My stepbrother and I passed the time playing basketball at the local church, or catching catfish in one of the Wynn family ponds.
If you grew up small town, you get it. Parents don't care. Kids just go out on a four wheeler and get lost. It happens. (The 90s were wild.)
We drove about 15 minutes on our four wheeler, and we came to a clearing. At the edge of the clearing was this HUGE old barn. I mean, this thing was a big one.
It was big. This was a barn that mattered.
That's when grit came in. We pulled. Inch by inch.
Until about a foot opened.
I'm not an expert on farm equipment, but there was a tractor and a few larger combine-style machines.
Anyway, I was on the seat of the tractor, and my stepbrother says, "Shane, what's that?" He points to a ladder in the far corner.
(It's clearly a ladder.)
(How am I alive?)
This is easily a 20 foot ladder to the loft. I'm gonna catch him?
We ain't dead. Whew.
When he gets to the top, there's a little door to the loft, and it's stuck as hell. It won't budge. So I look around this barn for a lever.
I mean, it was a loud ass *CRACK* and it opened.
... well, awful. There were bales of hay in the loft, but I think they were like, decades old. It was this sick, blackish-gray looking hay.
They were rotting.
So we decide to walk around this gangplank. (WHY?!)
But, it is almost pitch black. Yes, it's daylight outside, but this barn barely let any light in.
I'm in a room. That's all I know. I wait for my eyes to adjust.
So we got to kicking.
... and that's when it got REALLY fucking weird.
I saw a doll hanging from the ceiling. By a little noose.
Around the circle were these little trinkets.
There were some GI Joe toys.
A few dolls.
There was a baseball glove, covered in what looked like dry blood.
It was a little map of horror, and that was when Ryan and I shared the look of... "Let's get the fuck outta here."
Light floods in, and man, it's a 25 foot drop from the loft to the ground. We both jumped. Who cares, right? Get the fuck outta there.
Ryan and I looked at each other like, "WHAT?!"
So then we wordvomit to Ellis what we just saw. He slams on his brakes.
But then we showed him the lair.
"Holy shit." He just looked stunned.
He rushes us back to the truck, and we haul ass back to my aunt's house. When we get back, he's like, "Call the police. CALL THE POLICE!"
Police show up and Ellis, me and Ryan are trying to tell the police about the barn.
See, while Ryan and I were out, the cops had come by my aunt's house, because this dude had just murdered a family, and perhaps taken a few of the kids alive.
In small town Georgia, when that happens, you notify everyone.
That's where they found Jerry Heidler.
They call him the Santa Claus Killer, but not because of the toys. Because the town next to Vidalia is called Santa Claus.
He kept their dolls, their hair, their games, and little odds and ends. He put them in this fucked up barn lair.
He was with the three girls he kidnapped, on the way to the barn, when the cops stopped him.
Wanna know why? Because I was 11 years old, and I didn't bother Googling it to fact check it, except for the spelling of his name.
And yeah, he probably gets caught WITHOUT us. Duh.
I dunno. Go look up the police reports for "kids find his weird serial killer shit in a barn" -- that was me and my bro, and I remember it being scary as fuck.
Y'all hate stories, huh?
But like, adults in the room were saying otherwise.
I mean, shit man, at 11, that sounded logical. (Given the circumstances.)
I thought the police caught him on the dirt road on the way to the barn until just now, when I Google'd it.
I never actually bothered Googling the real story until my buddy Ben texted me and said my story had plot holes.
It's about how you view the world I guess. I'd rather just remember things as they were.