, the waitress, had become friends and Annette wanted to see her and get something to eat. Suddenly, she was hungry. She hadn’t had an appetite for days, but even though it was after 9:00 p.m., a burger and fries sounded good.

Around midnight, the nurse went to check on Mrs. Morris and take her vitals. The first thing she noticed was that her patient’s pillow was on the floor and Mrs. Morris was lying flat on the bed. The second thing the nurse discovered was that her patient was not breathing.

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 40, Remembering the truth

Vanessa would wait until the night nurses came on. Things were quieter then and she would more likely be able to carry out her plan. “I can do this,” she thought. “I can do it for my mother, and for Alice.”

It was hard to be patient, but Vanessa forced herself to remain in her bed and pretend she was sleeping each time someone checked on her. Since she was being discharged the next day, she doubted the night shift would pay close attention to her.

Annette left the Roadside Cafe and drove to the motel where she had been staying since returning from Brewster. “I’ll go to the hospital, later and take care of things,” She decided. “I have been beaten down by my mother for the last time. It’s over. She won’t be able to do this to me or anyone else ever again.”

Later, Kat was sitting in the waiting room when she saw Annette walking down the corridor. She assumed she was going to see Mrs. Morris and finalize plans for her release the next day. Annette was carrying a large cargo bag which probably had some clothes in it for her mother to wear home.

But Annette didn’t go into the room. She stopped just outside and listened to a conversation between her mother and someone who seemed extremely upset.

“I remember everything. I remember what you said to my mom after Annette left to get the marshmallows. I remember that you grabbed me and walked backwards toward the fire. Mom was afraid to try and get me away from you because you were holding the red can. The one that made the fire burn high. I remember what you said.”

Vanessa told her grandmother what she remembered hearing her say to her mom. “You should know how it feels to lose your oldest daughter to your own sister. Do you know what it did to me when you begged to go and live with her? You said you hated me and never wanted to see me again.”

And then you said, “Vanessa…would you like to come and live with Grandma Morris? You’re the oldest, just like your mother. Give Vanessa to me, Jennifer. She looks just like you did when you were her age.”

Annette recognized the voice that was recounting what happened that day. It was Vanessa. She couldn’t move. She was finally hearing the truth.

Vanessa continued. “My mom said you were out of  your mind and she was going to take Annette. She said you had forced her to stay with you long after she should have been out on her own living her own life. We were all going to leave. That’s when mom ran to grab me, but you picked up the red can and threw the gas on her. And then you pushed her. I remember the look of horror on my mother’s face when she fell into the fire.”

Vanessa walked closer to the bed. Mrs. Morris had her eyes closed. “Did you hear me?” She asked.

Annette had heard enough and entered the room.

“It should have been you who died in that fire,” she said to her sleeping mother.

“She’s not awake,” Vanessa said. “Look…her pillow is on the floor. Help me lift her head and put her pillow under it. I want her to see us when she wakes up.”

Several minutes later, Kat saw Annette and Vanessa come out of Mrs. Morris’ room. Vanessa went to her room and Annette left the hospital. She was still carrying the bag.

Murdo Girl…Getting reunion ready

I haven’t been to a reunion since 2016, but I still remember all the things I have to do to get ready. You might want to take notes if you have a reunion of any kind coming up. Well, not any kind…only where you’ll be seeing people who haven’t seen you in a while.

Rule #1: Be sure and give yourself enough time.

Don’t set goals that are impossible to reach. For example…I’m meeting Billy, Gus, and Cousin Valerie at the gathering of people who are from Jones County, which is held in Mesa, Arizona every year. We went in 2018 and had a great time. This year it’s on February 6th, so I started getting ready several hours ago.

Rule #2: Gain ten pounds.

I usually need to lose some weight or at least keep from adding el-bees. It’s amazing how quickly those pounds I lost when I was having all those surgeries showed up again. My goal this time was to lose five of them. Instead, like always, I’m on my way to gaining five more. Yesterday, I made Joyce Hurst’s chocolate fudge cream pie from the Jones County Bicentennial Cookbook. I might have time to make it again before the reunion, or I might make Fern Penticoff’s yummy chocolate cake. Both are good for one to two pounds.

I use my cookbook a lot as you can see by the condition it’s in.

