Before I begin, I’d like to swear before God and the entire world that the following is my official testimony about the events that have transpired since my discovery of the letter inside my text book. I have provided several lawyers with direct instructions that if I were to meet an untimely death, they would release the actual names and details of the people involved with the cover up.
Over the past several days since returning to the safety of my parent’s home, I have written and rewritten my account of the events that transpired. I’ve been a click away from emailing my story to major news media outlets and letting them investigate, but with no evidence, I fear that no one will bother listening. The truth is that I am scared of how far the school’s reach is. I’m afraid of their retaliation for going back on my word.
Yet, I cannot live without sharing the truth. This is my catharsis, my only semblance of closure. They gave me the truth and blackmailed me to keep my mouth shut. It was out of arrogance that they told me. They knew they had already won. The letter was simply a little piece of their cover up that slipped by them.
If this information is ever released to the public, their first step will be to destroy my credibility and drag my name through the mud. They’re going to discredit my word and make me look like the bad guy to keep their secret buried. With no proof the crimes ever happened, the narrative they set up will make it impossible for me to be taken seriously. They will never answer for their crimes when the “evidence” against me looks a million times better.
I wish I never found that letter. I wish I never bothered with trying to find the truth.
It turned out my feeling about the woman with the child was correct. It was Rhonda. Typing her name into Facebook showed her profile picture right away. It was a close up of her giving the camera that fake smile I’d seen earlier while she was holding the baby like it was a trophy. With her privacy settings restricted, there was nothing else I could do.
Rereading the letter, I realized that besides Rhonda, there was someone else that could possibly help find the truth. The football player and I purchased the same book so we had the same class and the same professor, Dr. Roth.
Speaking with Rhonda at the time didn’t seem like the best plan. How does someone go up to a perfect stranger and start chatting about the psychotic father of her child wanting to kill her? Dr. Roth’s recognition of the handwriting may help open the flood gates. I knew it would be a long shot but it was the only avenue I could take at the moment that I felt comfortable with.
For now, the awkward conversation with Rhonda could wait.
As a student in the criminal justice program, you were bound to have Dr. Roth at some point. As the head of the department, he taught many of the classes including criminal psychology, criminal law, and criminal justice and substance abuse, which was the class I had him for. When the classroom emptied, I handed Dr. Roth the letter and asked for his professional opinion on the author. When he finished, he looked at me with confusion on his face and asked:
What is this supposed to be?
“It’s a story for my creative writing class,” I lied.
“Well, you did an excellent job demonstrating the effects of long term steroid abuse in athletes. The bout of psychosis triggered from the girlfriend’s pregnancy was a little extreme though. The hallucinations of the child crying were very creepy as well. You can’t even imagine the kind of stuff that runs through the mind of someone undergoing a psychological break down. Despite the language being on the graphic side, it was entertaining and insightful but there was one problem”, Roth criticized.
“What might that be?”
“Was this supposed to take place in our school dorms?” he asked trying to lead me to the problem.
When I told him it was, he smiled and told me there was a huge plot hole.
“The security cameras would have recorded the attack on the RA. Campus security would have seen the attack on camera and detained him until the police arrived,” Roth explained. I passed by the dorm security desk everyday and even said hello to the guard on duty, yet I hadn’t thought of the attack having been recorded. I pretended to appreciate the criticism and promised to fix it in my next draft. I thanked him for checking it over and then he asked me something that left me rattled.
“But really, who wrote this story?”
“I wrote it while I was drunk. The inspiration came from an ex-girlfriend that I had a really bad break up with,” I explained feigning sadness.
“It sounds kind familiar to me. I was just making sure you weren’t unknowingly plagiarizing someone else’s work. That’s a serious violation of the ethics code. You can be kicked out of school for that,” he warned. I reassured him that the story was mine but I would look for anything similar in case I’d ripped it from a soap opera or something. I felt bad lying to him but it couldn’t be helped.
A few days after speaking with Dr. Roth, I had the opportunity to speak with Rhonda. She sat alone at a table in the dining hall reading a textbook while poking around the remnants of a salad. The infant laid in the stroller offering me the perfect opportunity to speak with her. As I walked to her table, the thoughts about how I freaked her out ran through my head.
I introduced myself and asked if her name was Rhonda, even though I already knew it was.
“Yeah, that’s me,” she said with a smile. The pigtails made her look like an overgrown little girl. Something about it didn’t vibe right with me.
