Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 51, The nightmare is over

Edith Morris hadn’t been able to sleep. She was anxious to get out of that dreadful hospital. Her once beautiful face was now scarred and ugly. As always, Annette had ruined everything.

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All Edith had wanted was to get to know her grandchildren. She had to know if they remembered anything about the day their mother, Jennifer, accidentally fell into the fire. She couldn’t live another minute with the fear that she might possibly be blamed for Jennifer’s death. The more she thought about it, the more she was convinced those girls could never be trusted to leave it all alone. 

Even now, she wondered where they were. She knew they had been brought to the hospital. She was in the police car with them. Annette had refused to discuss them with her, but that was okay. Edith didn’t say much to anyone, anyway. She decided to bide her time until Annette took her home tomorrow. She had hired a full-time nurse to take care of her. She would find a way to take care of those girls. 

Around seven p.m. Edith asked for a sedative. A strong one. She was sound asleep within a few minutes.

Sandy

 “I took a warm pie from the restaurant and wrapped it in a tea towel. It must have been about 7:30. If anyone saw me go into the room, I would say I was taking a gift for her and Annette. When I got there, I saw that she was sleeping soundly. I wrapped the towel around her face and held it there until I thought she must be dead. I was crying so hard, I had to take the towel and wipe my eyes. I ran out. I couldn’t believe what I had done.”

Paul

“I went to her room around 8:00 o’clock. I thought about everyone she had hurt. I felt responsible in some way for letting her continue to destroy everyone around her, especially Annette. Edith was sleeping soundly. It would be easy to put an end to her miserable life. I pulled the pillow out from under her head and put it over her face. I held it there for a while, but then I heard someone in the hall, so I left. The pillow fell to the floor. I had to hurry, so I didn’t pick it up. I looked back and saw a young girl go into the room.”

Annette and Jack had come into the kitchen to see what was going on.

“It must have been Vanessa going into the room,” Annette said. “She wouldn’t have known you. I got there shortly after and Vanessa was there talking to Mother, but she was sleeping. She was trying to tell Mother she remembered that it was her that pushed her mother, Jennifer, into the fire. We noticed the pillow on the floor, so we picked it up and put it under her head. A nurse came in to check on her, so we left.”

“I have a question, Pop.”

“What is it, Sugar?”

“Did you lie to me when you said you went to Mother’s room at 9:30? You said you went there to make sure she wouldn’t go home, but when you got there, she was already dead.”

“I didn’t lie. I wasn’t sure if she was dead, so I went back. She was most certainly deceased when I got there at 9:30. I thought that I had killed her until you told me a nurse confirmed she was still alive at 8:30. Now I realize it was Stella that wrote the note in her chart that said she was just sleeping.”

Stella

“I was cooking at Paul’s cafe when I decided I had to do something to stop Edith. I went to the hospital and when I got there, I found the nurse’s locker room where I was able to find some scrubs that fit. I also put a cap on. When the girls left, I took the pillow out from under Edith’s head and covered her face. She didn’t move, so I assumed she was dead. I took her chart and wrote down the blood pressure numbers that were close to the ones on the previous line. I said she was sleeping and didn’t want to wake her, and then I left. Vanessa and Annette had only seen me a couple of times and they didn’t appear to recognize me in my get-up.”

“What time was that?” The detective asked.

“It must have been around 8:30. That’s what I wrote on the chart.”

“Was the pillow still on her face when you left?”

“No, I placed it back under her head.”

“And you couldn’t tell if she was still breathing?”

“I was too nervous to think about it I guess. She looked dead to me, and she didn’t move a muscle when I put the pillow under her head.”

The detective was wearing his hat out pushing it back and forth on his head.

“Let me get this straight,” he said. “Miss Sandy brought a pie and tried to kill Mrs. Morris at 7:30. Paul Morris tried to kill her at 8:00…then, Miss Stella, who dressed up like a nurse, got there at 8:30 and attempted to kill Mrs. Morris. Lastly, Mr. Morris came back at 9:30 in case he had to finish what he had started at 8:30.”

“Now, let me look here. The coroner’s report stated the time of death was between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. Looks like even though she was smothered three times within a couple of hours, she remained alive unless Mr. Morris is not being truthful when he said she was dead at 9:30 and in fact, he finished her off.”

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“How did you determine that she was…most certainly dead, Mr. Morris?”

“This time, I checked her pulse.”

