Castle Roland

Chapter 8

Published: 1 May 14

"Ryan, get your camera. We're going on another adventure. Sorry, Collin you can't come. We're going to go by this guy's place and see if we can get a picture or two and bring it back for you to identify. Chief here will keep you company. Won't cha girl?"

"Woof, woof!" came from Chief.

Ken knew he was on thin, no very thin ground doing what he was going to do, but he was wired and needed to do something. He figured Campbell will chew his ass off for doing this, but he also said to himself, 'What the hell!".

It took them about 45 minutes to go by the address the nurse gave him. He figured these guys would be far away by now, but since Collin was from the far west Austin area the guys may have been recruited locally or were local to begin with. Ken drove by to just get the lay of the house and to see whether there was a vehicle there, too. The second time back he went slower and had Ryan take as many pictures of the place as possible.

On the third pass, there were two men getting out of a car next to the house. Ryan got not only their pictures but the license plate as well. Ken couldn't be sure if he had the right people, so he decided to go back to his house and let Collin see what Ryan had.

When they got back to the house, Ryan immediately downloaded the pictures into the Study computer since it was just the three of them and Chief of course. The whole time Collin was on edge with the hopes the men in the pictures would be the ones who assaulted him and killed his parents. The pictures were finally loaded in the sequence they were taken. It took a few moments for Ryan to forward through about 100 pictures to get to the ones with the pictures of the men. As the first photos of the men began to appear, Collin got closer to the screen and when the first good shot of Mark came onto the screen he yelled, "That's Mark! He's the fucker who tried to kill me that night – Son-of-a-Bitch!"

Ryan continued showing the next pictures and Collin again yelled, "That's Ross, that fucker! I bet he's the one who ordered Mark to kill me. I wonder where Dean is at."

With the revelation the pictures were indeed of the men involved in Collin's kidnapping and murder of his parents, Mr. Ken and the boys were elated. Now they had pictures of two of the men and an address for one of them. Ken figured a 24-hour surveillance of the house would be able to find the third man. He couldn't wait for Phillip to get back to give him more good news. He resolved himself to getting his ass reamed but he knew it will be well worth it and anyways, 'he WAS assigned as CO-Captain from the Governor wasn't he?' Then he just laughed at himself for thinking that.

It was almost midnight when the FBI guys got back to the house. Ken had waited up for them and pulled Campbell aside and told him about the Emergency Room nurse's information and then showed him the pictures of both Mark Coleman and a man he only knew as Ross.

Agent Campbell was not pleased at all for the foolish stunt, as he called it, that Mr. Thomas did which involved a minor, nonetheless. He gave Ken hell about it and told him he would make sure he put that in his report. Then he gave Ken a huge hug and a warm smile for getting all that new and important information. Phillip was now just as elated as the other three were earlier when they knew they had the right man and his address. Campbell couldn't wait until morning to call his boss. The man in Washington D.C. didn't appreciate being awakened at close to 2 AM his time, but was very pleased with the added info and the quick pace things were now going.

Monday morning, Phillip talked to Ken and Collin about what they did and he thanked them profusely for their help. He also told Ken to also thank Ryan, too. He also told them the area where the forensics men combed had found lots of incriminating evidence including what they hope was Collin's clothes as well as finger prints and some pieces of papers with parts of what they hoped were phone numbers. He told them they bagged all the clothes and would perform a DNA check of the stains and hoped they were Collins so they could place him in that shack. The whole team now had an upbeat attitude knowing their hard work was beginning to pay off.

Thanksgiving was the following week and Mr. Ken needed to plan for the day but wasn't sure how he should proceed. This was going to be his first Thanksgiving in his new home and he wanted it to be 'special'. Ken got Campbell's permission on his invitee list and moved forward in planning a big festive feast with a big turkey and all the trimmings. For the time being, Mr. Thomas forgot that there was still an ongoing murder and sexual abuse investigations taking place and his house was at the center of it all. He was 'full steam ahead' in the planning of the big feast and wasn't focused at all on the security measures, for a few days, up until Tuesday before Turkey Day.

