The Strange Mystery of the Silent Twins.

Jennifer, left, gives June the secret eye signal that only the twins understood.
Jennifer, left, gives June the secret eye signal that only the twins understood.

“Why, if ya don’t mind me asking, did you volunteer us to clean this home?” Cressely asked Katie.  “It is a good piece away from our regular spots.”

“It is for much more money than our regulars.  Since it is a clean-up for an empty house, making it ready for new tenants or owners, we are getting a plumper deal.  That, and I wish to spy on one of the homes nearby.”

Cressely Crawford and Katie Lee Mayfair were late middle-aged charwomen of the old school, with regular jobs lined up in nice neighborhoods of Salop.  Taking a cleaning job over in Wales was very out- of-character.  The Welsh village was quaint and nice enough, but the villagers were self-sufficient—using a charwoman was quite unheard of.

6a00d83451bcff69e20162fdbebe6d970d-300wiCharwomen, in general, are protective of their jobs and guard them jealously, but this one job, Katie had heard about on the charwoman underground, and no one wanted to go that far away.  It was a major inconvenience.  “Hmmmm.  I’d like to do it!”  Katie had spoken up with these words, when the street address had been revealed to her.  Cressely and Katie were from Shrewsbury, in Salop, and it had taken them part of the morning to get to the Welsh village in the beat-up lorry.

“My, we can set this right in nothin’ flat!”  Katie exclaimed as they made their way inside the tiny house.  “Wouldn’t mind living here meself!”  They panned the room with their analytical eyes, sizing up the place. “Good!  Here’s the window, then.  Here’s the window from which to get meself a good view.”  They placed their supplies on a kitchen counter and got to work using their regular, efficient system of teamwork.  Katie hobbled to the window often, to look out.

“Would you stop it, now?”  Cressely was growing frustrated with Katie’s trips to the window.  The women were cousins, a couple of times removed, and often acted like sisters.  “Now just what is it that ya think you’ll see?”

“There!  There she is!”

Cressely wiped her hands on her apron and went to see what the fuss was all about.  “It’s just a woman,” she commented, when the lady was pointed out to her near the garage of a house across the way.  The woman was quite dark-complexioned and this in itself was an oddity for the area.

“The family came from Barbados, years ago.  The man was in the RAF stationed near here.”  Katie explained.  These parents are now older and this one daughter, by the garage, the one I am spying on, cares for them.”

“Barbados, in the Caribbean, you mean?”

“Yes, and this lady I am pointing to has been in Broadmoor.  She was at Broadmoor for several years—twelve years, I think.”

“No!  It can’t be!  She was a patient there, or a worker?” Cressely asked—she knew that Broadmoor housed the most violent of Britain’s criminally insane.

“A patient.”  Katie answered.  She resided there at the same time as the Yorkshire Ripper and other fiendish types.”

Cressely was shocked to learn the woman had been commited to the mental facility as a teenager.  “Did our cousin Felicity know her when she worked there as a nurse?”

“Yes.  And that is how I found out the whole story.  Let’s have a cuppa and I will tell you about it.  We are ahead of schedule on our cleaning.”  Katie headed for the kitchen while Cressely continued to gawk at the woman through the window.  “The woman you are looking at is an identical twin with a dark past.”  Katie called though the door as she put the kettle on.  “Felicity was working at Broadmoor when they brought the twins in.  They were eighteen.  A judge had ordered them there. ‘They are extremely gifted,’ the charge nurse on the case explained to Felicity.  She then showed Felicity some drawings they had done.  ‘Some of these drawings are illustrations for short stories and screenplays they have written.’”

“I remember hearing about some twins that committed violent crimes.  The same twins?”  Cressely asked.

“No doubt.  The judge sent them to Broadmoor to get diagnosed, and have treatments determined.  They were not diagnosed as schizophrenic, or psychotic but as psychopaths.  You see, even though they were capable of speech, they had never spoken.  They practiced elective mutism.  They communicated only with each other and not with anyone else.  They gave each other eye signals unless they were alone, then, they had their own language that they had made up—garbled gibberish that only they understood and could speak fluently.  Imagine seeing them in public, if you will.  Not only did they refuse to talk to others, they usually moved about like robots or zombies—or they goose-stepped as the mood struck them, or they became catatonic at will.  If one was injured, the other would react with pain.  Their names were June and Jennifer, and experts agreed that Jennifer was the dominant identical twin and she often tried to control her sister.  There was definitely a power struggle going on between them.  They were creatively brilliant and far-above-average in many ways.  The experts at Broadmoor decided to separate them, to put them in different living areas there.  That way they could study them better.”  Cressely got up to look out the window again, but the woman had gone inside, so she came back and sat down.

