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Been There Before

Detective Elijah Boone visits the scene of his first multi-victim murder, hoping for closure after so many years.

By D. A. RatliffPublished 19 days ago Updated 18 days ago 4 min read
Images are free use—Image by RandyJost from Pixabay

Content warning: Mention of the murder of multiple victims with considerable blood present.

Been There Before

D. A. Ratliff

A Detective Elijah Boone Mystery

The house sat empty, everything removed, but I knew it would haunt me for a long time. Of course, another family lived in the house after the carnage that happened, but part of my soul would never be at rest. That’s why I had to come. The open house began at one p.m., and I arrived shortly after.

My promotion to detective occurred two months before the call, and hearing Detective Eli Boone remained alien to me. This house was the scene of my first multi-victim murder. Senior Detective James Ferguson, now captain and commander of my old district, was my partner then. As I walked up the narrow sidewalk, I remembered the house bathed in blue and red flashing lights, the murmurs coming from the clusters of onlookers, and the stunned faces of seasoned cops. Ferguson stood on the sidewalk, and as I raised my foot for the first step, he flung his arm straight across my chest and blocked me.

“Rookie, this is a bad one. I know you’ve seen some bad stuff in uniform, but you’re up close and personal with the vics this time. No more rolling up, checking the scene, and calling the suits. We are the suits, and we’ll be inside for a long time. Don’t touch anything until forensics declares it clear or I say so. Watch your step—there’s a lot of blood. It is ugly, and the smell can be overwhelming. Focus and do your job. Now get suited up. Full kit for this one.”

I stood on the front porch thirteen years later, my palms sweaty and nerves raw. I stepped inside as a sense of deja vu washed over me.

A well-dressed woman greeted me from the living room, called a parlor in many New Orleans homes. “Welcome to the open house. Feel free to look around and ask any questions you might have.” She handed me a flyer with all the details and turned her attention to a couple. I must not have looked like a viable buyer. Across from the entry hall was the dining room where the murders occurred. Flashes of that night kept appearing in my head, but I steeled myself and walked in.

The dining room was pristine, with freshly painted cream walls, and a beautiful wood-slatted floor gleamed in the sunlight. I hadn’t noticed the pattern then. There was too much blood. The window stood bare, but that night, gold brocade drapes had spatters of red blood that looked purple in the blue light spilling into the room.

Bile rose in my throat as I relived the moment Ferguson stepped out of my way and I saw the bodies. I fought back nausea then and now. The father, mother, their oldest daughter, her fiancé, his parents, and her two younger brothers were celebrating the daughter’s college graduation. Their killer shot them with an automatic weapon and then used a knife from the table to mutilate the bodies. I closed my eyes, and my mind traveled to that night.

The first arriving patrol call saw the carnage from outside the window and called for backup. With an unknown assailant, SWAT arrived to clear the house. Ferguson had gone in with the forensics team leader to assess the scene, and then once forensics had determined a clear path through the house, we entered.

The acrid metallic smell from the enormous amount of blood caused me to retch, but I managed to fight the nausea. Ferguson kept glancing at me, but I remembered my training and remained focused. It took hours to process each body, but Ferguson vowed not to leave the victims until each was processed. Another detective team, along with uniforms, canvassed the neighborhood and learned of a late model car not belonging to any victims parked at the house—a lead.

Ferguson told me I would become up close and personal with the victims as a detective, so I did just that. I knelt beside each body, and I found the ring and the note on the daughter’s body. The note read This is the ring you should have kept and married me.

The father’s sister identified a former boyfriend, and SWAT deployed to his apartment. He barricaded inside and began shooting at police. He died when SWAT breached the front door.

Eight people died that night because of a young man who failed to control his emotions. That night, I became the detective I wanted to be, one who never forgets the victims, and I never will.

I walked out, knowing that coming here was the right thing to do. In some ways, it was closure for me and, hopefully, a good life ahead for the new owners.

As I drove away, I called my partner Hank Guidry and told him to meet me at Mama Leone’s for dinner. Mama and her family were my family in New Orleans, and tonight, I needed to have dinner with them to honor a family we lost so long ago.


Detective Elijah Boone is a veteran member of the New Orleans Police Department. Intelligent, resourceful, and honest, he has a distinct lack of compassion for criminals and a love of Italian food. You can find him having dinner at Mama Leone’s Restaurant, the scene of the first tale in the series. _________________________________________

The following Detective Boone stories are available on Vocal Media:

"The Neighborhood"

"Tied With Twine"

"Home Again"

"The Dowager's Pearls"

"The Influencer"

"Flowers for Her"

"Under the Pines"

"Faces in the Crowd"

If you enjoyed this Detective Boone story, I hope you will check out the others. Thank you!


About the Creator

D. A. Ratliff

A Southerner with saltwater in her veins, Deborah lives in the Florida sun and writes murder mysteries. She is published in several anthologies and her first novel, Crescent City Lies, is scheduled for release in 2024.

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  • Rick Henry Christopher 19 days ago

    I really enjoyed reading this well written story. I see it's a series... Guess I've got a little reading to do. When I saw the name Mama Leone the Billy Joel song "Movin' Out" immediately came to my mind.

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