Maria was sitting in her room, playing on her computer when she heard a man scream from outside. She looked
out her window, but saw nothing. She and her parents moved to Nebraska about one year ago, when Maria
was seventeen. Her dad got a better paying job in a new location, so they were relocated and the house they
moved into was much bigger than their house in New Hampshire. The first time Maria saw it, she thought it was
perfect. It was a large brick colonial on a secluded nine-house street. The house gave off a bit of a creepy
vibe, but after a year, nothing horrible seemed to have happened.
Maria walked downstairs to check outside to see what the screaming was about. She walked past her dining
room, where her parents were eating dinner. She opened her back door and stepped out onto her deck. She
slowly looked around trying to adjust her eyes to focus through the pitch black outdoors. She turned to her
neighbor's house, where the side door slammed shut just as she looked there. The garage light was on, but she
couldn't see who was in it. She turned and walked back into her house, curious as to what had just happened
next door.
Her next door neighbors weren't exactly what you may consider normal. They were an older couple, a man and
his wife. The man, Allen, had brown hair, wire-rimmed glasses, and always wore dress pants with a polo shirt.
He lived with his hearing impaired wife, Debbie, who seemed nice, but usually stayed inside the house. Allen
talked to himself every time Maria or her parents had seen him. He would take out the garbage, and as he's
walking down his driveway, he talked to himself, almost as if he was in a conversation.
However, Maria had also met the rest of her neighbors since she had moved. Her other next door neighbors
were a younger couple with two small children that Maria would baby-sit occasionally. Next to them was a man
who lived by himself, more of a loner, who lived next to an older couple, who lived next to the owners of the
street. After meeting all of her neighbors last year, Maria was convinced she had moved to a place she'd really
like.
About a week after Maria heard the screaming, her dad Bruce was outside doing yard work. Allen came from his
yard and walked toward Maria's dad. He just asked how their family was doing, and before he left, mentioned
that his nephew, Lucas, moved in a few weeks before. Bruce thanked Allen for the chat, and went back inside
to get a glass of water.
Maria then received the news that her parents were leaving for a few days for her dad's business. Maria
couldn't go because she was going with her best friend Lizzy to see their favorite band, The Black List. Not
wanting to be alone for the rest of the week, Maria asked Lizzy to stay with her until her parents returned.
Lizzy and Maria were probably The Black List's biggest fans. Maria had posters all over her wall of the lead
singer, Dez, and had wanted to go to a concert of theirs for two years.
Maria and Lizzy went to The Black List concert, and started driving back home. They had bought one of every
piece of merchandise there. The laughed and sang their songs the entire way back. Once they got home, Maria
went to open her front door. She pushed the key in the keyhole, and started turning it when she realized that
the door was already unlocked. She could have sworn she locked the door, but assumed she was so excited
about the concert, that she must have forgotten.
She opened the door and walked into the dark great room. Lizzy followed closely behind her. Maria turned on
the light, and set her souvenirs on the kitchen table. She and Lizzy went upstairs and started discussing the
concert. They had tired themselves out, and didn't talk very long before they both had fallen asleep. They
woke up the next morning to the doorbell ringing. They couldn't figure out who in the world would be ringing the
doorbell, because everyone they associated with knew Maria was home alone.
Maria and Lizzy get to the front door, and Maria looks through the peephole. The first thing she saw was two
men wearing uniforms with the word "sheriff" on them. She told Lizzy to stand right behind her, in case they
weren't really police officers, and they needed to close the door on them quickly. She opened the door and the
officers asked, "Is Steve here?"
Not even knowing who they were talking about, Maria questioned what they were looking for. They said they
were looking for Steven Barnett, for multiple warrants for his arrest. Worried, Maria asked why they were asking
her about him. They answered that Steven needed to be found, and that his last known address was here. "My
house was vacant for three years before we moved here last year," Maria stated. The officers just asked Maria
to call them if she saw a tall, red haired man walking around. Maria gave them her word, and they left.
Lizzy and Maria closed the door and walked into the kitchen. They started creating scenarios for why Steven
Barnett was wanted so badly. "Maybe he was a bank robber," Maria suggested. "He could be a drug dealer,''
Lizzie mentioned. Maria then realized another option, and scared herself as she said, "Or he could be a
convicted killer."
Lizzy and Maria sat on the couch watching TV later that night. They were starting to get tired, so they turned
off the TV and started walking upstairs. Lizzy was behind Maria, and before she reached the first stair, asked,
"Did you hear that?" "Hear what?'' Maria asked as she stopped walking upstairs. They both fell silent, as they
listened to the yelling going on outside. They walked to the back door, and didn't see anything. Maria then
opened the door quietly and looked to the direction that the noise was coming from. There, in Allen's backyard,
she saw the outline of a man with a shovel in the flowerbed.
He seemed to be the only one around, which would mean he was yelling at himself. The biggest question was,
however, was what was he doing in the flowerbed in the middle of the night. She initially knew the man had to
be her neighbor, Allen, knowing how Allen always talks to himself. She ran inside breathing heavily and pushed
Lizzy as they ran upstairs. She didn't turn any lights on in her house that night, worrying that whoever was in
the flowerbed would see them and come after them.
The next morning, Maria and Lizzy contemplated calling the police. They wanted to in case something really did
happen the night before, however didn't want to in case nothing had happened, and Allen was doing some
late-night gardening. Maria and Lizzy wanted to take their minds off of everything like that, so they went to
the mall that day. They wanted some time to get away, and think about if they should call the police or not.
As they returned home, Maria went to unlock the door and realized that the door was once again unlocked.
Thins time she was really scared. She knew for a fact she locked the door. She was afraid to walk inside, so
she called the police. When they arrived, Maria told them all about Allen talking and yelling at himself, hearing
screaming at night, and seeing the man digging in the flowerbed. The police searched Maria's house
immediately, and found no one. They suggested Maria leaving the door unlocked, but Maria told them this was
the second time she's found the door unlocked, and was positive she locked it that day.
The police ran over to Allen's house and knocked on the door. No one answered. They walked around the back
of the house, and on the patio, lied a dead man. They recognized him immediately as Steven Barnett, the
former resident of Maria's house. They went to the flowerbed and started digging. There they found three more
bodies. Steven Barnett had killed them. However, the next question wasn't about who Steven killed, it was who
killed Steven?
Allen then walked out of the back door and immediately turned himself in. He had killed Steve out of self
defense. He claimed Steve came after him with a folding chair and Allen had no other choice but to kill him. He
said he knew Steven had committed all of those murders, but was afraid to confront him about it. Maria then
asked, "So there was no nephew, Steven lived here?" "Yes, my nephew Lucas lived here for about a week
before Steven came and killed him," Allen replied.
"So why were my doors unlocked?" Maria asked. Allen then told her that he would sometimes see Steven in her
house when she wasn't home. He didn't know what he did in there, but assumed he just walked around it and
observed it. "He wasn't right in the head," Allen then stated.
Allen was arrested for murder to Steven, but had a trial to plead his case of self defense. The police dug the
backyard bodies up and has a funeral service for each of them. Maria and Lizzy moved to Las Vegas together,
and Maria had to get counseling for all of the things she'd witnessed. When Maria's parents returned home,
they immediately moved out of the house, not wanting to ever remember any of it again. Maria hoped she
never had to deal with another murder in her lifetime.
The Backyard Killer
by Melana Janda