Spontoon Island
home - contact - credits - new - links - history - maps - art - story
comic strips - editorial - souvenirs - Yahoo forum
Posted 4 July 2011
The Otterholt House Massacre
An investigation by Inspector Stagg
& the State Police Criminal Investigation Bureau
of New Haven - 1926
Chapter 8
By Walter D. Reimer

The Otterholt House Massacre

© 2009 by Walter D. Reimer

(The Stagg Family courtesy of Eric Costello. Thanks!)

Chapter 8

Wednesday August 2, 0820:

        The courtroom filled quickly now that the undercard bout between Mayor Stevenson and the Republic was over.  Paulie, still seated in the witness area, noted that Whitney St. James was a late arrival to the gallery; the bulldog looked tired but was smiling happily as he shoehorned himself into a seat and prepared to take notes.
        “The Court shall now entertain closing statements in this case,” Kilbride stated.  “Since the Republic spoke first at the beginning of this trial, the Defense shall now be given the opportunity to speak first.  Counsel for the Defense?”
        “Yes, Your Honor?”
        “Is the Defense ready?”
        “It is, Your Honor.”  Galbraith stood, planting his paws on the lapels of his robe and glancing down at his feet before raising his head to fix his gaze on the jury.  “Ladies and gentlemen, the Republic has made its case to you regarding what they say my client has done.  But have they really?  Haven’t they just paraded witnesses and offered up evidence – evidence, I say, based on innuendo, happenstance and so-called ‘scientific’ findings? 
        “My client has not confessed to these charges, because he is innocent...“  The bulldog had a reputation as an orator and he held the jury spellbound for nearly an hour before he finally nodded to the Bench and resumed his seat.
        King stood, smoothed his feathers and faced the jury.  “The Defense states that his client has not confessed.  I do not dispute that, and neither does the Republic.  But there is no need for him to confess, ladies and gentlemen, because we have the facts, and we have laid those facts before you.  And the facts lead to only one inescapable conclusion.  Guilt.
        “When you go in to deliberate, ladies and gentlemen, I want you to remember two things.
        “First, that there are five dead women.  Elaine Somerville, Sandy and Sally Jones, Lacey King and Charlotte Ramsey – five student nurses who shall never work in a hospital, never go on to careers or home or family life.  That is one thing.
        The second thing is that all of the testimony you have heard and all of the evidence presented points incontrovertibly toward that one man,” and he pointed a feathered paw at Stevenson, who sat in the dock.  “Wyatt Stevenson committed these murders.  He cannot account for himself, and the evidence points at no one else.  The Republic is satisfied that he is the murderer, and hopes that you, in your collective wisdom, will agree and find him guilty.”
        He gave a slight bow to the Bench, and took his seat.  His speech took barely two minutes.
        Judge Kilbride said, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the Court asks now that you remove yourselves from this courtroom to the place reserved for you, and the Court solemnly charges you to deliberate among yourselves, without prejudgment or bias, and to return a fair verdict in this case.  Bailiff, lead the jury out.”  He and the others in the courtroom stood as the twelve jurors were led from the room, then the judge said, “This Court stands adjourned until such time as a verdict in this case is reached.”
        Paulie stepped out of the courthouse and almost ran into the other lieutenant in the Bureau.  The feline wasn’t looking where he was going, and was muttering to himself.  “Jim!”
        “Oh!  Hi, Paulie,” O’Dell said.  “Sorry.  Just mad at the world.”
        “What happened?”
        “Got word from Stagg.”  Jim O’Dell smiled mirthlessly.  “The Interior Minister’s taken control of the Squadron Scandal and, I quote, ‘Will be giving the matter to a blue-ribbon commission in the General Assembly.’”  He muttered and spat in the gutter.  “Black-ribbon, more likely.  The whole thing’s buried.”
        “How’d Stagg take it?”
        Jim squinted at his coworker.  “How do you think?  He’s hating it, but what can he do?  Me, I’m going over to Shipman’s for a belt.  How’s the trial going?”
        “Jury’s got it.  I’ll join you for that drink.”  The feline and the deer headed for the tavern that was a favorite hangout for the State Police in the city.
        To get to Shipman’s they had to pass by the largest of the city’s student taverns, an old German beer hall named Morrie’s that was a favored haunt for several Collegiate fraternities.  The doors were open for the mild summer night and he could see in.
        One student, a ferret, was precariously balanced on the back of a chair with a full bottle in one paw.  As the others started to chant out numbers starting with one, the ferret tipped his head back and began drinking from the bottle.
        The count reached five before the bottle was empty; the ferret tossed the bottle aside and promptly lost his balance, crashing to the floor as everyone else applauded.  One or two started to sing.
        Paulie’s ears went back.  The song was short, out of tune, and dealt with Chief Stagg being sent to a red-light district.  The point of the song was that he had become a hit with the ladies of the town. 
        The red deer fished his call box key from a pocket and weighed it in his paw for a moment as he considered whether it was worth it to call for a raid on the place.

        O’Dell looked up as Paulie took a seat next to him at Shipman’s.  “What kept you?”
        “Stopped to make a call,” the buck replied, looking over the night’s menu. 
        He had a satisfied smile on his face.


