I have been seesawing on whether I should tell my story to the world. It haunts me to think that this could happen to anyone else, which is why I feel it is important to share what happened. Our nightmarish hell began on September 30th, the day we closed on our new home. Let me start from the beginning.
Derek and I were newlyweds looking for the perfect home to raise a family in. We thought we scored a great deal when we found the perfect two-story house at the end of the cal-de-sec down Dewberry Lane. I’m not going to disclose the full address because the neighbors have been complaining of
vandalism ever since we left.
Anyway, the house had the curb appeal of one of those Pinterest houses you save onto your board; something you can only dream of affording. Beautiful weeping willow trees draped along the entry way as we walked to the front porch. Our real estate agent went over all the recent updates to the house, eagerly handing us the contract to sign. To us, this house seemed perfect. We had a little one on the way, and nothing could have suited us better.
Looking back now, the eagerness our agent had expressed for us to sign along with the major drop in sales price should have been a red flag, but with being the young newlyweds that we were, with a baby on the way, the financial situation was tight. We signed our name on the dotted line, and within 30 days the house was ours.
Everything seemed fine at first. We were unpacked and finally settled in when Derek came across a small wooden box in the yard while mowing the lawn. The box seemed to be halfway buried; he thought it was just a rock at first.
He brought the box inside, it couldn’t have been larger than six inches by eight inches. The lid seemed to be glued shut, so I told Derek to dump it in the trash.
Although I was insistent on getting rid of the box, Derek insisted we get it open. A few touches of the saw blade and the thing cracked open. Inside were little bones. We figured the previous owners had buried their pet hamster; we tossed them in the trash and carried on with our day.
That night, our new neighbors invited us over for a barbecue. Our plates over flowed with coleslaw, pork chops, and macaroni salad as we talked the night away with the couple we would soon call friends. I sat with Desiree on the porch swing as the guys talked about golf over cigars. She was a nice lady in her 60s. She had short red hair with a country twang to her voice.
“It really is so nice to meet you two. Are you guys getting settled in?” Desiree put her hand on my belly with a smile on her face, “Well, as settled as you can be that is. When are you due?”
My eyes shot back to hers, “We are due in two months. We are both really excited, she will be out first.”
Desiree clapped her hands together in excitement, “Oh you are going to love parenthood. Do you have a name picked out?” I started to feel a sense of comfort with Desiree, she had this motherly vibe that she gave off that put me at ease, “Yes, she is going to be Emory Louise.”
Desiree’s excited smile started to fade into a forced smile, “You guys are awfully brave. I wouldn’t have the guts to do what you have done.”
I shot her a confused glance. What did she mean we were brave, brave for doing what? I could hear Derek headed towards us. “You ready to go home, baby?”
Desiree piped up, “Oh, do you guys want to take the leftovers?” We politely declined, and headed home for the night.
I told Derek about what Desiree had said, but he didn’t seem the slightest bit phased.
“She probably thinks it’s a lot of work to buy a house and have a baby shortly after. She’s right, if anything, we are brave for taking all these big steps.”
That night I tossed back and forth in bed. I had been up all night puking. Morning sickness is no joke, and it’s more like all day and night sickness. I came out of the bathroom and found that Derek wasn’t in bed. I walked around the house, but didn’t see him anywhere. I grabbed the railing to the staircase and wobbled down the stairs. That’s when I saw a dark shadow out in the back yard.
I peered out the window, and saw Derek. I pulled the door open as the crisp night air blew in.
“Derek! What are you doing?”
He seemed to not hear me, so I ran over to him and shouted in his face, “Derek!” His eyes shot up to mine.
“Derek, what are you doing out here?”
“I saw someone out here. I had woken up while you were getting sick. I went downstairs to get you a sprite, and that’s when I saw someone outside. It looked like a woman peering at me between the bushes. I couldn’t tell what she looked like because I could only see her head sticking out. That’s when I ran out here, but by the time I got to the bushes, she was gone.”
I no longer felt safe in my home. Derek had installed security cameras the following day, but I still had this eerie feeling that something more sinister was lurking around the house. Something that a security camera wouldn’t help save us from.
After a few months had gone by, our beautiful baby girl was born perfectly healthy. The first day we brought her home from the hospital, Desiree came over with a blanket she had knitted just for Emory. I remember a statement she made that struck me as odd.
“Will this be your only child?” I stared back at Desiree in confusion. Out of all the things to say to a new mother, why ask if this will be the last child? I shook my head no.