“Do you have a couple minutes to spare? I have to talk to you about a letter I found in a textbook. I think it was written by the father of your child,” I asked hoping she would be interested. She invited me to sit down with her.
“Before you start, I want you to know that there’s some horrible stuff written about you there. I think it was written during a mental breakdown or something,” I warned.
“If you are talking about being called “Goldiecocks” while I was in undergrad, I know all about that. I changed my ways for Colin Jr.,” she laughed admiring her boy. I wanted to tell her more but I figured she could read it for herself. Her smile disappeared within the first couple sentences. Her eyes darted back and forth, faster, and faster.
When she finished, she looked me in the eye and ripped the letter to shreds. At the time, I understood her anger. If someone had written those awful things about me, I would have the same reaction. Now, I wish I hadn’t been so stupid to believe that ripping up the letter wasn’t planned.
“Did you show that letter to anyone else besides me?” Rhonda whispered leaning in towards me.
“Dr. Roth from the Criminal Justice department,” I whispered back.
“Why him? Why not the police or campus security?” she asked.
“I thought it was a story until I realized you were the woman in the letter. I didn’t know how to approach you with this. It’s not exactly a love letter. I thought it was going to be awkward and you’d think I was the crazy person that wrote it,” I replied.
“No, I wouldn’t think that at all. I recognized Colin’s handwriting right away,” Rhonda said.
“Wow, I didn’t even think of that,” I answered.
“Yeah, you should have come to me first. You almost ruined everything for me,” she stated.
“I made a deal and you almost ruined it,” Rhonda admitted.
“What are you talking about?”
“Michael and Colin. No one was supposed to find out what happened to them,” she answered like I was familiar with who they were.
“Michael is the RA?”
“Yes, Michael is the RA that Colin strangled,” Rhonda said almost as if she was commenting on today’s lunch specials.
“And what deal are you talking about?”
“Free tuition for me, Colin Jr., and any future children I may have. Plus, they said they would help me get a very good paying job after I finish school. All they wanted was for me to keep my mouth shut about the night of the murders,” Rhonda explained. I would have fallen over if I wasn’t already sitting down in the chair.
“After Colin killed Michael, I guess he wrote the letter asking his daddy for help. Aside from fucking and football, Colin couldn’t do anything for himself without his daddy’s approval. You’d think a guy like that would be a little more self reliant. Security found him pounding at my door, screaming and yelling about the baby crying. He sounded so mad but I didn’t understand what he was talking about so I didn’t let him in. A couple security guards jumped on him but he was too strong for them. He started fighting them off until one of them zapped him and he went down. Then they started kicking him.”
“They kicked and kicked and kicked until he didn’t move anymore. Then they dragged him away and I never saw him again. I wanted to help but what am I going to do against a bunch of men? That’s when Dr. Roth and some other man knocked on my door. They said they would take care of me if I was honest with them. They said it was part of the student ethics code.”
“I told them everything I could. At the time, I had no idea he had killed Michael, but Dr. Roth told me about it. He said he trusted me and hoped I would trust him in return. All I knew was that I was pregnant with Colin’s child and I had just seen him get beaten to death while he was pounding at my door screaming about the baby. They offered me the deal and as a single mother, I took it. Colin Jr. was the priority.”
“In three years, I haven’t paid a cent of tuition. I got into grad school here too. I didn’t have to worry about taking any stupid tests or GPAs. I kept my mouth shut for better life. I haven’t talked to anyone about it until today,” Rhonda explained.
“So why are you telling me all this now?”
“Dr. Roth paid me a visit and asked me if we had discussed the murders. I told him I didn’t know you but I’d seen you staring at me one night. He thanked me for honoring our agreement and told me to answer all of your questions, if we ever did talk,” Rhonda said smiling at Colin Jr. in the stroller.
“Why would he want you to tell me everything? You both could have kept me in the dark about it,” I asked.
“I don’t know why he did that. The last thing he told me to do was send him a text if we talked,” Rhonda answered.
“Did you text him?”
“Yeah, I saw you coming from a mile away. He said to tell you that he’s waiting for you in your room,” Rhonda replied.
“Oh shit,” I said.
“Oh shit is right. I hope to God that you don’t end up like Colin, but if you’ll excuse me, I need to put Colin Jr. to bed. It was nice meeting you. I’m sure we won’t be seeing each other again, so this is goodbye,” Rhonda said with a genuinely sad smile on her face. She reached across the table and squeezed my hand until she stood up and left. The last I saw of Rhonda was her and Colin Jr. walking out of the dining room. Colin Jr. let out an ear piercing, soul shaking cry as they cleared through the exit. I wish I could have done the same.
