The Pine Lake Incident

The town, lake, national reserve and the people in this story are all fictional.

Be warned, this is not a pretty story. It has several instances of physical abuse and actual violence.

The story is set in the near future, starting from early November 2017. Much of it takes place the next spring.

**********

Beneficent Brady stood in front of his father, who had just opened his bedroom door without warning, Ben was wearing only a sheer silk nightgown. He had been expecting that he would have some time to himself, so he had grabbed it from his sister's wardrobe and slipped back into his room about twenty minutes earlier. When his father opened the door, he hadn't cowered, no, he stood tall in front of the bastard.

Stephen Brady, Ben's father, the "bastard", stared at the boy for a moment, then slapped him hard, sending Ben tumbling into the room.

"You little queer! This is how you repay my giving you every opportunity to make something of yourself, by being a goddamn sissy?" Stephen yelled this as he stalked into the boy's room, then reached down to haul Ben up from the floor while raising his other hand in a fist.

Ben blanched, it was all too obvious that his father was extremely pissed off. If he didn't get out of here right now, he knew without a doubt that his father would beat him black and blue, possibly even kill him. Something in the boy snapped and he shoved Stephen with all his strength.

Ben watched in shock as his father let go of him, then stumbled and fell, Stephen's head slamming into the wall beside the open door. Stephen dropped to the floor like a heavy sack, and Ben took advantage of this, running out of the room, down the stairs and out of the house. He didn't even notice that he was wearing nothing but a sheer silk nightgown and was barefoot, he just needed to get far away from his father.

Ben lived in a beautiful little town on the edge of a very popular national reserve area and the gorgeous lake in the middle of the reserve. Pine Lake was a nice place, even though it was quite small, perhaps 4,000 people lived here. The reserve drew visitors year round.

For some reason that Ben couldn't explain, the reserve seemed to be pulling him to it. He ran harder, soon leaving the small town behind.

**********

It took Ben about ten minutes to reach the eastern edge of the reserve, then enter the shadowy realm of the largely forested park. The majority of the trees in the reserve were old growth red and white pines, with some firs of several different types plus the odd deciduous tree.

The town had been named for the lake surrounded by those huge, old pines, and the reserve ended up sharing the town's name.

He ran under the trees, barely noticing the dimming of the light around him as he forced his way through the trees. That same feeling that he had had as he left the house returned, it seemed to be telling him to stay away from the two roads leading from the town onto the reserve.

He had no idea how long he continued to run, nor did he notice that the air was distinctly cool as he headed deeper into the forest.

He hadn't been following the news recently, or he might have known that a huge storm, possibly snow, was due to hit that night. Temperatures were forecast to be under 40°F that night, it was currently just over 55°F with the temperature falling rapidly as the night drew closer.

His energy began to flag, he stumbled several times over the next fifteen minutes as he made his way toward a cabin by the lake's edge.

Shortly before 6:00 PM, as the night fell around him, he noticed that he could see the lake for brief moments through the trees. He figured that he was maybe a quarter of a mile from the lake itself, he should be able to get there in a few more minutes, but gods, he was tired.

It was that growing fatigue that betrayed him, he stumbled one last time and couldn't avoid the collision with a huge, hoary pine tree. His head hit the tree, giving off that odd thunk sound one hears when hitting a thick, solid object, then darkness descended and he knew no more.

**********

Stephen groaned, then used a hand to feel the back of his head as he slowly opened his eyes. The light hurt, so he shut them again. It took a moment to find the spot where his head had hit the wall stud by the door, he could feel a fair sized goose egg and a slight trickle of blood.

A few more minutes passed before he was able to open his eyes and keep them open without the light making things worse. He placed his hand on the floor beside him, then slowly rolled over until he could put a hand on the wall and use it to help himself stand.

He winced as he managed to stand, the little shit had finally managed to show some spunk. The damn little fairy would pay for it.

He staggered as he exited from Ben's bedroom in the house and made his way to the stairs.

His older daughter Jenn opened her door, started walking toward the upstairs bathroom, then noticed her father wobbling toward the stairs.

"Daddy, are you okay? What happened?" she squeaked in that irritating high-pitched voice that Stephen positively hated.

Stephen winced again, then turned to face his daughter, "Your little faggot brother is what happened. I caught him wearing a nightgown in his bedroom, he was lying on his bed looking in some stupid girly magazine, so I hit the little bugger, and he actually hit me back for once."

