Dressed to Kill – The Conclusion
Standoff at the Old Victorian B&B
Humboldt, West Virginia ~ October 11, 2003
Sitting in her wingback chair, Molly Byrne Stewart looked and felt relaxed when the first intruder poked his head into the parlor and spotted her. He said no words to Molly but ran to get the others who were noisily exploring different parts of her home.
He returned shortly with a man whose neck was completely tattooed with an ornate scene. The first man pointed to Molly, and the Tattooed Man shouted for the others to join them.
As the two remaining men entered Molly’s parlor, Tattoo Man boldly walked up to Molly and pulled a Glock from his waistband, pointing it straight at her head. She took a sip from her glass of sherry and asked calmly, “Young man, what is it you plan to do with that gun?”
“Put a bullet through your head if you don’t tell me where you stashed all that money I’ve been hearing about,” he growled.
She laughed, saying, “You look too smart to do that. Even if I did tell you where my riches are, you don’t have the combination to my safe.”
In a move meant to intimidate Molly, Tattoo Man, the apparent leader of this ragtag gang, walked behind Molly’s chair, and placed a hand on each shoulder. She felt the cold muzzle of the gun touching her neck just under her right ear.
He gently massaged her shoulders, saying, “I don’t think you have much choice in this matter. Either you tell us the combination, or we’ll kill you.”
One of the men, a dull-witted, portly fellow, whom Molly would think of as “Lumpy,” offered, “But Jimmy, I thought you were gonna kill her anyway.”
“Shut the hell up; you just told her my name, you idiot.” Tattoo Man screamed.
Lumpy looked down at the floor and said,” Sorry, Boss, my mama says it’s a sin to kill someone, so it’s good that the old lady gets to live.”
Tattoo Man ignored Lumpy and began squeezing Molly’s shoulders harder, to the point that it was painful. Her resolve to be calm was tested, yet she didn’t budge or cry out.
Tattoo Man put his mouth down to her left ear and said just loud enough for everyone to hear, “How about we drag you up to the top floor and drop you from the window where you watched us having fun with your old dog?”
One of the thugs, the man who kicked Shep, laughed and said, “I’ll volunteer for that job. That will be much more fun than kicking the old lady’s dead mutt.”
“Again,” Molly asked as if genuinely inquiring, “How would that help you get in the safe?”
She now knew they planned to kill her to leave no witnesses. She also had an idea of what Tattoo Man’s next move would be in the realm of scare tactics.
He stepped away from Molly and walked over to the silent member of the gang who had not yet said a word. Molly thought of him as Evil Eyes, as his dark beady eyes had a sadistic look.
Tattoo Man told Evil Eyes, “She’s all yours, get to work.” Evil Eyes reached into a pocket, pulled out a straight razor, and slowly walked toward Molly.
Evil Eyes said nothing, but Tattoo Man said, “Frank can do magic with a razor. He’ll cut one piece from you at a time until you tell us the combination to your safe. And you will tell us; it’s just a matter of how much of your body you’re willing to part with.”
The do-or-die moment had arrived for Molly. She had to make her move now or suffer torture and likely be killed.
As Evil Eyes approached Molly with the knife, she put her left hand in her nightgown pocket and stood facing him. When he was a few feet away, she opened the gown, exposing a suicide vest, and held out a pressure detonator so that he could see that her thumb was depressing the button.
“This detonator is wired to twenty pounds of C-4 and would likely bring this entire house down,” Molly said firmly.
He stopped dead in his tracks facing Molly and raised an arm as if he was planning on taking the detonating device from her. She smiled and said, “Are you sure you want to take that chance with all of our lives?”
Tattoo Man shouted across the room, “Don’t get near her, you dumb [SOB]. You’ll get us all killed.”
The man who had kicked Shep ran to the door only to find he couldn’t open it. He ran to the other door, which was also locked from the outside. He screamed, “We’re trapped in this room with that crazy bitch; do something, Jimmy.”
Before Tattoo Man could answer, Molly loudly and firmly said, pointing at the two loveseats, “If you men have any hope for getting out of this house alive, you better sit down there and listen very carefully to what I have to say.”
When the men were seated, Lumpy and Shep’s Kicker on one side and Evil Eyes and Tattoo Man on the other, Molly began walking to her chair.
At one point, she pretended to trip over the rug, and their reaction was predictable – all four men reacted with either a gasp or an invective. Duly noted, Molly thought. She was now confident that the men feared the suicide vest.
Molly closed the oversized housecoat to prevent the thugs from giving her explosive vest too much scrutiny. Once seated, she put the arm holding the detonator on the armrest while daintily sipping her sherry with the other.
She then asked the men if they had any questions before she explained what she called “our shared destiny.”
She giggled when Lumpy said, “I have a question, ma’am. How old is this house? It’s mighty big and pretty.”
She later felt a pang of guilt when she realized that this poor unfortunate creature would not walk out of this room. It was clear to Molly that Lumpy did not understand the gravity of the situation – he was just a follower.
The only other question asked was by Tattoo Man; the others were too shocked to speak. He wondered where she got the suicide vest, and she explained that her husband was an explosive ordinance expert and that he taught her everything she needed to know about bombs. (A tiny white lie as George rarely discussed his work or the death and destruction caused by explosive devices.)
