Posts Tagged ‘florida’

My youngest daughter and I headed down to Florida two months ago. It was her Spring Break and she was looking forward to a respite from the Vermont weather. I was happy to be visiting with one of my brothers.

I like a day at the beach just as much as the next guy. But I also like to do a bit of exploring. So, on one of the days, I suggested visiting an orange grove. Because Florida has miles and miles of citrus farms. Plus I like orange juice.

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There were no tours on this particular day so we scoped out the place and sampled some of the different fruit slices that were being offered. Bought some freshly squeezed juice to bring home.

Leaving the grove we began a version of what my daughter calls, “Moose Hunting.”

You might ask, “What on earth is that?”

Here’s the short version. Said Mary never.

There are many signs posted all over New England highways.

Bear Crossing-Stay Alert

Moose Crossing-Stay Alert

Deer Crossing-Stay Alert

Or the one I observed this past weekend in Vermont.

Wildlife Crossing-Stay Alert

It’s like they (the sign makers) just sighed, gave up and lumped all the animals together. Lazy scuts.

Back to my point. For all of these roadside warnings it is very rare to see a moose.

Deer? Yes.

Bear? Maybe.

Moose? Nah.

They exist, for sure, but no one actually ever sees one.

Enough with the warnings already.

So when my daughter and her college friends go exploring it’s called, “Moose Hunting.”

Sort of like rambling.

Whoever is in the passenger seat will give directions. Knowing they won’t see a moose but keeping hope alive.

“Go left.”

“Go Straight.”

“Go right.”

In the end they will arrive at some random town/destination. It’s just a fun way to get out and explore.

On this day in Florida, my daughter was in the passenger seat as we we left the citrus farm.

She said, “Take a right.”

And then another right.

My brother follows her directions. Drives a bit.

There is a cemetery on the left hand side. He slows the car.

He says to me, “Because I know how you like cemeteries and history.”

What he actually thought was probably more along these lines, “As good a place as any to stop for a smoke.” 🙂

Looked like a nicely maintained cemetery. We drive in and pull to the side. Lots of trees dripping with Spanish Moss.

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We get out and stretch our legs. Have a look around the area.

There is a big tree with things on it. Signs that say “Truth” and “Respect.” Another one says something like, “Thief or SOB. Think before you steal from the dead.”

I’m not sure what all is going on with that tree.

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To the right of this tree is another one. This also has something posted. Looks like a “Reward” sign is nailed to it. We get a little closer to see what exactly it is.

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Oh my goodness. It is the unsolved murder of a young boy. His grave is behind the tree where the “Reward” notice hangs. His name was John Welles and he was killed in July of 2003.

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This town appears to be very small. Seemed like a few surnames dominated the cemetery. Probably the founding families of the town. Welles was one of the names.

It is always sad when a young person is taken too soon. But horrific when it is an act of violence. This poor family never having the opportunity for any type of closure. No one ever being held accountable for taking the life of their child. Someone getting away with murder. Sixteen long years for his loved ones.

We looked around the rest of the cemetery on our way out of there. Confederate flags provided a pop of color on some of the older graves.

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Took a last look and we were back on the road.

Now we were very curious to know more about what happened to poor John. Surely, there would be tons and tons of information on such a case. The killing of a young white boy from a small Southern town, descended from settlers, would most definitely be plastered all over the news. I imagined reading about on-going campaigns to reopen the case, reward offerings, articles, etc.

So, after dinner, we put Google to work. What we found was next to nothing. His obituary and one article from a “Most Wanted” type of site. Quoting his mom. That’s about it. Very, very strange.

His mother, after the murder, posted more than 350 notices on billboards in three counties asking people if they had tips to contact police. Apparently, it didn’t help at all.

John’s obituary here.

His mother’s plea here.

Seemed that John arrived home from Walmart that Sunday morning at 11:30am. Within five hours he was found dead in a creek near his house. It was originally thought to be a drowning but an autopsy showed that he was shot in the eye first and then put in the water.

How does something like this happen in a small town on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of summer? No one sees anything? No one knows anything? Why does there not appear to be any interest in solving the case?

So bizarre.

I did come across another article about a young man who was also found dead in the creek. About the same age as John. Found that to be a bit curious.

It is my sincere hope that one day John’s family will finally receive the answers and justice they truly deserve. That one day they can finally take down the sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This past summer I was driving to my friend’s home in Rhode Island with my two daughters. It’s a lovely area near the beaches. Tree lined roads winding by horses grazing, babbling brooks and placid ponds. Gorgeous old, clapboard homes on green acres dot the landscape.

My eldest, who is twenty five, says, “This area is so beautiful. Not like the usual creepy New England towns.”

I exclaim, “What?? Creepy like how? A van with no windows is creepy. But not New England!”

Later on, while we are soaking up the sun on a fabulous beach, same daughter proceeds to tell my friend that ever since she was a little kid I’ve told her probably every single ghost story or mystery that took place in our part of New England.

Okay, when you put it like that. I sound like a monster.

It’s true. I might have pointed out a haunted house or two.

The Westport house where folks claimed a ghost resided.  One of the occupants fell asleep in a rocking chair and woke up with a haircut.

I probably mentioned the ghost of the red-headed hitchhiker on Interstate 195.

Most likely gave the background of the childhood rhyme about Lizzie Borden. I did take my youngest (seventeen at the time) to Lizzie’s house last year where the gruesome crimes took place.

I may have pointed out the lovely house that sits at the bottom of Metacomet golf course in my home town. Shared that murders were never a thing while I was growing up but a few years before I was born an elderly widow had been murdered in that very home during a robbery.

Could have mentioned the still unsolved mystery of the “New Bedford Highway Killer.” Eleven prostitutes went missing. Nine were found strangled and dumped in the woods. And that it was very possible a local attorney was the killer and actually indicted at one time. He moved to Florida in 1988 and there were no more murders on that stretch of highway since then.

Yes, I might have shared a story or two.

Dear Norah,

I’m very sorry and hope that you realize it’s not New England that’s creepy. Stuff happens everywhere.

It’s just your Mom who is creepy.

Hope I didn’t do too much damage. I’m just thankful that I spent a lot of quality, non-creepy time with you when you were young.

I absolutely loved cuddling up with you at bedtime every evening while reading you many, many wonderful fairy tales. As you peacefully drifted off to sleep.

Like Snow White and her killer stepmother. The orphaned Bambi who yearns for his murdered mother. Three little pigs trying to protect themselves from the wolf who wants to destroy their home. Hansel and Gretel’s great escape from the witch who attempted to burn them alive in an oven. And so many others.

I pray that, in some small way, it makes up for the ghost stories.

Love,

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

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