My mouth was covered by my older brothers’ hand, shallow, panicked breaths escaping between the sweat between the cracks of his fingers.
Both of us whimpering underneath our house in the crawlspace. Our sweatpants and Fanshawe t-shirts covered in spider webs, dirt, and blood. I am crying underneath his hand. I know I am crying inside the cusp of his grip as he holds me close.
The sound of his footsteps, they stomp louder above us, ‘He’s inside, he’s right above us’ I think to myself, squeezing hold of my brothers arm with my bloodied hands. I look to him, in the darkness all I can see is the green in his eye when the moonlight skims past between dark clouds, creeping through the cracks of the grating and reflecting off his iris.
My heart sank into my stomach when the sounds of tapping happened directly above us. We could hear his soft snigger, like some sort of personal, deranged victory.
I wake up, clammy hands and a heartbeat racing as if to escape a now fading memory as I sit upright in this bed. I feel cold, alone. I am still there. I am still stuck in that moment. When the officers found the scene of the crime, they asked me how it all happened. In truth, I barely remember them arriving. Between the shock and the blood loss, the memory comes faded, the words said inaudible.
It was nearly seven months ago I had that encounter with a serial killer which has since put me in Protective Custody and moved me far from my home of London Ontario. Each day I wake up at nearly five in the afternoon, since now I won’t sleep till my eyes cave from exhaustion around eight in the morning.
What the documentaries rarely tell you, what survivors seem to never say is that when you live through the horror, the hell of the encounter with a serial killer, they never tell you how regardless of whether you live or die, you still become theirs.
They still own your thoughts, even just for a fleeting moment, or throughout the night such as I.
The perversion on some is the belief of collection their victims, to own them, control them, to have them. A sycophant to their own murderous, self-believed desire, and impulse. This is my story of what happened on July 15th, 2015.
It was no secret that a serial killer called “The Dollhouse Murderer” had been active in the news. He travelled between London and Strathroy, murdering random victims.
Never an age, gender, place of employment, hair color that he sought after in his trail of slayings. The only factor was the area, Middlesex County, but that is far from an easy net to cover. His only pattern, his gruesome pattern that he would leave behind was a dollhouse.
He would take a body part or hair, fingernails, eyelashes, some gruesome piece of a person he would collect, and when you opened the dollhouse, you would find a porcelain copy of whatever he took. That was his calling card.
When my Mom heard the news, she took us out of London and to our cottage in Hanover. A slowly growing town with a beautiful landscape and a river that ran up to our little run-down cottage house. That was our true home. It was not a rich person cottage with lighting, electricity, and fresh paint. It was a simple wood house, cedar wood finish that was slowly wearing off.
Still, it was our home. Our escape.
Our Father was still in London, he unfortunately did not receive his vacation time from his job at the Honda Plant, so Mom, my brother Andy, and I, Sarah, made our way to the cottage.
The day was beautiful. A hot, sunny day. Mom was out for a stroll, soaking her feet in the river, basking in the sun while Andy and I were already at war with each other on who got the unicorn floaty. I did, by the way.
Andy was just starting his apprenticeship in Plumbing. I was just entering my first year of High School. As a gift for me, Andy bought me some of his college’s sweatpants and shirts which were roughly three sizes too big, but they made perfect pajamas. Mom just loved that her “two babies” were wearing matching clothes. She constantly teased us about it.
We started a fire when the cold air began to come through and the sun began to fade down. Mom fired up the BBQ and made us some amazing ribs in a honey barbeque sauce, along with fried taters and an absurd, and frankly unnecessary heaping of onions. I love her so much.
We sat at the fire, naturally making fun of Dad. The smell of the wood burning, Mom and Andy drinking Moosehead, one tallboy after another, the crackling and hissing the fire would bellow when we threw pine needles into the flame because mom wanted “Natures febreeze.”
When the moon began to settle in and the sky beamed with stars, we watched the fireflies flicker and do their luminated dance in the starry night. I loved this place so much. The coy wolves howling in the distance and the wind rustling between the trees in the twilight of this natural harmony.
We stayed by the fire for another hour before we heard a squealing yelp from the distance. The coy wolves were done singing, now the harmony had stopped, and what was likely a fight over their dinner had started.
