01 Feb I’m a cop and I keep getting called to the same house Part 4
My conversation with the U.S. Marshals left me speechless. It seemed like every time a question was answered, it created ten more questions. My Jane Doe was in the Witness Protection Program. Why? Why would she risk her life by coming back here? Who wanted her killed?
The U.S. Marshals were extremely professional, polished, and appeared as though they wanted to help. They weren’t willing to divulge any specifics or details of why Jane Doe was put into the program or why she may have been killed. They did tell me that she was a key witness to a very high profile case years ago involving the ATF. They also admitted that Michelle Kline was her real name, however, they faked her death upon entry of the protection program. Whenever I ran her fingerprints through AFIS, it triggered an alert in their system and that’s how they came to be standing in front of me.
Before I could ask any questions, they shook my hand and thanked me for my time. They walked out the door before I could even get a ‘why’ out of my mouth. Who killed Michelle Kline? Who kept calling 911? What did this poor woman get herself into? Why was there a receipt in her pocket from 20 years ago?
I finished up the rest of my shift completing paperwork which I eventually faxed over to the suits.. I went home early Monday morning and only had two glasses of wine before rolling into bed by 0500 hours. Don’t be mistaken, it’s not that I didn’t want to drink an entire bottle again, but I was just too tired.
Monday evening I headed back towards the station for roll call, which started at 1700 hours. Sergeant Oakley read and summarized aloud the prior shift’s reports before releasing us to hit the road. Before I can finish racking my cruiser, dispatch calls.
“Dispatch to 1034.”
“1034, go ahead.”
“1034, we just got a call from a senior citizen who is currently at her neighbors house. She is a Medical Alert customer and oxygen dependent. Her phone lines are currently not working and is requesting to speak with an officer.”
“1034, show me en route.”
Although there isn’t much for an officer to do on a call such as this, we are obligated to respond if someone calls and requests to see an officer. I drive down the long country road towards the caller and can’t help but glance to my right as I pass “Patch Ln” sign. I arrive on scene and meet with the sweetest old woman who reminded me very much of my own grandmother. She explained to me that she walked to her neighbor’s house and called the phone company about her phones not working but just wanted an officer to keep her company until her phones were fixed since she was oxygen dependent. She also shared that she has already had more than one fall in her home and used her Medical Alert. I told her I was happy to wait with her. She lived in an older farmhouse (there are many of those in this area) and had one of the prettiest farmlands I’ve seen in a while. She had her garden filled with colorful flowers and cute lawn ornaments throughout. She caught me staring and said, “Oh yes, my daughter comes by every week to help keep my garden looking so pretty. Her husband mows the lawn for me and she tends to my flowers.”
I was shocked to see the local phone company drive down the gravel road within 30 minutes of my arrival. I went outside to greet the techinician and explained the problem. He introduced himself as Tom and asked me where the box was located. As quick as I could repeat the question in my head, I heard the older woman yell from the porch, “It’s behind the shed!”
I followed Tom behind the shed and about 20 yards away I saw a large, 3 ft square pole, sticking out of the ground. Tom walked over to it and began reaching on his belt for some tools.
“What is that?” I asked.
“This is the box that connects her telephone line, as well as her neighbors lines, to the central telephone system. I’m going to see if there’s a problem with the wires making the connections.” He attempted to open the hinge. No luck.
“These things usually go months maybe years without being opened and take a little TLC to open… AH there we go.” The front face opened after just a little elbow grease was put into it. I saw several wires and some labels next to the wires, containing a series of numbers.
“So explain to me what’s going on here?” I asked.
“Well, these boxes were put here way before your time. They had to install these when land lines first became a thing. You see these wires and the numbers after them? They show to which address each wire is associated.”
I noticed a loose wire hanging from the bottom, with no label. And this one appeared to have a female attachment on the end. I asked, “And what is that wire made to connect to?”
“Oh, that’s there so we can plug our phones into it and make phone calls and test the lines.”
“Wait, what?! You can carry a phone in your pocket, plug it in, and make a call from a box?”
Tom laughed and explained, “Well it isn’t exactly that simple. You need a certain type of phone…but yeah I guess kinda like that.”
“What phone number would show up when you called someone from a box?”
“Whichever neighbor’s line you selected up here,” as he motioned to the labels and switches. It was then that I had my light bulb moment. What if my 911 hang ups at Patch Lane were being done at one of these boxes?
I asked, “So if a house had no electricity, no telephone, could it still show up as the origin of the phone call if someone called from a box?”
Tom paused for a moment to think about it and responded, “Uhh… I guess. Yeah, I mean that’s possible. As long as the telephone line has not been reassigned to another person.”
Tom finished up his work and was able to get the phones working again. I left the scene within the hour, so it was still light outside. I decided to head back to Patch Lane in the daylight to see if I could find one of these landline telephone poles. I arrived on scene and began walking through the acreage. After about 20 minutes I found it. I leaned over and wrapped my two fingers inside the front panel, and pulled. The door opened with ease, much unlike the last box I just watched Tom open. Somebody had opened this box recently. But who?
