The case that keeps me awake
Let's see I have been doing this for thirteen years now, and this is still the only case that still keeps me up at night.
I’m a private investigator. I’m usually sitting behind my steering wheel, taking photos of a cheating spouse, or interviewing a witness to a robbery. It's not too often that a missing person comes across my desk. But when they do, it’s usually because they’ve been gone for a very long time.
This wasn’t the case with the Beckett family. Seven year old Hannah Beckett had gone missing three days ago, apparently snatched right from her bedroom one night. No signs of a forced entry, no signs of a struggle. Neighbors didn’t see or hear a thing. Neither did the parents, Gavin and Traci. I was hired by Hannah’s grandmother, she wanted all the help she could get to bring her granddaughter home.
Mr. Beckett showed me her room.
Very typical for a girl her age, lots of pink, lots of rainbows. I walked around slowly, looking for anything that could give me an idea of what happened.
“The police have been through here a hundred times” Mr. Beckett said. I could hear the weight of the situation in his voice. His wife stood next to him in the doorway, hands covering her face as she silently wept. “They haven’t found a damn thing”
“I’m sorry Mr. Beckett” I replied. I truly was, I don’t have any children, but I couldn’t even fathom what this would feel like.
Thunder rolled outside. A storm was approaching.
I started my investigation.
Where did you go, little one? I thought to myself.
I wasn’t looking for any ordinary clues at this point, the police had already done that and came up short. No, I had to think outside the box if there was any hope of finding this girl.
There was a pile of stuffed animals stacked on a little desk in the corner of the room. I walked over and picked up a small red dog. Its black, plastic eyes looked at me with a cold stare.
I had just set the toy back down when I immediately pulled my hand back.
Hidden behind a pink giraffe and a purple hippo was the most hideous, disturbing looking doll I had ever seen.
It was large and porcelain, in the image of a small girl. It wore a dirty white dress, and black shoes with gold buckles.
On its face, the mouth was twisted up into a demented sneer.
“Jesus,” I whispered.
I reached down and gingerly picked the doll up. Its brassy blonde hair fell back behind it, and its hollow eyes remained fixated on some point behind my head.
“Mr. Beckett, did you get this doll for Hannah?” I asked, before turning around.
He was gone.
“Mr. Beckett?” I said again, a little louder this time.
A sharp pain ripped through my hand holding the doll, as if my finger had been bent back. I dropped the doll and grabbed my hand. Its face smiled up at me, looking as if it knew something that I didn’t.
I left the doll on the floor and walked out into the hallway. The lights were off. I couldn’t remember if they had been off when I first entered the room, but I doubted it.
“Mr. Beckett?.... Gavin?” I called out into the house. There was no answer. I walked back downstairs and into the living room.
“Mrs. Beckett?” Nobody was answering. I looked through the front window, their cars were still sitting in the driveway.
I made my way into the kitchen. Nobody there. I didn’t want to stay in their house if they were gone, but could I just leave?
A floorboard creaked overhead, and a girl’s voice called out.
My eyes widened. Hannah? Was this really her? Had she returned home? How? Who had taken her? Had she just ran away?
“Hannah” I called back, quickly making my way back into the living room. “My name is Chris, your mommy and daddy asked me to help look - “ there was no one there. I was talking to an empty room. She was just here, I heard her, clear as a bell.
“Hannah!” I called out. I ran up the stairs. “Hannah its OK sweetie I’m here to help, you’re not in any trouble”
Poor kid was probably scared out of her mind. Coming home to find some strange man in her house.
“Hannah, it's OK, I’m a private investigator, it's sort of like a policeman” I called out through the upstairs hallway. I checked every room, still calling her name. I was on my knees, looking underneath the bed in what I presumed to be the guest bedroom when I heard another sound, coming from above my head.
The attic! She must've gotten spooked and ran up there to hide.
I ran out into the hallway, and found the attic ladder coming down through a small square in the ceiling. Those steps weren’t there when I came up earlier, but that was because she had snuck past me when I was searching the rooms and gotten up there.
“Hang on Hannah, it's OK! I'm not gonna hurt you! I’m here to help!” I shouted as I started climbing up the ladder into the attic.
I wish I had asked myself at that moment, how in the world a seven year old would have reached the string on the ceiling to pull down the ladder. There was no step stool, no boxes, nothing in the hallway for her to climb up.
I also wish I had noticed in my hasty search, that the creepy doll I had dropped to the floor was no longer there.
“It’s OK sweetie, it's OK. Just hang tight”
I pulled myself all the way up through the attic floor and stood up. It was too dark to see anything. I pulled my cell phone out of my back pocket and turned on the flashlight.
It took a few moments of my eyes adjusting before I noticed the pentagram I was standing in the middle of.
At that same moment, someone grabbed me around my arms from behind. I dropped my phone, the flashlight beaming straight up in front of me.
That’s when I heard a vicious snarl and saw Traci Beckett lunging at me with a hammer. Her face was illuminated from underneath, giving her face a demonic appearance. I managed to move just in time, dropping my knees and moving my head to the side.
There was a short grunt behind me as the person who I now realized to be Gavin took a glancing blow of the hammer. His grip on me never loosened though. I lifted both of my arms up, getting a little space between us and moved my hips sideways. Stepping my leg behind his, I straightened out my leg and rolled back, bringing him with me to the floor.
I quickly rolled over on him and punched him hard across the face. He cried out in pain. That’s when I felt the bottom of a shoe connect with my chest. I fell backwards off of Gavin. His wife, meanwhile, was raining down blows on me with her fists. I held my arms up in front of my face. Where was the hammer?!
Gavin was standing by my feet now, answering my question. He was holding the hammer in his right hand as he lifted his leg up to stomp on me. I stuck my foot up right underneath his foot and pushed. He went crashing down the hole in the floor, falling down the ladder to the hallway below.
On his way down, his leg had hooked on to Traci, taking her with him. I scrambled up to my feet, bending down long enough to pick up my phone and call 911.
I pulled the attic ladder up so they couldn’t get back in, although I was pretty sure at this point that they were unconscious. As I waited for the police to show up, I looked around, the only light in this pitch black attic coming from my flashlight.
There was some sort of altar at the far end of the room. There was a ram’s head carved out of wood at the center, and a small table with candles and a chalice laid out in front of it.
Next to that laying on the table was a doll, just like the one I found in Hannah’s room. No, not LIKE that doll, this was that doll.
The cops showed up a few minutes later. Gavin and Traci Beckett were handcuffed and put in the back of a squad car. I told the officer in charge what had happened.
I came to find out weeks later, through a friend on the force, that the Beckett’s were satanists. Devil worshippers, in other words. Although Hannah Beckett still hasn’t been found as of writing this, it is presumed that Mr. and Mrs. Beckett used her as some sort of sacrifice during one of their rituals.
While Hannah Beckett’s disappearance can be explained, there is one that can not be.
That of the doll.
It’s been missing since that night.