Our driver stopped short of the porch; blood splatter covered half the door. Detective Sloane and I stood at the base of the steps. He motioned to the carnage and took the cigar from his mouth.
“I’m sorry to tell you that someone, or many somebodies, invaded your house while you were gone.”
I fell to my knees and screamed. Sloane patted me on the shoulder. I felt as if someone had ripped my heart out. My tears rushed out and I tried to enter my house.
Sloane wrapped me in a bear hug and kept me from entering. For the first time I could see the weariness in his eyes.
“Let me go,” I growled.
“Mr. Whitman, you don’t want to see them like this. The coroner is almost finished. Do you know who would want to hurt your family?”
“Hurt us? I’m a milkman for God’s sake. We don’t have loads of money, jewelry, or anything worth taking. My family…they were all I had…”
The burly detective released me, and I walked to my patio table and pulled out a chair. Sloane sat in one across from me. A tall, black woman wearing a Medical Examiner coat walked over to us.
“Can I speak to you, Detective Sloane?”
“Sure, Molly,” he motioned in my direction and said, “I’ll be right back, Mr. Whitman.”
They walked a short distance away and conversed in hushed tones. “Gone, my family didn’t deserve this, God. Why did this happen?”
Through my tears I see Sloane walking toward me. His eyes are narrowed, there’s a fierceness in his eyes, like a storm on the verge of being released upon an unsuspecting town.
“Mr. Whitman, I have more bad news. I know you don’t think this nightmare will end, but I swear to you we will catch the guys who did this to your family.”
“What’s worse than my family dying during the holidays in a home invasion?”
“Um, you’re wife and daughter were raped by multiple assailants before they were killed. I’m so sorry, I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”
“Oh God…not my…”
“Are you certain that no one would want to hurt you or your family?”
“Detective, I worked 80 hours a week, my wife baked wedding cakes every now and then, we didn’t have a surplus of money. My children did normal, teenager things. They went to the movies with friends, went out to eat, slept over at their friends. Jayson and Erika never got into trouble with the law or at school. We lived a happy, normal life.”
“Okay. I need you take a ride with me to the coroner’s office to identify your family.” Sloane patted my hand. “Are you ready to face that?”
As we walked toward the car, I pulled out my phone and called my brother. “Someone took my family from me in the most vicious way, but I’ll be hung if they get away with it.”