They first caught national attention when the entire population of a nursing home was found dead. All one hundred and twelve residents, plus fourteen members of the staff — it was a peaceful death, at least. There were no signs of a struggle, except with one woman: Deanna Campbell.
The FBI was brought in and it became their case. Deanna Campbell’s past was dug into, every secret of her life laid bare.
Twenty years before, she survived a brutal attack that left her husband, Samuel, dead and her daughter, Mary, missing. Once she recovered, she went into the home and never left.
“I think it was John Winchester,” a junior agent, Henriksen, told his superior. “He was dating the daughter. He failed to kill Deanna the first time, so he came back.”
“We’ll check every lead, Henriksen,” the superior agent told him. “But see what you can find on Winchester.”
There wasn’t much: he’d been a marine, came back, dated Mary Campbell, and then they both vanished after Samuel’s murder. So Henriksen theorized Mary to be the mastermind and she ran off with him.
Henriksen tried recreating the twenty years since that night — Samuel Campbell stabbed in his home, Deanna beaten within an inch of her life, and Mary gone.
Deanna never named an attacker. She sobbed once for her daughter and then never mentioned that night or her family again.
“They were working together,” Henriksen told his supervisor. “Had to be.”
“But is there anyone evidence they killed all those people?” his supervisor asked.
Henriksen deflated. “No.”
A second attack happened at a junior high school, leaving three teachers dead and dozens of kids scarred for life.
“It was Dean Tyler,” a surviving teacher said, trembling in her hospital bed. “And his parents.” She sobbed, her husband holding her tight. “Oh, God, I’ve never seen anything—”
“Ma’am,” Henriksen asked. “Can you describe what happened? Take your time. Any detail, no matter how small, can help.”
It took hours before she calmed enough to be understandable and Henriksen wrote down every word.
“A fourteen year old,” he explained to his superior. “Dean Tyler, son of John and Mary Tyler. He’s been a student at the school for three months. He’s been in constant trouble, while somehow maintaining steady As, and talking to his parents did no good. There’s a younger brother, Sam, a prodigy — one of the victims, Hannah Collins, noted that the brother might be part of the problem. Not enough attention going around at home, so the boy was lashing out when his grades weren’t good enough.” He snorted. “They were perfect, though, so why the parents couldn’t show him—anyway.”
Henriksen took a deep breath. “The kid, Dean, killed the first teacher with a pencil. Stabbed her in the eye while she checked his homework. Then Mary entered and shot through the connecting door — which was open — into the next room and killed the second. The third was found later, throat slit.”
The supervisor sighed. “I’m guessing the names aren’t a coincidence.”
Henriksen shook his head. “It’s them, Boss. They killed Samuel Campbell, then came back for Deanna. And now they’ve got their kid involved.”
“What about the brother?” The supervisor looked down at the pictures. “Was he involved?”
“Not to anyone’s knowledge. The entire family’s gone, though.”
Henriksen combed through Dean and Sam Tyler’s school records. They were both good students, though Sam’s grades indicated a fast-track to any college he wanted. Dean had a history of fights that left other kids with broken bones. A few kids had reported Sam as being ‘savage’ but teachers only praised him and besides the students’ testimony, there was no evidence, so Henriksen discarded it.
The Tylers vanished. Henriksen was reassigned but always kept an eye out. Three years after the attack at the school, he proposed to Roxanne and they got married. He almost forgot the Tyler family.
But then the third attack happened in a crowded Los Angeles mall and the security cameras caught all four on film.
Once they were identified, Henriksen got brought in. He studied every minute of the footage: the eldest of the three men, tall, broad, and dark; the woman, pale and flowing hair, clearly in charge of the other three; the second man, laughing as he killed, too beautiful; and the youngest, still not fully grown, silent and quick and savage.
Henriksen watched the footage a dozen times, seeing something new in each viewing. The Tylers rocketed to the top of every list.
A survivor from the mall shed light on what caused the attack: incorrect change for a meal at the food court.
But again, like they were ghosts, the Tylers vanished.
Roxanne told him to take a break, so they went on vacation. At the beach, as they made love, she whispered, “I’m pregnant.”
Roxanne gave birth in the spring to a healthy baby girl. They named her Adrienne. Henriksen’s immediate supervisor retired and he got promoted again.
And the Tylers resurfaced in New York—or rather, the elder son, Dean. He worked his way through two dozen prostitutes before getting caught and Henriksen was able to talk to him.
“Your parents,” Henriksen asked. “They love you?”
Dean smirked. “More than life.”
Henriksen studied him: Dean was only twenty-one, if that, and the most beautiful man Henriksen had ever seen. “You enjoy killin’, Dean?”
Dean settled back in the chair, ignoring the handcuffs and shackles; they could be chatting at a coffee shop for all the concern he showed. “It passes the time.”
