Chapter 14: Damn rumor
Two weeks went by and business seemed to be falling off. In a small town like Whitedeer, news travels fast. People started hearing that the police were actively investigating Frank for Jean’s disappearance. Either they stopped dying or they took their business elsewhere. A wild guess would be the later of the two choices.
Frank had heard nothing from the police in the past two weeks. Then one morning at the funeral parlor there they were. They walked in as if they owned the place. Frank met them in the foyer.
“How can I help you gentlemen?” asked Frank in his polite funeral director tone.
“We’re here to search the premises.” Stated one of the investigators.
The officer produced a blue sheet of paper and handed it to Frank.
“What’s this?” Asked Frank.
“Your copy of the search warrants sir.” Replied the detective.
“Gee thanks.” Quipped Frank.
“Could you and your employees wait outside sir?” Asked the detective.
Frank summoned the other employee on duty and the two of them marched outside. Frank was a little bit pissed. He thought to himself why were they searching the funeral parlor? What ever led them to believe something could be found here relating to his sister’s disappearance. It was all a little bewildering to Frank.
When the detectives were finished searching the parlor, they approached Frank.
“We’d like you to come back to the station with us Mr. Taggart.” The detective stated.
“Why, what’s going on here?” Asked Frank in a very concerned monotone voice.
“We can discuss that at the station.” The detective said.
Frank let his employee go for the rest of the day and locked the parlor up. Within minutes he was in the back seat of the police car on the way to the police station. Of course the neighbors were outside standing around watching the commotion. Frank thought to himself, just watch the rumors flow now.
At the station Frank was placed in an interrogation room. It was a plain room, maybe ten feet by eight feet with a desk and three chairs. Frank noticed a video camera in the corner up by the ceiling.
Once Frank had been given a cup of coffee and everyone was seated. The questions began.
“We received an anonymous letter which said the police investigation into the whereabouts of Jean Taggart should start at the Taggart funeral parlor.” Said the lead detective.
“Why would they say that?” Said Frank growing impatient.
“We don’t know, we’ve searched the premises and admittedly found nothing that would provide us information about your sister’s whereabouts.” Informed the detective.
“We find it very odd that someone took the time to write the police with that kind of specific information.” Said the detective.
“People don’t disappear without a reason Frank, were you and your sister getting along ok? Asked the cop.
“Yeah sure, we had our disagreements about things, but nothing important, I loved my sister” Replied Frank.
“Tell us again about the last time you saw her.” Requested the detective.
For the next hour Frank went over what had happened at the funeral of Jean’s four friends. Finally after non-stop questions and answers, the detective said
“Frank we are going to give you this opportunity to tell us what you know of your sister’s disappearance. Maybe there was an accident at the parlor. Maybe you did something you didn’t mean to do. Now is your last chance to tell us.” The detective stated.
“For the last time, I don’t know where my sister is, or what has happened to her. You guys should stop wasting time with me and get off your asses and find her!” Frank said in a raised and excited voice.
Frank was taken to the front door and released unceremoniously. He wasn’t even given a ride home and had to take a taxi. He went back to the parlor and had to clean up after the cops had made a huge mess. He was furious at the state the officers had left the premises in. He vowed he would not talk to the police again unless he was under arrest for something.
A month went by and there had been no word from the police. Business was starting to come back to normal at the funeral parlor. Frank was working hard but found that he didn’t have the same feeling for the parlor as he did before his sister went missing. He was even considering selling it and moving to California. If he sold the farm and the parlor, he would have enough money for the rest of his life. He had stopped using the pit after burying Jean’s four friends. The area looked almost normal around where the pit had been dug. If anyone asked he was just going to say he had a new septic system installed.
Frank often wondered what had happened to Jean. He hoped she was all right. He did love his sister and never wanted her to come to any harm.
He also wondered who had sent the anonymous note to the police. What was that all about he thought to himself? To the best of his knowledge he had no enemies. Maybe it was an out of town drug dealer wanting to move in on his territory. Frank had turned a new leaf anyway. He had stopped dealing drugs when Jean went missing because there was too much heat.
That night after Frank had retired for the evening, he found it hard to fall asleep. After tossing and turning for what seemed like hours, he got up to get a glass of water. As he passed by the bedroom window, something caught his eye. He thought he saw something, or someone out where the pit had been dug. He stood at the window for a while then went to get his water.
