01 Feb I’m a cop and I keep getting called to the same house Part 1
I’m a local rookie cop in a small town in Pennsylvania currently stuck working night shift. I work the normal patrol shift, driving around, pulling traffic, responding to your normal domestic disputes and whatever other wonderful calls dispatch sends my way. But ever since this past weekend, every single night I keep getting called to the same house. At first I thought it was my coworkers playing pranks on the rookie (I have 2 years on the job, but in such a small town I work with most guys my dads age). I’ve omitted certain names and addresses for obvious reasons. Anyway, here’s what happened.
Friday night around 0200 hours (so actually Saturday morning) dispatch gets over the radio, “Dispatch to 1034” “1034, go ahead.” “We just got a 911 hang up from a landline that’s coming back to XXX Patch Lane. Can you go check it out?” “10-4 en route.”
So I immediately start driving to the address which was about 6 miles away, but it’s a pretty rural area so I get there in less than 10 minutes. I turn right on to the gravel lane and after about 7 seconds I see the house up ahead on the right, no lights on inside. I park my cruiser on the gravel lane, lights off, so as not to announce myself in case there is an actual emergency going on inside. We are trained not to just roll up to a house, lights on, in case the subject decides to ambush the officers arriving with gunfire. Anyway, I quietly approach the old farmhouse and check the perimeter. No signs of anything, no lights, no sound, not even a car parked anywhere. I begin to think maybe dispatch got the address wrong. “1034 to dispatch.” “Dispatch, go ahead.” “I’m at Xxx patch lane. Can you confirm this is the address?” “Stand by.”…..”1034, yes, that’s the correct address. Do you need back up?” “Negative. Appears nobody is home but I’ll update.”
At this point I knock on the front door and announce myself, “Officer Barkley, XXX Police Department.” No answer. All the windows were closed, and I gently try the front door- locked.
“1034 to dispatch” “Dispatch, go ahead.” “It looks like this house is abandoned. I think the 911 hang up might have been some wires crossed. Clear me no report.” “10-4.”
At this point it’s about 0230 hours and I need a cup of coffee since I have another 3 and a half hours left on shift. I head over to the local 24 hour Gas station and find two of my ever so busy coworkers standing there fueling up on caffeine as well. They grin and ask me if I had fun responding to the old doc’s house. Clearly, I must have had a dumb look on my face showing the confusion I was feeling because then he goes, “you don’t know, do ya?” He continues, “That old farmhouse belonged to Dr. Wentz. He was the guy that I’m sure you’ve heard about who used to do botched abortions and all sorts of inhumane procedures back in the 1800’s. He’s the guy all the rich went to when they had young daughters getting knocked up or when they had a special needs child they didn’t want to keep. He built that house himself and even named the road Patch Lane as a joke to all of the ‘patching’ he did for people.”
I finished my coffee, laughing about the old tale the guys were trying to pull over on me. I wasn’t going to let these guys spook me, especially being that I was one of the only females on the department I have to have skin twice as thick.
I finish up my shift, get some Z’s, and back in I go on Saturday night. Around the same time, maybe a little later around 0230 hours, I get the call. “Dispatch to 1034.” “1034, go ahead.” “We got another 911 hangup from the same number as last night. This time they stayed on the line and we could hear someone talking but can’t make it out. Can you go check it out again?” “Can you confirm the address again?” “It comes back to XXX patch lane.”
Now, I’m pretty sure the guys are getting dispatch in on some type of joke but whatever. I still have to respond, better safe than sorry. So I drive down the road, turn on to the gravel road, park my cruiser away from the house, check the perimeter, and go up to the front door. Still no sign of life inside. I knock on the door and announce myself, “Officer Barkley with the XXX police department.” Im about to leave, and I go to check the door handle out of pure habit and sure as shit, the door opens. I was so startled by the fact that the door opened, my right hand immediately went to my gun on my right side. I announce myself again. “Officer Barkley, XXX police department! Come to the front door or else I am entering!” Before entering a house, for officer safety reasons, we always get on the radio, “1034 dispatch” “Dispatch, go ahead” “No one appears home but the front door was unlocked. Im going to make entry and check the house, it appears abandoned though. Do we have any back up available?” “1034, all units are still on the fatal DUI accident. Do you need one to break?” “Negative. I will advise.”
I figured I didn’t need back up breaking from a potential homicide scene for this abandon house search. I make entry, gun drawn. I proceed through the first floor, dodging cobwebs and stepping over dead insects and critters. I continue upstairs, through the bedrooms, closets, everywhere a person could be I checked. I work my way back downstairs and check the basement. It’s a pretty small basement, but it’s broken into several tiny rooms. One “room” has a metal door with a padlock on it. The padlock needs a key to open it and is completely rusted shut, covered in cobwebs, and even one big old black spider was guarding that lock, having made it its home. Clearly this lock has been there for years, maybe decades. I didn’t worry much about it since there’s no way anyone was in there due to how rusted this old lock was. Even the keyhole looked corroded and filled with rust/dirt. I eventually left and advised dispatch no report.
