Mystery and Crime Fiction posted February 22, 2021 Chapters:  ...9 10 -11- 

Deeper Still

A chapter in the book Murder at Sleepy Hill Lane

Murder at Sleepy Hill Lane #11

by Sally Law

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

Previously, in Chapter Ten~

Doctor M was an early riser, mainly because she was fond of the birdsong only found in a country morning. This was the secret to her life's work--to know the lovely more fully. This philosophy allowed her to look upon things others could not. She relished the sanctuary setting for at least an hour, replenishing her body, soul, and spirit before the demands of her day.

By seven o'clock, she was on her way to Lafayette Township, sipping her Cafe Du Monde. After picking up the local paper and greeting the street vendors by name, she made her way inside the office of Chief Medical Examiner. Ferns were watered as she fussed about with a green watering can before heading back to check her emails.

Today was the day, and she was hopeful about the DNA results sent in from Scrapper.

"Here we go... FBI DNA Lab."

To: Dr. Marie MacLavish
Re: Lab Results
Cold Case: Penny Ann Waltham, LTPD, 8-9-1961.

Dr. MacLavish:

Please find enclosed the results of your specimens. Initially, there were three found. Two matched Penny's DNA, one male, her biological father; one female, her biological mother. The third was a unidentified male with no DNA similarities.

The father was found in the national criminal database. Grant Tooley served his sentence in Southern Parish Prison from 1960 to 1975.

Grant Avery Tooley
Born: January 2, 1939
Place of Birth: Lafayette Township, LA.

Let me know how I may assist you as you progress in this, Marie. My best to you and Alan.

Dr. Isaac Klein
Forensic DNA Analysist
Federal DNA Database Unit (FDDU)

The medical examiner leaned forward in contemplation. Wow! Those two were awfully young when they had Penny... mere children themselves.


{Chapter Eleven}

It was a busy morning in the historic courthouse in Lafayette Township, especially in courtroom number two. It was the smallest of the four courtrooms, and strategically used for arraignments and such. The chamber had been recently renovated and restored to its former glory, painted in drab green and accented in various shades of creamy white. Antique mahogany furnishings matched the "Hounds on a Hunt" wallpaper lining the aged walls.

At the chamber's door, the docket was posted for the day, and scheduled for eleven o'clock was Josephine Bell Waltham.

The Bailiff entered through the side door as the town clock ticked into place. "All rise! The Honorable Judge Debra Danforth presiding."

"Good morning, everyone," said the judge. "I see the Assistant State Prosecutor is here. It's good to see you, Mr. Moore."

Clayborn Moore stood and offered his pleasantries. "Good day, Your Honor."

The judge's brow furrowed as she studied her paperwork.

"Ms. Waltham, I see you have chosen a new attorney to represent you in this matter?"

A jab from underneath the table aroused her. "Yes.... Your Honor."

The youthful attorney stood and straightened his tie, hoping to redirect the all-seeing eyes of Judge Danforth. "That is correct, Your Honor. I am Tommy Hayes, and I will be representing Ms. Waltham."

"Thank you, Mr. Hayes. Please stand as the pending legal charges against Ms. Waltham are read.

Josephine's attorney propped her with his arm, coaxing her to a standing position.

Judge Danforth proceeded, ignoring the theatrics.

The charges are as follows:

Charge number one: Child Abandonment of your daughter, Penny Ann Waltham.

Charge number two: Child Endangerment of the same.

Charge number three: Kidnapping of the same.

There's an additional charge filed this morning by Detective Lieutenant Janelle Harris of Lafayette Township Police Department: Conspiracy to Commit Murder. What is your plea today on the first three charges?

"My client registers a plea of not guilty, Your Honor."

"The court acknowledges the plea of not guilty for the first three charges," confirmed the judge.

She continued with the final charge.

For the charge of Conspiracy to Commit Murder against a Lafayette Township Police Detective. How do you plead?

"Nolo contendere, Your Honor."

"The court acknowledges the plea of nolo contendere." The judge paused and peered over her glasses.

