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IN LEAH’S WAKE BLOG PARTY

FOUR GREAT AUTHORS – ONE NEVER BEFORE RELEASED MYSTERY STORY


Hosted by Terri Giuliano Long

December 12 – 16


December 15… Sean Keefer, author of the legal thriller ‘The Trust.’ When Will and Zoe are arrested for allowing an underage party, Will calls in attorney Noah Parks, a friend from college to defend them. Sean continues the story.

Read on to participate in the fun and to compete for your chance at the prizes. Today’s question is: Should Will and Zoe be charged? Answer it in the comments section below and you just might win $500!

Narrated by Noah Parks
from The Trust by Sean Keefer

Noah Parks is a nice guy. He works hard for his clients. Most importantly, he knows how to balance his personal life and his professional life. Friends and family are important to him though he is still building his family. He’s the person you want on your side if you have a problem.
 

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“The flight was fine and now I’m in a cab heading out to Cortland,” I said into the phone. I glanced up to the rearview mirror and saw the cabbie’s eyes on me rather than the road.

“Let me go. I’ll call you back and give you an update. Love you.” I heard the same words said back over a dog’s barking in the background.

I checked the rearview. Despite having traveled several miles, the cabbie’s eyes hadn’t moved.

“You’re not from around here are you?”

“No,” I said.

“Watch this, I can guess. The south right?”

“Actually yes. What gave it away?”

“I knew it. I knew it. Knew you were from the south. I always get it. Wicked cool.”

Having decided his passenger was from this place called “The South,” the cabbie launched on a monologue that quickly covered the Red Sox, the Big Dig and whether he was going to take his wife on vacation or head to Atlantic City with some union buddies. Seems Atlantic City was the odds on favorite.

His words faded into the background. I watched the Boston cityscape pass by the cab’s window until we arrived at the rental car company. I paid the cabbie who was still going on about me being from “The South,” and quickly collected my rental car. I pulled up an email and checked directions to Cortland. Looked like a quick drive as I hit the road.

I was in Boston from Charleston, South Carolina, for a DUI defense conference when I received the email. The daughter of a fraternity brother’s friend hosted an underage party and the family needed some legal help. Not that a South Carolina attorney has any business smoothing over underage parties in Massachusetts, but I rarely ever got to take advantage of my Massachusetts law license.

And, a couple of problems made this one a little unique. First, it seems there had been drugs, a lot of drugs, at the party. Two, a girl was missing. What would have otherwise been but a blip on the police radar now became priority one for several law enforcement agencies. The email even said the locals brought in an out-of-town cop to help out. This meant a lot of attention was going to be focused on the parents – in fact, seems the police had already spoken to them and to their daughter. I’d bet a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts there wasn’t an attorney to be found when the police were talking to the family. I’d put an end to that.

Turns out Cortland wasn’t too large and the Tyler house was easy enough to find. Nice house, I thought, as I walked up to the front door. As I was about to ring the bell, the door opened.

Standing in the doorway was a girl of no more than 17. She was barefoot, dressed in a white tee shirt and a pair of flannel pajama bottoms. She looked tired and, well, like she was somewhere else. We stared at each other for a moment, then I realized I was the only one doing any staring. I was looking at her, but I was pretty sure it had yet to register I was standing in the doorway.

“Hi. I’m looking for Will or Zoe,” I said.

Silence.

Her blank stare continued for an awkward minute before her eyes met mine.

“Oh, um, hi.”

She turned and wandered back into the house.

“Mom. Someone’s here,” she said as she disappeared around the corner.

I was left looking into an empty den and dining room beyond. After several minutes an attractive, but harried looking woman in her late 30’s appeared.

“Hi,” I said.

“Tell me you’re Malcolm’s friend, the attorney.”

“I am. Noah Parks,” I said as I stepped into the house. I glanced back over my head as the silence outside the door was broken by distant police sirens. I shut the door behind me.