I grab a cup of hot coffee around 0400 hours and catch up with one of the guys from the DUI crash and ask him what that mess of a scene looked like. He told me I’m lucky I wasn’t stuck on that scene. He asked me about the Patch Lane house and I told him it was pretty fucking creepy but I checked it out and it has to be crossed wires somewhere. I felt comfortable telling him it was creepy since I knew this guy from when my dad was still on the force and he treats me like a daughter. He said he used to get dropped calls all the time from there back in the 90s but there was actually a family living there back then. Each time he got dispatched they were surprised to see him and they let him search the whole house, never any problems. Just a single mom with her two kids minding their own business. I asked him what happened to that family and he said nothing suspicious, they moved away after maybe 10 months or so, definitely less than a year, and a few families moved in and out renting the house but ever since about the late 90s nobody moved in.
I asked him if he remembered there being a locked room in the basement, honestly not really knowing what I was expecting as a response, and his eyebrows raised and he said, “You know what. I actually didn’t remember until you just asked now. Yeah, wow. Yeah the only reason I remember is because the nice girl that lived there with her kids didn’t have a key and couldn’t get into the room and was asking me if I knew a local locksmith but I told her I didn’t really know anyone since anytime the cops need in somewhere we just smash the lock open. She giggled and I remember she was a very attractive looking girl.”
So we both shrugged it off, finding it odd but moved on with our shift into the early hours with another DUI stop and a domestic violence call from a guy who’s wife drank too much and decided it was a good time to confront him for cheating on her 3 years ago.
Fast forward to Sunday night. Back at work, and this time the call comes out right at 0300 hours. “Dispatch to 1034” “1034 go ahead” “Hey we have another 911 hang up from XXX patch lane. Are you able to go?” (Since I was in the middle of eating my “lunch” I decided not to even go) “Yeah dispatch, I cleared that house last night and I didn’t even see a landline telephone in that house. Stand by- 1034 to Sergeant Oakley” “Oakley go ahead” “Hey sarge, did you hear this call? Do you need me to go or can we clear it?” “1034 just drive by, no need to go in if you don’t see anything but at least drive by.” “Received. Show me en route.”
I was pissed since I didn’t get to finish eating but I did my job and drove down the gravel road.
This time, the front door was wide open. And I KNOW I shut it closed the night before. At this point I begin to think a homeless person is inside, which is still trespass. So I call out to dispatch I have an open door and I’m gonna check it out.
I make entry and this time I see someone run around the corner. My gun is drawn since I have no idea what to expect here and I announce myself and run after them. When I turn the corner it’s just the kitchen and door to the basement. No way out.
I run into the basement, and nobody is fucking down there. Nobody. I get on my radio and ask for back up, but get no response. I make my way back up, and still nothing on the radio. I finish clearing the house, and still can’t find the person. I make my way out to my cruiser and use the cruiser radio and am out of breath at this point. “1034 to dispatch” “Go ahead” “Did you hear any of my calls for back up?” “Negative, 1034 you need unite?” “No you can disregard… I had one subject on the premise but they’re gone. I’m heading back to the station.”
So of course everyone asks me about what happened and alll I can say is they must have ran out when they saw me… I didn’t tell anyone that the direction they ran left them absolutely no way of running outside. I begin to wonder if I’m going crazy. I’m off Tuesday and Wednesday nights (rookie, remember?) so at this point I just have one more night before I can rest.
Monday night shift… left me speechless. At roll Call everyone jokes about when am I planning to go back to Patch Lane. I tell them they can get the call and I’m done.
“Dispatch to 1045.” (1045 is my good friend who has been to the house in the 90s) “1045 go.” “We got a 911 hang up for XXX patch lane. Sarge gave the ok to just drive by and make sure no one is there.” “1045 ok show me en route.”
Not even 30 seconds go by and my cell phone beeps I have a text. “Hey. Wanna meet me there?” Bastard. Of course I’m not gonna say no… so yeah. I go. “1034 to dispatch, you can add me to 1045s Call.” “10-4”
We show up the same time and this time the front door is wide open again. Awesome. We both clear the first floor, then the top floor, and make our way into the basement together. Nothing.
Then we turn the corner and I see there’s no lock on the metal door anymore. We look at each other, and he said “I thought you said this was locked?” I say, “uh. It was.” So he slowly opens the door and we are hit in the face with the most horrid smell… a smell I know well. The smell of death.
We find a corpse of a young female, bloated, fresh. The body naturally bloats about 2-4 days after death and traps gases, that’s where the odor comes from. We call for back up, and Medical Examiners show up on scene.
They process the scene and begin to take the body away. I ask them how long has the body been there (they are the experts, not me), and the ME guys said between 3-4 days based on rigor Mortis, livor mortis, and a few other medical terms I probably can’t even spell. I said there’s no way that’s possible because I was there a day ago and there’s no way that was freshly locked. The lock was so corroded, rusted, covered in cobwebs, nobody touched it in years. They said “Officer Barkley, that isn’t our job to explain. We are just telling you that this body has been laying in that exact position, in that room, for between 3 to 4 days.”
Tomorrow will be my first night back and I’m not sure what to expect…