"Phillip ... you got a few minutes?"

"Yea, sure, what's on your mind, Ken?"

"I'm getting this feeling about something, and I can't seem to put my finger on it. I thought I'd talk it out with you and see if it makes any sense. You Ok with that?"

"Sure, I need to take a break anyway and rest my eyes from all these reports. With all the information we now have, we think we can identify all the persons involved. Those pictures Ryan took along with Collin's great memory we have four names and addresses and we are trying to determine if there are more people involved, further up, before we take any action. We are also trying to figure if maybe there was an inside man involved. We are trying to determine if someone at the estate may have made it so the men could use the delivery van to get onto the house grounds the night of the murders and kidnapping. Since all the identified people are being watched right now, we are not too concerned about Collin's safety. We won't relax our security measures though, even if it is Thanksgiving. Ok, what can I do for you?"

"Well, I think you just may have answered it. I was a bit concerned that if they wanted to get to Collin, the best time would be Thanksgiving Day. Of course, they would have to know he was here, but still, you just never know what they know. I was trying to put myself in their shoes and think 'what would I do'. I was going to ask your men to be even more vigilant during these four Thanksgiving days. You know from Wednesday night and particularly Thursday through Sunday as the most serious time for an attack of some sort."

"Geez, Ken, it sounds like you are expecting a major frontal attack by a company of men. There are only four men that we know of, so I don't think they could do that, as our men, I would hope, would get wind of their movements beforehand."

"I hear you, but ... well, what if there are bigger people ... you know ... higher ups in this whole thing that are the play makers. Who told Ross to order Mark to kill Collin that night? That is what is bugging me, Phil. I have this stinking feeling we missed something and there are more people out there that want, no NEED, Collin dead, for some reason. You said there are no known relatives except for a grandmother. And you can't seem to find her. What about Wilkinson Enterprises? Who is running all those companies, now that Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson are both ... dead? Who would gain the most and, what about the butler? Aren't they always the ones who do it? They are ... aren't they?"

That last statement got them both laughing hard. "The butler did it, for sure!" mimicked Phil and they laughed a bit more.

The two talked a bit more about the possibilities and Ken was somewhat relieved. He did, though, convince Phil to talk to the men to let them know to be extra observant, since a holiday was a good time for something to go down.

Thursday arrived and Thanksgiving Day preparations were in full swing at Three Finger Cove. Ken had invited Mary and Ryan, of course. He also invited Miss Judy Turner, even though they didn't hit it off at the beginning. She was also bringing a guest. Then there was Deputy Fischer whom he met the first day after the storm. He also invited Doc Powers and a guest. Actually, it was the person who answered the phone that night and Ken was finally going to meet them. Of course, Collin would be there and Chief and the twelve men from the Security Task Force. Approximately, nineteen people, twenty counting Chief would be at Mr. Ken's first Thanksgiving Day Feast and he was ecstatic over the whole thing.

The off-site people began to arrive around noon, Thanksgiving Day. Mary and Ryan arrived first and brought some wine to go along with dinner. Then Richard Powers and his surprise person came to the house. Doc brought along a twelve year old boy named Alexander or Alex for short. Seems Doc Powers is involved in being a Big Brother and Alex was his Little Brother for the past three years. Then Miss Judy arrived and she brought a surprise guest as well. Along with Judy Turner came her ten year old son, Eric. Ken never thought to ask if she was married or whatever and was pleasantly surprised when she introduced this young boy to him.

The four boys, two 15-year olds, a twelve year old and a ten year old got along like brothers. There was very little bickering or teasing or fighting between them. It might have been that the two younger boys had never been inside such a huge house let alone on the Three Finger Cove grounds. Those two were just beside themselves as they looked at everything as Ryan took them on the tour as only a 15 year old boy who watched the house being built from scratch could.

