Behind a Murdered Man

I wasn’t shocked when a sheriff pulled into my driveway Sunday afternoon—a magnificent Sunday afternoon colored with a blue that only the Pacific Ocean can conjure underneath a cloudless sky.

We just returned from an ocean bluffs walk where we showed off our beautiful and peaceful village to a LA visitor who arrived in the wee hours of the morning with our daughter and her boyfriend.  Pelicans soared overhead and we raced to get the best photo.  I kept my eye out for the humpback whales that entertained us the previous evening during an August feeding frenzy just off the shoreline.

Helicopter blades suddenly whipped the still air and broke the sound of waves and laughter.  “I think that bird is hovering over our home,” spouse pointed toward our hillside neighborhood.  We wondered if another elderly person was lost, as was the case about 10 days earlier.

Back on our view deck, we watched the helicopter disappear and that’s when the black and white vehicle deliberately whipped into our driveway.  I thought it was an acquaintance of spouse dropping off a broken motor for repair. It wasn’t.  This sheriff rustled through the trunk and removed a roll of yellow tape.

“What’s going on?” I queried from the 2nd floor deck?

“I need to put this crime scene tape along your back fence,” he authoritatively stated.  We scooted downstairs to guide him to the back and assist him over and around and behind the thick growth of my back garden.

“What’s the crime?” I asked.

“I can’t say, but it is a bad one,” he returned as he handed spouse the roll of tape to wind through the dense shrubbery.

No surprise.  Behind me dwells a house of people—a family of sorts—that everyone in my neighborhood wishes would disappear.  The address is a regular stop for our local sheriff’s department and other persons associated with law-breaking issues.  What sounds to be constant violent arguments, high decibel swearing, continuous bass-thumping music, fighting, and a parade of unsavory persons emanates from the center of this property framed in mounds of trash, junk, tattered furniture, a mattress that houses a family of rats, all beneath plumes of that unmistakable smoke of a certain herb, or voices tweaking faster than a speeding bullet.

To be clear, this particular dwelling is an anomaly for our neighborhood. It’s good to mix homes, but these residents are not a good blend.

One of the residents, a young man, about age 20, appeared as a karmic prisoner in this house of dysfunction. His speech was slow and sounded tangled.  He seemed kind, maybe a tad slower than the average person; the reason I assumed why he resided with his mother in this neighborhood scourge.  Several weeks back when local authorities escorted his mother away I said to spouse,  “Well, God love him. How awful watching your mother leave in handcuffs.”

I don’t mean to paint him as an innocent because I don’t know him, I’ve only overheard him. The last time I overheard him was Tuesday when he cleaned the house’s windows.  Wednesday I heard the loud bass music—as usual—and the thunderous voices shouting back and forth. Thursday I was busy indoors.  Friday I watered the back yard and it felt strange out there. When I plucked berries from the vines growing over my back fence Saturday morning, a sickened feeling grabbed my gut.  The scourged house sat eerily silent. And when my daughter arrived during Sunday’s wee hours, both she and her boyfriend was “creeped out” while they let their dogs tend to dog business after a 4-hour ride.

And this brings us back to the yellow crime scene-taping of my back fence.  We walked around the block where a small group of people gathered on this side of the yellow tape.  One said she was a family friend and that Tyler, the slow-speaking fellow that lives behind me, “had been missing since Thursday.”  His brother, hand-cuffed in the sheriff’s vehicle, screamed for his mother.  “He’s bi-polar,” the woman informed us.  “No one called about Tyler missing until this morning,” she volunteered.  “He’s a sweet kid who took in a rescue dog…and look at the dog now, he’s freaking out.  He knows something awful has happened.”

I commented that we had noticed the dog loose for the last few days.  By now a forensic vehicle, a paddy wagon, and men in white or blue hazmat jumpsuits stood in the street with notepads and pens. The sheriffs expanded the crime scene to the block’s length.  Cadaver dogs were let loose.  Sheriffs found Tyler’s body before sunset.  CSI-types combed the afflicted house through the night, and they continue to do so today.

Now another search vehicle flies overhead and a friend who lives three blocks away said that the opened area by her home wears the same yellow ribbon as my fence, cadaver dogs are on site and digging is taking place.

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