Derek laughed, “Oh, we are definitely having another, and soon. We need them close in age so they can be friends.”
Emory loved the blanket. It was white with a grey elephant in the corner, yellow flowers rimmed the edge of the blanket.
That night I heard Emory whaling a high-pitched scream I hadn’t heard before. I made my way to her bedroom, when I saw a dark figured person standing in front of Emory’s crib. The person just stood there, staring down at Emory. I was almost to the doorway when I saw the person turn their head and look towards me, then run away and leap out the window at lightning speed.
I frantically woke Derek up and told him what I saw, but he didn’t find any evidence of a break in. He looked all through the backyard, but there was nobody to be found. He chalked it up to my imagination from the lack of sleep.
The next day, I decided to confront Desiree and find out what she meant by her comment.
Emory cooed as Desiree held her close in the elephant blanket. “Oh, she is just darling!” I grinned as Desiree rocked my first-born child. I knew this wasn’t going to be a comforting conversation, but I needed to know what she meant by her words.
“Desiree, can I ask you something?”
“What did you mean a while back when you said Derek and I were brave?”
She stopped rocking Emory and looked me in the eyes in a deadpan manner. “Honey, everyone around here knows what happened. I know some people don’t believe in bad energy sticking around, but with you being pregnant and all, I’m just surprised you risked it. You and Derek must not be one for ghost stories, huh?”
I could feel a faint sweat break as I listened intently, “Desiree, what happened?”
She went back to rocking Emory as she cradled her in the blanket, “Hm. They didn’t tell you then, huh? Well, maybe it’s best you don’t know. You two have started a fresh life in that house, I don’t need to be scaring you with the past.”
I reached out and set my hand on her lap, “Please Desiree, odd things have been happening…”
She didn’t say a word, she stared at me with pierced lips. “Honey, I think it’s best you head home now.”
A month had gone by and I hadn’t seen the mysterious person in the house since.
Everything was going great, until I became pregnant with baby number two. I clearly remember the day I found out I was pregnant, I came home from the doctor, excited to tell Derek the great news. I heard laughter coming from the living room.
Derek was playing peek-a-boo with Emory. My heart melted as I put my hand on my stomach, I was excited to share the great news. I pulled Derek into the other room, and blurted out the news without hesitation.
Derek embraced me in a bear hug and swung me around.
The next morning, I was the first one to wake up in the house. I threw on my robe, and headed down stairs to brew a hot pot of coffee. I scooped two spoonfuls of coffee, and poured the water into the coffee maker. Just as I pressed the start button, I noticed a figure standing to the left. I could feel my heart racing in my chest, I slowly turned my head to the left and saw the unthinkable.
There was a woman standing outside of our sliding glass door; her face expressionless.
I started to take a few steps back, unable to speak from the terror I was feeling. The woman’s body was just inches away from touching the glass. Then out of nowhere, she starts to lean her forehead towards the glass. I’m still frozen in fear. Her forehead first, then her nose begins to press against the glass door. Her hair was a stark black, and she wore a black dress.
Before I could let out a scream, I heard Derek making his way down the stairs. I glanced towards the staircase screaming as Derek thudded down the stairs. He ran over to me in a panic.
“What? Honey, what’s wrong? Is it the baby?” I pointed to the glass door, but the woman was no longer there. I ran up to the glass, not a single print or smudge was left on the door.
I threw on some jeans and a t-shirt and made my way straight to Desiree. I was going to make her tell me what was happening in this house, enough was enough. I reached the front door and with three hard knocks, she answered before I could finish the third.
“Oh my gosh, is everything okay?”
Adrenaline was still jolting through me from everything that happened this morning.
“No! No Desiree, everything is not fine. I need you to tell me what happened in that house.”
Desiree didn’t say a word, she just nodded and grabbed my hand to pull me to the kitchen.
“Would you like anything to drink?”
“No. Desiree, please. I need to know what happened in that house. Things have been happening.”
She made her way towards me and grabbed both of my hands. “Oh, honey. You’re living in a mad house. You might want to take a seat.”
We walked out to her screened in porch as she promised to tell me everything. She poured a glass of sweet tea over the ice mounting in her cup.
“Okay, well I guess I’ll just start from the beginning. I met the Windella’s when they first moved in. They were a very nice couple; Garrett and Julie were their names. All seemed fine until she found out she couldn’t get pregnant. She wanted a baby so badly, I guess she snapped after finding out she would never have one.”
