Murder On Minor Avenue
by Lee Lofland
(excerpt from Chapter 14 of Masters Of True Crime: Chilling Stories Of Murder And The Macabre)
James responded to his brother’s question by immediately shooting him to death. No hesitation. No brief thoughts of the “good old days.” No moment of brotherly love. Nothing. Just a couple of rapid trigger pulls, and his brother was dead. Then James quickly fired a round at Alma and another at Charity, his own mother. When their bodies hit the floor, he quickly blasted a round, point-blank, into each of their skulls.
James then killed two of the kids in the kitchen in the same manner, first a round or two to drop them, and then one to the head to be sure they were dead.
The third child made a futile attempt to escape through the back door but was gunned down before she could reach the safety of outdoors. Her body came to rest backed up to a full-length mirror hanging beside a bathroom door in the narrow hallway. The grisly reflection clearly showed an exit wound in the little girl’s back. It also doubled the appearance of the large pool of blood surrounding her head, oozing its way along the baseboard.
Charity Ruppert, the family matriarch, lay dead on the cold linoleum—her midsection a mangled mess. Her right hand rested above her right breast. The left stretched above her head, as if reaching for something just out of her grasp. Her slacks and dress shoes were painted in blood spatter. Her eyeglasses lay beside her on the floor, tangled in her wavy hair. The expression frozen on her face was one of surprise and disbelief. Her eyes stared blankly skyward.
Alma almost appeared to be sleeping, lying partially on her right side with her cheek against the cool floor. Her glasses were still in place. Her right leg was curled gently beneath her, and her left leg was extended straight to where her foot rested in one of her dead children’s blood-matted hair. Her husband’s face was a few inches away, in a puddle of their daughter’s blood.
James reloaded his guns and calmly made his way to the living room, where he began firing at each of the five remaining kids, as if he were in a field taking target practice at a row of tin cans. And to be certain that no one but him would ever receive a dime of the insurance money, he walked around the crumpled bodies of the dying children and fired a single shot to each of their heads.
Standing in the center of the living room, James surveyed the aftermath of his actions. An overturned wastebasket with its contents—wadded papers and cigarette butts—scattered across the space. The corner of a TV Guide rested against the black tennis shoe of one of the dead boys. A caricature of Bea Arthur’s face stared back at James from the cover of the magazine.
A child’s Disney* book lay in the center of the carpet. Mickey Mouse’s wide smile and trademark ears were out of place among the carnage. A little girl’s body lay in a corner, her feet clad in black and white saddle oxfords, tangled in a heap of boxes that had once been stacked neatly against the wall. She’d apparently been trying to escape but had backed into the corner, trapped, where her uncle took aim and shot her. Her body fell to the floor, face-up beside a bouquet of fresh Easter flowers. Her head was a bloody mess.
Charity Ruppert’s once neat-as-a-pin living room was now cluttered with the corpses of her precious grandchildren.
With his entire family now out of the way, James was ready for the final stage of his plan: to prove he was mentally incapable to stand trial for the murders, the only way that he could legally claim the inheritance.
James moved about the house, carefully positioning each of his guns on various pieces of furniture. Two revolvers on the coffee table and another on the arm of the couch, along with a box of bullets. A rifle beside the refrigerator, and four boxes of bullets as well as several loose rounds of ammunition on the kitchen table. Yes, everything was just right. Perfect, actually. Only a person not fit to stand trial would do what he’d just done.
It was time to call the police.
*Masters of True Crime is now available as an audiobook.