Authors: Ann Mullen
There was nothing around for as far as the eyes could see and
there were no other cars on the road. This time he could punish her out in the
open without having to worry about anyone seeing him do it. He felt elated as
he dragged her into the wooded area and began slapping her. His momentum built
with each strike. When she fell to the ground, he kicked her square in the
face. Blood gushed from her nose and mouth. She lay in a heap, defeated.
Roger stood there and laughed at her, his eyes filled with
rage. He bent down and drew back his hand again.
Denise raised her arm to protect herself from his next blow
as she lay in the wet, foul smelling grass.
This area of woods had been a place used by travelers who
needed to make a pit stop to relieve themselves. Access to a bathroom was
another fifteen miles up the road, so this turned out to be a good place to
stop for those who couldn’t hold it any longer. Littered with used toilet
paper, garbage, and plenty of discarded condoms, the air reeked of decomposing
matter. The smell was worse than a landfill on a hot, humid summer day.
Denise spied a broken bottle lying next to her. For just a
split second, she hesitated, going over in her mind the consequences of her
actions if she were to defend herself with the dangerous weapon. What would she
do if she cut him badly? She didn’t want to hurt Roger, but she had to make him
She knew that women were abused every day and many of them
wind up being killed by their husbands. It happened all the time. She’d heard
so many horror stories. But she never really believed it would happen to her…
until now. For so long, she told herself that her husband just had a bad
temper. He didn’t mean anything by it. Those days and those thoughts were now a
thing of the past.
She grabbed the bottle and struck him as he bent over her,
preparing for his next assault. Blood spurted from his neck as he fell to his
knees. He grabbed his throat, fell over and lay in the grass, gasping for air.
“Help me,” his gurgling voice tried to say.
Denise sat on the ground, looking around, appalled at what
she had done. She couldn’t move. The sight of him in that condition sickened
her to no end—the blood, the mass of tissue flapping around the gaping wound to
Roger’s breathing stopped and his eyes became fixed. He was
Denise panicked. What was she to do? She would surely go to
prison for her actions. It wasn’t her fault. He made her do it—that’s what she
would tell the police. Then she thought about that statement.
“That’s exactly the same thing a man would say when he beat
his wife,” she said out loud, talking to no one.
She knew her explanation of the event wouldn’t wash. No one
would believe her. There was no history of violence in their marriage. There
was no proof. They’d say she wanted him dead, lured him out to a deserted area,
and killed him. This was like a bad movie.
No more, she told herself. Denise dragged herself up,
straightened her clothes, and even though her knees were wobbly, she managed to
get back to the car without collapsing. She still had the broken bottle in her
hand. Fortunately, her cell phone had reception, however scratchy it was. She
punched in 911 and waited for the call to go through. When someone answered on
the other end, she told the dispatcher they were on their way to Nag’s Head
when they were attacked by the hitchhiker her husband had picked up earlier.
“Please hurry!” she cried into the cell phone. “I ran into
the woods, but I can’t hide forever. He’s going to find me. He’s going to kill
me just like he did my husband!”
When the police arrived on the scene they discovered Roger’s
lifeless body lying in a pool of blood with the rest of the trash. The wife was
missing and their car was nowhere in sight. Three days later, Robert and Denise
Sutton’s car turned up in a Wal-Mart parking lot, two hundred miles from the
scene of the crime.
The blood on the passenger’s side of the car had later been
determined to be that of the wife of the dead man—but her body still hadn’t
Had the hitchhiker abducted the woman, killed her and then
dumped the body somewhere else?
Denise Sutton disappeared forever on that fateful day. A week
later, Bernice quietly moved out of her apartment, leaving no forwarding
address. Neither one of the sisters has been seen or heard from since.
I know this story to be true, and I know where they are, but
I’m not telling anyone. Because you see, I’m Bernice.
Go with the flow
He can’t hurt anyone… anymore.
I would like to thank Greene County
Sheriff Scott Haas for his time. He answered my endless questions like he runs
our county—prompt, courteous, and to the point. I’m glad we have him as our
sheriff. Don’t get me wrong folks. He can be just as tough on criminals as the
characters in my book.
Tremendous thanks to Photographer Elaine Barnett and
Tim Tepper. Love to Tom, Tommy, Wendy and Jake, and as always, my wonderful
mother… Minnie Crumpler, and also the rest of my family—two-legged or
four-legged. This one’s for my readers. Thank you for your continued readership
Look for my next book:
The Prey Bites Back
A Jesse Watson Mystery
Due out before Christmas 2012