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One Too Many Questions
The first time I met and questioned Mr. Knox would be the last time. I foolishly doubted such a man would be capable of committing homicide. A friendly, caring man he seemed to be at first with impeccable manners and honesty. Yet that brutal honesty is what gave away a truly horrific demeanor within him. He may have acted the part of Peace Prize winner, but he was overall serial killer material.
I remember our meeting like it was yesterday. I had been assigned to a new patient at the asylum I worked at. Upon arriving, I checked in at the front desk and retrieved the files sent over from the state prison. On the front of the manila envelope that held the files were big block letters spelling out – “Marcus Knox I.D. #27646” – identifying my new ‘suspect’. I carelessly leafed through the many pages that held background information and blank analysis papers I’d been given to fill out until something caught my eye. I pulled a thick stack of papers from the envelope that had been paper clipped and scanned the first page over. A picture was placed at the left corner of the page. At first I couldn’t tell what it was but soon I realized it was the dismembered body of a person. It was impossible to tell from the picture if the body was male, female, or even a person at all. The body had been carefully sectioned off into five separate parts and the skin had been charred and carefully peeled back. It was nauseating even before reading the police reports. After scanning over the report I learned the person had been Miss Ariel Knox, age 34, sister to Marcus Knox. Apparently she, along with four others, had been found dismembered beneath the floorboards of Mr. Knox’s living room. After reading through the four following reports, I realized a similarity. Ariel Knox, Joyce Knox, Jonathan Knox, Jason Knox, and Albert Knox had been the names of those found beneath the floorboards. All five had either direct or marital relation to Marcus Knox. To my horror, there were more reports besides the five dismemberments. The five murders had all happened on Thanksgiving Day last year and must have somehow gone unnoticed. The next reports were also on on a holiday. Christmas Day on the same year. Apparently the rest of the family still went on with their Christmas party even though five people would not be attending. Two cousins found with multiple stab wounds, a grandfather shot with a .22 rifle from the garage, and seven more aunts, uncles, and others killed by arson. Fifteen in all but there were suspicions of even more. I had dealt with killers before but never one that only had it out for family. I was closing the folder when I noticed one last report. Carl McDough, age 42. No relation to Marcus Knox yet had his skull smashed in by a simple coffee mug. I found this strange above all else. What I didn’t read and later would regret neglecting to do so, was Carl was a Detective just like me.
Once I finished the files, I dropped them into my black leathered briefcase and made my way to the interrogation room. The room held a desk, two felt-covered lounging chairs, and a steel-plated door ensuring captivity. The walls were the same steel as the door and made it look similar to that of a cell in a prison. I hated that room. After entering, I set down my briefcase and coffee before falling back into my uncomfortable chair. I pulled a notebook and tape recorder out and took a deep breath before I pressed a small red button on my side of the table. With a loud buzz and click, the steel door opened and in came two security guards with a fairly good looking man in tow. They directed him to the seat across me and he gave me a genuinely kind smile as he sat down.
“Hello,” I started, tapping my pen absentmindedly against my notebook as the guards left and practically slammed the door shut. “I’m Erica Montgomery, the detective assigned to you and your…interesting case.” I said in a calm voice. He began to extend his hands and I drew back quickly but to his dismay, his hands were cuffed. Sighing, he dropped them back down to his lap.
“Marcus Knox, ma’am. Sorry, I’d shake your hand if it were possible.” He replied with a sheepish smile.
“It’s alright.” I responded and let out the breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you some questions.”
“Ask away, ma’am. I’m an open book.” He said, his ocean blue eyes staring me down. I cleared my throat and began with my questioning.
“You murdered 15- possibly more- of your own family. Can you explain to me the reason for this?” I asked carefully, watching him like a hawk for any nervous or angry movements. He was calm and collected as could be.
“Correct. The reason is simply that they frightened me.” He answered a little too casually.
“They frightened you? How so?”
“Family gatherings and parties are not my forte. Really any family interaction at all scares me to death.” He replied.
“Did anything happen to you as a child? Abuse? Any bad family experiences?” I asked, wondering what he meant exactly.
“My father was physically abusive after my mother passed away. Ever since childhood I’ve been deathly afraid of anybody related to me. They either watched him get away with beating me or turned a blind eye and stayed silent.” He said with a shrug.
“Being afraid doesn’t warrant murder.” I responded, feeling just a bit angry with how casual he was being about this. It sickened me.
“Think of an infestation of spiders. Spiders are frightening to just about anybody. Would you run and hide from them for the rest of your life or squash them in their nest until there were no more to be afraid of?” He asked in rhetoric. “Ma’am…what are you afraid of?” He inquired, changing the subject. After a long pause, I decided to answer him for some reason.
“Being locked in a room without a way out I guess.” I retorted carefully.
“You’re locked in a room right now.” He said smoothly.
“There are guards outside the door to let me out.” I countered.
“What if they don’t let you out?” He started asking, continuing with even more questions before I had time to respond to them. “What if they’re not there? What if they can’t get the door open?” At this point for some odd reason I started to believe what he was saying. I knew none of that could be true but still I started to pale. “What if you’re stuck here with me?” He finally stopped at that.
I didn’t notice that I was shaking and air began to refuse passage into my lungs. Being locked in a room may have been my biggest phobia but being locked in a room with a known serial killer? That was even worse. I reached for my coffee and took a sip, keeping hold of the warm mug as if it were my lifeline.
“I have one more question.” I said and glanced to the locked door, wishing to get out as quickly as possible now.
“Go on.” He replied
“Carl McDough wasn’t your family yet you killed him. Why?” His eyes flickered to the mug in my hands.
“Because he asked too many questions.”