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Mary Had A Little Lamb: Chapter Three

Updated on March 2, 2017

Your Comments Are Enjoyable

It is gratifying to read your comments as you follow along with this story. How is the killer doing it? Who is the killer? How will he slip up and be caught, or will he go on and on and on?

I love “who done its” and evidently many of you do as well.

So let’s get back to the story. Dawn and Bill are as confused as you are about this killer dubbed “Houdini.”

At police headquarters
At police headquarters | Source

The Note

He was playing with us.

This was a game to him. The murdered children were the game pieces, the City of Olympia the game board, and the note I held in my hand was the first clue.

How many children will it take to find closure?

Sincerely,

Houdini

The note had been mailed to the Chief of Police five days after Mary Burnett’s body had been found. It had been dropped in a mail box outside the main Post Office. It was computer-generated. The envelope was handwritten, in block letters, black ink, next-to-nothing distinctive about it. Both the letter and the envelope had been dusted for prints. There were none.

The Precinct shrink believed the killer to be above average in intelligence, well-educated (some college), methodical, and most likely the victim of abuse at some point in his life.

In other words, we had next to nothing.

And then the next body was found.

Boston Harbor
Boston Harbor | Source

The Next Move on the Game Board

Boston Harbor is a quiet little community at the mouth of Budd Inlet, five miles north of downtown Olympia. It consists of a marina and residential homes. There is no downtown area, no shopping mall, nothing but the taste of salt on the breeze, unimpeded views of Puget Sound, the ever-present gulls, and a slower pace of life.

Tammi Ferris was five when she died. She was abducted from a birthday party, a party where fifteen other five-year olds were enjoying life, and their ever-vigilant parents watched on. One moment she was there, the next she was gone, a matter of, quite literally, two minutes while her mother went to the bathroom and Tammi played “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” in the backyard. The frantic mother had called police ten minutes after Tammi disappeared, and ten hours later Tammi was found hanging, by the neck, from the mast of a thirty-two foot sailboat in the Boston Harbor Marina.

The M.E. finished up, walked by us muttering “same guy,” and turned the scene over to us to process.

Strangled . . . molested . . . number four!

A note was pinned to Tammi’s forehead:

Puff the magic dragon, lived by the sea.

The next move is yours.

Houdini

“Do you believe in magic?” Dawn asked me as we looked down on Tammi’s body, such a small body, delicate bones, narrow face, blond curls the dominant feature, seemingly exploding from her head in disarray, still dressed in her party dress, pink, frilly . . . so delicate.

“No, Dawn, and neither do you. Don’t go down that road. This guy is no magician. He’s no sorcerer. He’s a human being, a sick bastard, and he’ll make a mistake, and when he does we’ll mash his grits and take him off the board.”

She knelt down next to the small body. Ligature marks were clear against the white skin. A strand of blond curl had blown across Tammi’s eyes. Dawn reached down and gently moved the curl, a meaningless gesture, as though, by doing so, life could be returned.

“Is he telling us that he lives by the sea?” She looked up at the mast, at least twenty-feet in height. “How the hell does he do it, Bill? People live on these boats. He had to be out in the open as he carried the body down the main gangplank, walked with it for what, fifty feet? Then he wraps the rope around her neck and hoists her up the pole. Sure it was dark but still, it’s a pleasant evening. Someone had to be out enjoying the late evening and gentle temperatures. What do you want to bet our canvas of the area comesup empty? What do you want to bet that, after we interview every sonofabitch who lives in this marina, we’ll be no closer to the answer?”

“You’re probably correct, but let’s get to it. We need answers and maybe we’ll get lucky.”

The murder scene
The murder scene | Source

No Luck to Be Found

We were at The Spar Restaurant in downtown Olympia, eating breakfast, at half-past seven. We had interviewed twelve live-aboards during the night and gotten absolutely nothing. No one had heard a thing. The latest anyone was on deck, outside, was eleven, so the body had been dumped sometime between eleven p.m. and two a.m., the time it was discovered.

“The gangplank leading down to the boats is damned loud. Did you notice that?” Dawn asked after finishing her eggs. “Even if everyone was asleep, how could they not hear someone walking down that gangplank?”

I took a slip of coffee.

“Maybe he didn’t walk down the gangplank. The way he dumped Mary Burnett’s body, and now this one, suggests he approached the two dump sites from the water.”

“So, the perp is Puff the magic dragon, and he’s saying he lives by the sea?” Dawn motioned to the waitress for a refill. “Makes sense, I guess, although I’m not sure how it helps us. This is the Puget Sound. We just narrowed our suspect list down to about twenty-thousand boat-owners who live within twenty miles of here.”