I was on the edge of my seat.
“After that, they really started to keep to themselves. I think Julie couldn’t come to grips with the fact that she would never have a child. We didn’t see them come outside anymore, that house just kind of carried a dark vibe ever since. One day, we saw the cop cars show up, and then they were gone. Apparently, they were kidnapping pregnant women. Once they got the woman inside, they forced the baby out in hopes to keep it as their own. Of course, the baby would die from being born prematurely, and the mother would bleed out and die.”
I felt a shiver run up my spine.
“Julie nor Garrett had the medical expertise to do these procedures, honey. The baby and mother always died, which made Julie that much more distraught. Now you see, the story doesn’t end there. They eventually got caught. They didn’t cover their tracks very well; one of the neighbor’s dog brought home a bone which began the police investigation.”
I shuttered at the thought of finding your dog gnawing on a human bone. Knowing that monsters lived just a few houses down from you is sickening, and to think that we live in the house that all these murders happened was even more disturbing.
“Once the police had probable cause, they searched that whole house up and down. They found the fetuses buried in boxes in the backyard. If only they buried the mothers in boxes, maybe a dog wouldn’t have dug up the bones to reveal their secret. Bigger bodies are harder to find boxes for though.”
My stomach dropped as I listened to Desiree tell this story. She seemed to be affected by the words coming out of her mouth. When she spoke about the police finding out, she seemed to almost sound angry.
“So of course, after they moved out, all the ghost stories and rumors began. They say that she will come back to the house looking for her babies.”
“How did Julie end up dying?”
Desiree started laughing.
“Well, everyone says she got put to death for her crimes.”
I sat looking down at my knees. So, that’s what she meant by saying we were brave to move into the house. I felt sick.
Desiree studied me closely as I left the house.
“Are you sure you’re going to be okay? You don’t look too well.”
I calmly hugged her, “I’m okay. Thank you for telling me.”
I walked up the street, staring at the house that I once thought would be our forever home. The outside looked so perfect, you would never know the secrets held behind the walls. I knew we had to move. How could we live in a house where I was seeing the murderous ghost of the previous owner?
I opened the door and headed towards Emory’s room. I wanted to hold her tight after hearing those awful stories. The floorboards creaked as I made my way up the staircase. I came up to Emory’s bedroom door and smiled as I thought about what a good older sister she was going to be. I pushed the
door open, and what I saw standing before me made me feel like the world could end in that very moment.
Julie Windella was standing in Emory’s bedroom, holding Emory, swaying her back and forth. My mouth dropped open. She slowly turned her head to look at me, Emory didn’t make a peep. Did she hurt my baby? The ghost stood head on with me as she cradled my toddler. She looked me in the eye for a
moment, then raised her arm and pointed to my stomach. I felt a tear roll down my cheek. What was she planning on doing to my baby, to me, and to my unborn child?
Just as I screamed for Derek, Julie let out a hysterical laugh. I looked behind the crib and saw a pool of
I stared Julie in the eyes. She stared back at me, with a sick grin on her face.
“I told you to wait for night fall, Julie.”
I turned around and saw Desiree standing behind me.
“You never listen to me. Therefore, you got caught the first time. How do you suppose we will get them out the door in broad daylight?”
Julie rocked Emory back and forth, she touched her nose to Emory’s and smiled.
“Let go of my baby!”
Julie looked back to me with a dead gaze.
I looked desperately back to Desiree. “Desiree, why? What is happening?” She looked back and forth between Julie and I. “I’ve always wanted to be a grandma. Don’t worry, we will keep you alive; for the next nine months that is.”
Her and Julie both let out a morbid laugh.
I woke up to my wrists shackled to the basement pipe. Desiree was standing in front of me with a tray of food.
“Here. I’m sure you’re starving.”
The tray had a plate of oatmeal mixed with raspberries and bananas. A cup of spinach with ranch dressing sat beside the bowl.
“You will deal with just me from this point forward. Julie is getting accustomed to life as a new mom. You’ll be given three meals a day with healthy snacks and multivitamins in between.”
She set a jug of water in front of me.
“This jug is to be gone by nightfall, do you understand? You’re carrying Julie’s baby now, so you follow Julie’s rules.”
Desiree shut the basement door, leaving me in darkness. I was famished. I wasn’t sure how long I had been out for, but the knot on top of my head made me suspect to what the Windella’s were capable of. I felt for the food in the darkness. I scarfed down the oatmeal in a matter of minutes, I reached for the jug next. I had lost track of time from being in complete darkness. How long had I been out for? I tried to drink the jug as fast as I could. Exhaustion overtook me as blackness followed.
