I am going to start by saying this is 100% true.
Being a horror writer by trade, it is going to be hard to convince you of this, but I will provide a link at the end to a news item related to these events. This story may lack some of the polish and dazzle of the fiction I have written for Thought Catalog. I hope that the fact it is 100% true will make up for this. I’ve written about this experience before elsewhere, but never really delved into the sickening details of this crime. However, my mind has been consumed by this experience lately, and I feel compelled to expand on it and post this here.
I wouldn’t posit caution before reading any of my fiction, but some of the details below are really brutal and sad.
Consider yourself warned.
I was seventeen years old when this took place. I lived in Racine, WI. It was a town of about 80,000 at the time. I was a good kid, college bound, and mostly stayed out of trouble. I was the complete opposite of my older brother.
He was a drug dealer. He was selling weed and coke out of my parent’s house, much to their chagrin. They had given up on him and did not know what to do with such a troubled young adult. Most of all, I think they were worried what a negative influence he was having on me. He would frequently offer me coke. Amicably, I would turn it down. This continued until a night that would reverberate throughout the rest of my life.
I went to a rager with some of my friends from high school. I got incredibly wasted. When I snuck into my house, it was late enough that my parents were asleep. I went into my basement to see my brother setting up lines of blow. In this state of lowered inhibitions, he convinced me to do a line. I immediately felt sober from the alcohol. My heart was beating out of my chest as euphoria washed over me (anyone that has done blow can attest to this). I went outside to have a cigarette. Coked out of my mind, I stood on my porch in complete darkness until a flash of light began to cut through the night.
Someone was walking up and down my street shining a flashlight. I lived in a quiet neighborhood, and this was very unusual. I was about to have a heart attack from the paranoia that began to fill me.
The light started shining directly in my eyes. I froze, scared beyond my wits.
I must have looked absolutely petrified to the police officer holding the flashlight. He came up to my porch and asked if I had seen anything suspicious. I emphatically told him no. Anybody that’s been on drugs and talked to a cop can attest to how harrowing it can be. I was convinced he knew and was going to arrest me, but he seemed too preoccupied to judge my odd behavior. He left quickly while still shining his flashlight down the street looking for something or someone.
When I stepped outside the next day, there was a lot of commotion five houses down from me. News vans and people were scurrying about. It turns out that a double murder had occurred down the street. An elderly couple had been robbed and stabbed to death in their home the previous night. This information alone was bad enough, but I eventually came to learn the nauseating details of their deaths.
The husband, 71-years old at the time, was stabbed 38 times as he attempted to locate a firearm to fend off the assault. He was stabbed so brutally, the knife punctured a tin he kept for cigarettes in his shirt pocket and penetrated his heart.
Now, this is the detail that really troubles me. He probably didn’t die right away they speculated. He was more than likely still alive when his wife, 69-years of age at the time, was murdered. She was stabbed a total of 62 times half of which were to her face, neck, and head. She was stabbed so forcefully, bruises covered her body. One of the wounds to her neck severed her spine and would have killed her immediately, but her body was so brutalized, it was impossible to say the order of the stab wounds and when death occurred.
Suffice to say, this wasn’t your typical robbery gone wrong. A veritable monster had perpetrated this crime.
This rocked my neighborhood. It was a relatively safe place. I remember the couple that were murdered, and they were very nice and neighborly people. My hopes that they would catch the maniac that did this faded as weeks passed by. The only piece of evidence they had was a beer can found at the scene.
From then on, I never forgot to lock my door at night.
Not long after this evening, my brother was arrested. He was caught with drugs and served a stint in the county jail (about a month). Though he was a real knucklehead, I felt bad for him and looked forward to his return home.
The day after my brother was released from jail, the doorbell rang. As I opened the door, I was greeted by my brother’s new friend. I shook his hand and invited him inside. He was my brother’s cellmate while he was locked up. I did not like the company my brother kept (other drug dealers, assorted ne’er do wells), and I immediately took a strong disliking to this guy, Eric Webb. He had cold eyes. He was calculating and had a nervous and twitchy air about him. He was looking around my house so oddly (I remember thinking to myself in the cliche that he was “casing the joint”). Also, he was full of questions. Questions about the neighborhood, questions about our house, questions about the double homicide that had occurred down the street.
He retreated with my brother into the basement. The loud conversation and sniffing I could hear through the vents to my room indicated precisely what activity they were partaking in.
I came home from school a week or so later to be greeted by the blank stare of my brother. All of the color had washed out of him. He looked like he had aged a decade from the last time I had seen him. He told me to sit down and breathlessly divulged to me what had happened. They finally had identified the fingerprint on the beer can found at the scene of the homicide, and it was Eric Webb’s.
I will never forget how this revelation affected me. I had shook the hand of a fucking double murderer! My mind raced. What was he doing in my home? Oh God! Was he casing our house as well?
As my brother and I talked, he discussed his time in jail. While they were sharing a cell, they had a lot of time on their hands and talked a lot. My brother had told him about the killing to which Eric took an immediate interest. In retrospect, my brother said he should have known something was weird about that. It became clear that he had struck up a friendship with my brother in order to scope out the proverbial scene of the crime, but the unspoken question that hung in the air and we did not discuss was, could he have been thinking about doing the same to us?
In addition to all of this, my brother was a known coke dealer, and as my suspicions confirmed, indulged in the drug with him. Eric later claimed that he committed the crimes in order to feed his voracious appetite for crack. This only added fuel to the fire of speculation in my mind.
I will never know for sure to this day if he was planning anything similar for my family, but thinking about the whole thing now is giving me literal goosebumps. It is something that has haunted me for far too long. Eric Webb was thankfully convicted of the homicides, and I will never forget what the family members of his victims said at his sentencing.
I step back and forget about the terror I felt personally and am filled once again with pain and sadness for this family that experienced horror beyond anything I could conceive of with my pen.
Even though it is eleven years later, I remember their comments vividly as I read them in the local paper. Something about their statements were so simple, yet fittingly harsh. Words born out of true anguish and honesty directed at a real, living, and breathing monster.
“Eric Webb is an animal.”
“Lower than dirt.”
“A waste of skin.”
I am glad that I found this article but not for the reasons I thought initially. I figured I have been given an opportunity to shine a light on pure, unadulterated evil. I was overcome with fresh feelings of loathing for this piece of shit and planned to end this article after the last quote above. However, I continued to read the news item and came across a quote from another family member at the end that I had failed to notice these long years. Tears filled my eyes as I read it.
“I wake up in the morning thinking about this, I go to bed thinking about this. But after today… I will not waste another second of my life thinking about Eric Webb.”
By revisiting this one last time and writing it down, I think I’m finally going to be able to do that.