April 22, 2006
A Silent KillerBy Bob Weir
It was one of those hot, muggy, summer nights in Brooklyn, New York, prior to the advent of air—conditioning in police cars. The heat from the day had been absorbed into the concrete streets and brick buildings, storing the radiation until the sun went down, then creating an oven—like atmosphere after dark.
My partner pulled the car to a stop at a red light as we leaned as close to the open windows as possible, catching every wisp of air possible against those sweat—dampened uniforms. Suddenly, I felt a hand grab my upper arm, forcing me to reach instinctively for my gun, which was only inches away from the intruder's grasp. The man had quickly approached the passenger window from the car's blind spot.
Before I could react to what appeared at first to be an attack, I heard the anguished cry from deep in the man's throat.
'Help me, please, I've been stabbed!' he groaned.
'Step back and keep your hands where I can see them!' I ordered while exiting the car.
His breathing came in short bursts as he backed up slightly, wincing and keeping one hand behind his back as if protecting a wound.
'He stabbed me, he stabbed me,' he repeated through chokes.
I quickly lifted his pullover shirt to check out the damage. There wasn't a mark on him.
'Where were you stabbed?' I asked, propping him up as he began to sag.
'My back; he stabbed me in the back!' he repeated.
'But, sir, there's no sign of it. Are you sure?'
Now I found myself practically carrying him as his legs gave out. My partner and I lifted him into the rear seat and I sat with his head on my lap as the siren and roof lights added to the sounds of the city. Cumberland Hospital was about 10 minutes away and they were notified by radio to have a doctor at the emergency entrance.
Meanwhile, I continued to talk to my severely distressed passenger, who was nodding in and out of consciousness.
'Hold on, buddy, we're almost there. You're gonna be fine,' I said soothingly, trying to keep him talking, and breathing. 'Who did this to you?' I asked, hoping to elicit a response that would keep him from passing out.
'He..., he ran up from behind and stuck me,' he said between gasps, his hand lightly rubbing the small of his back.
I looked again at the spot he was pointing to, but the absence of a mark continued to confound me.
'Maybe you were punched in the back and it knocked the wind out of you,' I said, trying to make sense out of the bizarre situation.
'No!' he blurted. 'He jabbed me with some....' He stopped in mid—sentence and lay still.
I felt the blood drain from my face as I tried to revive him.
'C'mon, pal, wake up; we're pulling up to the hospital now,' I pleaded, tapping his cheeks to get a response.
Medical personnel were standing outside as we arrived, but it was obvious to me that he was gone. It wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last that I'd have people die in my arms. But, in every other case, there was a distinctly palpable reason, i.e., open wounds accompanied by heavy bleeding, traffic accidents involving blunt trauma and internal injuries, etc. This was death by no visible means.
The emergency room physician was equally perplexed regarding the cause of death and spent several minutes poring over every inch of flesh. Finally, he found a tiny puncture wound that had closed up after the assault. It was determined to be a long, needle—thin ice pick that had been viciously plunged through the man's lower back, tearing up several vital organs along its deadly path. According to the doctor, nothing could have saved him.
That one lethal strike had sealed the fate of a man who never saw his attacker and would never know why he had been murdered. On the other hand, maybe he did. Subsequent investigation revealed that he was a modern—day lothario in the area and had been carrying on several affairs with married women. However, no weapon was ever found and no one was ever prosecuted for the crime.
If you have a moral to this story, please email me.
Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the excutive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. Email Bob