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Questions About Hallie
The soft skin on her hand was covered with tiny speckles of red. There was blood splattered all over her long, blond hair as my eyes gently followed the golden waves and curls. Her closed eyes looked so peaceful, and if I blocked out all the surroundings, I would almost think she was asleep. And even though she was dead, she had a glow to her. She still looked alive, and her beauty overcame the pain. My eyes trailed slowly along the trickles of blood over to the gun, just lying there, separate from everything; it was almost as if it didn't belong next to her hand.
I looked over at Troy. He was very focused on the gun, as I had been. He looked around her room, maybe for signs of disturbance, and started biting his bottom lip with a worried expression. "Suicide?" he questioned.
"I don't know. I have a strange feeling it's not. When I look at the gun, it just doesn't look like it belongs next to her." He quietly glanced at me.
"The victim's name is Hallie Shuller, age fifteen," he informed me. Then he motioned me toward the living room. I looked at Hallie's mother. She was sitting there staring out the window. Her eyes were fixed on the children playing outside across the street.
"Ms. Shuller?" I questioned, "Would you mind answering a few questions for us?" She looked up at me, and a tear slowly ran down her cheek. I watched as it fell upon her hand. She continued staring out the window. "Well, maybe we could just come back tomorrow if that's okay."
"That should be fine," her voice cracked.
"We'll quickly gather up the evidence we need, and the forensics should be here shortly to clean up," I said. She looked up at me and nodded without saying a word. I felt her pain inside my own heart, just putting myself in that situation. I put myself in her situation, but it's hard to imagine losing something so meaningful.
Back at the office, Troy and I went over Hallie’s background, and we discovered that her dad had left when she was only ten resulting in a brutal divorce. “Divorce is a huge factor in depressed teenagers,” Troy pointed out. “That could have caused depression and brought on suicidal thoughts.”
“That may be true,” I added, “but we still need more proof.” Troy agreed and then left the room. I looked over more information and found out that Hallie attended Glendale High School. She wasn’t involved much in extracurricular activities. Her school records showed that she had a decent attendance record and outstanding grades.
Later the next day, I returned to talk to Ms. Shuller. She looked worse than when I had seen her the day before. Her face was worn out, and she had dark circles under her eyes. When I looked into her eyes, I could see the pain eating away at her. Then I asked her questions about Hallie. She talked about how Hallie had a boyfriend and that they’d been dating for about a year now. His name was Joel Evans, and he was seventeen, two years older than Hallie.
“They were always together,” she added. “They had their little fights, but they were usually over before they even started.”
Then I asked her about Hallie’s father. Her response was rather bitter toward him. “I haven’t seen Jack since that day in court. He put me through hell. Not because he left though,” she firmly stated. “That was probably the best thing he did for me, well, besides giving me Hallie of course.” It was like she was trying to reassure herself through all of her heartache when she realized what she said and that she didn't have Hallie anymore. Then a look formed on her face, like she was being overwhelmed with a thick emotion. I knew she was about to cry so I tried to change the subject.
“Has Hallie ever shown any signs of depression?” I asked.
“Well, she was always the type of girl that kept to herself. She never really had any friends. But, she was pretty occupied with Joel most of the time." I quickly jotted down a few more thoughts and got ready to leave.
“Okay, well thanks for answering my questions, and I’ll let you know about the lab results as soon as I can.”
When I received the lab results the next day, I was shocked. They showed that Hallie was pregnant. I knew I had to tell Ms. Shuller, but I didn’t want to. She was already going through enough dealing with Hallie’s death, and now I was about to add more weight for her to carry. I called Troy to tell him of the news, and he arrived shortly after I hung up. We decided that we would have to interview Joel to get any further in the investigation.
I firmly knocked on the door of the small apartment. An older woman who looked to be in her early fifties came to the door. “Hi, I’m Detective Beckons from the Graham County Detective Agency; I’d like to ask Joel Evans a few questions.”
Her brown, beady eyes pierced through mine. I couldn't tell if she was mad or if she was just trying to figure me out. “Joel!” she yelled roughly. “There’s a detective…Beckons here. She’d like to speak with you.” She looked at me again and then turned away into the dark building.
I heard him yell from inside the apartment. “Hang on, I’m comin’.” He walked out, and Troy and I introduced ourselves. He was tall and thin. His dark brown hair had tints of gold in it and his skin was light brown. He invited us in, and we sat down at the dining table. I began asking him questions about Hallie, slowly working up to the one I’d been waiting to ask.
“Did Hallie ever tell you that she was pregnant?” He looked down at his hands and began playing with his thumbs, and then he looked up at me.
“No, she never told me.” Then a single tear came from his eye, and he wiped it away. He had that look on his face, the kind of look a dog has after being scolded. It was like he felt guilty about something, or that he was hiding something. “About a week ago, she told me that we needed some time away from each other.” His eyes trailed around the room with every word that came out of his mouth. The tears began welling in his eyes. I thought to myself how strange it was that a fifteen and seventeen year old were in such a serious relationship. The majority of teenage girls that age are just beginning to date. What he said made my mind jump from idea to idea.
Hallie may have told Joel about her pregnancy sending Joel in a rage to kill her. Then there was the possibility that when she broke up with Joel, it could have pushed him to kill her. And the other option being that Hallie killed herself due to the circumstances she was in. I returned to the office to look over the evidence. I found that the murder weapon belonged to Joel’s father. The difficult part was that both Hallie and Joel’s fingerprints were found on the gun. I’m wasn't really sure what to think. Of course there was a possibility that Joel’s prints were on the gun because it belonged to his father, but the fact that Hallie could have gotten the gun is quite unlikely.
I spoke with Joel’s father, and he showed me that he kept the weapon in a locked gun safe in his bedroom, which led me to believe that Joel was responsible for Hallie’s death. But that conclusion was shot down when I learned that Joel was at work until midnight. His mother and father told me that they were sleeping when he returned home, so they weren’t sure of the time he arrived. And, of course, Ms. Shuller was working third shift at the factory in town. She had no idea of the night’s occurrences.
I wasn’t sure what to do since we didn’t have enough evidence to accurately accuse Joel Evans of murder. I had to come up with some kind of explanation because I knew that was what Hallie’s mother wanted. There just wasn’t enough evidence to prove either conclusion.
After weeks and weeks of researching, Ms. Shuller grew frustrated that the case remained unsolved and decided to hire someone who, she thought, had better experience. To her dismay, she later learned that there just wasn't enough proof for anyone to solve the case.
Looking back on it after six years, I still don’t know what happened that night. I’m led to believe that both instances are very likely, but neither one has enough evidence. I still have trouble sleeping at night knowing that Ms. Shuller could never fully make peace with Hallie’s death. For now, it’s back in the file cabinet with the other unsolved mysteries.