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The Curse of Sachse

by Joey Lowe 11 months ago in fact or fiction

What's one more death if it's only murder?

Detailed images of the coins may be found at www.mynumi.net

The Call

"Euless...210" rang out the radio. I was a rookie officer riding with my field training officer during the 3rd week of training. Jay, my FTO, glanced over at me and said, "If you make dispatch call us again, you're buying lunch." I quickly picked up the hint and the microphone and responded, "210, go ahead". "Euless...210, copy possible signal 18 at the residence of Dr. Zeus Sachse. Complainant will meet you at the intersection of North Main and W. Ash." I acknowledged the call with a 10-4 and began looking up what a signal 18 was.

Jay glanced over at me again and said don't bother. Signal 18 is a dead body. I'll handle the lead on this call since you've not done this before. When we get there, you're to do exactly what I say with no questions. Understand? I nodded in agreement. Jay turned the old Chevy Caprice onto N. Main and proceeded to W. Ash. Euless is a quaint residential suburb that borders the west side of Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. It's considered one of three mid-cities that make up the twelve miles between Dallas and Fort Worth. The cities of Hurst and Bedford are the other two cities. W. Ash Lane is one of the oldest streets in the area that runs all the way from Dallas to Fort Worth. Many of the older homes along W. Ash resemble farm homes and have large lots. As the cities grew, newer homes and businesses replaced those homes along the frontage however a few, like Dr. Sachse, refused to sell.

Jay turned the cruiser off of N. Main and onto W. Ash and pulled over into a parking lot. A man was standing beside a small blue sedan waving at us. We pulled up beside the man who walked over to Jay and leaned into the cruiser. "Hi, My name is Allen Sachse. I think my grandpa is dead in his bathroom. I just got home and found him on the floor so I left and called the police." Allen didn't appear to be upset. Jay asked, "Where's the house at? Can you take us there?" Allen turned and pointed across the street to a small unobtrusive asphalt driveway with a black iron gate nestled between two businesses. There was a residential mailbox at the end of the driveway and it appeared to be overflowing with mail. Allen returned to his car and as Jay backed out of the parking spot, he looked over at me and said, "What a way to start a Sunday morning shift."

By Manny Pacheco on Unsplash

We followed Allen onto the asphalt drive and waited while he used a keypad to open the iron gate. I was amazed that in all the hustle and bustle of the mid-cities, a house like this could still exist in what is essentially downtown. The driveway was long and dark even in the middle of the day. Large sprawling pin and white oaks had spread their limbs across the driveway to form a canopy that kept even the brightest of sunlight out. Although this was early December and the weather was already cold, I swear the temperature must have dropped another 10° as we neared the house.

Jay pulled right up to the entry door, then backed our cruiser away and onto the yard. He told me that if indeed there was a dead body inside, there would soon be detectives, paramedics, and the medical examiner here and they would need room to park their cars too. Allen motioned us inside and when we entered the house, I smelled a very old, stale odor like the smell of a house that had been closed up for a long time. When we entered the house, Jay motioned for me to stay by the entrance. I could tell by his demeanor he really meant no one in and no one out unless he said so.

By Polina Portnaya on Unsplash

Jay was an old-school lawman. He stood about 6'4" and weighed about 220lbs. He had blonde hair and cold steel-blue eyes. Jay came from a family of lawmen going all the way back to Stephen Austin and the original Texas Rangers. Jay had worked as a deputy sheriff, sheriff, deputy marshall, and a Texas Ranger. In his retirement, he had decided to work with the local police departments to train us rookies and as luck would have it, I drew him as my FTO. Nothing got by Jay.

Allen wandered over to the bar leaving Jay standing alone in the family room with me at the front door. Before Allen could reach for a glass, Jay told him don't touch anything. "Allen, why don't you come over here and have a seat while I look around." Jay had that demeanor about him that made folks want to do what he said whether they wanted to do it or not. Allen immediately sat down and began to wring his hands as if he didn't know what to do with himself. Jay asked, "Where's the bathroom that your grandfather is in?" Allen pointed down a hallway and said, "That's his bedroom. His bathroom adjoins his room to the left." Jay looked at me, then looked at Allen and turned, and walked down the hallway.

