The Old Kobain Place Part 2 By KK
Once again I want to thank BlackRandi editing this story for me. I want to apologize for the delay in posting Part 2. I just hope that you enjoy the story. Happy Holidays
Tuesday November 10, 2015
I was working the crossword puzzle in the Philadelphia Inquirer when my phone rang.
I picked up the phone and said, "Captain Hobbs."
"Good morning, Brian, Special Agent Van Horn here."
"Good morning, Kyle. What can I do for you?"
"I've got a missing person case I'd like you to take a look at," Van Horn said. "I faxed a copy of the original MPR to you. You might want to look at that while we talk."
"Hang on a sec while I get your fax."
Back in my office, I closed the door, put the phone on speaker to talk and read the Missing Person Report (MPR) at the same time.
"Got it," I said. "Give me a second to read through it."
The MPR was for Tracy Johnson, reported missing from Reading, PA, on November 5, by her husband. Mrs. Johnson's description said that she was 25 years old, she had blond hair and blue eyes, five feet ten inches tall, weighed one hundred and thirty-five pounds. Last seen the evening of October 30th. The report included a picture of the woman and a description of the car that she was driving the night she disappeared.
"There isn't much here, Kyle. What did the husband have to say?"
"He was out of town on business and returned home on Sunday, November first. Mr. Johnson talked to his wife Saturday morning, and she told him she was going to the Allentown Marriott with some friends to attend a Halloween party," Van Horn said. "We spoke with her friends, and they said the last time they saw Tracy, she told them she was going to a haunted house in Brodricksburg with some guy she met."
"Not again," I said, mostly to myself.
"Not again? What do you mean by not again," Van Horn said.
"Nothing. It's just that these cases always bother me. My experience is that they often don't end well."
"Anyway, we did a credit card check on Mrs. Johnson, and the last activity on her credit card was a charge for drinks at the Allentown Marriott." Van Horn said.
"We'll check it out from this end and find out if Mrs. Johnson came to Brodricksburg."
"Knew I could count on you. Keep me informed."
5:45 PM November 13, 2015
I was sitting in my office trying to concentrate on the five cold case missing person files I had in front of me. These cases were in addition to the one that arrived on my desk on Tuesday.
My back was starting to hurt from being bent over my desk studying the files, looking for something that would help me make sense of them.
"Captain Hobbs, do you need me to pull any more files for you?" Sergeant McKinstry asked as he stood in my doorway.
"No, I am getting nowhere, and I need to leave soon. Carrie and I are going out to dinner tonight, and I need to get home and change. I'll be leaving shortly."
"In that case, I'll be heading home myself," Sergeant McKinstry said.
I looked up at the clock and realized that I had been staring at these old files for the last five and a half hours. Just then, Rich Hanratty stepped into the office.
"I thought you would have gone home by now," Hanratty said. "Carrie and Linda will be pissed if we are late for our reservation."
"I am getting ready to leave soon. Just let me lock these files in my desk, and I'll walk you out," I said. "So, what have you been able to find out about our missing person?"
"Well, you know that I went over to Parks and Recreation and talked to them about the haunted funhouse they set up for Halloween. I showed the picture of Mrs. Johnson around, but no one there could remember seeing her. I sent the footage from the security cameras that were active in the park on October 31st to the FBI," Hanratty said. "I also contacted Consolidated Entertainment, the company that provided the amusements for the Halloween celebration. They had cameras set up to capture the faces of everyone who came through their Haunted House. I got them to send the files of all the pictures they took to Van Horn. The FBI is running all of the pictures through facial recognition to see if our MP had been to the funhouse. That was on Friday, no results yet."
"Mrs. Johnson has been missing for a month now. I'm not very hopeful that this will have a happy ending," I said. "Hell, we don't even know for sure if she came here. I hope that she didn't, but I have a bad feeling about this."
"Is that why you are looking at all these cold cases?" Hanratty asked.
"This missing person case made me think of these old cases. I have a feeling in my gut that these old cases are somehow linked with this new one."
Hanratty looked at the files on my desk. "Are you serious? You think this case and the one from 1959 are connected?"
"Sounds crazy, I know, but..."
"That first case was fifty-six years ago. We need to talk about this," Hanratty said.