“Thank heavens. I’m Zoe Tyler,” she said as she shook my hand. “Give me a minute. I’ll get my husband.”

She turned and left me in the den before I had a chance to say anything else. I looked around the room and my eyes fell upon a large portrait over the fireplace. A man, woman and two younger girls. I recognized Zoe as the woman and one of the two girls as the one who opened the door for me though the other girl in the photo, though younger, looked exactly like her sister.

“Awful blue, huh?” a voice said.

I turned to see the man from the photo standing beside Zoe in the doorway.

“The photo, lots of blue. Never mind, anyway, I’m Will Tyler and thank you for coming.”

“Happy to help. Malcolm said the police were being less than friendly. It’s always a good idea to have a buffer between you and the authorities. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that, but let’s talk so I understand what’s happened.”

“Certainly. Anything you need.”

I looked back to the portrait.

“Your girls. I’d like to talk to them.”

Zoe and Will exchanged looks.

“That won’t be easy,” Will said.

“Pardon me if I’m blunt, but if I’m going to be any help, ya’ll, that’s southern for everybody,” I said as I motioned with my finger. “Will have to talk to me. I can’t help you unless you help me.”

“Mr. Parks,” Zoe said as she walked in and motioned for me to sit.

“Call me Noah.”

“Noah, Leah, well, talking to Leah just isn’t easy.”

“Lately, anyway,” Will said as he moved to join Zoe on the sofa.

“And our other daughter, Justine, she’s the one who’s missing,” Zoe said.

“I’m sorry, seems Malcolm neglected to tell me that. Ok, we’ll talk then I’ll deal with the police,” I said. “And try to talk to Leah.”

An emotional three hours later I had more than I needed. The Tyler’s weren’t going to be charged with anything. These parents had a missing daughter on their hands. I was also 100% confident neither Zoe nor Will had anything to do with their daughter’s disappearance.

Leah, well, that was another story. She likely wouldn’t be arrested and probably wasn’t directly involved with Justine’s disappearance, but if fingers of responsibility were to be pointed, Leah was going to be a popular target. It seems that Leah was developing a reputation as a rebellious teen. Something that was taking a toll on the family.

Will and Zoe were sitting side by side on the couch, embracing, sobbing.

I let them sit in silence for a moment.

“Guys, I need to talk to Leah.”

“I’ll go get her,” Will said.

“Why don’t you point me towards her room and let me introduce myself. I’ll go ahead and give the police a call, let them know they go through me.”

Zoe and Will looked at each other.

“Second door on the right,” Will said.

“Try to relax. I’ll get an update on what the police are doing and we’ll see what Leah has to say.”

I walked out of the den and glanced down the hall towards Leah’s room. I half expected a “Keep Out” sign, but instead saw only a, “Leah’s Room” sign. I stepped into the kitchen and saw the phone by the refrigerator. Sure enough, a sticker with the Cortland Police Department phone number was right where I expected it. I dialed the number on my cell.

“Cortland Police, could you please hold?”

“No, I can’t. My name’s Attorney Noah Parks and I’m calling on behalf of the Tyler’s concerning their missing daughter. I’ve got some information. Could you please connect me to the officer in charge?”

“Sir, he’s not available.”

“I’m certain he’s working on finding their daughter, but I’m also sure you wouldn’t want to keep any information from him now would you?”

Silence. I got that a lot.

“No, sir, I wouldn’t. Let me see if I can find him. Do you want to leave a number?”

“I’ll just hold so we don’t have to keep him waiting.”

I glanced back into the living room and saw Will and Zoe still on the couch. Had to be tough for them. I headed down the hall toward Leah’s room with hold music playing in my ear.

I knocked. Nothing. I knocked again.

I placed my ear against the door. Odd, complete silence.

Glancing up the hall I saw the next door down had a sign that read, “Justine’s Room.” I walked the few steps, knocked and opened the door half expecting to find Leah on her sister’s bed, but instead found only an empty room. I went back to Leah’s room and opened the door.

Empty.