Their best part, they revealed afterward was the indoor pool. Mr. Ken told them he was sorry he hadn't mentioned for them to bring their suits. He told them he was also sorry he hadn't gotten around to buying a bunch of different sized suits for times such as these. He teased them and said they could swim if they wanted to. He told them they'd have to swim in their briefs or their birthday suits. Eric looked at his mom with a question in his eyes about 'birthday suits'. It was when she whispered to him he'd be naked that he quickly declined the offer. Everyone laughed at the smaller boy.

The day was a huge success. Everyone had a great meal prepared by Mr. Thomas' cook, Momma Maria, and they were all stuffed. Of course, many of the participants of the meal began to feel the sleepy effects of eating turkey. They knew their sleepy state was probably from the L-Tryptophan contained in the turkey and they seemed to all to be looking for a place to catch a few winks. The boys all drifted to the Theater, along with Chief, who was beside herself due to having four boys who played with her that day. The lads chose a recent movie and got it started and before long they all succumbed to their large turkey meal and fell into a nice nap. The adults were able to ignore the effects and sat around getting to know one another better.

As the day got long, the adults decided to end the day and gathered their charges and said their thanks and goodbyes. Miss Judy went last and gave Ken a huge thanks for the invitation and for making Eric feel so welcomed. She had begun to change her mind about the man after what she heard that day from Collin and how things were proceeding. Eric gave Ken a simple hug, before leaving, and said he'll bring his suit next time and those two were off. Ken and Collin decided to go to the Study to relax and talk over the day's events. The Study was lavishly decked out with large leather sofas and matching chairs that engulfed you and could relax you to the point of a nice nap.

No sooner had they entered the Study and sat down when Agent Campbell came running in and told them there was a problem. He told them all the agents following the men were missing. He also related the fact that Agent Stouffer was also missing and that some copies of Campbell's dispatches were found in his desk at headquarters. He told them he had no idea why the man would or should have known what was happening out there, but he found out the supervisor there had placed him at the desk that coordinated all the reports from him. He said the supervisor thought he would help the guy out from missing the actual 'hunt' by at least giving him the opportunity to read about it. Campbell said he was pissed and Ken and Collin couldn't blame him.

"Ken, I am very sorry this happened. I had no idea that jerk was involved anywhere in this investigation. I am truly sorry this has happened!"

"Don't apologize to me. Apologize to Collin! He's the one the guys are after. Sure, I am just as pissed as you, but our main concern now has to be his safety."

After hearing those last words, Agent Campbell hurried out and went to talk to all the men assigned to the Cove for security. He explained the situation to the men and asked them to all be more vigilant.

"Ok! I have gotten to all the men and they already know what is going on," Agent Campbell said as he entered the Study. "They are now doubled up on their positions. I have three men watching the cameras and I will go there shortly to supervise. Ken, I think you may have been right about an attack. I wish I had taken it more seriously!"

"An attack ... what ... what you knew there might be an attack and we had all these people here, today?" yelled Collin towards Ken.

"Collin, hold on there, sport! I had this gut feeling that if these men would try something the best time would be during a holiday when everyone is not so focused on things that mattered. I talked it over with Phil here, and the facts at the time indicated nothing should happen. All the implicated men were being watched and we thought nothing could happen. It seems that asshole Stouffer must be after revenge for what happened when he first came here with Campbell. He must have read all those reports and copied those guys’ names and addresses and then went AWOL to find them and help them. If that is the case, both you and I are at high risk right now 'Little Bro'."

"Yes, Collin," interjected Campbell. "What Ken says is true. We did discuss the possibility, but who knew there was a mad man out there who worked behind the scenes just waiting for the right time. The good thing is that they do not know we have all of the detail here tonight, instead of just five or six. This is in our favor. We will be vigilant now until they are either caught or they get their just rewards if they try to attack this house." That said, Agent Campbell went off to the area where the security cameras were being monitored.

Ken then took Collin to a special place, a hidden room, inside the house. He explained how to open it and secure it from the inside and that he was to go there when told and NOT come out until he heard the password. He explained he would call Ryan with the password and in case anything should happened to him, he would at least know when it was safe to come out of hiding.