“Did you notify anyone in the hospital that Mrs. Morris was deceased?”

“No. I figured I had killed her when I was there earlier, and at the time, I wasn’t anxious for anyone to know it was me.  Since it was never proven, I didn’t let myself believe that she had killed Jennifer, but I knew what she did to Jennifer’s daughters. I had left Annette with her and she made her feel like she was unloved and worthless. She brainwashed her own daughter until she believed kidnapping Vanessa and Alice was the right thing to do. You see, I killed Edith to assuage my own guilt. I was ultimately responsible for all of it. I will gladly turn myself in for the death of Edith Morris.” 

“What none of you knew was that Mrs. Morris was never going home. Upon release from the hospital, she was going to be charged with her crimes. She was to be held in a State Hospital until she was well enough to stand trial.”

“I’ll need you all to come down to the station and put your statements in writing.”

***************************************

 Annette stayed in Danfield. Paul, Sandy, and Stella were all out on bail. Their attorney felt their cases were weak and would eventually be dismissed. It turned out that Mrs. Morris had been so heavily sedated that her time of death couldn’t be accurately determined. Any one of the pillows and tea towels could have done the job.

Stella told Kat she had boarded Trixie and Spirit. Were they ever happy to see her and she was happy to see them. It was wonderful to get back to her daily runs on the beach with Spirit. She and Jack were becoming good friends and they made the commitment to each other that there would be no more undercover work. Hopefully, Stella would be home soon. Alice was improving daily and would be released from the hospital in a few days. Kat watched over Vanessa while Jack spent time in Boston with his youngest daughter.

Kat looked around at her beautiful home on the Cape. “Do you suppose we can finally live the dream?” Kat asked Spirit and Trixie. It was a beautiful day and she was enjoying her coffee while looking out her kitchen window at the beach. “Today we will,” she said. “Today we will live the dream.

 

 

 

 

 

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 50, Someone confesses


“What do you suppose that was all about? Jack was getting frustrated. He had to get his daughter, Vanessa, who was being discharged from the hospital in a few hours. He needed to take her home. His younger daughter, Alice would be in the hospital in Boston for a few more weeks.

“I don’t know,” Kat said as she got up from the table, “but I’m about to find out.”

“I’ll go with you.” The detective got up to join her. “Everyone else stay here.”

Kat was about to enter the cafe’s kitchen when she heard Paul say, “I think it’s time to tell the detective everything.”

The detective did not agree.

“I think we need to go down to the station. It’s time we get your statements.”

“That won’t be necessary,” they heard a voice say.


Kat saw the shadow of someone standing near the doorway. “Come out where we can see you,” Kat said. “Who are you?”

“They deserved so much more…”

The figure moved into the light. “I took care of your mother for twenty years. I loved her like a daughter and we both loved Jennifer. We were devastated by her death. When I heard what Edith did to Jennifer’s daughters, her own granddaughters, I had to come. I did what I did for your mother, Kat, for Claire.”

Kat was stunned. She couldn’t believe it was Stella speaking.

Sandy continued where Stella left off. “I was here when Edith pushed her own daughter, Jennifer, into the fire. This little town of Danfield was horrified, but not surprised. It was never proven because there was no one but the little girls to see it and they couldn’t remember. But we all knew. Then Paul left Edith. Later, he came back and bought this cafe. Edith and Annette started spending more time in Brewster. It appeared Annette was doing well and had a successful career. Then she showed up here one night. She was a complete wreck. When she told me her name, I called Paul. I knew he was Annette’s stepfather. He didn’t know how she would react to seeing him, so he stayed away. He asked if I would keep an eye on her. I was so angry that Edith had done such terrible things to her two daughters and those precious granddaughters. I wanted to kill her.”

“I never should have left Annette with her,” Paul said. “I had adopted her. I was the only father she had ever known. I knew she would never leave her mother alone and I couldn’t stay. I had to make Edith’s evil acts stop…forever.”

“Wait…the detective sat down on a stool and pushed his hat back. It was darned hot in that kitchen. “If I’m hearing you all correctly, one of you was responsible for suffocating Edith Morris?”

“You’re right,” Stella said. “One of us killed her, but we don’t know which one.”

Next: The night Edith died

Murdo Girl…Catching up and whodunnit

We’re nearing the end of the Living the dream, whodunnit story, and I have to say I’ve really had fun with it. There is a new chapter a couple of paragraphs down.

