All the Lies (Page 1)
To the living, we owe respect, but to the dead, we owe only the truth.
“Marcus Evans…that boy was a handful when he was a child, but such a sweetheart. And Victoria…she was always his shadow. Wherever Marcus and Jacob went, she followed. They let her. Just a year separated Victoria in age from the boys. And Robert, well, he did all he could to make sure those kids were loved. Jacob spent more time at his house than he did his own, because Robert was made of a sort of strength and compassion you can’t find just anywhere.”
Diana Barnes clears her throat, and I watch as she stands to get a glass of water.
“You boys want anything to drink?”
“No ma’am,” we both say in unison.
Her chocolate skin is a stark contrast to her ivory dress that hangs to her knees. She’s a regal, timeless sort of woman, with haunted eyes. Haunted eyes like my Lana.
Only there’s a sense of guilt there as well, unlike Lana’s. There’s a jaded harshness to the way she carries herself, as though she’s forcing herself to make it through each day.
“You have kids?” she asks us as she returns, sitting down with her water, drawing out the suspense.
“No, ma’am,” we both say again.
“I’ll bet you both enjoy being bachelors and thinking time will never catch up with you.”
Donny shifts in his seat uncomfortably, but I just smile.
“I’m not married, but I’m not a bachelor.”
She studies me intently for a moment. “Victoria would have liked you. She was mostly raised by her father after her mother died when she was ten. She shared a house with two men, so she was more comfortable making friends with boys than girls. She was selective with her friends more than her boyfriends. Not that anyone could have known.”
I inch forward. “Known what?”
“Nah. I’m getting ahead of myself. You need to know first that Robert died in lockup the night he was convicted of crimes he couldn’t commit. They threw every shoe and the kitchen sink at him to make him the murderer, as though that would somehow make the killings just disappear and everyone could go on with their lives.”
She sips her water again, and I refrain from demanding she get to the point.
“Robert was with his kids every night. My boy was even over there a lot of those nights. Jacob Denver, of course, was there most nights as well. Robert cooked, he cleaned, he cared for his children, and he usually had others come over and hang out as well. Such a good soul and a good home, people couldn’t stay away. My boy’s daddy left when he was a tiny little thing. Robert always talked to my boy as if he was his own, and as a single working mother, I appreciated all the help I could get. I returned the favor when I could.”
She pauses, swallowing down emotion that I didn’t detect in her voice. Her eyes grow dimmer.
“He never could have raped and killed those women. He couldn’t even raise his hand to his own kids. My boy saw him. Jacob saw him. Several of those nights, he was home with his kids and two extra. Didn’t matter. They wouldn’t allow the eye witness testimonies or admit them as alibies in the courtroom.”
“What? Why?” Donny asks, confused.
“Because then they couldn’t convict him of murders he didn’t commit,” she says as though it’s obvious and he’s stupid for even asking.
Donny leans back, annoyed. Not at her, but at the situation. He knows how Johnson is. He’ll make something stick, and he’ll cut all the corners to lock his suspect away.
“And the court backed this?”
“The court. The sheriff. Everyone. They held him in interrogation for five straight days. Locked him in that box with no right. Wouldn’t let his lawyer in. Then lied and said he never evoked council. It was a witch hunt from the get-go. It was easier to pin it on the school janitor with no other family than his kids in this town. That Johnson fellow pegged it to be him, and from then on, they made it happen. The sheriff was right beside him.”
The original profile was a sexual sadist. They don’t have kids too often, and if they do, they’re distant from those kids. Not loving and doting. He profiled the unsub as a loner, but he wouldn’t have been.
No signs of forced entry means he was charming and approachable, likely someone they trusted. Hence the reason it was someone in the town who did it. His ability to frame a man makes him a narcissist, and this town played right into his hand, giving him the power that really got him off.
And fooling the world was the ultimate high.
“Did anyone have any grudges against Evans before that night?”
