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  Where misunderstanding serves others

     as an advantage, one is helpless

        to make oneself understood.

                                     Lionel Trilling

                                     American Literary Critic

                                     (1905 - 1975)

Text Box: From The Introduction:

My name is Chelsea McDermott. I am the person on whom the character Marty Price is based in the novel Katie. I am a police inspector in the small town that is fictionalized in the book as Weston Falls. I am also the deputy chief of police. My adopted home town has a population of about 2,500, so the four full-time police officers, four part-timers, and half dozen volunteers can usually handle the load pretty easily.
	Before the end of my first week with the police department here, I was involved in a missing persons case. A young girl of 13 had disappeared, and when our dispatcher, Hilda, radioed the call to me, my first thought was “Probably a runaway; where’s the nearest bus station?” Then I learned that the teenager, the character Katie Hale in the story you’re about to read, had been missing for only about a half hour when her parents called the police. I figured that they were either obsessively controlling, or ridiculously paranoid. I was wrong in all of those assumptions.
	Katie, I soon learned, was what would be generically referred to as a special-needs child. Specifically, she had severe autism; a condition that I knew very little about, at the time.
Text Box: From Chapter One:

The stomping and moans from the other bedroom pulled Betty from a deep sleep. She let out a sigh as she looked at the clock. 5:15. It had been a long time since Katie had woken them up with a meltdown like this. Betty had assumed—hoped—that she had outgrown it. Apparently not.
	“I thought she was over that,” Dave grumbled from the other side of the bed. “Sounds like she’s making up for lost time,” he added, referring to how long the racket was lasting and how loud it was.
	“Where the heck is Sandy?” Betty asked. Sandy was the live-in au pair who took care of Katie, and who was usually quick to respond when Katie acted out.
	Katie was a seventeen year old girl with severe autism. She didn’t speak, except in grunts that those close to her were able to decipher as her limited vocabulary, but when she was frustrated, she would let out long loud moans, stomp one foot on the floor, and flap her arms.
	After more than a minute of Katie’s stomping and moaning, Dave said, “You think you should go check on her? Whatever’s wrong, Sandy doesn’t seem to be able to calm her down.”
	“One of us should go,” Betty said as she flipped the sheet back.
	Dave rolled his eyes at the why is it always me; she’s your daughter, too inference in his wife’s tone. It was an old and unending point of contention.
	A few moments later, Dave heard his wife scream, “Oh my God! Dave! Get in here!” As he leapt from the bed, he heard her exclaim, again, “Oh my God!”
	Dave rushed into Sandy’s bedroom to find his wife with her arms wrapped tightly around Katie, struggling to restrain her. Katie was small for her age, but what there was of her was all muscle, and when she was agitated, she could be very strong.
	“Jesus Christ! Is she all right? What the hell happened?” Dave said as he hurried to help his wife. There was blood on Katie’s hands and on the flowered nightgown she wore. “Where is she cut?” he asked as he tried to grasp Katie’s flailing hands.
	“Sandy!” Dave shouted, “Get the hell up and help us! What’s wrong with you?”
	“It’s not Katie’s blood,” Betty shouted over her daughter’s wailing. “It’s Sandy’s. I think she’s dead.”
	“What?” Dave exclaimed as he spun around to look at the bed tucked into a nook in the corner of the room.
	On the bed, perfectly still amid the noise and ruckus, lay the pretty 22 year old. There were splotches and smears of blood all over her naked body, each emanating from what appeared to be a stab wound. Dave didn’t stop to count them, but there had to be at least 20.

From Chapter Seven:

 

           “Has Katie been arrested?” Dave’s lawyer asked. “Have they filed charges?”

           “No. Bob Davis—he’s the chief over here, and a good friend—he reined in Miss Do-it-by-the-book, and has a 24-hour guard posted here at the house so Katie wouldn’t have to go off to a jail cell.”

           “But she hasn’t been arrested?”

           “I never heard either of them say that she was under arrest, so I guess not,” Dave said. “But even when they do, that’s just a formality, right? I mean, it’s not like we’ll have to go through a whole drawn out legal process, will we?  They’ll just declare her not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity, and then she’d be put in an institution for the rest of her life, right?”

           “Even with an insanity plea, I don’t think the court can just commit a person to Brighton for life. Even for a capital crime. The whole point in going to an institution like that is that they get help. I think she’d be evaluated on some periodic basis—maybe once a year, or something—and they’d decide to keep her or let her go.”

           “Well, it’s not like they’re going to cure her of autism in Brighton—or anyplace else, for that matter. The effect will be a life sentence, right? But here’s something that Betty’s likely to suggest. What if we said that we’d pay for her to be taken care of in a private facility?” Dave asked.

           “I’d be surprised if that was an option, but I’ll look into it if you want,” Carl said. “It would amount to convicts being treated differently according to their ability to pay. If they let that happen, the next rich kid that got convicted of dealing drugs would do his five years in the local Hilton, with mommy and daddy footing the bill.”

