January 14, 1894


When Deborah and Isaiah Bell adopted a young Irish girl in 1894, it was, according to the Bells, done in order to give their only child (young Isaiah Bell II) a playmate.

Few in Cross were fooled.

The Bells had moved from Boston to Cross the year prior, and they brought with them a sense of prejudice and self-righteousness generally not seen in the town. Several times, Deborah had spoken of how so few people adopted orphans to serve as nannies and housekeepers, and each time she had been shunned for a short period of time.

When the little girl, whom they called Mary, was brought in on January 2nd, 1894, the child could not speak any English, as several of the Bells neighbors could attest. While Mary attempted to play with other children on Olive Street, the Bells would not let her.

On January 13th, Duncan Blood stopped by the Bell house and spoke with Mary at the backdoor. A neighbor overhead them and could not recognize the tongue in which they conversed. The conversation was cut short when Deborah Bell came to the back door. The neighbor saw Deborah strike the girl and send her back into the house, but when Mrs. Bell went to reprimand Duncan, the man had merely shaken his head.

“You’d best to return that girl to her family,” Blood warned. “The Fey don’t take kindly to theft.”

Mrs. Bell’s sharp reprimands followed Duncan back to the street.

January 14th, 1894, the milkman found the back door open. On the kitchen table, he saw Mr. and Mrs. Bell, cleaned, gutted, and trussed like pigs for a roast.

The boy was found hiding in his room, and when he was finally able to speak, he said the girl had butchered his parents and fed him their hearts.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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