Collin began to cry and he insisted he stay with Mr. Ken or that Mr. Ken go with him into the room when the time came. Ken explained he needed to remain outside, as this man Stouffer would be after him, and Ken wasn't going to run away. Collin wasn't happy about having to be in that room all alone but he understood that Mr. Ken had to confront the man who may be out to harm him or maybe even kill him.

No one had any idea of when or even IF those men would try to enter the premises and what they would even do if they did succeed. In the meantime, other local FBI agents were out looking for their missing comrades. The entire household was on pins and needles in anticipation of a possible pending event. Ken and Collin stayed close together with Chief as their constant companion.

Ken, in the meantime, went to his bedroom and took out a gun from his hidden closet safe. He retrieved his Glock 20 complete with laser sights along with two 15 round clips, loaded with 10mm ammo. Ken knew how to use it and was a crack shot if hitting a paper target could be considered the same as shooting another human being.

About 2 AM, Campbell woke Ken and told him the missing men were all found, dead. It appeared they must have known their assailant as they never pulled their guns. Phil speculated that Stouffer could get that close, and if he did, then he had to have joined the group. He explained he told his men to shoot Stouffer on sight no matter what, and ask questions later. He also told Ken that, to a man there, they all knew the other agents and their families and now their kids wouldn't have a daddy anymore! He said the whole team was pissed and were ready for anyone and anything.

Collin was in a sound sleep when Ken woke him and told him to get into the room. It was close to 4 AM, now. There were indications that something was up as boats were spotted coming in towards the far west shore line and they had no running lights on.

Lucky for the team, they had specialized outside cameras fitted with infra-red lenses and picked up the movement early enough to get everyone up and positioned. They also noticed some additional movement near the street entrance, and Campbell called in his sheriff's reserves.

When Ken and Phillip next talked, Campbell was taken by surprise that Ken had a gun. He was about to tell him to put it away, and get into the hidden room with Collin, when Ken told him he was within his rights to defend his life and property, and besides, he had a Texas Concealed Gun Carry Permit and he was indeed carrying! Hearing Ken saying that brought a small chuckle from Campbell during that time of immense stress.

Before long, more movement was observed using the infra-red cameras. A few men approached and appeared to be wearing some sort of camouflage and were trying to get into a close-in position. Campbell immediately assigned two men up on the roof with night scopes and told them to take care of what they could. Campbell also had his men strategically stationed on the inside and outside in hidden areas and who were now ready for any assault.

At about 5 AM, a car, one that looked like a government type with those hideous hubcaps and no style and a few antennas sticking out, entered the driveway. The vehicle stopped opposite the main front entrance to the house and neither the occupant or occupants, if they were hidden on the back floor or in the trunk, never got out. The FBI agents did not approach the vehicle. They stayed hidden and observed and waited for something to happen.

Suddenly, and precisely at 5:15 AM, a force of twelve to fourteen men rushed the house. Three guys from the car got out and rushed the front door. The three men all shot at the front door lock trying to get in that way. The almost two inch thick door did not give an inch. Simultaneously, three men, in the camouflage fatigues, approached from the high side of the property and were gunned down as they ran towards the house. The sharpshooters took those guys out fast.

From the beach area, three other men approached but they were able to take out the two agents who were hiding down in a low ridge. Gun fire was rampant and lights in the houses across from Three Finger Cove begun to come on. Now sirens could be heard in a distance as the local deputies who had been alerted were now hurrying to the scene.

The attacking men became desperate. Jim Stouffer hadn't told his new companions about the possibility of extra agents, or the closeness of the homes in the nearby subdivision. But that didn't seem to matter, as the only thing these men had on their minds was to get Collin. At least four of the attackers knew the boy could identify them, and other people of interest, and that his being alive could put them in the chamber at Huntsville, and given the deadly needle cocktail. For those reasons alone, they knew they had to succeed.

