The old lady knew all about Switchham way. She knew everything except how it got its' name - no one knew that. Everyone knew all about the murders, though. She believed it went "viral" as the young folks around town say - whatever the hell that means.
Point being - it was the gossip in this small little town in the middle of nowhere. The old lady had been driving down a long dark high way after her family's home had burned down, taking her father with it. She loved her mom but she hated living in the city, in cramped up spaces with rude people. She filled the tank of her Cadillac up and hit high way 69 - pulling over in Shermore Township for a quick bite to eat. Shermore wasn't even a town back then, with just 500 people, it didn't qualify. Shermore had the best burger she ever tasted at the diner and a help wanted sign hanging up.
The old lady remembered living in that car for a month until she finally had the money to rent a room from waitressing tables. She had some regrets from back then but she never regretted settling in Shermore until the incident.
In 1983, a rich man bought up 200 acres in Shermore and built himself a mansion on it. He wore a black tux with a red bow tie almost every day until he died. He only changed bow ties if it was a special occasion - then he might wear blue or white. He wasn't like the regular, nice people of Shermore but he desperately tried. He claimed he hated the city life and wanted to write and farm. He even changed his name. When he first moved here, he was Edmund Robertson and even he knew that got him the stare around here. When he killed himself, his name was Andy Ford. He said everyone loved fords in Shermore.
Andy was older than her back then - she was in her early twenties and he was pushing thirty but that didn't stop him from looking. She wasn't interested, hated men with money who thought they could buy anything they wanted, even people. Andy turned his eye to Shelby Holling - a single mom beauty of 28. Shelby lived in a mobile home at the edge of Shermore and counted every penny. We all helped Shelby because she was beautiful inside and out.
Shelby loved a man who dressed up and thought Andy's tux with the red bow was the cutest thing. Andy and Shelby dated heavily for months then took a weekend trip down to Florida. Shelby came back with a diamond on her hand and a State of Florida marriage certificate. No one but the old lady knew what else she came back with at the time - a positive pregnancy test.
The problem with Shelby being pregnant was that Andy didn't really want kids, didn't really want her current son and had made it clear he planned to send him to boarding school because it was "best" for the son - but everyone knew it was just best for Andy. As I said, Shelby was beautiful inside and out. She didn't believe in abortion and that meant keeping the baby, despite Andy.
The old lady was there when it happened. Shelby was a good friend and the old lady who was then young - had her mom send baby clothes, hand made and stitched. She heard fighting and knew it was Shelby and Andy. The old lady when up to the big windows of the mansion and listened.
"You listen here, Mr. Andy Ford - the baby is in MY body and it is MY choice to keep it" Shelby said, her voice dripping a dare for anyone to challenge it.
"And don't you forget who helped make that baby - or at least I hope it was me" retorted Andy.
Then glass broke.
"I'm out of here, Andy. Don't bother me or my son ever again. You don't even have to see the baby, either. I hope to all God he's nothing like you and I curse the devil for ever bringing you into my life." and she heard Shelby slam the door, beginning to gather her things.
Andy was red as hell and old lady felt his anger in the air and she watched anxiously, not able to move herself. She stood holding that box and shaking; she hadn't ever seen a man look that angry - looking as if he could kill someone. She saw him open a panel in the mansion - so blended, you wouldn't have guessed - and pull a gun out. A small pistol and he loaded it. The old lady began to panic and got back in her car, flying towards town to get the sheriff. She sped as fast as she could because the sheriff's department was a good 20minute drive for anyone. A lot can happen in twenty minutes when a man is crazy.
"Sheriff, sheriff - wake up!" screamed the old lady.
I woke up and there was standing at my desk.
"Sheriff, there's trouble. Andy is going to shoot Shelby, I just saw the whole thing!" and she was grabbing me by my arm and pulling me up.
"Shoot Shelby? They're just having a spat over the baby, Kathy." I tried to reason with her, "I'll go check it out, just wait back here. It's all going to be fine."
"Like hell I'm going to sit here, John - you're taking me with you," and she was sitting next to me in the car.