Rule #3: Get a really bad haircut

Even though I know from past experience that I’ll be unhappy with the outcome, I have to do it anyway. It always, always, turns out too short and it in no way resembles the ten pictures I have shown the beautician…or stylist, or whatever you call them now.

I just got the too short haircut a week ago, so no matter how much I pull on it, I won’t be able to get it the right length in time.

That’s pretty much it. Sometimes I throw in no sleep the night before, which will happen this time because I have to get up at 4:00 a.m. to make it to the airport on time.

I shared my “before reunion” routine with Judy Dykstra-Brown, who plans to attend the Jones County gathering. She informed me that she’s gone through the steps and she’s ready to go. She’s such an overachiever.

Cousin Valerie never follows the rules. I try not to be in too many pictures with her.

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 39, Will she go home

Thinking Vanessa was sleeping comfortably, Kat decided to take Annette to the hospital cafeteria and get them both something to eat. She had a lot of questions for Annette, but now was not the time.

“I know it must have hurt when your mother asked to see Jennifer instead of you. You have to remember, she has been very confused and it’s likely to get worse. Especially with the trauma of the fire.”

“I know, Kat. Her mind has gone back to before Jennifer died. You know, I have spent all these years trying to be everything my mother needed in a daughter, but it was always Jennifer she wanted.”

“How did it happen, Annette?” How did Jennifer get so badly burned? I would have thought the fire would have been contained in a small fire pit?”

I wasn’t there when it happened. I had returned to the house to get marshmallows. I was almost back to the picnic spot when I heard a scream. As I got closer, I could see Mother was just standing there. The little girls were hystetical. Jennifer was lying on the ground, motionless. I grabbed the girls and ran to the house to get my stepfather. He put a light blanket around Jennifer and carried her to the car. Then shoved Mother in and took off for the hospital. I stayed behind with Vanessa and Alice. They asked if they could color. They acted as if nothing had happened. They were in shock.

My stepfather came back for the girls, and when it was all over, Jack took them home. We never saw them again until now.

Mother stayed in her room for weeks afterward. I took meals to her and tried to get her to come out of her depression.

“But how did the fire get out of hand? Do you know?”

“I only know what Mother told me. To get the fire started, we poured some gasoline on a couple of logs. Apparently, Alice, who was only four, saw us and decided to do what we had done. She started to pour gas on the fire. Jennifer reached out to grab her, but Alice started to run. Jennifer tripped and fell, knocking the gas can over. Gas spilled out into the fire. Her dress caught fire and she wasn’t able to get up and out of the fire. Jennifer didn’t have a chance.”

“Mother found a way to blame me. She said I had left the gas can too close to the fire, though I know I didn’t.”

Annette hadn’t even taken a bite of her food. “Mother doesn’t want to see me and the cabin is gone. I have my car here so I think I’ll go home. The doctors can call me if they need me.”

Kat didn’t argue with Annette. Maybe it was best for her to get away.

Kat was on her way to check on Vanessa when a nurse caught up with her. “We had to sedate her,” she said. “She was crying uncontrollaby, and we weren’t able to calm her down any other way.”

Kat sat in Vanessa’s room for hours until she finally woke up. When she saw Kat, she immediately dissolved into tears. “Where’s my daddy?” She asked. “I have to tell him.”

“Your daddy is with Alice. They flew her to a hospital in Boston where they’ll be able to make her well, faster.”

Vanessa looked stunned. As the news that Alice didn’t die sunk in, her thoughts turned back to Mrs. Morris. It was her fault, Vanessa thought. Mrs. Morris was responsible for her mother’s death and she was the reason Alice almost died.

It looked like it might be a few days before Vanessa would be released so Kat made arrangements at a nearby motel and she was able to pick up a few things at a shopping center close to the hospital.

Edith Morris’ body, if not her mind, was healing as well and a couple of days later, Annette came back. Her mother would need a nurse to care for her at (Annette’s) home and she had to make the arrangements.

A week passed and things were looking better. Jack called and said Alice had turned the corner and she was getting stronger each day. Vanessa was to be discharged the next day and Mrs Morris would be going to Annette’s home.