Stepping down the hallway, Jay looked at the many pictures hanging on the wall. It was like walking through a museum. There were lots of pictures. Many of them were of people that Jay didn't know, but there were others that Jay recognized immediately. There were photos of Presidents, Texas Governors, and many awards and framed letters dating all the way back to the early 1800s. It didn't take an astute detective to figure out the Sachses' that live here were the famous Sachses that are well-known throughout Texas.

Jay opened the bedroom door and smelled death. It was a familiar odor, one that he wished he could forget. Jay stood at the door for several minutes surveying the room. He took note of the bed, the bedside window, and the way personal belongings were laid about. Jay stepped into the bedroom and walked toward the partially opened bathroom door. Before he reached the door, he could see an outstretched leg on the floor. Jay could see the body of Zeus Saches sitting on the floor between the tub and the bathroom door by looking at the bathroom mirror. His body blocked the door from being opened all the way.

At first glance, it appeared that Dr. Zeus Saches had committed suicide by hanging himself. He was still in his pajamas and he wore his slippers and his robe. Zeus had tied one end of his robe belt around his neck and the other end around the top hinge of the bathroom door. Then he leaned against the door and slid his feet out from underneath himself. Jay noticed he had been dead for some time because Zeus' neck had elongated roughly 18" due to the weight of his body. Before leaving the room, Jay noticed that Zeus' medication and water were still resting on the bathroom sink.

By Ahmed Adly on Unsplash

Jay stepped outside to the cruiser and radioed the stationhouse that there indeed was a Signal 18 and to send a crime scene team and notify the Medical Examiner. A few minutes later, the radio announced the Chief and CID were also en route. Jay opened the front door to the house and walked past me again and stopped in front of Allen who was still seated on the couch. "Allen, in a few minutes, there's going to be a lot of people here. They will conduct a thorough investigation and before they leave, they will have enough evidence to prove that your grandfather was murdered. You can save us all a lot of time and effort if you explain your involvement now."

Allen attempted to stand but Jay motioned for him to stay seated. In that brief moment, two things happened. Jay caught a strong whiff of alcohol on Allen's breath and he noticed that Allen made a cutting look toward a cabinet beside the television in the family room. Allen responded, "I, I, had nothing to do with my grandfather's death and I resent the allegation that I do. When I arrived home and went to check on him, I found him hanging in the bathroom. I figured he committed suicide." Jay replied, "Ok, that makes sense. Just have a seat until everyone gets here."

There was a lot of noise outside and Jay glanced at me to check to see if our people were arriving. I opened the door to find a crime scene van and several CID cars pulling into the driveway. Just like Jay had said earlier, they took up the entire driveway, and if we had left our car parked in front, we would have been blocked in until they finished their investigation. Soon the house was filled with crime scene investigators, detectives, and the Chief.

"Jay, come here a second. I understand you were the first officer on the scene.", said the Chief. Jay nodded and pointed at me. "I figured he needed the experience.", replied Jay. "Hmmph, I understand. What do you think, murder or suicide?" Jay paused for a second and said, "Look Bob, there's no doubt it's murder. I also think we have our killer sitting over there on the couch. All we are missing is a motive." Everyone glanced over at Allen who was now resting his head on his hands with his elbows propped on his knees. Every so often Allen would weep loudly. The Chief turned to Danny, the CID Lieutenant, and said, "By the book Danny. Follow the investigation wherever it takes us. By the book."

The Medical Examiner arrived and everyone left Zeus's bedroom. A few minutes later, the M. E. called out "Danny, you got a minute?" Danny looked over at Jay and they both walked to the bathroom where the body lay. Charles Hinojosa had been the M. E. for 45 years. Not much squeaked by him if it involved a dead body. Charles pointed at the body and asked if anyone had disturbed the body. Jay replied "Not since I arrived on the scene doc. Why?" "Well, I can tell you he's dead. He died of suffocation. But he did not die from hanging himself from that hinge. Someone used the robe belt to strangle him right here in the bathroom. Then they staged the hanging.", explained George. Danny and Jay nodded in unison and started to step back outside when George said, "there's something else too."