“Creatively brilliant and electively mute as they were, at sometime during adolescence,  they ‘got bored’ and got angry.  Some say it was because their short stories and plays were rejected for publication.  They started being disruptive and committing crimes and acts of vandalism, going wild with boys, bullying others.  Arson was the crime they were sent to Broadmoor for.  Their parents were kind and loving.  There was no reason for the girls to misbehave.  It is an enigma that has baffled psychiatrists and psychologists for years.  The girls sometimes had very diabolical thoughts.  Sometimes they acted on them.  They were a grave danger to themselves and others, many thought.  They could not stand to be separated, but that was the only way their violent-self destructive tendencies could be curbed.”

“Which twin are we watching through the window, and where is the other twin?  Still in Broadmoor?”  Cressely asked.

“Why no. She is dead!” Katie answered.

Cressely let out a gasp, then said, “I am afraid to ask.”

“The woman we have been watching through the window is June.  At some point the twins got it into their heads that one of them would have to die, so the other one could be free to live an individual life.  They decided between themselves that Jennifer should be the sacrifice. She did not have as much talent as her sister.  They decided that Jennifer would die, so that June could advance and have a normal life.  One day, when Jennifer and June were riding in a car—actually they had been granted a transfer from Broadmoor to Caswell Clinic in Wales, Jennifer just slumped over.  She died shortly after arriving at the nearest hospital.”

“Had she committed suicide?  Drugs of some kind?  Poison?  Did June have a hand in it?”  Cressely probed.

“It was the strangest thing, and totally dumbfounded anyone who was connected with them.  When they were twenty-nine, and in route to their new facility, Jennifer died suddenly of an infection of the heart, myocarditis.  The pathologist who was privy to the postmortem said her heart was the most highly inflamed heart he had viewed, in which no definite cause for the myocarditis could be determined.  It would be difficult for it to be intentionally caused by oneself, or another person.  It is a mystery to beat all mysteries.”

After a moment of shocked silence, Cressely said, “That is haunting.  I do feel sorry for them in a way.  They had so much potential.  What did Felicity think?”

“Felicity, who knew more about the case than any outsiders would, thought the whole thing was mishandled by the system at Broadmoor and elsewhere.  Marjorie Wallace, who wrote a book about the girls thought the same thing.  They were diagnosed as cold psychopaths, but the notebooks filled with their writings, writings done it tiny writing with miniscule lettering and vivid illustration does not indicate that they were cold at all.  The were passionate and had written more that one million words between them, in their notebooks. They were too dependent on each other, they were often dangerous to themselves and others.  They did commit crimes, felonies at times, and they did suffer from some type of mental disorder. Do you have any idea what June said right after Jennifer died?”

“What would that be?”

“Now, I’m free!”

Soon the charwomen were putting finishing touches on their cleaning job and were headed for a beat-up lorry parked out front.  A damp chill came over Cressely.  She had gazed off and on, all day, at a woman that was helping care for aging parents.  Her identical twin died prematurely, under natural but mysterious circumstances, shortly after the girls admitted the plan had been for one of them to die. Their desire to write had faded away years before, or was masked by medications they took at Broadmoor.  The woman across the way, June, had been released from treatment to go on with her life. She wished to be anonymous in society.

She was.  .  .  one of The Silent Twins.

ScavengersSongPlease click the book cover to read more about Sara Marie Hogg and her novels on Amazon.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Your story, as strange as it is, reminds us that there are great stories all around us just waiting to be written. You can’t make this stuff up. The Silent Twins are as good as it gets.

    • Sara Marie Hogg

      When Marjorie Wallace wrote her wonderful book about the twins in the early 1980s, the book ended in the midst of the girls’ treatment. The final chapter (maybe) occurred long after the book was published, when Jennifer died. It wrote itself and nothing could be more macabre. The twins decided one of them must go and one did, albeit by what we assume is “natural” causes, at such a young age, 29. Marjorie had become quite good friends with the girls, interviewing them at Broadmoor and elsewhere. She was very fond of them. Jennifer had told her, herself, that she would be the sacrifice. I cannot imagine Marjorie’s shock when this event came to pass. Too, too, eerie, and yes you can’t make this stuff up.

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