“Closure from what?” I asked. Dawn tilted her head in question. “His previous note asked how many deaths before closure. We’ve got a perp who owns a boat, lives reasonably close, on the water, and is seeking closure. But closure from what? How many of those twenty-thousand boat-owners you mentioned are in need of closure? Did any of them recently lose a child? Are any of them getting treatment for abuse?”

“And how the holy hell, Bill, are we supposed to find that out? Go talk to every psychologist from here to Seattle and ask them to share their patient records with us?”

I put a twenty down on the table and stood.

“Let’s go read the newspaper,” I told her.

The Online Morgue

The Olympian is our local newspaper. It’s not going to win any Pulitzer Prizes anytime soon, but it does have every issue published since its inception, and we needed information.

Dawn and I walked into the main lobby of The Olympian a few minutes after eight that morning. I showed my badge to a wide-eyed, twenty-something, eager-to-help receptionist.

“Good morning!” I told her. “We need to see the editor about a murder investigation, and now would be better than in a half-hour. Would you be so kind as to page him, or her, and ask them to join us here quickly?”

The first murder, that of Angela Mullins, had occurred back in April. I explained to Dawn, on the way to the newspaper office, that maybe something had happened to start the killings just before April, and maybe that something had been written about by our local news staff.

Most murders are pretty cut-and dried, and most are about passion. A domestic dispute turns physical, an argument at a bar gets violent, a death occurs and the killer is found within hours of the deed. But then there are those murders, like the ones we were working on, where the motive is missing and the clues seem to be non-existent. That’s when cops start tugging at loose threads, randomly, hoping to discover one thread which will lead to another, and another, until the whole fabric of the case is unraveled and the answers are laid bare. It is tedious work, frustrating by its very nature.

Serial killers are the worst. There is no apparent rhyme or reason for their actions, and it takes some serious excavation to dig down to the bare-root cause of the killings.

Dawn and I were at the Olympian with our shovels in hand.

SEE YOU NEXT WEEK

And thank you for joining me on this latest trip through the darkness of the soul. Hopefully you’ll join me again next week.

2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I appreciate the kind words, Lisa! Thank you so much. I'll try to never disappoint you.

    • Lisawilliamsj profile image

      Lisa Williams 6 months ago

      You are so good at using imagery and tension to bring the reader into the story. Although I am reading your story at a super slow pace, each new chapter has me begging for more!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You should be comfortable in there by now, Sha. LOL

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 8 months ago from Central Florida

      Oh, sh*t, Bill. I'm sorry! I guess it comes with being a fan of your thrillers. Does that mean I'm getting inside your head???? LOL

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well shoot, Sha, you figured it out before the big revelation. Why does that not surprise me? :)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 8 months ago from Central Florida

      It amazes me how your mind comes up with these clues, Bill, not to mention the plot itself.

      Perhaps Bill and Dawn will run into Eli and Liz at The Spar. They can bounce ideas off each other. However, it makes perfect sense that Houdini the Magic Dragon does indeed live by the sea. How else could he have left bodies without disturbing the coastline or being seen by other boaters? The no fingerprints thing puzzles me. Perhaps he was burned and no longer has prints.

      We shall see....

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You're never late to this scene, Lawrence. Thanks for taking the time to catch up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Keep reading, Shannon! Clues are falling from the sky as we speak. LOL

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 8 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      I'm a little late to the scene, but it looks like Bill and Dawn are doing a great job with the investigation, they've already narrowed the suspect pool down dramatically, but a lot more to go.

      Enjoying this one.

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 8 months ago

      Oh my goodness. I keep waiting for you to drop clues to the readers, but so far I haven't seen any. I'm as frustrated as the detectives!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I really appreciate that, Honey! It's only a story...it's only a story...keep repeating that. LOL

    • HoneyBB profile image

      Helen Laxner 8 months ago from Illinois

      You really bring your stories to life. How horrifying. I keep thinking about the terror all the people in Olympia are feeling...then, I have to tell myself, "It's only a story." It's very well written. Onto the next chapter...

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well it's entirely possible, Zulma.....or maybe I just love that song. lol Happy Sunday my friend.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 9 months ago from United Kingdom

      'Do you believe in magic.' Was that a clue for us, Bill. I wouldn't be surprised.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm so glad you are enjoying it, Sparrow...thank you!

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      rdsparrowriter 9 months ago

      I'm totally wrapped up by the story. I hope the killer gets caught and the more children's lives be saved.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      High praise, MizB! Thank you very much. I'll try to keep you interested.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Jo! I will do just that.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 9 months ago from Tennessee

      This is a great genre for you. Keep it up.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 9 months ago

      When I started to read Chapter four, I realized that I hadn't had time to read Chapter three, so here I am. I will say that it takes guts to start a real mystery when you don't already have the answer at hand. This story is your best yet, in my opinion, and I do admire you for the undertaking. See you in a few minutes in Chapter four.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Maybe, Shyron. Maybe! Or maybe he's supernatural and floats to the scene of the crime. It wouldn't be the first time I've gone in that direction. :)

      Stay tuned and thank you!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 9 months ago from Texas

      Bill, like the rest of your readers, I am hooked and want this SOB hanging from the mast.

