Resurrection 48Posted: November 26, 2016
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
J.W. and Suzanna woke to Claire’s hungry cry in the baby monitor Saturday morning at 4:48. Suzanna went to nurse her. J.W. stayed in bed.
After lunch with Tom the day before, J.W. had a hectic day. Biddy Smith, one of his parishioners, was in the hospital, infected foot complicated by diabetes. He drove to Corbin to visit her. As he was leaving the hospital, Chief Dalton had called asking him to come in for a DNA swab. He still hadn’t figured out his sermon for Sunday so he went back after to work on that, only to be interrupted by Nancy Parker, who had ostensibly stopped in to print the bulletin, but really wanted to talk to J.W. about her marriage.
At 6pm his sermon was still not done but he was. He locked up the church and walked across the lot to the parsonage to have some supper and enjoy the evening with Suzanna and Claire.
It was 5:05am when Suzanna climbed back into the bed, huddling against J.W. for his warmth. She was perpetually cold and J.W. radiated heat. She closed her eyes and stroked his chest with her hand. He wrapped his foot around hers. The intimacy of the day before still lingered in both of their minds.
By 6am Suzanna was fast asleep, but J.W. was wide awake. J.W. slipped out of the bed and went downstairs to make coffee and have his routine morning devotion. But as he drank his first cup and tried to read his Bible, he was distracted. Tom’s words at lunch yesterday weighed on his mind. “Be careful.” It was just hitting J.W.’s mind that the murderer was possibly targeting him.
J.W. went into the study and powered up his computer. He wanted to find out anything he could about the murder.
He started first “googling” the news reports on the story. They were pretty much what he knew already. The Lexington Herald-Leader had picked up the story, which surprised him, and had a write up about the unidentified body.
He googled his name as well, seeing what might be there. Not much there. A building company in England bearing his name dominated the first page of results. Nothing about the murder.
J.W. had thought about his birth mother often, and wondered who she was, where she was, but hadn’t actually pursued tracking her down. Both Tom and Chief Dalton thought it was possible the unnamed victim was related to him. Maybe he could find out something.
He stared out searching for births, January 22, 1978. He realized as soon as the results popped up he wasn’t being specific enough. He tried adding “birth records” and then “Kentucky.” Nothing useful.
J.W didn’t even know where he was born, other than he was born in Kentucky. The Baptist Home for Children didn’t give his parents many details.
“Why would someone steal my identity?” J.W. thought. He began searching for identity theft. This led him to reading about all the ways your identity can be stolen using the most sparse pieces of information, sometimes just by knowing a person’s birth date and location.
If a person wants to steal your identity, it was surprisingly simple. First, get the birth date and birth county of your potential target. Next, get the birth mother’s name. In J.W.’s case they would have used his adoptive mother’s name. Birth certificates for adoptees are reissued in the adoptive parent’s names once the adoption is complete.
Going online using just this information, anyone can request a duplicate birth certificate for a small fee. They don’t even have to send a letter or request it in person. In White County Kentucky the fee is $28.
From there the thief can use the birth certificate to request a duplicate social security card, driver’s license. With these he can open bank accounts, get loans, request copies of college transcripts, apply for jobs, even get a passport.
J.W. had no idea how simple it was without someone ever “hacking” his accounts and without him giving out any truly personal information.
“OK,” thought J.W., “But why did this guy come to Silerville in the first place? If all he wanted was to steal my identity, he could have done that without ever coming here.”
That’s when he stumbled on the story of Ray Hansen.
In 1982 Ray disappeared from his home in upstate New York near Albany. He left a cryptic note that seemed like it could be a suicide note, but little else. He didn’t take anything with him – no clothes or personal items – and his bank accounts were undisturbed. His car was found several days later deserted in a grocery store parking lot. He left behind a wife and two children.
His body was never found.
Seven years later, with no sign of him and with the implications of the note, his wife petitioned to have Ray declared legally dead. The court granted her petition. It didn’t solve the mystery of his disappearance, but at least it was a measure of closure for her.
Twenty-one years after his disappearance, the story takes a sharp turn.
Ray was alive the whole time. It turns out he killed then assumed the identity of a man named Tim Sharp. He was a single man, no family, and presented the perfect way for Ray to start a new life. He assumed Tim’s identity and had been living for over two decades in Arcadia, Illinois. He worked at a bank and had even gotten involved in politics.
Ray finally got caught when he had to be fingerprinted for his securities license. The prints were run through the database and “Tim”‘s returned a DUI for a Ray Hansen. Once the investigation started, Ray confessed.
Maybe this unknown man had come to Silerville to kill me, thought J.W. The idea gave him two reactions. First, fear. Not so much for himself as his family. Second, determination to get to the bottom of this.