My last case in Chicago involved the brutal murder of a middle-aged lady by the hands of her son’s closest friend; Jack Hackerville, a twenty-year-old man with chronic psychotic episodes.
The boy was struggling for years with hallucinations and violent outbursts, however his parents never admitted him to any known mental hospital, convinced as they were that the four walls of his home and their extended care would do more good than damage. Jack was never able to finish High School, yet he had spent two summers working at the docks with an impressive rate of success. His colleagues would describe him as a distant man, polite when it was needed but lost in his inner world and mind. His employer there, Mr. Rossi - a middle–aged Italian man - reported that Jack was a hard-working boy, not very ambitious but quite eager to learn. Two years pass by and Jack gets fired due to a fatal incident that cost the life of two workers . The police was never involved as both parties—the Hackervilles and Mr. Rossi—came to a mutual agreement. The family didn’t want to see their boy locked up in prison and even trialled. The old man wanted to keep his business affairs as private as possible, after all, illegal immigrant workers were always the cheapest solution. Of course, after this, his father forbidden him from going anywhere without constant supervision. That’s around the time Peter Dellware got involved.
The two men met for the first time at night, during what seemed to be an awful accident due to his episodes; the boy was feeling too hot in the mid of December and proceeded to open the window. Shortly afterwards, his body began spasming uncontrollably, his head was turning back and forth and voices were screaming at him to jump off, which he did. Thankfully, his late mother’s bushes were right below his window and across the street, young Dellware was getting off the bus, who immediately rushed to the man’s side and informed his father of the accident. The rest is history. Peter would occasionally visit the family with freshly baked pies that Jack loved, they’d start going on walks first around the neighbourhood and later one even downtown. They were spending much of their free time together, and that alone was enough to raise suspicions. As a result, Mrs. Dellware talked with her son, eventually forcing him to end their friendship. She couldn’t handle the gossip of the neighbourhood and also they had to arrange his upcoming engagement with a girl he barely knew.
Not long after, the actual problem began. The mother had already contacted Jack's father and informed him of the bond their sons shared. She even ‘innocently’ twisted the truth to convince him. In just a few days, the boys were apart, and Mrs. Dellware’s fate was sealed. Blinded by pure rage, Jack forced his way into her house through the kitchen door while Peter was at work and butchered her with just a knife, stabbing her thirty-two times in the face and chest. Her screams echoed throughout the entire neighbourhood, and the authorities received immediate alert. Meanwhile, a passer-by, a young lad, entered the house to rescue the unfortunate woman. He received a severe blow to the skull, which caused only minor damage but left lifelong scars. Jack was not interested in killing anyone but the one who estranged him from his dear and only friend. He was not a murderer for the sake of killing. In his very own world, Mrs. Dellware was a demon, and he had to get rid of her.
When I arrived at the house with the Chief, Hackerville was still there, standing motionless in a corner and staring at the floor. He looked more like a forgotten creepy mannequin than a living human being. A few inches away, the murder weapon was on the floor with a bent blade and blood spilled everywhere. The officers were shaking while they were explaining to us how they struggled to communicate with him. I knew we had to step in. Christopher was good at talking with criminals. It wasn’t a matter of bad and good cop, but more like being able to connect the dots and figure out a way into their minds. It wasn’t working every single time, but many scums confessed thanks to this talent of his. I had a different approach. I’d treat them like kids. Children rarely want to talk to you when they get angry and pout. They stand in a corner and try to provoke you and sometimes they will even tell the truth as they run out of well-fabricated lies and excuses. So, I’d either wait for them to exhaust all their energy, or I’d bang my hand on the table to show dominance - like a father to their misbehaved child. This one, though, was a tough case. We tried to reason with him, but he only kept repeating a few words and phrases. I finally got rid of her, he kept on saying, until his hollow eyes, lost in the madness of his own mind, met with mine. The boy asked me if I knew when his friend Peter would be back. He explained that Peter, too, wanted to get rid of his own mother for a long time, but he did not have the guts to do it, so Jack took matters into his own hands, like the good pal he was. The man in front of me was a sick human being. He was literally living in a different world where his action was well justified. He couldn’t see what was wrong with taking this life away; by stripping off his friend of the only family he ever had. So, he expected everyone to understand and pat him on the back, and he was expecting the same from Peter.
Needless to say, the scene that played out before our eyes as the late Dellware’s son entered the hall and faced the hideous sight was beyond heartbreaking. The boy rushed to her side and his muffled screams as he held her pierced our souls. My mother almost came to mind, as well as the tragic figure of my father, but unlike Peter, I do not remember myself ever crying for her. Perhaps I had shed a tear or two during her funeral, but that was all. My old man was too deep into his misery to notice it while our so-called relatives were too busy gossiping. What was my excuse? I preferred thinking of her death as a cure for her illness rather than its consequence. But that was me and my morbid, strange self. Peter, on the other hand, had just lost his mother to the poisoned mind of his friend. Who would he mourn first and who would he blame for this outcome? Jack never noticed Peter, nor his cries, and Dellware didn’t bother to look at what was left of his best friend.
I never found out what happened to either of them; whether Jack ended up locked up in the asylum or bit the dust, and if Dellware finally returned to that house or sold it and moved away. They approved my transfer request a few days after the incident, leaving me with no choice but to abandon the case and focus more on the path ahead of me. After all, the killer was already behind the bars, and it was time for the lawyers to shine and decide on his fate. None of that was my cup of tea.
By the time I finished that damn last pack of cigars, I found myself wandering in the crowded streets of New Orleans, among rich and proud white people and poor immigrants demanding their civil rights; all of them staring at me like wild hounds, ready to devour me at any given moment. I couldn’t tell who or what would strike first and to be honest, I can’t even tell today. Perhaps I have grown weary of my surroundings, or paranoia has already set its trap for me like it did with my mother.
Once I arrived at my new duty station, I had already counted at least ten candidates for the slammer and three of them I was sure to encounter in some future cases. Yet, and despite all this, this new city would offer me what Chicago had denied me: a better salary, many opportunities for socialising, and a refuge from my very own demons. This was the chance I had been fighting for the past nine months, and like a newborn baby, I carefully held it in my arms and welcomed this brand-new life.