The Anstine Family Murder


A 12-year-old girl wants to know more about the strange house on the outskirts of town deep in the woods. Photo from Pinterest.

Period & Context: Around 1985. The main character is a 12-year-old girl who’s curious about a house on the outskirts of town.


It was a dark, eerie Halloween night. Alone, I walked the streets, passing by the faces of delighted children in costumes, one by one, comparing candy. My plans tonight did not consist of dressing up or eating sweets. They happened to be something more. I heard of this house on the outskirts of town. No living soul dared to go there, all too afraid. They claimed something evil resided in the house. 


Anytime I would bring up the house to my father, he would quickly change the subject, brush it off, or warn me about its dangers. His reactions only furthered my curiosity. Days after, I visited the local library, searching for information connected to the house. After agonizing hours in silence, digging through books and newspapers, I hit gold. 


Though it was not much, it was enough to give me an idea. Tattered and torn, an article clipping arose. It read: ‘The Anstine House Murder.’ In October of 1972, George Anstine and his wife Marissa, with their four children, Zachary, Anastasia, Kimberley, and Jennifer, were brutally murdered on Halloween night. Police reports stated that the husband and wife were beaten and strangled, as they both had hand marks on their necks and bloody bruises around their bodies. The kids, at the time, were believed to be hiding under their beds. 


When law enforcement found them, their beds were upside down with the deceased minors on the floor. The children suffered blows to the head and multiple stab wounds to their backs. 


At first, the police only found three of the four Anstine offspring. All were the young ladies; Anastasia, Kimberly, and Jennifer. When searching the woods that surrounded the town, not even 10 feet away from the house, they discovered Zachary with multiple stab wounds to his chest. The children ranged from ages 7 to 10, two of which were 9. The townspeople reported that “this is nothing like the community of Heartsville has ever seen before.” 


This new and twisted knowledge did not scare me off. Unlike all the other people in Heartsville, it intrigued me. Then and there, I hatched a plan for Halloween night.


A few days passed by, and there I was, inching towards the woods on the outskirts of town. As I walked down the path, it was more peaceful than scary. It was dead silent, the trees still (unusual for late fall). I looked all around me, a light fog appearing as I traveled deeper into the woods. Soon, all the trees cleared, and there stood a house. Its windows closed, and its door frame rotted. When studying the house, I heard a tree branch crackle behind me. I whipped my head around, looking for the cause of the sound, but it was getting dark, and I could not see much. I tiptoed up the wooden steps, pushing open the door. Inside it was pitch black and stuffy. 


From my bag, I pulled out a flashlight. Golden rays lit up my path. As I was investigating, the air seemed to get thicker. I felt as if I was being watched. I passed the kitchen and the living room, which revealed a staircase. With each step I took, the planks creaked. I reached a door at the end of a hallway. I turned the knob and stepped inside. Using my flashlight to poke around, I stumbled across a picture frame. I bent over and retracted it. Through the broken glass, I could see a family. Before I could comprehend who it was, I saw a dark figure rush past the door, and then a loud crash echoed from downstairs. 


My heart began to race, the realization sinking in. I glanced around, looking for anything I could use for protection. I retrieved a dull kitchen knife in the corner of the room. I crept down the stairs, the moonlight shining through openings within the house. From the kitchen, I saw a figure. Goosebumps scattered throughout my body. I stood there, frozen in place. A small ‘hello?’ escaped my lips, but I received no response. 


The front door was wide open; it was now or never.


I bolted down the stairs and into the woods. I could hear the sound of feet following behind me. There really IS something… or more of SOMEONE evil lurking in that house. As I was halfway through the trail, I tripped over a rock, cutting myself on a sharp tree branch when landing. I had no time to stop and cry. The pitter-patter of feet was inching closer. I could feel the ground shake beneath me. As I pulled myself up to start running again, a large mass tackled me. My flashlight flew out of my hands. I tried to scream, but my throat would not allow me. Was this the end? I look up at the thing straddling me. It seemed to be a towering man with a mask over his face. 


In one slick motion, he wrapped his hands around my neck and squeezed. I tried to fight back, but my vision was spotty, and I was fading in and out of consciousness. When I felt like passing out, he unwrapped one hand. He kept the remaining hand fixated and tight. The man removed his mask, and when my vision finally focused, I could see who it was. With short brown hair and a scruffy beard, it was my father. It all made sense now. As tears ran down my face, he swiftly pulled out a knife and inserted it into my abdomen. 


‘You were never supposed to find out about any of this. I warned you. My secret will die with you.’


A sharp pain dispersed through my body. He moved the knife in and out, watching the blood leak out of me and life drain from my eyes. In my final moments, I thought to myself: ‘My father killed the Anstine family; my father killed me.’