I 've Heard That Song Before, page 27
At 1:30 P.M. the next day, my husband, shackled and wearing a bright-orange jumpsuit, was brought before Judge Smith. Once again, Barbara Krause would speak for the state, and Conner Banks would stand beside Peter. Once again, the courtroom was jammed with spectators and media. Once again, I sat in the front row. Vince Slater sat on one side of me, and Nick Greco was next to him. Maggie sat on the other side of me, clutching my hand.
Prosecutor Krause addressed the court. “Your Honor, extraordinary events have taken place over the last fifteen hours. Richard Walker, the son of Elaine Carrington, has confessed to the murders of Susan Althorp, Jonathan Lansing, and Grace Carrington. My office has formally charged Mr. Walker with these crimes, and he will be arraigned before Your Honor tomorrow. He has also confessed to the murder three days ago of Alexandra Lloyd, whose body was discovered in the East River in New York City. The New York Police Department has filed a criminal complaint charging him in that case.
“Your Honor-and may I also address Mr. Carrington-we have profound regret that this gross miscarriage of justice has occurred. Our only comfort is that it was discovered before any further harm was done. We are moving to dismiss the indictment that the grand jury returned against Mr. Carrington. That indictment charged him with the murders of Susan Althorp and Jonathan Lansing. We are also, in the interest of justice, moving to dismiss the bail jumping charges that were recently filed. I note that we had not yet formally charged Mr. Carrington with the homicide of Grace Carrington. Your Honor, the only charge that could possibly remain would be the assault on the police officer when Mr. Carrington returned to the Althorp property, apparently in a sleepwalking state. I have personally spoken to the officer involved, and he has asked me to request the dismissal of that charge, too. He is profoundly sympathetic, as are we, to Mr. Carrington; we believe that he has suffered enough. I move that that complaint be dismissed also.”
Judge Smith then motioned toward Conner Banks. “Is there anything that you or Mr. Carrington wish to say?”
Banks and Peter looked at each other, and Peter shook his head. “Your Honor,” he said, extending his manacled hands, “please tell them to take these things off me. I just want to go home with my wife.”
Judge Smith, visibly moved, said, “I am granting the prosecutor’s motion to dismiss all of the charges. Mr. Carrington, I rarely make personal comments, but then, I rarely witness anything like this. I am so sorry that you have been a victim of this tragedy. You will be released immediately.”
As the courtroom erupted in applause, I ran to Peter and threw my arms around him. I was too emotional to speak, but he did: “It’s over, my love, it’s over,” he said. “Let’s go home.”
ONE YEAR LATER
It has been a year since Peter stood in the courtroom and heard the prosecutor ask that the charges against him be dismissed. The wheels of justice have continued to turn for the people responsible for putting Peter through this ordeal.
Richard Walker pleaded guilty to the murders of Susan Althorp, my father, Grace Carrington, and Alexandra Lloyd. He was sentenced to life in prison in both New Jersey and New York. The prosecutor’s office has assured me that he will never be released.
Vince Slater turned Peter’s dress shirt over to the prosecutor’s office. The bloodstain on it was determined to be consistent with Richard’s admission of what had happened to Susan the night of the dinner party. He had promised to meet her outside her house at 1:30 A.M. She wanted it to be that late to be sure her father was asleep. When he met her, she assured him that she was going to quit using drugs and that this would be the last time she would come to him for money. But he didn’t believe her. Frightened that she would reveal his theft of the art, Richard decided he had to kill her. To keep her from screaming, he punched her in the mouth, causing her to bleed onto the front of her gown. Then he strangled her. Before he could move the body to the trunk of his car, Richard saw Peter’s car pulling up to the curb in front of the Althorp property.
Panicked, Richard had hidden behind the shrubbery, and had watched as Peter got out of the car, retrieved something from the passenger seat, and then walked across the lawn to where Susan was lying. He was wearing his formal dress shirt but no jacket. Richard saw Peter drop an object-which turned out to be a purse-and then kneel down and lay his head against Susan’s chest, apparently to listen for a heartbeat. That is when the transfer of blood to his shirt occurred. Peter then returned to his car and drove away.
Richard admitted that during all this, Peter had seemed to be in a daze consistent with sleepwalking.
Elaine Carrington denied any prior knowledge that Richard was going to harm Susan Althorp, but she did admit that he had told her what he had done within hours of its happening. His explanation to her was that he had snapped and killed Susan because she had resisted his advances, even though she had slipped out of her house to meet him.
Elaine confessed that she had advised Richard to hide the body at his fishing cottage in upstate New York, then later helped him to bury it on the property beyond the fence after they were sure that the police searches were over. She also admitted that it had been her idea to have Richard, using a different name, lure my father to an estate that was for sale in upstate New York on the pretext of hiring him as a landscaper.
After Richard murdered my father, Elaine once again helped him bury the body on the grounds. Richard drove my father’s car to where it was found near the Hudson River, and Elaine had followed in her own car. She then drove him home.
Elaine denied any involvement in the deaths of Grace Carrington or Alexandra Lloyd. She also claimed to have no knowledge of the art thefts.
Gary and Jane Barr are now divorced, and I am very pleased that Jane has continued to work for our family.
Nicholas Greco has become a regular crime commentator on the Fox News network. I am forever in his debt for his perseverance in helping us to find the truth.
Vince Slater and I have realized that, in very different ways, we were both desperately trying to protect Peter. I shall never forget how he stood in front of me as Richard pointed the gun at us. Vince continues to be Peter’s most trusted aide, and has become my dear friend.
The newest Peter Carrington is now six months old. I can’t say “Junior,” because he is really Peter Carrington the Fifth. He is the image of his father, and the light of our lives.
Maggie delights in her role as great-grandmother. She and Peter are now very close. She has even convinced herself that in her heart, she had always believed that he was innocent.
Peter is once again the chairman and CEO of Carrington Enterprises, and the company continues to prosper. He will always require medication to prevent sleepwalking, but there have been no further episodes.
A major factor in sleepwalking is stress, and I see it as my job to make our home a safe haven for Peter in every way. When he walks through the door at night and finds the baby and me waiting for him, I can see by the look that comes into his eyes and the smile that lights his face that I am succeeding.
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub…
To sleep: perchance to sleepwalk: ay, there’s the rub…
With apologies to Shakespeare for paraphrasing him, the concept of writing a story about a person who is a chronic sleepwalker and may have committed crimes while in that condition intrigued me so much that it became a reality.
My gratitude to nurse Jane O’Rourke for her kindness in showing me through the Pascack Valley Hospital Sleep Disorders Center and explaining its services. I am also grateful to the magazines and Web sites that offer so much information about sleepwalking and particularly to the following authors of articles on the subject: Marion Howard; Rosalind Cartwright, Ph.D.; and Fumiko Konno.
Mary Higgins Clark
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Mary Higgins Clark, I 've Heard That Song Before
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