Denise Wallace

Author of True Crime Books that are Sassy, Adventurous and In Your Face

Daddy's Little Secret, a true crime book

Daddy's Little Secret

     “I’m sorry but your father’s been the victim of a homicide. Did you know about his alternative lifestyle?”

     My mind was still trying to process the first sentence. It was like I had given a computer one command, then given it another one before it had time to process the first one. My hard drive was full and it would stay that way for a long time.

“N-no. I didn’t,” I managed after several moments. “How did he die?”

     “He was stabbed in the throat,” Detective Boland told me. “I’m afraid he bled out.”

      I tried to process this next piece of information. “How long did he suffer?” I whispered hoarsely.

      “We don’t really know. It could’ve taken between four and ten minutes for him to die. Everyone is different,” the detective gently explained. He added that some of the items in his apartment had been stolen along with his car.

      “What items?” I wanted to know.

      “Two of his VCRs and his stereo,” Boland said.

      Was this why my father had been murdered? I wondered. For some cheap electronic equipment?

      “We still don’t know the motive for the murder,” the detective confessed, as if he’d somehow read my mind. They needed me to fly out to claim my father’s body and personal effects, he said.

      I uttered the word “okay” and ended the call. Then I sat there, alone, in the complete silence. How could my dad have possibly been gay when he had gotten so angry at me at the age of fifteen when he thought I had had a girlfriend? I could still hear his voice in my head yelling the words at me: “Denise are you gay?” I immediately felt betrayed in the midst of my grief. It was just too much handle at once. I would remain stunned for days to come.

He cruised by slowly, peering intently over his steering wheel at the well-manicured grounds. Though he had been brought up in the Bible Belt of North Carolina, Wes had not attended worship services there. He had gone to the church on this day for another reason: Derek Carney.

      Carney was a twenty-two-year-old white youth who had been sleeping on the church grounds. Wes wanted to once again offer him a place to stay for the night and was hoping the young man would take him up on the offer this time. The young heroin addict had discovered that he could shoot up in the bathroom of the church despite his filthy, disheveled appearance and not get caught. Most other churches kept their facilities locked at night, but the pastor, Reverend Bill Withers, had a notoriously kind heart. The first time he had come across Carney sleeping on the church lawn, he had awoken him, invited him in for counsel, and taken him to breakfast.

     As Wes passed in his car the reverend gave him a wave from the open door of the church. Wes waved back at him and grinned, then threw his head back and took a long drag on his Marlboro cigarette. Outside the church, an aging wooden sign quoted a verse from the bible: Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

“Did you ever notice a video in the plain view called The Taking of Jake?” This provocative statement brought an objection from Shiner that was overruled.

      “There were so many, I can’t answer yes or no,” Venetucci answered.

      “So many videos meaning that it was a large collection of videos?” the defense attorney asked. He seemed to relish the chance to create such a graphic image in the minds of the jurors.

      “It was a good collection of videos, yes.”

      “And there was a magazine that you recall or a -- that was sitting right there that said The Taking of Jake, do you remember that?” Beers prodded.

      “The name Jake sounds familiar. I want to say it was a pamphlet, not a magazine.”

      “Okay,” the defense attorney conceded. He then went on to ask the detective about a press release regarding the discovery of Wes' car, which was not nearly as captivating a subject as the pornography had been to them. Beers had managed to paint a portrait of Wes in the minds of the jurors as an obsessive sexual deviant by honing in on a particular pornographic video that featured heavy domination. Though he had been unable to get Venetucci to define the term, any jurors who were curious could potentially look it up later for themselves.

“I don’t know how to drive, Daddy!” I panicked. “I can’t even see over the wheel!”

      My dad grabbed a bed pillow from the back seat. “Here. Sit on this,” he instructed. “Driving’s easy,” he slurred. “You just watch the road and steer.” He showed me the pedals. “Look, this one’s the gas, and this one’s the brake.”

      “But I can’t reach the pedals if I sit on the pillow!” I cried.

      My dad said he would work the pedals. Terrified, I slowly steered the car in the snow and tried to keep from sliding off the embankment. I had never been so scared in my life. The scenery of the snow and the pine trees was exceptionally beautiful, yet I knew it could instantly turn deadly. I glanced over at my father as he cranked down the window halfway. He was letting the snow fall on his face in the hope that it would sober him up. The road was coming to a three-way stop up ahead. In one swift move he slammed his foot down on the brake just before we went over the edge of the mountain. I had thought that the road continued down the other side.

       Somewhat sobered by the near-death experience, my dad got out of the car to urinate. While turning the snow yellow, he gazed down at the snow-covered valley below. The distance seemed endless.

       An officer driving by pulled over and issued my father a citation for public urination. Once again, the police missed the big picture. My dad was well beyond the blood alcohol limit for safe driving.

"Homosexuality and his aggressiveness had every part to play in this case. And I disagree vehemently with the government’s contention that that’s not -- does not play a part in this case. It plays a big part because you heard Dr. Adcock come in here, a friend of Mr. Wallace and testify.” The defense attorney placed his hands on his notes.

     “He testified that he continued to bring young men to the apartment. And I asked him if he remembered talking to Detective Boland on July 20th and he said this man, Mr. Wallace, would probably not be with someone over forty years old, that he [sic] incidents in the past where he wouldn’t pay. Does that fit with what happened here?” Beers asked. “That he had great appetite for sex and that each night he watched pornographic movies, leaving his bedroom door open for a man like Dr. Adcock who stayed with Mr. Wallace. That he kept two wallets, one with money in the event that someone wanted to get paid because he didn’t pay for sex.

      “From the testimony of John Latham you learn how persistent a man Mr. Wallace was.” Latham claimed that Mr. Wallace approached him twenty to thirty times. “Here’s a man that Mr. Wallace followed. Here’s a man that wanted sex from John Latham, and Mr. Latham didn’t want anything to do with him. And that first time when Mr. Wallace followed Mr. Latham and Mr. Latham stopped and gave him a dirty look, you think that Mr. Wallace would go away.

       “But no, that was not the type of person he was. Mr. Wallace, he wanted to get what he needed and he wanted."