Chapter 6: Choctaw County
A/N: WARNING: This chapter is rated “T” for slightly graphic descriptions of crime scene photos.
Also, I’m using the Map of Hazzard County that you can see in several episodes. I have a link to it on my profile page (if it’s not there, check back in an hour or so). If anyone has an actual copy of this, could they verify that the big lake in Choctaw County is Choocha-Coobee? That’s what it looks like, but it’s hard to make out. Also, they look like they just stuck things on the map randomly, so I’ve taken the liberty of adding things where I think they should go. All my additions are in RED. Probably many more additions to come.
Choctaw County was about half the size of Hazzard County. It was primarily a tourist trap for fishing on Lake Choocha-Coobee as well as the smaller Lake Chickamahony which lay southwest of Seminole Canyon and whose southern edge bordered Hazzard County . Choctaw was the county seat and, being so small, the local doctor also served as the county’s coroner.
Enos pulled his car up to the Sheriff’s office in the little village. There wasn’t much going on here, Choctaw had been a booming town in the early 20’s as mining took hold, but by the mid 30’s the ore supply had dried up and with the depression, people who had made the town their home moved west looking for work. The town now boasted nothing more than a Post Office, Sheriff’s department, and a gas station connected to a small mom and pop General Store. Dilapidated buildings, vacant for decades, ringed the small town square.
He pulled open the door to the Sheriff’s department and went in. A woman with coke-bottle glasses sat behind the desk, working on a crossword puzzle and chewing gum. She looked up as he entered and gave him a warm smile.
“Well, now, you must be Enos Strate ’cause we shore ain’t ‘spectin’ nobody else comin’ by today.”
“Yes ma’am. That’d be me.” He looked around. “Is Dewey in?”
“He’s in his office. You’re in luck, Doc Pritchard’s with him.” She pointed to a side door labeled simply “office”.
“Thank ya’, kindly.” He crossed through the waiting area and knocked softly on the door before opening it.
“…Speak of th’ devil! Hey Enos,” said Dewey, “I’s just tellin’ Doc here about th’ time you done gave ol’ Rosco th’ shuck-n’-jive back when we’s in th’ Academy.”
“Oh, no Dewey, that’s an awful story,” complained Enos, “he don’t wanna hear ’bout that.”
“Hi Enos,” the man said, standing and shaking Enos’s hand, “I’m Doc Pritchard, but you can just call me “Doc”.”
“Pleased t’ meet ya’, sir. Don’t mind what he tells ya’, they put me up to it.”
“Only ’cause you were th’ one drivin’! So anyways,” the Sheriff continued, “we were headin’ back to Atlanta from visitin’ my folks – me, Enos, and Jeb Waller from up in Seminole. We’d just crossed over into Hazzard County, down towards Pine Hollow Road when we pass this girl…”
“…Yeah, havin’ car trouble. Anyways she was pretty easy on th’ eyes so we stopped t’ see if we could help. None of us knew much ’bout fixin’ cars, though,” he laughed. “She was all worried ’cause she had a couple bottles of shine that her pa’ needed to get t’ Caleb Tillson before th’ end of the day. It was only a few miles down the road so, being the kind boys that we were, we told her we’d deliver ’em for her. Of course we hadn’t so much as turned the corner that ol’ Rosco started out after us. He chased up around the hills for a while until Enos here led him right through a revenuer trap. That squad car’s probably still moulderin’ at the bottom o’ Sticky Swamp. Say, Enos, did ya’ ever tell him it was you drivin’?”
“Anyways, I suppose we should get down to th’ business y’all came for, like as not. Enos, I don’t know what all you know, but I suppose you’ll want t’ see th’ reports and pictures.”
“Yeah, I’ll need t’ go over ’em.”
Sheriff Wilkes passed him two folders, labeled with the names of each of the two victims found in Choctaw County; Annabelle Murphy and Doris Hicks. He opened up the first one, giving a cursory glance at the autopsy report, then took out the photos, studying them one by one.
Crime scene photos were a standard part of procedure, and Enos had seen more than his fair share working in LA. After a few months, you became desensitized to them – a necessary defense mechanism of that line of work. This was the first time he’d worked a case involving someone he knew, though – not only that, but someone he was as close to as Daisy. His mind kept stumbling over the fact that the hands who had taken the life of these girls now held Daisy’s in them.
Dewey stood up and motioned to the doctor. “Doc, why don’t ya’ join me for a cup o’ coffee. Enos, you want me t’ bring you some coffee?”
“No thanks, Dewey.”
Dewey led Doc Pritchard out of the office, closing the door gently behind them. Enos stopped and lay the pictures down on the desk and rubbed his eyes.
“She’s not Daisy…,” he whispered to himself, “but if you don’t get on with figurin’ somethin’ out, it’s gonna be Daisy.”
He took a deep breath and picked the pictures back up. The girls were clothed, and though found by the water they had obviously been dumped there. In addition to being badly beaten, both women had a single ligature mark around their throats where they’d been strangled by what looked to be a heavy gauge coated wire or something else smooth and about a quarter inch diameter. There were no ligature marks on their wrists or their ankles (telling him they’d probably been kept somewhere their killer wasn’t worried about them escaping from.)
The picture that captured his attention the most was the closeup of Annabelle’s hands, though. Her fingernails had obviously once been neatly manicured, but the nails had all been broken off, a few ground past the quick until they had bled. He flipped the folder of Doris Hicks back open and sifted through the pictures until he found the closeup of her hands. Her nails had been short, but the ends of her fingers were cut and bloody, just like Annabelle’s.
