Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bruce George Peter Lee

The Note

The note had been written on the back of a cutout piece of cardboard, snipped from a packet of Cornflakes breakfast cereal.

"A FAMILY OF FKING RUBBISH," bellowed the note. "WE ALL HATE YOU. YOU SHOULD ALL LIVE ON AN ISLAND (DEVIL'S ISLAND). BUT I'M NOT KIDDING BUT I PROMISED YOU A BOMB AND BY HELL I'M NOT KIDDING. WHY DON'T YOU JUST FLIT WHILE YOU'VE GOT THE CHANCE. IF WE CAN'T GET YOU OUT NORMALLY THEN WE'LL BASTARD WELL BOMB YOU OUT, AND THAT'S TOO GOOD FOR YOU."

Strong words indeed. Could the anonymous letter-writer have finally carried out his or her threat on December 4th? Sagar and his colleagues certainly thought so for a time, and went so far as to ask thousands of local residents to write the words of the above note on a piece of paper in order to check for handwriting similarities. Soon enough they found the handwriting was identical to that of a frail old lady living nearby. She had been terrorized by the Hastie boys and wrote the note on a card to save on the cost of a stamp. Sagar was satisfied she could not have been the arsonist.

Nevertheless, Edith Hastie was in no doubt that the killer or killers were those same neighbors who had endlessly complained about her sons' behavior.

The funerals of the three Hastie boys took place on January 4, 1980. When the procession made its way down Selby Street on that freezing morning, local TV cameras filmed the unedifying spectacle as Edith Hastie screamed hysterically at onlookers, "It was one of you bastards! One of you in this street is the murderer!"

Her suspicions weren't so far from the truth. And yet the murders of her family were to become only the final episode of a very long, and scarcely believable story.

 

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