To Find the Truth
Daisy watched as Mrs. Martens was ushered into the police station from Walker's office, Reid standing at her side. Her daughter-in-law was at her side and Shelly did not look happy as she glanced around the room, her disgust evident.
"Let's do this," Daisy said, starting to walk out of the office. Reid grabbed her arm, holding her back for a moment.
"Are you ready for this?" he asked. She looked away and nodded.
"As ready as I can be," she said, starting out of the door.
"What's going on, sheriff?" Shelly said, stiffening as Daisy and Reid walked out of Walker's office. "Why are we here? We've already told you everything we know. We don't have anything to do with what happened to those girls."
"Hush, Shelly. If you had let me say my piece yesterday, we wouldn't have been dragged in here today," Gladys said. She looked at the sheriff. "I'm sorry I didn't think to say anything about this earlier. Didn't even think of it until Daisy asked. But I want to do my part to help now."
She then turned and walked into the conference room.
"Shelly, you can wait outside," Gladys said without looking back, stopping Shelly in her tracks. Her eyes widened as she looked at Daisy and started to glare.
"I hope you're happy, nosin' around in things that ought to just die," she hissed before looking at the sheriff. "I'll be waitin' at the coffee shop." She then turned on her heels and strode out of the station.
"She seems delightful," Emily said dryly.
"You're seeing her on a good day," Daisy muttered before walking into the conference room, the sheriff and Reid following her.
"Can I get you somethin' Mrs. Martens?" the sheriff asked.
"Just a bit of water would be fine," Gladys said, settling into a chair. Daisy walked around and sat next to her, pulling out her phone and placing it on the table in front of her. She maneuvered through it, turning on the voice memo app to record the interview.
The sheriff left, shutting the door behind him.
"What did you want to tell me yesterday?" Daisy asked, getting straight to the point. Gladys sighed.
"Well, I recall some rumors going around back then about the youth minister gettin' inappropriate with some of the girls at Southern Baptist," she said. Daisy was silent, her jaw clenched. Reid watched her nervously. "Now, I can't remember if there was any real investigation, but I do remember that folks started sayin' that it was just the girls gettin' over-imaginative."
"Who was it?" Daisy asked, willing her voice to stay even.
"I never did hear who exactly it was," Mrs. Martens said, seeming to hesitate despite her earlier declaration to help.
"Did my family go to Southern Baptist back then?" Daisy asked. Mrs. Martens seemed to be fighting with herself. "Just tell me the truth. Was it me?"
"Daisy… your grams, she made me swear that I'd never tell you… You wouldn't talk about it after all the hoopla, though you were always a bit on the quiet side," she said. "Once they figured out you had, oh what did they call it? I'm not one for big fancy medical words, but you had somehow blocked the memory and they decided it was better for you if you never remembered."
"Was it me?" Daisy repeated.
"You were in that group, yes," Mrs. Martens said. "But they never could prove nothing, so they sent that young man out of town and pretended like nothin' ever happened."
"So that's why my parents quit going to church," Daisy stated.
"I'm so sorry, darlin'," Mrs. Martens said softly, reaching out to take Daisy's hand.
"Why? It's not your fault," Daisy said.
"I'm just shocked that you can't remember none of that," Mrs. Martens said. Daisy shrugged, keeping a neutral look on her face as she pulled her hand back, though her mind was a perfect storm. She rarely let her emotions show and she wasn't about to do it here in this interview room with Mrs. Martens and FBI agents watching on.
"Suppose it's for the best," she said, keeping her eyes trained on the notebook in front of her as she jotted things down. "The other girls, I take it, were Vanessa, Toni, Marley and Becky." She glanced up at the older woman. She nodded solemnly.
"They all started making a fuss about it, but like I said, the sheriff couldn't find any evidence of anything. You were the only one who refused to talk about it… the other girls, their parents raised all sorts of hell at the time," she said. "But when it came out that Vanessa and Toni had made it all up, well… about tore the town in two. Their families were embarrassed about it, so wanted to just brush it under the rug. Others never really believed it was all lies. That pastor, I don't think he ever worked in the church again…"
"So, there's a chance that we made all of it up?" Daisy asked next. Emily and Reid glanced at each other, both seeming to think it was time for them to step in. The reporter's calm mask was starting to slip a bit.
"Well, I suppose," Gladys said. "After everything was said and done, none of ya'll would talk about it and Vanessa and Toni's parents threatened just about anyone who brought it up. Your mama, though, she was hellbent on making sure that man paid… wouldn't let it rest for a long time…"
Daisy nodded and took a deep breath. She glanced at Emily and Reid.
"If you guys could take it from here, I think I need some air," she said, standing. Before either could answer, she left the room.
"That poor girl," Gladys said. She looked at the two agents. "I never once thought she was lyin' about it… Her grams and parents neither."
"Do you know who she spoke with back then?" Emily asked.