"I sense a flight risk here, Ms. Waltham. Therefore, I set the bail for one million dollars.

Josephine unhinged. "That's absurd!"

"Mr. Hayes, please approach the bench."

"Yes, Your Honor."

The judge covered the microphone and leaned forward. "If I didn't sense a flight risk, I would have said so and set the bail much lower. Please keep your client under control, Counselor, or I will add Contempt of Court to the growing list. Understood?"

"Yes.... My apologies, Your Honor...."

"Court is adjourned!" Whack!

Josephine fell back into her chair, disgusted. "Tell me again... why did I hire you?"

"Because Milton Cummings was arrested on his way to the airport with a one-way ticket to Aruba sticking out of his coat pocket! That, and I'm the grandson of your second cousin."

"Third cousin...."

Gathering her things, she left without looking up; but she knew he was there, watching. She always did like Grant Tooley's aftershave.


Across the hall from Judge Danforth's chambers, another drama was playing out for State Prosecutor, Roy Fitzgerald Owens.

Central to the cold case of Penny Waltham, was the man sitting before him, Nate Walters. Currently, he was a patient and resident at Osage Group Home, suffering from PTSD and agoraphobia.

The career prosecutor realized what a miracle it was to have an eyewitness to a series of crimes committed so long ago.

"Mr. Walters, thank you for your attendance today. I'm the one building the case for the grand jury against Josephine Waltham. As is the burden of every state prosecutor, we must prove the guilt of the accused in court with evidence and testimony. It is also my duty to charge any other persons that may have been involved in Penny's death. Today, all I need from you is to verify this recording between you and Detective Sally Law by a sworn affidavit."

"Yes sir... I understand. I have one more thing I would like to add."

"Today would be the day. Surprises in court would make us appear unprepared. Is there something you forgot from that night, Mr. Walters?"

"No... every horrible thing plays continuously in my head. This morning, I headed out to where I had originally buried Penny, dug her up, and reburied her. She should be left alone, Mr. Owens. Death is sacred. Isn't it enough that I told everyone what happened?"

Prosecutor Owens leaned forward on his elbows, searching Nate's tortured set of eyes.

"This may be hard to understand, Mr. Walters, but Penny's body contains important information regarding her death. Her dog was found, buried at the Sleepy Hill house, and his remains provided us with valuable DNA. Most likely, Penny's DNA has more information needed to solve this case. I promise you, she will be handled with the utmost care, buried properly and honored. I give you my word."

Nate sat in silence, tears streaming down. "You have yourself a deal, Mr. Owens."

"Thank you, Mr. Walters. Searchers are out today from what I understand. Can you tell me where you buried Penny? It would help expedite the investigation."

"Yes... east of the tracks at the first bend. There's an abandoned barn not too far from there. I buried her inside, beneath the pine planks."

Prosecutor Owens gathered his composure and continued, "Whenever you're ready, Mr. Walters."


"Raise your right hand, and repeat after me...."


The temperature in Baton Rouge had already surpassed 50 degrees, which left me hopeful for the day ahead.

Much of the afternoon was to be inside the animal hospital, surrounded by dogs and police officers who drank coffee in unheard-of amounts.

I cast no stones, for it was not yet noon and I was already on to my fourth cup.

My Realtor and newfound friend, Suzy Fleming, was doing the day with me.

I had a plan for this young lady and hoped that she'd consider an offer to be my personal assistant. I was determined to save my sanity, possibly still purchase the house on Sleepy Hill Lane, and allow myself more time to get my arms around this cold case.

I pitched the offer as we were waiting on Dr. Wainwright to finish up with another patient, King snuggled between us on the couch.

"Suzy, I know this is kinda out there, but I was wondering if you would consider working alongside me as my personal assistant?"

There wasn't an inkling of hesitation.

"Yes!! I have just loved being around you the last three days."

My eyes began to tear. "I'm honored, Suzy. Here's the catch: You would be working for me, no one else, and handling my other interests. For instance... the purchase of the house on Sleepy Hill Lane. I have big plans for that house."

The room went quiet except for King's panting.

