The Babysitter Bandit

 

 

 

The light from the hallway shined in on the bedroom, where the two little girls were sleeping peacefully, each cuddling their own teddy.  As they slept, the door was closed and the person who had been watching them made their way downstairs.  The stair wall was lined with pictures of the two girls and their parents, doing the things ordinary families do, and they were looked at slowly as the stairs were descended.

 

The person made their way into the main room downstairs, where a young girl of 18 was sat in a chair.  She was wearing a white sleeveless top with a round neck and thin straps over her shoulders, white shorts and socks and patterned sneakers.  She looked with tear filled eyes at the person, and tried to call out, but the thick towel tied into her mouth was preventing any noise escaping.  The ropes around her wrists held them behind the chair, and around her ankles held them against one of the legs.

 

The person checked her bonds, and then picked up a holdall that lay on the floor beside the chair.  Watching the girl all the time, and seeing her struggle to escape, they backed slowly out of the room and closed the door behind them.

 

“Jennie was left in fear, to try and escape, but it was another hour before the parents returned and discovered what had happened.

 

Detective Harmon, you are in charge of this case.  This is the fifth such report in as many weeks, correct?”

 

Detective Harmon was in the studio of Denton’s Most Wanted, talking to the host about the case she was working on for the local police.  The five cases had been in three different states, so now it came under their jurisdiction.  She straightened her grey skirt and replied to the question posed by the presenter.

 

“That’s right, there have been six previous reports in the area that we are aware of that fit this particular MO.”

 

“And the same thing has happened in each case.”

 

“That’s right – the robber strikes once the children have been out to bed and are asleep, and uses the threat of attacking the children if they wake up to control the babysitter.  She is then bound and gagged, and forced to sit quietly while the perpetrator looks for valuables.  The babysitter is then left alone until the parents of the family return and discovers the robbery.”

 

“How are the victims of these attacks afterwards?”

 

“They are somewhat traumatised, but soon recover.  That does not, however, lessen or excuse the severity of these incidents.”

 

“Of course not, Detective Harmon. What steps are the local police taking now?”

 

“We are coordinating with the local precincts where the crimes took place, and hope to construct a profile of the perpetrator to work from.  In the meantime, it goes without saying that parents should be careful when employing babysitters, and put their safety and that of the babysitter first.  If anyone has any information that could lead to the capture of this criminal, they should either contact this program or the local precinct office immediately.”

 

“Detective Harmon, thank you.  You can contact America’s Most Wanted on…….”

 

The television was switched off, and Cassie looked up over her horn rimmed glasses at the person clad in black that was standing beside the couch she was lying on.

 

“I wonder if you will be able to tell them anything.  What do you think?”  The person was speaking with a strange, distorted voice, and that was further muffled by a black woollen balaclava that covered their face.

 

Cassie would love to have spoken back, but the sponge ball in her mouth and the black tape covering it was preventing that from happening.  She had tape wrapped around her ankles and legs, holding her legs together over her blue jeans, around her waist and arms over her white jumper, and around her wrists which were pinned behind her back.

 

“I checked the kids – they’re still asleep.  Thank you for not waking them up.  Now you just lie there, and you’ll be freed when their parents get back.”

 

Cassie mmphed at the intruder as they picked up a holdall, and then headed for the door, closing it behind them without a word.  She squirmed round in a vain attempt to try and get loose, but soon gave it up as a bad job and rested in case she did something that would damage her permanently.

 

She lay there for another two hours before the parents returned, to find her bound and gagged, the kids asleep and the house ransacked.

 

 

 

The next morning found Cassie in an interview room, facing Detective Harmon across the desk.

 

“Cassie, can you tell me exactly what happened last night?”

 

“Well, I went to the Cassel house to babysit for their kids at about seven pm.  They went off to the movie theatre, and by eight thirty the two boys were fast asleep in bed, so I settled down on the couch to do some studying.”

 

“What happened then?”

 

“I must have been working for about ten minutes when this gloved hand was suddenly slapped over my mouth, and I saw the glint of a knife against my throat.  This weird voice told me to sit still and not to struggle, because if the kids woke up they would be the ones who got hurt.  I didn’t want that to happen, so I nodded and as soon as the person took their hand away a sponge ball was stuffed in my mouth and tape put over it.”

 

“So you were gagged first?”

 

“Yes – then the person ordered me to lie face down on the long seat I was on.  I did that, and I was bound with tape around my wrists, ankles and legs.  I was then sat up, and that was the first time I saw them.”

 

“How would you describe the person?”

 

“About five foot ten, medium build, dressed all in black with a balaclava mask over their head which only showed the eyes.  They wound tape around my chest, arms and waist, and then made me lie down while they searched the house.”

 

“Can you tell me anything specific about them?”

 

“Apart from that weird voice, no.  I lay there listening to the house being searched, and then they came back and switched the television on.  That’s when I saw you talking about this ‘Babysitter Bandit’, and I realised that was the person there from the description given.”

