Marge Gillette sits bolt upright in her bed, fighting off the fog of deep sleep as she realizes that her foster daughter, Nichole Radisson, must have screamed in her sleep again. These nightmares had lessened in frequency, but not intensity, since Nichole arrived at Marge’s home, near the west shore of Lake George, in the Adirondacks of New York. But still, the nightmares come. With loads of patience and quiet coaxing, Marge has begun to get the girl to speak of her life with her Uncle Charlie at his trailer back in the woods. She’d been abandoned by her mother years before.
At first, Nichole’s recollections are fragmented and merely odd. As she becomes comfortable that her foster mother wasn’t going to judge her, her stories become more disturbing, graphic, and criminal. Marge, who had begun to keep a diary of their late-night talks, takes her concerns to New York State Police Bud Lancaster. It becomes apparent that the actions and sights that Nichole describes are way beyond what a ten-year-old should know. Bud and his superior, Senior Investigator Ned Khoury take the information they have and meet with Assistant DA Peter Drake. The two seek his help on how they should proceed to try and verify the child’s accounts of threats, violence, torture, and sexual abuse.
The two cops emphasize the need for haste. Nichole’s little brother is still living in Uncle Charlie’s trailer, and Nichole has just admitted that he, too, has been abused.
The investigation, which ultimately includes the State Police’s version of crime scene investigators, police dogs, reveals much more than anyone expects. Prosecutor Drake is still worried by one question that a trial jury is sure to have. How does he explain the fact that Nichole always went to school and back to the trailer, riding a school bus but never telling her teachers or trying not to return at the end of the school day? The investigation team eventually turns to a forensic psychologist for an answer.
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