As I started to head back towards my cruiser, I heard screaming. Goddamnit, Hallie. I turned around and saw Hallie sitting by the front porch. This time, she looked in pain. She was holding a front paw in the air and kept licking at it, screaming in pain. I got closer to her and saw that her paw looked incredibly swollen. I’m an animal lover, so I decided to wrap her in an old uniform shirt I had in my trunk and set her in my cruiser. I grabbed my phone from my front vest pocket and googled local veterinarians. I was pretty damn surprised to see my family’s old vet was showing as still open and in business. We had a black lab growing up that I swear was the most intelligent dog. Dr. Demeyers was just down the road and open until 8 pm (or 2000 hours as I interpreted it). I glanced at my watch and saw it was already 1940 hours, so I rushed down the road to the vet. Dr. Demeyer immediately took us in and began examining her paw. I couldn’t believe this guy was still alive, let alone still working! I remembered him as being old when I was just a kid. He has to be in his 80’s by now. My dad used to always take our dog to him and I remember he would call Dr. Demeyers “The Mayor” because he knew everyone in this town, and knew everything about them. For as much as my dog hated the vet, I swear my dad loved going there to shoot the shit with Dr. Demeyers.
“So where did you find this cat, officer?”
“Down on Patch Lane at an abandoned farmhouse. She was sitting on the front porch, crying in pain. I just couldn’t leave her there.”
“Ah yes, I haven’t heard about Patch Lane in quite a while.”
“Oh, are you familiar with that house?” I asked.
“I don’t know if I would say that. I just remember the stories that circulated the town way back when.” He stopped to write down some notes in the chart. He looked up, and said, “That was a beautiful farm. I remember taking care of the cows on the old Wentz farm when the Goode’s lived there.”
“Did you know the guy that lived there after the Goode’s passed?”
“Oh I never knew him, I only heard many stories.”
“Well that fella’ was a ‘jack of all trades’ you could say. He dipped his hands into just about every illegal scheme you could think of. I heard rumors he had ties to the mafia. That guy was blonde haired and blue eyed, and yet supposedly was Italian. Now you explain that to me, officer. Never did understand it, but I suspect he was giving something or providing something to them. Very odd character.”
I never heard about the owner of Patch Lane until just now. “Where is he now?” I asked.
“Oh, he left town quite a few years ago. Never did see him again. Ah well, anywho, here’s some penicillin you’re going to have to give to Hallie for the next five days. This will help clear up her abscess to make sure this infection doesn’t get any worse. If it does get worse, call my office.”
Wait. What the hell? I’m going to have to give her medicine… so now I have a cat? I’m more of a dog person, but I can’t stomach the idea of dropping her off at the local shelter either. Ugh. On my way home, I stopped at a local mart and picked up a litter box, some cat litter, and cat food. At least cats are lower maintenance and more independent than dogs.
Hallie decided to snuggle up next to me for the night, and I’ll admit it was the best I slept in months.
I woke up Tuesday morning and decided to make it a productive day, despite the fact that it’s my day off from work and I’m exhausted. I began to think who would have more information on Patch Lane or Michelle Kline. All of my thoughts came back to the same person, my dad. He was on the force back in the 90’s, hell, he was on the force even back in the 80’s and 70’s. I drove over to his house and pulled into the driveway. I saw the rose bush in bloom in the front of the house and it instantly reminded me of my mom. She passed away a few years back, but every time I go to my dad’s I find pieces of her everywhere, such as a rose bush that she planted. I welcomed myself inside and was greeted with the best bear hug. After feeding me and fueling me with his famous, super secret recipe, coffee, we sat down.
“Dad, have you ever been to the house on Patch Lane?”
“Oh wow. Yes I have, many, many years ago.”
“Really? What were you there for?”
“The ATF needed a couple uniformed officers to assist them with gathering evidence for a case. They busted the owner of that place for smuggling in illegal guns and he had them stored in a shed on the farm.”
“What? I’ve been researching this place for over a week and I never heard of an ATF raid.”
“Well that’s because it was confidential. We never wrote a police report on the incident, it was solely documented on the federal level and they were very good about keeping it out of the media. We didn’t have space phones back then, so it was much easier to keep this under wrap.”
“Do you know what happened to the owner? Who was he?”
“His name was…John..no, wait…Joseph, yeah Joseph. Um, Joseph Muller I believe. It was similar to Miller, but not quite Miller.”
“And what happened to him?”
“Right. Well he had an inside mole with the police department and caught wind of the raid. He flew the coop and I never really got an update since then.”
I began to wonder why Tim didn’t tell me any of this. “Dad, I’ve been dispatched to Patch Lane several times with Tim and he didn’t tell me any of this. Do you know why he wouldn’t tell me about it?”
“Well, Tim didn’t join the department until about 1997, maybe 1998. This all happened around 1995, about two years before then.”
Well that made me feel a little better. I felt guilty for insinuating that I was questioning Tim. My dad began to ask me questions about my own calls to Patch Lane, but I made the dash to the front door and told him I had to get going because of Hallie and simply told him I had taken in a stray who was still healing.
I hadn’t heard back from the PA state lab yet, so I called them to get an update on what was written on the back of the receipt I found in Michelle’s pocket. A receptionist answered the phone, “State Forensics Department.”
“Hello, this is Officer Barkley following up on case number 2018xxxx. I wanted to check the status of my evidence.”
The receptionist transferred me. A male answered, “Hello, Officer Barkley. Sorry we’ve been so busy and I did not get a chance to call you sooner. We were successful in extracting the writing on the back of the receipt you provided to us. It read, ‘L 34 – R 16 – L 8’.”
“What does that even read?”
“I can’t say for certain what this means, but in my personal opinion, this definitely looks like a combination to a safe.”