"I've asked Van Horn to come up Monday morning, and I want you in the meeting," I said. "Right now, we need to get moving, or you and I may be celebrating the New Year alone."
I locked the files in my desk and walked out of the station with Rich. When Rich reached his car, he turned to me and said, "See you at seven, and the first round of drinks is on you."
"I guess I can afford to buy a ginger ale for you."
"That ginger ale better have at least two shots of Jack in it," Rich said as he drove away.
Monday November 23, 2015
Hanratty came into the department conference room Thursday morning with a box of Dunkin Donuts and a large thermos of their coffee and sat down at the table. He was starting to pour us some coffee when Special Agent Van Horn walked in.
"Is that coffee and doughnuts I smell?" Van Horn said.
"Can't have a proper meeting of law officers without them," Hanratty said.
"That's why I like coming up here; you guys know how to hold, as you put it, a proper meeting."
When the three of us each had a cup of coffee and had selected one of the treats Hanratty brought, Van Horn asked, "Is this meeting about our missing person from Reading?"
"It's that and more," I said. "Why don't we start with you telling us what your people have found?"
"Van Horn smiled and said, "Not much, except that we may now have evidence that Mrs. Johnson never came to Brodricksburg."
"What evidence is that?" I said.
"We found her car."
"Let me guess, you found it in Philadelphia," I said.
"How did you know that?" Van Horn said.
"I'll get into that later," I said. What else you got?"
"The car was found parked along Broad Street with the keys still in the ignition. We think that Mrs. Johnson may have come down to Philly to meet someone and something went terribly wrong."
"Why are we just hearing about this now?" Hanratty asked.
"We didn't find out about it until Friday afternoon," Van Horn said. "Philly PD found the car in early November before we were even looking for it. Last week they were comparing the list of plate numbers from abandoned cars they found against their list of cars reported stolen when someone saw the BOLO we put out for that car."
"That explains what happened to the car, but it doesn't explain what happened to Mrs. Johnson," I said. "Maybe she did go to Philly, and something happened to her while she was there. Let's put that aside for now. I have another possibility to present that is stranger and much more disturbing."
Van Horn and Hanratty were both staring at me now.
"The first case I worked on when I started here in December of 1998 was a missing person case from October 1998. The case hit my desk and detailed the disappearance of Jane Markle. Jane was a 26-year-old housewife reported missing by her husband in Bethlehem, PA. Mrs. Markle had told a friend that she was going to drive down to Brodricksburg to celebrate Halloween in a haunted house with a man she had met.
"When I went up to Bethlehem to speak with Mr. Markle, he told me that he had been out of town on business and returned on Tuesday, November third. When he got home, his wife wasn't there, and her car was gone. Mr. Markle called some of her friends, and they all said that they had not seen Jane since Friday, the thirtieth.
"The friends never told Mr. Markle about the wife's plan to go to Brodricksburg with a friend because they knew she was going with a man and didn't want to tell Markle that his wife was cheating on him.
"I worked the case for three months without a break. I could never find any reason for Mrs. Markle to come to Brodricksburg, found no evidence that she had been here, and we didn't find Mrs. Markle's car anywhere near Brodricksburg. A month later, I got a call from a police sergeant in Bethlehem, and he told me that the police found Mrs. Markle's car in Philly."
"You're kidding," Van Horn said.
"You don't think it's a coincidence?" Hanratty said.
"Could be, but I don't think it is. Maybe Mrs. Markle's description might help you understand my concern. Mrs. Markle was six feet tall, weighed 145 pounds, and had blond hair and blue eyes."
"Jesus! Sounds just like Mrs. Johnson," Hanratty said.
"Eventually, I had to move my investigation of the case to our cold files. When I saw Mrs. Johnson's description in the MPR, I went to the cold files to pull the Jane Markle file to compare the two cases. While I was in the file room, I found four similar missing person cases predating the Tracy Johnson case we are investigating. When I began studying the other case files, it left me with an uneasy feeling.
"On the surface, the cases seemed to be unrelated. The oldest case, from 1959, involved two missing people. The first person reported missing was Margo Winslow, a 26-year-old woman from Brodricksburg. Her husband was a man named Jackson Winslow, and they lived out on the Old Kobain Place. She was reported missing by her sister in Brodricksburg on November 15 of 1959."
"What's the Old Kobain Place?" Van Horn asked.
