When Ellen Reich died at the age of 9 at the turn of the century, her parents were distraught. Her mother soon left, abandoning the world for the safety of a convent. Her father, Franz, remained in Cross to be close to his daughter’s grave. Shortly after her mother’s flight, Ellen returned.
For eleven years, Ellen remained with her father. She was often seen sitting upon his lap, where the man would read the dead child’s favorite story to her.
In 1911, the Catholic priest learned of this situation and attempted to intervene on behalf of not only the child’s mother but for the sake of Franz. Franz, however, wanted neither salvation nor interference. Soon, the mother returned, clad in her nun’s habit, and with the priest, they forced their way into the home.
One of Franz’s neighbors alerted me to the situation. I arrived too late.
The mother was dead, having hung herself from the rafters in the attic. The priest had clawed his own eyes out and was beating his head against a kitchen wall.
Franz and Ellen were in their chair, reading peacefully.
I convinced the police that the mother had blinded the priest and then hung herself out of shame for her act. The priest eventually died of his self-inflicted injuries.
Post Script: Franz died in 1933. His chair and her book are in my home, tucked away in a small room. It is not uncommon for me to find the dead father and child reading in the evening.
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