Angelique James: Day Two

Early the next morning, March 28th, 2002

We met the detectives at the Danville Sheriff Station as planned. This time there was a third detective that seemed a bit higher in rank than the other two. Det. Monte Owens. He met Jack with a firm handshake upon greeting us and talked with him a little about how impressed he was at his bravery. Det. Owens told us that there was some information he needed before we headed out to the farm. We sat in chairs near the door as the office buzzed with activity. From what I caught here and there, it was apparent that the entire office was working on this case this morning.

From directly across the small office room I could hear a deputy on the phone. When he put the phone down, he got Owens’ attention. I heard him explain that “The old Ramsey’s place” was leased to Cindy Foster in 1996, and she was still listed as leasing the property. “The owner said she was still making the lease payments.” Det. Owens asked the other detectives if this was one of the suspects the boy named. They confirmed. I also overheard them call in a “forensic expert.” I was relieved. They appeared to be taking Jack seriously.

This time we spent probably two hours or more walking around the farm with Jack, as he gave even more details than the previous day. The boy seemed more confident and calm this day. He and Det. Owens intently engaged in conversation, as if cop to cop. I appreciated the way all three detectives dealt with Jack.

The man found inhabiting the house the day before was not around this day.

Det. Owens walked to the back fence that lined the rear of the property. About an acre back was another small house. The detective pointed, leaning on the fence, and asked Jack, “So, did you know who lived back there.”

3.27.2002_back house

Without skipping a beat Jack responded, “Yeah. Some woman and a man stayed there to take care of all the kids. Cindy tried to get my mom to come stay there, to take care of the kids, because they had to leave. Go back home. But Sissy warned Mommy it was not a good idea.” When asked to describe them he said, “Well, the woman was about her height”, he pointed to me, “and had dark skin. But not dark like she’s supposed to be dark. Dark like she’d been in the sun too much.” He chuckled. “She had short, spikey, like white hair. But not white like an old lady. White, spikey hair. She always wore shirts with no sleeves and she had a big but.” The grin with his comment made us all chuckle.

Det. Owens regained his composure. “And how about the man? You said there was a man there?”

“Yeah, he was really big, mean and greasy. He smelled bad and had sorta long hair. That’s all I remember about him because he stayed back there. Didn’t come up much in the day. And we weren’t allowed back there. But except Sissy used to sneak back and play with a boy there. They would go to that pond way back there”, he pointed but none of us could see from where we stood, “and catch frogs and crayfish. I think that boy was the only one who went to school with Sissy.”

“Ah. Yeah, you said something about other kids. What other kids? Who did they belong to?”

“Gosh.” Jack looked at me while he thought aloud. “I don’t know, really. They were all different colors and sizes. I don’t think the spikey-haired lady had any kids. None of them looked like they belonged to anyone and they weren’t allowed to play with us. They stayed back there until night. Well, sometimes.”

As Jack went on and on about “all the other kids” to the best of his recollection, perpetual chills ran up and down my spine. It appeared the detectives were at least a bit undone with all he shared. This young boy spoke with the detectives as if he were one himself. Witnessing such astounding faith in a child is incredibly humbling.

When we neared the back of the barn this second day, I could almost hear the detectives hold their breath. We came through the rear door and Jack led Owens to the very same spot as the day before. “And here’s where Paul made me help bury the kids. Or, I mean parts of them.” He looked sad for a moment but regained his poise quickly and looked back up to the detective.

The details he then gave seemed to make the seasoned investigators shiver.

little black girl
Drawn by another child witness in 2000.

Jack described the “little black girl” as “Little, but not in diapers. She had messy, puffy hair. She walked funny.” He demonstrated by limping a bit. “And she cried a lot.”

He then detailed how she was laid out, stabbed in the eyes then her stomach. He pointed to just under his breastbone. “Then they went like this.” He made imaginary lines on his own body, over his chest, down his center, around his hairline, while he said, “They pulled her skin off.” He stopped a minute to take a breath. “Then they pulled hoses out of her belly and cut her head off.” He looked at me again. “I still don’t know why she didn’t cry when the put the sword in her.”

We all shuddered.

Owens asked, “And what about the little boy?”

Jack looked at the ground almost as if to reassure the children beneath our feet. He looked at the detective. “Well, that was a little different. They didn’t take his skin off. All I saw was they poked his eyes with the short sword and then cut his feet off.” The weight of these memories seemed to be setting in. “I’m not sure what they did with him then, but when Paul and I buried them he was in pieces too.”

We all paused a moment. One of the other detectives asked, “And what did he look like? Do you have a description of him?”

“Oh, yeah.” Jack took a breath. “He was like me. Well, me back then. But he was skinny, had blue eyes and really short hair.” He took a moment to reflect. “And they called him Chuck.” His words seemed to fade.

Then Owens asked, “What did they do with the little girl after they took her skin off?”

“Well,” Jack seemed to be getting another wind and looked directly at Owens, “they ate her.”

“What?”

Owens startled, a bit surprised at the boy’s nonchalance. “Who?”

Without hesitation Jack went on, “Yeah. Everyone that was there. They ate her.”

witness drawing 2000
Drawn by another child witness in 2000.

“Okay, son. And who was there?”

“Lots of people. Most of them you, I couldn’t see their faces because they had these funky clothes on. Like dresses with hoods. And it was dark. But I do know Peri and Joni stabbed the girl together because Cindy told them to. I know what they sound like and they didn’t have their hoods up.”

I stood back far enough to watch the interaction but close enough to hear what was said. I had listened to much of this before so, as horrifying as it was, it did not distract me from noting their reactions. All I can say is that they did appear stunned but gave no indication they disbelieved Jack.

As we walked back to the cars, two of the detectives grabbed shovels out of their truck and went to begin the dig at that spot behind the barn. They each shook Jack’s hand along the way. Detective Owens informed that he likely will need to talk to the other two witnesses “later on in the investigation” and will call for further information. Shaking Jack’s hand, Owens got eye-to-eye with him. “I promise I will do everything in my power to protect you and your sisters. You are such a brave, fine, young man, son.”

Jack’s response is embedded in my memory for the magnitude of it is beyond words. “Awe, thanx. But that’s alright. We’re safe with my mom.”

“God has taken really good care of us.”

“I came here because”, he pointed to the rear of the barn where we could see the other two detectives digging, “those kids’ mommies don’t know what happened to them”

“And they need to be buried proper.”

Just as priceless was the look on Det. Owens’ face. “Yeah. Ah”, he stammered, “yeah. You run along. We’ll be in touch.”

[Part One]    To be continued…    [Part Three]

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