           “That’s kind of what I thought, but please check it out, so we’ll know for sure,” Dave said. “I’ve got to go now; the guys from the funeral home are here for Sandy’s body. Can you believe it; Price even wants to have an autopsy performed. Like any idiot couldn’t look at 20 stab wounds in a corpse and figure out what the cause of death might be. Anyway, get back to me as soon as you can with a lawyer who can handle this, okay?”

 

From Chapter Nine:

 

           “The best we can do is an estimate on the time of death, but even if the calculation is off by an hour—and that would be a lot—that still leaves Katie awake for two hours after she stabbed Sandy, just sitting around without waking anyone else up. From what you’ve told me, that just seems unlikely to me. Does it to you?”

           “Very. Generally, when Katie’s up and out of her room you know it. She’s not a church-mouse tiptoeing around,” Betty said. “So, you think she got up in the middle of the night, stabbed Sandy while she was sleepwalking, and then went back to bed?”

           “That’s what I’m thinking,” Marty said. “And then when she woke up at five and discovered Sandy dead, she went into a meltdown. You know her better than anyone else. Does that seem plausible to you?”

           “Like I said, we haven’t found her sleepwalking since she was little, but frankly, it sounds more plausible than her killing Sandy when she knew what she was doing.” She thought for a moment, and then added, “She’s unpredictable, and she’s certainly a handful, but knowingly killing Sandy just doesn’t make sense to me any way I look at it. Never in her life has she been even a little violent. I can’t fathom how something could snap, just like that, and then, just as quickly, she’s back to her normal self. I guess sleepwalking could explain it.”

 

From Chapter Fourteen:

 

           “So, Katie did kill Sandy?” Bob said.

           “I hate to say it,” Marty replied, “but it looks that way. If I had found somebody else’s prints on the knife—anybody’s but hers—and no blood splatter on her nightshirt, just smudges and handprints, that would have supported my theory. But this spins it completely around. Add this physical evidence to the circumstances of Dave and Betty finding Katie in the room with Sandy’s body, and throw in the fact that there are no other even remotely obvious suspects, and you have a prosecutor’s dream case.”

           “Don’t let it get you down, Marty,” Bob said, easily reading her depressed mood. “It sucks to be wrong, but at least you figured it out on your own. It would suck a lot more if some stuffed-shirt State Police detective had to point it out to you. You did all the right things, Inspector; you didn’t leap to a conclusion, you questioned the obvious, and then you even questioned yourself. I’m proud of you. You did a good job with this.”

           “Thanks, Chief,” she said, “but being wrong isn’t what’s bothering me. The truth is what it is, whether it’s what I want it to be or not. What I’m dreading is telling Betty. I have her completely convinced that Katie didn’t do it; that she doesn’t have to worry about her being taken away from her. This is going to crush her.”

 

From Chapter Twenty-Three:

 

           “Certain facts came out at the Rosso girl’s autopsy, yesterday morning,” Marty said, “that made us decide to reexamine the evidence.”

           “And based on that reexamination, you no longer believe that the juvenile you have in custody committed the crime, is that correct?” the prosecuting attorney asked.

           “It is, but ...”

           “And yet, you still have her in custody, clearly violating her civil rights.”

           Marty looked at Penny again. “You didn’t explain this to him?”

           “I want to hear your explanation,” he said to Marty. “She’s not the one staring at a six-figure law suit.”

           Marty was taking a very quick disliking to Donny, but she managed to keep her composure, and replied, “Based on the physical evidence of the victim’s blood on the accused’s clothing, and the accused’s fingerprints on the murder weapon, there is sufficient probable cause to hold the accused on suspicion of second-degree murder while a full and thorough investigation is conducted.”

           “Very by-the-book,” he said. “But isn’t it true that you’re only continuing to hold her because of political pressure from Attorney General Vaughn?”

           Once again, Marty looked at Penny, who only shrugged, obviously as blindsided by all of this as she was.

           “Are we on or off the record, here?” Marty asked Donny.

           “Off. I just want to know what I’m walking into when we step into that courtroom.”

           “Yes. The Weston Falls Police Department is continuing to hold the accused as a result of pressure being applied by the Attorney General. But it is indirect pressure. Neither he nor any of his representatives has made any contact with our department that I’m aware of. Certainly not with me. The pressure he’s applying is to the State Police. Detective Merrick has been given direct and explicit orders that if we release Ms. Hale, he is to re-arrest her immediately.”

           Donny looked at Charlie. “True,” Charlie said.

           “At the local level,” Marty went on, “we have the flexibility to bend the rules of incarceration a little, so that we can accommodate the special needs of this particular prisoner.” She pointed to the car, and said, “That’s her mother in there with her. She also has a bed in the adjoining cell at the station. I don’t think that’s something any of the State facilities would entertain. So, when it’s all sorted out,” Marty concluded, “I see it less as violating her civil rights and far more as protecting her human rights.”

           “Very nicely put,” Donny said with a smile. He extended his hand to Marty and added, “You’ve just made my job this morning a lot easier. Now, let’s get inside before the judge sends his bailiff looking for us.”

Text Box: Copyright © 2012 by Lightkeeper Press. All rights reserved.
Text Box: Excerpts From Katie