The stranger had been sitting in the interrogation room for hours, rocking back and forth, repeating the same words every few moments: âI let her out.â He wouldnât say anything else, nor would he make eye contact with anyone. He hugged his forearms against his chest as he hunched over and rocked; he was covered in blood and unnameable bits of flesh, as if some poor creature had exploded in his vicinity.
Responding to a 911 call earlier this evening, the police investigated the report of screams at the Williamsâ estate. They discovered human remains, though there was some confusion as to how many people had died.
From the observation room Detective Salter studied the man drenched in blood. Not one person in the station insisted he was faking. They all knew the rumors about the Williamsâ estate. The police found this man cowering next to a tree on the property and he couldnât or wouldnât tell them what happened. They immediately brought him here as much for safety as detainment.
Now in the interrogation room, Detective Salter set a glass of water in front of the man, sat down opposite him, and introduced himself.
âIâm Detective Salter.â
âI let her out.â
âYouâre not from around here, are you?â He spoke softly.
âI let her out.â Tears ran down his face.
âYou see, if you were, youâd know you never, ever, enter the first floor of the Williamsâ home.â
âI let her out.â
âItâs haunted by their dead daughter.â
For the first time since the police found him, he made eye contact. He slowly looked up to meet Salterâs gaze, then burst into convulsions of sobbing and wailing. After his fit finally passed, he whispered, âI donât understand.â
âAbout a year and a half ago, Jaymie Williams was found dead from a gunshot wound to the chest. Her father, Jake, claimed it was a misfire, and there was no evidence to suggest otherwise, so her death was ruled an accident.â
Being golfing buddies, Mr. Williams told Detective Salter all details as they occurred. After his daughterâs death, Mr. Williams and his wife, Maggie, began noticing strange things, like objects being moved and electrical disturbances within the house.
âShortly after her funeral, Mr. Williams filed a police report claiming someone had broken into his house. You see, he and his wife heard strange noises, but Mr. Williams found no one in his house and nothing missing. Since the only thing of value in the house is his collection of Winchester rifles, he concluded someone broke in to steal them, but failed to locate them.â
âI think you know why anyone looking for the rifles would fail. One body weâve been able to identify, only because his wallet was still in his pocket, was Thomas Landon. He was the locksmith Mr. Williams hired to install the basement lock. Mr. Landon moved away before all the trouble began at the Williamsâ house.â
âHe didnât know the house was renovated.â The stranger said.
âWhatâs your name?â
âDaniel, you were trying to steal the Williamsâ Winchester collection, right?â
Daniel reluctantly nodded.
âCan you tell me what happened?â
Daniel looked at the floor and refused to speak.
Detective Salter wondered how much of the story he should tell the stranger, but kept talking in an attempt to build a rapport. âHave you ever heard of The Winchester Mystery House?â
Daniel frowned and shook his head, âno.â
âIn the 1880âs, Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, started building a home that she would never stop building until her death. The story goes that a fortune teller told her spirits of the people killed by Winchester rifles were haunting her, and the only way to save herself was to build a house that would confuse them. The idea being if they were lost in the house, they could never find her. So, Mrs. Winchester continued renovating the house for the rest of her life, having construction workers build strange rooms, staircases that head down, then back up again, and doors leading to walls.â
âPeople around here call the Williamsâ house âWinchester, Jr.â You see, Mr. Williams began to believe it was his daughterâs spirit causing all the strange disturbances in his house. He said she was guarding the rifles and wouldnât let anyone near them. Both he and Mrs. Williams claimed to have seen her – that she made things fly across the room, trying to hit them.â
âJaymie was killed by a Winchester rifle, you see. The Williams couldnât afford to move, so they began renovating their house, believing if they confused her she would never find them.Â Several friends who helped renovate the first floor claim they saw her, and I saw her, too.â Salterâs voice trailed off, âI must admit, I donât understand why sheâs after her parents. Her death was an accident.â
âHell, no, it wasnât.â Daniel looked Detective Salter right in the eye. âI know it wasnât.â
Salterâs eyes grew wide and he said, âTell me what happened.â
âTommy came to us-â
âThis would be Thomas Landon?â Salter asked.