I quickly dozed off on the couch while my mom and Andy took to their own rooms after a heated game of Exploding Kittens. I remember sleeping so peacefully until I heard what would change me for the rest of my life.
“No. No, no, no. No!” My mom shrieked from the door window repeatedly, locking it quickly.
“Mom?” Andy asked, scratching his tiresome eyes. “What’s wrong?”
Mom was shaking so bad. I had never seen her scared before. Now I was nearly crying. I could see tears forming in hers. I could see her chest moving in and out, she was trying to control her breathing. I looked up from the couch and I could barely make out the fireplace, a few embers still clinging to life.
The wind would catch the embers, the flame would give off a bright enough glow for a fleeting moment that I could see it.
An opened dollhouse sat outside, standing there, two feet tall, the dying embers of the fire illuminating its creepy windows.
A knock came from the sliding door behind us. His face pale, clear blue eyes that were wide open, pupils wide and dilated. He had this unwelcoming, horrid smile. He was wearing a black hoodie and a camo toque, along with faded, dirt covered blue jeans with blood.
His face pressed against the window, his smile gazing over us in a putrid, perverse manner. He jammed his finger on the glass, pointing at my brother, then slid his dirty, bloody finger cross the glass, causing it to screech till the tip of his finger was pointed at me.
“I’m going to collect you. I’m going to collect you. I’m going to collect you. I’m going to collect you!” He screamed so loud the glass shook, we all jumped back terrified.
He kept muttering that as he walked around the cottage home. First it would be silent, then loud as he would bang his head against the window. Each time he would walk around the house he became more and more aggressive in his tone.
My Mom would follow him to each window, never getting too close, but her eyes always watching him. Andy and I sat on the couch, shaking out of fear until my Mom spoke up.
“He went back into the bushes.” she whispered. She ran to the sliding door, making sure it was locked. She covered the window with a quilt and then grabbed the both of us and pulled us into her bedroom.
“Kids, I love you, but this is real. This is happening. We need to stay together and stay alive. Do you understand me? You do whatever I say, do you understand me?” her voice was shaky, her hands quivered as she held us.
We both nodded our heads, softly crying into her arms. “Please protect us. Please god, I don’t want to die. I’m so scared.” I said to her.
“No baby you aren’t going to die. I promise. You’re okay, but you need to breath and be strong. We won’t be his fucking statistic, okay?” she asked me, I shook my head and tried to control myself.
“Kids, lean in close. I need to tell you something.” Andy and I huddled around our mom. “If he comes in, I need the both of you to get to the crawlspace. Your Father and I made a trap door in the closet in case we ever got locked out and needed a way in. You stay in the crawlspace and leave only when I tell you too.”
A loud bang came from the sliding door, we all rushed out of Mom and Dad’s room, listening to him smash himself against it. Quietly I tiptoed to the other window. Outside he had a fire axe buried in the dirt, along with a blood soaked, rolled up carpet. I put my hands to my mouth. There was no doubt in my mind it was a dead body. It had to be.
“Mom there’s an axe, and a body. Mom what do we do?” I remember whimpering to her.
“Mom what do we do? What do we do Mom? WHAT DO WE DO MOM!?” he screamed at the top of his lungs.
“Just shut the fuck up!” Andy cried out at him.
The sound of footsteps went around the house till a sudden smash came against the old wooden door, the hinge on the inside began to give in. “I’m going to collect them, Tara.” he said.
He knew my Mom’s name. How?
“Tara, I’ll let you live. You can live, just let me collect them. Sarah, Andy, you don’t want your Mom to die do you? Don’t you love her? Don’t you love her? You know what I will do?” his hand kept smashing against the door, his voice was no so calm, disgusting attempt to be soothing, convincing. “You can all live. Just need the rest. I just need the rest. I am so close. I’m so close. You really want to die Sarah? You want to never see again? breath? see anyone? anything? Really Sarah? Are you that greedy Sarah? You want Mom to die Sarah?”
Andy pushed himself in front of us, “You’re a sick piece of shit, buddy. You will kill all of us. You are just a twisted, broken little boy. Did Mom and Dad not give you a hug, so now you kill? Fuck you!” Andy was red in the face, screaming at the door.
Another loud crash against the door, the wood began to split. All of us were silent. The door was old, wearing down. Hinges rusted and the wood had seen too many winters. The dollhouse murderer made his way back towards the sliding door. Andy walked over to the window I had been looking out.
