THE SNAKE BIT CASE (Part 2)
“So. What happened to that plan?”
“We put Erika on a bus to Columbus. My sister met the bus there, but Erika wasn’t on the bus. The bus driver said she got off in Lone Oak on the way to Columbus.”
“Did you look for her?” Jen asked.
“No. She told us that if we sent her away, the first chance she had she’d run away. We figured that’s what she did. Anyway, we couldn’t find better jobs here. We never heard from her again. She’d be thirty-one now.”
“Do you think she ran away?” Jen asked.
“I don’t know,” Mrs. Sorg answered. “Like I said, we’re good Christians. We’d forgive her no matter what. There was no reason for her to run away.”
Jen asked a few more questions and Mrs. Sorg gave her a picture of a pregnant Erika. Jen figured she would go to Lone Oak to start her search of Erika. Back at the office, Jen told Molly what she found out. “I guess it’s a waste of time. It looks like she ran away.”
“Did she know someone in Lone Oak?” Molly asked. “Maybe someone met her there to pick her up.”
“Maybe, someone like her boyfriend, the child’s father? It’s possible.”
“Maybe there’s another reason she got off the bus,” Molly suggested. “How far along was she?”
“I think she was at least eight months along.” Jen answered.
“Maybe she had a medical emergency,” Molly suggested. “Maybe her water broke.”
“The bus driver would have said something.”
“Maybe not,” Molly replied.
“I guess I could at least check that out.”
The next day...
Jen drove to Lone Oak, an hour drive on Highway 85. Lone Oak isn’t on the highway but not far off. As she drove into town, she saw the sign that said the population was less than 100. There was a gas station, so Jen stopped there. The attendant said there was no hospital there, and for emergencies, an ambulance would take patients to Grantville, ten minutes farther down the road. Jen headed there. The Grantville hospital was located in the center of town. It was a large county hospital. Jen put on her mask and went inside to talk with the HR director.
“I’m a private investigator, and I’m trying to find information on a young woman named Erika Sorg who might have been admitted fifteen years ago.” Jen told the HR Director. “She was eight months pregnant.”
The Director frowned at Jen. “That’s a long time ago, but fortunately, we keep record for sixty years or more. We should have some record on her. Let me call our medical records.” The Director talked to medical records and gave the person on the line the name. She was silent as she waited for an answer. A few minutes later she said, “No person with that name in our records.”
“Is it possible she was treated without giving her name?” Jen asked. “She may have been running away from home.”
The Director thought for a moment. “It’s possible. You said it was fifteen years ago? The head of our OB-GYN was an intern back then. Maybe she can tell you something.” The Director made another call.
A few minutes later, another woman entered the office and the HR Director introduced her to Jen. Jen explained what she was trying to find out. “Yes, I do remember an incident like that,” the Doctor said. “A very pregnant young woman arrived here by taxis. She was having a medical emergency. She wouldn’t tell us her name or the name of the father.”
Jen took out the photograph that Mrs. Sorg had given her of Erika. The doctor looked at the picture and shook her head. “I don’t remember what she looked like, but that could be her, a young white girl maybe seventeen. As I recall she wouldn’t give us a next of kin to notify either, but she did give us the name of her pastor.”
“Would we have a record of that patient?” the HR Director asked.
“Of course,” the Doctor answered. “It would be filed as a Jane Doe with the name of the pastor,”
“Jane Doe?” Jen asked.
“Oh, she died,” the Doctor answered. “Very sad case. If I remember, she died during childbirth.”
The HR Director called medical records again. Soon a woman came into the office with a file. The label on the file read, Jane Doe—Pastor Walter Falk. The Director open the file and began reading some entries aloud. “There were complications during delivery, and we couldn’t save the mother. We did save the baby—a boy.”
“What happened to the girl’s body?” Jen asked. “Did Pastor Falk remove the body?”
“No. no,” the Director answered. “We can only release the body to the next of kin. Her body was sent to the morgue and later buried in the town cemetery.”