Vanessa was in her hospital bed. This would be the last night she would be under the same roof as Mrs. Morris. She couldn’t bear to think of that evil woman as her grandmother. “I’m going to pay her a visit,” Vanessa whispered. “And then, I’ll never see her again.”

Annette was sitting at a table at the Roadside Cafe. The mother who hated her was going home with her tomorrow. “I can’t do it,” she thought. “There must be some way that I can get her out of my life.”

Murdo Girl..Living the dream, 37, Evil takes over

“There are some things I don’t understand, Kat.” Jack and Kat were sitting in the hospital waiting room while Vanessa slept. Dr. Clark was keeping her well sedated while she recovered from all of those hours in the freezing temperatures.

They were continuing to try to stabilize poor little Alice whose condition was much more critical than Vanessa’s. Her blood pressure had dropped so low from the effects of hours in the snowstorm, the fear was, it had done permanent damage. She needed to be in a larger, more well equipped hospital, but as of yet, it was too dangerous to move her.

“You’re wondering how Annette and her mother could do this aren’t you?” Kat got up and got herself a glass of water.

“Yes and why…why Kat, would Edith Morris take my daughters to the place their mother had been fatally burned while they watched it all happen?”

“We need to find Annette,” Kat said. “I need to know if my mother was Edith Morris’ sister, and if she was, what does that tell me about my past.”

“It tells you she practically abandoned you while she lived in Seattle and raised my sister.” Unbeknownst to Jack and Kat, Annette had arrived and overheard the last part of the conversation. “As far as why? My mother, your aunt, never accepted the fact that after our father died, Jennifer wanted nothing to do with us and was finally allowed to go to Seattle and live with your mother. I was left to deal with the insanity that overcame our mother. I was eight years old when Jennifer left. All this happened because my mother is insane… and violent.”

“I occasionally saw my mother during those years,” Kat said. “But it was my understanding her work took her overseas. If your mother was too sick to care for you, why didn’t my mother take you to raise as well? She was your aunt, too.”

“I had the same question which is why I tracked down Aunt Claire. Jack was already working with her, but I had no idea he had been Jennifer’s husband until your Thanksgiving party.”

“Is that why you left the party so suddenly?” Kat asked.

The doctor came into the room before Annette could answer.

“Mrs. Morris is awake and asking to see her daughter. You can go in, but don’t stay long. She is in a lot of pain and we’re having to constantly treat her burns to avoid infection.” With that, Dr. Clark started to lead Annette to her mother’s room, but she didn’t move.

“Would you like me to go with you?” Kat asked. It didn’t seem real that the woman lying in there so badly injured was her aunt. Annette nodded in response to Kat’s question.

Both were shocked by what they saw when they entered the room. Kat heard Annette gasp and it was her natural instinct to put her arm around her cousin’s shoulders.

“Whose there? I can’t see you.”

“It’s Annette, Mother.”

“I wanted to see Jennifer! I asked them to bring my daughter to me!”

Edith Morris was so upset, she could be heard in the hallway, which prompted a nurse to come and see what was going on.

“I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” the nurse said as she rushed to calm her patient.

Back in the waiting room, Jack was talking with two doctors and another man.

“We’re ready to go as soon as you are, Doctor,” the man said.

Doctor Cark turned to Jack and told him they needed to move Alice while the weather was cooperating. The danger of keeping her at Danfield’s small hospital too much longer, out weighed the risk of moving her.

Jack saw Kat and Annette walk into the room. “Kat, can you stay and look after Vanessa? They’re flying Alice to a Boston hospital and I’m going with them.”

“Of course, Jack. “Please keep me informed.”

Later that night, Vanessa woke up to a quiet hospital. Her thoughts immediately went to her sister, Alice.

She needed to see her. She decided to slip out of her bed and find her sister’s room. Quietly, she walked down the hall looking at the names on the little inserts until she came to the one that said Alice Stein.

All Vanessa saw when she entered the room was an empty hospital bed. Thinking the worst, she immediately began to scream.

Hearing Vanessa’s screams, the nurse who was two rooms down came running.

“Your sister is gone, honey. Let me help you back to your room.”

All Vanessa heard was, “Your sister is gone.”

Vanessa layed in her bed that night and she remembered. She remembered her mother pushing her away from the fire Mrs. Morris had built and her mother’s beautiful dress catching on fire. She remembered another fire Mrs. Morris built when they all went to have a picnic, and she remembered the evil woman who had been badly burned, sitting next to her in the back of the police car.

