Hayley Morris was my older sister. Our mom drank herself to death when we were kids, so it was just the two of us and our dad. Though we were wholly different souls, it was those differences that bonded us. We balanced each other out. Hayley was 17 at the time, two years my senior, though it always felt like there was no age difference between us. Next week, it’ll be five years since Hayley first disappeared.
August 12, 2010 was the day my dad began suspecting that something had gone terribly wrong. Hayley had gone to a sleepover at her friend’s house the night before and never returned. When he called her friend’s parents to ask about her the next afternoon, they said she’d left early in the morning – she said “her ride” had come to pick her up, but she never specified who it was. Alarmed by this, he called the police.
They refused to file a missing persons report at first. Told us it was common for girls around her age to feel angst, run away, and eventually come back. But Hayley was popular, successful, loved. She had it all. Her running away didn’t make any sense. Three days passed before they finally filed it.
There was absolutely no trace of Hayley’s disappearance, so detectives had no idea where to start. A few weeks later, hundreds of volunteers combed my area of the city and the rural fields around it. Nothing.
Hayley’s best friend Melissa, the girl who’s house she was sleeping over at, said Hayley hadn’t been acting out of the ordinary. She did however suspect that she had started talking to someone online. She’d left her laptop open one day and Melissa stumbled upon messages with someone with the username Dynamyte111 (male/18/USA) in an online chat room. Hayley came back into the room before Melissa got the chance to read their conversation. She seemed panicked when she saw Melissa looking at the laptop, immediately slammed the screen shut and changed the topic. Melissa brushed off the incident and never thought much of it after that.
I knew Hayley spent a lot of time on the computer in her spare time and often made online friends. Perhaps she’d attracted some bad company along the way. I shared my thoughts with the police.
In light of this information, the police department’s computer wizards began working their magic. Dynamyte111 had since deleted his user profile off the chatting website. They went through Hayley’s laptop. There were a few short snippets of conversations between her and Dynamyte111 saved chronologically in her notes. They spanned over the course of about a month.
July 3, 2010
Dynamyte111: i’ve never met a girl like you
HaylayBayBay: like me?
HaylayBayBay: haha in what way?
Dynamyte111: every way possible
July 10, 2010
Dynamyte111: nebraska isn’t THAT far from canada, you’d be worth the trip
HaylayBayBay: LOL you wouldn’t actually come here all the way for me [blushing smiley face]
Dynamyte111: i’d travel any and all lengths for you
July 15, 2010
Dynamyte111: have you told your dad or sister about us?
HaylayBayBay: well i don’t know how i’d start explaining
Dynamyte111: good. don’t. we’ll tell them together where they can see the love between us first-hand. i want them to see in person how much i adore you
HaylayBayBay: awe you cutie. dw i won’t. but the real question is – when are you going to send me a picture of yourself?
Dynamyte111: hahaha like i said i’m shy right now cuz of my wisdom teeth removal Hay Bear >:/ but you’re someone i’d actually feel comfortable revealing myself to. i swear i’m at least a 7/10 LOL brunette, 5’11. trust me, you’ll like what you see as much as i do ;)
HaylayBayBay: mmMm i’m trying to imagine you right now… on top of me [heart-eyed smiley face]
Dynamyte111: you’ll get all that and more babe ;)
July 28, 2010
Dynamyte111: good morning princess <3
HaylayBayBay: morning baby. 15 mornings left till you’re here
Dynamyte111: 15 mornings till i’m united with my sun
The last snippet was saved exactly 15 days before Hayley’s disappearance.
I knew Hayley better than she knew herself. I knew Dynamyte111 had her wrapped around his finger — he definitely had a way with his words. She’d always craved assurance, attention, and validation and he spoon-fed it to her. She had clearly saved these messages for a reason, as reminders of all those things. It was more than obvious that he likely had a hand in her disappearance. He became the prime suspect. But who was he?
Detectives began contacting Nebraskan Police Departments. Assuming Dynamyte111 was telling the truth in his messages, the profile they prepared of the suspect described a highly-intelligent, highly-manipulative male, brunette, 5’11 in height, likely in his late teens — a good 1 percent of Nebraska.
The investigation led them thousands of miles away from home into a different country and it’s not like they had any evidence to confirm that the claims the suspect was making in the messages were genuine. Even if they were, the potential pool of suspects was still massive. Detectives were essentially clueless and the investigation felt like it was going nowhere.
My dad spiralled deeper and deeper into his depression. He started smoking again and drank himself to sleep every night. I was all he had left and he stuck to me like glue. I was his entire world now, his only light.
A year-and-a-half later, a young family camping by the Red Deer River had the misfortune of swimming in it. The seven-year-old daughter swam underwater and found a small black plastic garbage bag sitting at the bottom. Thinking it was “hidden treasure,” she brought it back up to the shore and opened it. The revolting odor of rotting flesh surged out. It was filled with human limbs.
The body had been stripped naked and dismembered completely – arms, thighs, calves, feet, fingers, toes, the torso cut in half horizontally, and at the very bottom of the bag, a head with blonde hair, the mouth stuck in a haunting gasp.
Dental records confirmed that it was Hayley. Though the remains were badly decomposed, the autopsy report suggested she’d been dismembered while she was alive. Bruising around her wrists and ankles indicated she’d been tied down when it happened, but there were no signs of a struggle before that. She didn’t see it coming.
