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Bob Gerard, Officer for McCurtain County, Oklahoma was finally going to retire. He had spent all his life, after graduating high school, as a police officer. It had been his dream to carry on his father’s ambition in supplying community safety. Law enforcement had been in his family as far back as he could remember. It began with his great-great grandfather, who was not able to make it as an officer, so he applied it to his own family, instead. He gave orders and expected them followed. His son, and grandson, filled the shoes, and about every boy in the family had dedicated their lives to police work since.
BOB BEGAN HIS police career in St. Louis, Missouri. His wife at the time, Madge, begged him to relocate, so he did. He moved and applied in Atlanta, Georgia. That pissed his wife off so much. She divorced him and took him to the cleaners, leaving only curtain rods and toothpaste. That’s when he packed up and moved to a smaller community. Walking into the police station in Hugo, Oklahoma, he applied, and after a time, he moved all over the area. He ended up working the night shift in Wright City. Small enough; but compared to Chicago’s crime, it didn’t have a hard time catching up.
Wright City was the place to be if you wanted to murder someone, get away with it, and murder again. He paid visits to Hugo and Valliant quite often. There is where he met his last wife, Cassandra. He shortened her name on the first day he met her, saying it was easier to just call her Cass. She smiled, and it stuck. They dated for a month, married, and she moved to Wright City and joined his side fighting crime.
CASS WAS THE 911 dispatcher and had the best track record of anyone in surrounding counties. More victims under her survived than any other dispatcher. She had a calm about her that she could pass on to any victim. She was even known to talk down a few assailants on a couple occasions. But, as time went on, she was pressured to talk less and stay disconnected from her callers. It devastated her, changed her, and she lost heart.
It almost seemed like the department didn’t appreciate the way she could talk a suspect out of his crime. Being Wright City, it was probably true.
Police officers in Wright City were different, being bloodthirsty. They came to work for a good time, not a paycheck, or to be happy that their community might be safe.
The more dangerous it was, the more excited the police became. But, one late April evening, everything would change, even for the hungriest officer.
APRIL 14, 1986 still creeps into the small community’s minds from time to time. For a town that was filled with nothing but wild women and crime, even they couldn’t handle the scene.
Cass was working the evening shift because her husband, Bob, had just gone to second shift. She hated being home when he was out on the beat, because she was too afraid to get that call. She felt if she was working, she may have the chance to change a situation. This was one that she wouldn’t be able to.
THE CALL CAME IN, and the voice on the other end, was weak, faint, and Cass could barely make out a word. Taking the call, Cass immediately thought about praying aloud to the caller, but it was against policy because of religious lines not being crossed. But, as she listened closely to the caller, she began to whisper quietly into the phone the Lord’s Prayer. It became still, a dead silence. As she waited, feeling a twisted knot in her stomach, a voice came on the phone, and the silence broke. Speaking directly into the phone, and to Cass, the caller repeated the Lord’s Prayer, backward. At first, Cass had no idea what was being said, but she heard a few of the words alone, by themselves, and she got the idea. After the caller repeated it, the male voice told her that he had a gift for her. Holding one hand to her mouth, she heard him say…
“Bob Gerard, tell your bitch wife that you’re dead.”
She cried out in panic. Other dispatchers gathered to her side as they listened in silence. Then, Bob was on the phone, after being forced to repeat what the man had said.
“Cass, honey; I’m dead.”
She cried out in horror, and within three seconds, the phone went dead.
THE CALL WAS TRACED, due to another dispatcher that had plugged into her line, but by the time officers made it to the address, all that was left was half of Bob Gerard and an entire slain family. It was the most horrific crime scene that Wright City Police department had ever seen. Officers, one after the other, ran from the brick home, holding their hands over their mouths and vomiting before they could find the place to do so. Tears streamed from the eyes of Gerard’s fellow officers, and cries could be heard from blocks away.
Cass was held, by force, at the station, fighting her way to the door. But the Chief had given strict orders that if anyone let her leave the precinct, they’d be fired, with no reason given. She was held to the floor until a local doctor arrived and tranquilized her, sending her to sleep. But the staff of Chief Humphries was left to pick up the pieces, literally.
The killer remained at large and he had taken it upon himself to display Bob in the most humiliating position known to a real man. Taking pieces of Bob, he placed body parts around the room, a leg here, an arm there. But, as they collected the pieces, no one could take on the task of working any longer. His fellow officers refused to do anything except to hit the streets and the backwoods, and hunt down his killer. Chief Ted Humphries was never a man to let his team take revenge, but this was one time he chose to turn his head. Giving the thumbs up, each officer was allowed to hunt.