“Why did you leave me?” She had asked.

“She has to be stopped!” Vanessa whispered. “Mrs. Morris has to be stopped!”

Murdo Girl…Fully vetted

We’ve turned our tiny home into a dog infirmary. Our little cocker spaniels both had some surgery.

We’ve got drain tubes to take care of and stitches to be healed. The inside of our home looks like a battlefield.

Gauze and tape and sizzors litter counters, chairs and floors. Those cones to stop the licking? They won’t wear them anymore.

Our new German Pointer has  been good beyond belief. That is until she realized she’s not commander in chief.

Don’t even get me started on the real queen of the house. I’m sure she’d turn her nose up if she ever saw a mouse.

If she comes walking toward me I don’t make eye contact. You see she’s very needy and that’s a well-known fact.

She likes to have her ears scratched and she’s a real lap cat. She insists she has her treats on time which makes her a fat cat.

We’re wearing ourselves out making sure they all get well. Then the McNinch infirmary will be the McNinch Hotel.

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 36, Painful days

“I’m so sorry, Jack. I never thought about the cafe closing. We should have called ahead and explained the circumstances.” Kat knew how panicked Jack must be.

“I wonder where Annette has gone.” Jack said. He was clearly devastated.

“I’ll contact the police,” Jack heard Agent Stedman say as he watched him pull out his phone. Thankfully, he had service. “They’re aware of the whole situation, but the storm probably stopped any kind of investigation in it’s tracks.”

Jack was trying to reach Annette but either the call wasn’t going through, or she was choosing not to pick up.


“Pretty ironic isn’t it?” Dr. Clark said. “We have two young girls who were on the verge of freezing to death and a woman who has been badly burned in a fire. I wonder if there is somehow a connection. Is there any word from the police concerning their identity?”

“No Dr., but the cell service is still spotty in some areas and the police are trying to put out fires of their own. I’m sure there are a lot of people stranded.”

The nurse and doctor heard a voice come over the intercome. “Dr. Clark, please come to the nurse’s station.”

“I’ll be back. Keep a close eye on these girls. Especially the younger one.”

Dr. Clark hurried to the nurse’s station where he noticed two men were waiting for him. They pulled out their FBI identification and introduced themselves before asking if an older woman and two young girls had by chance been admitted.

“Two policemen brought them all here a couple of hours ago. The woman and the youngest girl are unconscious and in pretty bad shape. The older girl is in a lot of pain. We’re treating that now, but she’s pretty confused and hasn’t been able to tell us much.”

Blake Stedman was anxious to call his friend, Jack to tell him the news. “Dr. Clark…have you heard from someone by the name of Annette Morris?”

“No one by that name has been here, as far as I know. The two policemen who brought the woman and two girls here said they were headed over to the Roadside Cafe to talk to a young lady who was waiting for news on her mother and two girls. Could that be her? They were going to tell her all three were here.

I guess she left the cafe thinking the police hadn’t found them. The girl had given Sandy, who works at the cafe, her name and number. I placed a call, and I thought someone answered, but then it went dead.”

“Thank you, Dr.. We’ll let you get back to your patients. The girl’s father is waiting at the cafe now. We’ll be bringing him here…and Dr. Clark, if you should hear from Miss Morris, please call me. Here’s my card.”

Annette hadn’t recognized the voice on the other end of the call before she lost the connection. She was still a little over halfway between Danfield and the cabin site…and she was stuck. Thankfully, she had some warm clothes in the trunk. She also had a shovel and began to start digging herself out. Periodically, she stopped to check on her phone service.

Edith Morris was beginning to come around and the pain from her burned body was excrutiating. Where is my Jennifer? Where has she gone? She was remembering the day Jennifer had been badly burned by a campfire that had gotten out of hand.

In the process of grabbing each of her little girls to get them out of harm’s way, Jennifer’s pretty summer dress had become engulfed in flames. Edith had stood and watched, unable to move as she saw her daughter lose her balance and fall back into the fire. The screams brought Annette, who had gone back to the house, running to the spot where they had all been having a picnic.