Danny and Jay stopped and turned to face George who was now leaning over the body. He reached down and moved Zeus' robe and pajama shirt away from his shoulders. There on both shoulders, clear as day, were two bruises in the shape of handprints. It appeared that someone had hanged Zeus from the hinge, then pressed down on his shoulders to make sure he was dead. Danny said, "Why does nothing ever surprise me in this job anymore?" Jay shook his head in agreement. George said, "I'll be taking the body with me now unless you need it for something else." Danny couldn't think of any valid reason, so George and his team began packing up Dr. Zeus Saches for his trip to the morgue.

Jay and Danny walked over to where Allen was seated and Danny sat down right beside him. I noticed he sat really close to Allen so they were touching legs and shoulders, uncomfortably close. Danny reached over and placed his big meaty hand on Allen's thigh and gave it a squeeze. "So Allen, I am Detective Lt. Danny O'Neil and I'm in charge of the murder investigation of your grandfather. Is there anything you want to tell me that you believe will help me catch who did this?"

Allen sat there very quietly before he started to cry. At first, it was just a few tears followed soon by uncontrollable whining and bawling. Through the entire episode, Danny sat there while Jay stood off to one side observing. When he finished with the worst of it and sat there sniveling, Danny asked him if he was well enough so they could continue their interview. Allen nodded. Danny said, "Allen, we know that your grandfather didn't commit suicide. We also know that someone strangled your grandfather, then staged the scene to look like a suicide. We've discovered that someone tied the robe belt around his neck, then tied the other end to the top hinge of the door, then pressed hard on his shoulders leaving their handprints as bruise marks on his shoulders. What we don't know is why?"

By Wesley Pacífico on Unsplash

We had been here now for close to 4 hours. I was still standing guard by the front door. Jay glanced over at me and motioned for me to grab a chair and come sit with him and Danny. I pulled up a chair so that I was seated to the left of Jay, directly across from Allen and diagonal to Danny. In this position, I could still see who came and went from the front door. Allen had not provided much in the way of helpful information. His story had changed several times and it was beginning to look like he was hiding information that would incriminate him. Danny was growing impatient and was ready to arrest Allen and continue the interview later at the police station.

Jay stood up and walked over to the hallway and pointed at several pictures. He said, "Allen, it looks to me like your family has some pretty powerful history. The pictures show your family with famous people going all the way back to before Texas was a state." Allen's face lit up. He replied, "Yes sir. My family even has a town named after us, Sachse, Texas." Jay nodded and smiled, "with a famous family, I imagine ya'll have made a lot of enemies too. Any idea who might want to see your grandfather dead?"

Allen paused for a while and then said, "If you're talking about the Sachse family curse, I don't believe in that nonsense." "What family curse, Allen?", Danny replied. Allen said "I thought everybody knew about the Sachse curse. It all began during the Texan Revolution. Texas was running low on funds and one of the great grandfathers traveled to Europe to solicit help from some of the wealthy families." Allen continued, "While there, he wasn't having much success until he met a wealthy Prussian heiress. Family legend tells that he made impossible promises to this heiress and in return for loans, he would return at the end of the revolution to marry this heiress." Danny said, "Let me guess, he never returned and kept the money?" Allen continued, "Not actually. He took the loans and at the end of the revolution, he did return to fulfill his promise. However, upon his return, he learned the heiress had married another. In a rage, he killed her and took the remaining money and treasure she had secreted away in her castle." Allen added, "on his deathbed, he confessed his crimes and put a curse on the Sachse family that all male heirs to the family wealth would die a violent death unless they returned the stolen treasure to its rightful owners."

Danny said, "you really want us to believe that some curse killed your grandfather?" Allen shrugged and said to Jay, "every single one of the men in those photographs was heir to the Sachse treasure. Every single one of them died a violent death." Jay replied, "so who stands to inherit the treasure now that your grandfather has died?" Allen hung his head again and said in a pitiful voice, "me." Danny stood up and said, "well I've had enough of all this for one afternoon. Mr. Allen Sachse, I'm placing you under arrest for the murder of your grandfather, Dr. Zeus Sachse."

I escorted Allen to my cruiser and placed him in the backseat. Then I leaned against the trunk and waited on Jay and Danny to meet me at the car. A few minutes later Danny exited the house and left in his car. I watched as several of the crime scene techs also packed up and left. After about an hour, the last tech had left and it was just Jay, Allen, and me there again. Jay opened the front door and yelled at me to grab some crime scene tape from the trunk and bring it to him. I did as told and watched as Jay closed and locked the door. He then placed the tape across the door to warn folks to stay out of the house. After what seemed like an eternity to me, we headed back to the station with Allen.