BOB GERARD HAD NOTICED lights on in a local’s home, and normally at that time of the night, the family had always been tucked into their beds. He had never seen every light on in the family home, so he went to the front door to check on the Pastor and his family. Pastor Chuck Barns, his wife, Sandra, and their eight children had been slaughtered like pigs. Slaughtered bodies were all over the house, and when Bob entered the home, he grew instantly sick. He had known Pastor Barns all the time he worked Wright City. Drawing his gun, his intentions were good, but the killer had hidden behind a chair in the living quarters. Before Bob was able to even fight, the killer hit him over the head with a hammer, sending Bob to the floor. Bob was taken and tied to the kitchen table by his hands and feet, like a waiting hog to be slaughtered.
WITH A BUCK SAW, the killer sawed off one leg of Bob Gerard. While Bob miraculously stayed alive long enough, the killer dialed 911. This was the weakened voice that Bob’s wife heard on her end.
After getting off the phone, the killer then cut off Bob’s other leg and moved on to his arms. Not satisfied he sawed off his head, and went on to mutilate what was left.
When Bob’s fellow officers arrived, they found Bob’s torso lying on the floor, with one of the children placed on top of him. His penis was found inside the Pastor’s wife’s mouth. The rest of his body parts were scattered around the house. Unspeakable things had been done to all victims, and as the team of investigators struggled through the horrendous details, their views were quickly hushed in the community. Causing an uproar of stricken panic was the last thing the authorities needed. It was released that it was a one-time hit and the suspect had moved on, but the entire police force feared the opposite.
BOB GERARD had died at the hands of a sadistic madman, and the whereabouts of the killer was unknown. Bob’s wife Cass was taken to the Idabel Medical Center, only miles away. But, due to her condition of shock, she was airlifted to Fort Worth, Dallas Regency Hospital. There, she was eventually retained in the psych ward for further observation. No one, including her dearest of friends, believed she should be released until she could handle being off major medications and under home nursing care. Day after day, she slipped further away into her own world of sheer silence. No matter what the physicians could do for her, she was distraught and harassed by nightmares.
Bob’s funeral was taken care of not only by his own Life Insurance Policy, but by the department itself. He was given the most respectful service known to any police officer, and thousands of police officers paid their respect to a fellow brother, from all over Texas and Oklahoma. Many officers came from other states as well, and the town was flooded with sympathy cards and flowers to his wife and the department.
BUT THE PASTOR AND HIS FAMILY were another matter. With eight children, the costs of funeral expenses were outrageous, and the surrounding counties came together, building enough money to give the family a most respectful service and burial. Bands and musicians from all over the tri-county area joined together, raising the funds in order to lay the sweet family to rest.
Pastor Chuck Barns and his wife, Sandra, were very committed to the area, and Sandra had been a well-known and trusted baby-sitter for many working mothers. After the slaughter, the mother’s, single and married alike, changed their lives.
Not one mother chose to return to work until arrangements were made to protect their children. Town meetings were held the first week after the funerals, and women took their stand. The Mayor, and the Sheriff’s department tried to no avail to make promises they couldn’t keep. Not one would listen. In the end, the mothers won, and the children would be watched in rooms in the local Junior High School. Officers were put on duty to patrol, and the mothers’ were given new boundaries they could cross, while at work. The phones rang off the wall, as the concerned moms called, several times a day. To say the least, nothing was normal for a very long six months.
Chief Humphries allowed his men to devote their time to hunting down the killer. Overtime was approved for a straight six months, but not one lead came. Only when the Chief could see that the morale of his men was hitting an all-time low did he pull them off the case, and it grew to a cold file. The men were angry and sickened to the core, but they had no choice, but to return to their regular duties. The town was floored, and the moods of the people sky rocketed into anger. What used to be small town people, had now turned into a battlefield. The citizens who could afford to pack up and move did just that. Others, less fortunate, had no choice but to stay behind locked doors. The Chief lost several good men, because their wives demanded that they relocate to larger communities. The belief and faith in small town living disappeared. Now, many of them trusted the big city streets for raising their children.
THE EIGHT CHILDREN of the Barns family were between the ages of five months and sixteen years old. All their friends, no matter the age, became fearful to leave their homes or to stay in them. Many families spent all their time in church buildings, gathering every night of the week. It took weeks before many residents would even remain in their homes at night.
When fathers went to work, their wives gathered with other wives, taking their children with them. Schools combined, bringing all the grades to one building.
The town had been known to be one of the higher crime areas for years, but this incident put it on the statewide map. Journalists from all over the United States traveled to get their piece of any report they could find.
Interviews were set up in local churches, and citizens' names became known in papers all around. Wright City became known as the place that buries babies.