The Grinning Man

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Detroit has a bad rap when it comes to crime, violence and drugs. But nothing is worse than having an arsonist plaguing the streets, destroying homes and neighborhoods with a single match.

In 2006 an arsonist managed to destroy a library, a school, an apartment complex and a nursing home within an eight week period. The police were using every resource available to locate this sick 'firebug' but they never found any clues or suspects in the devastating crimes.

Two months after the last fire there was a 911 call that made the news, as the call claimed that the arsonist in question was about to strike and sure enough, he did. In the call you can hear the panicked screams as the residents of yet another apartment complex fled for their lives and tried desperately to put out the flames. But the most startling moment came when the caller began crying out in pain as he had become trapped in the burning building, the flames scorching his entire body.

No one knew what became of the mystery caller and it was believed that he had perished in the fire. The building was burned to the ground, leaving almost a hundred people homeless. A small memorial was constructed at the ruins of the building in honor of the unknown man who called 911 and save many lives.

The police knew that arsonists love to return to the scene of their crimes, to admire their work and the destruction. Setting up a few surveillance cameras at the memorial the police painstakingly awaited any suspicious individuals who might stop by. It only took them about three weeks to finally locate a suspect.

In the footage of the camera a tall man, wearing a black hoodie and a bandanna with a skeletal depiction of the human jaw over his mouth, approached the memorial and just stared at the charred ruins of the apartment building. He stared for hours, barely moving and never turning his gaze. When another person began approaching the memorial he suddenly turned away and walked down the sidewalk out of sight.

The man returned night after night for almost a week. Each time he did the same thing, stared at the ruins in awe and shied away from anyone who approached. Except on the seventh night. A woman was walking her dog and passed by the man. He turned and smiled at her and frightened her to no end! She reported the strange man to the police, claiming that he was grinning wickedly and smelled of gasoline and smoke.

Two nights later another building was torched by the arsonist. An abandoned warehouse, which still had surveillance cameras running. The same man from the memorial appeared at the scene wearing the same hoodie and bandanna.

Witnesses to the fire claim to have seen a man running from the warehouse wearing a dark hoodie, and the weird thing was he seemed to be smiling. A twisted, almost impossible huge grin on his face.

The police were able to pick up a trail using scent tracking hounds. The dogs led the police to a small, rundown house on the outskirts of the city. Inside was a lone occupant wearing that same hoodie. Aside from the arsonist there were gallons of gasoline, butane, matches, lighters and a newspaper clippings talking about the series of arson-set fires.

When the police corned the man and order him to the ground, they were horrified by the man's face. He had never been wearing a bandanna. His actual jaw had been exposed, leaving him with a perpetual grin burned onto his face. This man had been the one who called 911 and seemingly died in the blaze. He had been horrifically burned but survived, his face nothing more than a monument to the sickness that is arson.

The man laughed a little and looked at the police as he struggled to speak, his lipless grin mocking everyone who dared to look at him. "It's about time you found me," he arrogantly replied with a hoarse, raspy voice. "I was going to give you guys another call, but what's the fun in that?"

The 'grinning man' was arrested but died from a severe infection before he could even stand trial. Even though he's gone his actions and crimes will forever haunt the city, leaving scars that will never heal.

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