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What I Call A Nightmare
It all happened when I was five years old, in October of 1993. I was spending the night at my Grandma Melinda’s house along with four of my cousins: Brittany, three; Brandy, two; Jordan, one; and E.J., one. This night seemed to be just like any other night, or that was how it started anyway. Soon, it would change all of our lives forever. That night, we lost our Grandma Melinda, our Aunt Angela, and our friend Louie, to a man who must have had some kind of undiagnosed mental disorder to be able to do what he did.
Brittany and I were watching a movie on television. Sometime during the movie, we fell asleep. I woke up to Emil, my Aunt Kelly’s former husband, busting through the door, screaming for Kelly. Brittany and I were scared, so we ran into the first bedroom. My Grandma ran to the back of the trailer to call the police. Emil shot my Papa Bill in the leg and then ran after my grandma.
When I finally gathered the courage to go to the door, I looked down the hallway, toward my Aunt Angie’s room and saw Emil standing in the hall with his gun. He was pointing it at my Aunt Angie, and before he became aware of me, he shot her. I saw her for only a second, lying on the floor, only her legs in the hallway. Then three-year-old Brittany walked out to see what was happening. We stood there for a moment trying to gather what we had witnessed. Then Emil moved, so we turned around, ran, and jumped on the bed.
Hearing all the commotion, Brandy and E.J. woke up. Within seconds, Emil was standing by the bed telling me to grab Brandy, who was crying and backing away, and to give her to him. Meanwhile E.J. ran and jumped into his arms. I picked up Brandy and handed her to Emil. Then he told me to stop crying or he would kill me, so I stopped — and didn’t cry until months later.
We went to the doorway where Papa Bill was on the floor slipping in and out of consciousness. Brittany tried to talk to him while I hollered for little Jordan who was in the room with Aunt Angie. He crawled toward us. His tiny hands were covered in blood from trying to wake up his mom. Once we three were together, I looked out the window and saw headlights coming toward the house.
We sat back down and waited. Within a couple of minutes, my mom came running in the door, knowing something horrible had happened. She knew this for two reasons: My Aunt Kelly had run to get help, and Emil had killed Louie while he was on his way to his truck. Aunt Kelly came in right behind my mom. They were both frantic.
They ran down the hallway and saw Aunt Angie, and then they went to my grandma’s room. When they got to her room, they saw that she was lying half off the bed, face down. They hollered at her and then Kelly grabbed her by the shoulder to flip her over, and they realized she was murdered too. They ran back to the front of the house and saw that Papa Bill was still alive.
They gathered us three and brought us out to Louie’s truck. By this time, my dad had found Brandy and E.J. outside by the swing set, so he put them into the truck, too. Emil must have noticed the headlights and put the children down so that he could run faster.
After the police got there and everything settled down, we went to the hospital and sat there until the ambulance brought the bodies, so that my mom and some others could identify them.
After that, we had to leave town because Emil was still on the run. They sent us to Bismarck to meet with my Aunt Lisa and her family. Once we were all together, a woman brought us to a hotel. That same night, criminal investigators questioned us about what we had seen.
They wanted to put me into the witness protection program by myself, because if Emil was caught and went to trial, I would be their main witness. Fortunately, that did not have to happen.
By the time of the funerals, the police still had not found Emil, so the children were not allowed to go. Instead, we went to a place in Minnesota to stay with a family friend. While we were there, the police found Emil in Oklahoma. When they found him, he had already killed himself.
That night I found out what kind of damage one person can cause for so many people and the real devastation that people go through when the lives of their loved ones are taken away. Seeing such things at a young age, I imagine it changed my life forever in ways I may not ever know. This may be why I have so much compassion for others or why I am still afraid of the dark.
Samantha Longie ( Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) is the daughter of Duane M. Longie and Michelle Longie. She lives in Belcourt, North Dakota where she also attends Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC). Longie plans to earn an associate of arts degree at TMCC before transferring to the University of North Dakota to pursue a double major in business and accounting. One day she would like to own a business, so learning accounting skills is important to her.