Eastwick, Southwest Philadelphia. 25th June 2006.
At around 7:45 on Monday morning, 911 received a call regarding a possible robbery occurring in the quiet, middle class community in the state of Pennsylvania.
The caller was the overworked and underpaid maintenance worker that had been doing some minor repair works to the devoted home of Darin and Michelle Fleck, well, devoted it may have appeared.
Earlier that morning when he had knocked on the Fleck’s door, there was no answer. But when Bill made his way around to the back of the house, he made a distressing discovery.
‘The rear patio glass has been shattered, I think something awful has happened, get the police over here, now!’ He exclaimed rather panicked down the phone to the call operator. There was no sign of 44 year old Darin Fleck, who was always there to let him in. ‘He’s nowhere to be seen. I shouted in the door a few times but I didn’t get a response.’ He added. The woman calmly asked him to remain outside of the premises and requested him not to enter the crime scene whilst she dispatched the nearest police unit to the location.
When the police finally arrived, they knew that they were dealing with something much more sinister than another simple robbery case.
The minute they anxiously stepped through the shattered window and continued through the house they unveiled what could have been a gore scene; the kitchen was like something out of an old clich??d horror film, there was blood everywhere; on the floors, walls and furniture. Following the route of blood, they quickly found its origin. It revealed Darin Fleck’s body lying motionless on his icy, stone cold garage floor.
He was still alive’ but barely.
Had he been maliciously attacked and left for dead? To solve this horrific attack, it would mean to expose the secrets of these once welcoming and valued streets.
When the couple moved into the neighbourhood in 2005, Darin and Michelle Fleck seemed to be a flawless fit for the friendly community of Eastwick. They had been together for some time but had never really put any roots even though they seemed to be the stereotypical middle-class; exultant and contented couple. Although everything seemed adequate, there was an immense strain on their picture perfect relationship. Behind closed doors life wasn’t quite so clear cut.
What their friends and family were not aware of was that Michelle had undertaken years of heart aching ill-treatment from the man she once cherished.
It wasn’t long, a month maybe after settling in that the Fleck’s became good friends with their next door neighbours, Sarah and Steven Gibson. Michelle and Sarah swiftly became very close and considered each other best friends. Given the nature of their relationship, Michelle felt like she finally had somebody to talk to about her ever growing troubles with Darin. She would confide in Sarah about their problems, where Sarah would always suggest breaking it off with him, saying that it was like dragging dead weight. Michelle never understood the full meaning of what Sarah was saying. She would explain often that it was like a cat and mouse relationship; always going around in circles with no winner.
One afternoon, Michelle arrived at Sarah’s front door with thick glistening tears pouring from her red, swollen eyes and streaming down her hot, hand stricken face. Sarah hastily took her inside, sat her down and awkwardly busied herself making tea. ‘He hit me again, Sarah. I feel so betrayed! Why is he acting like such an animal’? After Michelle had finished explaining that her and Darin had gotten into an argument, and that he had struck her several times, Sarah stopped and turned around, she came out with something that caught Michelle off guard, ‘You should just kill him.’ Abruptly escaped her tongue. ‘It would be a lie to say that it hasn’t crossed my mind” murmured Michelle rather sheepishly, but she instantly felt ashamed. ‘You’ve got to do it’ it’s for your own good ‘ it will help, I promise.’ Michelle conveyed an awkward smile then they continued to rather enthusiastically discuss how much of a monster her husband had shown himself to be. What Michelle hadn’t caught on to, was that Sarah was manipulating her into pursuing an inexcusable and cold-blooded crime, for reasons presently unknown’
‘I’m petrified what he’s gonna’ do to me next. I can’t go back!’ Sarah reassured Michelle and convinced her that she ought to return home.
When Michelle eventually built up the valour to leave that night and return to her much feared husband, she had begun to think about what Sarah had proposed. She thought to herself: how much better would my life be, how much better would I feel if I were to kill him? She began visualising scenarios of herself starting afresh with a handsome new lover, someone who cared. Having children and finally getting the opportunity to walk gracefully down the aisle knowing she was going to be happy and not having the early feeling of regret deep in the pit of her stomach.
Everything about that just appeared right to her.
She walked in the door to find he was sitting in his regular chair in the corner of the room. Darin was acting usual as if nothing had happened, something that was very habitual. He was just waiting. Waiting for her to walk through that door. Waiting for something to happen. But everything was very quiet and there was a very eary and heavy atmosphere. It was so insufferably suffocating that it was as if you could slice the tension with a knife. The first thing that he, bellicosely, spat was, ‘So what did you tell her this time’?
Michelle remained silent.
He ferociously jumped out of his chair and strode swiftly towards her. ‘Well? What was it then’? He screamed.
Michelle becoming increasingly frightened darted instinctively to the kitchen to try and escape through the back door to safety. She almost made it but he gripped her hair from behind and drew her in closer with his large, calloused hands.
She was restrained against the kitchen worktop by his full body weight, but what Darin was not aware of was that he was standing next to an exposed drawer bursting full of kitchen utensils, some temptingly sharp. ‘I want to know, or there will be greater consequences to suffer, my dear. Do you hear me?!’ Darin started spitting truly unspeakable things into Michelle’s ear. By this point she was completely struck by fear and anxiety that she couldn’t bring herself to say a single word in response. Just as Darin was almost ready to pummel his clenched fist into Michelle’s already battered face, she speedily reached behind her and seized a hold of a knife that she had been watching in her peripheral vision and forcefully propelled the weapon into Darin’s torso.
At that very inexplicable moment, Michelle went into a trance. Everything was still, calm for a few surreal seconds. She gazed into her struggling partner’s eyes while he was lying on the kitchen floor. For a slight second she felt the empowering sensation of liberation spreading rapidly through her veins. She began to enter reality again and realised that she had to get out of there immediately. She proceeded to drag him, surprisingly powerfully, to the garage and then fled through the back door. She ran to Sarah’s house, wired on adrenaline and her new found freedom but covered in her soon to be dead partner’s blood. Sarah opened the pounding door only for her to see her manic friend standing there weeping uncontrollably for the second time that evening. Sarah was stunned. She took a stride back. Sarah took a minute to comprehend what was actually occurring but she did not let her friend in this time, she did not know why, but what she did know was that she had triggered this, and that was going to torment her for the rest of her life.