From the archives (thanks, Jennifer).
Helen O’Neill: LITTLE PRAIRIE, Wis. —It was cold the night Grandma Braun was taken, that bitter dead-of-winter cold when the countryside is sheathed in ice and the stillness is broken only by great gusts of snow that swirl across the fields and back roads, erasing footprints and car tracks and all traces of life.
Eighty-eight-year-old Hedwig Braun was in bed reading when the lights went out but she didn’t pay much heed. In her tiny farmhouse on Bluff Road, miles from the nearest town, power outages are not uncommon. Pulling on her dressing gown and slippers, she lit a candle and padded into the kitchen. She poured a glass of milk, settled at the table and continued her book about angels.
The clock was stopped at 12:50 a.m.
A sudden blast of wind. A shadowy figure in the doorway.
“Eddie!” she screamed as the intruder lurched toward her, throwing something over her head. “Eddie come quick.”
But her 88-year-old husband, asleep in the other room, didn’t stir.