Annette was exhausted from shoveling and decided to take a break and warm up in the car. The battery on her cell had died so she started up the car and plugged her phone in.

Her thoughts also went back to the day Jennifer died.

Her older sister and her two little girls had come for a visit. It was the first time Annette had seen her little nieces and it had been ten years since she had seen her sister, Jennifer.

They were up in the mountains when the terrible accident happened, and the fastest way to get Jennifer to the hospital was to put her in the car and drive her there. The little girls stayed behind with Annette while her mother and stepfather rushed a badly burned and mercifully unconscious Jennifer to the hospital. Edith’s husband later drove back to the cabin to get the little girls and bring them to the hospital so they would be there when their father arrived.

Neither of the girls talked about the fire or their mother. They sang songs all the way to the hospital. Annette stayed back at the cabin. She had no desire to witness what was happening to her sister.

When Jack and Kat arrived at the hospital, Dr. Clark informed them that Vanessa would need to be in the hospital for a few days, but she would fully recover.

Jack allowed himself to take a deep breath. “What about Alice?” He asked. “How is she?”

Dr. Clark motioned for Jack and Kat to sit down. “We’re doing everything we can, but it’s not looking good.”

Jack reached into his shirt pocket and brought out a picture that he had obviously looked at many times. “Oh, Jen he said. “I am so sorry.”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 35, Where did they go?

The two FBI Agents, followed by Kat, and Jack headed for Danfield. It was a two hour trip under the best of conditions, but the bad weather was sure to delay them.


“You didn’t stay in touch with Jennifer’s family after she died, Jack? And the girls never mentioned their Aunt Annette?” Kat was curious as to how this could have happened.

“No, Kat. The girls were only four and six. I guess seeing their mother so badly burned and then learning she didn’t survive, traumatized them so much they blocked it all out. They didn’t remember anything about the trip or the fire. I didn’t realize that until I tried to question them after the funeral. I was grateful none of Jennifer’s family came or tried to reach us later. I didn’t even know about Annette. That’s why the whole time I worked with her, I didn’t know anything about her being Jennifer’s sister.”

“I hope Annette is still at the cafe when we get there. What did the police say when you called them, Jack?” They didn’t even know for sure if Mrs. Morris and the girls were at the cabin that was burning, Kat thought. The other scary thought was Vanessa and Alice were with a woman who was living in the past. Was she reliving the events that led up to her daughter’s death?“They said they had two policemen in the area and would let me know if they were able to find them… or anyone else in distress. The firetruck came back down a while ago. They found the cabin, but no one was there.”

It was going to be a very long drive.

Annette wanted to run! She didn’t want to be at the cafe when Jack arrived. Would Kat be with him? Where were the policemen who promised to come back and tell her when they found her mother and the girls?

The waitress, Sandy, looked over at the poor distraught young woman. What was her story, she wondered. She made a sandwich and took it to Annette’s table.


“Here, eat this. You have been waiting here for hours. You must be hungry and even if you aren’t, eat it anyway.”

“Thank you.” Annette took a bite, but it stuck in her throat. She took a sip of water, and gave up trying to eat.

“I heard Pete and Carl, those two policemen who were in here tell you they would come back if they found your mother and the girls. I’ve known those two for years. They will find them, and they will be back. You can be sure of that. Now, eat that sandwich. It looks like the storm has let up.”

Sandy walked over to look out the window. “I told you they would be back.”

Annette rushed to the window. She saw the policemen, but there was no one with them. “They didn’t find my mother and the girls.” Annette rushed out to her car, started it up, and headed toward the road before the policeman could stop her.wp-15795738142308294075020442881849.jpg

“She must have gotten the word that her mother and the two girls are in the hospital. I guess we can go home, Carl,” Pete said,  “I’m ready for a hot meal.”


Annette had made it within a few miles of the cabin when she got bogged down in the snow. She had hoped she would see her mother and the two girls in her mother’s car or walking. She couldn’t think about the possibility of them being injured in a fire.

She was about to get out of the car and continue to walk up the the mountain, when her phone rang. Surprised she had cell service now, it took her a minute to answer.

“I’m looking for an Annette Morris,” the voice on the other end said. “Do I have the right number?”


Jack, and Kat pulled into the Roadside Cafe behind the two FBI agents.

The cafe was closed…