 

“I see- then they left?”

 

“Yes.  I tried to get free, but couldn’t, so I had to stay there until Mr and Mrs Cassel came back.  Look, I’m tired, can I go now?”

 

“Of course, Cassie.  My colleague will give you a lift back to your home, but we may need to talk later.”

 

The young girl stood up and left the room with the other detective who had been there, and Harmon reviewed her notes.

 

“So, Harmon, what do we have so far?”

 

She looked up to see Lieutenant Giraldi standing over her.

 

“Same as with the other cases, lieutenant – I’m convinced it’s the same person, but there are no real clues left at the scene.  The one thing everyone remembers is that the voice is distorted, so I’d put good money on them using some sort of voice distortion device.”

 

“Any obvious connection between the victims that we can find?”

 

“Not that I can see.  In two of the cases, it was an older woman that was attacked, so I don’t think it’s linked to any sort of babysitting club, and there’s no connection between the families other than they are reasonably well off.  It’s a puzzler, lieutenant.”

 

“Well, keep at it Harmon.  You’re a good detective; you’ll make the connection eventually.”

 

 

 

That night, Harmon was relaxing at home with her daughter Jessica.  Jessica was ten, and she was just telling her mother about her day at school when the telephone rang.

 

“Harmon speaking.   Are you sure it’s a positive sighting?  All right – I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

 

She went to the foot of the stairs and called up.

 

“Mum – I need to go to work for a while.  Can you put Jessica to bed for me?”

 

“Of course I can, dear.”  Harriet Sloane, Harmon’s mother, had lived with them since the rather messy divorce from Jessica’s father, and was used to her daughter’s strange hours.

 

“Lock the door behind me when I go, please,” she called as she ran out of the door.

 

“Come on, Jessica,” Harriet said, “Up to your bed now.”

 

Jessica followed her grandmother up to her bedroom, and prepared for bed while Harriet found a story to read.

 

 

 

“Are you sure the Bandit’s in there?”  Harmon asked her partner.

 

“The neighbour phoned in a description that matched the one we had – she said he was skulking around the back of this house.”

 

The lights in the house beside the car were flicking on and off in a way that suggested someone was moving from room to room.  Harmon and her partner watched for a few minutes, before both left the car and crept towards the rear of the house.

 

 

 

“Good night, Jessica,” Harriet whispered as she closed the door on her sleeping granddaughter and turned the lights off.  Walking down the hallway, she didn’t see the bedroom door opening quietly behind her and a gloved hand creeping round the wood.

 

Harriet descended the stairs and returned to the front room, where she went to the drinks cabinet and poured herself a glass of red wine.  As she replaced the bottle in the cabinet, she only had time to close the door before a distorted voice said behind her “I would ask you not to scream or call out.  If you wake that little girl up, she is the one who will be suffering.”

 

Turning around slowly, Harriet saw standing behind her a black clad person with a balaclava mask over their head and gun in their hand.

 

“Are… are you that so-called Babysitter Bandit?” she stammered.

 

“My reputation precedes me,” the intruder replied.  “Please take a seat and remain calm.  This will not take long.”

 

“My daughter is looking for you,” Harriet said as she sat on a chair.

 

“So this is Detective Harmon’s house?  All the better – I have wanted to meet her.  Now, my dear, I ask you again to do nothing that might waken that little girl up, and to do exactly as I say.”

 

Harriet watched as the intruder placed a small holdall on the coffee table, removed a skein of rope, and advanced unravelling the cord as they came closer to her….

 

 

 

Harmon and her partner made their way to the rear of the building, and found that the back door was open.  Silently pushing the door ajar, they crept in and made their way towards the light in the downstairs room.

 

Peeping through the door, Harmon could see a young woman sat on a chair in the centre of the room.  Although her back was to the door, Harmon could clearly see the ropes around her waist and wrists, as well as the ends of a bandana which had been used to gag her.  Standing in front of her was a young man, dressed in a black sweater and jeans and with a balaclava over his head.

 

The two police detectives looked at each other then burst through the door shouting “Police!  Don’t Move!”

 

The young man stared at the two armed police officers, and threw his hands up in the air.  The girl in the chair looked round, and started trying to call out to the officers.

 

“Cuff him,” Harmon said to her partner, and as he put handcuffs around the wrists of the man she removed the bandana from the girl’s mouth.

 

“It’s all right, we’re here now.  Are the children asleep upstairs?”

 

“Children?  What children?” the girl called out.  “This is my boyfriend – we were just playacting a scenario for ourselves.  Do you think he’s the babysitter bandit?”

 

Harmon swung round, and pulled the balaclava off to see a frightened young man of about 18, stammering “ppplease – this was just a bit of fun…..”

 

The two detectives looked at each other, and at the two people in the room before Harmon holstered her weapon and looked at the young couple in an exasperated manner.

 

 

An hour later, Harmon pulled up at her house and entered through the front door.

