(To listen to the audio of this blog post, use the purple play button.)
· “That’s Him.”
It’s Sunday night, August 7, 1938, in Hutchinson, Kansas, at the Charline and George Allison home, 309 West 16th Avenue. George, 55; Charline, 54; and their daughter, Georgiann, 14, are playing cards.
“Dad, now that Rosanna Sandberg has positively identified her kidnapper, do you think she’ll sleep better tonight?” asked Georgiann.
“Sure thing,” answered George. “I think the fact that she was able to see Earl Young dead, lying in the Hot Springs morgue, should give her some peace.”
As Charline shuffled the cards, she said, “Rosanna’s a brave girl.”
“She’s smart too,” said George. “When he kidnapped her and Marcus Cain, Jr., she hid her diamond ring in her mouth because she thought the stranger was a robber. And, despite him telling her not to look at him, Rosanna was able to identify him from the photograph I showed her. Once we had the positive identification, I knew he’d be captured.”
“Are you disappointed you didn’t get to go to Hot Springs with Rosanna and her mother?” asked Georgiann.
“I don’t miss the 600-mile drive,” said George, “I can always use the rest. Chief White did what he needed to do to close the case and to make sure the reward gets paid. Those two Hot Spring detectives deserve the money. They could have easily been killed at the hotel in the shootout.”
“It’s still difficult to believe a man that cold-blooded was in Hutchinson, Kansas, harming our youth,” said Charline. “After he escaped from jail in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, he’s suspected of other sex crimes and at least three murders in South Dakota and Texas.”
“Rosanna is lucky to be alive,” stated George.
“I hope she recovers fully and will continue to perform with her xylophone,” said Georgiann. “She’s talented.”
“If anyone can overcome being kidnapped and raped, it’s Rosanna,” said Charline. “Look at her, she’s not afraid to stand up and be strong about her unfortunate circumstances. Rather than hide, she’s been sure of herself and outspoken.”
“Rosanna did all she could do when she was attacked in the country north of Newton,” said George. “Even though her hands were tied, she kicked, screamed, and honked the car’s horn. The last thing she remembered before losing consciousness was Young hitting her in the face and tightening his necktie around her neck, causing her eyes to bulge.”
“She’s found strength from somewhere,” said Charline.
“When Chief White prepared Rosanna to inspect Young’s body,” said George, “he told her to take her time before deciding beyond a doubt if it was the same man that had hurt her. She looked at the body for several minutes, turned to the chief and said: ‘That’s him.’”
“Marcus Cain got off lightly, compared to Rosanna,” said Charline, “but it must have been terrifying for him to be bound to a telephone pole and gagged by a criminal on a lonely field east of the new junior college stadium.”
“It all started with Rosanna and Marcus just listening to the car radio while parked in front of her home,” said George. “Young must have been looking to steal another vehicle when he spotted them and pulled his gun.”
“How can you prevent a crime like that?” asked Charline.
“Young was a violent sex maniac,” answered George. “It took several bullets to stop his crime wave. If he hadn’t been killed, he would have continued to hurt innocent people.”
Charline remembered losing her 14-month-old baby Burkson to illness and considered how devastating it would be to have her 14-year-old Georgiann stolen away.
“The whole thing was so horrible,” said Charline. “I’m glad it’s over.”
“Do you think Rosanna will continue with her wedding plans?” asked Georgiann.
“Whether she keeps the date or not,” said Charlene, “it will take a special man, someone like your father, to understand her and be patient with her.”
Charline started humming an old parlor song, I Love You Truly. It was a favorite of hers that she had sung at weddings.
She handed the cards to Georgiann, pushed back her chair, and stood erect, raising her open arms in front of George as an invitation to him. He stood up straight, walked close to her, and they clasped hands.
“What about our game?” whined Georgiann.
Her parents didn’t hear a word.
While Charline sang, I Love You Truly, she and George remembered, smiled, and danced, no longer thinking of kidnapped children.
Until next time, happy writing and reading.