The Germantown Mystery


October 31, 1974

Piotr and Janek Tarkowski, American born sons of Polish immigrants, ran through the woods just west of Germantown, Pennsylvania.  The elementary school age boys enjoyed the thick treed wooded area not far from their modest suburban Philadelphia home.  They knew the area like the back of their hands from playing in the woods daily before dinner.

“Race you to the waterfall,” cried out the 9 year old Piotr as his 7 year old younger brother tried hard to keep up.

“No fair Piotr,” replied young Janek.  “You got a head start.”  Nevertheless, Janek followed his older brother as fast as he could.

The boys sneakers could be heard slipping and sliding on the wet leaves as they ran down the path toward an 18 foot modest waterfall which led to the small local creek that ran through the woods.  Both were huffing and puffing as they reached the waterfall but neither would slow down.  Pride ran deep in the Tarkowski family and each dreaded the thought of being the loser in any competition that was held.

The older Piotr reached the edge of the waterfall first and raised his arms in triumph as he went to stop just feet from the edge of the cliff.  But wet leaves on the ground took away his footing and the 9 year stumbled to the ground.  Grabbing a small tree just 3 feet from the edge allowed Piotr to stop his forward momentum.  Janek was not as lucky.  Trying to stop, Janek slipped and slid toward the edge of the cliff.  Piotr scream out and extended his arm in an effort to catch his younger brother.  But it was all in vain.  Janek slid off the edge and headed downward to the rocky creek below.





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