Terror by Night (Manuscript)
On March 1, 2008, in Alba, Texas, around 3:15 a.m., two young men—Daryl Waid, (name changed) 19, and Charlie Wilkinsen, 18—entered Terry Caffey’s home through an open side door. The men immediately began firing shots at Terry, his wife Penny, and sons Matthew, 13, and Tyler, eight. Shortly after murdering the family, they set the house on fire and fled in the getaway car with Daryl’s girlfriend, Bobbi Johnson, 17, driving, and Erin Caffey, 16, (Terry’s daughter) in the backseat. What they didn’t count on, however, is that Terry, despite being shot 11 times, would escape from his burning house and make his way to the home of his neighbors, 400 yards away. He heard his son Matthew cry out, “Charlie, why are you doing this? Please don’t do this!” Terry prayed to stay alive just long enough to tell the neighbors who murdered his family.
Why did these boys do this? Was Erin involved? As Terry wavered between life and death at a Tyler hospital, Charlie, Daryl and Bobbi were picked up by police for questioning. Investigators later found Erin, disoriented, in a closet at the trailer home of Daryl’s brother, Matthew. When Terry was told by his sister Mary that Erin was alive and had escaped from the house, he was elated but confused. Mary said that he would get to see his daughter shortly because she was coming to see him. But something went terribly wrong. Terry’s in-laws, with Erin in their car, had been following a police escort to the hospital. Driving the car was policewoman Shanna Sanders. She got a call from headquarters: Arrest Erin.
Against the advice of doctors, Mary told Terry that Erin had been arrested. He grew hysterical and had to be sedated. With his wife and two sons gone and now his daughter arrested, reality hit like a ton of bricks. Upon his release from the hospital a few days later, he also realized he had no home to go home to. It was a pile of ashes. Mary brought Terry to live with her. The stark reality of his new life set in. It consisted of emotional fears quelled only by pills and sessions with a shrink. His strong faith in God had turned into an angry volcano boiling within him.
When given the chance to tell her side of the story, Erin wrote in her statement to authorities that two men entered her home and ordered her to lie on the floor. However, Charlie, Daryl and Bobbi all said that Erin was the “mastermind” behind the murders. They all claimed that Erin wanted her parents dead because they tried to get her to break up with Charlie.
After the funeral of his loved ones, Terry bought a gun. When he was well enough, he began attending the monthly court hearings for Charlie and Daryl. One day he noticed that the metal detector at the courthouse was broken. Torn and grief-stricken, he had a decision to make: revenge or forgiveness.
To the author: I found the characters well written and developed, and it was a bit shocking to learn this tale is based on a true story. The story kept my attention; it was obvious something was going to happen and that it was not going to be good. I kept turning the pages in anticipation of what would happen next, a good thing for both author and reader. The character of Charlie was well developed as an arrogant and strong-willed, domineering sort. References to the book of Job are good because this story obviously has parallels with that story and the themes of suffering and loss.
The faith of Terry and his family was a nice touch in comparison to the brutality that takes place. The story does a good job focusing on forgiveness and God’s grace to provide strength to us to forgive others. This manuscript can receive our Faith-Based Seal, given to videos and manuscripts that contain a strong faith message but with some objectionable content for the family, in this case the brutal murders and violence. If the violence was cut down considerably and mentioned more than described, this could qualify for the Faith-Friendly Seal for ages twelve plus, which would reach more of a family audience. As it is, with mention of the shootings and “pool of blood”, etc. it qualifies for the Faith-Based Seal. This is a well written and thought-provoking manuscript.