Looking in his eyes, Henriksen wanted to shudder. He had seen this man on film, laughing as he slaughtered people he’d never before met. “You’re wanted in three states, including this one. The lawyers are battling it out. There’s no way you’ll get less than death-row, and no chance of a plea bargain to a lesser charge.”
Again, Dean smirked, looking comfortable, looking no more evil than a kid on spring break. Henriksen knew he was personally responsible for at least thirty deaths, but the man was still so damned charming—
“If you say so, Vic,” Dean drawled, looking up at him through those too-long lashes.
Henriksen nearly fled the room, he got out of there so fast. “Put him in solitary,” he told the cops. “Some of my people will be down within the hour to take him into custody. No one goes in alone.”
In hindsight, Henriksen knew he should have seen it coming.
One day after being arrested, Dean vanished from police custody. A gruff, no-nonsense older FBI agent had come to collect him, with an apparently terrifying blonde woman his partner. Her manner was so harsh and cold none of the police questioned her, even the chief. But when the real FBI showed up… well.
Henriksen went apocalyptic. Only his boss threatening to send him on forced leave got him to calm down.
Roxanne made him go on vacation anyway. He spent two weeks with his wife and daughter, trying to forget Dean. The man — in age, a boy — had no conscience, no human emotions… had they been trained out of him by those monsters of parents, or was he born that way?
No, no. With Roxanne and Adrienne, he left work behind, became only the husband and father.
A few months later, at the office, he got a letter with no return address. He didn’t recognize the handwriting, but the signature — he shivered.
We’re leaving, Agent Henriksen, the last paragraph read. It’s gotten boring here. A whole world is waiting for us. Don’t worry, though — we’ll be back, I promise.
It was signed simply Dean.
After he took the letter to forensics, knowing it was futile, he went to the cafeteria and bought coffee. He was still shaking.
“Agent,” a quiet voice said. He looked up and didn’t recognize the woman settling across from him — at first. Her hair was slightly darker, she wore a dark blue shirt, and her eyes…
“Mary Tyler.” His whole body tightened; his gun was upstairs.
“Don’t call for help, Agent,” she said. “I’m here to talk, not kill.” Her eyes flicked to the left and he followed her gaze: John stood there, leaning against the wall, flipping through a gun magazine. “But I will kill if I must.”
Just as beautiful as her son, he noted, studying her. And even more evil.
“You feel no guilt at all, do you?” he asked. “What you’ve done to your sons.”
She smiled. “I’ve come to tell you, Agent that we could kill you at anytime. You, your pretty wife, your adorable daughter — life is a fragile thing, and so easily broken.”
He tensed, staring into her huge hazel eyes. She smiled again.
“But my son likes you, Victor,” she continued. “I don’t know why; from what I’ve seen, he could do better.” She leaned forward, placing one dainty hand on his wrist. “I’m simply here to tell you — if you hurt him, your daughter’s eviscerated corpse will never be found.” She grinned up at him, teeth bared. “Do you understand?”
He nodded, jerkily. She pulled back and asked, “Any questions, Agent?”
“Why did you kill your parents?” He stared down at the table. “Twenty years apart — why not at the same time?”
Her laughter, dark and throaty, made him look up. Her eyes were to the left, on her partner. “Daddy never approved of John,” she explained. “He told me that if John came around again, he’d kill him.” She shrugged, offering him an innocent smile. “I couldn’t allow that, could I?” She reached out, viper-quick, and grabbed his coffee. “Mama wasn’t meant to survive; it was my first attempt. I thought she died.”
Mary sipped his coffee, sighing as she lowered the cup. “John takes his the same way.” She patted his arm, giving back the coffee. “We’re leavin’ for awhile, Agent Henriksen.”
She stood and John moved to her back. Henriksen watched them go. They strode like they belonged, regal and dangerous. Once they left the cafeteria, he sounded the alarm.
Henriksen quit the Bureau and moved his family to Florida. He’d always had a knack for numbers, so he went back to school and became an accountant. He didn’t watch the news and only got a newspaper for the comics.
He had nightmares about huge hazel eyes and dark blonde hair, about evil with a beautiful face.
It was Adrienne’s eighth birthday when news of the attack at Disneyworld broke across the country.
Henriksen clutched his daughter close while Roxanne flipped channels, a hand covering her mouth in horror.
“Pure, undiluted evil,” he muttered. “No conscience at all.” But he’d had a mostly civil conversation with the mastermind, the leader. And Dean liked him. Maybe he could get close enough, take them out.
“Roxanne,” he said. “Take Adrienne and drive. Don’t go anywhere you’ve been before — just drive.”
She looked him in the eye. “What’re you gonna do, Vic?”
He kissed her, then his baby girl, saw them off and went to find his gun.