Based on a shocking true story.
To the motorist traveling along the 3100 block of Speed Limit Road in rural Hampton County, South Carolina, around 6:45 p.m. on the night of Nov. 11, 2016: I owe you an explanation and an apology. The evil deed you witnessed is not as twisted and malevolent as it may have appeared.
True, a murder was committed, but it is not of the nature that you may have thought and possibly reported to law enforcement. So in order to finally allow us both to sleep better at night and to put an end to what could still be an active investigation, please allow me to share my story.
This story involves a wife, as many evil plots often do, but don’t worry - the poor darling is quite unharmed. In fact, if we were filling out a Hampton County Sheriff’s Office report regarding this incident, the name Mrs. DeWitt would go under the section marked “Suspect No. 1.” And under the section reserved for “Victim No. 1,” well, we will get to that in a moment.
Now, in full disclosure, and against attorney’s advice, I must inform you that this suspect is not your typical wife. This lady has a psychologically disturbing criminal history when it comes to mice, rats and other forms of rodent. If Suspect No. 1 spots one rat in the house, I am forced to immediately abandon my post at work and return home, my pockets stuffed with the deadliest rat poison allowed by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the largest rat traps that ACE Hardware sells to civilians over the age of 21, and a 20-gauge shotgun with direct orders to shoot on sight. Two sightings? She’s filing for divorce and I’m buying her a new house.
But I digress. Back to the events of the dark and twisted night of Nov. 11. There was an already highly disturbed woman and then a mouse entered the crime scene. Perhaps the affair would not have been so dramatic and violent had the mouse been discovered in the usual of mouse hideouts - like behind the washing machine, for example. No, this unfortunate young mammal made the ill-fated decision to climb into one of the children’s empty beds to take a bite of a Kellogg’s Frosted Pop-Tart that my four-year-old son had left behind.
So there was the Mrs., practicing an amazing feat of levitation that is difficult for a fully grown country girl who likes peas and rice to achieve, while hitting equally impossible opera notes from deep in the recesses of her lungs. The mouse, now fearing for his life and beginning to think that Pop-Tart may be his last meal, scurried across the white bed sheet and hid beneath a pillow. That’s when I was loudly and hysterically summoned onto the scene and became an accessory to a crime, “Suspect No. 2.” If I were under oath and narrating these events to the police this is how I would describe it to the investigating officers:
“I took one look and I could see the mouse was still there, with his cute head peering from beneath that pillow, with both fear and hope in his eyes. I really didn’t want to hurt the poor little guy, so I quickly devised a plan. I slowly approached one side of the bed, while my son stalked up on the other side and together we grabbed each of the four corners and the sheet and - Gotcha! - we snatched the rodent up into the sheet and had him trapped.
“It was then my intention, I swear, to take the little guy outside and release him back into the wild. But Mrs. DeWitt had other plans.
“‘You take that rat out of here right now, and you kill it!’ she ordered, her tone of voice frightening me, my son and no doubt the rat. ‘Take it far away from this house, and make sure it’s dead!’”
“So I grabbed the broom, the kid grabbed a boat paddle that was on the porch nearby, and we set out into the front yard to carry out the death sentence.
“I took 10 steps into the yard and drew back the broom to deliver the killing blow when my wife screamed again! ‘What are you doing? Are you crazy? That’s too close to the house - get it out of here!’ So I walked 10 meters further. Still too close. Another 20 meters. More screaming.
“Needless to say, the kid (now Suspect No. 3), and I soon found ourselves completely out of our yard and standing in the middle of Speed Limit Road, in the darkness of night, holding a terrified victim trapped inside a white sheet, clutching our makeshift weapons. That’s where the murder went down.”
And that’s when you happened along, dear motorist, and witnessed the entire grisly crime - two furtive figures viciously beating someone under a white sheet gangland style with club-like objects along a dark and isolated highway. As ashamed as I am to admit it, my accomplice and I then sprinted away to hide like the cowardly culprits we were when we saw your headlights. I truly hope we didn’t frighten you too much. I am sure it must have appeared to you like a scene from a slasher film or horror movie. Once again, my apologies.
On a positive note, I couldn’t help but notice that your brakes squealed, your car jerked to a stop and you spun your vehicle around and returned to investigate. Had this been a crime involving an innocent human being, you were prepared to do your good deed and come to the rescue of a potential victim in distress. I applaud you, sir or madam motorist, for being a good citizen and being willing to possibly risk your life to help save another. And you should be proud of yourself.
And somewhere out there, on the cold hard roadside of Speed Limit Road, I’ll bet Mr. Mouse would be proud of you, too. May he Rest in Peace.
Michael M. DeWitt Jr. is the managing editor of The Hampton County Guardian newspaper in South Carolina. He is an award-winning humorist, journalist and outdoor writer and the author of two books.