By Sandra Cloud
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a cop. My father was a cop, my father’s father was a cop, and one day I would make them proud by becoming a cop myself.
On the day of Oct. 14, 1996, I feared that moment might never come. When the news of my father’s arrest reached me that cruel fall day, I knew my life would never be the same. As the detectives stood awkwardly in the doorway notifying my mother of the charges brought upon her husband, everything around me fell silent except the deafening sound of the words they spoke. I dropped to my knees, my body crashing to the floor and all of my hopes and dreams along with it.
A thousand thoughts were racing through my brain. Could these allegations be true? What will happen to him? What will become of my mother and me?
Suddenly I felt my lunch trying to find a way out of my stomach. I picked myself up, feeling unsteady, and made my way down the hallway to the bathroom. I closed the
door behind me, desperately trying to escape the reality on the other side. Maybe if I
didn’t look at it, it would just go away.
I don’t know how much time had gone by before I began to contemplate emerging from the bathroom. My face was streaked with tears and there was a distinct odor of vile in the air. I had been sitting in the same position on the cold tile floor for so long that my left leg had gone numb. I began to wonder about mother. I wondered what she was doing and why she hadn’t come looking for me. We never spoke of that day, nor did we ever speak of my father.
The next morning, I woke early and hurried to get the paper from the porch before mother. I knew the news of my father would be there. And I was right. Right there on the front page in bold print read: Local Detective Suspect in Serial Killings. The article claimed that my father, the lead detective on the two-year case of a string of murders in our area was, in fact, the prime suspect. My head was spinning and I tried desperately to make sense of it, to put pieces together in my mind to form a puzzle that would explain what was happening. Those pieces did come together and my father, Detective Campbell, was convicted of nine counts of murder. We never saw each other again.
I moved as far away from there as I could: San Francisco. My mother quickly divorced my father and returned to using her maiden name. I decided this was a good idea, so I did the same. I was now Tracy Adams. A brand new start, although I couldn’t help but worry that someone would find me out. Surely, if word got out that my father was the Cape Cod Killer, people might think that whatever was wrong with him might be wrong with me as well. Or maybe they would assume I knew something about the killings yet never reported it. They might accuse me of protecting my murderous father. Whatever people felt or thought, it wouldn’t be good.
September 1, 1998, I began my course at the San Francisco Police Academy. Every day I did everything I could to avoid people, especially eye contact, for fear they would see through me. There were times I accidentally wrote Campbell on my papers instead of Adams and my heart would beat so hard in my chest I thought everyone around me could hear it. Of course, logically, I should not have been so concerned, as Campbell is a common name. But I lived in constant fear, like an illegal immigrant or as if I were driving a stolen car.
As time went on, I started to become more comfortable with my new self and new surroundings. I even began making new friends. After all, I might have drawn attention to myself if I developed a reputation of being a complete loner. Some might wonder what I
was hiding from. Every decision I made was for the greater purpose of keeping my true identity a secret.
I graduated from the police academy in 2000. In 2008 I made detective, working murder cases of all things. Establishing my career with the police department felt like a magnificent accomplishment, yet at the same time I felt like a fraud. I was deceiving everyone around me, but I would not do anything differently. It was all for the pursuit of a dream.
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