“No,” she says, laughing under her breath. “That man was a saint. If a kid had an accident at school, he cleaned it up and told them to run along before someone saw it. He didn’t want them to be embarrassed, and knew kids could be cruel. His own kids were mercilessly mocked for being the janitor’s kids.”
I lean back, trying to find out what in the hell made Johnson so insistent on pegging this guy as the unsub. Even he has a heart.
“What about the sheriff? Did he have any issues with him?”
Her lips tense. “The sheriff was too emotionally invested in finding someone—anyone—to make pay. His daughter was one of the first victims. The true sick, evil man who killed her…he put her in the middle of the street for everyone to find the next morning. She was naked and raped raw. Her skin was sliced to pieces, and she’d bled out overnight.”
Donny swallows thickly, and I sit back, wondering how in the fuck that never made into the case reports. The sheriff would have been required to step away from the investigation. It also makes him less likely to be the primary suspect, which was the direction I was leaning.
“She was eighteen,” Diana goes on, choking back a sob. “The sheriff wasn’t right in the head after that. After seeing that. It was the hardest thing this town had ever gone through at that time. And from there, they just got worse. A body was even on the church steps one Sunday morning before church started. One was on the school steps, right there for the children to see. It was Ilene Darvis. She was a kindergarten teacher. Just twenty-three.”
She has to stop and blow her nose, her tears falling freely now.
“Anyway, the night Robert was convicted, they were supposed to take him to the prison. Escorts were here and everything. He was found hanging in his cell the next morning after they delayed the transfer. Ain’t no fool gonna believe that man really hanged himself when he was desperate to get an appeal. He was gonna seek out true justice. Not go down like that. I never could find out what really happened. I hope you do.”
Donny’s fists tighten. It’s always painful to hear about the wrong man’s life getting shattered because of another man’s ego. Johnson shattered many lives.
“Couple days later, them babies were walking home, and Victoria stopped by here. I was beside her when her phone rang. Kyle called Victoria, telling her he could get her in to see her father’s body, since they said they couldn’t release it. The sheriff said they weren’t eighteen, and since there was no one of age to claim the body, the city had the right to dispose of it. I got that taken care of later—too much later.”
She blows out a shaky breath, as though she’s steeling herself for the rest.
“Victoria had dated Kyle, gave that boy more of herself than she should have. He wasn’t too happy when they broke up, but he didn’t show his demon right away. He was manipulative and calculated like that. She’d only dated him for a few months, one of the few boyfriends she’d ever had. Her daddy talked sense into her when he heard how Kyle talked down to her. She never said why she broke up with Kyle. But Kyle had never given her a reason not to trust him. Not until that night.”
Donny’s phone beeps, but he ignores it. When my phone starts ringing, I silence it. Neither of us are stepping away until we have our answers. It’s just Johnson trying to find out what we’re up to.
“Victoria went to meet him, and Marcus caught up with her, wanting to see his father as well. They needed answers. No note was left. No goodbye was given. He just died, and they slapped suicide on there. Jacob was not with them for once, and thankfully, neither was my boy.”
She breaks, becoming a sobbing mess. “I shouldn’t have been thankful when those babies suffered, but I was so glad they didn’t get my boy too.”
She’s almost incoherent now, her tears falling too fast and her sobs wracking her body. Donny looks at me, dread in his eyes.
We knew there was assault. We knew it was sexual.
But I’m starting to piece together all the kills now.
Diana calms herself by some miracle, hiccupping around a sob.
“And Kyle, oh that boy was pure evil,” she says, her tone turning angry now. “They met him at the end of Belker Street, and he wasn’t alone. He brought several volunteers with him to help him punish the ‘killer’ through his kids.”
Belker Street is where the message about angels was written to sound like an omen of things to come.
“They jumped them. Got them down on the ground. Stripped them bare in the middle of the streets. After that, they took turns on both of them.”