The moment Mike was out cold from the heavier sedation shot the doctor gave him, the Sheriff quickly took the knife into custody, placing it in an evidence bag until such time as he knew what the blood was from. With the Doc having filled him in on what Mike had revealed while he was out of the room, even if indirectly stated, it seemed to appear that Mike may have killed someone. So, until they knew for sure, the Sheriff felt it best to take control of the knife before it was contaminated by other prints or DNA. But more importantly, if this situation ended up being something that needed to be swept under the rug in order to protect the family and town, then the Sheriff wanted to be the one in control of the evidence.
“What the hell do you think happened to these boys?” The Sheriff asked after securing the knife. The Doc shook his head. “Other than something really bad, I can’t say, but from what Mike was insinuating it was a relative that did this, but I know it couldn’t have been Floyd. He’s drunk half the day and been on disability since the car accident. He doesn’t go out into the woods no more, to hunt or otherwise. The only other one who goes out into the woods on a regular basis is old man Aberly and there’s no way he’d do something like this to the boys.”
The Sheriff furrowed his brow, wracking his brain for who might have done this who was related to the boys. “Well, that leaves either Craven or Jarrel…” The Doc looked up at the Sheriff as if he were insane himself for suggesting Jarrel had done this. “Jarrel? Are you serious? He’s harmless Lance. Besides, he loves kids.” The Sheriff shrugged. “He is insane Doc. Maybe there’s a side to him we don’t know. He is up at that plantation home all by himself, and it’s easy enough that he could have hidden the kids up there. We didn’t check each other’s homes when they went missing, as it never occurred to any of us that one of us might have done something to them.” The Doc continued to shake his head and counter the Sheriff’s logic. “If it were Jarrel, I think at this point Buford would be aware because he’s out there with Luke and Wade right now. I heard him come in a few minutes ago. If he did this to them, they’d be terrified of him.”
“Okay. Well, what about Craven?” The Sheriff asked figuring the doctor was probably right about Jarrel. Doc thought about it a moment. “Well he’s got the aggression factor for sure, but I don’t know Lance.” The Sheriff shrugged. “His father says he was into the whole demonology thing for a time. Still might be. I’m just saying it’s a possibility. I can’t think of who else who is related to the boys would do this. Like you said, Floyd’s been in town the whole time, and Jarrel though he is insane, isn’t as strong a suspect as Craven might be. Until we know for sure, I think we should just err on the side of caution and make sure he’s not alone with the boys, and we’ll see how the boys respond around him.”
The Doc nodded but cautioned as well. “Yeah, well remember that they’re awful skittish overall right now. So, don’t just be jumping to conclusions. I don’t personally agree with Craven’s lifestyle choices, but I don’t think he’s a bad person underneath that Lance, not the type to do something like this. I think he’s just rebelling from such a strict religious upbringing. You know how Sam is. Can you imagine being raised on that full volume and force for eighteen years? We only have to put up with it on Sundays and intermittently in conversation, but we don’t have to live with the man. Not that I don’t believe in God. I do, but Sam is a bit over the edge.”
The Sheriff chuckled. “Just a bit, and maybe you’re right, but until we’re sure we’ll just have to be careful.” The Doc nodded. “Of course. We don’t want to expose these boys to any more danger, but I have a strong feeling that Mike killed whoever had done this, and I saw Craven take off on his bike early this morning for work. He’s got that tattoo shop that he recently opened up in the City.” The Sheriff put a hand on his chin and rubbed it. “Oh hmm. You’re right. Well, I’m at a loss then. Guess we’re just going to have to wait for the boys to open up and tell us what is going on.” The Doc nodded, but then offered as a suggestion. “You might try to backtrack the boys’ scent to where they came from. Mike implied they had been walking in the woods for a while. Take an ATV and let the dogs lead you to where they were. Hasn’t rained over the last few days, so the scent should still be there.”
“Oh! That’s a good idea. I’ll take old man Aberly with me. He knows the woods well and might pick up on some clues that I might otherwise miss. Once we’re done with the boys here. I’ll get right on it.” Doc shook his head. “Have Jarrel come in and be witness to my examinations, then you can get started right off, while the scents are fresh and before Aberly takes off into the woods for the day hunting or something. Hopefully, he hasn’t already. I know it’s a work day, but you never know with him if he’s going to open his shop or just disappear for the day.” The Sheriff nodded. “Okay, that works. Let me go get Jarrel then. Thanks for the suggestion, Doc. Smart man.”