"Suzy... are you okay?"

"Better than okay! When do I start?"

"Today. I'm ready to close on the house. It passed inspection."

"But Sally, Josephine wants to kill you!"

"A mere technicality. I don't want it for myself, dear. I'm giving it to Osage Group Home. It's perfect for them. A park and walking trail...! The Sleepy Hill property line abuts theirs!" Just the thought had me crazy with excitement.

"You ARE as rich as they say!" Suzy exclaimed.


We piled in Suzy's pink Caddy and went two blocks to see Detective Mike Lembowsky.

He had finally come out of critical care and was sitting up. The sight of King lifted his spirits even further.

I extended my hand. "You look good, Mike."

"Must be the eyes in back of your head, Blind Girl. I look like the green Jello in this plastic bowl," he sighed. "Please tell me you've come to take me back to Lafayette Township!"

"Not just yet. You'll be riding in style though... you and King."

"Whaddya mean?"

Suzy spoke up. "I'm here with Sal until she's able to get back to Lafayette with you and King. I have the Caddy...."

"I am healed! Real food and a sweet ride!" The recovering detective moved his shoulder too fast and moaned. "Ouch!"

"Your depth of character is astounding," I said in jest. With that, I handed him a gift.

He gasped, as I lifted the framed photo from the bag. "Jackson says he looks just like King. He'll be here soon," I said. "A great buddy for you, Mike."

"Buddy... that's a great name!"

He buried his head in my neck. "Thank you," he whispered. "He's a miniature version of King!"

The Hallmark Card moment was interrupted by multiple phone pings. Pushing my voice activated messenger, I heard the news.

You have one new message from Lieutenant Miles Jean-Baptiste: Madame Detective, Samson has found Penny Waltham. It is as you suspected, the abandoned barn adjacent to the south railroad tracks. Doctor M is here; Jackson and Lieutenant Harris are close behind.

Overcome with emotion, I excused myself to the hall.

To be continued....


{Main Characters}

Detective Sally Law, that's me, also known as the Blind Girl, Consultant for Lafayette Township Police Department. I'm also heiress to the Andre Dupree Art Collection and fortune.

Detective Jackson Law: my husband, and a Consultant.

King: my guide dog, Superdog, and ace crime-solver.

Detective Lieutenant Mike Lembowsky, Homicide, Lafayette Township Police Department. He also lives next door to us on Main Street in Lafayette Township.

Detective Lieutenant Janelle Harris and her German Shepherd, Vanta. Detective Harris is also the Case and Property Researcher for LTPD.

Sergeant Dina Ray: Lafayette Township Police Department.

Suzy Fleming: Realtor/Broker Extraordinaire.

Nate Walters: A friend to Penny Waltham. He appeared in a school photo dated the fall before she went missing.

Brenda Ellis: Resident Nurse Practitioner at Osage Group Home.

Governor Preston Jones: Governor of Louisiana. Lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, Trisha, and youngest daughter, Chloe. Daisy the basset hound rules the roost.

Lieutenant Miles Jean-Baptiste of NOPD. He's the owner and handler of Samson.

Josephine Waltham: Penny Waltham's mother and currently the owner of 135 Sleepy Hill Lane. Now awaiting arraignment on three charges.

Delvay Waltham: Penny Waltham's step-father, deceased.

Grant Tooley: Escaped from Southern Louisiana Parish Prison on August 9th,1961--the same night Penny Waltham went missing. Paroled; Tooley has been secretly hiding out at Josephine Waltham's current residence until recently. Recently matched DNA revealed him as Penny Waltham's biological father.

Milton Cummings, Esquire: Josephine Waltham's attorney.

Dr. Marie MacLavish: Lafayette Township Medical Examiner, sometimes referred to as Doctor M.

{The Courtroom Proceedings}

Roy Fitzgerald Owens: Louisiana State Prosecutor.

Clayborn Moore: Assistant State Prosecutor.

Tommy Hays, Esquire: Counsel for Josephine Waltham and rumored to be a distant relative.

The Honorable Judge Debra Danforth.

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