I’ve been busy doing nothing since I got home from the Jones County gathering. It’s not that I don’t have plenty to do, it’s that I injured myself. You know you’re getting old when you blow a knee just by standing up. It happened Friday shortly after we got home from the airport. I’ve tried to manage the swelling and pain by staying off of it and applying ice and heat.

This morning, I’m able to put a little weight on it. I worry that it’s going to give out on me.

Speaking of doctors, which we weren’t, I go back to UTSW the end of this week and the first of next week for follow-up tests and appointments with the two oncologists I see. I’m also having another colonoscopy. I’m not at all concerned about anything other than the colonoscopy. A lot of new polyps would not be a good thing.

It will be a year on Valentine’s Day since I had my first surgery. In the beginning, I promised to keep you up to date and I continue to emphasize that early detection is the key.

I’ve come to realize that for someone who is not a joiner, I’ve joined a lot of clubs. I’m now a proud member of the local Women’s Club in addition to the Literary Club, and the Book Club. I’m also being encouraged to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. It’s probably too much, but I enjoy them.

I’m also working on a storybook of nursery rhymes and photos for a friend’s granddaughter and co-writing a series of children’s Christian stories with another friend. Both have been slow going.

This is beginning to sound like a Christmas letter that no one will read. I guess the raining and the hurting are crushing my creativity.

Here’s a twist for you…

When Kat and Annette left the hospital, they stopped at the Roadside Cafe where they expected to see the detective, Paul, and Jack. Sandy told them the detective was checking on a lead and Jack was going to have lunch at the hospital with Vanessa. They were all supposed to meet back at the cafe at 1:00.

“Shall we just grab a sandwich here,” Kat said. “I’m getting pretty hungry.”

“Me too. For some reason, a cheeseburger sounds good.” Annette hadn’t eaten much in days.

Sandy put the orders in and since there weren’t many customers, she sat down to visit. Gossip that she was, she wanted to hear the latest.

“Where’s Paul?” Annette asked.

“He’s cooking at the moment. The cook who didn’t make it in this morning, called and said she got mixed up and thought she had the day off. She’s supposed to be here at one. I guess since she’s fairly new, Paul let it go.”

Paul came out with the sandwiches. “Here you go, ladies. Lunch is on the house. Thanks to you, Annette, I’m going to smell like a cheeseburger for the rest of the day”

At one o’clock, Paul was still waiting for the cook, and Jack returned from seeing Vanessa. The detective got there a few minutes later.

“I guess we need to fill you in on what we learned at the hospital,” Kat volunteered. “It seems the nurse who checked on Edith Morris just before she died, was an imposter.”

The detective and Jack looked surprised. Paul got up and cleared the table. Sandy excuse herself and followed Paul into the kitchen.

Forty-five minutes after 1:00, the cook drove up and parked close to the restaurant. The group seated at the table didn’t see her get out of the car and go into the kitchen through the back door.

“I shouldn’t have told you to come in” Paul said. “They’re all here.”

“So are we,” Sandy said. “Everything is as it should be.”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream…48, Vanessa knows something

“Seeing that woman walking her dog really makes me miss Spirit and Trixie,” Kat said. “I should probably give Stella a call and see how they’re all doing.”

“Have you thought about the questions we should ask the hospital staff when we get there?” Annette was getting nervous about interviewing her mother’s nurses and others who possibly witnessed something nefarious or suspicious. Maybe one of them even disliked her enough to harm her…although that seemed a little far fetched.

“Those nurses and other staff members were there the whole time. We were not. It’s worth a shot.”

“You know, Kat. I don’t feel like someone who just lost their mother should feel.”

“She was hateful to you, Annette. I’m happy you’re free of her. People’s lives were destroyed because of Edith Morris.”

When Kat and Annette arrived at the hospital, they first stopped by Vanessa’s room to tell her Jack would be there in the morning to pick her up after she was discharged.

“I am so ready to leave this place,” she said. “I know all of the nurses think I had something to do with Mrs. Morris’, or should I say, dear Grandma’s, death.”

“Why do you think that?” Kat asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe they’re afraid I saw something.”

Kat told Vanessa they were there to talk with the nurses and other staff who were working during the time Mrs. Morris was killed. “Is there anything you can remember that might have been a little out of the ordinary at any time that day or night?”

“There is something that keeps coming back to me,” Vanessa said. “There was a nurse on that night that I had never seen here before and I haven’t seen her since. She looked familiar to me, but I don’t know why.”

