It was one of the few perfect summer mornings in Michigan filled with blue skies and cool breezes. I had signed up to work overtime to fill a short shift or I would have taken better advantage of the good weather.
By 8 am I had my cruiser loaded and called in service.
“Baker 12 prepare to copy a death investigation – Fire Department on scene”.
The Dispatched call sent me to the Ford boulevard High Rise. This group of apartments stood 8 stories tall and was mostly filled with senior citizens.
Here I’ll have to give a short Cop Lesson. As Deputy Sheriffs we were sent to all unattended deaths to conduct a preliminary investigation into the circumstances of the death. If it was suspicious at all we called in the Detectives and maintained scene security until relieved. Sometimes the deaths weren’t suspicious. These would include terminally ill patients that had been sent home to die. In these cases the Deputy would contact the patient’s physician and ascertain if the death was in fact expected. If the physician indicated yes then the Deputy would conduct a cursory examination of the body and surroundings for anything suspicious in nature. If the death was expected and nothing was suspicious a report was written and the case closed.
Back to this perfect morning.
I pulled into the front of the building and parked near the front doors. I notice the Fire department rescue truck leaving the lot.
I took the elevator to the fifth floor and knocked on the door. I was greeted by a young attractive woman who introduced herself saying “I’m the Granddaughter”. She had obviously been crying and still clutched a crumpled up snot rag in one fist. I introduced myself and told her I needed to conduct an investigation. She invited me in and offered a cup of coffee, which I declined. We sat on the edge of the couch as I pulled out my clipboard and necessary reports. I began the interview of the Granddaughter.
I had a habit that when I spoke to family about the recently deceased I never spoke in a past tense. I found their minds often hadn’t had time to process the fact that their loved one was gone.
“How old is Grandma?”
“She is 83 years old”.
I went on to discover her doctor’s name and that she had been ill with cancer for years. After a few minutes I told the granddaughter, “I’ll have to examine your grandma now”. She pointed me towards a bedroom door.
I opened the door and observed a frail bony figure under a white sheet as she laid on her back in bed. The sheet was pulled up just under her chin. I could see the top of the her head which was covered in long hair nearly as white as the sheet. I walked around the bed checking for anything suspicious – nothing.
Now had come time to examine the body. I grabbed the sheet and pulled it from the body of my victim…
This frail woman with shocking white hair sat up in the bed and began screaming in my face. All I could do was stumble backwards repeating over and over, “What the hell is going on”.
A cascading comedy of errors was the cause of my confusion. The granddaughter had awoken and thought that her grandmother wasn’t breathing. She called 911 resulting in the fire department being called as a rescue run. The fire department made the scene before me and checked the victim and found her only to be sleeping. They were leaving as I arrived and assumed I was there on other business. The granddaughter assumed I was a “Master EMT” and that was why I needed to examine her grandmother again.
I explained that I was trying to conduct a death investigation but grandma wasn’t cooperating.
I wandered back to my patrol car shaking my head. I picked up the mike and advised dispatch that the call was unfounded.
Dead air followed for a few seconds. Remember that I was sent on a death investigation and an Unfounded Status didn’t make any sense to the dispatcher.
“Baker 12 repeat”.
“I said the case was unfounded – no report”.
“How so Baker 12”?
“Well I’m no doctor but when that woman sat up in bed and screamed in my face I was pretty sure she wasn’t dead”.
My buddy Lester, a big hard hitting hillbilly Cop, requested a sub-channel on the police radio with me. He started laughing and calling me Deputy Lazarus and telling dispatch that they should send me to all the natural deaths as I could raise the dead.
Sometimes funny shit happens…
© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.