      The gangplank was noisy, maybe he was barefoot, like the barefoot bandit.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Missy, thank you! I truly did debate writing this because of the subject matter, but like you said, this is real-life, and it happens daily in this country, so why not? Maybe it will make one parent a little more careful....that would be fantastic!

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 9 months ago from Florida

      This is so interesting. A really great murder mystery, though I feel guilty in saying that considering the victims. However, this happens much too often in the real world, so again, it is a reality check for some that are careless when it comes to watching their children. I hate saying that as well, because it seems the parents were watching their children in this one, and it is amazing to me how fast it could happen. I shudder when I think of my son, and I, being in that game store a week ago and what I told you about the stranger there. I was watching intently, but sometimes, as you pointed out here, it only takes seconds to turn your head and poof! So...so scary for parents!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Vellur! It is a tangled web of mystery for sure.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 9 months ago from Dubai

      Wonder how and when the horrible serial killer will be caught. Waiting to read more. Brilliant write.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Maria, the comments are wonderful. It's is an enjoyable way to share with friends, listen to friends, and learn from friends. I will always stay with HP simply because of people like you.

      love,

      bill

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 9 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      I also love this 'virtual water cooler' where we all stop by to weigh in on your latest riveting chapter, dear Bill.

      I'm fully committed to seeing this dark mystery through to the light at the end of the tunnel...

      See you next time and happy, peaceful Sunday to you. Love, Maria

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Nell, as soon as I figure this one out, I'll let you know. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Flourish! This is a subject matter that is hard to remain quiet about. We all want to protect the children.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well shoot, Sis, we should just turn you loose on this case....no court system...frontier style justice! :)

      Hugs from Olympia on this rare, sunny Saturday!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 9 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I'm loving this and hating it......I'm angry ~ appalled into visceral reaction yet I can't look away. The detectives have to solve this one without me. I'm in-dispensed, struggling, waiting to awaken from an unbearable nightmare.......

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      I'm loving both your story and the comments. Keep it coming.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 9 months ago from England

      Okay I just popped in for the first time into this story, but I am not going anywhere! lol! this is great! I want to know, need to know, who did the murders, how and where!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm blushing, Genna...thank you and Happy Weekend to you!

    • profile image

      Genna East 9 months ago

      It's brilliant writing, Bill. Very clever! Each time we look at the story, we see something new.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, this is how I write a book. The story comes to me as I progress...right now I don't have a clear picture of the entire story, but I'm having great fun getting there. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      He is for sure...there's your first clue...it's a guy! :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Larry! I aim to please!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad you have patience, Dora, because I'm still trying to figure out where I'm going with this one. Thanks for tagging along on the ride.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 9 months ago from The Caribbean

      Mysteries are my favorite kind of fiction, so you've got me with this series. I've got patience, so I'll be around when the murderer gets caught.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 9 months ago from Oklahoma

      Really captivating!

    • profile image

      Genna East 9 months ago

      I forgot to add about the nursery rhyme "pretty little maids in a row." OMG....this serial is one incredibly sick animal.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 9 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      That's nice of you to say, Bill, but I am still hopelessly lost in connecting any of the dots. :-) I also noticed poor Angie Burnett's comment, "Mary, Mary quite contrary," ("how does your garden grow?") has darkness to it; like the photo of the cemetery you included in Chapter 2; that shows the "final resting place of the victims"...which is "growing."

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Yessir! Bundy was pulled over for a missing light on his car, and the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, was nailed by DNA twenty years after his first kill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      My mistake, Clive! LOL