The hospital administrator was very helpful. She gathered the employee records and developed a timeline of that night. Then she brought each person in to voluntarily answer some questions.

Kat and Annette had talked to several employees before they finally stumbled onto something.

“I understand you were the nurse assigned to Mrs. Morris until 10:00 p.m., Miss Sims.”

Kat was aware that this nurse would most likely be the one able to remember something.

“Yes…I was…at least most of that time. I had an emergency, (or so I thought), with one of my other patient’s. Another nurse checked Mrs. Morris’ vitals for me.”

“What time did this all happen?” Annette asked. And what was this nurse’s name?”

“It must have been around 8:30. I don’t know who the other nurse was. I pulled Mrs. Morris’ chart and saw that another nurse had noted the vitals and that the patient was resting comfortably.”

“You don’t remember the nurse’s name?”

“No, I assumed it was JoAnne or Susan. They were the only other nurses who were working on this floor.”

“Thank you, Nurse Sims. You’ve been very helpful.” Kat and Annette both knew what their next step would be.

Back in the administrator’s office, they repeated what Nurse Sims had told them.

“I’m not at all happy that Nurse Sims didn’t verify who made the notes. I’ll get the file and take a look. Stay here. This will only take a minute.”

When she returned, she had a puzzled look on her face.

“This is not the signature of any of the nurse’s whom we’ve determined were on duty that night and there was no emergency. We’ll definitely do some further investigating on our end. If we are able to verify who wrote these notes, I will be in touch.”

“Thank you,” Annette said. “We’re grateful for any help you can give us.”

“Certainly…and please accept my condolences.”

“Miss Morris,” they heard someone say. “Your niece asked if you were still here. She would like to see you, again.”

Annette and Kat went back to Vanessa’s room. “I remembered something else about the nurse. The one I haven’t seen since she was in my grandmother’s room that night.”

“What do remember, honey?”

“This might sound funny,” Vanessa said. “But she smelled like hamburgers.”

Murdo Girl…We went to the Jones County gathering (I think)

I was on my way to Mesa, Arizona. The flight attendant was going through her blurb. “Does anyone here not know how to open the emergency exit? If you don’t, sit by someone who does. Same way with the seatbelts. Remember, you all need to help yourself before you help your kids with the oxygen mask. The same thing goes for the peanuts. To those of you who actually use the yellow laminated cards with instructions on how to put on the life vests, please put them back before leaving.

For those of you flying economy, you get to deplane first. For those in first class, we usually land about ten minutes later.”

Thus began my trip to the annual Jones County gathering held in Mesa, Arizona. I was meeting my brother, Billy, our 2nd father, Gus, and our very special Cousin, Valerie, who were all coming from California.

Mick and Marilyn Penticoff and Chris and Belva Anderson are the main organizers of the event. Others help out and bring wonderful food. All our bunch does is show up and enjoy.

Billy and Gus picked Val and me up at the airport, and off we went.

We intended to arrive a tad late because we were hoping no one would notice we didn’t bring anything. We stopped to shop at a 99 cent store two blocks away. (We didn’t realize we were so close.) I bought some hairspray, and we headed for the gathering. After going to two wrong venues, three tries involving four GPS routes, two calls to Chris, and another swing by the 99 cent store, we finally arrived.

My brother, Billy, went to Murdo High School with Mick, Chris, Patti Dykstra Arnieri, (who taught all the guys how to dance), and Dwight McCurdy. They’re all part of a group who have remained great friends through the years. They always have a lot of fun getting together at the gatherings. Even though I’ve heard many of the stories before, they’re even better the second time around.

I also went to Murdo High School. In fact, Morris Haugland, who at the time was the Superintendent of Schools, was at the gathering. I also really enjoyed talking with his sister, Essie. Their mother, Doris, was one of Mom’s good friends.

I’m not going to start naming others because I’ll leave someone out. I will tell you who traveled the greatest distance. That would be someone whose writing talents I greatly admire. Judy Dykstra-Brown traveled all the way from Mexico. The runner-up was our group. No prizes were awarded.

We really had a great time visiting with people we don’t get to see very often. It’s so much fun catching up with old friends and listening to everyone talk about their memories.

I can’t believe I didn’t get any pictures. I enjoyed talking, laughing and eating so much, I forgot to take any. Just take my word for it. Everyone looks great!

