I always wanted to make my daddy proud. I did the best that I could. I finished high school at the top of my class. I stayed out of trouble and kept on a straight and narrow path. I had a great group of friends and was happy with the direction my life was going. Tomorrow, I would leave home and move into my college apartment. It would be the first time that I would no longer live in my daddy’s house. I would be on my own and I was excited to start my life.
My new school was a three-hour drive from home. I was relieved that I’d be able to visit home on the weekends. I’d also be able to see my boyfriend that I was leaving behind. We’d been dating since our sophomore year, and I was completely in love with him. My daddy didn’t really approve of our relationship, but I think that’s just because I was daddy’s girl, and it was tough for him to let go. He really didn’t have any reason not to like Brian. Sometimes daddy would say he just gets a strange vibe from him, but I didn’t see it. In my eyes Brian was the perfect guy for me. I think my daddy was sort of relieved that I was leaving because it would put some space between Brian and me.
The next morning daddy helped me pack up the last bit of my things into my car. He kissed me on the cheek and gave me a hug and sent me on my way. I felt somehow free. I was off to start a new journey and I couldn’t be happier.
Three hours later I arrived at my new off campus apartment only to be greeted by an unruly roommate. She was not the type of person I would choose to live with. She wasn’t alone in the apartment. A man, that I assumed was her boyfriend lounged on the couch with a cigarette hanging from his lips.
“Your room is at the end of the hall.” The girl told me as she laid back against the couch. The coffee table was filled with half empty food containers, overflowing ashtrays and soda cans. I carried my bags to my room and was relieved to see that I had a nice sized window. I didn’t like that the window was so close to the front door, but I would make the best of it. I unpacked my things and settled in. This would be my home for the next four years.
A month later I arrived home from classes to change for work. I found a waitress job two blocks from my apartment. As I locked the door behind me, I felt a presence approach. I turned and was face to face with a young man.
“Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” He said, as he stepped back. I took a few deep breaths and waited for my heart to calm down. I looked at his face and he seemed very familiar. “You don’t remember me, do you?” He asked. I studied his face, but I couldn’t recall his name.
“I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name.” I told him. He frowned a little, revealing his disappointment.
“Brandon. My name is Brandon. I was in your 11th grade Science class.” I vaguely remembered the name, but his face seemed so familiar.
“You look so familiar, but I’m just a mess right now. I’m late for work. I’m so sorry I don’t have time to talk right now.”
“It’s okay. We can catch up later. I live in the next building over. I’m sure we’ll run into each other.” He said as he smiled and turned to leave.
I hurried to work as fast as I could. The four hours at work dragged, and I was ready to go home and go straight to bed. I was exhausted and had an early class in the morning. I took my time walking home. I enjoyed the late evening walks through the neighborhood. I tried to remember who Brandon was. I admitted it was nice to have someone from my hometown so close by, until I recalled why his face seemed so familiar. He was the boy that followed me around all the time. I remembered my friends making fun of him at lunch because of the way he stared at me. He was always sort of in the background wherever I was. I always blew it off as maybe he was just afraid to talk to me back then. Maybe he was just too shy. By the time I got home no one else was there. I was grateful to have the place to myself. I put my things in my room and got in the shower. My pajamas never felt so good as I laid down in my bed. I grabbed my book off the nightstand and settled against my pillows. A few minutes later I heard a soft knock at the door. I looked at the clock and wondered who it could be. Maybe my roommate forgot her key I thought. I forced myself up out of the comfy bed and dragged my feet to the front door. When I opened the door, I immediately wished I hadn’t.
A man wearing a black mask pushed his way into the apartment. He locked the door as he held a knife to my throat, and then forced me back the hall into my room. I stumbled as I tried to walk backwards, but I didn’t want to take my eyes off him.
“Who are you? What do you want?” I asked frantically.
“Shut up! Turn around!” He yelled.
“I have money. I’ll give you everything I have.” I begged.
“I don’t want your money.” He said and forced me on to my bed. “Behave yourself and I’ll let you live.” I shook my head and cried. He began undressing himself. The room was dark. All I seen was the silhouette outline of his slim body. He left the mask on as he forced me to remove my clothes. He took my bra and wrapped it around my throat. It was hard to breathe. I struggled against him, but he was stronger than I was. He raped me. I was scared and shaking. I didn’t know what to do. When I thought, he was going to leave he raped me again.