"You know, daddy, you can be so fucking clueless," Jenn snapped back at him, "I've known about Belle for two years now. We talked for about three hours or so one night back then, and I've let him use some of my older clothes when he wanted something to wear."

Stephen's face turned a colour not far short of purple as he listened to his daughter.

"You helped the little freak, bitch?" he yelled, his hand curling into a fist, then lashing out, catching Jenn on the side of the jaw. She squawked in alarm as she tumbled to the floor in the hallway, then held her jaw, looking up at her father with pure loathing.

"You fucking bastard!" Jenn screamed, "Why the hell did you have to hit me? Everyone should be able to live as they like, dammit!"

"You helped that little fucker," Stephen snarled. "If I find him, he'll wish he was dead by the time I finish with that little piece of shit!"

Jenn looked up in horror, then slowly crawled toward the bathroom, rolled through the doorway, then slammed and locked it.

Stephen was still not too steady, hitting Jenn had caused him to stagger again, so he didn't notice her until she was by the bathroom door.

From behind the door, Jenn could be heard screaming, "Stay the hell way from me, asshole!", then silence descended.

**********

Everything seemed to be going to hell in a hand basket, Elizabeth Brady mused as she stood listening in the living room doorway. She had seen a very brief glimpse of someone running down the front hall earlier, then the door had slammed and they were gone.

By the time that she had opened the front door again, she couldn't see anyone on the street nearby, so she had closed it and returned to doing some house cleaning and preparing dinner for the family, tasks she had been doing for the last nineteen years on a daily basis.

It was likely Ben getting away from his father again. He sometimes left without saying anything, returning hours later.

She hadn't heard anything of the original argument, whatever it had been about, only the front door slamming as the person left.

Then, just a few minutes ago, Stephen and Jenn had a nasty argument upstairs, Jenn had apparently retreated into the bathroom. Liz had heard that argument quite clearly, it would have been next to impossible to not hear it, being she was in the living room only twenty feet away.

Well, that explained things to some extent. She'd noticed some clothes had been moved or shifted on a few occasions in the last three years. Hearing from Jenn that Ben liked to wear pretty things made it fairly clear as to who had been going through her clothes all those times.

Stephen came down the stairs slowly, holding his head, then walked right past her and sat in his big easy chair.

As he sat down, resting his head against the thick back of the chair, he glared at Liz and growled, "Don't bother me until dinner is ready."

**********

As the night closed over the small town, snow began to fall, first a few flakes here and then, then faster and faster. By 6:45 PM that evening, the storm was raging over the town, the reserve and a fair chunk of the state, with winds hitting upward of 65 miles an hour.

During that night, the town had about eighteen inches of snow dumped on it, the reserve even more, nearly three feet of the white stuff.

The temperature kept dropping through the night, eventually reaching a low of 33°F as the storm passed through the area.

Eventually, somewhere around four AM, the storm blew itself out as it passed off to the southwest and then faded away.

**********

The snow in the town began to melt later that day, but the snow in the forest stayed, covering the body of the fallen boy.

It wasn't until just before the kids would head off to school that the family noticed that Ben was missing. They then discovered that he had not been in the house at all that night, his bed had not been slept in and his clothes were all where they belonged.

The police were called, they informed the family that they could do nothing right then beyond putting out an Amber Alert. This was done.

Most of the town's few officers on duty, as well as many concerned citizens, kept an eye out hoping to find the boy.

**********

A week passed, Ben still hadn't been found, the snow in the forest on the reserve still lay thick and cold over his body.

A missing person report had been filed, the family was then warned that it could be hours, days, weeks or months before anything was known.

Another week went by, the Brady family had a very minimal Thanksgiving celebration, concern for Ben being far more prevalent.

Christmas came and went, as did New Year's. Again, the family did very little, worry about Ben was causing all of them to close in on themselves. The only times they could usually be found together were at breakfast most mornings, except for Stephen, and at dinner each day.

Other than that, the remaining family members, including the younger daughter Willow, avoided each other most of the time. The one exception to this during those fall and winter months was Willow, who could often be found in Jenn's bedroom talking with her sister.

**********

The winter slowly passed, the forest collected quite a bit more snow which served to cover Ben's body even more effectively.

Slowly, the daily temperatures started to rise again, the sun was up longer each day and the land revived itself.

