Monday, September 5, 2022

Roberta Gibson


Five retired detectives murmur to each other,
Was one of their own a serial killer?
Investigated by friends.
Questions not asked,
Questions not answered.

Five reasons to wonder
In the 1960s, before no-fault divorce,
Before trained medical examiners,
Before DNA forensics,
Before the term “serial killer” was even coined.

Five victims he knew.
A young neighbor,
His lover’s spouse,
His own spouse -- only four months later,
Two children who knew too much? Or were in the way?

Five times first on the scene.
As if he knew where to go,
Or that he needed to obscure the evidence?
Control the outcome?
Or five coincidences?

Five deaths ruled accidents.
An accidental hanging (rare event),
A heart attack (victim only 35),
Fatal black widow bite (extremely unlikely),
Fire started by a toy.

Five holes left in other people’s lives.
Mothers and fathers,
Sisters and brothers,
Holes in the ground, holes in the community
Who knows what could have been?

Five headstones baking in the sun
Was he a serial killer?
Was he unlucky?
Or was he very lucky?
With the passage of time, no way to tell.

Roberta's YouTube video reading of "Unpunished":

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Roberta confesses: "I’ve hesitated to share this story because it offers more questions than answers. I realized, however, that because the same coroner ruled all the deaths as accidental, it is also about what a difference a well-trained, well-staffed, well-funded medical examiner’s office might have made."

ROBERTA GIBSON came to writing after a career as a scientist. Her most recent publications include the short story "Fine Lines" in the Desert Sleuth's anthology SoWest: Love Kills and “The Journeys in Between” short story published in Clinch: A Literary Martial Arts Magazine. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and son. She also writes for multiple blogs, which you can find linked at her website

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