I was nearly done editing Darcie's piece on last night's particularly gruesome homicide over on the east side of Sheffield. A forty-three-year-old woman, claiming to have been routinely abused over the course of her twenty-year marriage, waited until her husband, Jim, had gotten blind-ass hammered and passed out in their bed. Then she calmly poured gasoline over his entire body while he snored away and lit a match.
By the time the fire department got there, the house was completely engulfed in flames, and he was long past screaming. The police found Betsy Caviness standing on the curb watching the fire department vainly attempt to extinguish the fire.
She was calmly drinking merlot out of a plastic cup. "I'm just toasting my husband," she told them sardonically.
'That's my headline.'
I pulled her mug shot up on my computer. Mrs. Caviness looked like someone had worked her face over with a meat tenderizer. One eye completely swollen shut, her skin mottled purple and black, her lips cracked open—it was a Halloween mask of pain and terror.
I know she had options other than roasting her husband alive and I'm all for due process, but I felt pity for that woman. Twenty years of physical and mental torment can make for a whole lot of crazy.
I also know, because I'd written a story about Jim Caviness last year when I was still on the crime beat. He wasn't a nice guy. He'd been arrested in December for trafficking minors for sex. He beat the charge when the three girls he'd victimized disappeared, seemingly off the face of the earth.
I finished the edit on the Betsy Caviness piece and pushed the button to send it to the computer geeks in composing, when I saw my resident millennial, Darcie Miller, standing in the doorway of my cubicle, her emerald eyes wide, expression somber.
"Genie, better take a look. Got a missing fifteen-year-old." She pointed to the computer screen on my desk. "Isn't that how old your daughter is?"
Icy fingers brushed the back of my neck while the constant clattering din of the newsroom seemed to go preternaturally silent.
I turned, quickly found her entry in the queue, and brought it up on my screen.
POLICE ASK HELP IN LOCATING
MISSING 15-YEAR-OLD GIRL
SHEFFIELD, CT—Authorities are actively seeking the whereabouts of
Barbara Leigh Jarvis, last seen in the vicinity of West Sheffield
High School on the morning of Monday, October 17.
According to the Sheffield Police Department, Miss Jarvis left her
grandmother's home at 1217 Bedford St. to walk to school. School
officials report that she never arrived and didn't attend any
classes that day.
Barbara (Bobbi) Jarvis is 5 feet-6 inches tall, weighs 110 pounds,
has brown hair, brown eyes and was dressed in a purple and white
long-sleeved shirt, black windbreaker and blue jeans. She was
carrying a black backpack.
Anyone with knowledge of her whereabouts should call the SPD at
Adrenaline hit my nervous system hard. Bobbi Jarvis was Caroline's best friend.
Instinctively, I reached into my oversized bag hanging from the back of my office chair. Taking out my cellphone, I brought up the family locater app. It allows me to track where Caroline is in real time. A tiny street map appeared with an electronic pushpin stuck firmly where the high school was located.
Caroline's in school, right where she's supposed to be.
I was still new at this mothering thing. I've never actually had kids of my own so raising a teenager was a fresh and exasperating experience. Worrying all the time was becoming the new normal for me.
I looked at the police press release again.