Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Three: Case File No. 44-148
AMBER LOVE 16-MAR-2020 Find out how all this began. Catch up on Year One and previous Year Two cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. We are in the final stretch of YEAR THREE still because we started cataloging our criminal investigations in the spring.
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A story of intimate partner abuse, gaslighting, harassment, and attempted murder:
Where We Left Off:
Gus and Oliver have been busy ridding the interiors of trespassers — usually it’s around 3am though.
We’ve discussed many of our investigations into the Jersey Devil and its more commonly seen hybrid, the Jersey devil-deer. February 22, 2020 was a stunning day in New Jersey and Gus was never going to settle for less than hour outside exploring what he considers his turf. Oliver Winchester opted to stay on his personal observation deck. Alfredo Pesosvalor, Gus, and I headed out with our small load of daily exploration gear; and about every twenty minutes, the butler would head back to check on Oliver to see if he needed to go back inside.
I expected Gus to enjoy a couple hours because it was incredibly perfect outside — sweatshirt weather with bright skies. Instead, Gus pushed us to our limits and it was three hours. That last hour was when the two of us lost sight of Gus weaving through the spaces off the trails. We would be watching him, but then he would go through thick patches of thorn bushes. We’d alternate who used the small pruning shears to cut back the neglected parts of the higher trails. After a few seconds, Gus would then be out of sight.
Eventually, Oliver did want to go back inside when the butler checked on him. Honestly, I’m not sure how this butler enjoys any of the nature and investigations when he stares at his phone the whole time. I think Oliver must have ordered him to create an app that helps research our evidence or maybe botanical identification. Otherwise, I don’t know what is so interesting on his phone when Gus and I are busy looking for clues.
When we reached the main cottage near the top of the mountain, Gus was able to get the attention he wanted from his butler. Enjoy this part of the cuteness before we dive into the gruesome bits.
Trying to lead Gus away from areas I did not feel like exploring (the parts with steeper inclines and bigger obstacles and no trails), eventually ended with us separated again. He does not seem to respond to his new clicker even though I worked with it giving him treats inside as practice. While worked my way through tangles and around branches, I tried to keep my eyes on Gus.
At one point, he was playing on the large trees that fell down years ago. It’s also one of the spots where I’ve fallen — its was the worst of my falls to be honest. I still like getting up there and climbing, but there’s a noticeable difference in how much the wood has aged and deteriorated since that fall. Gus was even unsure how to get to the higher branches this time which isn’t like him. While I was up there, I spotted something metallic in the distance. I got out the binoculars and could see that there seemed to be something aluminum, but I couldn’t tell what it was. He got down and away from me so I navigated towards the shiny object. Eventually I got close enough to see it was a broken lawn chair, but I couldn’t reach it to take it back for proper disposal. I was disappointed, but had to find the boy since I had no idea where he was by then.
The butler went a different way — both of us zig-zagging from the trails through the rough patches and all around. I went to the Overlook off the Boulevard Trail and hoped Gus was not exploring through backyards. That’s the site where two hellhounds came out and scared the crap out of us. As I circled back up the inclines towards the cottage, the butler ended up where I had been. He went through the brush between the Overlook and the Second Trail though. I had only glanced through there. He made an incredible discovery!
I could not believe I missed this. My eyes had looked right through that spot. He sent me a photo. We kept waiting on Gus, who I eventually found on a fallen tree but was cleverly hidden by the upturned roots. I stood there in the midst of thorns talking to him, but he was focused on hunting something deemed more important than whatever the butler found. Thirty minutes later, I finally got to hook Gus to his leash back on the trail.
He was vehemently against me leading him. All he wanted to do was run and climb trees. I was able to redirect him each time, but I felt so guilty! When we arrived at the primary scene, there was the gorgeous (or at least in one time of its life, it had been gorgeous) remains of a horned animal. At first glance, anyone would assume it was a white-tailed buck. Being investigators of the wild, we knew it would take more to come to an identification. I took a couple photos and we raced back to the house. We were exhausted and hungry and couldn’t wait to tell the others the news.