All the snow that had fallen over the course of the winter had disappeared around mid-March, except for in the forest on the reserve. There, the snow held on stubbornly. It wasn't until near the end of April that the last of the snow in there melted and the ground softened.

**********

Jackson Vannister and his girlfriend Penelope Kender were walking through the forest on the reserve on the last day of April. They were using one of the lesser used paths, a narrow trail that wandered through the woods perhaps a quarter mile from the lake's edge.

They had been walking for about an hour when both noticed a slightly nasty smell coming from the forest a short distance from the trail. Jack, being the male and wanting to make himself look good for Penny, carefully stepped around several trees, then stumbled on Ben's body.

It made a bit of a squishy sound as his foot pressed against the side of the abdomen, then the body released a cloud of gas that had Jack choking and coughing as he staggered backward, bumping into a giant of a tree behind him that helped him to regain his balance.

"Penny," Jack gasped, still trying to clear the fumes from his lungs, "Stay where you are. Call 911 and tell them that I found a body. I can't be absolutely sure, as I didn't know the kid myself, but if I'm correct, it's that boy that went missing last November."

Penny had caught a brief breath of whatever Jack had caused herself, but managed to recover quite fast and made the call.

"911, what service do you need, please?" the operator asked when the call was answered.

"Hiya, ummm... ambulance and police, ma'am, my boyfriend Jackson Vannister found a body, he thinks it's that missing boy."

"What missing boy are you meaning, miss? And just where are you located?" the 911 operator asked again.

"The boy that went missing from Pine Lake last November, and my boyfriend and I are inside the Pine Lake National Reserve Area."

"I need as exact a location as you can give me, miss, ambulance and police are on the way."

"Hmmm... we're on the trail that circles the lake, about a quarter mile from the lake on the east side, perhaps half a mile below the north entry road. I'd like to give you a better location than that, but it's hard to see the phone in here, there isn't a lot of light. Sorry, miss."

"All right, police should be there in a bit, perhaps ten minutes or so depending on whether anyone is close to you or not."

"Thanks, do I need to stay on the phone with you?" Penny inquired.

"No, if they need to call you, I have your number and can give it to them, just stay where you are."

**********

It was actually nearly twenty minutes later that the first police car showed up, a deputy sheriff from the sheriff's office. A few minutes after that, a car from the small Pine Lake town force showed up, followed by an ambulance and two more cars from the sheriff's office.

The cops and the two paramedics had to hike in to the body, the trail wasn't wide enough to allow their vehicles to reach it.

The first deputy on the scene, a fortyish female with a brassy red pixie cut, only managed a brief look before her breakfast came up.

One of the paramedics, the younger male, looked a bit green but managed to stay on top of it while they examined the body. It took them only a moment or two to figure out that death had been caused by the neck breaking when the boy's head had struck the huge tree.

The town officer, a young man fresh out of a police academy upstate, couldn't handle it, splattering the ground on the other side of the body.

The other two deputies, both big, heavyset men who had been on the force as long as the female deputy, were queasy but managed to cope.

One of the paramedics rolled the body onto a back board, then both strapped it in snugly before picking up their gear and the board. As the two men carried the board to the ambulance, the older one informed one of the deputies that the medical examiner would need to check the body to see if there were any other injuries that contributed to the death, and they would be heading to the town's tiny morgue under the hospital. The town had the hospital, and the morgue underneath it, largely because this was a rather popular tourist destination, accidents happen.

It took the two men over ten minutes to carry the board with the child's body to the ambulance, then set it on a stretcher, strapping it in again to be sure it would stay put. Then both jumped in the front seats and they headed into the town, stopping behind the hospital.

Getting the board inside was a much simpler process, they wheeled the stretcher into the morgue, then placed the board on a table.

Now it would be the medical examiner's turn, their part was finished. The two heaved a sigh of relief, then headed back to their vehicle.

"You know, Pete," the older guy said to the younger, "I think that's the kid that went missing in town here last November."

The younger one replied, "I think you're right, Chuck, I still remember the pictures in the paper, it sure looks like that's the kid."

"It's out of our hands now," Chuck answered, "We did our bit, now Doc McPherson gets to open that kid up, I'm glad I don't have to do that."

Pete nodded as they reached the ambulance, both men getting in the front, then both shuddered briefly before Pete drove away.

