Chapter 8 (7)

the glass counter and led me to a huge display.  I could quickly see she had some nice pieces.  I felt for the remaining cash in my pocket.  I hoped at least one item would be reasonably priced.  “Can I see that red brooch at the very back?”  I pointed.
“You have a good eye,” the woman replied.
I tried not to groan.  I’d probably picked the most expensive piece she had.  I took it from her hand and turned it over.  It had a small price tag attached.  I read it with relief.  Thirty dollars.  That was reasonable.  I might even make a small profit.
“I’m glad I stopped in.  Casey was right about this place.”  I paused for a moment, “Do you know the Leeches?”
The old woman wrinkled her forehead in thought, “Leech?  Hmm, I don’t think I know any Leeches…”  Then she grew pale.
“Ah, I see you do know Casey’s family.”  I took a chance and blurted out, “She said there was a tragedy.”
She looked ill at ease so I added quickly, “Can I see that emerald necklace?”  I pointed.
She nodded and pulled it from the case.  She silently passed it to me.

“It was so awful,” I remarked, hoping to illicit some sort of comment from her.  “She actually shivered, “Casey was the little girl right-his sister?”
I had no idea but I said, “Yes.”
“I never liked the look of that boy.  He was always wild eyed and in trouble but of course, we never thought—” she broke off mid sentence.
I turned over the emerald necklace.  Twenty dollars.  I had enough money to buy it.  “I think I’ll take this, too.”  I pointed again.  “How about that diamond looking brooch there?”
She reached inside the case and handed it to me.  The thought of selling another piece brought a little color back to her cheeks.  “Poor little girl-but she’d be grown now.”  She shot me a nervous look, “She’s okay?”
“She’s coping,” I replied.  I looked up as if trying to calculate something, “How many years has it been now since it happened?”
She thought for a moment, “Fifteen years.  It was around the time we had that flooding.  It ruined everything in my basement.”  She pulled out a large ruby looking ring.  “How about this?” she asked.
It was hideous.  I couldn’t imagine reselling or wearing it.  I looked it over carefully though, not wanting to offend her or stop the conversation.  “Casey never told me the details.  I suppose it was too painful.”
The elderly lady gave me a strange look, “I don’t know what details you would want.”  She shivered again, “To be murdered while you slept by your own son.”
I gasped out loud but then quickly covered my mouth.  “I’ll take these three,” I said quickly before she questioned my reaction.  I put a wad of cash on the counter and she gave me my change.  I stumbled out to the truck.  If Casey’s brother had murdered their parents, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill Chris and Daniel.  My stomach clenched and I fought back the nausea and struggled not to vomit.  I wrapped my arms tightly around my upper body as I sobbed.  I finally took a deep breath, and glanced back toward the shop.  The antiques sitting on the sidewalk blocked me from the elderly owner’s gaze.
I wiped my eyes with my sleeve and backed out of the parking spot.  I was jumping to conclusions.  Casey’s brother was probably in prison and had nothing to do with my family’s disappearance.  I spotted a small library up ahead.  They might have old newspapers in their archives.

I parked and walked through the library door.  A middle-aged blond with reading glasses perched on the tip of her nose manned a desk.  “Do you have newspapers from fifteen years ago?”
“Local newspapers?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied, holding my breath.  The library was tiny and she appeared to be the only staff.
“Those would be in the very back.  We have The Herald and The Jonesboro Times in bound books.”  She walked toward me and then motioned for me to follow.
She led me to a dim room and then flipped on a row of fluorescent lighting.  “The Herald is over there,” she pointed, “and The Jonesboro Times is in the next room through that door.”  She walked along the rows of shelving and then squatted down to the floor, “That time period would start here.”  She got back up and dusted off her hands on her pants, “Is there anything specific I can help you find?”
I wasn’t eager to tell her I wanted to find out more details on a gruesome murder.  I remembered what the shopkeeper had said.  “Do you remember a flood happening that year?”
The librarian sighed, “I sure do.  Everything in our basement was ruined.  I’d never seen so much rain.”  She thought for a moment, “I believe that happened in April.”  She bent over and pulled a huge, oversized bound book from the shelving.  She flipped the cover open and I saw yellowed sheets of newsprint.  Carefully turning pages, she exclaimed, “There, here are some pictures.”
I drew near her side and leaned over the top of the shelving, staring at the open book.  “Wow, this is great.  Just what I was looking for.”
She smiled back at me, pleased, “Anything else I can help you with?”
“No, this should do it,” I said pleasantly.  “Thanks.”
She left the room and then I turned the pages.  DOUBLE MURDER the headline screamed out on the very next issue.
Bill and Rachel Leech were pronounced dead on the scene when deputies arrived at their home yesterday morning on 1220 Eckleberg Road.  They died of apparent gunshot wounds to the head.  Deputies responded to a 911 call placed by their daughter Casey Leech.  No other information was available at press time.  Anyone that has information is urged to contact the state police.
I shuddered and turned to the following week’s issue.  A large headline highlighted a small blurb.  Reports have been confirmed that a minor has been arrested for the murders of Bill and Rachel Leech.  Due to the accused age, the name of the suspect is not being released.
I flipped a few more pages.  JOHN LEECH ARRESTED FOR PARENTS’ MURDERS  The headline was emblazoned across the entire page.  I scanned the article.  Fifteen-year-old John Leech will be tried as an adult for the murder of his parents, Bill and Rachel Leech.
I glanced down further.  Neighbor Ben Hathaway is still in shock.  “Bill and Rachel were the two nicest people you would ever meet.  I just can’t believe this happened here.”
I noticed a stool in the corner, moved it in front of the shelving, and sat down.  I continued scanning the articles as the coverage progressed detailing the trial.  The evidence was damning.  The ballistics matched a shotgun found in John Leech’s bedroom.  His fingerprints were found on the weapon.  Police also recovered clothing from a barn on the property that had DNA from both victims.  The clothes were the same size John Leech had worn.  Most damaging of all was his six-year-old sister’s testimony that she’d heard screaming and loud booms and then she’d seen John leaving their parents’ bedroom with blood on his clothes.  He’d been holding a gun, she confirmed.  Poor Casey.  No little girl should have to live through that.

Next page