Frank was unaware that Jean had come home. Frank was still at the police station when Jean arrived at the farmhouse. She had gone to her bedroom and had unloaded her suitcases. As she was changing into more comfortable clothing something strange happened. She could hear voices. At first she thought the TV or radio had been left on. She checked both which were found to be off, yet the voices continued. The talking seemed to be coming from outside. Jean went outside in an attempt to find the source of the talking. She followed the sound to where the ad hoc gravesite was. She walked to the end of the “pit” where her friends had been buried. This seemed to be the area where the noise was coming from. Suddenly the ground broke open and Jean was grabbed by her legs. She fought but to no avail, she was dragged into the pit. Jean’s screams went unnoticed.
The next morning was Sunday, the only day of rest for Frank, unless a body had to be picked up. Even then Frank had decided that he was going to promote one of his part time employees to permanent status. Then he could have every weekend off.
Every Sunday Frank liked to do work around the grounds on the farm. He would always go for a nice long walk and enjoy the outdoors. Much to Frank’s shock as he was passing the area near the pit he noticed that someone had started digging it up. He filled in the hole covering it as best he could. The grass had finally started to grow again over the pit, now Frank would have to spread more grass seed around it.
That night sleep was elusive again to Frank. He tossed and turned trying to find that sweet spot that brought on sleep. Then he heard something outside. It almost sounded like people talking. Frank thought to himself, no there was no one around for miles, it was just the wind. Then he heard it again. He got out of bed and looked out the window. There by the pit was what looked like five figures in the dark. He couldn’t tell what they were. They moved around like they were floating and seemed to fade in and out. Frank convinced himself that the figures were actually dirt being moved by the wind. He went back to bed after dismissing the thoughts racing through his head. There’s no such thing as ghosts Frank thought to himself.
Another week went by. The parlor was back to normal. The cops hadn’t called or showed up again. Jean was still missing. The employee that had been promoted to permanent was pleased as punch. He was working out really well. He even expressed a thought he had of buying the business should it ever be put up for sale. Frank told him that couldn’t happen as long as his sister was missing. Maybe, in a couple of years. If Jean was declared “missing and presumed dead.”
That night sleep was elusive again for Frank. The voices from outside had returned. This time he could hear what they were saying. It seemed to be more than one voice, maybe four or five.
“You shouldn’t have put us here, it’s not right.” The voices said in unison.
“You’re going to pay dearly.”
Frank lay there listening as the voices repeated the same thing over and over again.
Finally, Frank jumped out of bed and raced outside to where the pit was. He was going to confront these demons once and for all. As he rounded the corner of the house, he saw the ghostly images standing over the pit. This time there were a lot more than three four or five. There were dozens. Frank caught a glimpse of these ghostly images but only for a split second then they were gone. Frank wasn’t even sure he saw them. Maybe it was lack of sleep or his over active imagination.
In any event Frank was not going to tell anyone of his run in with the ghostly apparitions. Who would believe him anyway? At two in the morning Frank found himself at his bar pouring himself a scotch. Maybe that would make him forget the ghosts and let him fall asleep.
A few days later Frank was checking his mail after work. There was a letter among the others that had not been sent by mail. There was no stamp on the envelope, and it was just addressed Frank Taggart, with no address. He opened the strange letter and was shocked by what it said.
WE WARNED YOU! IT WASN’T RIGHT WHAT YOU DID TO US YOU ARE GOING TO PAY!
Who was doing this? Frank thought to himself. What did they mean? What did he do and to who? Frank was beside himself. Now it really didn’t matter who was coming after him, he would be ready. Frank’s dad had a 38-caliber revolver in the safe at the office. Frank was going to keep it on hand until he got to the bottom of these letters. First, the letter to the police, and then this one.
Although the police had been quiet for the past few weeks, they had been working hard. They had started interviewing Frank’s neighbors to see if they had witnessed any unusual activity around the time of Jean’s disappearance.
The closest neighbor, a Mr. Beaker, was interviewed several times by the police. He was a retired man in his seventies, but very sharp and aware of just about everything going on around him. In the last interview he said something he had neglected to say in the first interview. He had remembered one evening looking out his kitchen window at the Taggart farm. This window looked out to the side of the house that had the pit in front of it. He remembered seeing Frank Taggart out there digging with a shovel. Mr. Beaker didn’t know Frank had a garden there but guessed he had to because of the size of the area he was digging up.
The detectives just had their biggest lead in the investigation. They had to find out what Frank had been doing digging holes in his yard. They obtained a search warrant for the Taggart farm to obtain evidence in a criminal investigation.
The next day they were at the farm early in the morning. Before Frank left for work. They presented him with the search warrant and then started their search. They had two crews that would do the searching. One crew took the house the other crew would start digging the so-called garden.
