It was a warm September afternoon in 1985 when I awoke after having worked the night before as a Deputy Sheriff for the Montgomery County Police department. As I poured a cup of coffee, my wife arrived back home from a trip to Darlington.
"How was your night?" she asked . . . always worried that I would be involved in some dangerous situation.
"Nothing too exciting last night, thank God," I responded.
"Well, I just had something happen that was rather strange . . . When I was coming back from town, I came around the curve by Garry's house, and one of our neighbors and his wife were turning their car around right in the middle of the curve! It's a good thing I was going slow, or I might have struck them. Why would anyone try to turn around like that . . . where other cars can't see them until it is too late?"
My wife told me who the neighborhood couple were. I knew the husband, but I had only spoken to him on one occasion. I thought that he seemed "a little odd" at the time, but I never thought much about it. I did know his wife quite well. When my wife and I were first married, we lived in Clarks Hill while I attended Purdue. This girl and her parents lived right behind our house. She was still in high school at that time, and she often came over and asked me to help with her math assignments. She was rather shy, but always friendly, and she thanked me each time for helping her.
"Well, I saw that couple at Paddack's house a few weeks ago. Someone told me that they are trying to buy it. I'm not sure if they have the money. He hasn't worked anywhere for over a year, and they live in that dilapidated trailer next to his parents' house. Someone did tell me, however, that he was expecting to come into some money from some claim against the government," I informed my wife.
They were members of the Darlington Christian Church, where he served as a Deacon. "They are expecting a baby soon . . . I think she is about seven months along. They go to see her parents each Friday evening. They must have forgotten something and had to head back to their trailer," I added.
"Well, he should not be turning around in the MIDDLE of a curve . . . that is very dangerous!" my wife chimed in.
Two days later, I was called out by the Sheriff to help in an investigation. The couple that had turned around in the middle of the curve HAD gone back to their trailer. The husband then told his wife that he could not buy her a new house because he had lied to her about receiving a large amount of money from the government.
Yes, the man I am talking about was Arthur Baird. He strangled his wife, Nadine . . .and then the next morning, grabbed a butcher knife and murdered both of his parents. He was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. A letter he had written was found in his trailer . . . "I am sorry. My mind gave away. I know I've done wrong. I need time alone to make my peace with God."
Arthur Baird's death sentence was commuted a few years later by the Governor with the ruling that he would spend the rest of his life in prison without any chance of parole.
On that September day, just a quarter mile from our home, Arthur Baird "lost it" . . . and my wife was the last person to see Nadine Baird alive . . . in the middle of the curve.

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.