The attackers evidently got careless, or were too ill prepared and one by one they were either injured or killed. The added fire power from the extra agents and the newly arrived sheriff deputies at the street helped tremendously, as they kept the three out front occupied. Deputy Fischer was one of the first on the scene and he asked how he could assist. They allowed him and one other agent to go down along the subdivision fence line to get into position for a rear assault on the three men out front.

From inside the house, the scene outside looked like it was an uncoordinated joke, but the desperate men continued to fire at the house. Somehow, James Stouffer was able to get alongside the house by the indoor pool, without being seen. The two agents who were posted near the beach were put out of commission early on, so they couldn't relay that a person had approached from that direction.

Stouffer, silhouetted against the side of the house saw there was no easy way to enter the house from that side, so he broke one of the large panes of glass and crawled into the pool area. From there, he began working his way into the interior of the home. By that time, every agent was in the battle and Ken found himself alone watching the action on the security cameras. Then all of a sudden, Ken got a glimpse of some movement near the indoor pool access into the house and decided it was up to him to investigate.

By now, only sporadic gun shots could be heard outside and twelve minutes after the attack commenced, it had sputtered to a halt. At that time, there were at least four dead attackers and a few wounded with the remaining attackers pinned down where they hid.

Unknowingly, there was one man, ex-FBI agent and turn-coat, James Stouffer, who had gotten inside the home, and Ken Thomas was the only one who knew. Ken knew he was on his own, now, as there were no agents in that immediate area. As he walked around the lower part of the house, his heart raced and he thought it would explode at any second he was so scared.

Stouffer didn't know the layout very well, but he had seen enough to know the indoor pool room led to the large Great Room which had an elevator and staircase that led directly up to the bedrooms. The question on his mind was 'where was the youth hiding inside that huge house.' He knew the lad had to be there, as the man watching the entrance the day before said that the same number of kids who entered had exited after the Thanksgiving dinner. Jim decided he would just have to check every room along the way, and take out anyone who got in his way. He had already killed four guys the night before, and he figured another three or four or five wouldn't be any trouble.

Ken began his search for what he considered an armed man who had gotten inside through the pool area. He made himself crouch along the way and hid behind sofas and large chairs to conceal his whereabouts. He then heard a noise coming from the far end of the Great Room near the Pool Entrance but was not in a good position to look without compromising his position.

Out front, Deputy Fischer and the FBI agent who went with him opened fire on the three unsuspecting front door invaders who immediately gave up. Handcuffed, the three raiders were taken up to the Guard Shack where they joined a few of their partners who were being treated for their wounds. At this time, eighteen minutes had passed

Out back, FBI Agent Campbell and his men and the additional Sheriff Deputies were able to mount an offensive and contain the other assailants. After a few exchanges of gun fire the agents and deputies were finally able to get the aggressors to throw down their weapons and surrender. Four more men were taken into custody while two other men were found dead. Those four were taken to join up with the five already in custody at the Guard Shack.

Overall, there were 15 attackers they knew of. The nine being held at the Guard Shack, some who would need medical attention and/or transport to jail, and the six known dead men. Overall, the task Force felt they had done well for themselves. Of course the agents took a beating as well. They had one agent dead but only two seriously wounded and a few with minor scrapes and scratches. The deputies, who came to the firefight late, were lucky not to have received any injuries. The time was 6:15 AM.

Suddenly, everyone heard a shot ring out! The report sounded to Agent Phillip Campbell like the guns used by his fellow agents. He knew James Stouffer had such a weapon which made him run as fast as he could towards the house. He had no idea where the shot came from so he proceeded inside with caution. As he approached from the back entrance, Campbell saw Ken standing there holding his left arm and talking to none other than James Stouffer. Obviously, Ken had been wounded by the shot they heard. Campbell figured Stouffer had gotten in somehow and got the drop on Mr. Thomas and had shot him. Getting closer, Phillip could begin to hear the conversation.