We arrived at the jail and booked Allen for murder. I sat in patrol and started the paperwork. There's always paperwork after an arrest. Everything has to be documented. The initial call report, statements, property reports all have to be completed and forwarded to records along with the arrest report as soon as possible. I figured my entire shift would be focused on this one arrest and the subsequent paperwork. And assuming Jay didn't kick any of it back for bad grammar or misspelled words, I would be lucky to be finished by the time my shift ended.

By Grant Durr on Unsplash

I was in the middle of writing the initial contact report when both Jay and Danny came in and sat at the table where I was working. Apparently, they had both just finished interviewing Allen again. Danny was the first to speak, "What do you think?" Jay replied, "I still think he's involved." I raised my pen to get their attention and they both turned to look at me like I had just appeared out of nowhere. I said, "Did ya'll notice the funny looks he kept giving the TV cabinet?" Jay let out a deep sigh followed by a couple of epitaphs. Danny had a puzzled look on his face. Jay stood up and said, "Come on, let's take a ride back over there. I'll explain on the way." I stood up too, but Jay gave me that look that implied I had more important things to do like paperwork so I sat back down.

I was almost done with the property report when Jay and Danny arrived back at the station. Jay was carrying a VHS tape. They walked over to the patrol TV and inserted the tape into our player. Within a few minutes, a screen popped up showing what looked to be CCTV security cameras positioned around the inside of the Sachse' home. There was a split-screen showing the family room, the kitchen, and Zeus' bedroom. Jay said the cameras were well hidden so unless you knew where to look, you would have never found them.

I continued to watch the TV and before long I watched Zeus walk from his bedroom into the family room and have a seat on the couch, almost in the same spot where Allen sat. He appeared to be reading. The front door opened and in walked Allen who strode past Zeus without speaking and headed straight for the bar. We watched Allen pour himself a drink before he returned to sit in a chair by Zeus. Allen turned on the TV and apparently turned the volume up too loud for Zeus' liking because we could hear them argue about the volume. Zeus stood up and left the room and walked back to his bedroom. A few minutes passed and Allen stood up and followed Zeus into his bedroom where they continued to argue. Allen wasn't happy with the living arrangements and believed it was time for Zeus to move into an assisted living home. Zeus was adamant he wasn't leaving his home.

Zeus again stood and walked past Allen to go to his bathroom. When he did, Allen grabbed him and shoved him into the bathroom and we could hear a struggle followed by muffled cries for him to stop. According to the timestamp on the VHS tape, about 30 minutes passed before Allen emerged from the bathroom alone. He walked out of the house and closed the door behind him. So there it was for all to see. Allen murdered his grandfather. The motive was domestic. Allen wanted Zeus to move out of the family home. No family curse. No sinister murderer on the prowl. Just a family squabble that had turned violent.

It's been 35 years since I took that call. Jay has long since passed as has Bob, Danny, and Dr. Hinojosa. Allen Sachse was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He comes up for parole again next month. I will be attending his parole hearing as I have every time it's come up. I remember Jay once told me in training that it is the job of a police officer to arrest the bad guys. It's the job of the courts to keep them off the streets. But sometimes, we have to step up and remind the courts how bad a person was. We do this in their parole hearings.

A lot of things have changed since I took that call with Jay. Attitudes about policing have changed. Technology has changed. A few things haven't changed. A murderous heart is still the same and a rookie officer is still just as nervous today as I was 35 years ago. Today was going to be a beautiful day though. It's a brisk Sunday morning and the sun is shining down on Texas. I have a new rookie officer starting with me today. He just finished phase 1 training so I'm supposed to let him do more of the tasks a patrolman does while I observe.

The radio squawked loudly, "Euless...205". I looked over at the rookie and said, "If you make her call our unit again, you're buying lunch." He responded. "Euless...205, copy Signal 18, meet the complainant, a George Sachse, at the intersection of N. Main and W. Ash".

fact or fiction

About the author

Joey Lowe

Just an old disabled dude living in Northeast Texas. In my youth, I wanted to change the world. Now I just write about things. More about me is available at www.loweco.com including what I'm currently writing about or you can tweet me.

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