Enos looked up as Dewey and Doc came back in. “Doc, the girl from Sweetwater, I don’t suppose you’ve seen th’ photos have ya’?”
The man shook his head. “That I haven’t, though she was found submerged so there likely isn’t much t’ see.”
“What about these girls’ clothes, were they wet or dry?” he asked, tapping the picture in front of him. “I know Doris was outside for a few days, but Dewey said Annabelle hadn’t been there long.”
“Not long at all, in fact I’d say she hadn’t been there for more than an hour at most.”
“Possum on a gum-bush! Did anybody see anything?”
“Naw, a guy went out to check some traps in the area and got turned around and lost, otherwise nobody would’ve found her for weeks,” He looked at Enos thoughtfully. “Funny you should ask about their clothes. Annabelle’s jeans were soaked, like she’d been sitting in water, but her shirt was dry for the most part.”
Enos frowned. “That fits th’ bill with what I was thinkin’.”
“What’s that?” asked Doc.
“I think he keeps ’em in an old well. It would explain why he didn’t bother t’ bind their hands or feet, an’ why their fingers were torn up. It might not be a well exactly, but somethin’ like that anyhow.”
Enos shook his head. “The girls’ fingers, they were all cut up like they’d tried to climb up or out of somethin’. I can’t imagine anyone trying to climb out of a silo unless it was an ol’ brick one, but even then they wouldn’t be settin’ in water.”
“Well, that’s bad enough,” said Dewey, “but it gets worse. The bottom’s ‘sposed to drop outta the temperature come Thursday night. They say we’re gonna get th’ worst ice storm we’ve had in fifty years. If she’s outside in a well, wet and cold, she ain’t gonna make it through th’ week.”
Enos shot up out of the chair. “Listen y’all, I’ve gotta get movin’ if I’m gonna find her before then. I’ll catch up to ya’ later, Dewey. Nice t’ meet ya’, Doc.” He practically sprinted from the office, thanked the secretary as he passed her, and bolted out the front door and down the steps to his car. Today was Tuesday – he only had until the day after tomorrow.
Back in the Sheriff’s office, Doc Pritchard turned to Sheriff Wilkes. “Somethin’ sure lit a fire under that boy’s rear end.”
Dewey watched from the window as Enos drove off like a bat out of Hell. “You know the gal that’s missin’?”
“Enos grew up with her – shoot, her family practically adopted him. They were engaged a couple years back.”
“Geez Louise! No wonder he’s antsy.”
“Aw, that’s just Enos. It’s when he starts talkin’ all serious like you’ve got t’ worry ’bout him.”
“He sounded pretty serious t’ me.”
“Yeah, that’s why I’m worried.”
Enos took the shorter way around the mountains and back into Hazzard by highway, gunning the Javelin’s 401 for all she was worth. Coming around the town square, he saw Bo and Luke outside the garage that used to belong to Cooter, now Jake. He slid across the road in a controlled skid and came to a stop perfectly parallel parked in front of the garage. It was a feat worthy of the General Lee, and if Enos hadn’t been so worried, he might have been pretty pleased with himself. He climbed out of the car and went around to where Luke and Bo stood.
“I sure am glad you’re not chasin’ us around anymore,” said Bo. “Where’d ya’ learn t’ drive like that?”
Enos, who had too much on his mind to have paid attention to his driving, looked back at his car, surprised. “Oh,” he laughed nervously, “I guess that was pretty good, huh? I took a course in defensive drivin’ at the LAPD. Listen fellas, we’ve got t’ get busy on this lead. Do ya’ know if Uncle Jesse found out anything on th’ truck?”
“Yeah, he filled us in an’ Rosco had Cletus take us over to th’ bank to watch it ourselves,” said Luke. “Jake said he hadn’t done any on a truck like that that he remembers, but we found someone who did.”
“Who’s that, Luke?”
Luke motioned Enos to follow him and Bo into the shop. A man was bent over the engine of a car, but his face was obscured by the hood. Luke nudged the man’s shoulder. “Hey, someone’s here t’ see ya’.”
Out from under the hood came Cooter Davenport himself, looking for everything like he’d never left Hazzard for Washington D.C. “Hey y’all…Enos!” He shook his hand. “It’s good t’ see ya’, even though I wished it were for somethin’ happier.”
“Hey Cooter, I owe ya’ one, an’ I won’t forget it neither.”
“I just bet you won’t, Buddy Roe, if’n we can find out who we’s lookin’ fer. Uncle Jesse said ya’ had a lead on a white truck?”
“Well, now, light colored. Th’ tape was black an’ white, so it could be anything from beige t’ white or light blue possibly. You put in a suspension?”
“Yeah, I did. Couple years back for a feller over in Chalk Hills. Ol’ Rooster Sills, you know him?”
“Yeah, I’ve met him once or twice back with my pa’.”
“You still got that tape? If I take a look at it I could probably tell you if it’s th’ same one or not.”
“Sure do, let’s go.”
Cooter watched the tape and confirmed that it was the same one he’d installed the custom springs on. He didn’t remember exactly what year of Chevy it was, only that it was an early 80’s model and off-white (or dirty, he added).
“Well, I’m gonna ride on over t’ Chalk Hills and check with Rooster about that truck,” said Enos. “He’s getting’ up there in years. Can’t imagine he’d have anythin’ to do with somethin’ like this, but maybe he’s got family around that use it.”
“Alright, well, me an’ Bo are gonna head back to th’ farm.”
Enos caught his arm and stopped him. “Luke…”
“Dixie has t’ be somewhere. Check th’ ditches on th’ way home.”
The man looked at him gravely before nodding his head. “Will do, Enos, will do.”