Like all fun days, we hated for it to end. The time to go came and went and came again before we finally went. I won’t even go into our trip to the hotel, but I had no idea there were so many La Quinta’s in Mesa.

After a nice breakfast this morning, Billy and Gus dropped Val and me off at the airport. I was at the wrong terminal so I had to commute by train to the right one. On the second leg from Houston to Dallas, when I got to the gate after a short layover, I realized I had lost my phone. Some nice man let me use his to call myself in case someone had found it. Then I realized my phone was still in airplane mode and it wouldn’t ring, anyway. I was directed to the TSA desk and after proving I was me, the lady handed it over. I’m so thankful it was found. I got back to the gate ten minutes before we boarded. Otherwise, other than being pulled aside by security because of the hairspray I purchased at the 99 cent store, the trip back was pretty uneventful.

I know Cousin Val made it home, but I haven’t heard from Gus and Bill who had a seven hour drive ahead of them.

On behalf of our bunch, I would like to thank everyone for the wonderful hospitality they showed us. A special thanks to Marilyn Penticoff and Belva Anderson for putting in some extra hours and providing some great food. You’re the best! Patti’s husband, Jim, was also a good sport.

What else can I say. A great time was had by all.

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 47, Full disclosures?

“You two wait here in case Annette shows up. I’m going to see if I can track down Paul Morris.”

The detective had no idea who killed Edith Morris, but he had a suspicion that her former husband had something to do with it.

Annette listened as her adoptive father told her what had happened in the recent years and months leading up to Edith’s death.

“I own the Roadside cafe, sugar. I bought it years ago, right after your mother and I divorced. I always knew I would come back and even though your life had taken you to the Cape, I knew you and your mother would spend time here, too.”

“Did you stay in touch with Mother over the years?”

“Not directly. Your mother didn’t know I bought the cafe. I kept track of you through a mutual acquaintance.

I knew Edith was supposed to be released from the hospital, today and your plan was to take her home. I couldn’t let that happen, so I went to see her. I got there around 9:30 p.m. and she was already dead. I don’t think anyone was even aware that I was there. At least I hope not.”

“Vanessa and I went to her room around 7:30. We left when a nurse came in to check her vitals. The nurse made a note that said she was alive at 8:30. I guess that means someone got to her between 8:30 and 9:30.

Paul was trying to recall his own observations. I can’t believe her death wasn’t discovered until midnight. Has the coroner come back with a time of death?”

Annette suddenly remembered she was supposed to be meeting Jack, Kat, and the detective at the cafe.

“The detective said they should have the coroner’s report today.”

Before Annette had a chance to tell her Pop that she was supposed to be meeting with everyone at his cafe, there was a knock at the door.

When Paul Morris opened the door to his hotel room, he came face to face with the detective.

“Pop, this is the detective assigned to Mother’s case. Detective, this is my stepfather, or I should say adoptive father, Paul Morris.”

“Hello Detective. Please come in.

Annette listened as Paul Morris told the detective everything he had just told her. There was something nagging at her. Should she tell Pop that she knew the woman he had been arguing with in the courtyard? He hadn’t mentioned her, which told Annette he hadn’t seen her when he looked her way before entering his room.

“Have you heard from the coroner, Detective? Has he established the time.of death?” Annette asked.

“Yes…she was found at least two hours after she died. We’re trying to determine who could have gone to her room, smothered her, and left without being seen. Where were you, Mr. Morris during the time between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.”

“I was in her room at 9:30 and she was already deceased.”

“Did anyone witness you coming or going?” The detective asked.

“No…I purposely avoided being seen by anyone. You see, I had motive, but someone beat me to committing the crime.”

“It appears there was plenty of motive to go around, Mr. Morris. I’d like to ask you a favor. Would you mind supplying a pot of coffee or two. I’d like to meet with everyone at your cafe. Maybe we can narrow this down a little.”

“Do I need to get a lawyer Detective?”

“Well, that’s up to you, Mr. Morris. I’m just an honest, small town detective. I don’t have any tricks up my sleeve or gotcha surprises.”

“Paul wasn’t at all sure this was a good idea, but in the end he agreed.

“I understand the cook didn’t show up today so I’d better check on things, anyway.” He said.

Paul rode with Annette and the detective followed.

“There is one thing you haven’t mentioned, Pop. I saw you in the courtyard arguing with a woman I happen to know. Why are you leaving her out of your explanation?”

“She’s the acquaintance I told you about. She was not a big fan of Edith, either. She was upset with me because I intended to talk with you.”

