Wednesday, January 13, 1965
Students arrived on Sunday, and we were back in business as an educational institution on Monday. I was a little preoccupied with that.
Meanwhile, Sarah had been working her network, trying to find a connection to the sisters who had served the seminary and left in a huff. Finally, one of her classmates, now a member of the Adrian Dominicans order, acknowledged being high-school chums with a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Her friend was teaching at a high school in Ann Arbor, and Sarah had arranged to ambush her on a day trip, which turned out to be yesterday.
Sarah's contact hardly knew the two cooks, which was disappointing, but she did know the nurse. They had served together on their previous assignments. As it turns out, Sister Angela grew up in Rome and had been orphaned during the war. At one point, she shared her story. Her Catholic parents had been hiding a Jewish family. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, they managed to get the two Jewish children to a Catholic orphanage. The Jewish parents stayed behind but were discovered in an SS roundup and carted off to a camp somewhere and lost in the Holocaust. During the commotion, Sister Angela's father had protested the treatment by the SS. Sister Angela, then only eight, saw one of the officers knock him out with the butt of his rifle. Her father died before the family could get him to a hospital. Her mother died a few days later, of a broken heart according to Sister Angela, but not before telling her daughter to make her way to the same orphanage that was hiding the Jewish children.
At this, Sarah asked where she was, knowing that we would have to talk to her.
"No one knows," her friend had said. "She left the order around Thanksgiving."
"Okay, then," I said after Sarah finished her story. "I think we have a suspect."
"You still have only suspicions, but they are logical," said Sarah.
"Because of the timing," I said, my voice rising as if asking a question.
"Yes, it certainly makes you think," she said. "Plus, Sister Angela had the opportunity."
"The sisters could access the chapel at any time."
"Yes, the method fits her as well."
"Why?" I asked, knowing the answer but wanting Sarah to verify it.
"Her gender. Poisoning is more common among females."
"She's a nurse. Even better, my contact said that Sister Angela had been trained as a midwife."
"Why is that better?"
"Because the poison might have been known to her as an abortifacient."
"And you knew that because of your work with the Right to Life Society," I said.
"I remember it from a seminar about various techniques and potions used to abort babies in the early part of a pregnancy. Yew came up."
"I came up?" I said, trying not to smile. I never could pass up this pun.
"Y-E-W, you jerk."
"You know I know."
"Anyway, it seems to fit," I said. "What about the connection to Italy."
"You tell me."
"It appears she was in Rome when Bernhard Johan Fuchs was there, perhaps involved in rounding up Jews. Maybe he was the one who cold-cocked her daddy ..."
"And she recognized him," Sarah said.
"Exactly. I bet she remembers that scar on his face."
"Oh, I didn't know he had a scar," Sarah said. She had never met him.
"Well, a few people have scars from WWII," I said.
"But it fits. Right now, it's coincidence. But it does fit. Here's a question: Did Father Fox talk much about the Jews in the Holocaust. I thought he was focused on homosexuals."
"In retrospect, I don't think that's accurate," I said. "The Johnson brothers reacted to his sympathetic defense of homosexuals, but this was in the context of Nazi attempts to exterminate Jews and other groups as I understand it. He also mentioned gypsies. I don't know whether he lingered on the persecution of homosexuals or whether that was just in the mind of some of the students."
"So ... where are we?" Sarah asked.
"I think we know the story, but we don't have any proof—and our likely suspect has skipped. I'm not as juiced up about finding Sister Angela—the former Sister Angela—as on getting Dingo Dave off the legal hook."
"You think we can do that without proof?"
"Probably not, but I'll talk to Eli," I said. "My suspicion is the authorities are unlikely to budge without proof. Anyway, how do we find the former Sister Angela?"
"Would it help if you knew her civilian name?" Sarah asked, giving things away with her grin.
"Well, yeah ... you don't?"
"I do. Gina Scarpelli from Detroit."
"Worth a try."