Hobbs knew this was wrong. In all his years of being a peace officer he had never let a convicted criminal tempt him into breaking the rules. He knew he was risking getting into serious trouble if it was learned he picked her up and didn’t immediately turn her in. He heard stories from older officers who they just knew something was wrong and did things that went against their best judgment He always resisted those urges. Oh sure he wasn’t a completely by the book sort of officer but he believed in the system. This woman had been prosecuted and convicted of a crime and if he couldn’t trust the court system to do its job properly then there was absolutely no justification for him to bother even doing his job at all.
Hobbs told Ashley he was going to show her the video to give her peace of mind. He figured since the woman was going to spend the rest of her life locked in a mental hospital with no chance of living a normal life the least he could do is be absolutely sure of the facts. He worked this case. He knew the forensics. He knew the evidence. He did the diligence. It was an open and shut case. The only missing piece of the puzzle was the missing daughter. Hobbs didn’t work that side. He helped with the murder-suicide and then gave the kidnapping over to the FBI. They were better equipped to handle that sort of thing.
As he drove towards the police station where the tape would be stored he tried see if he could get inside the mind of this woman. She was attractive enough and it was a fairly small town so he understood why more than one suitor would be calling on her for attention.
“I understand it’s kind of difficult for you but I want to talk about that night at the fair. The day George kissed Molly. You said he pretended to break up with you in front of her as a show but wrote you a note explaining it was just his parents pushing him to give her a chance and that he was going to ditch her and meet up with you, is that right?” Hobbs asked.
“I told you that yes,” Ashley said.
“Okay and after you saw him kissing her, after he gave her the goldfish he won, supposedly for you, you snuck of and slept with his brother is that correct?” Hobbs asked.
Annoyed Ashley replied, “yes.”
“Okay, and then you became pregnant with his kid, your parents shipped you off to live with your aunt and then sometime later your kid was murdered in the middle of the night by an African-American male who broke into your home?” Hobbs asked.
“Yes! What does this have to do with anything?” Ashley blurted.
“Calm down lady, I am just trying to piece all of this together. Now you claim when Drake showed up he took you aside and insisted on seeing his daughter.
You told him then that child was dead but he didn’t believe you and that is when he drugged you, assaulted your daughter, then killed your husband making it look like you had killed the husband and then he left, leaving behind no trace, no evidence and nobody else remembers him coming to the house. But you claim he told you his plan after drugging you to kidnap Molly and torture her for a time period before killing her on the anniversary of the night he slept with you. Does that about sum up the story you told me so far?” Hobbs asked.
Ashley grabbed her knees and began sobbing. She could tell the officer wasn’t buying her story and yet she knew every word of it was nothing but the truth.
“Yes,” she managed to mumble with a tear streaking down her cheek.
“Why would Drake want to hurt Molly? I can see why George resented her for pushing her way into his life and marrying him instead of you. I can see Drake becoming a mess after the death of his wife, whom you already stated he was thoroughly in love with. George had every motivation to murder Molly, he blamed her for your mess, he blamed her for his marriage falling apart and he even blamed her for bringing a daughter into this world he resented. ”
He added, “The story, from the facts I reviewed, is he blamed Molly for all of that, kidnapped her in a really bad state of mind, sold the girl to traffickers and then forced Molly into the wood chipper head first before eating a bullet, all on camera. Now I am trying to find the missing piece of the puzzle so please excuse me for prying but what on earth would Drake gain from any of this? What sort of issue would he have with Molly?
Everyone I talked to during the death investigation told me the three brothers didn’t get along well. Drake and George were estranged. Drake had contact with the famous football star but only barely. So what does Drake gain from all of this? What does he have to blame Molly for? In my book her actions got him to have sex with you. As far as I can tell you both agreed he wouldn’t have any contact with the child and he never did. So what does he gain from hurting Molly? It doesn’t make sense.” Hobbs said.
Hobbs knew there had to be a link otherwise Stephanie Taylor truly was mentally ill and he was going to have to make her face that reality sooner or later.
He pulled up to the station.
“You will need to stay here. Duck down and pull this blanket over you. Don’t move until I come back. We’ll get the tape and watch it at my hotel room,” Hobbs said.
She was handcuffed and shackled to the floor so he wasn’t worried she would leave. He just wanted to make sure nobody saw her in his vehicle before the right time.
He walked into the station and went to the clerk on duty.
“Hi there, Sheriff Barnaby Hobbs how are you doing this evening?” Hobbs said to the clerk at the desk.
“Good evening Sheriff, what can I do for you?” the clerk asked.
“I worked the Molly and George Thompson case a few years ago. The brother, Drake Thompson, is under investigation for a possibly related homicide and I need to check out some evidence from that previous case,” Hobbs said.
“Sure thing, just fill out this evidence request form identifying the items you need and we can have someone approve this first thing in the morning,” the clerk said.
“Listen, I appreciate you are doing your job, you know by the book. But as a one law enforcement professional to another, it would sure be helpful if I could just get the items I need tonight and I will return them before morning. See my case is kind of timely and the perpetrator well night flee if I tip him off so I would sure appreciate some inter department cooperation if you don’t mind,” Hobbs said.
“Well, I understand but I can’t really complete your request not without the proper filing fee,” the clerk said. He slipped a piece of paper to the sheriff with the number $200 written on it. Knowing full well each party was committing a crime in the process Hobbs decided to comply. He slipped two $100 bills into the envelop with the words evidence room on them. The clerk nodded in agreement.
