The forensic team of 3 arrived on the scene fairly quickly. Photographs were taken of Elizabeth’s body, as well as the surroundings. Footprints were marked, as were pieces of fabric, and a tooth. Notes were taken, and there was talk amongst the 3 of them as they surveyed the crime scene. They seemed to agree with Bob Keller’s assessment of the scene; this looked like an animal attack. When their job was completed, the Medical Examiner’s office transported the body to the morgue. The team would then assemble and examine all the evidence collected and present it to the ME, who would consider every detail and with his thorough examination of the body, determine the cause and manner of death.
It was 5:10am. Bob Keller was not looking forward to what he had to do next. As the forensic team was leaving the scene, Bob couldn’t help but think about this young girl he watched grow up. She was a very intelligent, personable and energetic little girl. She had grown into a lovely young lady. He was overcome by sadness of the loss of such a sweet soul at such a young age. He wondered as he wiped a tear from his cheek, how am I going to break this horrific news to Howard and Jen?
Bob and his 2 rookies, Carol and Beverly, walked slowly back up to the house. Howard opened the door before Bob could even knock. “Bob, what the hell have you been doing down by the lake all this time?” Howard snipped impatiently as he motioned Bob to come in. Carol and Beverly walked back to the squad car after Bob urged them on with a nod in that direction.
As Howard and Bob entered the living room Bob felt a lump in his throat. “Howard, I don’t know….” He began to speak but the words just wouldn’t come.
“Goddamnit, Bob. Spit it out. What the hell is going on?” Howard yelled.
“Howard, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but we found Elizabeth down by the lake. She’s gone,” Bob explained.
“What do you mean gone? You just said you found her down by the lake,” Howard quickly realized what Bob meant. “Bob, you need to just say it. Say it out loud!”
“She’s dead, Howard. I’m very sorry. We can’t be certain until the ME’s investigation is complete, but it looks like she was attacked by an animal. It may have been rabid.”
Howard sat down. Jen came into the room and she was immediately alarmed. She could tell by her husband’s face that something was terribly wrong. She came down the stairs slowly, with great dread. “What’s happened? Howard? What’s wrong? Tell me. Tell me now!” With Bob’s help, Howard told his wife what had happened. She dropped to her knees and wept uncontrollably. Howard tried to console her, but she threw her arms about and cried, “Don’t touch me! Leave me alone!” She was distraught, as expected but she failed to see how upset Howard was. He had never faced anything of this nature. The loss of his only daughter was unbearable. He sat down on the sofa and buried his face in his hands.
After a few awkward moments, Bob told Howard and Jen that he would be leaving but that he would be in touch as soon as he knew anything more from the ME’s office. Howard pulled himself together and stood. Bob asked, “Howard, is there anything I can do, or anyone you’d like for me to call?” Howard shook his head and extended his hand. They shook hands and Bob left with a tear in his eye.
Jen stood and reached for a tissue on the end table near the sofa. She turned to Howard and slapped him hard across the face. She was very well composed for a woman who just moments before was a crumpled mess on the floor. “You were always the hard-ass, the man who had to have everything his way, the man whose children couldn’t get close to, the man…the man… What kind of man are you?” She yelled at him. She ran up the stairs and slammed the bedroom door behind her.
Howard knew she was right. He had to have everything his way. He never considered anyone else’s point of view regarding anything. Elizabeth and Jonathan never came to him for help, to talk, or for anything…ever. Now Elizabeth was gone. If only I’d not have been so harsh with Jeff when he was here, he thought. Why couldn’t I just be happy that Elizabeth had found someone to make her happy? Do I really think that little of Jeff and his family?
Howard now had the rest of his life to regret his actions and attitude. He was going to be in hell for the rest of his life and he knew he deserved it.