Sunday, Christmas Day 2005, Episode One, Finding "Ben"
Sunday, Christmas Day 2005 Blurb"
On Sunday, Christmas Day 2005, I was followed in the woods while working on my Winter Bugs and Walk the Burn documentaries. I guess, since I’m alive, I can only call it "suspicious circumstances". I’m sure I would have been the first holiday death in Winona county, if something hadn’t changed his mind.
If I could travel back to my documentary in the old town of Beaver, Minnesota, on 12/25/2005, just one hour earlier than my first time there, I would put cameras up and record the person who sneaked up on me in the woods. It also means that I’d have to re-live that trauma and I may not have made it out a second time.
I’ll never know what stopped him from hurting me? Was there a car that passed that I didn’t see? Is that what saved me from his next move? Why would he sneak up and then leave?
I will always have to wonder why he sneaked in that close, right behind my back, behind my head. Was he going to strangle me? Shoot me, or worse? It wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last, that I would encounter problems with strange men in the woods where I covered a thirteen-mile beat in the Whitewater Valley, in southeastern Minnesota.
In a future Finding “Ben” episode, you’ll read about the “red pile”: a man’s collection of red rope, red duct tape, a red bag—the one that two Alaska State Troopers informed me was a body bag (I didn’t know that, but I remember the pause in their eyes when I told them). Since then, I’ve read up on these and I’m understanding that they are a biohazard bag, used for horrendous accidents, when your body is cut up into pieces. Maybe that explained the next thing I found. I will not ever forget the uneasiness that came over me when I saw his empty knife sheath sitting on top of it all, and just feet from where I sat at the main eagle nest site I covered. That told me he was the empty one.