 

“Mum, I’m back.  Was Jessica any trouble tonight?

 

 

Mum – where are you?  Are you in…..”

 

Harmon felt the gun in her back almost before she saw her mother, still wearing the dressing gown she had been wearing when her daughter had left earlier, but now bound by the wrists and ankles and gagged with a table napkin, sitting on the chair in the main room.

 

“Good evening, Detective,” a distorted voice said from behind her.  “I was going to leave when I had finished, but I did so want to meet you.  Please, remove your gun from the holster with your first and middle finger, and hold it up by your side.”

 

“Are you all right, Mum” Harmon asked as she removed her pistol from the shoulder holster and held it out as instructed.  Harriet nodded as the gun was taken from her daughter’s hand and tossed across the room.

 

“Quietly, detective – we don’t want your daughter to wake up and become involved in this, do we?”

 

“So you’re the Babysitter Bandit?” Harmon said.

 

“I am – and you are my prisoner for a while.  Take your handcuffs and place them around your own wrists, behind your back.”

 

As Harmon did what the intruder demanded, the black clad figure came round to stand in front of her.  She saw that the descriptions, vague as they were, really were all you could say, right down to the black balaclava that only showed the eyes of the Bandit.

 

The click of the cuffs around both of her wrists resounded around the room.  “Sit down next to your mother,” the Bandit said as he took Harmon by the arm and guided her to the couch the other woman was sat on.

 

“So you use a voice distortion device,” she asked as the Bandit took a length of rope and began to tie her crossed ankles together.

 

“Illusion is the key to everything, detective.  I wanted you to know that I won’t be around here much longer, so that you can focus on other cases.  It would have been rude of me to leave without meeting my most worthy opponent, however.”

 

Harriet watched as Harmon was bound by rope around her legs as well, and then around the arms with a further length.

 

“Time for me to move on, I think.  Goodbye, Detective Harmon,” the Bandit said as they took another napkin from the table, rolled it up and used it to gag Harmon.  “Please, do not try to escape or make noise, or your daughter may get a very nasty surprise.”

 

The intruder picked up the holdall they had brought in, saluted the two women and than left the room.  As the sound of the back door opening and closing came through, Harmon turned towards her mother.

 

“mm – cn u rch m pckt?”

 

She nodded towards the outer pocket of her jacket, and Harriet turned her back to her daughter to allow her to put her hand into the pocket and rummage around.  To her delight, she brought forth a set of keys for the handcuffs that the Bandit had forced Harmon to put on her wrists.

 

“Gv thm t m” Harmon said through her gag, and Harriet handed her the keys.  Harmon tried to reach the lock on the handcuffs, but they slipped through her fingers and down between the cushions of the seat.

 

“DMN!!!” Harmon swore, and the two women sat looking at each other for a few minutes.  Then Harriet shuffled over to be closer to her daughter, and with her eyes tried to tell her daughter to try and pull the gag out of her mouth.

 

Harmon sat there wondering what her mother was trying to say, when in exasperation Harriet said “Pll t g got!!”

 

Getting the message, Harmon turned her back towards her mother and reached towards her mouth, as Harriet leaned forwards.  Within a few minutes, Harmon had caught hold of the gag in her mother’s mouth and was gently easing it out.

 

“Phhhaw – that’s better,” Harriet said as the napkin was finally taken away.  “Now, let me take yours out.”

 

“Mum, I’m sorry – if I even thought for a second the Bandit would be stupid enough to come here, I would never have…”

 

“Forget that for now – can you radio in and get help for us.”

 

“My radio’s in the car – let me get to the phone.”

 

Harmon slid over to the table beside the seat, where her cell phone was sitting.  She used her nose to dial her partner.

 

“It’s me – the Bandit has struck at my house.  Get a team over here as fast as possible!”

 

 

 

Cassie was sat on the bed in the motel room, watching the television when she heard a noise at the window.

 

“Oh, it’s you,” she said as a back clad and masked figure climbed in the window.

 

“Who were you expecting – Bugs Bunny” the distorted voice said.  The figure pulled off the balaclava to reveal the long blonde hair of a woman in her mid-twenties.  She removed the small plaster from her throat and placed it carefully in a box on the table.

 

“So are we done in this crummy little town now?”  Cassie asked.

 

“Yup – I paid a visit to that detective, and we leave as soon as we’re packed.”

 

“Good – I hate staying in one place too long.  Did we make enough here?”

 

“For a little while, yes – I don’t think the Babysitter Bandit need appear for a few months, and when he does, it will be far from here.”  Having removed the black jumper, she now unstrapped a large pad from her chest to reveal a blue leotard top that held her curves very well indeed.

 

“I wonder if they’ll ever figure out it was a woman, O sister of mine,” Cassie said as she poured a glass of champagne and handed it to the blonde.

 

“Who knows, sister – not our problem now”, she said and they toasted their success in Denton.

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