It felt like hours passed when Rhonda left but it was about ten minutes before I was on my way to meet with Dr. Roth. A million different thoughts ran through my head while walking towards the meeting with the orchestrator of the cover up. Looking into the window of my room, I could see my light was on and there were two people inside. I thought about calling the police but I figured that would only make matters worse. Roth was pretty much friends with everyone in campus security and the local police department.
The bastard greeted me as I entered my room. I could hear the clicks of a keyboard coming from my bedroom.
“Did Rhonda explain everything to your liking?” Dr. Roth asked.
“Yeah, you bought her silence and covered up two murders,” I replied.
“It needed to be done. Can you imagine the scandal that would break if we had gone to the police? I can see the headline, **Steroid Abusing Football Player Goes on Murderous Rampage Killing Student Leader and Pregnant Co-Ed**. The fallout would tarnish our school’s wonderful reputation for excellence. It would effect enrollment, donations, and most importantly, our football program. It brings in too much money to allow someone to mess with it. There’s no need to hurt the bottom line if it can be avoided,” Dr. Roth explained.
“What about their families? Colin had a father. Michael must have had a family that cared about him too,” I asked.
“People disappear every day. Accidents happen. Let’s just say that their families have closure and we have ways of making sure that happens without it coming back to the school,” Roth answered looking regretful. The other man came out of my bedroom with a smile on his face.
“Is it done?” Dr. Roth asked.
“Yeah, we are good to go,” the man replied.
“You shouldn’t have lied to me about that letter. When you lied to me, you upset me. You showed you couldn’t be trusted. If you had been honest, we could have worked something out like Rhonda and I did years ago. Since I can’t trust you, we can’t make any deals about what happens next,” Dr. Roth explained.
“You are going to pack up your belongings and leave this school immediately. Tomorrow, you will call the registrar and tell them you wish to withdrawal from the school. You will receive no refund and your transcript will reflect the abandonment of your studies. Failure to do so will result in severe consequences. We will make you disappear but not just you. We will make sure anyone that had anything to do with this will disappear as well. This includes Rhonda and her baby too. Do you want to be responsible for the death of a child?” Roth asked leaving the question hanging in the air.
“Don’t think you can anonymously leak this to the press either. The same applies if I hear any word about the letter, Colin, Michael, or anything at all having to do with this. The school and I have many friends in high places. We will squash it and make it very difficult for anyone to believe anything you’ll say for the rest of your life,” the other man continued.
“Yes, I have some colleagues in the police department that are very good with computers. We got your computer password and downloaded several gigabytes of child pornography to your computer. Even if you delete it, there will be traces left on the hard drive. Destroying the hard drive will not help either. The school’s network has records that you downloaded these files and they will be passed to the police. Those same colleagues will be the ones handling parts of your case.”
“You’ll have a very difficult time proving that Dr. Roth and I did this. Imagine how quickly something like this would be in the news. The reputation of a pedophile will only make it that much harder for people to believe tall tales about cover ups and murders,” the other man finished.
“Please don’t force us to ruin your life. All we ask for is your silence on this matter,” Dr. Roth said. Neither man spoke after awaiting my reply. I didn’t answer right away processing everything that had been said to me.
“Son, you don’t really have much of a choice here. Take what we are giving you and go. Don’t be stupid,” Roth suggested.
“Fine. I’ll leave. You’ll never hear from me again. You have my word,” I agreed to their demand. Both men seemed satisfied as they departed out of my room. With the slamming of the door, I let out my breath then began packing my belongings. By the end of the night, my car was packed and I left the school forever.
My parent’s were pleasantly surprised to see me home since I rarely visited during the semester. The four hour drive gave me time to think about what an explanation for my unexpected return. I was going to tell them that I was having a tough time in school. I was depressed, overworked, and needed to take the semester off to recover and think about what I wanted to do. I started saying something to that degree only to find myself breaking down and crying in my mother’s arms. That might have been for the best since they accepted my reasons without fuss.
I’ve taken my time at home to digest and meditate on the events that occurred. While I know that I will never be able to prove the wrongdoings of Dr. Roth, the unknown man, and my college, my resolve in becoming a criminal investigator has doubled. One day, I will find the evidence and expose the school for the corruptive cesspool that it is. When I do, there will be Hell to pay.