A Death in White Bear Lake by Barry Siegel

A Death in White Bear Lake by Barry Siegel

Author:Barry Siegel
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781504047562
Publisher: Open Road Media
Published: 2017-07-01T04:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER 25

An Example Could Be Made

June Bol grew up in modest surroundings, but never considered her family poor, for her mother, baking and cooking and sewing, shielded her three children from discomfort and distress. June’s father provided unbending support too, but it was of a less tranquil sort, considering the nature of his job. For twenty-two years, Herb Partridge had served as chief of police in North St. Paul. June grew up a cop’s kid.

For this reason, she did not hesitate for long after Renee and Grant fled to her house. Early the next morning, July 10, she led them to her car and drove directly to Washington County Sheriff Ed Westphal’s office in downtown Stillwater.

“I’m Herb Pattridge’s daughter,” she said to the receptionist, and that got them into the sheriff’s office immediately.

“What’s the matter, kids?” Westphal asked after they had settled into chairs around his desk.

Glancing at June for encouragement, Renee and Grant began to talk, their manner at first slow and halting, then increasingly animated. They told of the beatings with belt buckles, the underwear worn on their heads, the hair pulling and ear yanking, the hangers and dust. The sheriff began taking notes, his frown deepening as the stories continued. His notes spilled over to a second page, then a third, then a fourth.

When the children finished, Renee pulled a small envelope from her purse and handed it to Westphal. Looking inside, he found a clump of human hair. Then he noticed the writing Renee had scrawled on the outside of the envelope. “My hair that Mom pulled out January 3, 1975.” The sheriff reached for his phone and started making calls.

We’ve got something going here, June thought. She looked longingly at the door, for now that the sheriff was involved, she yearned to back quietly out of the room and leave the whole matter to the authorities. All the same, she remained still in her chair.

Late that morning, the phone rang on the desk of Carol Felix, a level two social worker for the Washington County welfare department. The clerk of the court was calling.

“A Mrs. June Bol is down here,” the clerk said. “She has some children in an extreme abusive situation who need protection. Judge Albertson wants you to get over here right now.”

In Carol’s experience, such a call was quite unusual, even singular. She’d learned over time that most people are afraid of the system and won’t meddle in abuse cases. Despite the growing recognition since Henry Kempe’s early writings about child abuse, despite the publicity and new laws, Carol had not seen a dramatic change in how folks responded to evidence of a battered child. And those few who did report a problem got snarled in a sluggish bureaucracy. If they managed to get through on the phone, the information still had to be written up, then sent to a supervisor, then assigned to a caseworker, who might or might not go out the next day to investigate.

As she drove the two miles from the welfare department office to the courthouse, Carol marveled at what was happening.



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