âYeah, Tommy came to me and Eddie, my brother. Said there was money to be had in some rich guyâs basement. Offered to cut us in, pay us $20,000 each. Tonight, when we got there, we saw the second floor of the house was filled with lights, but the ground floor was dark, so we thought we lucked out âcause we wanted to get to the basement. We saw a staircase outside leading to the second floor, and thought maybe weâd take the people hostage, but didnât. We told Steve, our fourth guy, to stand guard at those stairs.â
âThe first floor had windows painted black and boards nailed to them. Itâs like no one wanted any light to get in. There were several doors that looked like front doors, but the first one we tried wouldn’t open. Tommy found the real one on the second try and got us in the house.â
âWe didnât notice anything weird about inside the house, not at first. We turned our flashlights on and Tommy led us to a picture on the wall. There was a lever behind it. He pulled the lever and a small piece of the floor in the kitchen lifted up. There was a lock underneath it. The door to the basement was a few feet in front of us and when Tommy put the code in the lock, the door opened.â
Daniel stopped and shivered, fighting back his fear.
âYou didnât even get to see the Winchester collection, did you?â Detective Salter asked.
Danielâs voice shook, âNo. When the basement door opened, she was standing right there. The light from our flashlights both hit her and went through her. She had black hair, white skin, and fangs and clawsâŚthen I saw it.â
âI saw what really happened to her. I saw it through her eyes and could hear her thoughts! The day she died, she was just playing, skipping through the house. She looked up at the top of the stairs and her parents were standing there. Her father had the gun pointed at her, and her mother was yelling, âDo it, do it!â Her father pulled the trigger! I felt her fear and pain until she died. And after she died! Sheâs been getting angrier and stronger the longer sheâs been dead! Sheâs been trying to get to the second floor, but the two staircases are blocked, and none of the doors open for her! She can’t see any windows! She never sees any light!â Daniel was shaking uncontrollably. âThe vision â or whatever it was â ended, and I looked at Tommy and Eddie. All three of us were scared and crying, and I knew they had seen it, too.â
âThen she lunged at TommyâŚmy God, those claws! They ripped through Tommy in a second! Blood splashed over me and into my eyes! I fell down, wiping my eyes while I tried to get to my feet. I felt someone grab my arm and pull me up, hearing my brother yell, âcome on!â I was able to open my eyes and we ran up the closest stairs, but the stairs went nowhere! They ended taking us to the ceiling! We hauled ass back down the stairs and searched for another exit. We found a door we thought was the front door, but it wouldnât open. We couldnât see much âcause I dropped my flashlight, but Eddie still had his and from his light I saw there werenât any hinges on the door! Thatâs when she pulled Eddie away from me!â Daniel once again fell into convulsive crying.
Detective Salter put both hands over his mouth, eyes bugging out of his head.
Daniel grabbed the water Salter had placed on the table and gulped it down. Regaining slight composure, he slowly continued.
âEddieâs flashlight fell and bounced and rolled, so I saw her rip him apart in flashes. When the flashlight finally stopped, the light fell on a door. I ran for it and swung it open, and then I realized what a mistake I made. I tried to close it before she got out, but she smashed through with a banshee scream! The force of the door hitting me almost knocked me out. I guess she thought I was dead, âcause she left me there.â
âThe next scream I heard was Steveâs â the guy we left guarding the outside stairs. My vision was blurry, but I saw his head bounce down the stairs and roll a few feet. I think I passed out. I donât know how long I was out, but when I woke up, Mrs. Williams was still screaming! I pulled myself up onto my knees and crawled until I was hidden behind a tree. Thatâs where you cops found me.â
Now Detective Salter had to regain his composure. âTwo officers were the first to arrive at the scene. They saw Steveâs head, but we still havenât located the rest of his body. The outside stairs are the only way to reach the second floor. The officers ran up the stairs and found Mr. Williams. His arms and legs had been skinned, then pulled from his body and his face had been ripped off. Mrs. Williams was found on the floor of the bathroom. She had been cut in half. Judging by the claw marks on her abdomen, we believe this was not done in one slice but many, and it would have been slow.â
âEveryone here believes you. The first two officers saw Jaymie in the bathroom, you see. She didnât look scary at all, just like a normal kid, and then she smiled at them and faded away. Looks like she finally got what she wanted and can now rest in peace, because you let her out.â
Winchester, Jr. By Seven L. Cooper