**********

Doctor Bob McPherson was busy dealing with the two survivors of a car crash from the night before; the driver of the minivan would be recovering for a long time to come, as Bob had been forced to amputate the left leg just below the knee. The other leg being broken, as well as one of the driver's arms, it was obvious that he would need extensive care. The passenger of the minivan, the driver's wife, a pretty young woman of about thirty years of age, had been a bit luckier, escaping with a broken leg and a broken arm, with no other serious injuries.

The driver of the other vehicle hadn't been so lucky. He'd been drunk, his car flipped three times, then smashed itself against an old oak. The paramedics on the scene for the accident had realized there was nothing to be done, he'd been crushed to death by the sudden impact.

So Bob didn't actually get down to the morgue to view the body that had been found in the reserve until nearly eleven AM that April day.

He spent a few minutes just walking around the body, looking at it from several angles, standing or squatting at table level.

The angle of the neck made it quite obvious that the neck had been broken, a brief report from the paramedics told him that much. As far as he could see, there didn't seem to be any other obvious injuries that would have occurred at or just before the time of death.

He couldn't even be sure as to when the child had died, the closest he could say was the broken neck looked to be several months old.

He shrugged, wandered over to a cabinet on the side of the room, pulled out a gown, mask and gloves and put them all on.

For the next three hours, he was busy examining everything inside and outside of the body.

By the time he had finished, he was shaking from extreme anger, he'd found more than 20 fractures, torso, legs, arms, two in the jaw. How the hell had whoever had done this been able to get away with it over such a long period of time? Some injuries were five to ten years old.

The boy in front of him, if this was the missing boy, had celebrated his sixteenth birthday last August, shortly before school started again.

Sixteen years old and so many injuries. He had no choice now but to report this to the police and social services.

**********

"Pine Lake police department, how can I help you, please?" Betsy McAllister answered the phone, she handled daytime desk duties.

"Hi, Betsy, this is Bob over at the morgue. I've got a body, and I need to talk to Johann ASAP, this is a clear cut abuse case, a nasty one."

"Hold on a moment, Bob, I'll put you through to the chief."

A moment later, an older, rather gravelly voice answered his line, "Johann Victoritz speaking, you need me, Bob?"

"Yeah, I do, Johann. You know that kid that went missing from town last fall. He's dead, Johann, it looks like he fell, broke his neck when he hit a tree and he died before anyone could find him. That's the easy part, Johann, it gets a lot worse, a hell of a lot worse."

"What do you mean, Bob? Just what can you call worse than dying alone like that?"

"Well, Johann, I'd say that long term ongoing physical abuse would qualify. I found twenty-four separate fractures all over the kid's body. Now, a kid this age, about sixteen, might have normally one or two, possibly even three or four fractures, but not twenty-four, Johann."

"Holy shit, Bob, tell me you're kidding?" Johann gasped.

"I wish I could do that, Johann, but I can't. That is why I called you. This is going to make last November's storm seem like nothing."

The face of the fifty year old police chief paled as he listened to Bob giving an extensive description of what he had found.

"All right, Bob, I want a full report as soon as you can get it here, preferably before tomorrow morning."

"I'll get right on it, Johann. I'm damn glad I don't have tonight's shift, I might be able to get some sleep at some point."

Bob was about to hang up, then remembered one last thing. "Oh, Johann, the kid was wearing a nightgown and panties, nothing else. I can't be absolutely sure without learning more about him, but I suspect that he may have been either a crossdresser or transgender."

**********

Bob's next call was to the nearest social services department, which would be in Winchester, the county seat for Franklin County, Tennessee.

"Franklin County Social Services, Winchester office, how may I help you?" a polite female voice inquired.

"Hello, Miss, my name is Dr. Robert McPherson, I'm the medical examiner in Pine Lake, I was dealing with a trauma case earlier that required my medical expertise. While doing that, I was informed that a body had been found in the Pine Lake National Reserve Area.

I finished the autopsy on that body about thirty minutes ago. While doing the autopsy, I discovered two dozen different fractures all over the body. One or two might be normal for a sixteen year old, perhaps even three or four if they are active, but not two dozen distinctive fractures.

"Some of these fractures are semi-recent, perhaps a year or two old, others occurred at least five to ten years ago. This makes it quite clear that the injuries were frequent enough that I am assuming the child was taken to various locations for treatment, to keep things quiet here.

"With the sheer number of fractures present, I believe that other family members may have been harmed as well. It is my further belief that, with the father being a prominent figure here in town, that the other family members might be at severe risk of harm at this time.