The primary scene included the carcass which was mostly the skeleton. It was pristine and intact. There was almost no soft tissue left on it except for some on the head and the front legs. The spine, skull, pelvis, and three legs were still together.
The secondary scene was only a few feet away. It was a sprawling area over a square meter of loose hair. We found smaller scenes like this higher up the mountain. But the way the body was facing, it appeared to be traveling up from the street not down from the top. Is it possible that a large scavenger or pack of scavengers turned this entire body around? I suppose so. The last significant remains we found were scattered all over the mountain.
Relocating to a more appropriate body farm site:
The next day, The Grumpy Old Man and I went out alone without Gus (boy, was he furious!!) to relocate the body. GOM was not happy with this request either but for other reasons. We got the wheelbarrow, donned gloves, and made it to the site. I didn’t think it would weigh much since it 95% bones. I was right. It was lightweight, but still awkward and stinky. At this point, my usual Super Smeller was not kicking in and for that I’m grateful. The old man was getting sick from the stench. We retrieved the few body parts that were no longer attached and rearranged to get everything to fit as best as possible into the wheelbarrow. I needed him to push it over the tree roots and back to the trail. We stopped at his workshop so I could pick up chicken wire and snips.
“Oh jeez! It’s dripping! There’s blood on my shoes. Blood on my shoes!”
Readers, it was only a few little drops that landed on his shoes, but it was super gross dripping from the nose of the beast.
“On my driveway! There’s a puddle of blood in my driveway!”
I had to think of something fast. “Don’t worry, the butler’s mother can use it ward off evil spirits around the house… or something.” I said voodoo because I don’t expect the GOM to know what Santeria or Palo Mayombe is.
Nonetheless, blood freely given to him by nature! We had nothing to do with harming the creature. He thinks it was hunted and never found by the hunter. I didn’t see any arrow around the primary scene. It’s possible I missed it. I guess it’s possible a bird could have carried that away with some of the meat.
I thought it was hit by a vehicle and ran up the mountain hoping to heal but ended up dying. I also wanted the proper cycles of nature to take care of themselves feeding on the carcass until it was only bones which I could then keep for the detective agency as reference. In order to do that, I took the body in the wheelbarrow through our yard down another trail that was closer to our place. We decided on a spot that’s far enough from one of Gus’ favorite areas, The Pit and the logs around it, and I lowered the body to the ground. Once carefully arranged, we placed the chicken wire over top of it so that birds could still reach through and critters, bugs, and such could get under, but the skeleton wouldn’t be totally dismantled and scattered.
Back at the end of our first year of investigating (Case File No. 51), we presented the hypothesis that a hybrid devil-deer may or may not have the distinguishable wings of a Jersey demon. It’s like whether rabbits have long ears or short ears; or the Manx and Japanese Bobtail cats without tails. Not to mention some birds have wings and they don’t fly. We know so little about the physiology of these demons that it’s hard to be definitive sometimes.
For weeks afterward, Gus would only go as far as The Pit and wouldn’t venture to the carcass. I had to keep checking on it. I’m not sure if birds have broken off some of the ribs or if it was like that when we discovered the body. There wasn’t any meat on the ribs, so I don’t see why they would want those parts. There’s very little bit on the face and legs, but it’s mostly skin and fur. The rest looks like gnawed up bones as you would expect.
The smell has dissipated somewhat, but when I try to take a close look, there’s no mistaking the odor of rotting death.
We believe we have found a Jersey devil-deer hybrid corpse. Male. Age determination can be difficult because it depends on nutritional intake. Victim presents with one-point antlers on each side. We’re leaving the case open until we can get a full inspection of the bones. I still haven’t found wounds of hunters. I think this was a vehicle manslaughter where bones were broken. More analysis to come when possible.
I took some photos of the decomposition progress after we relocated the victim.