Murder in Cross: December 20, 1925


I was due to speak with Digger Maine on the 18th, but he sent his son Ralph to tell me that he was ill and had to hold off until the 20th at noon if that was acceptable. I replied that it was, even though I was not especially pleased. He and I had agreed upon a price for a fine mare, and he had, at the last minute, decided to change the price. I was hoping to negotiate again. He was asking far too much for the horse and I hated to walk away from an excellent animal.

At noon on the 20th, I arrived at the Maines’ house and knocked on the door which, to my surprise, swung open. The house was terribly cold, and from the kitchen, I heard a whimper.

I hurried into the home with one of my Colts drawn, the hammer back.

The scene was one I shall not readily forget.

Emily Maine was dead in front of the stove, her blood, brains, and bones splattered across it.

Digger Maine was dead on the floor beside her, sitting with his back against the cabinet with his chin on his chest. His shirt and belly were cut to ribbons, and in his hands, he held most of his innards.

Ralph, their only child, lay on the floor beside his mother, on his back and staring at me. He had his mother’s apron balled up and pressed against his chest, the fabric damp with his own blood. By his hand was a large butcher’s knife, and I could read the way the scene had played out.

Digger had attacked his wife, and the boy had tried to stop him. Digger, in a rage, had stabbed the boy, then killed Emily.

Ralph’s rage was writ large upon the father’s flesh.

I knelt beside the dying boy and learned that it had occurred the night before. How the boy had lived with such a wound for so long, I do not know. I took his hand in mine and sat with him. After several minutes he asked if I would help him join his mother.

I nodded and blew his brains out.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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