Strange Behavior

By by Traci Ciepiela/ compiled by John Wills

I have been told that all good redneck stories need to start the same way.

“So there I was,” working the night shift at the Sheriff’s Department. It had been a busy week already as I had gone on a number of strange calls, including looking for a dead body in a location that was described as an area near railroad tracks, reported by some tweaked out meth-head who had been awake for about a week and found a need to start confessing to murder while at a psychiatric ward. The tweaker claimed he left the body near railroad tracks and a road. It had already been hot in Missouri that week, so I figured if there was a dead body out there I would have been able to tell pretty easily. I didn’t find or smell a body that night, so I figured that if we eventually found a body near there we would at least know who to go question about it. On this occasion though, the call wasn’t a dead body, another entertaining experience was waiting for me this evening.

I received a phone call at my desk as I had just come into the office to eat dinner. The person on the other end of the line identified himself as a detective from the neighboring sheriff’s department, and he needed to let me know that something strange was going on. As I looked around the deputy’s office and realized that no one else was around, I knew strange had become my calling that week, so I asked the detective what’s up.

He informed me that a woman had been reported missing in yet a third jurisdiction earlier that day. Her mother, though, had received a phone call shortly before he called me. The person on the phone wouldn’t identify herself but indicated the mother should round up her entire family, drive only a red car, wear only cotton clothing, bring no identification with them, and expect to have to stay for a long period of time. The directions were apparently relayed to this woman, to the detective, and to me, and of course the directions led right to the center of the county where I was on duty. Now the instructions definitely piqued my interest, so I headed to the location that the directions indicated to see what in fact was happening.

While en route to the location, a call came into 911. Although the specifics were awfully confusing, from what I could piece together the missing woman was at the location where I was heading, she had brought children with her, and she was irritated. It’s never a good combination when kids are involved in anything, so other deputies and I stepped up the response to what we would discover to be a strange situation indeed.

Upon arrival, I was ushered into a room where the owners of the house were. On the bed in this room was a woman lying with her arms around the necks of her children. When I arrived, she simply said, “Thank you for coming.”

Well, I thought to myself “Cool, she is happy I am here.” We often don’t get that kind of response, but what was odd was that she never got up, didn’t sit up, and didn’t stand up. She just lay there on the bed with two children, who we later determined were two and four years old.

The woman looked at me and asked, “Do you know the one true lord, your savior Jesus Christ?” Now, when this question is asked, typically there just is no good way to answer it, whether it’s someone knocking at your door in the middle of the day or strange people lying on a bed with two children.

“Sure,” I said.

She announced that now that we were all there she had something to read to us. Considering I had already called for an ambulance, we had some time to wait so I told her to go right ahead and read away.

The woman pulled out a Bible and opened it to Revelations and proceeded to read a paragraph. When she finished she looked up at me and said, “Do you understand?”
Not wanting to agitate her further, I tried my best to paraphrase what she had read. Apparently, my summation was right on target because she ultimately sighed and said, “Yes!” I knew right then and there that something had just broken inside her head. Apparently what she believed is that her second born was the “second coming.” Apparently the little boy was only still alive because while she was giving birth the devil didn’t eat him. She thought we should be very excited that he was there and that his name was Nathan, and he was two.

She continued to read to us while I tried to keep her children occupied. Unfortunately, while keeping the children happy I managed to help them break the frame of the bed, for I was allowing the kids to jump up and down on the bed. Could be one of the reasons kids shouldn’t be jumping on beds. I apologized to the owners; they assured me the bed wasn’t of that much value, even though it appeared to be antique. We ultimately discovered the house where this woman called from was one where she just showed up and announced to the owners that, “God had prepared the house for her to stay for the next 1,023 days.” That would be a long time to have a guest, but the owners didn’t really know this woman to begin with. They had met her once approximately twenty years ago, but it isn’t like they had ever kept in touch. The owners of the house didn’t have a clue what to think of the situation either.

Ultimately, I made an effort to get her to understand she needed to leave with us. She eventually agreed, but first we had to pray with her. I felt at this point I was going to do just about anything to get this woman out of the house peacefully. I told her to go ahead, but she refused until all parties in the room agreed to hold hands. So the other deputies and I stood there holding hands until the woman closed her eyes. I was planning to handcuff her immediately if she refused to go, but she followed through with her promise to leave with us. As I got outside, we learned that somehow the ambulance had been cancelled so we decided to transport her and her kids in my patrol vehicle.

The child car seats were arranged, but she insisted her son had to sit on her left side. We had to rearrange the car seats. As I asked if she had any shoes to put on since the driveway was just a bunch of rocks, she informed me, “Every step just reminds me that I am on God’s path.” You would never catch me walking on those rocks, God’s path or not.
As we got ready to go, she announced the dog had to come with us. There was a dog running around the house, and I assumed the dog belonged to the landowners. Apparently not. Neither did the dog belong to this woman. I was finally able to determine she had dognapped the animal from a friend where she started out earlier that morning. I asked for the friend’s phone number, and just as I thought she was about to give it to me, the woman told me, “She’ll know to come.”

Apparently some kind of divine inspiration was going to let the dog’s owner know we had found her dog. Eventually, the dog was transported in another deputy’s car. I ultimately was able to track the dog’s owner through utility records of the city where the dog lived. It was a good thing the police department had access to those records.

On the drive to the hospital I asked about playing some music, but she refused to listen to anything on the radio. I asked her if she was hungry, and she insisted she couldn’t have anything but water for the next 1,023 days.

Giving up on her needs, I focused on the kids, afraid she was starving them. She relented a bit and said they could have something small when we got to where we were going. Oddly enough she never asked where we were taking her. We also didn’t offer up that information. We just promised not to take her to jail. Of course, she seemed to believe we had been sent by God, and she was told by angels we would be there to help her, so at least she trusted us.

Upon arrival at the emergency room, the doctor on duty was very impressed with my diagnosis of something breaking inside this woman’s brain. He of course wanted to do his own diagnosis, but he did appreciate my efforts. The paperwork to confine this woman for treatment was awfully quick to fill out and the judge agreed that thinking she had given birth to Christ was probably enough to warrant a stay at a hospital.

After the kids were handed over to the appropriate state agency, we managed to contact the woman’s mother to take custody of the children. The woman was sent to a secure facility, but as the mother was about to take her grandchildren home, she proceeded to tell me her daughter had to stay away from her husband because it was an abusive relationship.

I took the bait and I could have kicked myself as I asked how she knew that.

“God told me.”

I wanted to put fingers in my ears and yell lalalalalalalalala, so I could pretend I didn’t hear what she said.

The state agency determined the grandmother was fit to take the kids that evening. We didn’t have many other options since the kid’s father didn’t have a car because his wife took off with it, and it was now sitting at the house of the people she didn’t know in the middle of the county where I was working.

After everyone was gone, I took the opportunity to let all the other investigators involved in this case know they owed me a dinner. They each called back the next day just to hear the roundup of events that had taken place. Afterward, they all agreed to buy me dinner.