A stream of light awoke me from my unplanned nap. I saw Desiree standing in the doorway. She looked down at the jug, then back up to me.
I looked at the jug and realized I hadn’t finished the water, nor the cup of spinach.
“I can’t beat you because I wouldn’t want to hurt the baby, but make no mistake, I will torture you.”
She pulled out a pair of pliers, and tugged off my shoe. The pliers clamped down onto my baby toe. She started to tug and twist at my little toe. I felt the pain shoot up my foot and into my ankle. I screamed, but it didn’t stop her. She started laughing as the spit gurgled in the back of her throat. She let go of my toe, bruised and swollen now.
“Next time you’ll do as I say, or your toe will be worse than just dislocated.”
Just as she turned around to leave the room, a brick smacked into her face. She fell to the floor as blood trickled down her nose. Derek was standing in the doorway, barely able to walk a straight line.
“Derek! They took Emory, please go get her!”
Derek ran upstairs, only a few minutes had passed and he was back downstairs with his saw blade. A few seconds later, I was freed from the basement pipe.
Together, we ran next door to the place we thought we trusted. Derek busted open the front door, and we split apart to cover more ground. By the time I got down the hall to the third bedroom, I was partially relieved to see Julie sitting with Emory. Disgust set in as I saw what Julie was doing with my baby. She had Emory cradled on her lap, rocking her back and forth on the rocking chair as she attempted to breastfeed my baby.
I ran up to Julie as she sat content, staring at me while holding my baby. I was maybe three feet away from grabbing Emory off her lap when she pointed a gun at me. I stood with my hands in the air. Our eyes met each other’s as we stood there, her holding the gun while I held my hands in the air. I remembered what Desiree had told me, “I can’t beat you because I wouldn’t want to hurt the baby.”
This meant that Julie wasn’t going to kill me. She needed me alive so that she could take my second baby.
Without a second thought, I lunged for Emory and grabbed her out of her arms. I heard a loud bang, but ran from the house before I could look back. I heard another loud bang and prayed that Derek would make it out safely. As I reached the sidewalk, I felt the pain begin to set in. My jeans stained red as blood slid from the top of my leg. I sat on the curb for what felt like an hour, I couldn’t run any further with this injury. I looked to the front door as I saw the knob begin to turn. My heart was racing, if Julie came out from that door, I would be done for. Just as hopelessness washed over me, I see Derek’s face peek through.
This happened to my family a year ago. We are all okay, and we now have two beautiful girls; Emory and Eliza. I hope everyone who reads this story will use it as a cautionary tale. Research the area you’re moving to.
We ended up moving back in with my parents, about two hours away. I don’t think the house we bought will sell anytime soon with the house being on the front page of the news.
I finally found the courage to google this whole case since we have recovered from everything. The whole story Desiree had told me was a lie. Her daughter Julie was never married. In fact, she had a severe mental illness; pseudocyesis. The disorder makes you believe that you are pregnant. The person experiencing these delusions will even have classic pregnancy symptoms including a swollen stomach, lactation, and labor pains the day the baby is due. Julie would continuously go through the cycle every nine months, and would be distraught when she discovered there was no baby.
Desiree couldn’t stand to see her daughter relive the pain over and over every year, so she began to take matters into her own hands.
This is when the kidnappings began to happen. Desiree would lure the pregnant woman in with the promise of used baby clothes. Once in, they would try to extract the baby (that part of Desiree’s story was true). Without having the medical expertise to do this, the babies and mothers would die.
As far as Desiree’s husband, he had left town the minute he found out what Desiree was planning. He testified saying that after the last time this happened, he thought they were done with this. Their daughter had gotten off on insanity, the court had no idea her parents were involved. Desiree had promised to be Julie’s caretaker, but I think Desiree was a little nut herself with the desire to be a grandma.
When they saw us move in with a baby, the temptation was too high. They thought, “Let’s try this one last time.”
Luckily, our security cameras captured everything. Desiree currently sits behind bars, and we can only hope that she will rot in prison. As for Julie, she sits strapped to a bed in the Ashbury Insane Asylum.
Sometimes, I think about her tied up in that cold room, and I think back to when I was handcuffed in the basement.
All she wanted was her baby.
I thought about how I desperately wanted Emory back when I was tied up, and I realized that maybe we weren’t so different after all.