Annette had a strong feeling that Pop was still holding back something important. When they pulled up at the Roadside Cafe, she was surprised that Kat and Jack were still there.

After all the introductions were made and Sandy had poured them fresh coffee, they began to compare notes.

“We have to get somewhere with this soon,” Jack said. “I have two daughters to take care of.”

“You should really be excused,” the detective said. “You’ve already confessed and that didn’t fly. Please stick around for a while today. Maybe you can add something to what others recall.”

“You have all of our statements, Detective. Have you verified where everyone was when Edith Morris was murdered?”

“I know what everyone’s alibi is, but most of the people I’ve determined had a motive, can’t come up with anyone who saw them entering or leaving Mrs. Morris’ room. The next step is to verify when they “weren’t” there.

“Detective,” Annette said. “Have you interviewed all of the hospital staff who worked last night? Maybe they know something.”

Kat didn’t wait for the detective to answer. “That’s a great idea, Annette. Why don’t you and I go right now.”

As they were pulling out of the cafe parking lot, Kat saw a woman across the road. She was walking a dog. “That dog looks just like Spirit,” she said. “I sure do miss him.”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 46, Paul Morris

“If Paul Morris is Annette’s stepfather, why does she have his last name? Did he adopt her?” The detective had a head full of questions and he wanted answers to them all.

“I’m not sure.” Sandy wondered how much she should tell the detective. She had probably said too much already. “I just met Annette, and when she told me her stepfather’s name was Paul Morris, I remembered him living here years ago.”

Kat jumped in with a question. “I understand Jennifer and Annette’s father died when Jennifer was eleven and Annette was eight. Did Annette tell you when her mother remarried?”

“No, but I got the idea it wasn’t long after she lost her father. She doesn’t mention him very much, but I do know one thing, she adored Paul and was devastated when he left. I’ve got to go back to work. The cook didn’t show, so I have to wait tables and do all the cooking.”

Annette hesitated a moment before knocking on the door of the room belonging to Paul Morris…a man she hadn’t seen since she was seventeen. She had to know why he left and why he came back.

The door opened just a crack at first, and then swung open when Paul Morris saw that it was Annette standing there.

“Hello Pop,” she said. “May I come in?”

“Of course you can, sugar. It’s so good to see you. Come in. We can sit over here. Would you like some coffee?”

“No thank you.” Annette sat down and took a deep breath before she began to speak what was on her heart.

“I’m not going to ask you why you left us, I’m going to ask… how could you? How could you leave a seventeen year old girl who had just graduated from high school with honors. I was ready to move on to college and secure a good future for myself. I wanted to have a career, get married, and have a family. But I couldn’t. You left and Jennifer was gone. I was all Mother had left and even though she was mentally abusive, and was full of resentment and hatred for me, I had to stay.”

Annette looked at the man she had trusted and loved. “How could you, Pop?”

Paul Morris’ eyes filled with stinging tears. Realizing he could never fully explain because the answers would be too painful for her, he took her hand in his.

“I want you to know the proudest day of my life was the day I adopted you. I love you, sugar and I have to ask you to trust me when I say that leaving was the only thing I could do. I was a broken man who had to heal.”

“Why did you come back, Pops? Why now?”

“I had to give you the chance you should have had years ago. I’ve kept a close eye on you, sugar, and I could no longer stand to see what your mother was doing to you.”

“Did you come here to end my mother’s life?”

“I would have done whatever I had to…but I didn’t kill her.”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 45, Annette investigates

“Why would those two be here? And why would they be together?” Annette wondered.

It was already 4:00 a.m. so Annette decided to shower and do a little investigating before she met Jack and Kat in the lobby at 8:00. The plan was for them to compare notes before meeting with the detective at 9:00 at the Roadside Cafe.

When she first heard and then saw the couple by the pool near her patio, her first instinct was to quickly move to a corner of the patio where she couldn’t be seen by the two. She could no longer see the couple, but she could hear them.

“I want to see her. I need to see her,” Annette heard. “I should have made it happen a long time ago.”

“I’m really afraid this is going to end badly,” the other voice answered. “I hope you have a plan to get us out of here. “

“I have told you!!” The other one said angrily. “We aren’t going anywhere. Now go home. You have to be at work in a couple of hours. I’m going to my room. I’ll be in touch later.”

