By Kenny Beechmount
It was 5:30 in the afternoon. Carol, Robert and their two-year old son had just arrived in town from a bus tour around the Vermont countryside to see the woods in their wonderful fall colours. They checked in at the Woodside Motel and freshened up a bit, before heading across the road to the Swan family restaurant. It was filled to near capacity with a mixture of patrons, ranging from some laughing teenagers at a table over in one corner to elderly couples and parents with children. The waitresses were busy, moving around with serving trays filled with either empty dishes or loaded with food, the kind that was typically served in an average family restaurant.
Carol and Robert were seated at a table by the window, close to the main entry. Their two-year old son was in a high chair, drinking juice from a bottle. They had never been to Vermont before, but had decided to take this trip to celebrate Robert’s promotion to senior technical adviser at the auto parts manufacturing plant he had worked at for several years in Detroit, and also, because Carol had spent her childhood in an orphanage in New Hampshire next door to Vermont, and she wanted to get another look at the nature that she remembered so well from her childhood.
Robert’s promotion was somewhat of a crowning achievement for him, especially considering his impoverished and insecure orphan background. He had never known his parents and had gone through one orphanage after another and several temporary homes up until he was 16, when he got his first job. That was the beginning of his unwavering determination to get a slice of the good life, which began after he received his degree in mechanical engineering in 1971 at the age of 27. Carol had met and fallen in love with him at the college they were both attending and they were married shortly after his graduation.
The waitress came to their table with the menu and asked if they wanted something to drink. “Two gin and tonic would be fine” said Robert. “We will order a bit later.”
There was a lot of chatting going on at the many tables, a rather noisy atmosphere that pretty much drowned out the background music. Occasionally someone’s boisterous laughter could be heard above the hubbub, but that was not out of the ordinary in this restaurant. Many of the patrons were locals that often dined there and laughing loudly-having a good time- it just went with the territory.
Robert and Carol ordered from the menu and fell into some chit-chatting about what to do with the extra $14,000.00 a year that Robert would be making in his new position.
The front door opened up and two policemen, accompanied by a woman entered.
“There’s my child” shouted the woman, “those people kidnapped my son.”
The two policemen approached the table and asked for their names.
“My name is Robert Nero and this is my wife Carol. There must be some mistake, this is our son. We haven’t kidnapped anyone.”
The woman started yelling at them. “You kidnapped my boy,-this is my son.” She moved over to the high chair took the child and began hugging it. Carol screamed at her and tried to wrestle her boy away from the woman. Robert stood up and shouted at her to let go his son. The two policemen grabbed his arms and told him to calm down.
The commotion at the table caught the attention of several patrons, who watched the situation with disbelief. One of the police officers asked Robert and Carol to accompany them to the police station, to solve the matter there. Carol insisted on holding her child, but instead, the other policeman said he would hold it until they got to the station. “There is no need to panic,” he said. “If this is a case of mistaken identity, the situation will resolve itself in no time.
They were led outside, and put into a black van with both side and rear doors. One of the policemen sat on the front seat holding the child in his arms, the other began driving. The woman followed in another vehicle, but some distance down the interstate highway, she overtook the black van and sped ahead of it.
She pulled off the interstate at an exit to a small town, parked her car in a parking lot and waited. Not long after, the black van showed up and the two police officers exited, one with the child in his arms. No sign of Robert and Carol. The woman came over and handed each of them an envelope, took the child and without saying anything, went over to a car in the parking lot, but not the one she had arrived in. She opened the door, put the child in a child car seat on the back seat, strapped it in, slid in behind the wheel and drove off into the night.
The two policemen looked at each other and grinned. “That was an easy $10.000 for a few hours work.” One of the policemen entered the black van and the other the car the woman had left behind and both vehicles drove off.
Three weeks later, on November 26, 1976, a story appeared in the Vermont Daily News:
Two people found burned to death in an abandoned quarry near Westville.
Police was called to an old abandoned granite quarry near Westville, late yesterday afternoon. A hunter had found a burned out van with two bodies still sitting on the front seats, but burnt completely beyond recognition. The coroner was unable to establish the time and cause of death and no identification was found, but it is presumed to be a homicide. The vehicle was reported stolen three weeks ago from a dealership in Riverside. The dead persons may be from out of state, as no-one has been reported missing in Vermont during the last month. The forensic unit will be doing a thorough investigation in the hope of identifying the remains. The abandoned quarry is quite isolated and rarely visited by anyone and so far, no-one has reported seeing the van. There is some speculation that it may be a drug-related homicide.
Four month later, on page two of the same newspaper, a follow-up story on the granite quarry double homicide appeared. “Intensive investigation into the crime had not revealed how the two people died. One was a woman, the other a man. Neither showed any signs of having died violently and the condition of the burned bodies did not permit further forensic investigations. No-one was reported missing from Vermont, nor the neighboring states. The case remains unsolved and no longer under active investigation.”
SAN FRANSICO DAILY CHRONICLE
July 16, 2007.
A well known woman in the cosmetics business, Annette Nero, who owned four stores in San Francisco, passed away on July 12 after a long battle with cancer. Her only child, Robert Nero, inherited the substantial business and fortune from his mother, but a letter attached to the will revealed a mystery that will require criminal investigations into Ms. Nero’s past.
The letter, in her own handwriting, revealed that she was not the mother of Robert; rather he had been kidnapped when he was two years old in the state of Vermont. His father’s name was Robert Nero, who was her brother. They had been separated as children and brought up in different orphanages and her brother did not know he had a sister. Their parents had both died in an automobile accident. She had been brutally raped when she was ten years old by the head of the orphanage she was being raised in and as a result was unable to have children of her own.
She stated that she had been told she had a brother and had much later successfully traced his whereabouts and kept an eye on him. She desperately wanted a child of her own, and when she found out her brother had a son, the idea of kidnapping his child came to her one day when she found out he was flying to Vermont for a vacation. She booked on the same flight and took the same bus tour as his and brother and his wife and child. It was easy, since her brother did not know her.
She said she had not been able to trace her brother’s whereabouts after the kidnapping. It appeared he had moved and for obvious reasons, she did not want to pursue the matter. She asked her “son” for forgiveness and said that perhaps he could find his real father and mother and ask them to forgive her.
This work by K. Beechmount is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.