I look forward retiring from Cambria Police can’t bear another Halloween homicide. It irks me homicides at this time, one case particular my first 32 years ago. It has created a chain reaction for more similar homicides and pushed me to drive my family away within a year. I was born in Cambria but moved after my mother’s death as a child, it made sense to return at thirty-one my wife Sarah expecting our first child it seemed idyllic place to raise children. Taking the position of retiring officer Mark Holms his parting words, “It’s a good place but it has ghosts the past refuses to let go.” Cambria had an unexplained miracle every woman here a knockout. You had pretty to get pregnant at a drop of a hat or Jesus the holy Pope will kick out a stained glass window! I was fortunate to be married, I could die a thousand times with a smile on my face, my life love Sarah thought I had other motives for the move.
Cambria was celebrating it’s bi-centennial year with the traditions of fall county fair a place the kids got together and asked each other to the annual fall festival held on Halloween. Afterwards they would have a bonfire at Retreat Park Lake. Officer Holmes mentored me on the logistics, “Our job is to break it up before the kids get too drunk and get into serious trouble commonly a girl would get lost and return shaken up. Once in a while after going home then sneak out and comeback rattled pretty badly so we patrol the community for any activity elsewhere.” I asked, “Mark what was the worst case that has led to such a big deal on fall festival and Halloween?”
Standing at the lakeshore Mark looks out to the wooded island, “Caleb it was twenty-one years ago, I was eighteen the girl worth waiting for was taken. Katie was found on that island three days after her disappearance from fall festival. It was horrific she barely survived the elements somehow naked and body mutilated god she was once beautiful. What’s worse she was Sheriff Tate Hutton’s only child. Katie only sixteen and found screaming ‘˜Munlogne! It’s Munlogne!’ in hysterics. We had assumed a retaliation old Pat Hutton was a county draft officer World War II he sent many sons to war except his own and wiped out entire families a legacy. Those dieing out he acquired their land the scoundrel. We arrested Rose Larkers grandson Jeremy Simmons poor her date. Rose lost her boys and husband for what jilting old festival flame Pat Hutton! Katie committed suicide may heaven keep her I couldn’t.”
That evening went fine we broke up the kids and sent them home seven male teens not wanting to leave cause they could not find their girl friends after a disagreement on a personal matter. Apparent they probably went home in a huff. I patrolled the community and stopped by their homes to ensure they returned and reported still not home. One officer still checking the lake area to ensure the bonfire went out safely and two others checking highways and hangouts. I swung by the cemetery, schools and churchyards. Then six girls were found the next morning all dead. The girls found in similar fashion to the Hutton case. Their boyfriends charged two were in pre-med and one girl Nicki missing still today.
One thing bothered me, one girl was found with her body void of surgical mutilation died of exposure and etched into the ground with her fingers “Munlogne”. Her left forearm had shards of bone embedded under the skin leaving a raised mark looking like dots and dashes. Reviewing the cases going back to Sutton and beyond compared my mother’s death she didn’t have the mark. Other survivors’ medical records revealed shards of bones on the left arm. I even interviewed Rose Larkers missing her left arm a farming accident as a child, Jeremy died a 1971 prison riot. She told me something riveting, “Officer Caleb Eygis Davenport you are fortunate your mother had no mark on her left arm.” Twisting my wedding band I asked, “What do you mean?”
She sat with her eyes glazed upon my face, “Cambria was founded by nine pioneer families seven lost their wives due to fever the summer of 1778. So seven men raided and killed the Munlogne Indian tribe one autumn night. Taking the most desirable of the women as wives the shaman escaped. The tribe marked the women using bones under the skin the left forearm marking linage rites. Years later they refused the shaman they bore the raiders children. The shaman cursed their children and killed the women. My arm is no accident father cut it to spare my life. Common practice if one fails having a boyfriend at festival. If you were taken you proclaim who and survive childless. Legend has it you tell the shamans name you live unmarked. Your mother broke the curse for her descendants so we thought failing to tell any of us. So we killed her but we latter learned this untrue her linage Calibas Indian. Rose Larkers died before prosecution in 1996.
I’ve since uncovered the original Indian women killed on the island were missing their left forearms a genetic match to the bone shards the 1978 case and others. Recently learned both died last decedent Nicole Holmes a week after Sarah in 1996. Since 1998 no fall festival and the park closes after Labor Day. I don’t want to imagine ghosts, looking at my replacement returning 32 years to their deceased mother’s home asks of Cambria twisting my wedding band feeling Sarah I reply to you, “It’s a good place but it has ghosts the past refuses to let go.”
“The soiled daughters of Munlogne your fruit shall perish from the earth a pure Munlogne shall inherit the land.”
-Shaman Eygis’ curse on the last Munlogne women 1781, retold by Calibas-Munlogne tribe 1807.