"The Kobain Place is on Wismer Road and dates back to the 1840s. Quimby Kobain built the place, and the Kobain family owned the farm until 1954. It's been referred to as The Old Kobain Place as long as I can remember." I said.
"Mrs. Winslow's sister, Karen Bush, and her husband Howard hadn't seen Margo since the day before Halloween, and Karen couldn't get Margo on the phone. Mr. Winslow would not tell Karen where Margo was, so she went to the police. A Detective, Mark Rose of the Brodricksburg PD, interviewed Mr. Winslow, a man the detective described as a thirty-two-year-old male who looked more like twenty-five. Jackson Winslow was six foot five and well built. When Detective Rose asked Winslow where his Margo was, Winslow said that he didn't know. Rose asked Winslow, "If you don't know where your wife is, why didn't you file a missing person report. Winslow replied that his wife wasn't missing; she just wasn't there anymore. The circular conversation finally stopped when Winslow told the officer that his wife left him for another man.
"What Rose finally got out of Winslow was that he had been in Philadelphia on business October 30th and 31st and got back home around 11:00 that Saturday night. Winslow told Rose that his wife was home when he left on Friday morning, but was gone when he returned Saturday night. Winslow told Detective Rose that Margo left him a note stating that she was leaving him. Winslow still had the note, and he gave it to Detective Rose. It's here in the file."
I handed the note to Van Horn; he read it and gave it to Hanratty.
"Winslow gave the detective permission to look around the property, so Detective Rose explored the house and barn but didn't find any evidence that would indicate that Mrs. Winslow met with foul play. Rose did find that somebody had removed Mrs. Winslow's belongings from the house. At that time, Detective Rose believed that Mrs. Winslow had probably run off with her lover."
"You're not going to tell us that the police found her car in Philadelphia, are you?" Hanratty said.
"No, but there is more to this story," I said.
"In December, there was another missing person report. This one for a twenty-eight-year-old man named Jerry Adler. Adler had lived in Brodricksburg for just six months before he was reported missing by his parents, who lived in Allentown. They had been trying to get in touch with their son for three weeks before they called the police.
"Detective Rose was assigned to the case and went to Adler's apartment, where he found the door padlocked. The landlord told Detective Rose that Adler hadn't paid his rent for November and that the door was locked so that Adler couldn't sneak back and take anything from the apartment until he paid his back rent.
"The detective had the landlord remove the lock, and then he went inside. There was an opened suitcase on the bed and, Mr. Adler's clothes were folded neatly on the bed as if he were preparing to pack them for a trip. Other than Mr. Adler preparing to pack his suitcase, the room seemed to be in order. No sign of foul play. It looked as though Adler was planning to go somewhere, but he never finished packing. Detective Rose talked to Adler's neighbors, but no one knew Adler very well and had no idea where he might have been planning to go or how long he had been missing. One neighbor did say that he had seen Adler out one night with a tall blond woman.
"Because Adler had paid his rent for October but not for November, Detective Rose believed that Adler had probably disappeared about the same time Mrs. Winslow did. The fact that someone saw Adler with a woman who fits Margo Winslow's description caused Detective Rose to believe that Adler's disappearance was connected to the Winslow case. Rose concluded that Adler was the other man mentioned in Mrs. Winslow's note. Detective Rose said that his best guess is that whatever happened to the two of them probably happened on Halloween.
"Based on his belief that Alder was the man that Mrs. Winslow planned to leave with, Detective Rose got a search warrant and went back out to the Kobain Farm with several officers. They went through the house again, searched the barn, and then walked the property looking for signs of a burial site. They also dragged the pond. They found nothing."
"Care to guess where Mr. Alder's car was found?"
"Philly?" Van Horn said.
"Give that man a cigar," I said. "Since you got that one right, would you
care to take a crack at describing Mrs. Winslow?"
"Tall blue-eyed blond?"
"Yep. Mrs. Winslow and Mr. Alder's cases were kept active for nearly a year before being put in the unsolved case file. Detective Rose put a note in the file stating that he believed that Mr. Winslow was responsible for the disappearance of both Mrs. Winslow and Mr. Adler, but with no hard evidence and no bodies, he had to file the case as unsolved."