"Her parents and grams, of course," Gladys said. "Tried to get her to talk to the sheriff, but she just clammed up. Think they took her to some fancy therapist in the City as well. At least that's what Delores - her grandmother - told me. But she wouldn't even talk about it with her. They're all gone now, so not sure who you could talk to about that." Emily nodded as she took down some notes. She glanced at Reid out of the corner of her eye, seeing him glance towards the door a few times.
"Well, Mrs. Martens, I think that's about all the questions we have for you now. But would it be alright if we stopped by should we have more?" she asked.
"Of course," Mrs. Martens said immediately. "Anything to help find the bastard that's been killin' those girls. And to help Daisy."
Daisy stepped outside of the police station and bent over, feeling her head starting to whirl. She felt a bit dizzy. She wasn't sure what happened back then - the memories were still locked away if they even existed. But just hearing that she was caught up in some town scandal was overwhelming in and of itself, considering she had spent a fair amount of her time since then trying not to draw attention to herself. Even though it never stopped Vanessa and Toni.
But at the same time, things were starting to make sense. Why a number of people only tolerated her family. Why she was often left out in elementary school and even continuing up to junior and high school. Why only Marley and Becky ever stayed at her side, their families allowing them to continue hanging out with her. Looking back, their families were also the only ones that were frequent visitors to the ranch house. While everyone showed up to whatever shindig her grandmother threw - Delores White still held a fair amount of power in the town up until her death - her parents were never particularly liked.
In an instant, her perspective of everything had changed as she went through her life, looking at it from a different view. She always wondered why everyone seemed to hate her and her parents for no reason. At least now she understood why.
She straightened up and turned, seeing Spencer stepping out. Just behind him, she could see the sheriff watching through the glass doors with a worried look on his face.
"Are you okay?" Spencer asked.
"Yea, just needed some air," she said, quickly falling back into work mode. This was just any other story, she told herself. Didn't matter if she was in the middle of it - she was anything if not professional and could wait until she was home alone to deal with her personal thoughts and feelings on the matter. At least then she would have the comfort of a bottle of wine as she dissected everything she had heard.
She almost laughed at herself. She was more of a White than she thought she was. Her grandparents were always preaching that you didn't let anyone know what you were truly feeling. Not in this town. They would find a way to use it against you.
"Are you sure?" he asked, his brow furrowed. "We have it under control if you want to head home." Daisy quickly shook her head.
"No," she said immediately. "I can handle this."
"Alright. Well, we're finished up with Mrs. Martens, but… she mentioned that your parents took you to see a therapist as a child. Any way you might remember a name or have those records somewhere?" he asked softly. Daisy looked away, trying to remember. She had remembered being at a doctor's office in the City when she was a bit older. Perhaps that was it.
"I don't remember the name, but… Mom and Dad kept a lot of my personal records, medical stuff and whatnot. It might be in a box at the manor," she said, looking back at him. He nodded.
"I can go back with you and we can look through them. See if we can find anything," he said. She nodded and started back into the station when Reid's phone went off. Daisy stopped and turned to look at him as he answered.
"Yea?" he said. He nodded and then his eyes widened. "Really?... Okay… Right… We'll be here." He then hung up and looked at the ground a few moments before looking back up at Daisy. "That was the others… they're coming back with the youth pastor." Daisy frowned.
"Why?" she asked.
"Daisy… he just confessed… to everything…"
Daisy looked through the glass at the station, trying to remember the man sitting at the table staring at his hands. She couldn't. It was as if an entire year of her life was just gone. She wondered why she had never noticed.
He didn't look like a killer or a child molester. Of course, they rarely ever did. There was no uniform or look. He was frail and appeared much older than he actually was. And he seemed genuinely remorseful which she hadn't been expecting.
"He confessed? To killing all of them? Just like that?" she asked, not taking her eyes away from him.
"That's what they said. Decided to bring him here for more questioning. They have investigators going through his house now," Spencer said.
"He confessed to… what happened back then as well?" she asked, blinking furiously.
"Yes," Spencer said softly.
"Can I… can someone tell me what he said?" she asked.
"I want to hear it," Daisy said abruptly, her voice firm. "I need to hear it." Spencer sighed.
"Hold on," he said. He stepped away, walking over to Luke, Tara, Matt and Emily. "She wants to hear what he said." The group looked over at Daisy, who was still staring through the window. "And she doesn't seem like she'll take no for an answer." Emily sighed and looked at Tara.
"Think it's better if you tell her," she said. Tara nodded and walked over to Daisy.
"Hey," she said softly. Daisy looked over at her. "I think we can use the sheriff's office." Daisy nodded, not saying a word as they walked past the others. After she shut the door behind them, she leaned against it, crossing her arms in front of her.
"Don't you want to sit?" Tara asked.
"I feel better standing," Daisy replied. Tara nodded and sat on the edge of the desk.
"Well… it didn't take much. In fact, he didn't seem surprised when we showed up. Like he was expecting us," she started. "We sat down with him and before we started asking questions… he told us about what happened 28 years ago." Daisy remained silent, her jaw clenched. "He confessed to touching you. Kissing you. Apparently, you told your friends because you were too afraid to tell your parents. So, they told their parents. He said that he confessed back then, but without any evidence and when it came out that the others were lying, well… the sheriff at the time told him that he couldn't arrest him, but to get the hell out of town." Daisy looked at the ground.
