As soon as I got to work the next morning, I opened what I call the cheat sheet. Spending days, weeks and sometimes months trying to get information was now available with a quick search on Google.
As much as I hated the fact that the internet was responsible for the slow painful demise of newspapers, I admit that I unashamedly took advantage of the vast knowledge attainable on the world-wide web. Type in a name, click enter and a person’s entire life was laid bare for the whole world to see.
Somehow I knew this curmudgeonly man had a story. Maybe it was reporter’s intuition. Maybe it was just curiosity. Maybe it was because he looked so out of place at The Bar. Or maybe it was because he looked like a tortured soul.
I typed “Nick Fuller” into the search bar. I sat back in my chair and whispered “wow.” I wasn’t prepared for what the search revealed.
“Nick Fuller Tapped To Head Task Force In The Crucifix 8 Murders.”
“Nick Fuller, a 38 year veteran of the Crime Division, aka The Promise Keeper, vows to capture the Crucifix 8 murderer.”
In an interview with the local news outlets, Nick said “this is my solemn promise to all of you who have lost a loved one to this odious, demonic murderer. I will catch him and I will bring him to justice.”
Further links provided little more information. Most of the records had been redacted or sealed. This was more than likely due to the hideousness of the crimes, the ages of the victims and sensitivity to the relatives.
I printed out the information and took it to my editor, Karen Shoemaker. She was quite a curmudgeon herself and had no time for what she called infantile bullshit. She looked at it and said “oh, yeah. I remember this. If I recall, the lead detective was sort of a dick and was absolutely unforthcoming with any information, which made it difficult for us to report anything of consequence.”
I told her I wanted to do a story about it. Her reply was “this story has been done to death and it’s not really news anymore.” I told her that I understood, but further pleaded my case. “I met this Nick Fuller guy and if I can get him to talk, I think his side of the story might be worth telling. I could interview him, get his story and then use a pseudonym.”
Karen said “you think he wouldn’t recognize himself? No. That would leave the newspaper vulnerable to a lawsuit and you know that but if you can get his consent, which I doubt, write a rough draft of where you’re going with it and I’ll take a look.”
I went to the archives and started as they say, digging. The only thing that was revealed in the search was that the murderer carved a cross into the chest of his victims, hence the crucifix murders. There had been 8 victims, all girls and their ages ranged from 13 to 17.
One reporter had likened the murders to the Boston Strangler in that desperate appeals to remain behind locked doors were ignored. Like Albert DeSalvo, the Crucifix 8 murderer always seemed to gain entrance into homes.
The idea that these girls perhaps knew their assailant wasn’t lost on me or any other reporter who covered the now defunct case and left us asking “how else could he have gained access to the girls? They had to have known him.”
Young girls are impressionable and unfortunately in my estimation, far too trusting. The old “can you help me find my lost puppy” had been used by killers for years. The love of warm and fuzzy critters is and has always been an excellent way to win the hearts of innocent children.
Bruises on each girl’s face revealed that the murderer held his hand over their nose and mouth until they stopped breathing. The reasoning behind the cross was never determined although it was speculated that it might be symbolic of a cult.
Investigators never found a shred of evidence that could point to even a casual suspect. No DNA, no hair, no blood, no fingerprints, no epithelials, no errant clothing fibers…nothing. No common factors such as a family friend or a common acquaintance could be tied to any of the victims. There was just the old “nothing, nada, zip, the big zero, what the little boy shot at in the dark” response when it came to the case.
The names of the victims were withheld as I said, because they were minors and numbers were used instead. I understood but looking at “victim #I, victim #II” and so on, seemed to somehow diminish them. These little girls belonged to someone. They had lives that were cut short by a monster and now they were nothing more than a case with Roman Numerals as identification.
As I flipped through the sparse records, something caught my eye. There were files labeled from #I through #VII. Where was #VIII? Had the file been misplaced? Had the entire record been expunged? Answers, I believed, could and hopefully would come from Nick.
Armed with as much information as I could get, which wasn’t much, I set off for what I hoped might just be the interview of my life.
To be continued____________