“Right this way Sheriff, I’ll see to it you get exactly what you need,” the clerk said as he led Hobbs to the evidence room.
Hobbs knew exactly what he was looking for. While all he really needed was the tape he figured it would be a whole lot easier to check out the entire file instead. It was a plastic tub with a bunch of evidence item and the original reports he himself filed.
Hobbs took the things he needed back to his vehicle and began to drive towards the motel he was staying in.
“Alright Mrs. Taylor, I got everything we need from the investigation. Now I assure you things are as they seem but for your own peace of mind I am willing to do this. Now, I told the clerk I needed this stuff for my own investigation. I’ll do the due diligence to prove I am being thorough. If I don’t find anything that supports your claims, however, it’s back to the hospital got it?” Hobbs said assertively.
“I know you think I am insane or a criminal because the court said I was, but I am certain we will find something in there that proves Molly Goldfish did not die that night,” Ashley said.
Once they two arrived back at the motel Hobbs escorted Stephanie to the bed. He handed her the phone.
“It’s going to be a long night. Why don’t you order us some Chinese food and I’ll get the VCR hooked up,” Hobbs said.
Ashley placed the food order and then sat on the bed.
“I am warning you, this video is not pretty. It gets very gruesome so if you see anything that starts to get to be too much for you let me know right away and I will stop it. This is not a movie, the people you see are dead. These are their final moments of their lives. Are you absolutely sure you want to see this?” Hobbs said.
Ashley walked up to the VCR and pressed play. She sat back on the bed and looked the sheriff square in the eye.
“There is nothing on this tape I can’t handle,” she said.
Of course the picture quality was blurry with it being a VHS tape. The police knew it was recorded on an even lower quality video camera too. The department made a copy for the evidence locker while the original was sent off to forensics.
My name is George Thompson. Many years ago my parents forced me to give up the love of my life to become shackled to this selfish bitch, Molly Goldfish. I have sent my entire life trying to figure out what my purpose was. I discovered that through all the loss I have experienced I can no longer live this life. As you can see over there is my daughter, the hell spawn that was the result of this unholy marriage between me and that woman right there.
*the camera pans to a woman with a bag over her head. In the background two men drag the bound teenager into the next room out of sight*
“Today is the last day Molly Goldfish will breath on this earth. Today is the day I rid the world of her selfish ways. I, George Thompson, will be feeding her, heard first into that wood chipper while she screams her last screams. Once she is finished I will put this gun into my mouth and swallow a bullet that will end my own miserable existence. Then, only then will there be harmony in the world.
*He walked over to the woman who was tied up. He dragged her as she struggled to get loose up to the stool behind the device. He removed her bag from her head and with eyes wide as could be, tears running down the side of her face, the woman began to resist. The man grabbed her by her legs and pushed her, as he stated head first. A few minutes of blood splattering on the ground and it was done. George walked over to the camera and put the gun in his mouth.*
The police will find everything they need to wrap this up. Her blood, my body, this tape.
*Suddenly he put the gun in his mouth, pulled the trigger and with eyes extended wide his lifeless body fell limp to the ground*
The sheriff looked at Ashley waiting for the outburst, the disbelief, anything. Nothing she just sat there soaking it up. Hobbs went to turn the tape off.
“Wait! Look right there! The camera moved. Who moved the camera?” Ashley asked.
Hobbs rewound the tape and watched it again. He didn’t see any movement.
“We found the tape recorded still recording when we arrived on scene. It barely had any battery left. There was nobody running the camera and no finger prints but his on it,” Hobbs said.
“I saw it move. Rewind it again, please,” she pleaded with him.
He complied. This time he watched it in slow motion going frame by frame. By god she was right! It was very subtle, too subtle to be obvious but it moved, like someone had bumped into it.
The audio goes quiet around that time. Ashley insisted you could hear someone behind the camera, probably tapping the mute button as they walked away. Now Hobbs wasn’t convinced that was enough to go on.
“Can we go back to the part where he removes the bag from over he face? I know it’s gruesome but I think you missed something,” Ashley said. said.
“I would rather not. I had to watch this tape a dozen times when it was new. I have no desire to go back and see it any more this was for you, now it is time to face reality,” Hobbs said.
“Please, do this and I will be done, I won’t ask anything else from you tonight,” Ashley said.
He rewound the tape to the part she requested. He paused the frame on her face. He had seen the fear in that woman’s eyes a dozen times as she came to terms with her fate.
Ashley stood up and walked over to the TV. She placed her hand on the screen over the woman’s face.
“That’s not Molly!” she said. “I know who it is. She used to work at the diner and went missing around the same time.”
“The waitress from the diner that went missing was found a few months later, she ran off to the Bahamas and died on a cruise ship of some virus down there. She didn’t tell her family she was leaving because she was seeing a man they didn’t approve of,” Hobbs said.
“No I’ve been in that diner a thousand times. We went to school together. She was a cheerleader in high school, she was one of Molly’s closest friends, then they drifted apart. But right after high school she had a nose job to look more like Molly. I swear to you that’s her,” Ashley said.
Hobbs wasn’t about to chase any more rabbits. But he decided to give her the benefit of the doubt.
“Okay, we’ll drive by the diner and check out her photo, they have it up on the memory wall,”