He turned to us, “he’s just staring at his fucking axe…”
Glass shattered. The sharp silver of the axe collided onto the right side of Andy’s face when he had turned back around. He fell to the ground, writhing and screaming in agony. “Mom!” he screamed out, to which the killer shouted back, laughing.
My Mom looked horrified at her baby boy. The boy that she raised with his adorable smile, held him when he first scraped a knee and cheered for him when he graduated high school. Her boy that she scolded when he came home high or tried to sneak a girl into his room without proper introduction. Sarah could see it in her Moms eyes. The heartbreak that her baby boy, my brother, now laid in his own blood, rolling around in agony, his right eye gone and his face disfigured.
She helped Andy into her room, dousing his wounds with alcohol and bandaging it as best she could. I’ll never forget the look on her face. That look of ‘Enough.’
She pointed at the trap door to both of us. “He is going to come in. When I leave, you get your butts down there. Sarah, when you see an opportunity, you take my keys and you run to the car and you get out of here as fast as you can. I love you. I love you both.”
The last time I would ever see my Mom. She grabbed a knife from the pantry, and waited near the door for him to come in.
The crawlspace on any normal day would be uncomfortable. Spiders, snakes, mice scurrying around. Yet in that moment with my brother, it was our last resort of feeling some form of safe.
There was a crash, a scream, and then silence. An unpleasant, harrowing silence. I needed to hear Mom’s voice. Her tapping on the crawlspace door to let us know its’ okay. All I could hear was him.
“You killed her. You killed her Andy. You killed her Sarah.” I began to sob, Andy put his hand around my mouth.
You know what happens next. The same thing I told you from the start. I cry underneath my brothers’ hand, then we hear tapping from above us, then laughter. What I forgot to mention before, my brothers’ hand was getting colder, his head nodding off. I try to shove him, but he slumps over. The blood on my hands, it was Andy’s.
The Dollhouse killer was back outside. I could hear him grunt and mumble to himself as he stumbled his way up the steps and inside the cottage home. Our home.
Another tap from above. And then, something that leaves goosebumps with me to this day.
“Look behind you, Sarah” he whispered through the cracks of the trap door.
‘I will bury you here’ written in dried blood behind me.
How could he have had time to do this? How long had he been waiting for? I could feel my heart pounding, shortness of breath. My chest was heavy. I shook Andy, pleading with him to wake up. Begging. But all there was, was laughter from above.
The crawlspace door snapped open, and I left my brother behind as I began crawling to the nearest grate. I looked behind for my brother but within seconds, the dollhouse murderer was there, crawling after me, that grin on his face, laughing as he squirmed towards me.
I felt him grab my ankle, I kicked as hard as I could. He laughed and continued after me. I continued to kick and fight him until I was finally free from his grasp. I ripped open the grate, it was already loose. Likely where he had snuck in.
A blue beam of light came streaking across the midnight sky. Sounds of sirens and officer storming out of their cars pulling me into their vehicle. One ordered another officer to drive, followed by laughter, then the sounds of gun shots.
The Dollhouse Murderer was a fifty-year old chef at an Italian Restaurant. He was a man of zero significance, a man who was despised by his peers at work. Verbally violent and unhinged who would often take days off and extensive holidays to commit his violent acts.
The once summer home that my family and I cherished was tainted ground. The detectives were appalled when they arrived on scene to see what the Dollhouse Murderer was making.
Each murder he took a different trophy. An arm, a leg, a hand, it was always a piece of the human body. He stitched it all together. All he was missing was another green eye, and a left leg. He made a dress and turned a pile of victims into a putrid doll.
His only reason for stalking each victim was because he was so attracted to certain parts of their bodies that he would hunt them down and kill them to begin his sick creation. Him and I never met. He simply found my family on social media through a random scroll and stalked us relentlessly.
I have been in protective custody with my Father for a while now when rumors of a copycat were immediately stirring in the media. What toils me more than my own grief and injuries, what bothers me the most over the senseless act of violence and murder towards my family and several others was his twisted ambitions, his reasoning to why he did what he did.
All this violence, butchering and heartbreak was to finish his Doll. His human, victim, doll.
Credit : Stephen Charles
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