What do kids know?
While the world is asleep, you can look at it and weep
Few things you find are worthwhile
And though I don't ask for much, no material things to touch
Lord, protect my child - Bob Dylan
Eight-year old Sarah Payne was snatched from a quiet street in West Sussex on July 1, 2000. Her body was found 16 days later, ten miles away. Paedophile Roy Whiting was convicted of her abduction and murder, and sentenced to life in prison.
Open and shut. Or maybe, both open and shut. Because there's this painting Sarah left behind, displayed in her classroom, which was reproduced in the London Sun four days after her disappearance: a man standing upon a 13-square checkered floor, between columns bearing Sarah's name. He wears what appears to be an apron of 33 studs, and holds an object in his left hand. His right sleeve is missing.
Investigator Ellis Taylor asks, "Where do we find black and white checkerboard floors, the number 13 and two columns? ... Who would wear an item of clothing with the right sleeve missing...wear aprons and revere the number 33?"
Maybe somewhere like this lodge, and someone like this brother:
There is a strong suggestion of paedophillia in this painting and it seems exceedingly strange that little Sarah met her death under just these circumstances. I ask you "Is this (when you consider Sarah's artwork) likely to have been the first time that she has suffered abuse?"
Taylor doesn't deny Whiting's guilt, but wonders whether the guilt deservedly rests wholly on his shoulders: "Is Roy Whiting carrying the can for others?"
In Cults that Kill, Larry Kahaner writes of eight-year old "Rhonda." Her mother contacted the juvenile division of the San Francisco Police Department because a young boy named Kevin had gone missing, and when Rhonda saw his image on television she said "My daddy and I picked up a little boy named Kevin the other day and he looks like him." (Rhonda's parents had been divorced for five years, and her father was already facing a charge of sexual abuse.) The mother asked investigators to speak with Rhonda, because she was "telling some really strange stories about devil worship and stuff."
Detective Sandi Gallant:
The story that stands out most in my mind was the one where she talks about being in a room and seeing a picture of a man with a moustache on the wall and seeing a swastika on the wall. She didn't call it that; she drew it for us. The people are in robes, and there are policemen present. She said they had blue uniforms, and she was sure they were policemen.
On this occasion, a man came into the room and brought with him a baby. The baby was given an injection. There is a fire going in the fireplace. They put the baby's legs in the fire. We just let her tell the story, but I did stop her every once in a while to ask questions. At that point, I said, "Did the baby make any noise?" She said, "The baby screamed."
Rhonda's father stood trial on a charge of incest. The jury wound up hung, six-six. "Afterward," says Detective Gallant, "some of the people on the jury said they had no problem with the sexual abuse, but they had a real difficult time with the Satanic ritual allegations."
In this drawing - apologies for the quality - two children are depicted lying on an altar as Rhonda kneels before them. ("all people is a round it!!") Her father is above, holding a baby's legs to a fire.
Rhonda told investigators her father placed her hands on a dagger, and forced her to stab the baby. "I saw worms come out," she said. Detective Gallant: "My first thought was that this kid was nuts. My second thought was: how is a kid going to know that the intestines - she described them as worms - are going to come out unless she actually has seen it or has seen something that looked like it?"
Below, Rhonda has drawn a dagger, flags and a swastika:
The latest from Ponchatoula reveals items inventoried from a Hosanna Church storage facility include weapons, flag pins, ministry pamphlets and a computer tower that "could be described as a copying station due to the multiple number of CD units it contains."
What do kids know?
Do you remember what Magnolia's child genius Stanley Spector tells himself, as the frogs begin to rain down? "This happens. This is something that happens."
Kids just know.