“Please stop,” I begged. “Please.” He wouldn’t listen. He didn’t care that he was hurting me. Again, he wrapped my bra around my throat and squeezed as hard as he could. I punched at his sides and kicked my feet as hard as I could. I managed to knee him in the groin, causing him to heel over on his side. I jumped from the bed and reached for the door, but when I did, he yanked my hair from behind. I fell to the floor and curled into a fetal position and prayed for him to go. I just wanted him to leave. He grabbed the knife from the nightstand and stabbed me in the side. I felt the blade slicing through my skin as he stabbed me again and again. I screamed as loud as I could, hoping someone would hear me. Someone would come and help me soon, but no one did. I laid on the floor unable to move, hardly able to breathe as he got dressed and left me lying in a puddle of my own blood. He walked past me to the window and cut a hole in the screen. I watched as he climbed through and disappeared into the night. I remained on the floor, growing colder and colder. I couldn’t move. I wished I was back home with my daddy. I wished I never left home. I couldn’t leave my daddy alone. What would he do without me? I didn’t feel pain anymore. All the what if’s and wishes flowed through my thoughts until I finally drifted away. I’d never wake up again.
Two days later I stood over my bloody body when I heard my daddy’s voice outside.
“I’ve been calling her for two days and she hasn’t answered. I need to get in there to make sure everything is alright.”
“I’m sorry, sir, I can’t let you in there.”
“I’m her father. I need to make sure she’s okay!” He yelled. “Look! Look at this,” he said as his voice grew closer to the window. “There’s a cut in the screen! Open the door right now!” He yelled again. The building owner agreed to open the door and moved out of the way as my daddy barged past her. He called out my name, but I couldn’t answer him. He would never hear my voice again. He found me naked, lying in a puddle of blood on my bedroom floor. A vision that he’d never be able to erase from his mind. His little girl cold and dead.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“My little girl, she’s not breathing. She’s cold. Oh my God, my little girl’s dead.”
I watched as the police came in and out of the house. My poor daddy sat on the couch with his head in his hands. A police officer sat next to him consoling him as best as she could. Another cop loomed over my daddy with a notebook in his hand.
“Can you think of anyone that wanted to hurt your daughter?” He asked my daddy.
My daddy shook his head, “no, no one wanted to hurt her. Everyone loved her. She’s a good girl.” He cried.
“Did she have a boyfriend? Anyone close to her that would have a reason to cause her harm?”
“She has a boyfriend back home. She only just moved in here a few weeks ago.” My daddy answered. “Who would do such a thing?” He cried again. I wanted to sit next to him and tell him everything would be okay, but it wouldn’t ever be okay again. I was his little girl, and I was dead.
“Do we know where the roommate is?” The detective asked the cop.
“We spoke to her an hour ago. She’s out of town visiting her family.”
“Is it possible the boyfriend drove up here in a jealous rage and did this?” The detective bent down to take a closer look at the wounds on my body. “There sure is a lot of stab wounds. There’s also bruising around her throat like she was choked or strangled. We won’t know actual cause of death until an autopsy is done.” He said as he stood up. “And nothing is missing, so I don’t think this was a robbery.” He said, pointing to the pile of cash I left on the dresser when I got home from work.
“I agree, definitely not a robbery.” The cop said, carefully stepping around my body. “A neighbor came by a little while ago asking if she was okay. He seemed kind of off to me, but he said he knew her from high school. We should bring him in for a statement.” The cop said.
“Look, look over here.” The detective said, pointing to the floor under the window. “Get forensics in here to photograph this.” He looked down at the clear bloody footprint on the floor. “It’s not much, but it’s something.” He said and left the room.
I was sexually assaulted and stabbed a total of twenty-five times. There was no way I could survive that kind of brutality. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I followed all the rules. I didn’t party. I didn’t do drugs. I was a smart, and enthusiastic girl. I loved life and in a blink of an eye my life was taken from me. My daddy would have to go on and try to live his life, knowing that his baby girl was raped and killed and never know who did it. My friends would miss me and tell stories about all the good times we had together. No one would ever have the closure they needed to move on from this awful murder. They would always wonder why.
Who do you think committed the murder?