"So, you figured you could use that pop-gun and get off a shot or two or even kill someone," ha, ha, ha, laughed Stouffer. "Here stands the Big Guy who ordered me out of his house now shaking in his boots. I told myself I'd get my revenge on you one way or another. That day in the boy's room was just a fluke, you being able to get the drop on me. Yea, I was going to shoot that damn dog and if I hit the boy, I didn't care. I hate dogs and they equally hate me. You were so damn lucky my partner was there. If I hadn't killed the dog I sure would have torn you apart. I know too many ways of hurting a man, or woman if that's the case, and I've done it way too many times to count.

"It was too bad you moved when you did. I didn't know it was you but I knew someone was there. Then when I heard a slight noise I shot and I got a lucky hit. How's that for luck? I guess now all I need to do is find that boy and kill him, too, and I'll be a five times a millionaire. Yep, $5 million dollars for killing that pup! You see, I got to see all of Campbell's reports. They all came across my desk.

"That stupid Jefferson at headquarters! He was always a softy when it came to him being a buddy with guys just in from the field. Why they didn't tell him I was there for disciplinary action, I sure don't know but it was to my advantage for sure." Stouffer then laughed some more, ha, ha, ha! "When I found out the names of the four men who bungled the kidnapping and then the boy's killing I went looking for them. I told them who I was and why I wanted to help. They in turn introduced me to the head man, the guy who wanted all this to happen.

"Seems there was this guy whose name is Dennis Clarke. He was always the second man to James Wilkinson ... and he personally told me he was tired of that position. He also told me knew he would never ever be 'Number One' so he decided to have the boy kidnapped and then demand a huge ransom for the lad's safe return. He was then going to sit back and continue to collect his regular salary while he invested the monies from the kidnapping. He had it all figured out that when he finally retired he'd be one very happy guy. Of course, we all know how that fucking kidnapping was bungled. The guys weren't supposed to take guns that night. That hot head Mark was just that and Clarke said the man 'always knew best' and he took his gun anyway. I was told that when Charlotte Wilkinson hit that dude in the nuts he went crazy and began shooting. Oh, well!

"Enough of my talking, now where is that little shit? Where is he? Or do I have to shoot you in the knee? You know it will hurt like hell don't you and then you'll never be able to use that knee again. What a shame, and such a young handsome man at that. Now! Where is he?" demanded the ex-FBI agent. "I'll count to three and if you don't tell me I'll shoot."

Campbell was still too far away to get a good shot of his own at Stouffer as the man was mostly hidden by some furniture. He was also afraid to make any noise as he might shoot Ken anyways and that would not be good.

"Ok," said Ken. "I will take you to where he is supposed to be. But remember, I haven't seen him since the attack began and he may ... and well he may have made it outside by now," responded Ken to Stouffer trying to stall for time.

"Ok, where is he supposed to be? ... Show me!"

"Up in his room, but there are secret ladders in each bedroom and then there are back stairs that lead to the kitchen with easy access to the garage," answered Ken.

"Ok, we'll take the elevator. It will give me protection as you will be in front of me if anyone should come along. Now, move it!"

Ken was still holding his arm as his blood dripped on the carpet. He walked over to the elevator and hit the call button. It was quiet enough in the house that they could hear the elevator doors close and begin its decent to the Great Room. It took the car about 35 seconds to arrive as it was at the third floor when it was called. When the elevator reached the bottom the bell rang to announce its arrival and then the door began to automatically open.

James Stouffer was watching Ken and not the elevator and as the elevator door opened Chief jumped out and up and attacked the startled Stouffer. The large dog jumped at the man's gun hand and locked it in her teeth and then her weight brought James Stouffer down to the floor. She then began shaking her head back and forth to make him drop his gun, before he could raise it up to shoot. Ken took the gun away and then tried to pull Chief off of the man but she was determined to keep him down on the floor. Phillip Campbell quickly got over there and helped Ken get Chief away from James Stouffer and he then handcuffed the ex-FBI agent. One long, long bloody night into morning had finally ended! The time was now only 7 AM, almost two hours after the attack had begun.

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