"With all due respect, the wife and children need to be taken immediately into protection to keep them safe from the father/husband."

"I'll put you through to a supervisor immediately, Doctor, just a moment."

"Hello, this is Francine Yellowby with Social Services, I'm told you need to discuss a serious case. Please explain, Doctor?"

Bob went into explicit detail, recounting everything he had told Pine Lake's police chief and the social services receptionist.

"Oh, my," Francine said, "That is definitely serious, Doctor. You believe these people are at serious risk right now?"

"Yes, I do, they need to be somewhere safe as soon as possible, Miss."

"I'll make sure of it, Doctor, thank you for your call."

**********

Johann Victoritz had sat in his office for a good ten minutes thinking after the call with Bob had ended.

As much as he might want to be lead on a case like this, it was well beyond what the town's small force could handle.

He sighed, picked up his cell phone, a device he used because it could go everywhere with him, and dialled a number.

"Tennessee State Police, Winchester office, how may I help you?"

"Hello, I'm Johann Victoritz, the chief of police in Pine Lake, I need to speak to your commander if they are there, please."

"I'll put you through, sir, just a moment."

It was a few minutes before the line became active again. "Hello, Johann, Bill Anderson here, what's going on?"

Johann filled Bill in on the recent events and discoveries. "Bill, this is going to blow wide open tomorrow, no doubt about it."

Bill listened intently, then whistled and said, "Yeah, you're right about that. I'm assuming your folks will arrest the father today?"

Johann replied, "Yes, they're heading out to pick him up now at his office, I don't believe he is in court anywhere today."

"Got it. So you need a bunch of my folks on hand to help you keep the peace when this all goes bang."

"That's right, Bill," Johann responded, "With only ten officers in town, two four person twelve hour shifts a day, we can't spare anyone."

"Okay, so how many of my folks do you figure you'll need, and for how long?" Bill inquired.

"Hmmm... if you can spare them, eight officers per shift, and how long will depend on whether he gets bail or not."

"I'll see what I can do, Johann, thanks for calling me on this."

*********

It was not quite three PM when the Pine Lake police cruiser parked in front of the law offices of Vincent, Brady & Alberts.

Stan Mantovic and his partner Lisa Elmore entered the office building, walking into the small reception area.

Stan approached the reception desk and asked if they could be taken down to Stephen Brady's office.

When asked by the receptionist as to why they needed to do that, Stan replied, "Police business, ma'am."

It seems Stephen had given his approval, as they were directed down a hall and to his door. Stan knocked and the two officers entered.

Stephen Brady was on the phone, he talked for several minutes, then ended the call and enquired as to why they were there.

Stan sighed, he really didn't want to do this, he and Stephen had gone to high school together, they'd been friends for years.

"Stephen Orville Brady, you are under arrest on twenty-four counts of physical abuse to a minor in your care." As Stephen sat there in shock, Stan went on to read Stephen his rights as Lisa walked behind the desk, grabbed Stephen's arms and quickly cuffed him.

Shortly afterward, it was the receptionist's turn to be shocked as the two officers led the handcuffed lawyer out to the police car.

**********

Once Stephen had been placed in the lock-up, the two officers headed to his home to inform his wife of his arrest.

This time, Lisa led the way, knocking on the front door of the Brady home, which Liz opened a moment later.

"Hello, officers, what's happening? Why are you here? Is Stephen okay? Has Ben been found?" The questions poured out.

"Mrs. Brady, we're here to inform you that your husband Stephen has been arrested on charges of physical abuse on a minor. I can wish there was better news to give you, but there isn't. Your son's body was found this morning on the reserve, not far from the lake."

Stan continued, "Mrs. Brady, the medical examiner found two dozen different fractures on your child's body, which led to your husband being arrested a little while ago. I have to ask you if you or your other children have been physically abused by Mr. Brady."

"He's been arrested? Oh, thank you, thank you, hallelujah! That bloody bastard has terrorized this house for most of the last ten years. He was especially nasty to young Ben. I'm sorry my boy is dead, but he'll never have to suffer at that bastard's hands again. Yes, I've been on the wrong end of quite a few beatings from him over the years, my daughter Jenn has been hit several times over the last four or five years."

Lisa inquired, "I believe you have another daughter, Mrs. Brady? Has she been physically harmed by your husband at all?"

"No," Liz replied, "She is the only one that has managed to escape his brutality. I thank God for that every day."

