It isn’t always easy to appear to be confident when you are not. Both Devlin and I got out of after school care to begin our research, with Devlin heading off to the train station to go to the state library and myself catching the bus to the university at St Lucia, which was only about twenty minutes walk from Devlin’s house. I made my way to the computers, found the section on mental disorders and picked up a range of books I felt might be relevant to our assignment. It took me two full hours to get up the courage to head to the newspaper section. Carefully I searched the racks of microfiche, until I found what I was looking for, and armed with 6 months of newspaper materials I headed to the VDU machine. After loading the microfiche I began my search.
I started viewing the newspapers from Sunday 6th August since they were grouped into weekly lots and began to speed through the data to reach the relevant pages. As the pages blurred past, a sickening sensation began to make its presence known, and I had to bite down hard on my tongue to combat the waves of nausea that I get when I am suffering from motion sickness. I stopped on the Thursday the 10th August, with a sigh of relief and began to scan the pages at a more user friendly pace, but I could not find the story of which I sought. Frustrated I looked down at the notes I had copied beside me to check the date, and a bubble of laughter squeaked from my throat as I realized that although the deaths in fact occurred on the 10th August, it was completely impossible that any mention of the events would have appeared in that mornings newspaper. Sighing I began to scan ahead to the next day.
There wasn’t much said about the McNealy boy on the next day, just a brief mention about two young girls in North Queensland found brutally murdered, and how their traumatised brother was found alive and safe on the fifteenth page. Stunned though I was, I sent the relevant information to the printer and took my time to cross the room to retrieve it.
I began to search through the next weeks reports, slowly and carefully so as not to miss anything, but to my complete frustration no other mention of the deaths were included. Cranky that I had just wasted three quarters of an hour, I loaded the next roll of microfiche with little hope for a positive outcome. I hurriedly scanned to the first page of Sunday 20th August, silently vowing to myself that I would search through the coming pages with more speed than what I had currently been asserting, and I stopped open mouthed as I took in that mornings headline.
“Deranged Brother is Suspected.”
A picture of the solemn child was blown up to take up almost the whole page and I gave into an uncontrollable shiver that crept its way down my neck. I moved the microfiche downwards so I could read the slight blurb at the bottom which advised me that the story would continue on page three.
I hit the fast forward button, but in my excitement accidentally speed forward too fast and ended up about twenty pages in. As I slowly began to backtrack, I noticed that a thick sense of dread was starting to wash over me, but I shook my head and put such stupid imaginings to the back of my mind.
I hit page five and saw that the story had continued over several pages, so I edged back further and began to read from the top of page three.
Thursday 10th August began like any day for the residents of the quiet community of Maple Vale. Birds sang happily, the wind rustled through the leaves and the sun played a lively game of cat and mouse with the clouds. And when people woke up that morning they didn’t know that the evening would bring complete and utter devastation and horror, except perhaps one person, a child, of only eight.
He was a quiet child by all accounts, the boy known as T.R McNealy, the type of child many people overlooked and never really saw, overshadowed it seems by his angelic twin, a twin he hadn’t learned to live with.
According to friends of the family the McNealy boy suffered from violent episodes that were often mistaken for tantrums, which left many things destroyed in his wake. One Maple Vale resident even stated that it wasn’t unusual to see his arms and legs covered with bruises and scrapes, which family members admit were all too often self inflicted.
Why is it then that this seriously disturbed eight year old child was left alone to care for a seven month old baby girl. Parents of the children, Bernadette and Kevin McNealy were too distraught to give a statement about the events, and declined to comment on why their children had been left alone that afternoon.
It was the children’s grandmother, Juliet Close, who had discovered the purple lipped lifeless body of the youngest girl in her bassinette, in a nursery that foretold the horror of what lay within. Furniture had been overturned, and the room was littered with mutilated stuffed animals, broken lamps, torn curtains, and the lone blood stain that hinted of the terror as yet undiscovered. Is it any wonder then that the poor woman suffered a major heart attack and collapsed in a heap beside the body of the baby that had been her grandchild, never to regain consciousness, eventually passing away that night in the Innisfail hospital.
With nobody left to raise the alarm, the McNealy’s arrived home that night from work to find that their life would be irreversibly changed forever. After discovering the horrifying scene in the baby’s room, the McNealy’s sprang into action, desperate to find their other children safe from whoever the maniac was that had come into their home.
Their search led them into the bushland that bordered their property, armed with a baseball bat, a gun, and torches they hurried to their other children’s aide, praying that they would be found safe, but fearing the worst.
And in the clearing about 200 meters from their own backyard, they found their twins huddled together on the ground, surrounded with blood, one alive and one dead, not knowing that the murderer was one of them.
The police were called to the scene, and believing that there was a maniac hiding in the scrub somewhere began to search the surrounding area. But the only other sign of life that they found was yet another little girl huddled in the trunk of the tree, shuddering from the cold and what she had seen.
It wasn’t until many hours later, when both surviving children had been taken to hospital that she spoke, and told of the horrific afternoon that will haunt her days for the rest of her life.
At first authorities were inclined to disregard her story, believing instead that her ramblings were the product of an over active imagination, brought on by shock and stress, because to believe such a story was factual was far more horrifying then the mutilated bodies themselves.
Police searched high and low for evidence that a deranged murderer had come into the home of this quiet country family to disrupt their lives, but the more they searched the more they pieced together evidence which led them straight back to the little boy himself.
Nobody wanted to believe that the boy had taken the lives of his other siblings; after all who could believe that a child could be responsible for such unspeakable violence.
Horrified by the words, I looked down distractedly at my watch and realised that my parents would begin to worry if I did not call them immediately, so I sent the article to the printers and hurried off to the payphone to leave a message on their machine. I also rang Devlin on his mobile to tell him that I would meet him at his house shortly to discuss our project. When I came back I unloaded the microfiche and went over to the stacks to put them back in their place, before heading over to the printer to retrieve copies of the newspaper articles.
I gathered the sheets in my arms, with only a cursory glance before ambling over to the desk where I had left my school backpack. I opened the zipper, took out my folder and began to lay the copied papers inside, when I realised that I recognised two of the faces in the picture featured on the page before me. Startled and curious I bent down to read the inscription beneath, and felt my world spin hazily out of control and I vaguely remember falling backwards off my chair.
When I came to, there was quite a crowd of concerned people hovering over me. I blushed and hastily got to my feet, reassuring people I was fine, that it was just a dizzy spell, knowing that all I wanted to do was give into my nerves and throw up on the spot.
I took some deep calming breaths, told myself not to panic and tried to ignore the throbbing sensation in my head and my chest. I bent down to retrieve the pages from the ground, trying not to look at the page with the picture of my parents, and their three other children.