Thursday August 3:

        The jury did not return a verdict that afternoon, or that night.
        Or the next morning.
        Paulie was at his desk after lunch when the phone rang.  “Detective Bureau, Pentaleoni . . . oh they are?  Great.  I’ll let the Chief know.”  He hung up the phone and walked over to the Chief’s office.
        “Excuse me, Chief?  Word just come from the courthouse.  The jury’s announced that they have a verdict.”
        The whitetail buck nodded and stood, plucking his hat from its hook.  “Let’s find out.”
        The gallery was filling rapidly as members of the press struggled to find seats.  Whitney St. James was crammed into sharing a chair with Arthur Morgenstern, the chief leader-writer for the Forward; the hound and the bulldog were sharing what seemed to be a jolly joke, judging from Whitney’s laughter.
        People quieted as the defendant’s father and mother were shown to seats by an usher, and everyone stood as Judge Kilbride and the others filed in.  When the jury was seated, everyone else sat and Kilbride gaveled for order.
        The wolfhound asked, “Mister Foreman of the Jury, have you and your fellows reached a verdict?”
        The woman, a ewe, stood.  “We have, Your Honor,” and she passed a slip of paper to the chief bailiff, who gave it to Kilbride as silence reigned in the gallery.   
        “On the first charge, that of the willful murder of Sally Jones, how does the jury find the defendant?”
        ”We inform the Honorable Court that the defendant is guilty as charged.”
        A stir swept the onlookers, punctuated by the gasp of disbelief from Mrs. Stevenson.  The judge continued, inexorable as Fate.
        “On the second charge, that of the willful murder of Sandra Jones, how does the jury find the defendant?”
        “We inform the Honorable Court that the defendant is guilty as charged.”
        “On the third charge, that of the willful murder of Lacey King, how does the jury find the defendant?”
        ”We inform the Honorable Court that the defendant is guilty as charged.”
        “On the fourth charge, that of the willful murder of Charlotte Ramsey, how does the jury find the defendant?”
        “We inform the Honorable Court that the defendant is guilty as charged.”
        “On the fifth charge, that of the willful murder of Elaine Somerville, how does the jury find the defendant?”
        “We inform the Honorable Court that the defendant is guilty as charged.”  The ewe sat down, looking solemn.  There was a brief but pregnant silence.
        “Hang him now!” someone shrieked from the gallery, and Kilbride gaveled for order.
        “Chief Bailiff of the Court.”
        “Your Honor?”
        “Take up the Black Cap, and bear it to the Bench.”
        The bailiff bowed slightly and moved to the small table.  He picked up the small tray that carried the gloves and black cloth square and carried it up to the judge.  The wolfhound put on the gloves and took up a piece of paper while the bailiff held the Cap over his wig.
        The courtroom went deathly silent again as Kilbride intoned, “It is with a heavy heart that I have presided over these proceedings, as the Defendant has been a fur of good character until the occasion of these offenses.  However, the vicious actions of this man are a violent stain upon the community, and the full penalty of the Law is scarcely sufficient, in the Court’s opinion, to deal with these ghastly crimes.”
        He sighed and gave a little shake, causing the panels of his wig to waggle ever so slightly.
        “The Defendant and Counsel will rise.” 
        Stevenson and Galbraith stood, the rabbit looking angry and the bulldog looking subdued.
        “Wyatt Gerard Stevenson,” Judge Kilbride intoned, “having been found guilty of all charges by a jury of your peers, this Court now sentences you to be taken from this place to the Central Prison of the Republic, there to await the pleasure of the Governor; and upon issuance of a valid warrant, that you be taken to a place of execution, where you shall be hanged by the neck until you are dead."  He looked up from his paper and gazed levelly at the rabbit.  “And may the Lord God have mercy on your soul.”
        Dead silence in the courtroom, broken only by the sobs of Adelaide Stevenson.
        The two bailiffs stepped forward and took Wyatt’s arms; he resisted, shaking loose from them long enough to mutter something.  They grabbed at him again and he continued to resist, and finally the others in the courtroom could hear him as he was led away.
        “It was God’s will.”
        He was half-dragged from the room, and the door closed.
        “Counsel for the Defense wishes to enter a motion of appeal,” Galbraith said.
        “Granted,” Kilbride said.  He turned to the jury.  “For your time and patience, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the Court and the Republic thanks you.”
        “This Court stands adjourned.”



        Apparently word had gotten back to the Detective Bureau before Paulie and Stagg could walk the short distance from the courthouse.  Several detectives and uniformed officers greeted the two bucks with shouted congratulations, punctuated by backslaps for Paulie, and pawshakes for the Chief.
        Paulie turned, and Sergeant DiAngelo pressed a small glass into his paw.  He looked down, and saw that it was whiskey.
        The room went quiet as a similar glass appeared in Chief Stagg’s paw.  It was an anticipatory silence, as many had never seen Stagg drink and it was thought he was a teetotaller.
        The whitetail buck sniffed at the drink and asked dryly, “This isn’t Housatonic, is it?”
        Laughter greeted this and one officer held up a bottle of MacArran Scotch.  “Only the best, Chief,” the mouse said.
        “Well, then,” and Stagg’s gaze swept the room.  He raised the glass.  “To Lt. Pentaleoni – and all of you, gentlemen – a job well done.”  He tipped his head back and drank the shot in one easy swallow, then made a face as he set the glass down.  The others joined in the toast.
        Stagg smiled and said, “Very well, gentlemen, let’s get back to work.”