The cuts were rough, violent, and evidently passionate. They wanted her wanted to make her to feel as much pain as she could in her final moments. They wanted her to feel helpless and insignificant, to remind her that she was no more than a mass of flesh, no more than a foolish animal raised for slaughter.
There was no distinctive clues or foreign DNA found on her and the investigation screeched to a stop. Over two years, all they pieced together with certainty was that Hayley had likely met up with someone she met on the Internet, that person had likely killed her and that the weapon used to murder her was probably a large straight-edged knife.
What a weak and sloppily-executed investigation. For one, they forgot to ask any of the neighbours if they’d seen Hayley get into a car during the morning of her disappearance. I saw the old man that lived three doors down watering his flowers when I was waiting outside. They only interviewed Melissa’s family, my dad, me, and some of Hayley’s other friends. They were swayed by my tears and “shock” and recollection of my close relationship with her – it didn’t occur to them at all to investigate me or question my alibi.
But where was I that morning, though? Sleeping soundly in my bed… right?
No, I had been awake since 5AM getting all my tools in order. My dad was never a chef and never realized our largest butcher knife had gone missing. The $600 cash I’d withdrawn out of my savings account to buy the shitty little car I picked Hayley up in was used to go back-to-school “make-up and shoe shopping” with, I told him. How these occurrences didn’t raise any red flags for him still boggles my mind. But obviously I’m glad they didn’t.
I fucking got away with it.
I messaged Hayley as Dynamyte111 the night of her sleepover to remind her about our plans.
August 12, 2010
Dynamyte111: i’m just stopped at a starbucks in north dakota right now to grab some coffee… and use the wifi of course to talk to you of course haha ;) i should be there just by 7AM. i’ll honk twice when i’m outside to let you know it’s me, k?
HaylayBayBay: kk. i can’t believe this is finally happening. but don’t you ever think we rushed into it too soon?
Dynamyte111: i feel like i know all i need to know about you after just a month. i know you feel that too. i just can’t wait any longer baby. i crave you
HaylayBayBay: ugh… mel wants to watch a movie so i have to go. i guess i’ll see you in a few hours. love you
Dynamyte111: i love you more
The next morning, I took the city bus to the random alley I was keeping the car parked in with my backpack of supplies. I drove it over to Melissa’s house and honked twice. Hayley emerged from the front door and walked towards my car.
“Oh what the fuck! Julia!?” she said when she got close enough to see clearly through the window, startled.
I laughed playfully.
“Hey sis! Surprise! Max told me everything a few nights ago and asked me to come get you to meet him in a secret location, he has something special planned for you,” I winked.
She covered her mouth and chuckled.
“Oh my God! He said we were gonna tell you and dad together but I guess this works too!”
She jumped into the car, excited by the thought that her dear baby sister accepted her secret lover and had a surprise for her. What could it be?
“Here, put this on.”
I handed her a blindfold and she fastened it around her eyes.
We drove for about 20 minutes to an abandoned farmhouse I’d found a few weeks ago during my planning phase.
I led her out the car and got her to sit on an old chair.
“Where are we? Max?!” She called out cheerfully.
“Tie her up? A little kinky there, Max.”
I pretended to be talking to someone else in the room. I proceeded to tie her up with white nylon rope.
“What? Why? What do you have planned for me?” she said with a flirty tone.
She was smiling the entire time like an oblivious little puppy.
“Just sit still, you’ll see!” I said as I finished securing the rope around her ankles.
I undid her blindfold and walked back around to stand in front of her, butcher knife grasped tightly in my left hand.
A fit of laughter rushed through me.
“You stupid fucking bitch.”
Hayley’s smile suddenly twisted into a confused frown.
“I’ve always fucking hated you. You know, I’ve been planning this moment in my head every single night since I was 6 years old. It helped me sleep at night.”
“What are you talk-”
Hayley and I were wholly different souls and it was those differences that bonded us. We balanced each other out; I hated her – she loved me. She was the empathetic sweetheart – I was the malevolent outcast.
More than anything, I hated that my mother could always see these differences between, us even as kids. She had always favoured Hayley over me. I was the reason she even began drinking. She looked terrified every time she’d try looking into my eyes and saw blankness staring back. I was the child every parent had nightmares about. The one without a conscience, the one with no moral compass, guided not by love or compassion but by the most primal of animal instincts. It was a competition more than it was sisterhood. Hayley was older, kinder and prettier. But thank God I was always the clever one. The one that sat back and observed keenly and plotted silently.
I was destined to win.
My dad is even more naive than my poor sister. He didn’t share the same understanding of me as my mother did so there are only benefits of having him around. With Hayley out of the picture, all his attention and wealth are going to be directed towards me. I’m his only little girl now, his only reason to be.
Hayley’s case was never solved and never will be as long as I keep on my mask of normality, of an eternally grieving sister and needy daughter. They’ll never understand the feeling of having someone completely at your mercy. They’ll never know about the way I panted with joy as I saw her choke pathetically on her own blood. The way she begged me to “get it over with” as I took my time savouring every muscle fibre I shred through. They’ll never understand what it felt like to become God, even if it was just for a moment.