"And the murders?" she asked softly.
"He said it was revenge for ruining his life," Tara said. Daisy remained silent, taking in the information and trying to reconcile it with the man she had seen through the glass. He had seemed upset. Regretful. That didn't settle right with her. But she also knew she had been compromised. At that moment she knew she couldn't trust her instincts.
"I think I'm going home," she said suddenly. She looked up at Tara. "I… just… I need to go home." Tara pushed up off the desk.
"I understand. We all do. We'll be there later," she said. Daisy nodded and pushed off the door, turning to open it. "Daisy… if you need someone to talk to… we're all here for you." Daisy paused for a moment, staring at the doorknob. Her upbringing dictated that she say something in return. But she was confused. So instead of saying anything, she opened the door and walked out.
She kept her gaze forward but could see the agents grouped together out of the corner of her eye.
"Save it, Randy. I'll be at home if anyone needs me," she said brusquely, not even looking at the sheriff. She didn't wait to see if he responded. Just kept walking. She didn't allow herself to think about anything as she got in her car and started driving. It wasn't until she was in the house that she noticed her cheeks were wet with tears.
"Something doesn't feel right," Spencer said to Rossi after they had watched Daisy leave.
"I know," he replied. "He gave in too easily."
"Which means he's covering for someone," Spencer said, glancing towards the room where they had the pastor waiting.
"That's why we brought him here. Thought the ride over might get him time to think things over," Rossi said. He glanced towards the door of the station. "I'm worried about her. She probably shouldn't be alone right now. It's a lot to take in."
"She's been on her own a long time. She's probably not used to having people around," Spencer said. He looked over towards the interview room. "Mind if I speak with him?"
"Be my guest," Rossi said. "See if you can get anything out of him." Spencer nodded and walked over, stopping to look through the glass before opening the door and stepping in. "Rev. Fischer?"
"Please, it's just Mitch," the man said. "I haven't been a pastor in over two decades and even then, I was just a youth minister." He sat back in his chair and met Spencer's gaze. "I already told everything to the other agents."
"I know," Spencer said, sitting across from him. "I'm Dr. Spencer Reid… and I just wanted to go over a few things. You said that you molested Daisy White, but none of the other girls." Mitch stared at him a few moments before nodding, clenching his jaw. "But you haven't since then…"
"I relied on the Lord to give me strength," he said.
"Must have been difficult, fighting those urges," Spencer said.
"I can do all things through the Lord," Mitch said immediately. "And, well, it's not like I was welcomed to work with children again. I ended up going into prison ministry. Remove the temptation and it's not so difficult." Spencer continued to study him a bit longer.
"You're part of the founding five families of Whitehall. You still have family around here?" he asked. Mitch seemed confused by the question.
"Some. But as you can guess after what happened, they didn't keep in touch with me," he said. "I was basically disowned."
"No one kept in touch with you?" he asked. Mitch shook his head.
"None," he replied.
"What other family do you have?" Spencer asked.
"My parents are long dead. But I've got a brother and a sister. Don't really know about them now," the minister said, starting to get defensive. "I'm not sure what this has to do with anything. I killed those girls. Why aren't you putting me in jail?"
"We'll put you there… once we sort through some things," Spencer said, standing and walking out of the room.
"What is it, Spence?" JJ asked, walking up to him.
"I feel like we need to look into him more," he said. "He said he's got a brother and a sister."
"We've already got Garcia doing a deep dive into him," she said, frowning. "Why?"
"He's covering for someone," Spencer said.
"We thought as much as well. He didn't know details of the murders. We brought him here hoping we could get him to change his story," JJ replied. At that moment, Emily rushed up, her phone to her ear.
"Hold on," she said. She pulled it back and put it on speakerphone.
"Okay, so I did some digging and it turns out there was a nephew… he was 14 at the time. He and his mother left the town around the same time as Mitch and his wife," Garcia said quickly.
"What was his name?" Spencer asked.
"Randy Fischer," Garcia said. "But I can't find anything on anyone under that name… I think he changed it." Spencer met Emily's eyes as something clicked. He looked around the room, noticing that the sheriff was missing. He recalled how the man was oddly protective of Daisy, even though she said she barely knew him. He was about the right age and moved back into town a bit over a decade ago.
"Try Walker," he said.
"Just… I have a feeling," Spencer said, turning and starting out of the door.
"Spence, where are you going?" JJ called out.
"To White Manor!"
Sorry! Been distracted with working on another story and forgot to post this one. I feel like I kind of rushed the last few chapters, but I was kind of stuck on how to drag it out more, so just stayed with it. The whole story is only about 9 chapters total. And this one is mostly an experiment as it is, just to see if I could potentially write something that's more of a thriller.
Spygoose – Of course! I have the entire story completed, I just keep forgetting to post the new chapters. And thanks!
Thanks everyone for reading and following!