Stan chipped in, "Mrs. Brady, you and your two daughters will need to be examined in the hospital, for evidence purposes."

Liz nodded, "That's fine, Jenn will be home in about fifteen minutes, Willow should be here in a moment."

"Thank you, Mrs. Brady, may we wait inside until they arrive?"

Liz nodded and let the two officers enter the house. The three of them headed into the living room and sat down to wait.

**********

Willow came into the house perhaps ten minutes after they sat down, the seven year old was bouncing, full of energy.

"Willow, love, we will be going with the officers to do some medical tests as soon as Jenn gets here. It's important, okay?" Liz asked. "Stay down here, Jenn is usually home not long after you, so we shouldn't have to wait for more than a few minutes now."

Another ten minutes passed before a car door slammed out front, then a horn beeped and a car drove away. Jenn entered the house.

Liz walked into the hallway to talk to Jenn. "Your father was arrested," she said in a low voice, "Your brother is dead, his body was found this morning. The medical examiner already autopsied the body and found all the old injuries that your father inflicted on him."

"Oh, my god, Mom, Ben's gone?" Jenn squeaked. Her mother nodded and Jenn broke down, bawling on her mother's shoulder.

Young Willow heard Jenn crying and came into the hall wanting to know what was going on.

Jenn wasn't thinking clearly, she squeaked out that Ben was dead, and that had all three girls crying for several minutes.

It was almost five PM when the three girls left the house to go to the hospital for the examinations.

**********

When they arrived at the hospital, the three girls were kept waiting for about fifteen minutes before a doctor spoke to them.

"Hello, Mrs. Brady, I'm Doctor Sonya Lippitz, we need to examine all three of you, to find any old injuries or possible new ones."

"I understand, Doctor, the officers there told me this had to be done. If it puts that bastard away, then I'll be happy that we'll all be safe."

"I'm given to understand that this is necessary because your son's body was found and the autopsy revealed all the injuries."

"Yes, Doctor, my husband had been beating Ben for many years, it started about ten years ago when Ben didn't want to play sports."

Willow heard about Ben and broken into tears again, now she knew for sure that her big brother would never come home again. It took Liz and Jenn several minutes to calm the young girl down again, and the doctor had Liz fill out medical forms for the three of them.

The final exams were finished just before ten PM, little Willow was snoring softly, sound asleep, while leaning on Jenn.

Dr. Lippitz was very, very upset. She hadn't been too surprised to find out that Elizabeth had over a dozen different fractures, many of which had been inflicted within the last ten years, or that Jen had seven different fractures, one being a hairline skull fracture. That was definitely bad enough, but what had her so upset, no furious was far more accurate, was that little Willow had two fractures, he'd beaten a sweet little girl!

Dr. Lippitz sent a copy of her report to Dr. Bob McPherson as the highest ranking doctor involved in the case, then another to the police.

**********

The next morning's paper, The Pine Lake Reporter, had two major headlines and stories, as follows:

BRADY BOY'S BODY FOUND IN NATIONAL RESERVE AREA! HORRIFYING ABUSES DISCOVERED!

Sadie Nadolicci, for the Pine Lake Reporter May 1, 2018 edition

Early yesterday morning, while walking through the Pine Lake National Reserve Area, two young people found the body of a teenage boy.

They immediately contacted the authorities, paramedics and police were on the scene about twenty minutes later.

The young male who found the body, Jackson Vannister, believed that the body was that of the missing boy Beneficent Ignatius Brady.

Young Ben had been missing since November 7th last year, when southern Tennessee and the northern parts of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi were hit by a major snowstorm that dropped between eighteen and twenty-four inches of snow all over the region.

His father, mother and two sisters have all been worried sick about the missing boy and praying that he would be all right.

The body was taken to the hospital in the town of Pine Lake, where it was identified and autopsied in the town's small morgue.

It was at this time that several old fractures were found, from one end of the body to the other, two dozen all told.

The boy's father, Stephen Orville Brady, was arrested around mid-afternoon by the Pine Lake police force and is waiting to see a judge.

The second headline and story follows:

FATHER ARRESTED IN HORRIBLE ABUSE CASE!

Vanessa Timowit, for the Pine Lake Reporter May 1, 2018 edition

Yesterday afternoon, after the discovery of the dead body of this man's missing boy, and the autopsy that followed that somewhat gruesome discovery, the police have had no choice but to arrest and charge Stephen Orville Brady with twenty-four counts of physical abuse of a minor.