We pulled up to the Ford mansion and my heart started to race- what if this was the first big crime in Shermore? I clutched my gun with my left hand, my shooting hand.
"ANDY? SHELBY? THIS IS SHERIFF JOHN AND I'M COMING IN THE HOUSE NOW" I yelled as I banged the door open. Locked. A stench was coming from the house - dead rodents probably under the porch, I though to myself. You would think a richman could hire a little yard care. I used my gun to shoot the lock open, a sense of panic in the air suddenly. I hadn't ever been to a real crime scene - nothing happened around Shermore. I walked in and the stench was stronger but I didn't understand why. I looked ahead, trying to keep Kathy out on the porch in case some fighthing was going on. Then I saw Andy - just past the foyer, sitting at the head of the table. Blood was on the side of his face and in his hair. My eyes moved to a gun laying on the floor. I gave Kathy a push back onto the porch, she hadn't seen a thing. "Kathy, go to my car and dispatch for a crew. Don't ask questions, JUST DO IT" I used my most aggressive voice and saw tears in Kathy's eyes as she walked to my patrol car.
"Shelby, it's okay. Everything is fine" I yelled to her back facing me as I walked towards the dining room and prayed Shelby hadn't shot Andy herself.
My fears of Shelby were put to rest as I entered the dining room. Shelby was ice cold and had no pulse. Her stomach was cut open - where her future child would've been. Vomit filled my mouth as I kept looking and there was a shot in her chest, right at her heart, a perfect shot. As I threw up next to her - I smelled the stench and vomit. I realized that this is what death smells like. I couldn't figure out why there was so much stench - these two couldn't have been dead for too long before I got here. Tears were filling my eyes and I hated it. I was supposed to be the law enforcement around here and keeping calm was my job. It's hard looking at a woman you knew all your life. I started to turn to James, figuring he was in shock about his mother.
"...what the hell" I say aloud and I looked at James. Andy really did hate children. James had two small steak knives on his face - one in each eye. Blood had run down his face, like massacre in humidity. His arms were tied to the chair with chicken wire, too tight so that his wrist had bled and a spare chicken wire was used around his neck. There was blood on his shirt - where his stomach had been stabbed multiple times and a stab wound in his heart. No shots - Andy took as much time as he could, making it most painful for James.
I thought that was the end of the story - stranger moves into town and murders new family. That wasn't the end. Being this was our first big murder back then, the county sent a detective from the city to take a look.
The detective came on a rainy summer day, the clouds covering the sun. I took him through the house, which I had become all too familiar with, and showed him the dining room, where the three sat. The forensics team was in process of moving them for autopsies but Andy was to be last. The detective looked at Andy with some amusement,
"Why is he wearing a tux with a blue bow?" he asked intriqued.
I looked at Andy - realizing it wasn't his usual red bow, "well, he normally wore a red bow but he would use other colors for special ocassions. Apparently this was a special ocassion for him."
Kathy had seen Andy pull the gun from a secret pocket inside the house and the detective started looking into all the walls in the house. There were several pockets, all supplied with weapons through out the house. The house was ready in every room for any intruder. In the bedroom, where Andy and Shelby slept, the walls were cold. The detective found this strange in the middle of a hot summer and wondered how it was so. He started searching for pockets and he found them, very large pockets.
With chilled bodies in them - mothers and children. After some research, it was discovered that Edmund Robertson, who became Andy Ford, had also once been Thomas Fields in California and Paul Martin in upsate New York. Shelby and James weren't his first murder and Andy wasn't writing fictious stories. He was writing about his life and how he became rich by killing wealthy women and running.
According to his novel, taken into evidence, entitled "Switchham Way" he had gotten all the money he wanted and was ready to settle down with a real wife, not one to kill. It's too bad that real wife had a son. At first he was just going to have to kill the son but when the wife became pregnant and refused abortion...
Well, he had to kill her, too.
It was my biggest case, until the day I retired. That's when the old lady and I settled on the front porch of the big mansion. Our walls were prepared for any strangers that might pose a threat to our little town.