"The next missing person file I read was from 1964 and concerned the disappearance of Tina Bollinger from Trenton, but living in Kutztown where she met and began dating James Parker," I said. "The two of them had been together for almost two years. Mr. Parker said that he was a restaurant manager and had to work Halloween night, and that Tina was going to go out with friends and would see him after he got off from work. He never saw her again. Mr. Parker filed the MPR on November 3.
"This is where things start to get strange. Friends of Ms. Bollinger said that she told them that she was going over to Pennsylvania to visit a haunted house."
"Oh crap," Hanratty said. "What haunted house were they talking about?"
"No one knew. The police found no evidence that Ms. Bollinger had ever been in Brodricksburg. Then, a month later, her car turned up."
"In Philadelphia?" Hanratty asked.
"In all of these cases, the subjects were from all over southeastern Pennsylvania. All the subjects were between 24 and 27 years old, and all of these women fir the same description as tall blue-eyed blondes," I said. "These cases sound very similar, too similar. The women all fit the same description, all went missing on or around Halloween, and the cars associated with every case were found abandoned in Philadelphia."
"Are you suggesting we have a serial killer here? Do you think one person is responsible for the disappearance of all six of these women and one man? Hell, the first case was 1959, so if this perp started when he was twenty, he would be sixty-six years old," Van Horn said.
"I don't know what to think," I said. "I know this doesn't seem to make sense. I told you this would be strange and disturbing."
"In what years did these women go missing?" Hanratty asked.
I said, "1959 it was Margo Winslow, then in 1964 it was Brenda Clark, in 1970 Tina Bollinger, in 1981, Karen Martin, in 1998 Jane Markle, and this year, it's Tracy Johnson."
Hanratty opened his laptop and started typing. When he stopped, he looked up at me and then at Van Horn. "Are we in agreement that the disappearances of these women and Mr. Adler are the result of foul play and that they are likely all dead?"
I looked over at Van Horn, and he nodded his head. "I agree," I said.
"Then, if you are right that this is the work of a serial killer and he is following a pattern, then there may be three more missing women that we don't know about," Hanratty said.
"What do you mean?" Van Horn said.
"What are you talking about, Rich?" I asked.
"If I am right about the pattern I see in the six cases we have here, the disappearances seemed to have happened on Halloween. In each of the years you listed, Halloween fell on a Saturday. Well, Halloween also fell on Saturday in 1987, 1992, and 2009. We may very well have three more tall blond blue-eyed women missing."
The room was silent while we each considered what Hanratty said. I looked at Van Horn and said, "Can you search FBI files to see if there were any MPRs that fit this pattern in 1970, 1992, and 2009? They would have to be cases not brought to the Brodricksburg PD's attention, or we would already have those files. Maybe the Philadelphia PD has a file of abandoned cars found after Halloween in those years. We should also check to see if there have been any similar cases before 1959."
"If this is the pattern of a serial killer, we had better catch him now because if this case goes cold, Halloween 2020 falls on a Saturday," Hanratty said.
"This is crazy," Van Horn said. "You think that we may have a serial killer that has been active for fifty-six years." Van Horn was reading the cold case files as he spoke. "I would be easier to believe this if all these women disappeared over ten years, but over fifty-six years is hard to fathom."
"There is something else all of these women have in common," I said.
Van Horn was still reading the files, and he held up his hand to indicate he saw it too. "All of these missing women were cheating on their husbands, or in one case, her boyfriend, possibly with the killer."
I pointed at Van Horn and said, "Bingo. In the first case in 1959, Margo Winslow was planning on leaving her husband, which is why Jackson Winslow was a likely suspect in her disappearance. According to Detective Rose's notes, Jackson Winslow was thirty-two when Margo Winslow went missing, which would make him eighty-eight years old if he is still alive. If Mr. Winslow was responsible for whatever happened to his wife and Mr. Adler, can we assume that he is responsible for any of the other missing women?"
I looked at Hanratty and Van Horn and waited to hear what they thought.
"I think it is likely that Winslow was responsible for whatever happened to his wife and Adler, but why would he start killing women that looked like his wife but only on October 31 when it fell on a Saturday?" Van Horn said.
"If Winslow is still alive and eighty-eight-years-old, could he still be going after women who remind him of his wife? And how could he manage to get these women to go with him, and where would he take them? Or is it possible that he has someone else carrying on for him?" Hanratty said.