The charges arose from the discovery of two dozen fractures during the autopsy, ranging from about one year old to nearly ten.

The number of fractures, and the frequency of their occurrence, made it quite clear this was a case of long term physical abuse.

The counts listed were:

Two counts for different fractures of the left ulna;

Three counts for different fractures of the left radius;

Two counts for different fractures of the left humerus;

Four counts for different fractures of the right ulna;

One count for a fracture of the right humerus;

Seven counts for different rib fractures, five on the left side, two on the right;

One count for a fracture of the left tibia;

Two counts for a fracture of the right tibia;

And two counts for fractures of the jaw, both on the left side.

Not one of these injuries was from any sort of sport. In fact, it was through a discussion with the mother than officers learned that each injury had been due to a physical attack on the boy by their father, and the town judge was all too happy to sign a warrant for the arrest.

But that was only the start. It soon became even more horrifying.

Later investigations and examinations revealed that the three girls in the family had also experienced abuse. Fourteen counts of spousal abuse were added to the total charges, each of those arising from the discovery of various fractures during Mrs. Brady's examinations.

Elizabeth Beatrice Brady was heard by an officer yesterday to be very happy that her husband was in jail, claiming, "The abuse is ended!"

Seven more charges were added when tests taken on the daughter Jennifer Olivia found injuries from the last five years.

But what really galls this reporter is that the littlest one, a sweet seven year old girl, has two fractures, both having happened within the last six to twelve months, one of those being a fracture of the left ulna, the other being on the seventh rib on the right side.

Young Willow Eleanor, the youngest child in this poor family, is a bouncing bundle of energy that her mother and sister adore.

I suspect that the judge that hears this case later today will deny bail to Mr. Brady, as he would be a definite flight risk.

**********

The two headlines shocked the sleepy little town, but the stories shocked them even more.

The courtroom in the small town's tiny courthouse was packed, in fact, filled to overflowing with people.

The bailiff couldn't believe her eyes, she'd worked here for almost thirty years, she'd never seen a crowd of this size in the courtroom.

She shook her head, shrugged, turned to face the court and did her duty.

"All Rise, this court is now in session, the Honourable Judge Sheila Parker presiding."

After the judge had seated herself, the bailiff spoke again, saying, "You may all be seated now."

There was no need to identify the case, as there was only one to be heard today.

"Gentlemen," the Judge said, "I'm here to hear your arguments regarding bail. You may proceed."

The prosecutor, Paul White, stood up, faced the judge and stated, "We ask that bail be denied, we believe he is a significant flight risk."

James Green, the defence attorney countered, "He's an attorney, with a yearly income over $60k, he's an upstanding citizen. Grant bail."

Mr. White shot back, "Just because he has a good job and a record of being a good citizen doesn't mean that he can't flee."

Mr. Green growled, "It doesn't mean that he would run away, either. I ask that bail be granted."

The judge intervened, "If you two gentlemen are going to do nothing but argue with each other, we'll get nothing done."

"Your Honour, as much as he may be a good citizen, with how significant this case is, granting him bail would allow him to escape justice."

Mr. Green snarled, "We have nothing but insinuations of abuse taking place. Where is the proof?"

Mr. White just shook his head, smiling as he replied, "I'd think the medical reports and the autopsy report would be sufficient proof."

"It's easy enough to manufacture evidence, it isn't proof," James Green riposted. "Bail should be granted, Your Honour."

"Enough, gentlemen! As much as normal process might allow for bail, in this case, I believe he is a significant flight risk. Denied."

Mr. Green, the defence attorney, spluttered, "Your Honour, his livelihood is at stake..."

The prosecutor, Mr. White, interrupted him. "What about their safety, health and lives being at stake if he's free?" pointing to the Bradys.

"For the last time, gentlemen, ENOUGH! I have already stated that bail is denied, my decision is final. This court is adjourned."

**********

When bail was denied, the extra police presence was no longer needed. The town police would keep an eye on the family from now on.

Three weeks later, Stephen Brady faced a grand jury which brought back indictments across the board.

Five months after that, he went to trial, which lasted for almost five full days.

The evidence was overwhelming, but the fact that Ben had run off and died because he feared for his life was extremely damning.

In the end, the result was as expected. Stephen Orville Brady was convicted on all counts and sentenced to fifty-five years in prison.



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