124 6th Avenue (PART I)
It was the first of July when the crumbly house on 6th Avenue emerged from obscurity into some renown after it ate two teenagers, three police officers, eight SWAT team members, and a reporter.
The trouble began with a relatively frantic call to emergency services. The young man on the end of the line was in some distress. “My friends went into the house and they haven’t come out!”
“OK, a house? Has there been a confrontation, or a fight?”
“No...they just went inside the house, we dared them. But...”
And so the strange call continued, the emergency operator at first treating it like one of the dozen calls before it and the dozen calls to come. Unconsciously and automatically, the operator worked as a taxonomist might, slotting the call into the appropriate genus and species in order to optimize response time and effectiveness. A call that seemed like a prank at first soon became uncharted territory for this operator, “Joe,” who soon realized he was dealing with what might be characterized as a mutation.
“So they went into the house a half hour ago and they’re not answering their phones. Can’t you go check and see what they’re up to?”
“No! We can’t go in there. It...”
“If you know something, you really need to tell me so I can tell the responding officers. If they’re hurt...”
The operator, as you might imagine, was both taken aback by this revelation and somewhat incensed. Didn’t they know that pranks are no laughing matter? The boys never relented, though, so Joe wearily relayed the information to dispatch.
“I still thought it was a prank, even after the kid’s story didn’t change no matter how much I pushed him,” Joe reported later. “I still wish it was.”
The first officer on the scene, Harry P. Craft, had recently transferred from a more dynamic section of town composed of equal parts boredom and bullets. After nearly a decade on the job, Craft was ready to retire to greener pastures. He had certainly earned the privilege; two years ago he was partly responsible for the bust of a local rabble rouser, an accomplishment for which he received the reward of being the third person in history to be eaten by a Victorian.
The house on 6th Avenue was, as lore told, a converted convent. The Church left behind stained glass windows, a statue of the Virgin Mary and, as everyone below the age of 18 and above the age of 70 would attest, numerous ghouls and goblins. With seven bedrooms, two and a half baths, and an acre of property, the house would be a good buy if everything else about it were different. The deed testified that it belonged to a Mr. John J. Jay, though no one saw any evidence of him or anyone else in or around the house. Thus, the home languished as the object of legend and dare.
The only accounts we have of the fate of Officer Craft come from the two teens at the scene, Jason Scholler, 15, and his brother, Jeremy Scholler, 13. Jason later recounted, “The police officer asked us some questions, then he went up to the house and knocked on the door. He stood there for a few minutes, knocked a bunch more, and then he opened the door.”
Thus was the genesis of yet another 911 call, this from Jennifer Scholler. The impossibility of the house actually swallowing the police officer sent the young men into a real panic, one that stimulated the Pavlovian response “call Mommy.” The Scholler clan explained the situation anew when two new officers arrived on the scene fifteen minutes later. History repeated itself as Officers Randy Hormell and Robert Adanno interviewed the boys, knocked on the door, entered the home, and disappeared forever.
Jennifer Scholler’s interview captured the moment best. “It was like something out of a nightmare. I just kept running the possibilities through my head. Maybe they fell into some sort of hole and couldn’t get out? Was there a gang in there or some sort of criminal? It was just so weird. We never heard a sound.”