Then he said the words she was hoping for, “What if I told you that I don’t believe you would blow yourself up? I think you’re just bluffing.”
She stopped him cold, saying, “I don’t give a damn what you think, you weasel of a man. First off, there is no way you would allow a witness to your crime to live. Additionally, I only have a few weeks to live anyway. You see, I have a condition called glioblastoma.” (Another fabrication)
The men looked confused. Perfect, she thought, and explained, “I have an aggressive form of inoperable brain cancer, and, very soon, I will lose control of my mind and body. It might happen in the next few minutes; you never know with brain cancer.”
Molly made her next move, one from which she couldn’t turn back.
“OK, the question period is over. I will tell you what is going to happen now.”
She paused for effect, then continued, “One of you will walk out of this room alive. The last man standing takes all. Who walks out of this room is totally up to you. I don’t really give a damn who the lucky man is, but if any of you makes a wrong move in my direction, we will all go up in smoke.”
These men were not intellectuals by any stretch of the imagination, so it took a few minutes of silence for their plight to sink in. Then, things happened quickly. And much as Molly intended.
She guessed that Tattoo Man would make the first move, but she was wrong. The despicable man who kicked Shep’s lifeless body pulled his gun and shot Tattoo Man right between the eyes. Tattoo Man’s gun fell from his hand and slid across the rug, stopping at Molly’s feet.
Evil Eyes rose from the couch and lunged with his straight razor at Shep’s Kicker. They struggled for a few moments, then two shots rang out, and Evil Eyes dropped his knife, slowly collapsing to the floor.
Shep’s Kicker immediately turned to face Lumpy, who was idly sitting there with his gun in his lap, dumbfounded by the violence. Without hesitation, he shot Lumpy in the chest, thrusting him back against the loveseat.
When the remaining man turned to face Molly, she had Tattoo Man’s gun aimed right at his heart. Shep’s Kicker was surprised and confused that the explosive detonator was now lying on the floor.
Before he could figure it out and react, Molly ordered him to drop his gun. Holding his gun, still pointed at the floor, he said, “So the damn bomb is a fake?”
“That’s correct,” Molly replied confidently, although the gun began shaking even with both hands gripping it. Molly had never pointed a gun at any living thing, let alone shot another human.
Shep’s Kicker became more emboldened by the fear and hesitation he sensed in Molly. He looked her straight in the eyes and said, “You aren’t going to shoot me; you don’t have it in you.”
Molly knew he was right; she didn’t have it in her after all. The ruthless excuse for a human smiled and slowly raised his gun in Molly’s direction.
A single shot rang out, and Shep’s Kicker slowly turned to face Lumpy, who, with great effort, had shot him. Molly saw a rivulet of blood running down Shep’s Kicker’s neck from a small hole at the base of his skull.
He staggered for a few moments, then collapsed dead onto the blood-soaked love-seat beside Lumpy.
Before Lumpy took his final breath, he said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, we brought you this trouble. Please tell my mama she raised me right; it’s just that I’m not too good at picking friends.” Then, he was gone.
The petite older woman remained seated in her brocaded wingback chair until she regained her usual composure. She reflected on the flurry of events of the last 20 minutes.
Molly looked around the room, whispering in the presence of the four dead men, “I have a bit of housekeeping to attend to.”
Because she had managed to stay out of the fray, she had no blood on her skin or clothing. She wiped her fingerprints from the Glock and carefully put it in Tattoo Man’s hand. She had not fired the weapon, and no powder residue would be found on her person.
After reversing the locks on the parlor doors, Molly took the suicide vest to George’s office and disassembled it. She first removed the explosive packets, which were nothing more than individual serving-size Rice Krispie boxes painted flat black.
She ripped away the 15 meters of black and red wiring from George’s Orvis fly-fishing vest and tenderly hung it on the wall with the rest of his fishing paraphernalia.
One of the benefits of a large Victorian house is countless hiding places. She placed the fake bomb residue and the bicycle handle detonator in her favorite one and went to the kitchen to call the sheriff’s office, reporting a home invasion.
It took them well over an hour to arrive. Then the crime technicians took the requisite fingerprints and photographs.
Molly was surprised that the officer in charge, a woman named Detective Deborah Hutchinson, asked her very few questions. Molly assumed that all of the elements of a home invasion gone wrong were obvious to the detective and, perhaps, she had no further questions.
After the bodies were removed, the entourage left through the main entrance. When Detective Hutchinson reached the door, she hesitated and turned back to face Molly.
In the style of Columbo, she asked Molly, “One more question, ma’am. How is it that four men died violently in your parlor, and you don’t have a scratch?”
“You certainly don’t expect me, the victim, to account for the behavior of three vicious psychopaths who invaded the sanctity of my home?” Molly coolly replied.
The detective thought about it for a moment and smiled, saying, “I guess you’re right. But, why did you say three perpetrators when there are four dead men?”
Molly answered, “One of those men was neither vicious nor a psychopath. He was a mentally-challenged young man who loved his mother and got involved with something he did not fully understand.”
Hutchinson walked back to the door, but before leaving, she looked back at Molly and said, “Maybe you should tell his mother that.” As the detective closed the door, she gave Molly a knowing wink and a quick thumbs up.
Molly smiled and said aloud to herself, “Maybe I will.”