“Will! Zoe!”

They were there in seconds.

“Where’s Leah?” Zoe said.

“My question exactly,” I said. “Would you guys go have a look around?”

They disappeared. I stood in the middle of the room. It looked like a typical teenager’s room – in short a disaster area. Clothes strewn everywhere, out on the window ledge was an ashtray, an opened laptop was on the desk. I took a step towards the bed. The flannel bottoms she’d been wearing when she answered the door were lying on the covers. Great, there was a half-dressed teenager roaming around somewhere. I glanced to the computer and touched the track pad. The hard drive started to spin.

The screen came to life and I saw an open instant message window.

ToddC – The cops grabbed me & think Theo has sumthing 2 do w Jus! Mt me @ the school NOW!!

SoccerGrl – Leaving now

I checked the time of the message. Almost half an hour ago.

“Noah.”

Will was standing in the door, Zoe to his side.

“She’s not here.”

A voice came across my phone.

“This is Officer Johnson. Who am I talking to?”

“Attorney Noah Parks. Can you hold on a moment?”

“Mr. Parks, you called me.”

“I know, but the Tyler’s daughter…”

“Mr. Parks, good news. We’ve just caught a break. We’ve had a report of a girl fitting the description of the Tyler’s daughter at the high school.”

“That’s great. Which daughter?” I said.

“Excuse me, did you say which daughter?”

“I did. That was what I was trying to tell you. Leah’s missing and we think she was heading to the high school.”

“Great and next you’re going to tell me she’s half-dressed,” Johnson said.

“Well, actually yes. How did you know?”

 

[box title="Sean Keefer"]Sean Keefer was born and raised in the Carolinas. After studying law in North Carolina, Sean settled in Charleston, South Carolina and instantly became enamored with the people as well as the city. When Sean is not writing he practices Family Law and works as a Domestic Mediator. Sean can frequently be found wandering the lowcountry of South Carolina with his camera, playing guitar in assorted venues around Charleston or exploring the underwater world of the southeast.[/box]

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I'd love to hear your thoughts!

  1. Shari Lynn Alligood

    I don't believe Will or Zoe should be charged until all the facts & the body of their daughter Justine is found.

  2. Natalie Cleary

    No they shouldnt be charged yet. They still dont have all the facts or evidence but they should be watched carefully.

  3. It is inevitable that the parents will be at least threatened with legal consequences. That's the way it works these days.

  4. Ah this is a tough question. In the context of the story no I don't think they should be charged. Their daughter is missing and all the facts are not available.

  5. I don't think Will and Zoe will be charged because, even though it was their house, both of their girls are MIA and currently there is no explanation as to "Why". There are no facts, and evidence hasn't been found yet to accuse them of any wrong doing; sure, they will be threatened with legal consequences, but the cops know nothing different than the parents do at this time.

  6. Noah said they were emotional, wouldn't be charged, and suspected they had little or nothing to do with her disappearance. I don't see why they would be chargd. :)

  7. Gewrgios Filios

    Well this is difficult…i don't think that Will and Zoe should be charged!The party took place at their house but we don't know all the facts about it and about their daughter's disappearance,but there is a chance that they knew about the party and did nothing so they must charged then.We must wait for the final part to decide!!:) Very nice part!I didn't expect for Leah to dissapear!!!I can't wait for the end but also i don't want it to end!!:D

  8. No because in the story the attorney says they are not going to be charged with anything and that he is 100% certain they didn't have anything to do with their daughter's disappearance.

  9. No, I don't think they should be charged and, based on Noah's assessmment, it doesn't look like they will be. I think they need to learn a big lesson from this whole thing though and hopefully, when both are their daughters are returned safely to them, they will deal with some of the issues and problems the girls (particularly Leah) are causing.

    I really hope that Justine is somewhere safe!

  10. It seems like they shouldn't be charged yet, not quite enough facts. But should they be watched carefully? Definitely.

