My name is detective Derek Wallace, of the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, in Cook County, Illinois, and for the last two and a half months I have been assigned to one of the most brutal, and confounding cases that I have seen in my time as an investigator. Admittedly, I haven’t been a detective quite as long as some of my colleagues, but I highly doubt anything that comes along the rest of my career will ever top this.
It all started on a relatively normal Thursday evening. I was sat in my office getting ready to go home, when there came a knock at my door. I got up, and went to open it, only to be greeted by Captain Woods, an older, balding man, who had a glum look on his face. I inquired as to what was wrong. He didn’t answer, he just handed me a case file, and walked away without saying a word. Strange, I get that Captain Woods wasn’t a big talker, but that was unusual, even for him. I wondered what could have possibly been in that file that had him so dour and flustered. I sat back down at my desk, lamenting that whatever may be in this folder was likely going to keep at the office even longer, and would just delay me further from going home, and seeing my beautiful wife, Mallory. When I opened the file, I was greeted with some of the most vile, and obscene pictures and information that I had ever come across, in my 15 years on the force.
First, I read the initial police report, describing a crime scene, in which the body of an older male, labeled as a “John Doe,” was found in an alley between two apartment complexes, with noted facial trauma. Nothing too unusual so far. I mean I’ve dealt with plenty of murder cases, and seen some pretty grisly stuff, but this went well beyond anything I had ever experienced. Paperclipped to the back of the folder were several photographs, exhibiting some of the most unsettling brutality I could have imagined. The body in question was laid on its side, fully dressed, but the man had no face. Now, when I say he had no face, I don’t mean that his face was so badly beaten that he was unrecognizable. He literally had no face. As in, it had been removed. Not with any degree of surgical precision, or anything. It appeared to have been completely sawn off; bisected from ear-to-ear. So, there I was, sat at my desk on a Thursday evening, gazing into the inside of a man’s skull, I had to fight back the urge to vomit, with all my might. No wonder it was a John Doe case, I thought. It’s kind of hard to identify a person when they don’t have a face.
I got very little sleep that night. It was extremely hard to fall asleep, knowing that someone who could do that to another human being was out there, roaming free.
Over the course of the next six weeks several cases came across my desk that followed the same pattern. First, was a woman who appeared to be in her 20’s, found beside a dumpster, outside of Evanston, face seemingly axed clean off, just like the first case. She too, was left without a discernible identity.
Next, came a very confounding case. This time, an elderly woman was found dead in her bed, in a nursing home, with her face cut completely off. When I went to the nursing home to investigate, I asked if the woman had had any visitors that day, but the nurse at the front desk told me that she hadn’t, or that at least no one had signed in to visit her. One positive thing that came from it however, was an identification. The victim was 89-year-old Mildred Harmon, but without any positive IDs on the previous two victims, it was impossible to establish if there was any link between the victims.
The fourth victim was a homeless man, whose body was found in an abandoned warehouse, in Chicago. While I haven’t dealt with too many cases involving homeless people, I will say, they are generally hard to identify under ideal circumstances, what with them generally having very few close social ties, and family, and all. However, this likely rules out the victims being related. They just seem too random and spread out.
The final two victims were a couple, found in a car, still strapped into the front seats, in the parking lot of a strip mall, in Schaumburg. We ran the license plate on the car, and it came back registered to a man named Eugene Lewis. Could that have been the man in the car? Hard to say, without a face. However, when we looked into Mr. Lewis, we didn’t find a record of him being married, so, as to the identity of the woman he was with, we were at a loss. With one ID, and a good solid lead, we looked into any possible relation between Mildred Harmon and Eugene Lewis, but there was none. They were just two random victims.
It was after this discovery that we went to the newspaper and made our findings public. At first it seemed better to keep this quiet, but now it seemed to be getting serious. We warned the citizens of the greater Chicago area to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity relating to these attacks. Without knowing exactly what the murder weapon was, we advised people to remain vigilant for anybody possessing, or wielding any type of sharp object akin to an axe, or a sawblade of any sort. We concluded the press release with a plea for citizens to call our office with any tips or information they had that may lead to an arrest in the case.
