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Women Who Stay, 4

The Timelines

By Suze KayPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read
15

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3

________

In exchange for the unvarnished truth, I signed an NDA set to expire upon Janie's death.

Don't worry, it won't be too long, she explained in a follow-up email. Mere months, I expect. How she knew, she refused to elaborate. I hadn't seen any telltale signs of terminal illness during our first meeting -- her eyes were clear, her hands stable, her breathing even. But she insisted time was of the essence, and we set our first interview for the day after the contract was signed.

The night before, I returned to the web. I built two timelines. The first detailed the life of Antonio Robichaud, of whom much was known. I learned every job he ever held -- from bag boy at a Dale's supermarket, to research assistant for a Business Management professor at Rutgers, to paper pusher at the New Jersey Bureau of Housing Inspection. In the end, he was the proprietor of a small chain of thrift stores. I had access to his medical records, detailing a series of institutionalizations for major depressive episodes early in their marriage. I knew where he drank and who he drank with. I knew who liked him and who he gave the creeps.

I had a map of the Garden State Parkway, marked with locations of six bodies attributed to the "Hitchhike Hangman" -- generally believed to be Antonio during his years spent crisscrossing the state with the Bureau. I had evidence records for the fragmented skeletal remains of 15 men discovered on his 17-acre property, Hollow Hill Farm. In 1996, shortly after the execution of a search warrant on the Farm, he fled upstate and shot himself in a public park. In place of transcripts for a trial that never happened, I read his rambling suicide note. He confessed to nothing but mismanagement of his business.

And alongside it all was Janie, a shadow on his pages. Her timeline was sparse and simple. In 1950, Janet Slewell was born. In 1971, she became Janie Robichaud. She bore three children -- Jacob in 1974, Annabelle in 1980, and Gordon bringing up the rear in 1992. She filed for divorce in 1990 and 1994, but neither were finalized. She denied police access to the Farm twice, in 1993 and 1994. Finally, in 1996, she marched into her local Police Department and voluntarily gave them probable cause to search the property.

In that interview, she confessed to a single red flag: a human skull, discovered by Annabelle in the brush behind their patio some five years prior. Brought, screaming, to the kitchen. Raising questions.

"Why didn't you report it then?" asked Detective Stern.

"He said it was from an old anatomical skeleton he didn't care to sell. So he just threw it out back for the critters to dispose of."

"And you believed him?"

"Of course," she said. "He always left his trash on the lawn. We had a terrible problem with the wildlife."

She'd thought no more of it. She continued the marriage she described as "normal," in the single interview she gave, a puff piece in the Bergen County Gazette.

But lurid articles about Antonio's lifestyle showed a hundred holes in that story. Their decision to divide the management of their thrift stores in 1989, his and hers. The frequency with which she took the children on weekends away. The junk with which he filled their mansion to the brim. The long nights he spent drinking in gay bars. The videotapes. The burned bones. The bloody pool.

None of that seemed normal to me.

________

Read on to Chapter 5

CliffhangerTrue CrimeFiction
15

About the Creator

Suze Kay

Pastry chef by day, insomniac writer by night.

Find here: stories that creep up on you, poems to stumble over, and the weird words I hold them in.

Or, let me catch you at www.suzekay.com

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (8)

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  • Belle2 months ago

    On our toes with each chapter!

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    This has taken a macabre turn.

  • Oh the suspense is increasing, I feel. So much mystery in this guy's actions! I wonder why she refused to tell more in the police interview. Let's see the next part.

  • John Cox2 months ago

    Wonderful narrative development. Looks like your setting the stage for a real pot-boiler!

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    Oh, now we are getting to the good stuff...the rawness of the story.

  • I must go back and read the other chapters. You did a great job setting up the storyline and keeping it interesting. Great work!

  • Oooo, & the bloody pool of a plot thickens! Loving this, Suze.

  • Kenny Penn2 months ago

    Yas! Love it! The increasing suspense in every chapter is killing me!

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