  11. Should the parents be charged for allowing the party? That's actually a complicated question. There are many cases in which the parents SHOULD be charged, especially in those (scarily frequent) cases when the parents are actively involved in allowing the party and even supply alcohol. There are also cases when the parents can and should be held responsible for things their children do. But in this case, Will and Zoe had nothing to do with it, did not know anything about it, and have done what they could to prevent their daughters from doing such things, so no. They shouldn't be held responsible for what Leah does.

    This little mystery is proving very interesting. I can't wait to find out what happens!

  12. jaimee w

    Yes, I think they should be. they hosted under age party, and now one (possibly 2) of their children is missing! Great read though, and I'm ready to go find where I can read more by him!

  13. No, I don't think the parents shouldn't be charged and I agree with Noah's assessment "I was also 100% confident neither Zoe nor Will had anything to do with their daughter’s disappearance." They need all the evidence and facts before coming to conclusions.

  14. No, they shouldn't be charged. What would they be charged with? They had no knowledge of the party until they got home. If anyone should be charged with something, it should be Leah, and who ever supplied the alcohol.

    loveofbook-blog [at] yahoo [dot] com

  15. First…were Will and Zoe actually arrested? I didn't get that from anything I've read so far. Should they be arrested and charged? Absolutely! All parents are ultimately responsible for their minor children…whether they're there or not! Will they be charged is a whole other question. I did get a bit confused though. Didn't the police spot a half-clothed girl near the high school the night of the party? If so, didn't they pick her up? Was it Justine? I am assuming at least a day has past to arrange to get Noah to Cortland from South Carolina.

    Terri, I hope you straighten this discrepancy out tomorrow when all is revealed! I'm still enjoying the intrigue.

    Thanx….Kevin

  16. The story jumps have me a wee bit confused. Still a pretty gripping story though.

    Personally, I don't think the parents should be charged for Leah hosting a party. Leah was old enough to be home alone and her parents weren't there to permit the party. I don't know what the law says about all that though.

    Leah is responsible for the drinking and drugs at the party. She didn't intend for it to happen but she did arrange for a party.

    I'm not clear why Leah's still so messed up. Shouldn't the drugs have worn off by now? Why would she wander out half-dressed?

  17. Catherine Lee

    OH…Let's charge the parents. At some point, parents do have to be held responsible for their minor children's bad behaviors!

  18. I agree with Cynthia. Charge now based on the evidence and desire to keep everyone as safe as possible. If they did do it I think they will easily crack once the seriousness comes in to play of what they did.

    If not, they'll understand why they were looked at so closely in the scheme of things.

  19. No, the parents should not be charged, because there is nothing to charge them for. They didn't know about the party until they were home. :)

  20. Michelle

    I know a lot of states are trending towards holding parents responsible, mostly in the form of "open house party" laws. Most of these laws state that if anyone under the age of 21 is on your property drinking without their legal guardians there you can be held responsible. So I think there is a good chance here that the parents will be charged.

    Thanks :)

  21. rebecca

    at least the 1/2 naked child is not justine. i want to know this turns out alright…

  22. Let's wait till the girls are found, then sort out who gets charged with what. I don't think the parents should be completely absolved, though. They're the owners of the house and the parents of minors. There's a point where the buck has to stop.

  23. No, I don't think they should be charged they left Leah at home alone because they trusted her to be responsible. How were they to know she would do that, however that said since she has been acting out lately and she was "sick" if I were the parent I wouldn't have left her alone at home.Still not their fault.

  24. Jules

    String 'em up! Throw the book at 'em!

    No, not really. Maybe some community service or something.

    Now, WILL they be charged? That's a whole lot different than SHOULD. I hope not, at least

    • Jules,

      Thanks so much! This is a tricky area in law, I imagine. How much should parent's be legally responsible for what their kids do when they are not home?

      Hope you enjoy the ending!

  25. I'm going to say no, though there may be some legal implications since they do own the house, even if the party wasn't their idea or really their fault. I don't think they have anything to do with Justine's disappearance either.