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 9 months ago from Nibiru

      No Billy....Trumps Son did it. LOL

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 9 months ago from london

      Actually, you're so right! It's usually the silly little things that trip them up. Funny, eh. Just to mention, some have a kind of success though, if you can call it that. I read once of an American serial killer, who was like a phantom or Houdini for many, many years. He was still caught eventually, but only because forensics and profiling science had caught up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Chris! There is serious payback awaiting him, for sure.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 9 months ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      I can't wait till this guy gets his grits mashed. Good one, Bill, waiting on the next one.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm going to remember to stay sharp, Genna, with you on the hunt for answers. :)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 9 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I wouldn't say that, my talented friend; I am lost. But I suspect that Houdini wants them to focus in one direction, when the answer lies in another. For example, their focus on how he got from point A to point B is not how he got from point A to point B.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm honored you find this riveting, Ann. Thank you dear friend.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      What a sharp mind you have, Genna! You are jogging along with me as I weave this web, and so far I have gotten nothing by you with my smoke screens. :) Well done, my friend.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 9 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank goodness the details of the case and this "Who Done It" - "Houdini" are so riveting they alleviate the image of Tammi hanging from the mast. Dawn and Bill have to leave their emotions at the door, so to speak, so they can focus on the facts and evidence. (I don't know if I'd have the mental stamina; such homicide detectives are heroes in my mind; I'd probably become a drinker if I had to deal with such horrors.) Closure might also refer to closing the case.

      Interesting that Puff the Magic Dragon is about a boy named Jackie Paper -- and the song, about the loss of childhood innocence; at least that's one interpretation. Both songs (Mary had a little lamb...") and Puff have an admirer/companion to a small child that is an animal -- the lamb and the magic dragon. Houdini was not a magician but an illusionist. Hmmm...

      Bill, you've got us. We can't let this story go, and look forward to the next installment! Great writing.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 9 months ago from SW England

      And the mystery continues...... Interesting questions you ask the reader; questions to make us think about the note, the method etc.

      We can't put this down; we need to know who is doing this!

      Great stuff, bill!

      Have a thrilling Thursday!

      Ann :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      True words, Ruby!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Venkatachari M....the killer will be making an appearance soon...thank you for the patient following.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 9 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      It is going very much interesting and each episode gets filled with suspense and confusion with no trace of the killer in sight.

      Waiting for the next episode.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 9 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Clive, you should write satire. You crack me up! Sooo funny!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Clive, that had me howling. Now that's creative writing right there....wait, was it creative??? Or were you telling the truth? LOL

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      God, John, just what I need, another project. LOL Thank you! I'm trying to make it so mysterious as to seem impossible...but often the obvious is right before our eyes.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Exactly, Meg! This story was inspired by those two teenage girls who were killed in Indiana I believe....just recently...the idea that death can come from anywhere, at anytime...we just never know when our time is up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, thank you Ruby! I'm pushing myself to write about something that is totally abhorrent to me, and it is nice to receive such praise. Let's hope the bad guy gets what's coming to him soon.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 9 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Geeze, This one gave me the chills. I hate it that Houdini can rhyme in his note. This story moves me to anger, it's that good. When you wrote about moving the curl from her eyes,' I could almost see it. This story is one of your best!

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 9 months ago from Northern Ireland

      So sad to read about these deaths and yet they are actually happening somewhere to little children like these. It's not just fiction for them. You certainly are providing some puzzles to solve!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 9 months ago from Queensland Australia

      You have developed an excellent crime thriller here, Bill, and it is certainly holding my interest. Could be the start of another novel or novella I am thinking. Great job.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 9 months ago from Nibiru

      I Know the Killer. Long ago when trump was young he had a relationship outside of marriage that bore a son. He neglected that son out of shame and had him cast away and never gave him his name. His son suffered from psychological problems growing up and was constantly bullied at school and teased because his hair looked like a yellow cotton candy. Bitterness and rage took him over for years. He swore to get revenge and all kids when he grew up. He got a job as a Kids party Promoter and there the killings started!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Eric, and I may change it. This detective has been around a bit, and perhaps, if this ends up a novel, his backstory will explain that...but nice catch on that.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aw, thanks Randi! I don't believe in fantasies...life is real, and at times it is real ugly...why hide from that fact?

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 9 months ago from Mesa, AZ

      Chilling and intriguing. The ages of these babies are terrifying. If only it was just in a story but these things are really happening. Thank you for having the courage to write it.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 9 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wonderfully done, I like the mix of quotation and story telling. A nice rhythm. A critical part of a "who done it" is not giving it away at all. I think you are Bill and really do not have a clue how this will pan out ;-)

      One thing smacked me in the face: "we’ll mash his grits and take him off the board.” The term grits in Olympia was a curve ball.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I know, Janine, right? I cringe writing about the death of someone so young...welcome to my mind. :) Thanks for hanging in with me despite the dark subject, and good luck with that latest storm of yours.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Clueless clues for sure, Manatita! It's hard to decipher the mind of a madman.

      Thanks for coming along on this dark trip with me.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 9 months ago from london

      Warming up bro. You have some clueless clues. Great talking to the news folks. Excellent piece as usual.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 9 months ago from New York, New York

      Wow, this killer definitely is living up to the name given of Houdini! Definitely cringed at the latest victim's age in all honesty, but definitely powerful imagery you are painting here. So thank you for the continuation of this one and now wishing you a Happy Thursday, Bill!