The crew searching the house was done in about an hour and had negative results. The crew searching the yard had better luck. They uncovered the pit. They had no idea what was in it though. They could tell its length and width and started digging. It was easy telling where the pit had been previously dug as the ground was loose. When Frank saw them digging in the pit he said to one of the detectives that it was a new septic bed.
The crew had started their digging at the point in the pit where Frank had laid to rest the first bodies in his scheme. They had been buried about three to four feet below the surface. It wasn’t too long before the first body was uncovered.
“Frank we’ve found a body buried in the pit beside the house. Do you want to tell us who it is? Asked the detective.
“Well let’s see, that should be Mrs. Bergman, she died about two years ago.” Said Frank in a matter of fact manner.
“Why is she buried here?” Asked the detective.
“Well because, it was cheaper than cremating the old bag.” Said Frank.
Frank knew the gig was up. He was screwed. There was no need to be evasive, just tell the truth.
“Frank, you’re under arrest for indignity to a dead body. Anything you say will be taken down and may be given as evidence at your trial. Do you understand the caution I have just told you?” Said the detective.
“Yes of course.” Replied Frank.
“Frank how many people are down there?” asked the detective.
“You’ll see” Answered Frank whimsically.
The more the officers’ dug the more bodies were uncovered. After three hours of digging the body count was at ten and they could tell there were plenty more.
Frank had been taken away in handcuffs. The officers would be there for a very long time. Every corpse had to be treated properly as evidence.
By midnight it was painfully obvious that the police were looking at least four days maybe longer to uncovering all the bodies from the Taggart Pit as it was now being called.
On day two the media caught wind of the Police search warrant being executed on the Taggart farm. Soon it was all over the news. Not just in Canada but all over the world.
Back at the police station Frank was being interrogated once again. This time he was under arrest and in a lot of trouble. He was advised by duty council not to say anything. For every body that was uncovered, Frank would be charged with one count of indignity to a dead body and one count of fraud.
Depending on the body count Frank was going to face a possibility of hundreds of charges. Frank knew he was facing years of jail time. A crowd started forming outside the Taggart farm. The word was starting to spread. At first it was just the curious to ascend on the farm. Then family members of the deceased started showing up. They wanted to see how their family members had been treated. The Taggart Funeral Home was once a well-respected institution in the town of Whitedeer. That was not the case now though.
Once the media had gotten hold of the story the whole town of Whitedeer became famous. The town’s citizens hated that, after all one of the reasons they chose to live in Whitedeer was for its peace and serenity. Someone even took a video of the police recovering bodies and put it on the Internet. The video went viral, much to the chagrin of the town’s citizens.
Through his lawyer, Frank had tried to assure the victim’s of his little fraud that all that had been buried on the Taggart farm had otherwise been treated with respect. The only difference was that instead of being cremated they had been buried. The relatives of the deceased parties were none the less outraged at the treatment they had received. They wanted revenge.
By day three the body count had reached twenty-five, but there were more bodies to be unearthed. Once the bodies had been recovered and photographed, it was necessary for them to be viewed by the coroner. This would rule out any other irregularities that might have been present. All the police needed was to find out that the Taggart’s had a stash of body parts for sale.
The bodies were then cremated as they were supposed to be, according to the deceased’s wishes. The Taggart Funeral Home according to a judge’s order would pay this for. Frank had already agreed to foot the cost of the cremations.
At the police station the detectives were once again interrogating Frank. They were trying to build a case against Frank in regards to the disappearance of his sister Jean. Frank was steadfast in his denial of any wrong doing in relation to Jean. He kept repeating how worried he was getting about his sister. He had no idea where she was or what she was doing. Furthermore Frank kept telling the detectives that Jean had nothing to do with the fraud and the Taggart Pit.
At night Frank was having a difficult time trying to sleep. He kept having recurring nightmares. He dreamt that each one of the persons buried on the Taggart Pit would walk by the foot of his jail bed. When they got to the center of the bed they would turn to him and say “YOUR GOING TO PAY”. Every night this happened and it was driving him crazy. More than once a guard would have to check on Frank because he woke up yelling.
By the end of the week the police had uncovered a total of eighty-five bodies. Detectives had also been going through the financial records of the Taggart Funeral Home. They found a discrepancy in the amount of chemicals being used for the embalming process. Of particular concern was the chemical Phencyclidine.
When detectives questioned Frank about this he readily admitted he scammed the company using it as a front for the sale of the chemicals He admitted he knew that Phencyclidine was being used in the production of PCP. Frank would also be charged with drug offences.