It was a little over a month before anything came up again. In that time period, no other bodies were recovered with missing faces. Figured our press release may have scared off whoever was doing this. Unfortunately, just as before, I was preparing to go home for the evening, when my phone rang. On the other end was a woman who sounded a mixture of concerned, and uncertain. She told me that her son and one of his friends were out riding their bikes around, admittedly trespassing on some land they figured they probably shouldn’t be on. I honestly couldn’t care less about some minor trespassing by some boys, when we had a possible serial killer on the loose. She then went on to say that her son and his friend stumbled upon a house in a clearing, just outside of Ford Heights, that they claim had a fence that was decorated in some all-too-lifelike human faces. Now, I have been called to investigate some very realistic, and intricate Halloween decorations before, only to walk away having had a good chuckle with the owner of the property, and usually my compliments on their work, and craftsmanship, and it was that time of year after all, but given recent events, I decided to head down that way, and see what there was to see. I asked the woman exactly where the house was. She said that her son told her that it was just beyond a clearing behind a neighborhood on the east side of the town. So, I packed up my stuff, got in my car, and headed out. It took about an hour and twenty minutes to find the place.
What I saw that night was by far and away the most horrendously morbid thing I have ever seen in my time as a detective. I approached the front gate only to see real human faces adorning the spikes of the gate, like some kind of sick ornamentation. The faces were in various states of wilt and decay, but they were mostly very well preserved, almost frighteningly so, but there they were. I was given a photo of Mildred Harmon by her family, and had one of Eugene Hill after running his plate, and there they both were. I recognized them. There was Mildred’s gentle face, upon this person’s fence, and just a few spikes over, was Eugene. Next to him was the face of a woman. I could guess it was the woman that was found in the car next to him, but no telling, really.
Next, I went up to the house, armed with my gun, expecting the absolute worst. I knocked on the door, receiving no answer. So, left with very few options, I kicked the door in and entered, and announced my presence, only to be met with complete silence. It was dark, and extremely dingy inside, with an overwhelmingly acrid odor. It looked as though no one had lived there in decades. I felt around the wall looking for a switch. When I found one, I flicked it on to reveal something of nightmarish proportions. There were faces littered everywhere. I was only aware of six cases. Who were all these people? There were faces on the banister, on the sofa, in the sink, everywhere. This time I couldn’t hold it in, I went outside and threw up on the front porch.
I collected myself, went back in, and searched the whole house from top to bottom. The place was in utter disarray. One notable find, was that I found a bunch of discarded Sawzall blades. So, that just about lowers it down as to what the murder weapon was; no Sawzall, though. Something of note about the house was that it showed signs of the occupant, or should I say former occupant, having left in a hurry. There was a piece of toast still in the toaster, and a bathtub full of now very cold, and slimy water. The icing on the cake, however, was that on the kitchen counter was a newspaper dated September 2nd, 2021, the day our press release was published, alerting the public to this person’s crimes. There my name and photo was, prominently displayed on a newspaper in this psycho’s kitchen. Whatever, I thought. This person was long gone.
I scoured every inch of that house, and still couldn’t find even the slightest hint as to who the person was, that was doing this. It was frustrating, and honestly quite perplexing. Usually suspects leave some sort of evidence behind, but this person just seemed to be immaculately elusive. No fingerprints left behind, nor any hair fibers that could be easily distinguished from those of their nameless victims, and who knows how many victims this person had in total, anyway. Feeling defeated, I exited the house, hoping never to have to return.
As I left, I called my findings in to Captain Woods. Then, I got in my car, and drove home. I pulled in the driveway around 11:30 that night. I went inside, and poured myself a stiff bourbon and ginger ale, figured I’d earned it after the day’s events. I eventually went upstairs, did my nightly routine, and crawled into bed next to my wife. Mallory must have had an exhausting day, because she was totally conked out, I’m talking no movement at all. Oh well, I figure I’ll tell her all about it tomorrow morning.
Sleep was hard to attain again that night, but right before I drifted off to sleep, I had one torturously haunting thought. Despite all the faceless corpses that were found, and the faces that were found to match them, we still had no case.
Also, what’s that whirring sound?
Credit : Steven Allen
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