Annette watched as the man walked to his room. She had moved closer to the front of the patio with the goal of getting his room number. He put his key in the lock, but before going inside, he turned around and looked in the direction of Annette. Did he see her? Did she have reason to be afraid?

“We’ll wait another five minutes,” Jack said. “That will barely give us time to get to the Cafe to meet the detective at 9:00. You go to her room and knock on the door and I’ll check with the front desk to see if they have seen her.”

“Excuse me. I’m concerned about my co-worker. She was supposed to meet her cousin and I in the lobby at 8:00. Her name is Annette Morris and she’s in room 114,” Jack said.

“And your name is?” The desk clerk asked.

“My name is Jack Stein. I’m also registered here.”

“As a matter of fact, Mr. Stein, she was here about an hour ago and left you a note. Yes…here it is.”

Jack opened the envelope and began to read the note just as Kat returned. When he finished reading it, he handed the note to her.”

Jack,

I saw Paul and I’m going to find out why he’s here. Don’t wait for me, I will get to the cafe as soon as I can.

Annette

“Do you have any idea who Paul is?” Jack asked Kat.

“Not a clue.”

“I probably shouldn’t share this information,” the desk clerk said, but we have a guest registered here by the name of Paul Morris. I wonder if they’re related… Paul and Annette I mean… They have the same last name.”

Kat and Jack decided to go on to the cafe. This was something they thought the detective should know about.

When they arrived at the Roadside Cafe, the detective was already there. They showed him Annette’s note and told him they didn’t know Paul Morris, but he must in some way be related to Annette.

Sandy, the waitress came over to fill their coffee cups.

“I’m not sure if you know this,” she said. “But Annette and I have become friends and we’ve talked a lot since all of this began. Edith Morris was an evil person who deserved to die.”

“It appears so,” Kat said. “How long have you worked here, miss.. ?” Kat asked as she added cream to her coffee.

“My name is Sandy…I’ ve been here a long ten years,” Sandy answered.

“Do you know who Paul Morris is?” The detective asked.

Sandy hesitated a moment before answering. “Yes,” she said…he’s Annette’s stepfather,”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 44, Alibis

The detective quickly figured out that Jack was trying to cover for someone and he had an idea who that might be.

“Mr. Stein, did your daughter tell you that she was very overwrought when she paid Mrs. Morris a visit last evening?”

Annette overheard the conversation between Jack and the detective and interrupted.

“I was with Vanessa in my mother’s room. We were both upset. We had just learned of all the evil things she had done and we were trying to confront her about them.”

“Did she respond to you?” The detective asked.

“She was sleeping. We were about to wake her up when a nurse came in to check her vital signs.”

By this time, Kat had joined them. “I saw them both leave Mrs. Morris’ room around 7:45. I was waiting to see Vanessa. I stayed with her until after 10:00.

Jack breathed an audible sigh of relief which didn’t go unnoticed by the detective.

“Well, the nurse reported that Mrs. Morris was alive when she checked on her.” Listen…it’s late… or early depending on how you look at it. Why don’t you all go get some rest. We’ll continue with the questioning tomorrow.

This brought an objection from Jack.

“My daughter is being released tomorrow and I was planning to take her home. My other daughter is still in a hospital in Boston. They’ve both been through enough.”

“I’m sorry Mr. Stein. None of your alibis are complete…at least not until the coroner has established the time of death.”

“Detective…do I need to get a lawyer?” Jack asked.

“Well, that’s up to you, Mr. Stein. I’m a small town guy and I like to think of myself as a fair man. At this point, I’m just gathering some information. I’ll be at the Roadside Cafe at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow in case any of you would like to join me for coffee.

After they checked on Vanessa one more time, Jack, Kat and Annette drove back to the hotel. It was now 3:00 o’clock in the morning and after agreeing to meet in the lobby at 8:00 a.m., they all went to their rooms to try and get some sleep.

After tossing and turning for a few minutes, Kat finally went to sleep. Jack was sitting at the desk in his room. He was jotting down notes to share with the detective in the morning.

Annette decided she needed some air. She opened the sliding glass door and walked out onto the small patio facing the pool area. The cool air was refreshing. She was surprised when she heard what sounded like two people in a rather heated conversation. It was dark, but she was able to spot them sitting at a small table.

Though she couldn’t hear what they were saying well enough to understand what they were arguing about, she could tell it was getting very contentious. And there was something else… Annette moved back into the shadows. She recognized those voices. “Could it be?” She thought. Could it really be?”

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.”